March 31, 2014

A Rhythm in the Running

I've been running a lot lately. Running behind my to-do list, running to get to bed at a reasonable hour, running to get some schoolwork done. And literal running, too. Five miles yesterday, two on Friday and four on Wednesday.... 
With the drumming of my feet on the ground, my breathing gets ragged and how do I catch my breath? 
There's this thing I've been doing, each day like breathing, that helps keep the rhythm of living while running. 

It started with the Joy Dare - a treasure hunt for three gifts from God every single day - and it brought spreading, expanding life. 
Somehow it didn't stay at three "thank you's" a day. It came natural-like, this seeing, receiving, this inhaling of God's blessings. This exhaling of thanks. 

When your life finds a rhythm, can you not let it take over? 

This breathing in of the blessings, this breathing out of thanks. 

Ooh, smoke drifting from a rustic farm smokestack - that's the inhaling.
Thank you, Lord. - the exhale, relief. 

So glad I have good legs to run with... Inhale.
Thanks, Jesus!  Exhale.


And when you find a rhythm in the running, it expands by itself. 
I didn't have to force myself to look for new blessings, because breathing is natural. Once you breathe out, can you ever not want to breathe back in again? 

Try it, I dare you. Print out the Joy Dare, and write out three blessings with me each day. 

Instead of gasping for breath in the running of life, try breathing with the rhythm of thanks. 

March 19, 2014

Some broken red stumbles

    Why did I ever think I had it all figured out? Like I had some answers that would pour out like miracle salve on anyone who read my words? 
    I'm finding that it's not gonna happen. This blog might help someone, but it will more than likely be me - a place to bleed a bit on some pages and wipe away the splatters so it looks like perfect red lettering, marching politely across the screen - so I can smile incredulous at the beauty that doesn't look like me.

    I'm scared, I think. Scared that if I left my raw wounded letters stuttering through sentences... that it would turn you away. Because since when did raw bleeding stumbles heal the hearts of the wounded? 
    But wait a second. They did. 
    How could I forget that my heart was healed, my life made new, by Jesus' blood dripping red? What kind of irony is this? That the raw hurting of one would pour healing on another? 
    If someone figures this all out, just let me know. 

    In the meantime, I'm back to my own bleeding. I've got struggles, you know - lots of them. I have daily inward battles concerning my eating, for example. I'm not anorexic or overweight, but the inside of me is wearing away from the corrosive idol of food set up in my heart. 
    I just love it too much, plain and simple. I realize that I was crafted to be a worshiper - God made me to have a burning desire for Him and His kingdom - but somehow I keep pushing Him aside and putting pizza or ice cream in His place.

    So right now I'm begging God. Begging Him to knock over the idols in my life and set up camp Himself. 

    Because I know I'm a worshiper. 

    A passionate, emotional being that runs on a fuel of driving desire. 

    And if I'm not wildly desiring God? 

    I can't run on empty. So if He is not my driving force, something else will be. And this old insatiable desire for food - it doesn't fill me up, leaves me stranded, guilty, hungry, again and again. 

    So I'm begging, begging God. These idols are awfully heavy, and could you please knock them down? Cause I can't....

    And fill me up, Jesus, with your agenda. Give me a desire and a tangible goal - something to strive towards - to drive me to joy. Give me orphans to love, things to make, cards to write... anything, Lord. To keep me worshiping, worshiping You and not food.

    Because I know I'm a worshiper. A worshiper begging God. 

    And the words run red, struggling raw, and I realize it's not the broken itself that heals others. The spilling hurt is only the vessel through which God's resurrecting power flows. 

    Just like at the cross. 

    So I don't have it figured out, and if you want pretty words all in line, don't come here. I'm fixing to keep pouring raw and open, because I believe in a story about a God who used the red flowing pain of a man to heal the broken-hearted. (Luke 4:18, Isaiah 53:5) 

March 10, 2014

Purple Swishy Dress - Transformed!

So I found this gorgeous dress at Goodwill for under $4.00.
I loved the color, flow, and fit but not the strange halter/high neckline or wide-open back (thus I wore a t-shirt underneath for pictures :P). With a bit of imagination and work, I was able to transform the dress into something I can't wait to wear to a dance! Hang in with me for a bit while I show you how I did it, and hopefully you'll be inspired! Oh, and please pardon the backgrounds in these pictures... I didn't have sis handy to be my photographer so I had to use the mirrors in our spacious bathroom. :/ 
It's actually still the same color... different lighting makes for a different look in these pictures.

First off,  I found this shirt at Goodwill.
It looks kinda wrinkly and ugly in that picture, but it's actually a nice cream color with lace puffed sleeves. I would have loved to wear it by itself, but sadly it's too tight to be considered modest and is fairly see-through. :( .....but it looks lovely under my dress!

My first order of business was to fix the neckline of the dress. I simply tucked the extra bodice/fabric under to make it look like a strapless dress and pinned it in place.
Basted it...
Then I cut the unwanted fabric off at 3/4 in allowance and removed the beading on the parts I folded under. I also made sure to tie off the extra strings attached to the beads on the front of the dress, because otherwise it will keep on unraveling and spewing beads all over. :)
I quickly whip-stitched the layers at the cut edge together to keep the fraying down. Pretty fabric like this often frays really bad. :/
I folded it under twice and then I sewed it by hand, catching everything but the outside layer on the front so the stitching doesn't show.
Voila! I have a strapless dress! But you know the problems everyone who wears a strapless dress has keeping it *ahem* hiked up in the front? Well, this dress isn't going to be any better... If anything, it'll be worse because it wasn't originally made to be strapless. To fix this problem I used three safety pins. Since the shirt is so stretchy, I actually had to pin through the dress, shirt, and my bra. Sorry if that was TMI... But it holds the dress up like a dream!
The dress also had a small rip in the hem...
And since it was going to be tough to replicate the tiny hem, I used a trick learned from ballet class. ;) To keep the ends of our pointe shoe ribbons from fraying, we used clear nail polish. And what do you know? It worked on my dress as well!
Can you tell where I fixed it?
So there you have it! My "new" dress is now modest, comfy, and beautiful! And the whole outfit cost me under $10!!! 

March 8, 2014

When We Fall

   We call it the swamp. It's nothing much really, but when a low-lying area next to a pond collects water and grows trees with sticking-up roots, what else can you call it? 
    Little brother and I tramped through the woods today, snapping thorn bushes and ducking low to avoid getting decapitated by the brush. When we arrived at the swamp, it was frozen-but-thawing, a thick sheet of ice with liquid ravines enclosing each tree struggling through its cold embrace. 
    46 degrees and cloudy? Sure, the ice will hold... so we slid and sloshed across the ice... until - you guessed it - I broke through the ice. I believe my first thought was about how my boots might be ruined since they're insulated and all, but before I knew it, I'd splashed out of the above-knee-deep hole. For some reason, a thought that has been popping into my mind a lot recently visited me again as I haltingly dripped towards a tree for support: "why do we fall? So we can learn to get back up again." (That came from the first Batman movie, yes?) 
    I fell, but when I picked myself up again I had learned something - never trust the ice. After falling, I was smarter, wiser. And sometimes I think the only way to start making progress in the right direction is to hit rock bottom - to fall so we can learn to get back up again
    My friends, never give up hope. Even if you are scrabbling to climb but slipping lower and lower, that falling has a purpose. Because if we never knew the low spots, how would we know to strive for the heights?