A Chicagoan Climbs a Mountain in the Highlands of Scotland…

Sitting on top of a mountain with my Bible and journal in hand, I look down onto the valley that stretches for miles. A rainbow disappears as the sky clears and the only noise is coming from my own breath — I am a Chicagoan who doesn’t understand altitude — and yet, this breathlessness is more than just exertion. This moment is overwhelming.

I am not overwhelmed by this view (though it’s worthy of adoration in its own right) but it’s everything that has led up to this very point in time. A mixture of past, present, and future possibilities; an integration of hope and fear; the known and unknown; an assault on all of my senses.

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My 32nd Birthday

My favorite number is 32, so it comes to no surprise to my friends that I wanted to do something memorable for this birthday. Set it apart from the rest. As God would have it, I was going to spend my birthday in the Highlands of Scotland at a lovely cabin. Yes, a cabin in December, far from the city — my introverted haven.

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I had expectations of this trip. That not only that my experience would be filled with rest, but also answers. Answers to questions that I had for months but was consistently told to wait. So, I did. I waited. I anticipated. And then the day came when I knew that God would reveal and share some of His Will for my life. So, I put on my sneakers and took a walk.

Without going into detail as some things are not ready for the public and some may never be told, I wanted to share some of my experience.

But first…

Mountain Lady?

I am not one to be outdoors. I’m a comfy chair, tea, blanket, with a good book, type of lady. Don’t get me wrong, I like a good walk. I love commuting by feet and train to work, but me and nature have never been on the best of terms. I appreciate it from a distance.

It’s not that I don’t like trees — I love them. I would hug them if I could. I don’t like insects and creatures that can bite, sting, or eat me. I am also not a fan of the sun as my skin likes to burn. I also lack coordination and will fall. And falling on carpet is much better than falling down rocks — just sayin’.

So the ultimate irony of my life is spending my 32nd birthday outside in the Highlands climbing a mountain. Although it was in winter when everything that I am afraid of is fast asleep, dead, or hidden. (Except for the sharp objects to fall on.)

Don’t worry, I didn’t fall.

Climbing a Mountain with God

I spent my birthday on a journey with God. After praying over with God on some things, on some questions I’ve had for a couple of months, God had me take a walk with Him. The walk turned into climbing a mountain.

As I went up this hill, He reminded me of everything I had learned in the last five years. The people I have met. The grace that had been given. The love shared. The community created.

With each step also came fear. Fear of what was before me. Where was I going? How far was I going? What would I experience on the top?

Also, the fear of what was behind me. Knowing that soon I would have to turn around and climbed down the mountain. Afraid of slipping into old ways.

Overwhelmed by emotions and just the exercise, I would stop and yell to God, “I can’t do this anymore. I can’t.”

He would tell me stop and to turn around. So I would.

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And I would see a valley before me. It’s beauty indescribable. And I would weep.

“Do you trust me?”

“Yes, Lord.”

“Then keep going.”

So I did. I continued going up the mountain unsure of what was before me but knowing I was with my Lord. Seeing what He just brought me through gave me the courage to continue on.

When I finally got to the finish line, I saw a rainbow stretched across the sky covering all that I could see.

Honestly, tears were just flowing.

You know how there are just those moments where you are so overwhelmed by God’s love that words or even pictures can’t do it justice? Well, I tried taking a photo my face to always remember this moment.

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Proof of tears

At the Top

When I arrived to the top, the answers flowed. I had to be real with where I was at, what had transpired these last years, and how I felt before I was ready to hear answers. I spent hours up there cherishing each moment.

I even talked to an older gentlemen who climbed the mountain too and he was heading down. I laughed at the situation — this man, in his 60s, having no issue walking up and down which was a momentous hill for me. I realized that our maturity in Christ has a lot to do with what we can handle. This was a mountain for me. A nice afternoon jaunt for him. And yet that doesn’t discourage me at all because I know anything is possible with Christ.

And how do I know this?

BECAUSE I CLIMBED A MOUNTAIN.

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I had the best 32nd birthday.

An adventure for the soul and the body.

A time of rest and restoration. A time of resetting my heart, mind, and body.

I am incredibly grateful for a God who answers prayers and who knows me intimately — and it’s my heart’s desire to know Him intimately.

Weight Watchers Wednesday: Reset for the New Year

After two work-related trips, a three-week vacation, Thanksgiving, birthday, Christmas, and New Year’s celebrations, I have somehow began this year with the same weight I started with two months ago.

Well, let me explain.

Before I left for the first work-related trip to Boston, I went into my weigh-in and then didn’t return for another weigh-in until the end of December, which was after most of the shenanigans listed above. When I did, I gained 2.8 pounds. Honestly, I was excited because I ate my way through Scotland and had no regrets (bring on the cider and whiskey!).

And then I continued on the celebrations and another work trip to Atlanta, leading me up to today when I went in for my first weigh-in of the year. Yes, I expected to have gained weight but there I was staring at the scale only to realize that I lost 2.8 pounds.

I am literally at the same weight I started at back in November.

How did this happen?

After losing 20 pounds on the program, I have learned a thing or two and was able to incorporate much of what I learned in how I ate sans app and strictly following the program while I was away.

Here’s what I did:

  • Filled up on veggies and fruit
  • Said hello to almond milk and non-fat milk in my Starbucks drinks
  • Ate lots of eggs
  • Substituted my movie theater soda with the Coca-Cola Zero Sugar
  • Remembered that I didn’t need to eat everything on my plate
  • Drank lots of water
  • Shared my dessert with a friend or co-worker
  • Avoided skipping meals and instead ate less and made healthier decisions

Weight Watchers Wednesday

So what is this blog series going to be about? I am going to try and keep a weekly update on my Weight Watchers journey to encourage those who are using the program (including myself) and for those who just want encouragement on choosing healthier habits.

Fair warning: I am not an expert. I am far from perfect. And I am learning as I go.

My Journey So Far

I began WW on August 23, 2017, and weighed in at 215.4 pounds. This wasn’t the heaviest I had been in my life, but I was moving in the wrong direction with my health. I wanted to take control of my life and change the trajectory of where I was going. I knew that I wasn’t honoring God with my life choices and it was something that I needed help with.

So, after hearing about the program through a friend, I decided I would make the financial commitment to my health. Put skin in the game, so to speak. And since August, I have lost 20.6 pounds.

I honestly didn’t think losing that much weight was possible and yet here I am, six months later, realizing that it is possible. It’s doable. It’s easy. And actually quite enjoyable.

New Year Goal

I am overwhelmed and excited for what 2018 will bring with my weight loss journey. It feels great to start this new year right where I left off back in November.

My current goal is to get down to 160 pounds. So, I suppose I have 34.8 pounds to go. And it’s actually doable, which is remarkable to me. I am capable of so much more, and so are you!

Let’s do this!

My 31st Birthday Bucket List

Each year I make a birthday bucket list, things I want to do before the next year. The number of things totals the age I am. So, this year I had 31 one things to do before I turned 32. It helps that my birthday is in December, so it’s really like a New Year’s resolution but a bit more ambitious.

I do not always get to do all of the things because planning out your life is for fools. Sometimes God has different plans, so it’s best to follow Him and what He wants to do. I was able to accomplish 61% of my goals – I am okay with that as 7% of the goals had to be removed because God changed some things up on me.

Here are some of the highlights I did this year.

Also, I put them in categories because I am that person.

Adventure

Return to the UK

By the time this publishes, I am in Scotland, in a cabin. Yup. LIFE GOALS HAPPENING.

Go to a new state or city

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This is a bit of a mainstay goal as I love traveling to new and old places. So, here’s Georgia – somewhere new.

Go to a Chicago Museum

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I went to the American Writers Museum this summer and it was fantastic. I nerded out, hard.

Passions

Attend 3 Concerts

 

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Fleet Foxes
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Penny & Sparrow
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The Oh Hellos

Write a poem or song

I wrote a poem for my brother.

Record 5 new Podcast episodes

I did record podcast episodes and then subsequently ended my podcast project.

Post 7 Things Every Month

I did!

And for funsies, here are my selfies of 31

Spiritual

Graduate with a Certificate in Biblical & Theological Studies

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Praise God!

Teach at a Kindred Gathering (Real Church’s Women’s Ministry)

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I taught in March and October. Wow. Here’s a promo image that was used for the October Gathering.

Health

Lose 10 Pounds

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Apparently, I am an overachiever as I lost 20 pounds!

Books

Read 31+ Books

 

7 Things: November 2017

1. Looking

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2. Watching

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3. Listening

Sleeping at Last. The best.

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4. Reading

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And guys, I made my birthday bucket list! I read more than 31 books. Whoohoo!

5. Studying

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The minor prophets are not minor when it comes to revealing God.

6. Thanking

God for five years. It goes by quickly and He has taught me so much whilst here.

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7. Anticipating

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My Sabbath in Scotland

7 Things: October 2017

1. Looking

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I’m basically 10 pounds lighter than last month’s photo. That’s what’s up. Thanks, Weight Watchers!

2. Watching

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3. Listening

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Saw Fleet Foxes for the first time in six years this week and now their albums are on repeat.

4. Reading

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5. Studying

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and Psalms

6. Learning

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Learning about myself, God, and others through this book. I highly recommend it.

7. Anticipating

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I teach at Kindred this month!

My Anthem: Hidden

I was thinking how interesting that there is some art that has the ability to pierce my soul and cause me to worship our Creator. That while no words or anything I could ever create could ever explain or worship God in how He deserves, there’s instances where some words, some songs, come close — well, at least they lead me to a place of worship.

My Anthem

“Hidden” by United Pursuit, featuring Will Reagan, is currently my anthem. It has pierced my soul. It stops me in my mundane activities and causes me to worship my Savior King. I have kept this song on repeat because I so desperately need to be reminded of it’s truth.

I pray it pierces your soul too. 

There was one when I was young
Who knew my heart
He knew my sorrow
He held my hand
And he lead me to trust Him

Now I am hidden
In the safety of your love
I trust your heart and your intentions
Trust you completely
I’m listening intently
You’ll guide me through these many shadows

As I grow
And as I change
May I love you more deeply
I will lean upon your grace
I will reap because your goodness is unending

You are my vision
My reason for living
Your kindness leads me to repentance
I can’t explain it
This sweet assurance
But I’ve never known this kind of Friend
I can’t explain it
This sweet assurance
But I’ve never known this kind of Friend

The sun, moon, and stars
Shout your name
They give you reverence
And I will do the same
With all my heart I give you glory
The sun, moon, and stars
Shout your name
They give you reverence
And I will do the same
With all my heart I give you glory

I want to seek you first
I want to love you more
I want to give you the honor you deserve
So I bow before you
I am overcome by the beauty of this perfect love

I want to seek you first
I want to love you more
I want to give you the honor you deserve
So I bow before you
I am overcome by the beauty of this perfect love

Now I am hidden
In the safety of your love
I trust your heart and your intentions
Trust you completely
I’m listening intently
You’ll guide me through these many shadows

Now I am hidden
In the safety of your love
I trust your heart and your intentions
Trust you completely
I’m listening intently
You’ll guide me through these many shadows

Hearing the Call of God is Not About You

Hearing the Call of God is Not About You

“The call of God is not the echo of my nature; my affinities and personal temperament are not considered. As long as I consider personal temperament and think about what I am fitted for I shall never hear the call of God.” – Oswald Chambers

This quote by theologian Oswald Chambers is powerful as it is humbling. How many times have I thought about my life and following God in terms of what I can do? What I can bring to the table? I somehow turn God’s Kingdom into something about me.

Yet, it’s not about me. Sometimes God calls us to do something that we’re not gifted or talented in because it gives more glory to God. Why? Because we are stepping out in faith and obedience when we do something new and different. Yes, it may be easier to do something when you’re talented in it, but it’s much harder if you’re not talented and still do it.

It shows a deep level of faith when we attempt to do our impossible. We have to trust that God is going to show up and help us. It forces us to be dependent and obedient at every step because we have no idea what we are doing.

What Am I Fitted For?

I am not discounting that God doesn’t equip us (Hebrews 13:21; 2 Timothy 3:17) or give us gifts (1 Cor. 7:7) to use for His Kingdom. This is all true. But when we begin to rely on our gifting (whether or not they are from God) more than Him, we are in trouble. It becomes about us. About what we can do. What we can build.

And then we begin to assess the ministries in our lives in terms of what I can offer. “Well, I am shy and introverted, so I cannot teach in front of big crowds. Yes, I have this gift of teaching, but it should be used in this area of my life only and only when I feel comfortable.”

That quote is literally what I have been saying the past month.

Yet Oswald and Scripture has humbled and convicted me. I have been placing too much emphasis on me and less on what God can do through me.

 

What is My Personal Temperament?

I have also learned that my perfectionism and desire for personal peace gets in the way of God’s calling. I want to do it the best or I won’t do it at all. I want to know all the things before I commit to something because I want to do it well, I want to control, and I want an excuse to back out. That’s my sin. That’s my excuses. And that’s me ignoring God’s call.

God has gifted and equipped me for many good works, but when I concentrate on those giftings I don’t see God. I instead see my own failings and unworthiness and pitiful gifts before the King and it causes me to retreat.

Yet, Consider This…

So, if you’re feeling like God is asking you to do the impossible and you think you’re not worthy, consider how much you are looking at yourself instead of your Creator. If you think you’re burnt out because you’re doing all of the things, consider how much you’re doing in your own power and your own talents than relying fully on God. And know that God may call you to do something that may seem contrary to what you’re gifted in, but remember it’s His Plan, His Kingdom, and He knows what He is doing, so just trust and follow Him.

Easier said than done, I know – but the hard things are worth doing.