Just say it

About 6 months ago, I installed the “God Wants You to Know” app on my Facebook page. In the beginning I didn’t necessarily put much stock into them. “It’s just some random person getting paid way more than I ever will to craft inspirational messages” was the thought in my head. But then things started getting weird and, well, I’ll read my message today for yourself…

“If all you had to do was wish for something and you would have it, life would be pretty boring, wouldn’t it? God placed barriers between us and what we want, so we can enjoy interesting and satisfying lives. God hid our biggest rewards behind the highest barriers – our deepest fears. God wants us to face our fears, and hold ground in their presence, and let them go, and that’s how we get out biggest rewards. What are you most afraid of? Say it, just start by saying it.”

Yeah, that happened. Just so you know, I don’t believe in coincidences.

Our Cross to Bear

I was deeply moved to write a post today, Good Friday, due to some beautiful words I read today from my girl Lindsey at Arms High, Heart Abandoned. ¬†Thanks love! ūüôā

Many of you know, or have at least figured out by now, that I am very strong in my faith and it is something that, in the past few years has really become a much bigger part of my daily life.  What some of you may not know is how much Good Friday changed my life and my faith a few years ago. Well, not the actual day itself, but the message that it brings to us.

In my junior year of college, I went on a retreat in which each night represented a day of the Easter Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday).

The second night, we had Veneration of the Cross. ¬†Being still so “young” in my faith, I didn’t really know what this was, and as I sat there listening to our priest, and watching others take their time to pray and kiss the wood of the Cross, I wasn’t sure I was ready to do something like that.

I wasn’t ready to fully realize that Christ died for us–to save us, and out of extraordinary love for us. And that all of us included me as well. He bore a cross; a heavy burden in every sense of the word, so that we may live the life His Father planned for us. As I sat reflecting and praying, this amazing feeling began to wash over me. To this day, the only way I can describe it is a feeling of understanding; and in the moment, I got up and knelt down at the cross, kissed the wood, and let all my emotion come pouring out.

I firmly believe that moment was the beginning of my faith story.  In that moment, I began to understand. I understood why the Father gave Jesus His cross to bear, and why He obeyed, even in the times of betrayal, pain, and ultimate darkness.

With that understanding, I began to see the purpose for the Crosses I’ve been asked to bear in my own life. Though there are times (still every day–no one is perfect!) when I question, and times when it seems like it’s just becoming too much, I know that there is someone who has gone through this too; Jesus. That can bring tremendous comfort if you let it.

We are asked to bear Cross as He did. Each one of us knows what our own personal Cross is and how it impacts our life. Yet, while it is an individual journey, we are made to remember that we are not alone. Jesus is right there with us, to help us carry our Cross when it becomes too much. Because that’s How He Loves.

Motivation Monday: Ryan Hall

After watching a history-making 2011 Boston Marathon this morning, in which world records were met, an American woman finished 2nd, and an American man finished 4th, I’m quite insipred and quite motivated.

Who was that man in 4th? Ryan Hall. An amazing person, an amazing athlete, and an amazing man of his Faith.

A friend shared this video entitled “How Does Running Glorify God” a while back, and it put my faith, my struggles, my triumphs, and my races¬†both on road and in life, into perspective.

Feel free to check it out, or just keep on reading through your blogroll if this doesn’t interest you. I won’t be offended! ūüôā

“My career is basically about pain management. It’s how much pain can you handle, for how long can you handle it?” -Ryan Hall on the marathon

His Love through the earbuds

Today was a day filled with a whole lot of nothing. I worked from home this morning because my dad had to go into work, then I didn’t have much motivation to do anything else. I did work out a little bit this morning and plan to fit in one more later on tonight, but that’s really it. A whole lot of nothing…except thinking, which is something.

I spent far too much time YouTubing concert videos and listening to songs that I haven’t heard in a while. One of the concerts I searched was the Casting Crowns concert I attended last February with some friends from school. For those of you who don’t know, Casting Crowns is an awesome Christian band that I fell in love with the first time I heard this song. This concert was one of the most amazing musical, emotional, and spiritual experiences I have ever had (and I’m longing to experience something like it again soon)! There was something truly awe-inspiring about being in a huge, sold out¬†concert arena¬†where people are¬†singing along and having their own (public) private prayer conversations the entire night, to music in its most pure form.¬†¬†

The more songs I listened to, the more I started thinking. And even praying in my own way. There are phases that I go through where all I want to listen to is Christian music. I have a playlist on my iPod with something like 300 songs on it. When I get those feelings within me, I know that–for one reason or anotther–I am being reminded to come back to my faith, to take some time out, and to really think, reflect, and pray. Even when, sometimes, I might not feel like I have wandered away.

For me,¬†the music is a beautiful portrayal of God’s love and His grace and gifts that he gives each of us. There are some songs that I might not have chosen to listen to on a particular day, but shuffle puts them right into my ears, and into my heart.¬†ÔĽŅWho says God doesn’t work through music? ūüôā¬†

That’s what today’s supposed “nothingness” has reminded me. That I need to take some QT with my playlist, my journal,¬†my Bible, and my Father; gladly.

Merry Music

Merry Christmas Everyone! Let us never forget the reason…

and from Pope Benedict XVI’s Christmas Eve homily:

“…God has anticipated us with the gift of his Son…God anticipates us again and again in unexpected ways. He does not cease to search for us, to raise us up as often as we might need…He loves us, so that we too may become people who love, so that there may be peace on earth.”

Meaning of Christmas

It dawned on me today that Christmas is less that a week away and I have yet to acknowledge it, one of my favorite and most important holidays, on the blog! Opps!

Now that I’m older, I can honestly say that the joy in the season for me really comes from it’s true meaning now. For the past few years, I’ve not cared about the gifts so much (although presents are always nice) and really just enjoyed the time spent with my family and my own private time spend reflecting on the birth of that beautiful baby who changed the World forever.¬†

I don’t want to get too strong here, for those of you that read the blog and could care less about my faith or my religious beliefs–although, you’ve been getting a lot more of that than I originally intended of this blog (that’s God for you!).¬† There’s just two things I wanted to share with you tonight about the beauty of this Christmas holiday.

First, Sarah over at Stand Tall Through Everything¬†wrote an amazing post today reflecting on the Fourth Sunday of Advent (today) and the power that one woman’s “Yes” had on every single of us who live this faith. Sarah was probably the second blogger I started following regularly, and her posts are really¬†wonderful¬†and well-written.¬† Please take the time to go check it out! It really moved me. Thanks Sarah, for letting me post it up on my blog!

Second, is one of my all-time favorite Christmas quotes. Bear with me as I tell you the quick story of where it comes from. The quote is from the longest running soap opera Guiding Light, which ended its 72 year run on September 18, 2009. I know some of you are probably judging me right now for pulling a Christmas quote from a soap, but this wasn’t just a tv show in my family. Guiding Light was sortof an undetectable gule in my family. It binded generations (my grandmother, to my mother and my aunt, to me and my sisters), and it brought us together for an hour each day, whether in person, over the phone, or simply in heart. My grandmother was always the go-to person about GL questions as she was the one who’d watched (or in her case listened) to the show the longest. Anything Grandma told you, you never questioned. My grandmother passed away in 2007 and I remember one of the last conversations I had with her was calling to see if she watched today episode and what she thought about the writers bringing some of the old characters back (and more importantly, if their storylines were truly accurate!). Watching GL was never quite the same when my Grandma passed away, but I¬†remember calling my mom everyday to have the same conversations¬†if I was away at school,¬†and DVRing each episode to watch with my mom if I was home for a weekend or¬†on a break. For those, and many more, reasons this quote holds a special place in my heart. Merry Christmas Everyone.

“When times are tough, we have to stop and appreciate what we do have, what’s important to us, and what keeps us waking up in the morning; our family. Our lives may not be perfect. We make mistakes, but we survive, and we forgive, and although the future may seem uncertain, nothing is ever lost as long as we have faith. It’s Christmas. Where the unexpected gift from the least expected person can turn everything around. Where there once was darkness, there may be light. And above all, there is that one gift that costs nothing, that requires no wrapping, and that is love. Love. What would Christmas be without it?”

Hope [noun, verb]

1. The feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best.

2. To look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence.

The two definitions of hope, courtesy of Dictionary.com. I wanted to start out my Winter Camp Care post with these definitions just to show how broad hope can be, how there are so many ways one can have hope, and how there are so many reasons to have hope. Almost any situation, event, or object can fit into one of these two definitions. We all have different hopes. For ourselves, for our loved ones, for the world, the list could go on and on.

As I mentioned in my MM post (I hope you enjoyed those songs!), hope was the camp theme this session. Our shirts were printed with Faith. Hope. Love. on the back; hope a little more bold and upfront than the other two. We all knew this was going to be an amazing session, but we always think that.

Our morning inspiration started off with one of the therapists reading the Rich Mullins essay, 23rd at 32. It’s a moving story about fear, faith, hope, and the balance between the three.¬†Check it out at the link above. I was playing both sides this Camp; patient in the AM, volunteer in the afternoon, but my session wasn’t¬†until midmorning on Saturday. It ended up being nice enough outside that we took some of the kids (in coats and hats and gloves, don’t worry moms!) to play wonderball, and soccer, and whatever else they wanted. Some kids could run around on their own, some had to be pushed, and some had to be carried. Either way, everyone was having a good time! And we definitely have some future soccer stars at Camp! ūüôā¬†

I played photographer for a bit outside and will post some of those pictures when I get them. Capturing these moments through the lens is always as exhilarating as it is to experience them first hand.

When¬†I went in for my Bootcamp¬†session, which started out with another mini Crossfit¬†workout, I was less than thrilled. I’ve been feeling “stuck” and¬†like I don’t do enough for myself outside of PT sessions. This tends to be a recurring thought every 6 months or so.¬† With that feeling, I wasn’t really expecting the bootcamp¬†session to go that well.¬†Plus, I’m still getting used to this¬†whole “crutches only” lifestyle I’m trying to live. It’s hard to explain, but there a safety in the walker, knowing that if you let go to lift something over year head, it’s behind you if you lose your balance. With crutches, if you lift an arm over your head, you’re also lifting half of your stability.¬†Without going into major details, it was much harder for me this time, because it was much more active.¬† Which also gets my brain playing the “this shouldn’t be so hard” game. I don’t recommend it. Not that fun of a game! The second hour stretching felt amazing, though!¬†If someone could come over and decompress my spine for¬†that long everyday I’d be a very happy girl!

My absolute favorite part of Winter Camp is the Christmas Show. It’s a performing arts showcase, but on by the Skating Club of Hartford. They sing, dance, and dress up (no¬†skates!)¬†to perform different Christmas Carols and love-themed songs to represent the Christmas season. The kids love seeing Santa, Rudolph, and Gingerbread¬†men¬†dance around for them, and I love watching the joy on their faces.¬†In the middle of the show,I wish I could tell you what song it was, I broke down crying. I’m not ever sure what sparked it, but something got to me.¬†

The theme was hope. And with these children, these families, these volunteers, and these therapists–this is the place I feel most hopeful. I¬†sat there for a minute just taking in my emotions and having one¬†of my ever-popular silent conversations with God; wondering where this came from and what I was supposed to do about it. ¬†I made up my mind that whatever He wanted to do about it would be done tomorrow, because all that was left of the day was indoor activities while the 3rd bootcamp session went on.

The third bootcamp¬†session. The deeper I got into conversation, I knew He was willing me to be at the 3rd session. After the way the first session went, I didn’t know if this was such a good idea. But I’m learning it’s better not to question. ūüėČ Apprehensively, I drove back to Crossroads and asked my PT if the 3rd group was a specific group of kids, or if I could join again…and downstairs I went again. Since all of us in 3rd session had already been stretched in the morning, it was much more active. We worked on core strength, kneeling, crawling & patterning, and sitting. Yes, sitting. For all of us in the group, sitting on the floor unaided either cross legged or otherwise, can be really challenging and quite a workout. I hadn’t worked on sitting or really been able to, since Summer Camp. Or so I thought. It wasn’t easy, but I was able to do it for about 5-8 minutes. And everything else. All while this was happening, two moms were telling stories about their sons, both young adults ages 18 and 23, who had been told to have no hope. Doctors had written them off, therapies had been cut, nothing seemed to be going anywhere. Until they decided to take control, both by coming to Crossroads and Camp and by doing something for themselves and working toward something. The stopped using everyone else’s lack of hope for them as an excuse, and found their own.

As you can imagine, being in a room with 12 other people, all fighting as you have fought can really play with your heart. As one of these¬†moms was speaking for her son Chris, who has very limited verbal ability, all I could do was stare into his eyes, and sit a little taller for a little longer, even though I was getting tired; to keep fighting as he does.This was my moment of awakening, my moment of finding my own hope. I don’t want to say I’d lost hope in the past few months, but it wasn’t easy to find. I was still using every excuse in the book to my advantage. I was still afraid to try. And I still had not found reason for me to hope for myself. That all changed this camp. I realized that it’s not magic fairy dust that gives me the ability to do very well in a PT session, but then not at home. It’s not environmental. And there’s no outside force to blame. Yes, therapies have been cut and doctors have¬†expressed their lack of belief, but it’s been¬†2¬†years now. I can’t keep using that as my shield anymore.¬† It’s all on me. I’m the one putting in the effort or not putting in the effort. And I’m the one holding myself back or propelling myself forward.

There you go, more life lessons learned via Camp Care. Hope you enjoyed!

Soul shakeup

Woo!! Camp Care Winter Camp tomorrow and Sunday!! It felt really weird to not be there today, but sometimes life gets in the way.

For the past week I’ve been getting really excited for Camp, but at the same time I’ve also been getting a huge feeling of panic. This is because at Camp, we essentially have this thing known as the “soul shakeup”. It’s sort of a running joke, but it’s also partly true. Camp has a way of teaching you something and genuinely changing your life every. single. time. if your mind and heart are open to it. With everything going on in my life lately, I am positive that one of these soul shakeups is most definitely coming for me this weekend. I can’t say that I’m entirely ready for it, but it’s not like I can do anything to help it!

Better update after Camp! Keep me in your thoughts.. ūüôā

Learning to walk shoes

Sometimes I seriously think coming up with a title for a blog post is the hardest part. Anyone else with me on this? I can’t think of anything right now, so I’ll just write and see where I end up!

Things have been c-r-a-z-y around here, hence my lack of adequate blogging. Last week of classes is¬†this week, so I’ll definitely be more consistent over the next month. I can’t promise to be more interesting though, sorry! ūüėõ

I know that last “real” post I wrote I said I was going to be doing the Mitten Run 5k. That didn’t happen, but for some good reasons. First off, I went spinning on Tuesday of last week and nearly had a heart attack from being so out of shape. Okay, I’m not that out of shape, but it definitely felt like it! That was my first indication that, without having trained, and especially in the cold weather, sneaking in one more race just wasn’t all that worth it.

The more I started thinking about it, it just didn’t seem to be a good fit. I couldn’t help but feel like the “right” reason just wasn’t there. I’ve been thinking about walking a lot more lately and I really miss putting all my time, energy, and thought into it as a dream and a goal. I sat down one day last week determined to figure out why I was so quick to pick up races to sort of replace walking. It didn’t take me all that long to figure out it’s all about the feeling.

Walking for me has always been a chase. And if it wasn’t a chase, I’d get just close enough to actually achieving the goal, then I’d run away–for so many reasons I can’t even get into. Even though it was amazing, and hard work, and the best feeling ever when I did take one step, or two, or…a lot, it always was such a long and unpredictable road¬†when it did happen, that I’d often throw it to the back-burner and play the “I don’t care” card when really it was killing me inside because I felt like I was extinguishing my own fire just as it was reaching its brightest moments.

Then running started. As painful and unfamiliar as it was to me at first, it produced close to that same feeling that walking did for me. Note: almost, not quite. But it was the chase, seeing it right there in front of me, and the sense of accomplishment.  There was one difference though, time.

Even though 5ks have taken me on average 2 hours, that’s still a hell of a lot shorter than the (okay, if we’re going to be honest and say that actual amount of time I’ve really worked hard) ehhh¬†1.5 years I’ve actually been trying to accomplish walking. Running races was the high for me because it was a stronger sense of “instant” gratification than I was getting from walking at the time.

All of that started to change Friday when I was at Crossroads working on balance and standing and, somehow the Big Man said, “What the heck, let me remind Molly just how much more gratifying walking by herself is than running, and that’s what it’s worth the wait.”

Needless to say, that 40 minutes of work on Friday did remind me. Unexpectedly (to me anyway), we took that last 10 minutes or so to work on walking in¬†the most serious sense, ÔĽŅÔĽŅÔĽŅfor the first time in a while. Nothing around¬†me to hold onto in case of a moment¬†of panic, just Dan there¬†to catch me if I looked¬†like¬†I was going down. It was and is the most amazing feeling I have ever experienced and can’t accurately explain. So, for now, it’s time to hang up the running shoes and lace up the learning to walk shoes! Okay, so they’re the same shoes, but who wouldn’t want to wear Nike Frees all the time?? I’m back on the path that makes me the happiest, and we’ll see where it leads.

Father’s Love Letter

I know I haven’t been around much lately. I’ll be back soon! I just saw this video on a friend’s Tumblr account and it brought me to tears. Listen, watch, and enjoy. There are no other words.