Reflections in the [Bridge]Water – Crossfit Staunton

 The fourth and final impactful community I’ve experienced in the Shenandoah Valley for this series is CrossFit Staunton. It probably wasn’t smart to plan this post just before our wedding, but hey better late than never right…three months later?

When I moved to Staunton, I knew I wanted to maintain some level of fun, physical activity and hoped I could also meet some new people in the area. The first day, I walked in a completely uncoordinated kid and clumsy as anything. After my first workout after the five fundamentals classes, which covered all the basic movements, I nearly made the coach poop his pants in trying to press the bar overhead and instead, threw myself backwards into a wooden post.

Got to start somewhere, right?

From there, things only got better. I slowly picked up the rhythm of this particular gym. Physically I felt stronger. Coordination became easier and overall the rigor was well, invigorating!

Since I’ve been a member the past year, I’ve seen the culture of this particular gym evolve into one amazing group of people. The owner and coaching staff have done a brilliant job embracing not only a mindset of continued physical growth, but also relational. Men, women and kids of all ages and backgrounds, body types and goals find safety in this community pursuing healthy lifestyles together.

The biggest joy of being a part of CFS was it simply added another layer to the ever growing pocket of people in my life. Crossing paths multiple times a week at work, church, home or a combination of the three was by far the best way to encouraged and be encouraged by others.

Similarly (though not through Crossfit, I’d imagine) Jesus lived with people to impact them daily. Not weekly for a simple hour but he very much became a part of many individuals lifestyle. I am filled with joy and have loved seeing how he has taught me to live in the same way in the pockets of people I have loved in Staunton.

And now flash forward three months to a new city, new husband, and new pockets to fully integrate into are ahead of me and I couldn’t be more excited to see how the Lord continues to stretch me.

How have you changed or changed others through the community around you? How does Jesus’ model of impacting lives apply to the pockets of people you interact with?

Seeing Community Growth through Beautiful Demolition

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Mill City Museum | Minneapolis, MN

“Community only exists when action is taking place.”

I’ve thrived in seeing this phrase lived out among people I interact with in various communities. Most recently, I’ve had the joy and privilege of living it out with several colleagues from around the world over the past few months in a training program through my company. We’ve spent hours struggling through classwork and have continued to build relationships through other outside activities. It has been amazing.

Until a “bad” thing happened.

Our director sat the class down for an intense discussion regarding some perceived unprofessional behavior as a group. My heart sunk. In that moment, I could pin point exactly where I was guilty of giving a bad rep for the company. It made me feel ashamed that as ambassadors to this company, we had failed. Others around us couldn’t tell how hard we wanted to work to do well and to give the company a good name. I could do nothing but sit stone faced and feel scared poopless about where this conversation would end.

But somehow, as class members started to express various concerns, complaints, and compliments, I found myself incredibly joyful. It was one of maybe two moments I have felt intimately close to this group of people. In the middle of addressing a conflict, I was witnessing the process of our great relationships growing even more in depth.

I don’t believe action in relation to growing community is always “good.” Take for instance Jesus’ group of followers/friends. Sure they faithfully followed him around, but they sure didn’t do the “good” thing all the time. During his last night before the religious leaders put him to death, Jesus and his friends went to a garden to pray with him. Well instead of praying with him, like he asked, they fell asleep. Not quite the most “professional” or dutiful thing to do during a critical time.

Fast forward several years and we see that these very same nappers are the people planting the first churches in the history of Christianity. They are the leaders raising up more leaders to follow Jesus. Their very lives were at stake for the work they were doing and yet continued to fulfill it faithfully.

Guilt is no effective way to respond to doing a “bad” action in the midst of community. From the planting of guilt grows no “good” action for the future. Had Jesus’ friends let guilt bog them down, they would have missed out on being part of the amazing work he had set out for them.

I find it beautiful to see imperfect people mess up and through grace, have it redeemed as something incredible. Our little eclectic group is far from perfect, but throughout this experience, I believe that a strong sense of community is understood amongst all of us. Do I think this is the last time any of us will receive correction in our careers? Absolutely not. Will this group succeed through learning as a community? Yes, yes, and again yes.

Where have you witnessed growth in your communities? How do you see difficulties/joys affecting the way individuals interact with each other? Please share and I would also love to hear feedback!

While I’m Growing Up

Somewhere around that stage of 3rd or 4th grade, kids tend to be prompted with the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” At that point, I probably answered something along the lines of “teacher” or possibly even “mom” (obviously marriage would have been implied for that particular response).

If I was prompted with that very same question today, my answer would be, “Your guess is as good as mine.”

A couple weeks ago, the staff worker for our chapter of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship gave a talk from the book of Proverbs on planning. One of the main points he emphasized was that to have a good plan, you also need a vision. Because so much of our lives are subject to change, that vision doesn’t necessarily mean that we have to set up exact checkpoints to reach the end goal.

You know how when you’re drawing a line on a piece of paper, it’s always harder to make it straight if all you focus on is the end of the pen? But, if you concentrate on the point where the end of your line needs to be, it turns out fairly straight.

At this point in my life, I’m not longer in 4th grade (though some days I wish I were…but then I quickly realize that would mean I would have to eventually go back to braces and return to being content in the moment). Neither  have I figured out what I want to be when I “grow up.” Up until this summer, I’ve been attempting to draw my line by watching the point of my pen, but as time goes on, a vision for what I want to be (or more importantly, a vision that is beginning to line up with what God wants in me) has become a bit clearer. Sure there are quite a few small things I want to do in between now and my end goal. Learn to speak Arabic, become a better photographer, spend more time in prayer, tackle microprocessors, be content in any circumstance, and figure out how to read maps are all good goals (personally anyways…you have the full right to disagree), but in and of themselves are extremely insignificant.

If I had to respond to the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” this very moment, my response would simply be “I’ll always be growing up.”

Got to thank God for that.

Return, resume & rewind

This Monday marks my two week mark of being back in the States from England. The second week of classes is almost over and things seem to flowing fairly well. It didn’t take too long to adjust to riding on the right-side of the road, but acclimating to weather that goes well beyond 70 degrees in temperature it a bit tougher. =]

Aside from environmental adjustments, I’ve been able to settle in to school and such, but specific things from the trip this summer have started to process. I no longer spend the entirety of my day with the same group of girls, sharing in constant community. I can carry on through the whole day without even being held accountable to anyone, if I so choose. While the independent side of my nature thoroughly appreciates this, I keep feeling God tug at me in different ways saying, “Do not stray away and hide. Seek out true community and live in full.”

In sensing a push towards a direction I didn’t quite like or understand very well at the time, frustration and anxiety took over and left me pretty empty. While working out this bit of mess, I finally rummaged through II Timothy, and found this passage:

I have been reminded of your sincere faith…and, I am persuaded, now [faith] lives in you also. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.

II Timothy 1:5-7

*punch in face*

But in all honesty, that’s something I really needed to hear. Consistently seeking out solitude in my frustration is not what is supposed to happen. Hiding behind whatever I’m facing does not help to “fan the flame”… it just heaps sand over the coals.

A Time to Refocus


5 days till exams end.
22 till orientation.
30 till my flight leaves out of Philadelphia for Birmingham.

*head spins off*

Slight exaggeration, but I’m sure most of you know the feeling. Everything unimportant is urgent, and none of it can wait. Everything important isn’t pressing at the moment, but if put off too long, is painful to repair.

Spending time with Jesus definitely seems to be one of those “important yet unpressing” things in my life and as summer quickly approaches, it’s hard to see where and when I can dedicate that time to him. Very hard to make time amongst exams and life for the very person who saved me from a life of constant uncertainty and eternal death and pain. No big deal right? Um…. WRONG.

This past semester I have had the awesome privileged of studying and picking apart the gospel of John with two friends of mine, one who is familiar with the life of Christ and one who isn’t. Up until the past couple of months, I had seen Jesus from a completely different perspective simply from discussion with someone who had little to no knowledge of Jesus’ life. I had only vaguely seen the man whom John the Baptist prepared the way for several years before he came to earth, the man who demonstrated such love for an outcast woman, and the man who called himself the “bread of life.” What kind of guy was this? Only the guy who turned this whole world upside down. Only the guy who my life and my purpose in going to Birmingham is about.

So something to think about: who is this guy to you? Is he simply just a man who performed miracles and did good things during his life? Is he only a “phone a friend” type person who you only call when you’re stuck in a tight spot? Take time to go deep. Open one of the gospel books and really think about why such a man would even come here in the first place. I really think you’ll be surprised with what God shows you.

Oatmeal


“How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!
I gain understanding from your precepts;
therefore I hate every wrong path.”

Psalm 119:103-104


His word never changes and continually fills us up with such sweetness despite the bitterness that surrounds us. When we face trials and have to make hard decisions, sometimes we are inclined to cling to any bitterness in the situation and fail to seek God’s will.

In seeking His will, we are required to do more than just sit around and wait for some big epiphany from God. While He is fully capable in communicating this way with us, He desires our an earnest devotion to speak with Him day-to-day all throughout the day! If we are to understand His precepts, we need to have a constant awareness of His presence. At times, He speaks to us so softly, and we must tune our ears to hear and focus our eyes to see what he wants to say to us.

May you be daily be filled with the sweetness of His words and presence of the Holy Spirit!

Time for a Walk


This week my family and I trekked up to New Jersey to visit my dad’s relatives for some post-Christmas celebration time. On one evening, dad decided to go for a walk. At this point, close to two feet of beautiful white snow lay on the ground, in some points drifting about chest high. Needless to say the night was gorgeous, lit with Christmas lights and silent aside from the occasional snow plow.

Unfortunately I left the house a bit too late to catch up with my dad, so I skirted around downtown Spring Lake on my own. Being a Tuesday evening, no place but the pizzeria was open. This made my stroll all the more enjoyable.  Unsurprisingly, I began to ponder things.

What were people doing in the houses I passed?

Who had left their house since the blizzard?

Why didn’t I bring my camera ?

Eventually I began to think about and reflect on other things as I have been in the habit of doing as of late. These things include several seemingly negative situations I have found myself in the past year, which led me to think, “Is there any good in dwelling on the negative?”

Negatives tend to be a part of life for a reason. As an illustration, look at a magnet. A magnet is polar, having a negative and positive end. In order for two magnets to join, they must be joined at polar opposites, otherwise they repel each other. Two positive ends and two negative ends would never join.

If our lives were to continually be surrounded in positive situations, we would be limited to experiencing only so many of them. With the absence of negative situations, we would never be fully attracted to the positive ones.

Going back to my original question (the one referring to negative… not my curiosity about people in random houses), how much should we really cling to the negative?

God does not bring negative situations to allow us to want more, but instead allows them in order to help us realize the goodness of the positive. If we can rejoice even in the seemingly negative situations, then our joy will be that much greater in seemingly positive.

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. Philippians 3:11-12

I think C.S Lewis illustrates this amazingly in his allegory “The Horse and His Boy” (part of the Chronicles of Narnia series):

“I do not call you unfortunate,” said the Large Voice.

“Don’t you think it was bad luck to meet so many lions?” said Shasta.

“There was only one lion,” said the Voice. “I was the lion… I was the lion who forced you to join with Aravis. I was the cat who comforted you among the houses of the dead. I was the lion who drove the jackals from you while you slept. I was the lion who gave the Horses the new strength  of fear for the last mile so that you should reach King Lune in time. And I was the lion you do not remember who pushed the boat in which you lay, a child near death, so that it came to shore where a man sat, wakeful at midnight, to receive you.”

“Then it was you who wounded Aravis?”

“It was I.”

“But what for?”

“Child… I am telling you your story, not hers. I tell no one any story but his own.”

A Portuguese Tale

The women’s Sunday school class I attend at my church is studying Linda Dillow’s book “Calm My Anxious Heart.” This past week we talked about “Trusting God with the ‘Whys,'” and in the chapter, Dillow opened the chapter with this story. It’s a beautifully simple story of how we only see a glimpse of the entirety our life entails.


Once there was an old man who lived in a tiny village. Although poor, he was envied by all, for
he owned a beautiful white horse. Even the king coveted his treasure. A horse like this had never been
seen before—such was its splendor, its majesty, its strength.
People offered fabulous prices for the steed, but the old man always refused. “This horse is not a
horse to me,” he would tell them. “It is a person. How could you sell a person? He is a friend, not a
possession. How could you sell a friend?” The man was poor and the temptation was great. But he never sold the horse.
One morning he found that the horse was not in the stable. All the village came to see him.
“You old fool,” they scoffed, “we told you that someone would steal your horse. We warned you that you would be robbed. You are so poor. How could you ever hope to protect such a valuable animal? It would have been better to have sold him. You could have gotten whatever price you wanted. No amount would have been too high. Now the horse is gone, and you’ve been cursed with misfortune.”
The old man responded, “Don’t speak too quickly. Say only that the horse is not in the stable.
That is all we know; the rest is judgment. If I’ve been cursed or not, how can you know? How can you
judge?”
The people contested, “Don’t make us out to be fools! We may not be philosophers, but great philosophy is not needed. The simple fact that your horse is gone is a curse.”
The old man spoke again. “All I know is that the stable is empty, and the horse is gone. The rest I don’t know. Whether it be a curse or a blessing, I can’t say. All we can see is a fragment. Who can say what will come next?”
The people of the village laughed. They thought that the man was crazy. They had always thought he was fool; if he wasn’t, he would have sold the horse and lived off the money. But instead, he was a poor woodcutter, an old man still cutting firewood and dragging it out of the forest and selling it. He lived hand to mouth in the misery of poverty. Now he had proven that he was, indeed, a fool.

After fifteen days, the horse returned. He hadn’t been stolen; he had run away into the forest.
Not only had he returned, he had brought a dozen wild horses with him. Once again the village people
gathered around the woodcutter and spoke. “Old man, you were right and we were wrong. What we
thought was a curse was a blessing. Please forgive us.”
The man responded, “Once again, you go too far. Say only that the horse is back. State only that
a dozen horses returned with him, but don’t judge. How do you know if this is a blessing or not? You see only a fragment. Unless you know the whole story, how can you judge? You read only one page of a book. Can you judge the whole book? You read only one word of a phrase. Can you understand the entire phrase?
“Life is so vast, yet you judge all of life with one page or one word. All you have is a fragment! Don’t say that this is a blessing. No one knows. I am content with what I know. I am not perturbed by what I don’t.”
“Maybe the old man is right,” they said to one another. So they said little. But down deep, they knew he was wrong. They knew it was a blessing. Twelve wild horses had returned with one horse. With a little bit of work, the animals could be broken and trained and sold for much money.

The old man had a son, an only son. The young man began to break the wild horses. After a few days, he fell from one of the horses and broke both legs. Once again the villagers gathered around the old man and cast their judgements.
“You were right,” they said. “You proved you were right. The dozen horses were not a blessing. They were a curse. Your only son has broken his legs, and now in your old age you have no one to help you. Now you are poorer than ever.”
The old man spoke again. “You people are obsessed with judging. Don’t go so far. Say only that my son broke his legs. Who knows if it is a blessing or a curse? No one knows. We only have a fragment. Life comes in fragments.”
It so happened that a few weeks later the country engaged in war against a neighboring country. All the young men of the village were required to join the army. Only the son of the old man was excluded, because he was injured. Once again the people gathered around the old man, crying and screaming because their sons had been taken. There was little chance that they would return. The enemy was strong, and the war would be a losing struggle. They would never see their sons again.

“You were right, old man,” they wept. “God knows you were right. This proves it. Yours son’s accident was a blessing. His legs may be broken, but at least he is with you. Our sons are gone forever.”
The old man spoke again. “It is impossible to talk with you. You always draw conclusions. No one knows. Say only this: Your sons had to go to war, and mine did not. No one knows if it is a blessing or a curse. No one is wise enough to know. Only God knows.”

Why Hello There

I am…

a photographer.
the oldest sister as well as daughter.
a proud Hokie.
an engineering student.
a brown-eyed girl.
a slight tea addict.
crafty, but not quite creative.
a sucker for any cologne that reminds me of my dad.
blessed with a wonderfully quirky family.
a thrill seeker.
drawn to being outdoors.
a guitarist and pianst.
fascinated by water.
daily trying to devote myself to serving God.


This is just a snippet of the person God’s shaped me to be the past 19 years of my life, but the list continues to grow and my experiences daily increase. I admit that I am no perfect person, nor am I expected to be… only that I continually seek help from the only God who can make me pure and recognize that I am as helpless as a tipped cow in the pasture.