Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Dear Man Whose Car I Hit

The clock was ticking past 5 as I was still sitting in my cubicle, knowing that I had only a matter of minutes to skedaddle and make it in time for my work out class. 

This wasn't just any work out class, it was a) my favorite, and b) that one where it's been far too long since my last work out, and I know I reaaalllyyy shouldn't push it one more day. 

It was needed, both mentally and physically. And regardless of the workload before me, I had to make this class. So I locked my computer, grabbed my purse, and crossed my fingers that I could get through the dreaded Fairview intersection in 10 minutes. 

I did! I even managed to nail my parking job on the first attempt (gave myself a nice pat on the back for that one). With a few minutes to spare, I had just enough time to change into my work out clothes that were tooootally from the "I haven't done laundry in weeks so this is what I have to work with" collection. Everything was looking fine and dandy, until. 


That word that signifies the story's about to change, and yupp, you guessed it! This one is. 

I reached down to grab my work out bag and one word came to mind: contacts. They were both vital for the cardio-based work out class, and 100% forgotten as I packed up in the morning. I admitted defeat as I scrounged through my purse and calculated how quickly I could drive home and back. The "and back" part just wasn't going to happen in time. And with an evening full of homework and laundry before me, I figured I just may have to use this as an opportunity to get a head start. 

I silently mourned my work out plans for a few moments before turning my engine back on. Having pulled in with no car to my left, I planned on taking advantage of that space. As my car was turning, I glanced up just in time to see the tan van door I was about to demolish. 

I stopped immediately, both of our eyes like a deer in headlights as we processed what could have just happened. I changed gears, and moved forward into my parking spot, silently thanking God for no or minimal damage, and preparing for a serious chastising. 

The man got out of his car, and examined his door. I was almost afraid to look as he ran his fingers along some scratch marks. I rolled down my window, ready for the much-deserved anger. 

"It looks like I hit you; I'm so sorry," I said. I braced myself as he turned towards me, but instead of resentment and frustration, I was met with unwarranted kindness and grace. 

"You did, but we're not going to do anything about it. I'm just going to go home and buff it out, because if we did something about it, it would ruin your day." 

My eyes welled up with tears, and I said the only words that could come out of my mouth:
thank you. 

He grabbed his gym bag, but before leaving, he said "stop and breath a bit before you go." 

And the tears flowed. 

And flowed. 

And flowed. 

Kindness is powerful like that. I wasn't crying over the situation (okay, maybe a little), or over my work out class, or over the end of a stressful day. I was crying because his kindness blessed me in a way that I didn't know my heart was needing it. 

The truth is, I didn't need a work out class. I needed to hear the words "stop and breath a bit before you go."

Dear man whose car I hit: thank you. 

Thank you for reminding me how powerful it is to live with overflowing grace and kindness in our hearts. 


But if we love each other, God lives in us, and His love is brought to full expression in us. 

1 John 4:12

Thursday, April 16, 2015

On Slowing Down

I found myself staring at the perfectly baby blue sky and shimmering ocean, serenaded by the repetitive, evenly paced waves and adorable toddler voices from the nearby park. It was an unexpectedly free lunch break, and I was in my "I need a breather" spot. My happy place, where I can manage the comfort of my car and the beauty of the beach at the same time. 

I read for a bit, leisure reading that has been set aside now that school is back, and reserved 15 minutes for a recline-the-seat-nap. I've been told that I have a skill for managing a solid nap in just a handful of minutes, and sister, that's the truth. 

What I don't have a skill for? Slowing my mind down. 

I remember mentioning to a guy in high school how odd I found it that our minds can never be silent. "Mine can," he said. 

"No, it's really not possible!" I asserted. "Like, even if you try to think about nothing, you're thinking about thinking about nothing." 

"No" he responded, "there are really times where I think about nothing."

I didn't believe him. 

It wasn't until yearsss later that I remembered that conversation and realized maybe he was right. Maybe not all minds are as busy as mine. 

Sitting at the beach on my lunch break, I was keenly aware of my busy mind. With school back in session, my week days can get awfully repetitive. Work - homework - repeat. I was craving a few moments of a slow mind, and even though I knew I would be asleep shortly, my brain wasn't allowing me the quiet I craved. 

"Lord, please teach me how to relax," I prayed. "Please teach me how to slow down."


I just posted on busy vs. full, and though I hate to admit it, my current season has busy written all over it. I'm finding myself with a lot more "no"s than "yes"s, a lot more scheduled days than free. 

And staring at the beach, I figured something out. I've been fighting the busy. I've been fighting against it because I don't want to be defined by it, because I have this image of being free and surrendered and busy just doesn't fit into that. 

But I realized that I need to stop fighting it. I need to stop fighting, and start asking. Start asking God to slow down my days. Start asking God to relax my mind. Start asking God to free up my schedule when it needs to be freed, and to give me peace with the to-do list when that's what's before me. I need to start asking God to help me embrace a full life versus get lost in a busy one. 

 I'm asking God to help me find slowness amidst the fast pace. 

And so far? I'm finding it. I'm finding slowness in the freedom to take a study break and let my heart pour out into a blog post. 

I'm finding slowness in doodling love scribbles on post its. 

I'm finding slowness in pausing to reflect on what a beautiful life this is, and how faithful our God is to have fulfilled a dream of going to seminary school. 

I'm finding slowness, and I'm clinging to it. I'm asking for more of it. Because this life is too wonderful to be rushed. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Don't Chase Me Bro - Ragnar Relay

 It's been a while since I reviewed a race, and last weekend's 200 (ish) relay race is most definitely deserving of a blog post. 

Last weekend, 11 friends and I ran our very first Ragnar Relay. And guys, I don't think I can accurately portray how proud I am of us for pulling this off. This relay race is no joke, it's both mentally and physically challenging in a way that even surpasses a half marathon. Some people in our group had never run a race before, PJ included. So that feeling when we crossed the finish line as a team? Welp, let's just say it made all the sleep deprivation and ginormous hills way worth it. 

We were divided into two vans of 6 people, and each person had 3 legs to run. Each leg was anywhere from 2.4 to 12.1 miles, but I'd say the majority were between 3 and 7.  Each person ran anywhere from 11 to 24 miles in total, the average being around 15. 

When someone in our van was running, we were caravanning to the next exchange. It was so exciting jumping out to go cheer on our team mate, watching them slap the slap bracelet onto the next person, and quickly getting back to the van to drive to our next location. 

When someone in the other van was running, they were on caravan duty and we were either eating, searching for a non-porta-potty-bathroom, grabbing Starbucks, or attempting to sleep in our van. The gaps between our legs felt long, but for me they were very needed to re-coop for running again. Plus, I got lucky and was able to sleep pretty well during our night stretch. 

And by pretty well, I mean maaaybe a few hours. If that gives you a frame of reference for the amount of delirium we were experiencing by our last leg. ;)

Running at night was amazing. My favorite leg was my middle one, a hilly 10K at around 9PM. The cool temperature made the hills so much more bearable, I need to start running at night more often! 

Even Ryan Gosling enjoyed it. 

One of the most special things for me was getting to run my final leg in the area I grew up in. I didn't realize I was finishing at my high school until I looked at the map the day of the race, and it literally felt like jogging down memory lane. 

Except, let's be real, there were points where it was walking down memory lane. Because man, combining the final leg with the most brutal hills was an ugly combination.

But overall, it was such an incredible experience. There were moments of complete exhaustion, the last leg for everyone I talked to was really rough, but I would do it again in a heart beat. (True story, I already started looking at the Washington one for 2016). 

And so, for anyone who's interested in the amazing experience of a Ragnar Relay, I give you:

Amy's Tips and Tricks for Surviving {& Enjoying} Ragnar

One: Make sure you have at least one (preferably two, one for each van) really, really good planner. 

We're talking coordinating and collecting money from 12 people, renting 2 vans, making sure everyone has the required gear, there's a lot that goes into this. It's more than a regular race, so be sure you've got a good planner to see all the coordination through to the finish line. 

{A huge thank you to Nikolay and Tim for being our planners! We couldn't have done this without you!}

Two: Get matching shirts! It makes things so much more fun. 

{Thank you Tim for making this happen!}

Three: Make sure you can stand to be in very close quarters with your teammates for a very long time. We're talking 30 hours in a van, people. 

Luckily, my teammates were some of my favorite people in the world. Sooo, I lucked out. 

Four: Have back up people ready just in case. We had some last minute changes, and needed to find an extra person. We were fortunate to have Tamara happily step in, and not mind being the only girl in her van. You go, Tamara! 

Five: Bring a foam roller. And use it. 

One of those things we did. And one of those things I learned the hard way. I'll let you guess which is which. 

Six: You can't have too many snacks in the car. It's just not possible, so over prepare. Same thing with water. 

Also, bring energy gummies. Everyone in my van knows what I'm talking about. 

Seven: Get markers that are car-safe so that you can decorate your van {and tag other people's vans}. This is a huge deal at Ragnar, and makes things so much more fun. 

Eight: There will be time for showers and sleep after the race, I promise. Enjoy the experience, delirium and all. 

Interested? Find a Ragnar near you here. And then let me know about it, cause I just might want to do it with you. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Busy vs. Full

Hi, friends! I promise I haven't left you hanging on the final post of the "Love Without Sex" series. PJ and I have gotten some good questions, and we're so looking forward to sitting down and answering them together. That's coming soon, but in the meantime I'm popping in to say hello. (Insert brown haired waving girl emoji that I use all.the.time)
How's life been for you, lately? For me, it's been feeling a liiiittle like a train moving at 100 miles per hour. It's been great scenery, and a no-doubt enjoyable ride, but boy is it hard to sleep on a train. Any one else feel like sometimes, the days can be exhausting?
That being said, life is full and sweet and good. Last weekend was packed with much needed family time, and I'm back in the swing of seminary with a new class on 1 Corinthians. I get to see my sweet Peej this weekend, and we're spending our time together running a 200 mile relay race. (Yupp, you read that right, check it out.)
I'm learning to intentionally fight getting stuck in the busy-ness, and I talk about that over on Annie's blog today. I'm learning that we were not called to a busy life, but a full one. And I don't want my schedule to ever encroach on the gift of fullness that He died so I could experience.
And that's where I'm at. Living and soaking in one full day at a time, trying to surrender my schedule & seek God in all things.
Where are you at, my friend? What do your days look like, and how can I be praying for you in your current season?
I'll leave you today with a few recent favorites. A favorite song that is currently still on repeat (24+ hours going strong), and a few favorite pictures that capture the sweetness cultivating in this season.
I hope your season is cultivating sweetness, too. :)

Photos by Jessica Fairchild, Dress from Stitch Fix