Wednesday, July 22, 2015

More Than Hot

An article that came across my Facebook wall prompted me to write this. It was about the difference between women who are hot vs. beautiful. I highly encourage you to read it. I think it will speak to your heart, too.

At first, on my weight loss journey I did have some aspirations to be hot. To have a body that men would desire. To have a body that I would desire. Now, I long to be beautiful and I scoff when men tell me I'm hot.

I don't want to be (just) hot.

Hot is what is seen on the outside. I want a man to see my inner and outer beauty. Hotness fades after the music dies, the makeup comes off, the drinks wear off. Beauty radiates from within. 

Like the Bible characters of Esther, Mary, and Ruth, I don't want to be safe, nice, or sweet; I want to be a powerful, passionate woman who is a beautiful warrior. A warrior who fights in a feminine way for my family, friends, children in need, and myself. And I want a man who is drawn to my character, such as courage, faith, and bravery.

As I continue reading chapter one of "Captivating" (yes, I'm still only on chapter one), there are so many truths that jump out to me and speak to my heart. The desire to be beautiful is lifelong and has caused some women grief while others have been shamed, used, and abused for it, yet the desire still remains in a woman's heart. "And it's not just the desire for an outward beauty, but more - a desire to be captivating in the depths of who you are." A captivating woman has a soul that is alive.

I want to be seen for more than my outward beauty. I desire to be seen and appreciated for what's in my heart - my great capacity for love, my loyalty - my fierce loyalty, and my compassion. When eHarmony matches ask my three best qualities, those are what I write about. I long to be seen and admired for those things in my heart.

And here's a quote from the book that's one of my favorite's so far:

"We desire to possess a beauty that is worth pursuing, worth fighting for, a beauty that is core to who we truly are. We want beauty that can be seen; beauty that can be felt; beauty that affects others; a beauty that is all our own to unveil."

That is the kind of beauty I want. That's what I want others to see in me.

All quotes taken from:
Eldredge, John and Stasi. Captivating. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2010. Print.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Am I Enough

I've just (finally) started reading "Captivating" by John and Stasi Eldredge. I mean really just started - I'm on page seven. And already it's speaking to me, so much so that I had to stop and write about it.

What does it really mean to be a woman? 
There are many books and people who share what expectations are placed on a woman, but as the author's write "There has been precious little wisdom offered on the path to becoming a woman". And, if we base what it means to be a godly woman by what we see at church, "you'd have to conclude that a godly woman is ...tired. And guilty."

Wow. So, the church sets a high standard and many of us tire ourselves out trying to reach it and we are left feeling bad about ourselves. Great. I kept reading, hoping that there would be hope to come. And that's when things got really personal for me. These words were like a ghost from my past. They echoed how I felt after losing my job six years ago and the years that followed where I tried to rebuild my life.

"I know I am not alone in this nagging sense of failing to measure up, a feeling of not being good enough as a woman. Every woman I've ever met feels it - something deeper than just the sense of  failing at what she does. An underlying, gut feeling of failing at who she is. I am not enough, and I am too much at the same time.... The result it shame."
We feel unseen, even by those who are closest to us. We feel unsought - that no one has the passion or the courage to pursue us, to get past our messiness to find the woman deep inside. And we feel uncertain - uncertain what it even means to be a woman; uncertain what it truly means to be feminine; uncertain if we are or ever will be."
Aware of our deep failings, we pour contempt on our own hearts for wanting more...we long for intimacy and for adventure...But the desires set deep in our hearts seem like a luxury, granted only to those women who get their acts together."
Wow. If I would have written down how I felt after leaving Fort Wayne, that's probably what I would have said. I felt like I had failed - failed at being a teacher, failed at being independent, failed at being a grown-up. I had given up my job, my home, my pets, many of my belongings, my car, and was moving home to live with my mother. I felt like everything that gave me my identity had been taken away and I was left feeling unsure of who I was but longing for more.

No one could possibly see and know all that I felt. Sure, some people had empathy for me and felt compassion because they had gone through their own circumstances that had left them feeling lost and like a failure, but no one had experienced MY circumstances.

Schools were no longer pursuing me as they had in my previous years. My name wasn't out there, or if it was, they couldn't see past the fact that my last year teaching had only been for a few months. My phone didn't ring.

I was uncertain where to go from there, what to do with my life. And it wasn't just my job that was affected. My confidence had been shattered and it affected everything I did. I became a bump on a log for a long time - sleeping, eating, reading, watching TV, and maybe some knitting. I gave up my favorite things- playing volleyball, singing, playing my guitar, being out with friends. No one understood; I was sinking into myself.

My mother finally (lovingly) pushed me hard enough to seek help. I found a wonderful Christian counselor (psychotherapist) who wouldn't let me slide by. He pushed me to dig deep and find my inner strength. I got involved in a program called "Emotional Brain Training" (EBT for short) that helped me rewire old messages that I had told myself, or been told as a child, about not being enough. With my counselor's help and through my own hard work I found my strength, the strength that God had given me, that I'd had all along.

I now see my own beauty and know that I am enough and God is enough for me, but still there is a longing for a mate, a partner, a spouse. I can't wait to see what this book helps bring to light about the heart of a woman and how to become "captivating".

Eldredge, John and Stasi. Captivating. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2010. Print

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Lake Blanche

New friends - new hike
As if a my first ever 5k race in the morning wasn't enough, when a friend texted to share about me run, he invite me on a hike that afternoon and I said ok, afterall, he'd done a 10k that morning and if he could do it so could I. I had just enough time to find and buy a hydration pack, grab some lunch, and because of a delay I even got in a power nap.

So after a quick clothing change, sunscreen reapplication, and I was ready to go on a hike. When my new dancing friend pulled up with a car-load of people, I was psyched to go to Lake Blanche, though I had no idea where it was. After a short drive up the canyon we were at the trailhead and fortunate enough to find a parking spot in the lot and not on the side of the road.
Lake Blanche

We all strapped on our hydration packs, except the guy who only brought a frozen Coke, and we hit the trail. It was a beautiful trail along a creek, though it was very narrow. We stopped occasionally to let other hikers pass by on their way down and to take in the views.

With every stop we were awed by the breath-taking views. At one stop, about 3 miles up, while we were waiting for a couple people in our group to catch up, the guy and girl I was with with decided to stop and do some dance poses on the rock outcropping we were sitting on. The background scenery was stunning and the light hit at the right moments.

The hike was not easy, but it was so worth it. Once at the top, at Lake Blanche, we thoroughly enjoyed the views as we stopped to rest and snack on trail mix.

The trip down was easier than going up, as the descent usually is, but still a workout. My legs were burning and shaking from the exertion of the day. About 7 miles and went up 2,720 feet in elevation on the hike (plus the morning 5k). But it was all worth it for these views:

We could see the Lake!
Look through the branches.

Can you see it?

Lake Blanche

The other two lakes at the top.

My First 5k

Picked up my packet!
I am a runner!

I started running 8 weeks ago and on Saturday, July 11th I did my first ever race, the Bubble Run 5k. Earlier this summer as I was starting my Couch to 5k training, I started looking up 5ks that I could do with friends. My friend Karey and I decided to sign up for the Bubble Run together - with her two little boys.

Eight weeks ago, I never would have thought I could run 5k (about 3 miles). But I've had several friends use the Couch to 5k app so I thought I'd give it a try. I was ready to try something harder in my workout routine, so I downloaded the app and started.

Ready to run!
I plugged in my headphones and hopped on the treadmill those first few weeks, letting the belt's momentum propel me along. Physically it was fine going, the harder part was the mental battle I had to push past. I've always declared myself to not be a runner, but here I was becoming a runner.

In early June I had a big opportunity - I could take a week off from training or I could take my running to the streets while I was on family vacation in Denver. I decided I had to at least try running on the streets. I surprised myself by not only doing it, but doing it well. It wasn't as hard as I had thought it would be.

Every run started with a mental battle. Did I want to get out of bed early in the morning on my summer vacation? Did I want to run after doing/eating .... the night/day before? Would I be able to run that far? Would I survive the heat? Every time I got out of bed and put on my running clothes, popped on my headphones, and headed out the door. Every time I did I ended up amazed at what my body could do.

I started following running groups on Facebook and reading articles online about running. I bought a "Running for Beginners" book that was chock full of advice and tips. I even found running as a connection between me and some guys at my online dating websites.

Start line selfie!
Last week, as the first race drew closer, I got more and more excited. It was motivation to get out of bed for those early morning runs which were still increasing in time on the training app. And on Friday when I picked up my race packet, it felt so right and so real that I should be doing this. I'm ready!

As we drove to the race on Saturday morning, I was pumped, only a few nerves about what my strategy would be - run with my friend or go at my own pace. After doing our usual 5 minute warm-up walk, as taught by the Couch to 5k app, my friend and I decided to run. I got swept up in the crowd and she got caught keeping an eye on her boys running with her. Decision made.

And so I went. Knowing that I didn't have my music to help me keep a steady pace, I knew I would have to reign myself in so that I didn't start too fast and then die at the end. I forced myself to go what felt slow at the beginning. Well, and the large crowds forced me to go slow, too.
At the start line with my inspiration.

About a mile in to the run there was a major bottleneck as the large crowd had to cross a small bridge. A few people were continuing down the path. I didn't know the course at all, but hoped they knew another way across the river that wasn't going to add too much time/distance. I followed the few and bypassed the bottleneck, only adding about a quarter-mile to my run but saving a lot of wait time.

Bubble feet
from the bubble bogs!
I just kept pressing on, trying to run past the walkers who were taking over the whole trail despite many announcements to run left, walk right. I had to zig-zag a lot, but I kept moving. I allowed myself breaks at the bubble bogs to enjoy the bubbles- after all, they were the reason for the run! I didn't play and get as colorful as some people, but my shirt did have quite a few colors by the end and my ankles were tie-dyed looking when I took my shoes off later.

post-race... not quite as
dirty as the kids
Just keep going. I kept putting one foot in front of the other. What a difference running with a crowd in a party-atmosphere made to my run. It seemed to fly by; before I knew it was I was approaching the last bubble bog and headed towards the finish line, passing near the start line where the course snaked back around.

Good clean fun!
Crossing the finish line was a challenge as so many other first time 5k'ers were stopped to take picture of their accomplishments. I was able to run across the line and then stopped to grab a few water cups at the station right across the line. I found an open grass spot and stretched. Many people were going right to the post-race bubble bogs to party and get more bubbly, but even in a fun run I knew I'd need to stretch.

I kept my eyes peeled for my friend and her boys. When I saw them (after a hunt for one of the boys who got separated after crossing the finish line) we went to play in the bubble bog together and enjoy our post-race glow. It was a great morning!

And if that wasn't enough exercise for me that day, I accepted a last-minute invitation to go hiking that afternoon at Lake Blanche....

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Fear Cannot Keep Me Here

Tonight I took a big step towards a new me. Just in case you didn't know, I'm not perfect - shocking, I know. I've had trouble in the past believing that I was worthy of unconditional love and it's led to some unhealthy relationship in my life. I didn't believe I was lovable to others let alone myself. I used to try to do and be what I thought would make others love me. I would strive so hard to show others I was worthy of love.

A few days ago I posted about seeing my beauty and recognizing that I deserve a man who would see that too, not just lust after my physical beauty but someone who would also see my inner beauty, I decided it was time to set some firm boundaries in my life, especially around dating. (see blog post "I See Me")

I thought the guy I had kind of been seeing was gone from my life (just disappeared, stopped communicating), which was painful, but a good way to start fresh. Then he suddenly reappeared claiming a technology problem kept him from communicating for a few days. (Things had been weird for most of the week before the communication stopped.) I felt the devil trying to chip away at this new resolve to see how strong it is. And my mind did start to wander down that old path of lies about myself. But I pulled myself back, with God's help.

"The Mended Heart" Bible Study
by Suzanne Eller
I was reminded of this new me, this new attitude, this new belief, as I did my "Mended Heart" Bible Study today. I don't have to believe those old lies, those old ways of thinking. I felt reinvigorated to keep going in this new direction that God was leading me.

And then loneliness and doubt started creeping in again this evening so I decided to take myself for a walk with the hope that fresh air and good music would turn my mood around, or give me a safe place to cry and talk to God.

As I started to slowly walk with my head down, I felt the tears creeping into the corners of my eyes. But then this song came on. It's part of an album I just downloaded for the title track. But this song, THIS song, got to me. I half listened the first time it came on. Then I hit repeat. Again. And again. And again. I replayed this song about 6 times until I was singing along loudly, chin held high, pumping my arms, and walking fast with a smile on my face.

This song reminded me of what I've been repeatedly reminded of in my Bible Study. The chains are broken and I am free from my sins of my past and my old beliefs about mysel
f. God is reaching out to me to heal my broken heart. Fear does not have to have control over me any more. This song is telling fear that it no longer has control.

I know I'm gonna need this reminder again. This is an old chain, and old habit to break. I'm gonna need time to reinforce a new belief. God is patient, He will gently keep calling me back to Him. Thank goodness I'm not alone!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Adventures With Bloe

"You're Becca and Chloe,
together you're Bloe." 
(quote from Pitch Perfect 2)

Girls night out!

Just another adventure with Bloe!

Yah, that's us - Becky and Chloe, together we are Bloe and we have some awesomely crazy adventures together. I can't divulge all of our adventures, but let me tell you about what happened today as we tried to celebrate Chloe's birthday with a morning hike and early lunch.

Wildflowers along the trail.
Chloe came over to my apartment around 8:45 this morning and we flipped through my hiking guide book to find a trail with a short hike nearby. We looked at several options and decided that Willow Heights, one of my favorite close short hikes, would be best for our purposes today. 

The sky was overcast but only a small percent chance of rain (20% according to my phone's weather app). We were both dressed in capris and had long-sleeve shirts to go over our tshirts. Being teachers of small children we took our own advice and hit the bathroom before heading out - "everyone needs to try, there won't be bathrooms there."

A short drive later we were half-way up the canyon and at our trail by the Silver Fork restaurant. We parked on the side of the road and meandered through the little neighborhood to find the trail head.

Love the birch trees and the views.
The sound of the wind through the birtch trees is magical. And with the wildflowers growing tall and close to the trail it was like walking through an enchanted fairy forest land. 

...and then there was a low rumbling in the distance. And it got louder and closer. Then in a blink there was a flash of light. I really hoped it was just Chloe taking a picture using flash, but the startled look on her face told me no. We had just started to wonder if we should keep going or turn back; the flash of light was all the answer we needed. 

We started to high tail it down the mountain as rain began to fall. As we neared the trail head the rain began to fall harder. A man pulling down a tent in his yard suggested we find shelter from the rain as it increased in volume. We agreed and walked faster back to the car. By the time we got there we were pretty thoroughly soaked. 

As we drove down the mountain to find some hot coffee and toasty bagels to warm us up, we laughed about this adventure. I had wondered what we would get up to on a hike, what mysterious adventure awaited us today. At least we didn't fall off a cliff, get chased by a swarm of killer bees, mauled by wild animals, or lost in the woods. We laughed as rain ran from our hair down our faces. It was a good adventure, but we are definitely taking a rain check for another hike.

Happy birthday, Chloe!
Always an adventure with Bloe!

Monday, July 6, 2015

I See Me

I realized something today during yoga class. I'm beautiful. I'm beautiful and my body can move in amazing ways. Ok, so I can't do all the yoga poses with total ease and comfort and fluidity, but still, my body is beautiful and amazing. And I don't mean it in a conceited way. It's just a self-realization.

Yes, I know I'm beautiful when I get dressed up to go salsa dancing or have a night out with my girl friends, but I didn't realize how beautiful it is when dressed in workout gear, no make-up on, doing things that are challenging. But as I looked up from various poses to see if I was correctly mimicking the instructor, I saw my own reflection in the mirror of the darkened classroom. And I saw something beautiful.

I saw a long, lean shape. I saw thin places and curvy places. I saw muscle definition. I saw strength and areas that need support. I really saw me. And it's nice to finally see myself for all the things that I am. I'm amazing and wonderful. I'm special and unique.

In light of all my wonder over my freshly discovered beauty, I realized I deserve some things. I deserve to date a man who will honor and cherish this beauty, not just lust after it. I deserve to be with someone who will see all the beauty that I see and more.

From myself, I deserve continued acceptance and forgiveness. I deserve to honor and cherish my own body by exercising, eating well, and getting enough sleep to nourish it inside and out. I am a beautiful creation of the Creator and I deserve special care and attention. I deserve to nourish my spirit through time with my Creator and His Word.

Wow. I really am beautiful and strong. It's not just something I say hoping to believe it. Today I believe because I have seen.

Saturday, July 4, 2015


Plumb - Exhale
Driving home last night from a night of dancing and I was getting teary. It's been a very emotional few days for me and mostly it's just hormones causing me to cry. My night of dancing had started off shaky with a creeper (who I think was intoxicated) at the dance lesson being inappropriate. The instructor stepped in and the night improved, but on the way home tears started to flow. I had the radio on, as I usually do, and this time it was on Air1. As I pulled into a parking space at my apartment I heard these words. They froze me in the car until the song was over.
It's ok to not be ok
This is a safe place
This is a safe place
Don't be afraid
Don't be ashamed
There's still hope
There's still hope
No matter what you've done or who you are
Everyone is welcome in His arms
Just let go, let His love wrap around you
And hold you close
Get lost in the surrender
Breathe it in until your heart breaks
Then exhale

I had to find out who this was and get the song. I immediately searched Air1's website and found out the song and artist. The words impacted my heart greatly. I was so moved that I had to buy the track (actually, I got the whole album right there on my Smartphone from Google Play) because I knew I would want to listen again and again in the days to come.

If you've been following my blog, then you know my heart's been a little broken lately and I'm working on mending it with God's help. This song reminded me of the work I've been doing in Bible Study the last two weeks (see previous post) and with a Christian counselor over the years.

I'm a recovering perfectionist. It's been a long journey to realize that I don't have to be perfect. Yes, there's times I still strive for it. And no, it's not saying that I don't always try to do my best in all things. But I'm learning that when I do my best, it doesn't have to be perfect to be good enough for God. And in the places where I'm still broken, He's healing me and making me whole. HE is making me perfect in His eyes; His beautiful, beloved daughter. 

If you feel broken in areas of your life, I invite you to listen to this song and be reminded that God will wrap you up in His grace and love. Let Him heal you. (And if you want more, check out the Proverbs 31 Ministries Bible Study: The Mended Heart on their website.)

Breathe, close your eyes, and listen. Let the words sink in. Then listen again and let them sink deeper.

Oh God, We breathe in Your grace
We breathe in Your grace
And exhale
Oh God, we do not exist for us
But to share Your grace and love
And exhale

If you are hurting, I pray that God would bring you to a place of healing. Whether that's through this song, through checking out the "Mended Heart" Bible Study, through a Christian counselor, godly friends, or simply by His Spirit, may you receive that healing that your heart craves from Him.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Lord, I Need Your Help

Back in mid-May when my last relationship was faltering and falling apart, I spent a lot of time drawing closer to God. In the midst of my struggles I wrote the following letter as a prayer.

I want to share it with you because it's part of my journey as the Urban Hiker Girl - my emotional and spiritual journey - and I want to be authentic with you my followers and readers. I have edited it just a bit for privacy of the person it's about and for clarity. My hope is that if you are struggling in a relationship, whether dating or otherwise, that this will encourage you to also draw closer to Your Creator who knows your heart and loves you dearly and tenderly. He will be your strength and meet all your needs. Trust in Him.

Your life is a story being written by God.
An excerpt from the book "The Mended Heart" by Suzanne Eller.
Dear Lord,
I feel my hope faltering. My eyes are getting focused on my fears that I am alone and the relationship is ending. I'm not focused on You or on supporting him.
Lord, I want him in my life. Things don't make sense without him. Help me be supporting, not smothering. Encouraging, not needy. Help me give him the space he needs to focus on work. Help me have faith and trust him when he says he loves me, that he will come back to me when he can.
I'm so tired of feeling weak and lonely. Help me be strong for myself. Help me be strong for him. Lord, be my strength. Give me peace.
Help me find the inner strength that I know I have, to be a strong woman on my own. I know I don't need him, I only need You. But I want him in my life.
Within a week of meeting him I knew I wanted to marry him. I believe you ignited that desire; it had not been on my mind. You gave me that desire, you will fulfill that. Help me be the woman you want me to be, the woman he needs me to be.
And when we are reunited, bless our words and time together.
Help me now give him space.
Help me to not smother him.
Help me support him.
Helm me encourage him.
Help me to stay present.
Help me honor my feelings, but not give them control.
Psalm 37:4 "Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart."
How do I delight myself in You in this?
Focus on the work you have given me to do: Love my kiddos (students).
My hearts desire is to be in a loving relationship with a godly man.
I think he is that man. Maybe he's just a glimpse of what it could be like. Help me find my strength in You, not in him. Help me to let go of my need for him and to need only You, Lord.
Lord, I really need You now. My joy is wavering and my focus keeps slipping...

My dear readers, if you are hurting, longing for someone, or feeling alone, go to the Lord. Cry out to Him. He will heal your heart and give you His peace - a peace that only He can give, greater than the world.

An excerpt from the book "The Mended Heart"
by Suzanne Eller.
And if you really want to dig deeper into healing your hurt, I highly recommend the book "The Mended Heart" by Suzanne Eller. I'm reading it right now as part of a Proverbs 31 Online Bible Study. I can feel the Lord working on my heart to bring further healing and change in my life. May it bless you and heal your hurting heart. (And if you read it, I'd love to hear what you think!) Reading this book is one reason I feel compelled to share this letter with you - as part of my healing.

To find out more about "The Mended Heart" Bible study from Proverbs 31 Ministries, or to get a copy of the book, follow this link.