Over the River and Through the Woods…

Life is ever evolving for me these days.  I’ve gone from being a bit complacent with minimal hobbies to giving lots of things a try.  Last week’s adventures…golf lessons and mountain biking.  Golf lessons were great, but biking was an absolute blast (now, I was a little sore yesterday, but hey…I had loads of fun!).

I’ve been a huge fan of spin class at the gym for a while now, but recently decided to step it up a bit, get a real bike, and let the wind hit my back as I ride my fresh wheels.  I must admit that bike shopping was somewhat overwhelming…things aren’t as easy as they seem in the buying process.  You have to figure out if you want regular brakes or disc brakes (ummm…I promise you this is not a car!), full suspension vs. front suspension vs. no suspension, 29″ wheels vs. 26″ wheels, mountain bike vs. hybrid bike vs. road bike…if you haven’t caught on yet, this whole bike shopping thing can be overwhelming and stressful.  Luckily for me, I didn’t really need anything all that fancy, and managed to get a good deal on an “almost”new bike, so I didn’t go through too much stress…I decided a little upgrade from bikes of my childhood was sufficient for me.

My friend, Jeff, and I went out for a ride on Saturday on the Northern Central Railroad Trail.  We left from Cockeysville, MD and rode almost the entire trail (38  miles), which ends at the Maryland-Pennsylvania border.  By the time we finished, we had biked 30 miles in about 3.5 hours (including a few breaks and a little picnic lunch)…crazy, right?!?!?!  The first half of the trail seemed to have several slow and steady inclines, but it wasn’t all that bad…a good route for the beginner cyclist.  I only almost ran off the trail and over a cliff one time…I’m going to invest in a bell to alert the walkers that I’m coming up behind them.  I think that may be a bit safer than trying to swing out around them.  I felt pretty amazing for the first 12-15 miles, but when it was time to turn around…that’s when my “Taylor-made” knees started to hurt.  My mother’s family tends to have bad knees AND I was crazy enough to bike this distance for my first outdoor ride so I wasn’t all that shocked.

The trail itself was absolutely beautiful…who knew the landscape in Maryland could be so amazing…rushing water, walls of slate, towering trees.  There was such peace and tranquility…nature has a way of just calming one’s entire being.  No matter what one’s vantage point is, Saturday was an absolutely amazing day!!


I Needed You…

As I sit here tonight, it’s hard to imagine that this time a year ago, I was struggling to make perhaps the most difficult decision of my life.  I can vividly remember all of the emotions I was feeling at that moment in time – fear, anxiety, stress, doubt, confidence – just like it was yesterday.  It was a tough time, but tonight as I was driving home, one thought surfaced in my mind, “I Needed You”.

Initially, I chuckled to myself…did I really I need to go through the roller coaster ride that resulted from my breakup?  The resounding answer is yes.  It’s only natural for us to want to avoid the painful moments in life, but those moments are essential for our growth and development.  Even though I hated every stage of grief I went through, I can rejoice in knowing that my ex-fiance was an essential part of my life plan.  I needed him…I literally need him for so many reasons.  I needed him in order to learn how valuable my life is…I needed him in order to learn how to love myself unconditionally…I needed him in order to make healthy living a priority for me…I needed him in my life in order to connect with a new church family.  It’s easy to think about all of the reasons why we’re glad a person is no longer in our life, but if we really take time to sit and reflect, there are so many reasons we we needed that person to be a part of our life.

Without a doubt, life felt like a living hell for me a year ago, but today, I walk around with a smile on my face everyday because through the experience, I fell in love with ME, I learned to believe in myself, and I learned to appreciate my worth!  I learned that I can be loved and appreciated unconditionally, I learned that I don’t have to stay in a place just because I’m there, I learned how to live again!  By learning to appreciate just how much I needed my ex and that awful experience to be a part of my life, I somehow managed to turn the seemingly worst year of my life into the absolute BEST year of my life!

No matter how many times I close my eyes and wish, I can’t see what lies ahead in my future and that’s quite alright with me because I’m certain that great things await me.  Until next time…

God’s Grace

This afternoon I had the opportunity to attend the 21st birthday party of an absolutely amazing family friend, Amy, and I was reminded of God’s Amazing Grace!  When Amy was born, she weighed less than a pound, less than the weight of a canned good from the grocery store, that’s hard to imagine, but our awesome God has truly shown his grace and kept Amy and her family over the years.  Amy is such a loving young lady, the absolute closest individual to perfect that I know.  As so many people stated over and over again at her party, Amy is God’s gift of love to all of us who know her.

For her 21st birthday, Amy had a piano recital and family dinner celebration.  I must admit, I was greatly impressed by her skills on the ivory keys, but perhaps the most beautiful part of the day was that for HER birthday, Amy blessed us with the gift of song and the sharing of her miraculous story.  (I won’t share it because prayerfully there will be a book published about her life story in the near future.) This isn’t behavior seen in the typical 21 year old, who would traditionally head to the bar for their first “legal” drink or away with friends for a birthday weekend bash.  I certainly wasn’t looking forward to a family dinner to celebrate turning 21, in fact, I think I went to the slots with my grandmother for my 21st, but this is why Amy is such a blessing to us all.  God created her to be unique and perfect in His sight.

Amy and her family have shown me what it truly means to love and what it truly means to be a fighter and trust God even in the most challenging seasons of life.  Through Amy, God has shown me that His grace is indeed sufficient and sustaining.  Tonight, I thank God for the beautiful life of Amazing Amy!