But, I’m just not beautiful..

My thoughts on what it means to be, ‘truly beautiful’ have really changed over the years. And, to this day it is still something I struggle with at times. It hasn’t just been because of my Alopecia, but because I would look at myself in the mirror and see a pimple (like now for instance) and my first thought is immediately, ‘could I look any worse?’. Or, I see the wrinkles I have around my eyes from all of the sun exposure from being outside, or the small dents in my forehead/headband line from the steroid shots trying to grow back my hair when I was a child.

I use to think being pretty was having the perfect face, pimple and wrinkle free with a head of beautiful hair and I would of given anything to be just like that. I was so jealous of all of the beautiful woman I was surrounded by and in the media. Or, today social media is more popular than ever and it is the place where everyone shows their best selves, beautiful photos, blemish free, perfect lighting and it is so easy to get caught up in all the hype and think ‘I wish that was me’. I know I have been there, done that and it can really make you feel bad about yourself.

I can say from experience it is the WORST thing to do to yourself, to put the thought in your mind that you aren’t pretty enough, or to compare yourself to someone else. ‘Comparison is the thief of joy’ and no truer words have ever been spoken. Of course, we are surrounded by beautiful woman and people everyday and you cannot avoid that, but you can change your mindset and the way you react to it, and the way you treat yourself. It is perfectly ok and you should look at someone else and think ‘wow they’re beautiful’ or if you love their outfit etc. tell them that. We never know what someone is struggling with, they could of been in the same place you were, so if you feel a true compliment, tell someone. There has been so many times I’ve been having a rough day and a stranger has complimented me and it has completely changed my mindset. You could be that blessing to someone else.

How to really feel pretty, and convince myself of that is a topic I have had to learn and it took me a long time to really perfect and give myself positive self talk and truly believe it. I always knew I needed to have a positive mindset when I looked at myself, but truthfully when I would look at myself in the mirror I wouldn’t see ‘beauty’ or at least not like I would see in others and it was very defeating. I would see bald, pimples, dents, tattooed eyebrows, wrinkles and just nothing beautiful in all honesty. I understand and completely emphasize with others who have feelings of not being good enough, or not ‘like those other women’. This was me for a good majority of my young life and still today I have my moments.

But, I have learned a lot about myself while struggling with low self-esteem and not having someone to tell me I am beautiful everyday. Words of affirmation are my love language, so to not hear that it can be easy to let negative thoughts creep into your head and to start letting yourself believe it. I wish I would of been in the mental state I am in now when I was younger. I know it would of made a lot of things a lot more easy to deal with, but I have always been someone who loves a good challenge, or comeback story and this is just that.

When I look at myself now and don’t feel pretty (as I mentioned before it has been one of those last few days, huge pimple on my face at the moment) I have a few ways I help myself to truly feel better. I write down a few things I truly love about my appearance. We all know beauty isn’t about what is on the outside, but rather on the inside but I still think it is important to love physical features about ourselves and focus on that. For years I never truly looked at myself in the mirror and thought I had blue eyes. Even my first license said blue eyes, but as my confidence grew in myself and my Alopecia and I started to really see me, the beautiful creation God carefully chose I saw these beautiful green eyes that I truly love. I love my long legs, and skin tone that tans so well in the summer. Obviously I am made to be living on a beach in a tropical climate somewhere.

I also do things that make me feel good. I love to go on a run, play basketball, this has been my biggest escape my whole life and still to this day when I am feeling overwhelmed. But also something simple too, a cute pair of earrings or outfit always help me to feel good too.

After that I focus on traits about myself that are the most important and out of the two lists this one brings the most joy and biggest smile to my face, because I know it is what makes me truly me, and what is the most important thing. All of these traits about myself outweigh my pimple on my face and the wrinkles under my eyes. I love helping others, being positive, empathizing with others, and just being a kind person that someone is proud to know and be friends with.

Community is also important in any aspect of life, but especially here. You need your people who will hype you in when you need it, give you a hug and love on you and of course, tell you that you are beautiful and perfectly and wonderfully made.

A big change in my mindset also comes from my faith. I have shed many tears in prayer and journaling talking to God being upset about not feeling pretty enough. That is the great thing about Him, he is always there, there to listen and let us vent out our frustrations to. Then, He always shows up in the most unexpected and beautiful ways that only he can reminding us of our worth, and how loved we truly are.

I love the feeling when someone compliments me, it makes me smile and makes my heart so happy, and that is the exact same mindset I have when I treat myself now. When I look at myself in the mirror, make-up less, pimple and all I see a different Lindsay than I use to see years ago. I see a strong, determined, fierce and beautiful woman who has overcame a lot. But if I am still feeling down or not ‘pretty enough’ (trust me this still happens) I look at a medal from a marathon and can still remember how I felt in that moment, or at that race. When I run I feel like the most me, I feel beautiful.

Choose yourself every single day. You are a treasure, you are loved, you are chosen and you are perfect. And never forget when we look at a photo we don’t really see what someone is going through. We all have our ‘thing’ that we don’t like about ourselves, or that we struggle with. So if you want to be ‘pretty’ be a good person, build someone else up, help someone else out and you will be the most beautiful person in the room.

And if you ever are in need of a hype woman I am your girl! Bringing a smile to someone else’s face is my greatest joy!

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Looking Ahead to the New York City Marathon

One of the best feelings is knowing it’s RACE WEEKEND! After months or weeks of grueling training, logging a lot of miles, early mornings, two a days, dealing with the aches and pains it is finally time for the exciting moment that makes all of that worth it.

A marathon, 26.2 miles of testing yourself both physically and mentally is one of the truest tests of the kind of person you are, not just in running in life. It is so easy to give up throughout the race, cut a work out short, but choosing to push through and grind it out is the makings for success. It is more than just a time, but crossing that finish line signifies something so much greater (even though I am always trying to improve and do go into a race with a time goal in mind always).

My favorite part of any marathon training cycle is the 20 mile long run, it is symbolic to me of the moment I knew I was strong and finally the person God had called me to be. It was the moment I took off my wig during my run, full of happy tears and hung it up when I got home and haven’t looked back since. Every time I reach this mile mark in a race, or training run all of the emotions come to me and it fuels me to push harder, dig deeper and never give up-in running or life.

The New York City Marathon has been on my bucket list of races, so to be given the opportunity to run it this year is a dream come true! I even have had the incredible chance for the one and only, Allie Kieffer to be putting together my training plan for this race. This has by far been the toughest training cycle I’ve done, but every morning I have woken up excited, fired up and ready to tackle her work out for the day. It still seems surreal and knowing I have someone of her caliber helping me succeed is such an exciting feeling that makes me want to work hard, give it my all and not disappoint her or myself. I can’t say thank you enough to Allie or Strava for all of their help.

This will be my first time running NYC and I have already been feeling hyped about it for a few weeks now. This is an amazing city in itself with all of the events, and things to do/see, but add 50,000 runners and all of the spectators and it gives me goosebumps already to picturing myself racing down the streets. I love when a random stranger screams my name-I truly feel so special and it helps me turn it up a notch, even if it’s just for a few strides.

A few key components I focus on leading up to race weekend are:

  1. Hydration the week of the race, as well as after to help replenish all I’ve lost through sweat.
  2. Rest, this is hard for me because I am so excited and just want to be running especially during the taper, but choosing early nights in helps me to relax and feel my best for race day.
  3. A lot of stretching and staying loose. I love to be outside in nature so going on a walk or simple jog to stay loose really helps.
  4. Having a plan with meals and what I am doing to eat, especially knowing I am traveling I always pack plenty of snacks to always have on hand.

Lastly, this race is going to be SO FUN so I am going out to give it my all, and remember to stay grateful and be in the moment and soak it all in. Good luck to all of the runners this weekend! NYC HERE WE COME!

You are destined for more-you just have to trust

“And if you faithfully obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the Lord your God”.     Deuteronomy 28:1-2 

I remember when I was a little girl I had always felt this calling in my life, to be great. It didn’t matter if it was athletics, school, volunteering, being a friend. I always wanted to succeed and be the best person I could in everything. Ever since I was a little girl God had put this fire in my heart, and I knew it was the calling of my life. I thought when I was in college I had it all figured out. I landed a job right out of college with my major and thought, how easy is this? I am killing it at this adult thing. It would be about athletics, health and that was it. That was my major, it’s now my job that I would be really great at, end of story.

But it wasn’t the end of the story, or even close to..

After moving to Charlotte right after college I felt another fire set in my heart. It was no longer enough to just be great at things I set my mind to and to work hard, but I wanted to inspire and help people. I didn’t know exactly how, or what the next step would be. I would pray God would give me the opportunity to help people, especially those with Alopecia, or who feel different, or like they aren’t “pretty” enough (but let me tell you, YOU ARE ALWAYS PRETTY ENOUGH!). The thing about praying is, when you ask for something, and God knows the deepest desires of your heart and it is his will and his plan for your life does he come up in BIG ways so you always have to be ready.

In a humble way I had always received praises and recognition for my athletic ability. It was in newspapers, in the community etc. I would just smile and never felt like it was a big deal, I was just there to play the game. But it was all stats and that didn’t mean much to me. Of course I wanted to be great, and successful but winning was the most important thing to me.

But this time around I began to be noticed, receive attention, and recognition that made me really uncomfortable. I was given the opportunities to speak at events; motivational conferences, seminars, Alopecia events, and many others platforms. It was all about my personal life. It was my Alopecia, my feelings of insecurity, being ashamed of my my bald head, feelings of being ugly, fears of never being good enough for someone, failed relationships because of my Alopecia and many other personal feelings that made me feel like a failure in so many ways. I would feel so nervous before an event. I would break out, profusely sweat, start to stutter, and felt so overwhelmed and out of my element, I had no control. For once, I wasn’t great at something, I wasn’t the best, felt out of place and wasn’t winning, and that was the worst feeling to me.

I would pray to make it through my speech or talk, and not want to think about it again. I called out asking for strength, courage and bravery every single time. It is scary to be vulnerable, to put yourself out there for the world and others to judge you. People are not always nice, and have made me cry and questions my self worth and who I am so many times so to be standing on a stage with all eyes on me was something I never ever wanted to apart of.

But, I still felt this fire in my heart. I still wanted to help people, but I didn’t see how ‘failing’ at something could of been God’s plan. How could he call me to stumble through a speech? The people I was talking in front of were adults, some professional speakers, and who am I? I’m just a nobody who gets so nervous to speak in front of people, no one would ever feel encouraged or helped by me.

That’s the thing though. I was just your average everyday girl. I had the fire and passion of God pumping through me. I was put on this Earth and given all of these different platforms and opportunities for a reason. It took my forever to be ok with my Alopecia. And today I still have moments where I think ‘ugh’ after someone is mean to me or says something that makes me feel like less.

Now I know my purpose in life. It is to inspire and help others through my journey with Alopecia. It was never about me failing and stumbling through a speech. God knew that would happen, but that is what makes it real, and authentic. We need him to get through the events in life, because we can’t do it on our own. When we fail at something, or aren’t the best, that is ok because he is there to pick us up, shake it off, and put us right back out there. He never would of given me an opportunity I couldn’t handle. I needed to learn and experience failing to see how much I was helping people, and to learn to still be proud of myself and how far I had come.

It takes a lot (especially for me) to admit failure, or not be great at something. I am still nowhere near a great public speaker, but I am better than I was. I can get through a speech, make jokes, be real, and not feel like crying or stuttering when I talk about the difficult times is a sign of failure. God specially chose me, gifted me with Alopecia to equip me to do something BIG; to share about his great love for us.

If you would of asked me at any point in my life where I saw myself it would never be where I am today. I have always had such a fear or standing in front of others, feeling exposed, having all eyes on me, listening to every single thing I say. But now through it all I have met some of the most amazing, inspiring, and kind people. I have gotten to travel, and be apart of some really special and big events that I will never forget. I have learned so much about myself as a person, and also the kind of person I want to aspire to be every single day.

It’s crazy how that is the way life goes and the way God works.

I was a sophomore in college when I truly accepted Christ and chose to follow him with all my heart. I have failed, fell short, messed up and needed more grace and forgiveness than I would like to admit. But, I am not scared of failing anymore or not being the best. Every time an opportunity comes along to help someone, speak at an event, or share a smile with someone I always jump at the chance to no matter the kind of nerves, or apprehension I may be feeling. I am enough.

It can be frightening to jump into the unknown, to put yourself out there, be out of your element, but you never know the impact you are making on someone else. If you are called you just have to trust whole heartedly, pray to be equipped with the armor and tools and then just do it. The reward is always more than you ever could of dreamt of in the end.

Take the chance, keep the faith, it is always worth it in the end.

28 things I learned by age 28

I can’t believe its been 28 years since I’ve been on this Earth. It seems pretty amazing and surreal when I think back to being a little kid and how that seems like it was just the other day, but it reality it was years ago. Time really does fly by. I feel like I am constantly amazed each time I flip the calendar to a new month, “wait, how is summer over? I feel like it was just June”.

As I enter onto the brink of my 28th blessed year of life I have really been thinking and praying about so many things. I feel so many emotions when I think about everything I’ve experienced; travels, races, relationships, obstacles, triumphs, challenges, love, joy and everything in-between. I’ve learned some really important lessons, developed strong core values and set myself up for the kind of life I aspire to live. But, I still am learning, growing, making mistakes, and becoming better as I go on.

Here are 28 things I have learned, rules I adhere to and just important values in my beliefs to live the best life and be my best self. A beautiful woman God perfectly created me in his image to be. 

28. Work hard in any and everything you do. Don’t every settle for being ‘good’. You should always want to get better and be GREAT no matter what it is. No dream is ever too big to reach.

27. Find something that sets your soul on fire, makes you feel alive and make that your passion – jumping all the way in full force.

26. Never give up HOPE in anyone or anything.

25. You are never too old to stop  learning; read books, watch the news, stay informed.

24. People are going to let you down, break your heart, and disappoint you. Sadly this is just a reality of life, not everyone has the same heart as you.

23. Always be the kind of friend to everyone you would want someone to be to you.

22. LOVE EVERYONE! We are all created equal, and all deserve to be treated with the same respect and love.

21. You were given a voice for a reason. SPEAK UP on issues that matters to you, share your opinions, because it matters and is important but always be respectful of others.

20. If someone needs help, no matter the task, time commitment or possible inconvenience it may be for you, help them always.

19. Things are going to happen, and go wrong. You will feel overwhelmed, annoyed, and frustrated but it’s never ok to take it out on someone else (the car repair mechanic, a flight attendant etc.)

18. Give; your time, your money, your love, your resources.

17. Always be YOU. Blast your favorite song, dance around like a little kid and sing off beat and never stop laughing.

16. Ask for help and receive constructive criticism openly.

15. Extend grace ALWAYS, just as God so freely does to every single one of us every single day.

14. After a break-up or ending of a friendship, thank God for it, because he is removing someone who isn’t right for you, or bettering your life.

13. Admit and own up to your mistakes.

12. Invite and include people. At the end of the day we all just want to feel included and like we belong.

11. Rejection is apart of life, it can hurt, but dust yourself off and get back out there.

10. Make time for yourself, learn to love and enjoy being with yourself and everything about you.

9. Be so full of empathy and compassion, you never know what someone is going through. People are really good at hiding true feelings, or struggles.

8. Forgive people, even if you’re not in the wrong. We all deserve a second chance. But not always a third and fourth.

7. Smile. Smile at a complete stranger, and at everyone. It’s the smallest act of love but can change someones entire mood from that one small gesture.

6. Your health is important, work at it everyday from exercising, eating healthy, doing things that make you feel good (but of course indulge in the donut whenever you can, because life is short)

5. Pray every single day. Start and end each day with a grateful heart for all of the good and bountiful blessings you have.

4. If a situation or someone doesn’t feel or isn’t treating you right you owe it to yourself to walk away. Always stand up for yourself and who you are.

3. Alopecia is the greatest gift I never knew I needed and today I am so thankful for everything it’s taught me, and the people and opportunities its led me to.

2. Don’t every let anyone make you feel like you don’t deserve what you really want.

And MOST IMPORTANTLY..

1. BE YOUR OWN BIGGEST FAN!

I never understood the value of this, but now I can first-handedly see the upmost importance of this. One of the toughest and most real lessons for me was to accept and be ok with the fact that not everyone who I thought should be there for me would be, or that everyone would always cheer for and want the best for me. It’s hard but sometimes people just plain aren’t made to be in your life and learning to accept and be ok with that has been the hardest and most rewarding challenge of mine. I’ve learned through the heartache and disappointment to cheer, treat, support, believe in and love myself and that is the greatest gift I’ve ever given myself.

I am ready to take on year 28 and all I know is year 27 will be an extremely tough one to top.

 

 

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well” Psalm 139:14 

 

 

Love,

Lindsay Hannah

This is God’s Gift to Man

As I sit here on the beach, the sun is setting in the distance, an orange with a hint of pink in the sky I am truly in awe and can only just stare and think, “God truly is an artist”.

My time in Hawaii has been nothing short of amazing. I have seen all of the pictures, researched ahead of time, but nothing compared to actually going to a place so magically beautiful in person. Every morning I got up just before the sun and would catch the most breath taking sunrise. It was a moment to be still, look up and pinch myself. God made this for us to enjoy, not just the beauty in the sky and above us but in our everyday life.

There is truly something that can be said for pausing, taking a deep breath and soaking in all of the beauty around you. It’s the quiet moments like this that can really put life into perspective.

I am guilty of not always stopping to appreciate all that is around me – to breath in the flowers or fresh air, or really look at the sky on a beautiful evening. But, this trip I committed to taking the time to do so. I put my phone down and spent time soaking in all of the goodness and beauty that was around me.

It still baffles me when I sit and really think about the world we live in. There are so many beautiful places, the scenery, landscape, sunsets, architecture that is given as a gift to us- to enjoy by our Heavenly Father. He made everything for us to simply enjoy, because he loves us that much.

I have learned to wake up every morning with a grateful heart. I set aside my time every morning (though there are times when I am out of routine and won’t read my devotional everyday like I should) to read, and thank God for another day, to provide for the day, the breath in my lungs and my heartbeat. No matter what I am going through, even though things have been and will be hard I know what lies ahead will be the most magical and this is just a moment in time so I need to make the most of it.

I can’t help but think I am pretty lucky to be so well loved, cared for, and blessed in countless ways. I was already chosen and so well loved before I was in the womb. This image makes my heart smile every time.

But, it doesn’t just stop there. We are given this life and beauty to enjoy but if we aren’t sharing our joy, wealth and heart with others we aren’t living our best life and acting the way God called us or wants us to behave. Actions always speak louder than words. I am guilty of this, I have the thoughts of ‘I should do that’ ‘I should give that’ but admittedly I don’t always follow through, and it never fails that every single time I choose myself above helping or giving to someone else I feel this twist in my stomach because I know I was acting out of selfishness.

This time to really take in all of the beauty in Hawaii has really opened my eyes even more. I thought of so many different people, places, the way they live/what they have and it’s really made me take a step back and appreciate and intentionally pray for. Of course there are things I still want for myself, but it hasn’t been about me. I have shifted my prayers and thoughts to being a better human being; give more, pray more, be more caring, compassionate and loving. I have been giving life on this beautiful place and I need to make the most of it, not for myself but to advance the kingdom.

God created this world as a gift for us to enjoy, but to also bring and invite others along for the journey so they can enjoy it too while spreading his love to others.

Thank you, Father for giving me the gift of life and this beautiful place we get to live on; the food, scenery, plants, animals, people and love we get to freely enjoy because we are loved that much.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil-this is God’s gift to man” 

Ecclesiastes 3:9-13

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Dating as a Bald Woman

Recently I went to an audition of The Bachelor, which you may think is crazy, desperate or just unnecessary, which is totally ok because I did it for me. I am glad I had the opportunity and stepped out of my comfort zone to do something brave and exciting. It was definitely hard, I was full of nerves and at one point I really did wonder what am I doing? Because compared to a lot of the contestants there I was nothing like them. Especially after one of the woman started talking about her Michael Kors earring and all I could offer back was, “these are from Target”.

But, let me rewind a bit, because I get asked about this quite a lot and for a long time it was hard to talk about. I felt like there was something wrong with my (que back to a big reason I disliked my Alopecia and bald head). There is this stigma around dating and being single (which I truly happily am). I have so many exciting opportunities going for me from races, travels, events, tournaments and so much more. But, almost every time I get asked if I am single and the answer is, “yes”. Then I usually get a pity, but kind response, which is ok. I do know people truly do mean well.

I have only had two serious long relationships which sadly both ended with my being dumped, because both men couldn’t date someone who didn’t have hair (an exact answer I heard from both). This was a time I was still wearing my wig, trying to cover my Alopecia. I wouldn’t talk about it, and didn’t want people to find out for this exact fear; fear of rejection for being bald. When this happened both times I was heart broken. I was angry. I was ashamed. I was angry. I hated my Alopecia and felt like I would never be married or ever be beautiful to someone. I didn’t treasure myself or see the gift I truly am. God made me perfectly, he makes no mistakes. But, it took my a long time to see this and during the moment I had a hard time believing and trusting this.

It is so easy, and I am so guilty of this to get caught up in what others think, or believe we have to be/act a certain way to get that person to like us. I was so focused on being pretty to a guy, or my boyfriend at the time that I didn’t care about anything else. I wasn’t putting my happiness first, or doing things that really mattered to me. I had my priorities all messed up. But, it taught me a BIG lesson. At the end of the day, God was protecting me. He was there watching over me through it all, he removed two men from my life who weren’t for me, and that is the a great gift I now see and am so thankful for. But, at the time I didn’t see it like this and I was just plain angry and upset.

Through these two break-ups (end of the world feelings at the time) because of my Alopecia and having no hair I learned so much about myself, my worth, what I deserve and to never settle. I learned that if my baldness matters to someone than he isn’t for me. I learned to put myself and my happiness first, to keep fighting in my everyday life, continue to pray and trust and it will happen. The waiting room is a hard place to be, but it will be worth it in the end.

It still can be hard when I get asked about dating, or I see people in relationships and I feel jealously creep in. But I have learned to turn to God in those moments and continue to trust. Or, when a parent of a child with Alopecia asks about dating and my relationships, I don’t want to share because I know it’s a huge fear they have for their children. It is very unfortunate we live in the world we live in, full of superficial people.

But, I am thankful for the heartbreak and the lessons it taught me. I am thankful for my Alopecia because it is a filter for the men who are not right for me. I am so thankful for God to remove men from my life who weren’t right. I am thankful I tried out for The Bachelor and put myself out there with my bald head out shining confidently. Because, if you would of known me even a few years ago I was still wearing my wig and would of never in a million years done something like that. I have a new confidence in myself, feelings of such worth that make me extremely proud of when I think of how far I have come.

I am thankful for all of the people that have been, are in, and will be in my life because of the lessons they have taught; both the good and the bad.

At the end of the day, I am me. I am proud and will continue to keep my eyes focused ahead.

Here is a fun story I wrote about what it is really like to try out for The Bachelor!

https://www.charlottefive.com/bachelor-audition-2018/

Prayer: The Greatest Wireless Connection

“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” Mark 11:24

Since I was a little girl I had always believed in God, that was never a doubt. I was told who he was, and what he did for me and this world and that was that. But, I can never really recall a time where I would pray or talk to him. I remember adults would say “it’s a conversation, say what is on your heart.” However, this was really uncomfortable to me and I felt really silly talking to someone who wasn’t there. I didn’t understand or had never experienced having his spirit or presence around me so I just didn’t ever really pray. Or, the times I did go to church I would half pray but mostly just look around at what everyone else was doing.

I am embarrassed to admit that I didn’t spend much time with the Lord for a good portion of my upbringing and just brushed it off. I didn’t praise, thank or pray to Him during the good and bad times and it is something I really regret. I firmly believe it would of made a lot of situations I went through a lot easier and instead of doing it on my own or not talking to anyone about incidents I would have. I kept so many emotions bottled up because I was embarrassed. Embarrassed of my Alopecia, being bald, feelings of no self worth or beauty and more. It definitely made things a lot harder (even now) to express my feelings to others can be difficult for me, because it wasn’t something I learned or felt like it was ok to do. I had to be tough and couldn’t ask for help or feel bad for myself.

When I started going back to church my sophomore year of college the first thing we did after worship was pray. I still vividly remember this moment. I bowed my head because I knew that was what I was suppose to do, but I also looked around at everyone else. I was so worried that I looked like someone who didn’t belong, or they would look at me and see ‘Sinner’ across my forehead because of the way I had been living my life, the way I had pushed God away and not given him my heart and time he deserved. I had made everything else a priority in my life except for Him; the one who deserved it the most. I was selfish, self center and not living my life the right way.

But, it wasn’t like that. I felt a sense of calm and warmth rush over me, like someone was hugging me. This was God wrapping his arms around me, welcoming me back home to where I had always belonged. He has been waiting for me this whole time. He didn’t care how far I had ran or pushed him away, he is always there waiting with open arms to accept, embrace, love and forgive us the moment we allow ourselves to be vulnerable and share our hearts, short comings, failures and fears because he knew us before anyone else did and chose us from the beginning. Talk about the greatest gift.

I wish I could say everything just clicked after that and my life was simply perfect, but we all know that would be all too easy and would never happen. But I can excitedly share that everything got much easier, my perspective and excitement for life, people and the world changed. I felt this new demeanor take over; the attitude of gratitude. I began to really look at everything I had, all of the experiences, triumphs, winnings, awards, blessings, possessions as a true gift from God. It was a very humbling chapter in my life when my perspective shifted from thinking “I won that award” to “God gave me the ability, strength and grit to win that award”. I had always been and probably always will be an overly competitive person so learning how to lose graciously has been a true gift. Of course I am still upset, can beat myself up and think I could of done better, but I also focus on positive from the events, things I did well, and how grateful I am to have a willing and abled body to compete in so many different sports and events the way I do; that is the true gift to know there is always another competition or I am still the athlete I am.

Through this chapter of getting to truly know the Lord and all of his incredible ways my life began to change for the better. But, the hardest part for me was still feeling inadequate in my prayer life. I loved listening to long time believers pray, the words just flowed off their tongues, it was so well put together, fluid, full of grace, gentleness and was really something beautiful to witness. I would never pray in front of others and would avoid it at all costs, because I wasn’t comfortable. I feel like I wasn’t enough, my words weren’t enough and just weren’t fluid. I was an inadequate prayer and was ashamed of my lack of knowledge and how to pray.

I started a prayer journal, this began to be my way of talking to God through my writing. It was easy for me to write down all of my feelings and share them with him. Without even realizing it at first I would be having a conversation to him as I was writing and that was it, I WAS PRAYING TO GOD in the most fluid, beautiful, authentic Lindsay way; it was beautiful and it was me. Prayer begins with a simple conversation. Pastor David Chadwick always compares praying to God “like you’re sitting on a park bench next to your best friend having a conversation” and I think that is just such a beautiful scene and always think of it and it brings a smile to my face every time.

My prayer life is far from perfect, there are still many days when I struggle to come up with words I am feeling, or can’t quite articulate. I have many moments where I don’t even say anything because I am too upset about a situation, and just think in my head “God I love you, I need you” and he delivers, he always brings me strength and the Holy Spirit flows through me and I am able to come up with the words eventually. Prayer truly has changed my life. I have learned to pray through some really hard situations, always keeping the faith and truly believing he will deliver on his promise and if he hasn’t yet, I know in his timing he will “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” Romans 8:28.

I know there are still many times I stumble or stutter through a pray whether its during my daily devotional time or through a group setting but it no longer makes me feel inadequate or like a failure. Instead I find it endearing to struggle through something as special as prayer and still keep working through it to put the words together. To me, this is a great example of life. Life can be hard and we can’t come up with all the answers, but if we work through and continue to lean on God he will bless us, pick us up and help us through anything if we just believe and trust.

If you are struggling with prayer or need someone to help you through please reach out. One of my favorite things in the world is to be purposely pray for someone, no matter how big or little a problem may be. It is an honor to love on and lift someone up in prayer. My favorite messages of all time that still give me the chills are the “I am praying for you Lindsay” and have the person truly mean it. I would love to be that blessing for someone else.

Prayer: the greatest wireless connection.