Tuesday, December 29, 2015

pointing the finger

Do you ever feel like you forget about God? Does it ever seem like all your Christian brothers and sisters find it so easy to focus on Him?

I feel this way a lot. Very often when I listen to a sermon or read a devotional I get conflicted about the fact that I always seem focused on my own agenda, my own wisdom, my own achievements rather than pointing a finger at God and glorifying Him and seeking His will.

Tell me I’m not the only one who struggles with this.

Recently I discovered an amazing website called Church.Online which allows you to watch the current week’s sermon with other people—there’s a chat room, people are available to pray with you, the sermon notes are posted so you can follow along. It’s really cool, especially for me since I find it challenging to get to church these days. This week’s sermon was preached by a guest speaker, Jefferson Bethke, on healing.

Something he spoke about really stuck out to me—he talked about the Japanese art form kintsugi in which broken pottery is patched back together with glue that has the dust of precious metals (usually gold) mixed into it. The effect is that the broken places become the most beautiful parts, that your eye is drawn to the places that have been damaged. The message Jefferson presented was essentially that once God turns your wounds into scars, you shouldn’t hide them. Your scars, once Jesus has made you whole again, become the most beautiful parts of you and they glorify God’s ability to heal. You shouldn’t be ashamed of them because those scars point to Jesus.

Your scars, once Jesus has made you whole again, become the most beautiful parts of you and they glorify God’s ability to heal.

This resonated powerfully with me; it made me reflect on my postpartum depression and anxiety in a way I hadn’t before. As I have dealt with my postpartum problems, I’ve felt passionate about being open with others about them, hoping that by sharing I can encourage others to not feel ashamed, to reach out for help, to know they’re not alone.

Not once did it occur to me that those wounds caused by my postpartum anxiety, as they heal and become scars, could somehow glorify Jesus.

Until now.

I love poetry and have from a very young age. Recently I’ve been reading through Rumi’s writings, many of which are poignant and beautiful, often gracing Pinterest in the form of hand-lettered memes. One of my favorite quotes of his is: “The wound is the place where the light enters you.” It’s redeeming to think about our suffering in this way; it comforts us to reflect on the fact that something good can come of something bad, that we might gain something from our hurts.

But now that I’ve learned about kintsugi, I think about this quote in such a different way. Rumi’s quote and the idea of Jesus’s healing powers represented in kintsugi exemplify the two parts of myself that are often at war. On the one hand, I’m tempted to point the finger at myself, to be praised for enduring hardships, to focus the attention on the wound so that I feel proud of what I’ve withstood. But I should point the finger at Jesus. I should tell the world that, despite the awful things I sometimes say and do as a result of my PPD and PPA, by His grace I am still worthy to be loved, I am still His child, not because of the wound with which I’ve been afflicted but because of the scars left behind after His healing.

In truth postpartum depression and anxiety have been massively, “life-changingly” challenging, and I think there’s a place for my desire to help others because of what I’ve learned through my experience. But there’s an even bigger place, an all-important, desperate place for my need to share with others the love of Jesus. Because wounds only become scars once they are healed, and when it comes to healing this kind of wound, He’s the only one who can.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

running brokenhearted

Inspiration comes from a multitude of places, some less expected than others. There's your husband, who tells you that, despite your weeks of awful times and no endurance whatsoever, that you just have to keep pushing through. There's your runner friend who says that it's all in your head and that you should try doing multiplication problems when you start to psyche yourself out.

And then there's Ni No Kuni.

Ni No Kuni is a popular JRPG. It's a charming little story that follows the journey of a little boy, Oliver, as he saves the land from heartbrokenness. People all throughout the land lack courage, or enthusiasm, or kindness. And people all throughout the land also have a bit of excess of those virtues. So Oliver waves his magic wand, takes "heart" from one such "excessive" person, and then gives the bit of virtue to the person who's lacking.

Funnily enough, one of the virtues is confidence. And wouldn't you know that right about the time I'm really struggling with my running, ready to cry after every workout because I have no endurance, no speed, and generally feel like a failure, we come across in the game a little boy named Denny. Denny is seen jogging all throughout town, day after day, training hard. Then suddenly his friend realizes she hasn’t seen him in a while. When the group goes to find him, they find out that he’s brokenhearted. He loses his confidence, has one bad day, doesn't make the team, and then per the game's pattern, is possessed by a nightmare!

So Oliver and co. fight and destroy the nightmare, do some wand-waving, give Denny some confidence, and he's back to normal in no time.

Wouldn't it be nice if that's all it took? If someone could just say a few magic words and give you back some ambition, belief, or courage when you're feeling down or not feeling like yourself? Unfortunately that's not an option.

But it is in our power to keep pushing. It's in our power to lend grace to ourselves and to make ourselves do things that we don't feel like doing.

So after weeks of feeling depressed about my terrible running and after a couple super exhausting weeks at work, I decided that I should drive over to a nearby trail where I've never run before and knock out this 3.5 miles.

Last time I went running, I did well to just jog the 1.5 miles without stopping. It was super hard, and I was sure I would never be able to jog the whole 5k that I have coming up in just a few short weeks.

But today was different. Today I made a choice to force myself to do that thing which I was convinced I could not do: run the whole 3.5 miles without stopping to walk. I made a choice to focus on the distance and not the speed, to do some math in my head when I thought I couldn't breathe, to absolutely not let myself stop running for any reason!

And that's exactly what I did.

Life, just like working out, is going to land us in these situations that we're not confident about. Situations in which we have a choice to complain, to fail, or to persevere. Sometimes we have to force ourselves to do the very thing we are so sure we cannot do. And then we shock ourselves when we actually do it!

We shock ourselves so much that, after the run is over, we shamelessly raise our arms into the air and start half-laughing, half-crying at the thought of what we just accomplished.

Encouragement and suggestions and even love from others can take us pretty far, but we will not overcome that challenge until we give ourselves some tough love and push on long enough (sometimes for weeks) to break through the wall that's been holding us back.

In the end, all I needed was a little confidence. Oliver wasn't here to cast "Give Heart," but I pushed on.

It's not as easy as waving a magic wand, but it's so very worth it.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

diy natural yoga mat cleaner

Part of seeking health and happiness involves 1) exercise, 2) avoiding weird chemicals, and 3) being thrifty. For the first, I love to do yoga. :) For the second and third, I love to clean my mat naturally and cheaply. Here’s my recipe!



  1. 1/4 c. distilled water
  2. 3/4 c. white vinegar
  3. 5-8 drops of these essential oils:
    • tea tree
    • lavender
    • pink grapefruit
    • eucalyptus
  4. You’ll also need a funnel and a spray bottle.

Combine everything in the spray bottle. Give it a little shake before each use. Spray onto the mat, wipe down with a wet cloth, then wipe down with a dry cloth.

Namaste. :)

Sunday, June 2, 2013

setbacks and successes

I’ve had a hard time getting back into the swing of training. After my winter hibernation workouts at the gym, I’ve lost a lot of my endurance simply because the treadmill is just not right for me. Now when I run, I feel sloppy and unnatural, like my body has forgotten how to do it properly. When I was training last summer, there came a point when my body would just propel itself forward sometimes…I could feel it telling me “now it’s time to go faster!” and I would just let it, and it felt great. Then after several seconds I could feel it saying “okay, time to slow down” and it would just happen. Now when I run, I feel like I’ve never done it before, like I’m working so hard just to stay upright and not trip all over my own feet. I miss being able to just zone out and let my body do its thing. I haven’t missed the struggle.

Last Thursday was the first time this year that I felt my body indicating that it wanted to take over and guide me. I felt so relieved in that moment but at the same time I’ve felt discouraged at how much progress I’ve lost. So over the last several weeks, I’ve missed some runs. I’ve had to run a couple days back-to-back just to get in all three runs each week. I look at the chart on the wall where I’m tracking my progress and instead of feeling excited about what I’ve accomplished, I feel ashamed at what I haven’t. I regret letting myself lose so much of my ability. I don’t feel proud at all.

Then yesterday I read this post on Don Miller’s blog. I’ve always had this problem…I’m an overachiever and have difficulty setting realistic expectations when I get a new project in my head. But worst of all, when I see that I’m failing at meeting the expectations I’ve set for myself, I become overwhelmed with guilt. (Guilt is a serious issue I struggle with…at some point there’s going to have to be a whole post dedicated to it.) I get stuck in this whirlwind of what I should’ve done, and what a failure I am, that I can’t feel motivated anymore, and that I’d rather just give up entirely.

So I decided to take that training tracker off the wall and throw it in the garbage. I decided to make a new one. A fresh one. With new dates and new (slightly altered) expectations. There’s no point in staring at everything I haven’t done if it’s keeping me from making progress. So I’m starting over as of this week.


As of today, I’m done thinking about what I didn’t do over the last few weeks. Tomorrow I’m going to wake up early and start over at Week 1, Run 1 of my training. At some point we overachievers have to choose to move on from what didn’t happen and be merciful enough on ourselves to start over. A clean slate.

I’m not going to let the past dictate the future. I’m going to stop getting stuck in regret. And I’m going to stop feeling guilty.

And I’m going to run.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

dear mothers

Dear mothers,

You might say I have no right to claim what I’m about to claim, to admonish what I’m about to admonish. You might say that, because I don’t yet have children of my own, I have no right to request what I’m about to request. But I think it’s because I’m still only a daughter and not a mother that I can plainly see this problem.

Mothers, your daughters are listening to you, watching you. When you grimace at your reflection in the mirror, when you bitterly reminisce about how much you weighed in your 20s, your daughters see and hear you. Not only do they see and hear, but they internalize. Without realizing it, they begin to think the same, even from a young age. Without realizing it, you are perpetuating a lifetime of self-destructive thinking.

And it’s not just your daughters who hear and see this behavior. You must think of yourselves as potential mentors to every young woman, because we are always listening and watching your example. When you are constantly stuck in the past, it subconsciously makes us fearful about the future! Conversely, when you are content with your life and can value your own beauty, we have proof that it’s possible to age with self-respect, that we can be proud of our lives when we’re a little older, even if we have a few wrinkles and can’t wear size 6 pants anymore. When you show us dignity, we internalize that, too.

Despite how you see yourselves, I see you as well-versed, amazing women who have done much, seen much. I see women who should be praised for their accomplishments. The lines around your eyes tell me you’ve smiled heartily during your life. Your stretch marks tell me your body has been through feats of strength and difficulty. I respect you for the things you’ve achieved; I don’t judge you. Why do you so harshly judge yourselves?

You deserve the love you can give to yourself. But if you don’t do it for yourself, at least consider your daughters, and all the other women who learn from your example.

There are two cycles. Please work to extinguish the cycle of self-deprecation and build instead a cycle of pride. The way you treat yourselves teaches me to do the same.


(This post is dedicated to Marjorie Smith, my grandmother, who lives a fearless and boisterous life.)

Sunday, April 7, 2013

round 2…fight!

IMG_2958Most of you who read this blog are friends with me on Facebook, so even though I didn’t post on here about it, you know that my official time in the 5k back in October was 30:26. I counted that as a substantial victory, because I know I lost at least 30 seconds at the beginning when I was stuck in the crowd, so I was victorious in achieving my goal! I came in 11th out of 51 women in my age group. But numbers and stats aside, that race was a win simply because I ran the whole thing. When I started training last June, I was running 60 seconds at a time, maximum. It was hard. I doubted myself even on Day 1. And when the 5k came around, I ran for 30 minutes straight! I wanted to quit several times and just walk for a few steps, but I pushed through it, and I’m so glad I did.

There’s the obvious physical benefits of what I’ve accomplished, but what has happened to me emotionally is worth far more. I reflect on last summer and on the 5k with pride and renewed strength. I’m filled with confidence when I see these photos of a moment when I proved to myself that I was capable of more than I ever thought possible, that I am capable of even more than I think possible right now!

During the winter, I didn’t run much. I discovered that I loathe running on the treadmill and, let’s face it, I’m just plain bad at it. I can run about a half-mile to a mile now before I get really fatigued, so I’ve kept some of my conditioning but lost much. This weekend marked the first lovely, warm, Springtime weekend in Nashville, so I’m confident that I can start running outside again soon and get back to my normal (strong, capable, runner) self!

The next step for me is to train to improve my time. I haven’t decided on a goal time yet, nor have I signed up for a 5k, but I’m going to start training again in a couple weeks with a Fall 5k in mind, so I’ll keep you posted.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


photo I’m just over 2/3 of the way through my 5k training. For 12 weeks I’ve been slowly improving. When I began, I was alternating 1 minute of jogging and 1-1/2 minutes of walking. I thought for sure in those first few weeks that there was just no way I’d ever get to the place where I could jog an entire 5k.

Tomorrow morning when I wake up, I’m going to get dressed, lace up my sneakers, and jog for 25 minutes straight. To athletes out there and to people who have been fit at some point in their lives, this might not sound like much of an accomplishment, but as trite as it sounds, thinking about it almost brings me to tears. It feels very surreal when I get done with my run. Sometimes I just laugh out loud, into the quiet of the morning, with no one else around to hear, because it seems so unlikely that it could be possible! I jogged for 25 minutes! Unreal!

Please believe me when I commit to you that if I can do this, you can do this! Start small. Work your way through. Make sure someone is there to hold you accountable. But most of all, have at least one good reason to change your life, because in those moments when your quads are cramping, your ankle hurts, you’re out of breath, and you feel like you can’t take another step, you have got to have a reason to keep going, a reason to push through.

Honestly, before I started training, I didn’t put much thought into my reasons. But what I’ve noticed is, in those moments when I want to quit, my mind automatically wanders to those reasons. Here are a few of mine:

  1. To motivate others. If you know me personally, you know that being a good example to other people is important to me. I have always desired to be someone that people can look up to and can learn from. If I’m not taking care of myself, how can I expect others to take care of themselves?
  2. To build confidence. Visibly, my body hasn’t changed much. The most notable change so far is that my calves are really muscular now! But my shirts and pants don’t feel any looser. I don’t really look that different. But I feel so different. When I look in the mirror, I see a beautiful woman, a strong woman who is capable and powerful. When you respect yourself enough to take care of yourself, your eyes are opened to your strength, which is one of your most stunning attributes!
  3. To prevent health issues in the future. It is no secret that I have a blood clotting disorder. I have seen the damage this condition has done in my own immediate family, and I never want to repeat these problems in my own life. My future and the future of my family depends upon my health, so I mean to take control of it.
  4. To be the best I can be for my husband. A lot of people say that you “let yourself go” when you get into a serious relationship. To an extent, that is true—you become very comfortable around your mate, which can be a wonderful thing. But if I can’t take care of myself for my husband, my lifelong partner, for whom can I? It’s not just about looking my best, either, although I would be lying if I said that isn’t a bonus. It’s about being an inspiration to the person who inspires me. Part of our responsibility and privilege to each other is to push one another to live well.
  5. To prove to myself that I can do it! I was never in sports. I’m the kid who tripped on the kickball and got the wind knocked out of her. I’m the kid who hung helplessly on the rope, unable to move up, while the gym teacher yelled at her to climb. I’m the kid who gave up after one sprint across the basketball court, and probably faked an injury just to be done for the day. I have built this wall of impossibility around myself through all of these experiences over the course of my life, and I realize that I am the only person who can tear those walls down.

And tear them down I will!