Monday, September 20, 2010

just some fun...

just a few photos from my Sunday afternoon bike ride!

Hello there! When humans do this, we call them photo bombers...However with this little unique addition of the little tan goat who could say the photo was ruined?!
and that "grass is always greener on the other side" mentality still rings true.
Something about the face of a goat makes me laugh...
Happy Monday!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

in one month

I have found myself at the bottom of the bucket and slowly looking around to see that I can pull through...

This year the transition felt like trying to climb through a brick wall. I felt like constantly I was running back and charging full speed into a wall. I can't explain it any other way. Walking around on campus, I have found myself wondering what the purpose of this journey could be... Could it be that I am socially inept? No, I was told by my pastor I could have a conversation with anyone. It's not that.... Still stumped.

I have found myself slowly picking up the broken pieces, however, in the midst I have also found myself blessed. If it hadn't been for the confusing week that I had, feeling incredibly lonely I wouldn't have found the refuge I had within my church here at school. From taking on a youth leadership position at the church, I have found myself finding a new community of people to connect with.

For a few years now, I have been stumbling with the idea of Youth Ministry, and Ministry... My role as a woman, and what it would mean for me. Last year my heart was totally broken for the youth and I continued to feel totally passionate about pouring into the youth around me. Making relationships is something I have found myself desiring to deepen and just getting to know others beyond the surface faces. Last year, I had a friend, that challenged me to do that... Dig deeper into myself, find the things that made me who I am... But also find the things that hurt me, things that made me cry, and things that I was still suffering with. My scars and wounds... I had never had someone pry into my life and dig deep but as they did, I continued to pour out the pain and misery...

Anyways, this year... I have found that now I am feeling refreshed from the wounds but still trying to tackle my greatest passion: service of people, most importantly: youth. Upon starting back to school, I set out on a voyage to find my church here, find my place of ministry as a "helper". I just wanted to be a little behind the scenes person, just something, anything, to pour into the kids and make them realize how incredibly important they are: to me, but most importantly God. It seemed like it was a tall task to look into, however, it was my passion and I was willing to go at it with everything I had.

I talked to the youth leader, and before I knew it, I was going through an informal interview to get the opportunity to be a part of the youth leaders team. I was humbled to say the least... Now, today, I have found myself encouraged by the leadership they have at church and my role as a woman, as an equal... It has made me wonder, with my gift of leadership that God has given me, could I take on the idea of some day becoming a youth leader, or even a youth pastor?! The idea of living a life in ministry in that sense excites me: However, I believe right now, I must wait and see.

So, in one month, in short:

I have connected.
I have felt at a loss; but certainly am not lostI have reflected; but am not walking back

Now, I am moving forward... Excited for the journey ahead.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


We all have expectations on different things... From the first day of school, to how hard a class will be, to what it's going to be like when we finally score our first job. We have ideas in mind for the expectations of how we are meant to be treated, how fun something is going to be, and even down to how our friends and professors should treat us.

So it is to no surprise, I had expectations about my first race.

After learning lingo and suffering a week of bad dreams I finally got to meet the challenge.

The expectations went something like this:

The bus rides would be awesome, a lot of fun and hanging out with awesome people. I would laugh lots and get to know my team "family" better.

I was going to come in last place and I would be so exhausted no matter what and I would forget my uniform and take the wrong route.

Among other things I just was very jittery about this first race. However, much to my surprise the expectations and the actual happenings were very different to say the least. In my head, I had created a trip that would be disasterous... And well, it wasn't so bad.

I found that when you race you just go: you stick with what the coaches have told you and it's totally on your own from there. I also found that your coaches won't disown you even if you feel like you did awful, and I was so grateful for my coach saying I did well even though my time felt so very slow.

My favorite part of the race was getting to encourage and cheer on the guys (they raced after us). And hearing the word of approval from the coaches.

My least favorite part of this race was feeling like I could have done better, but didn't because of my poor planning skills for the race in terms of how I balanced out my paces.

For the future: I expect to drop around 3-4 minutes total this season and I hope to reflect God even more through my running and rely more on Him.

For those who are keeping track: today's time was: 30:01. (We had scheduled paces to make, which I was making until I started looking for my partner and slowed down considerably and this race was taken at a workout pace. Slowly we will begin speeding up and getting more and more like race speed)

All in all, I was not in a wheelchair, I did not just walk this race, I ran it!! And I am going to improve.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Twas the day before my first Cross Country meet and all through the dorm...

I went on my run in the morning when it wasn't too warm.

I could continue on with my rhyme but that will take too much time and I must begin packing and studying before we head out this evening. However after a week of nightmares about various things pertaining to this race: I am here getting ready to run with my friends on the team. In a lot of ways this is something I have put a lot of time into and it's crazy to see it come into fruition.

As I have worried so much about coming in last and my constant anxiety of being the worst, I have found some truth from the encouragement of those around me... Some valid points were made when I realized that I had to be in a wheelchair less than a year ago and I had to learn how to walk again. I need to remember how awesome and blessed I am to even be running. I think lately I have been forgetting the blessing I do have and I have been so consumed with my comparison to how I could be going so much faster.

I enjoy the satisfaction of delayed gratification and I have been able to come quite familiar with it over the years... It's just crazy to think as I look at my "Bucket List" I am noticing more and more check marks dispersed. Things I never thought I would ever get the opportunity to do again coming around... SO COOL!! Anyways, as I try to remember that it's not about how well I do but the reflection of Christ through me- in some ways it makes it worth it.

It's in God's hands now and I gotta stop talking so negative!! So from here on out, I don't suck! I am going to do great.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

When People Let You Down....

Well, I was checking my e-mail from the last week and this devotional came up. It's funny how God has the perfect timing in all things... I have been really struggling with my transition to college and what my future looks like and how to honor God in the midst of my personal sorrows... Needless to say this devotional spoke to my greatest aches lately:

Melanie Chitwood

"Trust in Him at all times, O people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us." Psalm 62:8 (NASB)

Disappointment feels like a heavy rock sinking to the bottom of my spirit. I've felt disappointed in many situations – a business opportunity that didn't pan out, a writing door that didn't open, and a relationship that broke my young heart.

The heaviest disappointments for me, however, stem from people. And not just any people; people who I'm closest to. People who turn out to be not at all what I hoped they'd be, or not who I thought they were.

I know I'm not alone in wondering how to deal with people who let me down. Just this week a friend said with a choke in her voice, "I wish my mom and I could be closer, but I don't think we ever will be." Another woman said with despondency, "My husband and I just don't talk." I've heard the edge of bitterness in women's voices as they vow never to trust again because of a friend's betrayal. And most of us have swallowed the hopelessness that comes with a broken heart, "I thought he was the one."

I've tried different ways to handle disappointments in relationships. One way is to ignore the disappointment, to shut it in a box and hope the lid holds. Another way is to gloss over it with a quick statement such as, "People will let you down, but God never will." True, but does this really help me process the hurt?

One morning in my quiet time I was pouring out my sadness, anger and disappointment about a close relationship. As the tears slipped down my face, I begged God to show up. What do I do with all this? Show me and I'll do it because what I've been doing is not working.
Clear as a bell ringing in my spirit, Jesus said, Grieve.

Really? I questioned. I remembered that Jesus knew all about disappointment – Peter's denial, Judas' betrayal, and the disciples falling asleep during His anguish before His crucifixion (Matthew 26). I remembered people in the Bible who were well acquainted with people they loved letting them down, such as Joseph or Job. I felt reassured that Jesus wouldn't misunderstand my sadness as a lack of faith.

So I cried, feeling every ounce of the disappointment. I told God all the things I wish were different about this relationship, all the things I thought this person had done wrong, and what I wish this person would do differently.
After the winds of grief subsided, I was done. Grieving was the bridge I had to cross to move beyond the disappointment. On the other side I found myself in a place where I could embrace the relationship for what it is, not what it's not.
On the other side of grief lies a place where we can consider how to respond to the person who disappointed us. There are a number of possible responses. Sometimes we need to talk to the person or get godly counsel. Other times we may need to create healthy boundaries, or we may need just to let it go. Only after we've allowed ourselves to grieve, however, will we know how to respond to this person in the way that God wants. Then the words, "People will let you down, but God never will," will be truly comforting, not just empty words.

Dear Lord, I'm so thankful that when it feels like no one else understands, You do. You understand about being disappointed in people but You loved them in the midst of that. Lord, I want to follow Your example. I'm thankful You know this sadness is a part of healing from the pain of disappointment. Give me guidance in handling this -I trust that You can bring good out of this. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Application Steps:
Be honest with yourself as you consider someone who has let you down. Have you grieved over the disappointment? Take time to be alone, to be sad, and to cry if you need to. Let go of bitterness, anger, hurt and unforgiveness. Then ask the Holy Spirit to give you discernment about what to do next in this relationship.

Have I unsuccessfully tried to deny that I am hurt or angry by this disappointing relationship?
Is it possible that I've depended on this person more than God?
How does God what to use this disappointment in my life?
Power Verses:

Psalm 42:11, "Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God." (NIV)

Psalm 94:19b "When I was upset and beside myself, you calmed me down and cheered me up." (MES)
Lamentations 3:23, "...Great is your faithfulness." (NAS)
© 2010 by Melanie Chitwood. All rights reserved.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Incredibly Blessed

As I was out on my run this afternoon. (Spoken like the true runner I am slowly becoming... Where when I have "OTR" days *other than running* I actually miss running,  The hours of 4-7 where practice is placed into my schedule feels totally right to run in no matter what the temperature outside is. My love for running only deepens when I feel the twinge of pushing myself beyond comfortable and into "FIRE". It's true... I was out on my run and have finally gotten the experience to say it casually as if it happens daily, because, well it does!) I finally got some of the fruits of being able to say I am improving a little... As I ran with a group of girls I started to realize it wasn't me getting passed EVERY time but it was me passing some of the other girls. I was actually surprised because I felt like it was easier than usual to break out into my run even though I had picked up my pace a little.

In my head, I realized I had been longing for this day for awhile, a day when I didn't feel like I had to force myself to drag a heavy body across the black top. I felt good, like actually felt good. Which is hard to explain when even though I felt alright on most other days I still felt kind of drained and just weak. I didn't realize those were the feelings until today, when I was out there and I was able to feel faster than usual.

Anyways, I pray constantly when I am out running- like if I am silent, chances are, in my head I am singing "Yes Lord, Yes Lord, Yes Yes Lord!" or reciting I can do ALL THINGS through Christ who strengthens me... Or reviewing the lyrics to You are my All in All as this is our team song this year and I have been nervous that I won't remember the lyrics when we sing it as a team at the meets.

So anyways, as every single day I seem to get into my routine that I will go out for my run and I will just continuously pray to God to shine through my running and whatever that means that He will use me. It was to my great surprise when I stayed with everyone.

Then I passed where I usually chose to turn off and leave everyone else and then the next turn I saw everyone else pass by and I had a girl on my team behind me still and then I was pretty close to some of the other girls... The girl behind me said hey, I am going to go this way... And as I continued to run towards the other girls, I looked back to the other girl and I thought no one should run alone: and I ran back to be with her... I was humbled by the opportunity to pace another girl and to encourage her as she ran. I remember how so many times I felt lonely as I took those other turns and stuff and then as we were running I knew she was having shin pains and I was able to pray for her... I was humbled that God could use me, the girl who felt like maybe the experience on the team would just be making sure all the other girls felt good because they weren't' the slowest...

It transformed my view a little into realizing, sometimes it's not about the speed of the run (as much as my coaches have already stressed that to me, it's so hard to apply when you have everyone and their brother passing you.) but it's about the encounter you have during that run. No matter how much I pray during my runs, and how much I know I am right when I say I cannot run on my own, but I run through the strength of the Lord... Today, getting to pray with my sister in Christ, was far more incredible.

I continue to be amazed by God and His work within my life...

Thursday, September 2, 2010

God continues to move... Or... Keep me moving

Well, I was feeling greatly encouraged after my last post and looking forward to God's movement within my life. I have been really encouraged and excited about this upcoming year at school and getting involved in the local church.

After feeling a little rejected by some friends at school because no one needed a ride to the church I was planning on attending this past Sunday, I really felt that I still needed to go. I prayed God, if I am meant to stay please make the ministry opportunities apparent to me and show them my servants heart. A little apprehensive about going to the church alone, I got up my courage to head into the "narthex" also known as the lobby of the church. Upon my entrance 30 minutes before the service, after about 10 minutes or so inside the building and walking around. A lady walked up to me and said, I see you're looking at our Nursery ministry! Would you be interested in helping?!

I kind of laughed to myself, as I realized my prayers were getting answered in a very direct fashion. Needless to say, I left Sunday with an application to help in the Nursery, and speaking even more to my passion for the youth... I had spoke to the youth pastor and I was set up for an appointment on Wednesday to meet with the youth pastor! I was very excited to say the least and extremely hopeful of what God has in store.

Monday I found myself typing away a blog post of blessing and encouragement just to be surprised by Tuesday morning. I got a phone call from the endocrinologist from back home regarding some test results after a grueling afternoon of classes I got the return phone call with the test results... Needless to say, something is going on with my kidneys and they will need some more test results before they can give a definitive diagnosis. It was something that totally blindsided me as I had been feeling half-way decent most days... I couldn't really imagine anything was wrong. However, I have found this as yet another blessing from God in the sense that I know He trusts me and I am humbled to be able to grow closer to God through yet another trial.

I know that God's love is a perfecting love, not a protecting love and He will perfect me to an eternal being reflecting more of Him on a daily basis. What does this look like for me? I have no idea, I don't know what the future may hold but I do know that God is in control. And through this I am greatly encouraged by the doors that have been held open for me by the greatest gentlemen of all, God, my Father.

After last night, I really wanted to put another post up and update along with just share my excitement for this year and getting to know yet another new, youth group. I will be serving on Wednesday nights at their youth group and then Sunday night's at the Youth Pastor's home for a Senior High leadership group. I am so blessed to be brought into their church family and really got to have an awesome talk with the youth pastor and his wife last night. Feel free to check out his blog here! He's an awesome brother in Christ and I am excited to see God work through him.