Wednesday, September 27, 2017

I want to ride my bicycle. I want to ride my bike.

(I apologize if you now also have Queen stuck in your head. "BICYCLE! BICYCLE!")

Growing up, I rode my bike a lot. My family lived several miles out of town, and biking was much quicker than running or walking to places. Even without a destination in mind, I enjoyed riding—it was the closest thing to flying!

After the crash in 2007, I have more or less shut out the thought of biking. Of course, there was the 40-mile exception in 2012—an incredible experience, but far from an easy one. I recall the exhilarating feelings of cruising up the road, but also the excruciating pain—not the pain of soreness after riding for 40 miles, but the sharp, piercing pain from the first moment of trying to sit on the bike. Even after my healing, I have not been on a bike since that day over five years ago.

I now find myself in La Crosse. Biking is very popular here. Lots of bike trails, bike lanes, bike repair stations, bike raffles, and bike events. I have been surrounded by bicycles, but have effectively avoided thinking about them—content walking in my wanderings. Until last week.

I met someone from the area, and he was inquiring about what I had so far explored. Gathering that I enjoy the outdoors, he suggested I go biking. If that was all he said, it probably would not have struck me, as it had not all the other times bicycles were mentioned or even physically passed me on trails. He did not say much more, only mentioned that it is a great place for biking, and because it is popular, I could probably acquire a bike somewhere at a cheap price.

I became really awkward at that point, as all of the thoughts flooded into my mind. I was unsure how to succinctly describe my situation, so after a moment of silence, a nervous laugh, and mumbling something dumb about thinking about bikes, I said something to the extent of how I used to ride a lot, and then that I have not for a while. Why I froze up was beyond me—and frustrating.

To my great surprise, I cried the next day when recalling the conversation. I became aware of my lingering fear to ride bikes. I was also led to acknowledge several other things I have conditioned myself to avoid—my actions have been based out of fear, but in a way that what is feared became subconscious. I had become used to not riding a bike, preferring to stand rather than sit, not leaving my right ankle crossed over my left, wearing skirts instead of pants, etc.

God encourages us to be specific in our prayers, and in 2015, I was. I asked for healing in my back, and I received it. I did not ask for healing in my pelvis—it still goes numb when there is too much pressure. I have assumed that it would still hurt to ride a bike, and it has not seemed necessary, so I have not gone out of my way to try. My back had been the primary reason for avoiding sitting, but I still opt to stand in order to avoid the occasional numbness. I also had not asked for healing in my left shin—it seems to be permanently numb, which is only an issue if it receives pressure, but few people outside of the children I encounter are aware that I take any precautions. And then there is the awkward lump on my right leg. A lot of people have commented on my always wearing dresses and skirts, and I usually give a reason for it. All of the reasons are true factors, but the main reason I started so many years ago was that I was self-conscious about my deformed leg. Wearing pants made me cry, and I got sick of it. That is probably not the reason I gave you, but I had even blocked it out of my own memory for quite some time.

I am so grateful for how God has worked through this simple conversation about biking. I desire to embrace my weaknesses rather than avoid the reality that they exist. I want to ride again. I want to be transparent about the choices I make. I want to be confident to wear any article of clothing that fits my needs. I am not sure what moving forward looks like at this point, but something has to change, and it will. I am praying for the intercession of my dear friend Sam—it was because of his encouragement that I was able to get back on that bike five years ago after experiencing the initial pain.

Why do I share all of this? I assume I am not the only one who has developed habits based out of fears. Acknowledging these roots of my decisions has helped explain why certain situations, though seemingly unrelated on the surface, induce anxiety. Praise God for this increased Freedom. I pray that you may find it, too. Allow God to shed light on what you have kept hidden. His Truth overcomes the lies, and His Peace overcomes the fears. Be not afraid. Do what you are meant to do.

“For nothing is hidden that will not be disclosed, nor is anything secret that will not become known and come to light.”

Luke 8: 17


Monday, August 28, 2017

Lasting Beauty

I like to go down by the river to ponder and reflect. I did so yesterday, stopping at a bench surrounding the big fountain at the park. The population down by the river is comprised of couples and families—and me. It is very beautiful, and I usually find it very funny, but yesterday evening I was feeling lonely. The loneliness goes beyond a romantic relationship—I just moved to a new state—but I read a book last week about the complementarity of men and women, the reflections I have been preparing for a Scripture packet/Bible study have been on a very relationship-y theme, I had just watched the live-action Cinderella movie that afternoon, and all of the couples in the city were walking around me. I found myself contemplating silly fears about the expiration of beauty and the possibility of never being pursued.

I started jotting things down, but did not even finish a complete thought—my discouragement was intercepted by a darling little girl. Probably under 2-years-old, blonde curls, bright blue eyes, and overalls—she was standing directly in front of me, looking up at me. I said hi and smiled at her, and she returned the biggest and best smile. She stayed with me for a while, exploring the squares on my prayer journal (because I miss math and use a graphing composition notebook), and we poked each other’s fingers. She was overjoyed (as was I). Her shoulders would go up as she scrunched her face to smile and laugh. It was truly a delight to be with her, and she taught me that beauty is timeless.

If this is something you have also found to be a struggle, your beauty has not—will not—cannot—expire(d). Your beauty comes from within—it is your spirit which enlivens the rest of you. Its beauty will not expire, but only grow more beautiful as you allow the Lord to continue purifying and molding it.

Then I started reflecting about God’s Kingdom and being a princess and such. Thinking back to Cinderella, the prince was captivated by her when he found her simply—she did not need anything to make her beautiful, but was free to be herself—which was beautiful. That is what I want, and I was feeling quite convicted about it—content

And then I looked at my list of Scripture passages to see which one I was supposed to pray with next. 1 Peter 3: 1-7. After I read the passage, I just kind of sat there. I did not know what it was going to be about beforehand, but here is an excerpt:

“... let your adornment be the inner self with the lasting beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit … (4).”

I considered that maybe I should post some sort of reflection, but basically decided that I did not want to risk writing a post that would sound like I am whining about not being pursued—because I am NOT—so I called it a night and went to sleep. If you know me, you may be aware that I do not particularly like to sleep, and that is in part because my dreams are often not so enjoyable. Last night was no exception. I will spare the details, as they are irrelevant, but will leave it as a conviction to share this message.

Why are we so cruel to ourselves? Why are we so unaccepting of who we are? Why do we hurt ourselves more in hopes that it will “fix” us?


You are beautiful. (This applies to you, too, men!) Regardless of what has happened, no one has ruined you—even you could not destroy yourself. You are not worthless. Your life is not hopeless. You do not need to look a certain way. You do not need to act a certain way. You are lovable as who you are. By your nature, you are good. By your nature, you are loved. Nothing can change that. Give your spirit room to grow. Allow it to pour forth from you. Embrace your beauty. Accept your goodness.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Delighting in Differences

I moved to a new place. A new city, a new state. Everyone is new to me, and I to them. Conversations commonly involve my new friends asking questions like:

“Wait, I just have to clarify, is that actually what you do? Are you making this up?”
 “Hold on, did that actually happen? Are you just trying to pull my leg?”

Several years ago, these kinds of questions were the worstthey made me feel so “different”—it was isolating. Now, such questions bring me joy. There is so much beauty in how DIFFERENT our lives ARE. What is extraordinary and different in our lives can become so ordinary—we become so used to it—we forget how incredible and interesting it all is. The asking of these questions serves as a reminder to come out of myself—to open my eyes to the reality surrounding me. How strange my “job description” appears, and how incredible it is that I am alive and well!

My life is so, so simple. I exist, I pray, I make things, and I go places. At the core, all of our lives are so simple. But there is so much depth in each one of us—such mystery that no one else could ever fully grasp. Not being understood can be a difficult reality (at least, it has been for me), but also so beautiful. We may be blessed to relate to another on different levels based on our personal experiences, but we could never fully claim to understand another person.

I am so intrigued by the lives of others—our different combinations of experience, temperament, family, skill, tragedy, interest, personality, travel, etc. Everything in our personal lives is so intertwined, making us so unique. It truly fascinates me that—though we are each a unique reflection—we are all still reflections of the Image of God. Through our lives, we reflect His Goodness, Truth, and Beauty. It looks differently in each of us—because we are different! We will reach different people—because we will relate to different people. It is so cool!

Stop telling yourself that your life is boring or unimportant. You reflect God. God is not boring. Simple, but not boring. A mirror reflects that towards which it faces. Turn towards God. Reflect Him. Share Him through your life. With Him, it is simple. You are never too little—or too much.

“Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness..’”
Genesis 1: 26

(What am I doing now? Check out mikaylaruthcatherine.com)

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Exposed

I used to hide that I was in a near-fatal car accident—paranoid that anyone would find out. I thought that the exposure prevented people from knowing who I truly was. As time went on and I began to accept reality, it turned to seem like no one could really know me unless they knew about the crash. This split-second in time ten years ago that I do not even remember has been imprinted on my very being. The crash is certainly not the source of my identity—and you do not have to know about it to know me—but it does explain a lot about me.

I desire for you to know about what happened to me—because I desperately want you to know what God can do for you. Nothing you say could explain to me how and why I am still alive—but I am—and I pray that God will be glorified through my life—always.

If you have five minutes to spare, watch this video. I pray that it fills you with Hope, and I encourage you to share it with anyone you know who might be needing some as well. Nothing can prevent you from living your life to the fullest

God bless!

“But this is why I have let you live: to show you my power, and to make my name resound through all the earth.”

Exodus 9: 16