I am a highly unathletic person. I did swim team in kindergarten and played tennis for six weeks. That was the extent of my sports involvement—until freshman year.
I joined the cross-country team in an effort to make myself appear more well-rounded on a resume. (Side note: it worked out for me, but I wouldn’t recommend doing things for your resume; do them because you want to.) I remember getting ready for the first day of practice thinking I was about to start the easiest, least-skill-required sport. Let’s just say my thinking changed after running 4.5 miles in 90 degree heat.
Cross-country was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. It required me to push myself way past what I thought were my limits, to trust my teammates and coaches for support, and to give 100% every day. I could’ve quit, and I thought about it several times, but I didn’t. I stuck with it for four years, and that commitment yielded a healthier lifestyle and amazing friendships. It challenged me more than anything else, but that made it such a significant part of my high school career. I couldn’t have chosen a better sport.
Here’s the lesson: if you give something your strongest effort, it will always pay off. Maybe it won’t turn out how you think it will, but I promise that you will grow in one way or another if you allow yourself to go the distance.
Catch ya later,
Now, over six years later, I have issues trusting people. I don’t like to open up, and if I do, I almost never say what I’m really thinking. It’s like the scar tissue has created a wall.
Human trust is flawed. We break other people’s trust, and they break ours. Unfortunately, it’s just inevitable. But there’s one exception for someone who is unconditionally for us and with us.
My pastor recently preached a sermon on how God always comes through, always delivers on His promises, always carries us when we can’t stand on our own (which is basically all the time by the way, whether we like it or not). It had been awhile since a sermon really moved me, but that one definitely did. It was exactly what I needed to hear, and it inspired me to share my story. It’s so comforting to know I have a relationship with the God who will never break my trust.
Recently, I’ve found myself worrying a lot about the future: where I’ll go to college, how I’ll afford it, and the outcomes of many other personal matters. I’ve really been working on giving my worries to God and trusting Him to do what’s best for me. Instead of asking Him to make things work out the way I want them to, I now pray for God to take control and shape my life according to His will.
Since I'm being honest, I'll admit it was a scary shift to make in my prayer life at first, but then I realized that hoarding my concerns wouldn’t make the future turn out any differently. There is so much we don’t know and can’t know. I have to trust that God knows what I need, and everything will unfold for my benefit. He is in complete control, and that’s actually very relieving.
We all go through difficult times when it seems like nothing will ever get better. I’m here to testify that doubt is the enemy. It only creates barriers. By giving the worst of it over to God, you can feel as liberated as I did (and still do).
Here’s a prayer I say all the time: “God, I don’t know what your plan is, but help me to trust that Your will is what’s best.” It’s such a wonderful feeling to know that I don’t have to handle things on my own. He’ll just lead me where I need to go.
If trust is something you struggle with too, here are some Bible verses and songs that have helped me put my trust where it belongs:
“To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul; in you I trust, O my God.”
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
“It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in humans.”
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.”
"Trust in You" by Lauren Daigle
"Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)" by Hillsong UNITED
"Leave It Here" by City Harbor
"Hills and Valleys" by Tauren Wells
Catch ya later,
I love to read. For me, it’s a way to take my mind of day-to-day stress and get lost in someone else’s life. One of my all-time favorite books is called Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys. And no, it has nothing to do with the “50 Shades” series, which is a popular misconception.
This book, which I received as a Christmas present in sixth grade, never ceases to capture me. I’ve read it at least once a year since I got it, but it’s still one of my favorites nonetheless.
Sepetys shapes a story around a girl named Lina who was taken from her home in Lithuania and was forced to work in labor camps throughout eastern Europe. Her brother and mother were taken with her, but her father was separated from them. Her desperation for survival, for hope, and for justice all collide in a way that makes it nearly impossible for me to put this book down. The first time I ever read it, I got through it in one day--that’s how good it is.
Unfortunately, what happened to Lina happened to millions of others who lived under Stalin’s Communist regime during the 1940s. They and their families were removed from their homes and forced to survive under inhumane conditions for years, sometimes decades. Stalin killed more of his own people during this time than Hitler killed Jews, but it’s an area of World War II history that isn’t talked about as much. It was quite eye-opening to read about this genocide because I had never heard about it before.
So if you’re looking for something to read, whether you like history or not, I highly recommend Between Shades of Gray. The characters are captivating, and the story is inspiring. Go check it out.
Catch ya later,
The word “powerless” usually bears negative connotation, but one of the times I felt the most powerless was actually uplifting and life-changing. Let’s flash back to four years ago...
At Immanuel Lutheran, where I went to grade school, it’s a tradition for the eighth graders to go on a retreat to Heit’s Point each September. The purpose is to draw the students closer to each other and closer to God over the course of a few days, and for me it did just that.
Throughout the three days we were there, we did many kinds of trust exercises, games, and Bible studies, all of which required me to be vulnerable with my classmates. For those who know me, you know that’s not my strength. (This blog itself is actually fairly open compared to what I usually write.) But even though I had known most of my classmates since I was six years old, I still didn’t feel entirely secure with sharing certain things with them, so I kept a lot to myself.
But, all of that changed. As we continued our activities, I realized how much I needed to rely on my classmates--my friends--if I wanted to get anything out of the retreat. I had to fully put my trust in them, and that was really challenging for me. However, it became less and less difficult as I felt myself grow closer to God when I surrendered my reservations to Him. For those of you who aren’t Christians, that might sound foreign, but I can tell you without a doubt that there’s something powerful in allowing yourself to be powerless.
The Holy Spirit completely took over me, and I began to deepen my connections with my classmates because I was able to deepen my connection with Jesus. All it took was just a little bit of faith to know that letting God take control would help me forge stronger friendships.
That lesson has carried me through high school. Whenever I feel powerless with whatever is happening in my life, I have to pray that God will grow me through it, and He always does. Through my own powerlessness, His power shines.
“How you have helped the powerless! How you have saved the arm that is feeble!”
Job 26:2 (NIV)
Catch ya later,
I know no one really talked about it (this is called sarcasm), but the solar eclipse was pretty neat.
The moon, which usually reflects the sun, decided it was going to make a statement and just move in front of the sun. How cool is that?
Besides the fact that space is astounding, I like how everyone watched this once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon in their own way.
Some people hosted parties or attended local events, but I just went over to my friend’s house where we set up a tent in the front yard to watch the whole thing go down. It was definitely a typical Missouri summer day--hot and humid--but being inside the tent wasn’t too unbearably stifling because we left the roof part off. Also, it would have been really difficult to see the eclipse happen if the tent had been covered. We were thinking ahead.
As totality approached, I vividly remember how strange everything around me looked, almost as if I were inside an underexposed photograph. When I stepped out of the tent, my brain did not know how to process the unnatural lack of light, but I appreciated the unique way my surroundings looked like pre-digital era pictures.
My absolute favorite part of the eclipse was during totality when the sun backlit the moon’s atmosphere. The contrast of the white wisps and the moon’s black silhouette was straight-up breathtaking to me. I stood in the yard with a smile on my face just staring up at it, that’s how awestruck I was.
In all honesty, I can’t say the experience was life-changing, but it was certainly something I will never forget. My kids and grandkids might ask me what it was like one day, and I will tell them this: “You had to be there.”
Catch ya later,
In no particular order of importance, I have two separate bucket lists because I like organization. Some things are little, some are big, but I hope a couple of them help you get to know me a little better.
So that’s my bucket list. I will definitely add more to it as my life progresses, but I hope you’ve been inspired to start your own.
PS: Writing down your goals makes them more visible and reachable, so create a legitimate list you can check off.
Catch ya later,
At some point, we all wish that we hadn’t taken childhood for granted, and we would do anything to get it back. But just because we’re growing up doesn't mean we can’t still be kids.
This past summer, my friend Cason Suggs and I decided to spend a day chalking Washington High’s back parking lot. We each brought sidewalk chalk left over from the good ol’ days, turned up some music, and got to work.
Although some of our doodles had deeper meaning, most of them were just random things that came to mind: a giant pineapple, a skater dude, a waterslide that stretched over three parking spots, and Darth Vader—to name a few.
Being creative on such a big canvas was cool, but the best part of the whole experience was that our art lasted for about a week before it rained; we actually went back a couple times in the following days just to look at it. We thought chalking would be a fun, summery thing to do outside for a couple hours, but it ended up being so much more than that for me.
As a kid, I was always making chalk art in my driveway, then coming in for dinner hours later with my hands and knees dusted in the pastel colors of my drawings. As Cason and I chalked the parking lot that toasty day in late May, it was like reliving the carefree summer days of yesteryear, a small—yet surprisingly significant—part of my childhood. I’ll remember that day forever.
Allowing yourself to be a kid again is the most rejuvenating thing you can do. What did you enjoy? Did you play wiffle ball in your front yard? Roller skate with your friends? Run around in the sprinkler? Catch fireflies and keep them in a jar? Whatever it was, don’t think you can’t do it now because you’re “too old.” Get outside and enjoy being a kid. I promise you won’t regret it.
Catch ya later,
Some people call me Linda, LJ, Liza, or L Cool J. One time I rolled my brother down a hill in a trashcan. Art is neat.