Running Forward!

Running is a way that I deal with life. God and I have the best conversations when I am running. I solve all of my life problems on my runs (or at least I feel better about them after the endorphins are flowing through my body). I started running about 7 years ago after my boyfriend and I broke up. Emotions are excellent fuel for a good run. After he and I broke up, I was hurt, sad and angry. Sometimes, one does not know what to do with all of those feelings. I could run on my treadmill and work out what I was feeling in my mind and sometimes vocally (it’s a good thing no one was watching me talk to myself). Afterwards, I’d feel so much better. It was at this time that I set a goal. I wanted to run a marathon. Haven’t done that yet, but running the half marathon is a good start. I remember when I got on my treadmill with the intentions to run a mile without stopping. I was running at a 5 mile per hour pace and finished that first mile in 12 minutes. Not very fast, I know! I was very proud of that mile! I went into the house (the treadmill was located in the garage) and bragged to my sister how I just ran a mile without stopping. This is very impressive! Well, looking back at those early running days and contrasting them with what I can now do, it’s really not impressive at all. That is one of the beautiful things about looking back. One can see all that has taken place, the growth that has happened and the cause and effect of decisions. Along with the sudden desire to run a marathon another thing that I resolved at that time was to thrive and not just survive (I’m sure someone else came up with that but at the time I felt very cleaver with my little rhyme). I prayed that God would make me into the “Alina” that he wanted me to be. The next 7 years up to this point were filled with transitions and were transformational and continue to be.

After my heart started to heal, I started to evaluate my life and where I thought it was going. Without my boyfriend my dream of getting married was put on hold. I was working a part-time job at a preschool and though I loved the job, I felt like that was all I was ever going to do. I could not see any opportunities in my futures. But I had a dream, a dream that I had buried. It started to resurface. Before this point there were times when I would hear about people who had gone to Bible College and I would think it would be amazing to go too. But I didn’t pursue it. I had planned on getting married young and working at the preschool. That was going to be my life. Or at least what I thought it should be. I remember this day very well. I was in my classroom sweeping the floor and I had a thought. I told myself, “I want to go to Bible College.” At that moment I started to pursue it.

That decision brought more growth and opportunities, more than I could have imagined. I started at Multnomah University in Reno in the Fall of 2013. Being that the main campus was located in Portland OR, my interest in the Pacific Northwest was born. I made my first visit to Portland during my first semester with my close friend, Kaysi. I remember as I was preparing to head home from that trip feeling so sad. I fell in love with that place. It was weird because I had visited other places but none of them captured my heart like Portland Oregon did. I knew I would come back and I did. I visited 5 times within a 3 year period before I moved to Washington in 2016.

I am so grateful that I did not marry my boyfriend. I am still single. If I ever do get married it will definitely be at an older age than I ever expected. But my life has been full. I have sought the Lord. He has turned to me and heard my prayers. He continues to grow me more into the “Alina” that he wants me to be. He has blessed me with the opportunity to live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. I also get to teach kindergarten. Fun fact! When I first looked into Multnomah in Reno, I wanted to pursue Elementary Education but the Reno campus does not offer that major. However, God did not forget that desire of mine. I graduated with a degree in Bible and Theology and I get to use it in a Christian school teaching kindergarten.

I run daily. I want to train for another half marathon. Someday I will run a full marathon. Running has gotten easier through much perseverance. Running is still hard but it gets easier as I get stronger. My strength has grown and I have also grown more into the version of “Alina” that I should be. I am thriving! 40089434_1935359259859814_3424165949501079552_n

My Plan to get a Husband… Do Nothing!

Things like pursuing a career or working towards a college degree are all things that I can plan, save and make happen. I can set five year plans and chart out my course for reaching these goals. Having a husband could be a goal but I cannot pursue it the same way I would other big goals. Hhhmmm let’s see… how about I just be married before I turn 30. Well, it looks like that is not going to happen. I could be but that would require me to lower my standards and settle for any creeper that asks for my phone number. For me, that is not an option, so I remain single. I would rather be single than be married to some of the guys who have asked me out. As flattering as it is to be the center of attention, it is also discouraging because I rather it be with the right guy and not the cult member who can’t get anything done, only eats pizza, is allergic to the outdoors and church, and hasn’t talked to his family in 10 years. It makes a girl wonder how she can attract such creepy men. I am convinced that the creepy ones lack any awareness of how awkward they are and have no fear of pretty girls. The descent men see the pretty face of a nice girl and think that she will bit their heads off if they say hi. Because really, my face screams, “talk to me and I will bit your head off.” Try me!

In the past when I have liked a guy, I think I tried too hard to make things happen. It didn’t work. Relationships are not like trying to get good grades. They do take work but one person cannot make them happen.  Manipulating things such as walking down the hall at the same time as he does or signing up to play on the same soft ball team never made any man fall for me. Actually, when I was most successful at getting the attention of a man was when I did nothing. Men that were never on my radar would ask me out. Of course, they were not on my radar because I did not like them. So, I was just myself and did my thing (which I guess they found attractive). However, their attention always did come as a shock. I would wonder why they were talking to me. I wanted them to leave me alone.

In this new season of my life and now that I am back in Washington, my new plan of action is to do nothing, nothing in the area of a relationship with the opposite sex. I will do my thing. I will keep running every morning, I will keep working hard to be the best kindergarten teacher I can be, I will continue to grow healthy friendships and in all of these things I will seek God. If a guy that I like comes around, I will not message him, try to manipulate situations or do anything to try and get his attention. If he wants to talk to me, he will. If he wants to message me, he will. If he wants to make something happen, he will. If the creepy men have taught me anything, it’s that being myself is enough. This of course takes patience. It can be frustrating too. At times I wonder why I am still single and other people are getting married. As I approach 30, I am thankful that I did not waste my 20’s. I went to school and finished. I traveled. I lived in new places. I discovered what I believe and stand for. I grew and so did my standard (which narrow my choices in men). I get to teach kindergarten and live in the Pacific Northwest. All these things I thank God for. Through all these things there have been many joys and struggles but I have seen the faithfulness of God. If he has been faithful in all the areas of my life up to this point, then he will continue to be. Sometimes it doesn’t feel that way. Sometimes, the area of finding a husband feels like God doesn’t care. He clearly has the whole world and starving children to be more concerned about. However, my mind is not capable to grasp all the cares of the world but God is big enough to care for the whole world AND the little cares that burden my heart. If I believed that God was incapable of caring for the world and my cares than I would be making him smaller than he is. God does not fit in any human box. He is big and his was we cannot grasp his ways. He can move mountains and has in my life. So, I will patiently wait and continue moving forward doing what I believe God has called me to. If he brings me a husband (and I hope he does) that will be great and if not, God will continue to be great and good and loving.

Returning to Washington

My goal in starting a blog, was to write a new one once a week. I am strongly driven by goals. I love having something that I am working towards (like training for the half marathon that I just ran). It motivates me. However, like the name of this blog, for the last 2 months I was unavailable to even keep up with my own blog. Life has been a whirlwind. At the end of August I moved back to Washington. I had almost given up on that dream. With all my efforts, it started to look like that just was not what God had in mind for me.

But one day in the middle of August, I was lying on my couch praying. I was in a bit of a mental fog because I was fasting from food and water for the ultrasound on stomach that I was going to have that morning. God says fast and pray. I wonder, does fasting for medical reasons count? It must but I don’t even know if you could count my prayer as a prayer. It was more of a half a thought. I asked God to move mountains on my behalf. Later that day I got a message from the Principle at the school in Washington that I worked at when I lived there. She asked me if I could teach anything what it would be. That was easy! I immediately told her kindergarten! Ding! Ding Ding! Apparently that was the right answer. She had me in mind for a kindergarten teacher position that opened up at the school. Why she didn’t say that first, I don’t know.

There were other applicants and people who she interviewed. She told me that they had the education and would probably make great teacher but she wanted me because she had seen my attitude and character. She told me that when I worked at the preschool, she saw me come into work every day with joy because I was doing what I believed I was made to be doing. To some, they may not consider it that great of a job but to me it was. When you are doing what God makes you for, how could it be anything but a high calling? I had to abandon my calling for a time while my family, their health, and my sister’s wedding was my ministry. God must have honored my obedience because he blessed me with the kindergarten teacher position.

So, the Principle offered me the job. I gave my notice at my job in Reno and in less than 2 weeks I was packed up and moving back to Washington. It was so fast and there was little time. The weekend before the move I was out of town running my first half marathon. That alone was an amazing experience and deserves its own blog entry. However, being away the weekend before moving contributed to the rushed feelings.

It has been two months since my return to my beloved Pacific Northwest. Nevada will always be home but this place is the home that I made for myself. God has blessed me more than I asked for with my new job. I have more than I asked for. I rent a room. I don’t have much in way of things but I have much in that I am blessed to live here, live out the “Alina” shaped job that I have and I am surrounded by people who are family to me. God has been so good. He is faithful! In this new season of my life I have a thankful spirit that is completely overwhelmed but what God has done. God created me with a purpose and I knew that he would work to bring about that purpose. If I ever forget that God sees me or hears my prayer, I will remember that even when there appears to be a lack of movement, doesn’t not mean things are not happening out of my view.

I Spent a Week on a Dating App…

I spent one week on a dating app. It was a social experiment. If you know me, you know that I have no interest in online dating. I know people that have used online dating and it worked great. For me, I have made the choice not to use it as an avenue to find love. During my time on the app my intentions were to learn about how people try to sell themselves and maybe learn something about myself. Essentially the first impression from people’s profiles are what moves the other person to either “swipe left” (rejecting them) or “swipe right” (expressing interest). What I liked about the app that I was on, was that the ladies are the ones who initiate and send the first message. Guys can’t send out a message first. I did not want creepers messaging me. I also didn’t really want to talk or meet anyone. My account was purely for science.

It was amazing to me how many men used the same kind of statements in their bios. Most of the men want a “Partner in crime,” “good vibes,” and someone with their “Sh*t together.” So, if I want to commit felonies with a hippie attitude (but I must have my life together), I would make a great option for these men. It also amazed me at how they tried to sell themselves. Maybe I’m just a breed of my own but the top things on my list were not mentioned in their bios. Maybe some girls really want a man who kills spiders. I personally enjoy seeing a spider out in nature (not in the house). Some are beautiful and make stunning webs. And who doesn’t want a man who is good at cracking “dad jokes” and has a great “dad bod”? At least they are honest about how they are built. That is important for some girls to know. However, there was a large number of the men who emphasized that fitness is important to them. I’m all about being healthy and fit but it’s a bit much when a guy states that they want a girl with a “tight light waist.” Thanks for being honest guys!

Most of them also listed their height, which for this Amazon woman, is very important to know. They usually made some kind of comment about why they included it. Which, it usually was due to the fact that they get asked. So, my guess is they updated their bios after being asked a number of times.

Most of them don’t like it when girls use photos with filters such as the filters that add things like bunny ears. I would never choose to use photos like that. I want to look real. They apparently want to see the real deal too but hopefully my waist is tight enough?

After a week I felt that I had compiled enough information. But honestly, I was annoyed, and my eyes were starting to bug me from looking at the quick motion on the screen from constantly swiping left. There were barely any men on that app that I would have been interested in. Actually, the app told me I ran out of people. The men that are shown are based on your location. So, I guess I eliminated all the men in Reno and should move back to Washington. If my science experiment proved anything, it proved that there is no one here for me or that I am just too picky. My plan is just to let God take care of this area of my life. In the mean time I will keep “dating” my running schedule and preparing for the half marathon that I am going to run in a week! My commitment to my running feels like a relationship or another full-time job. If I ever meet a man that I could be interested in, he’ll have to be able to keep up.

I Became Friends With A Homeless Woman…

The other day Facebook reminded me of an event that happened while I was living in Washington. This was one of the craziest things that has ever happened to me. God’s hand in my life and His amazing ability to orchestrate time and space is the only way I can explain this.

I posted on Facebook on July 26, 2017 about how I saw a homeless woman in Vancouver, Washington on my way to work. However, the significance of this woman was I knew her when I was still in Reno. I never thought that I would see her again and yet while driving on 78th street in Vancouver, Washington, I see her on the side of the road with the same bags of luggage that she always carried. I could not believe it! I pulled over and ran to her. She was so startled to see me. I think that she must have thought that I was stalking her. She asked me what I was doing here. I asked her the same. The answer was the same, we both had moved. However, the reasons why and how were different. I was finishing school, living as a live-in nanny, and working. She hitched hiked, took the bus and ended up there. Of all the places that she could have ended up, she lands in the same corner of the world that I was residing in.

Let me further explain my history with this woman. My heart for the homeless has not been as tender as it is now. A big shift in my feelings took place after taking a class on the prophets while I was in Bible College. I realized more than before that God has a heart for the oppressed and outcast of society. My heart became sensitive to the homeless people I saw on the side of road. On my route to and from home, I consistently would see the same homeless woman standing at the intersection with a sign asking for help. Not being content with just giving her a hand out and wanting her to know that she is valuable because she is created by God, I stopped to talk to her. I approached her and asked if she was hungry and wanted to go to the Taco Bell that was right there. She stared at me. At first, I thought maybe she couldn’t speak. She probably was stunned by the offer? She asked me why I wanted to spend time with her. I told her that I believe that she is created by God and therefore should be treated with dignity and that I wanted to get to know her because I love her. With that, she agreed to dinner but only if I was hungry (I wasn’t but didn’t want to miss this opportunity. So, I lied and said I was.) Our time at Taco Bell was educational for me and moved my heart to care more for the homeless. I learned about her life, the events that lead to her becoming homeless and what it is like to be homeless. My heart broke over the stories she shared. Especially, about how she is treated now. People spit at her, call her names, and steel her stuff while she sleeps. She buys body spray at the Dollar Store because she doesn’t want to stink. I didn’t know that a homeless person would care about that. I was wrong. She is human and wants to gain some dignity for herself by not smelling.

After our first Taco Bell date it became a thing. Every Monday and Wednesday at 6 pm I would meet her at the intersection for dinner. I loved it. I loved her. One day, she stopped showing up. It broke my heart. For a while it discouraged me from trying to reach out to the homeless community. Why? You love them, and they leave. However, we are called to love whether it is returned or whether we think it is deserved. God gave me the gift of seeing her again on that beautiful Summer day as I drove to work 600 miles away from where I first met her. To me this seems impossible that we were to ever cross paths again. But God moved!

As I am in this place in my life, where I am sorting things out and trying to figure out where I belong, I am encouraged by this. God has me right where he wants me for a greater purpose than I can see or understand. He is moving in my life and I will be in the place that he calls me to at the time that he wants me there. That may be here, and in the future, it may be Washington. I’m hoping for the later. In the mean time I will continue to wait. There are moving parts that haven’t settled yet and questions unanswered. There are hurting and oppressed people who need love. While I am not always content with where I am currently at in my life, I’m blessed with a home, friends, family, daily food, and more than I deserve. I have received more love from God, far from what I deserve. Hopefully, I’m sharing that same kind of unconditional love to all wherever I’m at.

He Destroyed Me!

“The more I grow in my faith the higher my standards grow,” said my good friend, Michelle. I have realized this is true in my life as well. I think if I got married at 19 or 20 when my girlish heart had wanted to, I would have made a stupid wife. I would have gone for any guy who was, first taller than me, then a Christian. Sure he lives at home, doesn’t own a car, keeps dropping out of college because they make you write papers (what did you expect?) and the only job he can get is selling knives for Cutco. But he says he loves Jesus and me! He has potential. Let’s get married someday and hope that he grows into the man that he could be. Thankfully that relationship didn’t work out!

I’m thankful now. But when that relationship ended, I was destroyed. He hurt me so badly. He’s words are burned into my brain. The events that led to our break up where ugly and he did some things that I don’t understand how someone who says that they love you could do. When I asked him about his actions he said, “I wanted to hurt you and I knew that would get to you.” Wanted to hurt me? But you love me. Those two things cannot coexist. I was destroyed. My body felt so much pain I questions how it was even able to support life. Time moved slowly. It seemed that I would hurt forever. These new wounds trigged old wounds that I had never dealt with. I hated it. I had not felt that pain in such a long time and it stacked on top of my current pain. I was frustrated that I was feeling so many things that I did not want to feel or even felt capable of dealing with. I would cry at night. My sister could hear me down the hall into her room. She was worried. I would go on drives just to scream in my car where no one could hear me (praise God I didn’t crash!).

I prayed to God while lying flat on my floor. I prayed that God would make me into the “Alina” he wanted me to be. That I would grow into a godly woman. Slowly I healed. The moments of pain slowly faded. Slowly I became okay. Then I became grateful that the relationship ended. I went to Bible College. I lived out of state. I kept praying to grow into the “Alina” that God wanted me to be. He must have been pleased with that prayer. He answered it and continues to grow me. I’m thankful for the woman that God is making me to be and all that I have learned about myself and life in the last ten years. My standards are higher.

At times it feels like a curse to have high standard about what kind of man I want. That kind of man just doesn’t seem to exist or is already taken. The leftovers at this point seem to be creepy men who go for any pretty face that they see. I know that it’s not true. There are good men out there. I just don’t know where out there.

Kindness is something that I have greatly grown to value in a man. I have known too many mean men. The man I described about is one example. I want someone who will be kind to me, kind to everyone! Flattery is not a form of kindness. That has been used by men who just want me to be their girlfriend because they like my face or maybe just my butt. Being back in Reno I have observed something. I think it was always there but my increase of value of kindness has heightened my awareness of kind people. I have observed my dad and my new brother-in-law. They are kind. I love watching how they treat other people. I love how they treat my mom and my sister and everyone else. Good men still exist! My standards are still high. I won’t marry potential. Patiently, I wait for a kind man of God who is hopefully taller than me (can’t let that one go).

He Just Wants a Girlfriend, Not Me!

Sometimes, when creepy men hit on me, I don’t always know what they mean to say. Example, I was on a walk and an older man came up to me and said, “Excuse me but that sign says that the path is for pedestrians only. I see nothing pedestrian about you.” I chuckled and kept on walking. Nothing pedestrian about me? Huh? I’m walking on the path. I’m clearly a pedestrian. What else could I be? Creep! He couldn’t think of anything else to say? What about, “You’re the best looking walker this pedestrian path has ever seen!”

I realize that I am single by choice. There have definitely been many suiters who have asked me out or who have fiercely tried to convince me to be their girlfriend. If I really wanted to be in a relationship with someone I could have willingly entered into a committed relationship with any of these guys. However, I don’t want to change my relationship status just for the sake of changing it. I don’t want a boyfriend just to have one. That is the vibe that I get from some of these guys. They want to be in a relationship so badly that any pretty face they see, they try to get to be their girlfriend. I don’t want that. I want a guy to look at me and go, “Wow! Her character, passions, and love for the Lord are want I want. I want her despite whatever other options there may be.” I don’t want to be just a convenient option because maybe the other pretty girls didn’t go for them and therefore they want to see if I will.

This recently happened to me when I moved back to Reno. Actually, it started before I moved back. While I was still living in Washington and even before the plan to move was there, a guy from my church in Reno started messaging me on Facebook. I hadn’t really known him or every really had much to do with him. So, when he started talking to me, I was confused. Why would he want to talk to me? I live in Washington. I feel like my first inclination is not to think, “Oh! Maybe he likes me,” but to find it weird. I was right. He did like me or at least thought I was cute. Therefore, a prime candidate to potentially be his girlfriend. When I moved back he pursued hard and asked me questions about what kind of rings I like, how I feel about short engagements and if I would ever elope. He also was constantly pressuring me to commit to being his girlfriend. When I first moved back I thought sure, I’ll go out with you and give you a chance. However, usually the potential of a relationship brings about feelings of excitement in someone. Not me, this was annoying. He gave up when I didn’t fit his timeline. That’s okay with me. I think if it was really me that he wanted then he would have held out a little longer than 2 months. He just wanted a girlfriend. He has found someone else to like and so far he hasn’t persuaded her to be his girlfriend either. I hope she is smart.

My heart is not at all hurt that he moved on. I was relieved. It spared me from having the hard conversation of telling him that it wasn’t going to work. In this season of my life I do enjoy being single. I don’t sit around doing nothing. I have interest and things that I am pursuing. Like running. I am training to run a half marathon that will take place at the end of August. Sometimes, it feels like I am dating my running schedule. I invest in it what I would a relationship, time, energy, money, and sometimes emotions. I do want someone. But just because a guy likes me doesn’t mean that he’s “the one” or that I even must like him back. Patience in this area is required. I’m waiting. God is moving. I can confidently hope in Him and trust that He knows what He is doing.37283373_1867201806675560_9018433239919886336_n