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 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 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

When You Get Locked Out… Wearing Justice League Jammies!

I could not get to sleep last night. It was windy, and the wind was blowing the bush outside my window around. The bush kept scratching the glass of the window. It was driving me nuts. I prayed to God that it would stop. It didn’t. So, in my Wonder Woman nighty I darted outside to break that nasty branch off from the rest of the bush! Finally, relief!

This incident reminded me of the Tuesday after I moved back to Reno. I had not yet started my new job. I was enjoying a day at home unpacking. It was nice to have a slow pace morning. I hadn’t even changed out of my pajamas yet. That is really unlike me. I am usually up hours before to go to the gym. Still sporting my Justice League P. J’s, I went outside to take care of the trash. When I went to go back inside I realized that I was locked out! My keys were inside and my phone was in the kitchen playing the Pandora app. Sometimes things just don’t go the way you want them to. Getting locked out of the house was one of those moments. No problem, I decided to walk to where my sister works (only a couple of miles away). I could get the house key from her and drive it back to her after I got back in. So, off I went. I bet I looked cute in my night gown with Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman on the front of it. I also was wearing slippers, but my adventure got even better when I ran into a guy, that in the past had wanted to date me. I was never interested in him. He looked at me and laughed. Then he asked what I was doing. I simply explained that I was getting the keys from my sister. This was not how I planned my morning. I got the keys and her boss kindly drove me back home.

Currently my life feels like I’m locked outside. I feel stuck. As I am now adjusting to life after my sister’s wedding, it is weird. I live with my parents and my sister is a married woman. I live here when I’d rather be in Washington. I want to be doing something else with my life. I feel like I am wasting the days that I have been given. I feel frustrated. Where is my joy? It’s not fair to fake it. I’m not one to complain. I don’t want to complain about my life. When I really think about it, out of the things that I don’t like are many blessings. Living with my parents isn’t bad. It’s just not what I want. My job isn’t bad. It’s just not what I want. I want God to do something about my life. I want to have joy in all of this. It’s hard. I’m sitting thinking, “Wait! This isn’t what my life was supposed to look like at this point.” Something must be wrong!

There are just times in life that don’t make sense. This is a broken world. We are broken people. Hence, the situations in life that we face are marked with brokenness. That does not mean that joy within them is impossible. I currently can’t say that I’m super joyful about any of this. My favorite word is “Joy!” That is what I am known as, as a joyful person. When people describe me that is a word that is often used. I want to continue to be identified with joy but struggle is real. I don’t want to dismiss it and act like I’m happy with things when I am not. A friend used the word wrestle to describe where she is at. I realized that word fits my plight as well. I have been learning about the value of wrestling with where I’m at. It’s a place where God can teach me and help me through. It’s hard work, but good work. It hopefully will bring maturity in my life. This attitude has brought joy into my struggle.

5’11” and can’t add an Inch to My Height

My sister’s wedding is this Saturday. In preparation for the big day, My twin and I had a sister date last night and got our nails done. I’m not in the habit of getting my nails done. I’m too cheap to pay for that service but this seemed like an appropriate occasion to get my nails polished. The lady who did my nails was excited to hear that we are twins. However, almost as soon as she expressed her excitement, the statement about our size difference came out of her mouth. “You’re twins! But you’re bigger than she is?” Yes, I am, and I have spent my whole life being asked why that is the case. Well, there is a God who created me in my mother’s womb and before time began determined how I would be formed. I did not tell her that but just smiled and nodded. God did not ask me how I would feel about being the bigger twin. I trust that he knew what he was doing when he set my growth chart into motion. I trust that there is a reason for why he made me the way he did (haven’t figured out why yet but trusting that there is a reason).

Matthew 6:27 tells me that worrying can not add a single inch to my height. I say, “Praise God, because I don’t need any more inches.” I am 5’11” and with the right shoes I might as well be 6’. The notion that worrying could make one taller is absurd. Of course, a person has little control over how tall they will be. This statement points out how ridiculous it is to worry about things that you can’t control. Its unproductive. What does it accomplish? Nothing!

As I think about this, I realize that worry also shows a lack of trust. Sometimes, it feels like there ae bigger things that God would be concerned about other than the areas of my life that I don’t understand. Things like the job that I have right now even though I’m educated in the Bible and Early Childhood Education or my living situation when I’d rather be in Washington. These are details of my life. The God who created me must also care about these details. It mattered enough to him and his plan for me to include how tall I would be. It seems like a small detail but having spent my whole life with my sister and my height being a topic for conversation from even strangers, leads me to think that it is important God and there is a reason. Likewise, the different directions that our lives are taking right now are also part of the plan that the God who created me has for me. So, worrying about this stuff will prove to be unproductive. It’s not always easy to do but I am going to trust that God is working in my life. I’m here for his service and I am certainly god created me with plan for my life and he knows every aspect of my life.