Fear

when a dream coming true is terrifying

Have you ever found yourself in that place where, what 'should' be super exciting, is instead filling you with fear and anxiety? When you find yourself in the midst of something you had thought about forever and the experience is suddenly terrifying instead of enjoyable? On Monday afternoon, my husband and I had our level 2 ultrasound to find out if baby G was a boy or a girl and whether there were any health concerns we should be aware of. I so badly wanted to be excited, but instead was overwhelmed by all the unknowns and quite frankly terrified to find out. You might not be in the midst of a pregnancy, but I have a hunch you might be able to see yourself in my story. We aren't one of those couples who tried forever to get pregnant, we weren't actually trying yet, and we did. Yes, we're one of those couples... However, I have thought about having children since I was 6 or 7 years old. It wasn't a dream that I pursued relentlessly (I didn't get married until I was 36), but it was a strong dream of "God, I really hope that someday..." Not getting married until what is considered "later in life," I wasn't sure if having kids would still be an option for us.  Yes, I know medical technology has come a long way and adoption and fostering children is a huge need in our country, but those are still not things you can bank on for certain. It was one of those dreams I had long ago let go of, having fully accepted that it would be okay if it was never a reality, all the while it was still burning deep within my heart. I'm guessing you can relate...

So here I was, on what should have been an incredibly exciting day, just wanting the appointment to be over with so we could face whatever news there was to face. Sometimes I find that I am just waiting for the other proverbial shoe to fall, especially when it comes to things that matter the most.  I want to hold them loosely and not get too attached. What if it doesn't actually happen? What if...? What if...? What if...I get hurt? I know, I know, there are so many things wrong with this kind of approach to life. My hunch is, I'm not the only one who doesn't head full on into their dreams with reckless abandon...

At the core of my fear, I found myself in this tension of wanting to hold back my love, my passion, my excitement, my hope. As I talked to God about all of this Monday morning, God reminded me of what unconditional love says, "We don't hold back our love based on unknown outcomes, we give until we give all of ourselves, everything we have and love beyond the shadows of the unknown. We love no matter what."

And then God asked me, "Do you think I've held back any of My love even though I've known full well what the outcomes would be? Not even once. Never. Not for a second. If I can, you can through Me. And when you can't and your love ends, I have more than enough to love completely. Yes, to love like Me can mean getting hurt, but it can also be the most amazing, freeing, generous thing you've ever done. And you can't know which it will be until you do it. And even when I've been hurt by those whom I love, do you think I have ever regretted it? Not once."

If God can love unhindered when He knows the outcome, we can when we don't. So here's to living and loving beyond calculated risks.

what are you afraid of--or who?

I don't know about you, but it feels like there is a lot to be anxious about these days...the Presidential election in the U.S., rumors of another cold war, the refugee crisis... Just so.many.things. Opening my Bible this morning, my prayer was "seriously Lord, please give me some kind of wisdom or insight, I know You don't want us to be anxious, but there's just a LOT happening in the world right now that is anxiety-producing." I don't know what you pray before reading the Scriptures, but I trust that God will always speak to me in one way or another. And today was no different.

My husband Jake and I are going through the Book of Isaiah these days. So, this morning I opened up to Isaiah 51 and found this truth to be oh-so-comforting:

12-16“I, I’m the One comforting you.
What are you afraid of—or who?
Some man or woman who’ll soon be dead?
Some poor wretch destined for dust?
You’ve forgotten me, God, who made you,
who unfurled the skies, who founded the earth.
And here you are, quaking like an aspen
before the tantrums of a tyrant
who thinks he can kick down the world.
But what will come of the tantrums?
The victims will be released before you know it.
They’re not going to die.
They’re not even going to go hungry.
For I am God, your very own God,
who stirs up the sea and whips up the waves,
named God-of-the-Angel-Armies.
I teach you how to talk, word by word,
and personally watch over you,
Even while I’m unfurling the skies,
setting earth on solid foundations,
and greeting Zion: ‘Welcome, my people!’”
I mean, You're right, Lord. What, or who, am I afraid of? Is it just me, or is it sometimes simply easy to forget that God sees EVERYTHING. We get just this little glimpse of what's going on in the world, but God sees it all. And more than that, God has a plan. God always has and always will. It's so easy for me to get caught up in what I can see, hear, watch, that I forget that it's the things I can't see that are far more real and tangible:  God's plans, God's purposes, God's love, God's compassion, God's mercy, heaven...
Whether it's the upcoming election in the U.S. that's got us fretting these days or the multitude of crisis around the world, we can cling to the reality that God is bigger, always. God MADE this world and our Creator is not abandoning it anytime soon, or ever. So, who or what is there for us to be afraid of? Nothing. We can breathe easily. :)

ready or not, here I come Ironman

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Last weekend, some friends and I road-tripped it to Madison, WI to cheer on our other friends who were competing in the Madison Ironman (IMWI) 2014. 002

A couple of months ago, I was simply trying to get the weekend off of work to go and support our friends. Once I knew I could go, I obviously wanted to volunteer at some point during the day. Over 4,000 volunteers were needed and I knew we couldn't watch our friends 100% of the time, so why not help out while we were there? Plus, let's just say I love cheering for people, a lot! So it was the best of both worlds.

Then somewhere between registering to volunteer and the weekend leading up to IMWI 2014, I started contemplating personally signing up for IMWI 2015. I literally can't remember when I started thinking about it. I mean, sure, I've done a short course triathlon and several relay tris, but I learned my lesson on this summer's bike tour not to underestimate the physical challenge of things I once looked at and said "anyone can do that." And there was that one day my boss and I were talking about the time it would take to "just finish" an Ironman. I did the math in my head and realized it was doable. Then I promptly started my evening 5K run and decided it was no longer doable and that I was literally crazy for having entertained the idea.

But by the time we set off in the car to Madtown, I was about 80% sure I was going to sign up. Part of my hold back was the cost (it's a financial investment in of itself!). And then it was my friend's girlfriend telling me her boyfriend told her not to sign up because he didn't want her doing an Ironman. And since he's MY friend too, I started thinking maybe he wouldn't want me to sign up either. But at the end of the day neither of those were the real reason I wasn't sure I could actually sign up. There was something else.

Before going to bed the night before the race, I had to take advantage of the fact that we were in Madison, and that there were two huge lakes nearby. There's just something about a big body of water. I always find God in it. Looking out over the moonlit water I realized my biggest hurdle to committing to the Ironman, and pretty much everything else in life: I don't like to commit to something I knew I couldn't be the best at. I didn't really realize it until that moment, but I guess I just never really committed to anything that hinted at me not being the best. I mean, why do it if I'm not going to be the best? I know, there are those of you who can think of a million reasons why you would do something even if you weren't the best. But honestly, I just don't. I don't even consider attaching my name to something that isn't the best. (We can go into all the reasons why this is, but let's just leave at this for now.) And I knew that if I signed up for the Ironman, there's no way I was going to be the best. Obviously. I mean, I can hardly even run a 5K at the moment, and this meant a full marathon AFTER a 2.4 mile swim and a 112 mile bike.

So, for the next 24 hours, I wrestled with what I knew was not only a hurdle to get over to sign up for this bloody thing, but probably (okay, definitely) a hurdle in every other area of my life as well. When it came down to it, I knew that if I didn't sign up for this race, I wouldn't have anything to really challenge me next year. Yes, I could get better at sprint tris, but I knew I could already do them, and that just wasn't challenge enough to actually push me this next year. There was only once real option.

After cheering for literally hours upon hours on Sunday and watching my friends, and thousands others finish one of the most challenging endurance races, my head hit the pillow a little after 11PM with my alarm set for 4:30AM. Monday morning, I waited in line for 2.5 hours and did what I never imagined I would do:

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Here's to a year of training. Only 360 days to go. Ready or not, here I come Ironman.