Saturday, May 30, 2015

Willow Heights

Finally, a sunny beautiful weekend in Salt Lake City, Utah and I did not want to be stuck inside all day. After sleeping in to recover from dancing until the wee hours this morning, and after completing my week 2, day 3 Couch to 5K workout, I met up with a friend for an afternoon hike.

The last time Sarah and I went for a hike we got caught in a downpour at the top of the hill and ended when we got back to the car. This time, there was no rain in the forecast and hardly a cloud in the sky, so we strapped on our hiking shoes and headed up the canyon.

We decided to go to Willow Heights (check it out on All Trails). Its' about 2 miles round trip and takes about 1 hour. We found it without too much of a problem (unlike the first time I went there last fall with my roommate). The drive up the canyon was easy and we found it just past the Silver Fork restaurant and parked on the shoulder of the road because there's no parking in the neighborhood by the trailhead.

We walked up the neighborhood roads stopping briefly at one intersection only once as I pondered which turn to take to get to the trailhead. I'd left the hiking book in the car because I thought I remembered. I was right about which direction to go and we spotted the trailhead just down the road.

The trail is listed as an easy hike in the guidebook, but we did breathe a little hard on our way up and stopped a few times to get water and take a few pictures of the view.

We found a small meadow and crossed a little stream. Then a little farther down the trail was the big meadow and the lake. Looking from the big meadow across the valley was a great view of Solitude ski resort. We saw a deer as we looped around the lake. And we decided that it would be a nice hike to pack a picnic on and relax for a while.

The walk back down the trail was much easier, but we did stop once to have some water. My legs were a little tired and wobbly. Had to do some stretching when we got back down to the car. I'm pooped, but in a good way. Hopefully it'll help me sleep well tonight.

Two moose, one in the pond and one in the bush!
Check out those awesome hiking shoes!
The lake at Willow Heights.
Solitude ski resort

Love Is

When I think about love, or when I think about being "in love", and how the feeling has faded and wondered if I still love the person, the line from DC Talk's song comes to mind: love is a verb. Take a listen here if you haven't heard it before, or if you haven't heard it for a while:

Love is more than a feeling. Sure, that "in love" feeling is nice, but it doesn't last. So when the feeling fades, is love gone? In our thinking brains, we know that the answer is no, but in our feeling, emotional brains, we might question our love or the other person's love.

I am a person who is very in-tune with their emotions. That gift has its ups and downs. It helps me be a compassionate, loving person. I feel things deeply. And because I feel things deeply, I love deeply and sometimes easily and I get my heart broken deeply, painfully, too.

So, the questions going through my mind the last few weeks is: do I still love him, does he still love me? We no longer have the "in love" feelings, the need to always be together (or in our case of long-distance relationship, always be texting/calling each other about everything). Life has taken a big shift as he had some big issues come up at work. We haven't been able to connect the last couple weeks as we did the first many weeks of our relationship (month and a half). Does that mean we are no longer in love?

In my logical, thinking brain I know the answer is no, we haven't stopped loving each other; or at least I haven't stopped loving him. In my emotional brain, and remember I'm an emotional person - very strongly E on the Myers-Briggs personality test, sometimes my irrational feelings get the better of me and I let doubts creep in. And I think this is the devil preying on me, using my gift as also my weakness to attack me.

Again, I have to go back to the reminder that love is not a feeling, love is a verb.

I saw a post on Facebook several weeks ago. It was something like a conversation between a parent and their daughter. Every time the daughter would come home deeply in love with/have a crush on a boy at school, the parent would ask: Can you put their name in place of the word love in 1 Corinthians 13? If the answer is no, then it's not really love.

I tried this with his name after I read the post. His name fit. Boy, but on the other hand, lately my name does not. I haven't trusted or hoped very well. I'm praying about this, as well as seeking support from godly women, and spending time in prayer and God's Word.

Love is a journey. God is growing me. It's not easy, and sometimes it's painful, but the refiner's fire will make me stronger. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

I'm NOT a Runner...Yet!

This used to be my motto for running.
When I first started my path as the Urban Hiker Girl, one of my goals was to be able to run. I wasn't exactly sure how far or when I wanted to run, only that I wanted to be able to do it. Comfortably. I wanted to be able to run and play with my niece and nephew and my students without going out of breath quickly, without hurting my joints, and without looking awkward.

I can run now! I can chase my niece and nephew and my students and not be out of breath and not look awkward. Granted, sometimes those kids are still faster than me, but I can do it.

I've started to add jogging on the treadmill into my workouts. For a while I was mixing it in with walking by varying my pace on the treadmill every time a song on my workout playlist changed (song change = pace change).

A few months ago I downloaded the Couch to 5k app (click here to get yours!), but I didn't start using it right away. I let it sit on my phone for a while. I even contemplated deleting it because I wasn't sure I was going to use it; I kept it because I paid for it and didn't want to throw away money.

Last week I started using it. I pushed through week one. It was mostly a mental battle because of the stress I've been under; the variety in the workout was similar to how I'd been varying my treadmill workouts so the physical part wasn't too hard. But now I can say: I'm becoming a runner! Week two, day one done and more to come!

"If you run, you are a runner. It doesn't matter how fast or how far. It doesn't matter if today is your first day or if you've been running for twenty years.There is no test to pass, no license to earn, no membership card to get. You just run." ~John Bingham

Tuesday, May 26, 2015


Patience: It may be a virtue, but it certainly isn't feeling like one of my strengths lately.

He was supposed to come visit the weekend of May 8th, but due to a business emergency he had to make a trip out of town. The trip was postponed to the following weekend, but the business crisis continued and kept him away. Same story the following weekend. I kept hoping that his birthday weekend, Memorial weekend, would finally be the weekend he would be able to visit. But no, still no visit.

Lord, I'm trying to be patient, but this is really hard. When will we finally be together again?

I'm still waiting. The hardest part of this is that the work situation has also kept him working long days and weekends, so we hardly talk. The few messages I have assure me of his love and that he misses me.

At first I was in despair (see previous post: Stormy Week). Then I started to find hope as I fixed my eyes on Christ and serving, supporting, and loving him through this. I found strength in talking to girlfriends who helped distract me from my situation and godly women advising me, and even a few visits with my pastor (see previous posts: Peace and Fear Not!).

Still, doubt slips in on occasion. The world has a different view of relationship and love. To the world love is a feeling, so if the feelings aren't strong then there must not be love and it's time to move on. But God tells me that love is more than that. Love is patient (1 Corinthians 13:4)

Fear tells me to let go of him, he's not communicating much. It says "he loves you, but does he really mean it if he's too busy to let you know he's ok or he misses you"?

Patience says to trust that God has a plan and that God is working in this situation to bring me closer to Him. Patience says that God is using this to strengthen me and change me.

Patience.... is tough. But I'd rather be a fool for holding on even if it turns out that it's over than be a fool for letting go and missing out on something great, because you never know, I might be surprised. It might just turn out that patience brings me my heart's desire. So I'm going to keep hoping, no trusting, that when he says he loves me he absolutely means it. And I'm going to keep hoping that he's so deep into his work waffle, that what he  needs most is space and support, and when he comes out of his work waffle he'll be ready to re-engage with me (see "Men are Like Waffles, Women are Like Spaghetti"). And, I'm going to keep blogging to help me process, because that's was spaghetti women do- we connect with others!

Monday, May 25, 2015


I was scrolling through Facebook the other day and stumbled across an article shared by HuffPost Good News. I stumbled in because the headline caught my eye: "I'll be 36 by the time this gets published, and I'm still not married." It was very relatable to me. As I continued to read the article "24 Promises Every Man Should Make to His Future Wife", things went downhill right away. I was expecting loving sentiments of support, fidelity, and strength to be promised. Boy was I wrong. Right off the bat things went awry. 

Promise #1: I will try to solve your problems instead of just listening and saying "that sucks."

To the author, I say no wonder you are still single! Women don't want a man to solve their problems. We want a man to listen. Sometimes you will just have to say "that sucks" but other times you can offer support through helping us brainstorm solutions to our problem. By trying to solve our problems for us you are saying that we are not smart enough or powerful enough to solve our problems on our own. You take away our power and our control of our lives. No woman wants to be rescued (ok, maybe we DO on occasion, but not really), we want a man to support us, be by our side, cheering us on as we take on the world and solve our own problems.

Promise #10: I will not share my passwords with you, nor will I ask for yours.

This just screams wrong to me. Passwords should be shared between spouses as a sign of honesty and trust... ok, and in the back of my mind there's a little voice saying what about emergencies? You shouldn't have to ask, they should be willingly given as a sign of trust.

Ok.... so the promises aren't all this horrible, some are ok, but most are kind of lame. Regardless, there are a lot better promises that a man could make to his future wife. It's a nice idea in theory, but try again, man, try again.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Visions and Dreams

I spent all last week waiting to hear from him. I released my white-knuckle grasp and gave things over to God. It wasn't easy, I kept trying to take it back, but I at least loosened my grasp.

On Monday, I had visions of him coming back to me with my arms wide open and tears spilling down my cheeks. After a email message from my grandma, who had previously encouraged me to give him space, I sent him a tender loving message as she was now advising. I apologized for being needy and clingy earlier last week and for adding to his stress burden. He apologized for pushing me away and said work and stress compounded by my anxiety had caused him to freak out. And just as I had envisioned, I had tears streaming down my face. I felt tears of joy that we had come back together.

He is back in my arms (figuratively).... sort of. He's still at a distance. Still working on saving his business and dealing with client issues.

Monday night, I had a dream of myself holding a very fragile bubble. I have been given a gift of him communicating with me again on Monday and assuring me of his love. Now, how do I proceed with this relationship? I feel afraid that it is in a fragile state right now. How do I proceed with my life, with loving him and supporting him when things feel fragile right now?

On Monday night, this is how I imagined my relationship status - I am holding a fragile bubble. See Rule #1.

I know, in my head, that things aren't always going to be happy. We aren't always going to feel the euphoric high and intense feelings we felt the first weeks after meeting. (Today, I read a great article shared by eHarmony, the dating website where we met, that was all about happiness in relationships. It had some great thoughts on this topic of happiness in relationships. Read it here.) So, I ask myself and some godly women I know: how do I love and support him when I am feeling a distance between us? When the happy high is gone and we are in the midst of real-life tough stuff - how do I love him and support him?

I want to ask him these things, and I will ask him. But how do I ask him, when it's hard to get a response?

“Communication to a relationship is like Oxygen to life. Without it … it dies.”  
– Tony Gaskins

(From the great eHarmony series of articles on relationships. Read it here.) I fear that without a visit soon, without physical contact, that this distance will continue to grow between us. I'm a fan of the "Five Love Languages" stuff by Gary Chapman (learn more here). My strongest love languages are physical touch and quality time. A long-distance relationship makes doing both of those hard. So how do we keep love alive when my strongest love languages are hardest to do? Gary Chapman has some ideas, but how do I use those, when the expressions of love should come from him to me, not from me to me?

"I am frequently asked how to apply the 5 love languages in long-distance relationships. Physical touch and quality time are particularly challenging in these instances. The simple answer is this: you must be creative and committed to staying connected despite the distance." (Read more here.)

I don't have the answers... yet. I'm going to keep praying on these things and seeking godly counsel to see what I can learn about myself, relationships, and this relationship.

Update: Last night, I had another vision as I slept. My prayer to God,  before falling into an exhausted but peaceful sleep, was that He would show me what I need to do.

Bubbles aren't meant to be held, they are made to float and fly. I love him and value our relationship too much to hold on, I need to let it be free. I need to give him space to soar. And I need to give myself the freedom to love freely and live my life without fear. 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

What I'm Learning

I was working out this afternoon and this song came on my workout playlist: "Faithful" by Hawk Nelson. Take a listen.

I've been doing some reflecting on relationships this past week and spending a lot of time in The Word, in prayer, in my journal, and in conversation with godly advisers. Through this challenging situation I've been learning things about myself. More importantly I've been learning things about God and my relationship with Him.

I thought about how I had been longing for a word from the guy I'm dating, just a few moments of his time, reassurance that he still cares and that he will keep his promise to see me again. I longed for these things so much that my heart ached, felt like it was breaking, and I cried a lot. And as I dove into God's Word for comfort it slowly dawned on me- isn't this how I should feel about spending time with God? Shouldn't I long for Him, spending time in prayer and His Word as much or more than I long for time with the guy I'm dating?

Yes, at times my world feels like it's falling apart (and I'm dealing with the emotional stuff and balancing out hormones) because the plans we had made together don't appear to be coming to fruition. And because I can be a bit of a control-freak it's hard for me to let the man take the lead in the relationship. And because I'm super-organized and into detailed planning it's hard for me to handle the unknown. I know these things about myself. It doesn't make this any easier, but at least I know this about myself.  And now I know, really know, how God wants me to feel about Him. And perhaps a bit of how He feels about me?...

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Fear Not!

This week I have spent too much time living in fear. Fear for my health, fear for a loved one, and fear for a relationship. These are all good things to be concerned about, but not to live in fear about.

I really needed these words this week.

Last night I feared for my health after a traumatic blood donation reaction. I had a vasovagal response (or syncope) which resulted in me fainting and a few other things (want to know more? click here). Anyway, a friend who's a nurse prescribed rest, hydration, and increased salt intake. I felt wiped out the rest of the evening, took a nap, had dinner, then went to bed early. After sleeping for 10 hours I'm feeling much better... now to clean up my roommate's car so it smells better.

The big fears that took up my time and energy this week were for the guy I'm dating and our relationship. The first part of the week was consumed by a lot of unbalanced fear. In hind-sight, I strongly believe it was the devil trying to get a foothold and trying to shake my faith - my faith in God and my faith in this person. I was overwhelmed by fears to the point of despair.

I turned to my pastor, and some wise, godly women, as well as God's Word for strength and encouragement. I'm still concerned for my guy and our relationship, but no more unbalanced fear. On Thursday morning I determined that throughout the day if I felt concerned for him, instead of worrying that I would pray this simple sentence prayer: God, give him peace. On Friday, my prayer again was simple: Lord, give me strength.

Today, I woke up feeling drained from both the stressful week and the traumatic events of my blood donation yesterday. My prayer today has been a bit more complex: Lord, let him feel in his heart that I am praying for him and loving him and trusting him. Lord, give him mental clarity to fix this, to find resolution for his business. Help him know that if he needs to be at work next week and not visit until later that I will be ok. Help me to trust that he is doing what's best for him and best for us. Help me give room to let him lead our relationship.

Throughout the day when I've thought of this man and our relationship I have prayed some variation of these words. While out at lunch I prayed. On the way home from the movie theater I prayed. Shopping in Walmart I prayed! While writing this blog I am praying. I may do some deeper prayer around this, including journaling and reading my Bible, but I am determined to not lose hope, to trust in the Lord, and to love myself and him through this tough situation. I will find my strength that God has given me and I will support him as well. God has good things in store (Jeremiah 29:11) for me and for him!

Thursday, May 14, 2015


Good words to start the day.

These were the words that started the day with my students during our morning devotions. They were exactly the words I needed to be reminded of today. 

The devil had been getting in and taking away my hope. I'd been feeling despair over not hearing from him on the phone for several days. I had cried myself to sleep for two nights in a row and woken up in the morning crying still. I was not at peace. 

Friends and coworkers meant well but spoke in platitudes. I had lost hope and was sinking in self-pity, despair, sadness, and self-absorption. I had taken my eyes off of God and the hope and peace.

On Tuesday I had spoken with my pastor about meeting with him after work on Wednesday to talk about a different situation, but because I was so overwhelmed yesterday by these feelings of sadness that we spent most of our time talking about this. He listened patiently. And when I had finished crying and talking, he spoke softly and calmly. He helped me find hope in the situation. He helped me stop focusing on myself and my feelings and focus on my relationship and my boyfriend. His words gave me encouragement and I left determined to be more supportive and loving of him and less needy. 

Wow. The last time my guy and I had prayed together, I had asked God to help me love him more unconditionally, just as he was loving me. I guess the answer to that prayer was an opportunity to practice that. 

 My last words to him yesterday were an apology for being selfish and consumed by my feelings and a promise that I would attempt to be more supportive of him and that I trusted he would contact me when he was able. I still haven't heard from him. But the last words he texted to me were to reassure me of how much he loved me. That is enough for now. And it is enough to know that God is in control, watching over us, and will give us HIS peace.

I have a sweet song based on this verse
that I once sang for my church going through my head.
This is a great earworm today.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Stormy Week

This has been a rough week. Last weekend I came down with a bad cold. I stayed home from church on Sunday and work on Monday. On Thursday, the guy I started dating (who currently lives out of state) told me that he wasn't going to be able to visit me this weekend as planned. It's been three weeks since we last saw each other and I was very disappointed.

I started feeling lousy on Saturday. A little lethargic and extra sweaty on my walk to an appointment about a half-mile from my apartment. I thought perhaps it was the heat making me feel "off" since the temperature had jumped up significantly that week. But by that evening I was dragging, sneezy, and generally feeling lousy. And Sunday I was clearly sick. I stayed in bed, or on the couch, all day and spent most of the day napping. I called in sick that afternoon and spent Monday doing the same.

Still feeling lousy Monday afternoon, I emailed my boss to let her know I needed another day of rest. With three teachers planning to be out later that week, we were short on sub availability for the week. The principal asked me to contact her the next morning by 6:30 to find out if she was able to secure a sub and to see how I was feeling.

The next morning at 6:20 am I was still feeling yucky, but when I called the principal she made it clear that finding a sub was very difficult and inconvenient. Out of guilt, I gave up my need for self-care and went to work. I dragged through the day and after lunch put on a movie for the afternoon. I was there in body but not in spirit. After work I took a 2-1/2 hour nap and then went to bed early.

Wednesday, I was feeling physically better, but not back to 100% restored health yet. My guy, who had been great earlier in the week with supportive comments and desires to be there to care for me while I was not feeling well, started having things at work fall apart. Clients and staff not happy and he was extra-busy putting out fires. He was going to end up working late and wouldn't be able to talk on the phone that night as we have been doing regularly. At least we had our visit this weekend to look forward to.

But things really went south for him at work on Thursday and he sent me a message saying he wasn't going to be able to make it out this weekend. He was going to have to go visit a client over the weekend and try to do damage control. My heart dropped when I read that message and I tried to hold it together until my lunch break. It was not easy.

I knew that these words on my
page-a-day calendar would
be needed again.
At lunch I tried to call him to talk, but it went to his voicemail; he was busy leading his team. Life was feeling pretty stormy and rough. Mid-afternoon I was teaching religion to my students; we were on the story of Jesus calming the storm on the Sea of Galilee. As I read the story to the kids and the suggested teaching notes from the teacher book I started getting choked up. The words pierced my heart and reminded me that I was focusing on the storm, rather than the Creator. I felt comforted by the reminder that God will give us peace in the midst of the storms of life. I sent my boyfriend a quick email about the story to comfort him, too.

That night, we finally had the chance to talk on the phone, and pray together as has become our habit. It is such a blessing to be able to pray with someone you love. We can lift up each other's cares to the Lord. That night, his prayers for me and for our relationship brought tears to my eyes. I have never felt so honored and loved by a man before. I told him so and how much I appreciated that. It was a very special moment for us. We were both still disappointed at not being able to spend the weekend together, but encouraged by our time talking on the phone and praying together. Prayer is such a blessing.

Friday, I was back to full health, but still feeling blue about my guy not being able to come. When I received a bouquet of flowers and box of brownies and cookies from a student, I devoured two sweets right away that morning, and two more that afternoon. I was eating my feelings...maybe I wasn't in full health after all- my emotional health was not good.

In an effort to undo damage from my poor eating that day, and to earn back some calories so I could enjoy the dinner celebration that night, I hit the gym right after work and pushed myself extra hard on the elliptical machine. The exercise helped clear my mind, but my stomach was upset from all the sweets that day and no amount of exercise was going to help that. The damage had already been done.

I had started the week doing the best I could while I was sick. I had bought several cans of soup the week before, which were easy to fix while I was feeling less than energetic. And when I needed a few more things, a wonderful friend picked them up at the store for me on Tuesday morning. But Thursday and Friday, I started hitting the emotional eating hard. Lots of sweets on Friday.

Not only did I feel emotionally lousy on Friday, I made myself feel physically lousy by my eating. I paid for it that night. I was so bloated and my stomach so upset. I slept very poorly Friday night. Between the worries about not hearing from my guy because of his busy-ness and my upset stomach from poor eating, I tossed and turned all night until my stomach settled down late on Saturday morning.

Finally feeling physically better, I got up and headed to the fitness center late on Saturday morning. I exercised, but my mood is not improved. I still have not heard from my guy and I'm feeling disheartened and extremely disappointed. I had looked forward to seeing him for weeks. We had made plans for our time together. Now it is all postponed and I don't know when we'll see each other again.

But after yesterdays tummy troubles from poor eating, I listened to my body and I am determined to NOT eat my feelings this weekend. I'm taking care of myself by eating well and allowing myself to feel these feelings, no matter how uncomfortable they are. After all, they are just feelings and they will pass.

This, too, shall pass....

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Better Than Gold

Music has always been a language of my heart. When I can't find words to express what's in my heart, I can often think of a song that has just the right words.

Almost as soon as I heard Danny Gokey's song "Better Than Gold" it spoke to me. I wanted a man to think and feel those things about me. The guy I was dating at the time definitely didn't feel it. I could tell, but I kept hoping. But even after we broke up I still had this longing every time I heard this song to find the man that would feel this way- that I'm better than gold.

I had kind of forgotten about that longing for a while, but today as I was working out (this is definitely on my playlist- how can you NOT want to move to this song?) I was reminded of that longing. But it's no longer an empty hoping. That longing has been fulfilled. I've found the guy that I believe feels this way about me. He says it in many little ways, but there's no doubt that it's there. I feel so blessed...


...because I feel that way about him, too.