Have you ever had a friendship come into your life at the just perfect time? Three years ago, God gave Rachel and I mutual friends, similar circumstances, and a random weeknight coffee date. The rest was history!
I could totally get all mushy and gushy on this one, but for the sake of my tears and your time, I'll refrain. Just know that I am oh so thrilled to feature Rachel this morning - when I think of encouragement, she quickly comes to mind. She's been my maid of honor, my confidant through one of life's most difficult seasons, my running partner, and my best friend. I just know you'll love getting to know her this morning! Friends, meet Rachel.
What's in your coffee cup this morning?
Within the warm circular shell of my insulated mug swims a deep, dark roast... Ha! Yeah right. I have the lightest, girliest drink available. It is commonly known as the "White Chocolate Mocha," and unfortunately for me, it costs a pretty penny. I was never really a coffee drinker until I married my husband, Matt. My marriage plus the fact that there is a Caribou Coffee shop conveniently located across the street is a dangerous combination, my friends! I have made the White Chocolate Mocha my traditional Friday morning treat.
What is the first thing you did today?
The first thing I did today was take my puppy, River, outside to potty... in the pouring rain. Mind you, it was 5:30 am. I had not yet looked in the mirror at my hair, nor did I take the time to put my glasses on. Yikes! I ended up cooking breakfast before I went back upstairs to shower for work and no, I still had not looked in the mirror, nor taken the time to put my glasses on... Take a moment and imagine such a sight. I did, however, manage to successfully make breakfast sandwiches and keep River from eating our kitchen table. This was a successful morning!
What is something you've been loving lately?
Lately, I have been loving swimming. You see, I am a runner and spent the better part of this freezing winter training for the marathon that I ran in March. Training was such an intense commitment, both for my body and my schedule, that I have enjoyed exercising leisurely again. Matt and I joined the gym across the street and I have been trying to swim 2-3 times a week. It is a wonderful full-body workout, without the pounding on my joints or the stress of training and competition!
What is something you struggle with and what are you learning as a result?
I must admit that I struggle with the concept of identity. Being satisfied with myself, just as I am, has always been an area of difficulty for me. With the Lord's help, I have been able to manage a positive perspective until very recently. I got married this past summer and since then, I moved to Northern Virginia. Over the past year, I have experienced "newness" in a way that I have never experienced it. I have a new husband, a new name, a new family, a new church, a new city, a new job, new friends, new colleagues, a new house, and a new dog. Whew! That awkward feeling of stepping out of your comfort zone has been a "groundhog-day" experience for me over the past 9 months. I have truly struggled with feeling like I belong in many of these places. Back home, in Salem, I knew who I was and where I belonged, I was confidently serving in the church, hanging out with friends, and contributing to the community. Now, I struggle to figure out what I'm good at, what I'm known for, what I bring to my family, friends, students, and the world. It's like I have to find myself again. I have discovered, though, that this current state of mind is something to be thankful for. I feel confident that the Lord has brought me to this point in my life to help me see that my identity can only be found in Him and Him alone. If I found my identity in running, or teaching, or something else I was exceptional at, it would distract me from seeing who I truly am - a child of the King. My friends, what could be a better "identity" than that?
Life can get busy and stressful. How do you simplify?
Simplifying life is one of the most difficult things for me to do. My husband is an incredible "simplifier" and I am learning from him daily. He helps me practice calming myself during stressful situations and he helps me to take hold of the idea that some "to do" list tasks can wait until another moment or another day. The scripture found in Matthew 6:33-34 comes to mind often and I know that it is the gentle voice of the Lord calling me to simplify my life by worrying only about today. It says, "But seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all the things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." I know that focusing on today and living in each moment would certainly alleviate stress by simplifying my world-view.
What's one thing that made you smile this week?
My dog, River, always makes me smile. She certainly makes me frown, too, but she's 100% puppy and that's a story for another day. This past weekend, Matt and I took River hiking in Great Falls. She's a Chesapeake Bay Retriever and is bred to swim and hunt water fowl, so I've been working with her, trying to get her comfortable swimming in deep water. On the hike, we stopped at various points along the Potomac River to let her swim. She loved it! She had her first "real" swim, and was fetching sticks out in the water within minutes! Watching her do what she was made to do is one of my favorite things. As we continued to hike along the trail, we came to a little bridge that covered a small creek, and I remember thinking, if I love watching my puppy do what she was made to do, how much more does God enjoy watching his children do what they were created to do? He is always teaching me something! Lots of smiles that day!