“I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”” Psalms 91:2 NIV
In today’s world, it’s hard to know who to trust. One day, coffee is good for you. The next day, it causes cancer. One channel says it’s the end of the world. The other channel says everything is great.
I don’t know about you but this can get exhausting. I decided a long time ago that no matter what was going on, in the world, in politics, in my personal life, I was going to trust God. When our faith and trust is in God, it will put your mind at ease. You won’t be easily shaken by what you see or hear because you know God is in control and he is who you trust.
It is the day after my first marathon. I hobbled down the stairs, made a cup of coffee and grabbed my laptop. While I doubt I will ever forget the events that transpired yesterday, I decided I wanted to get them down while they were fresh.
They say finishing a marathon will change your and they, whoever they are, were not wrong. While I am not even a full day removed from the marathon, the experience definitely changed me.
I got to the race at about 6:15am and found the team I was running with, Team World Vision. It was nice to not be alone and I got to meet all of the online people I’d been interacting with for the past several months.
After a quick prayer and gathering, we headed to the start line. Oddly, I didn’t feel nervous at all. I was ready to run and pretty excited.
The gun went off and we ran. I felt fresh and ready. My training went ok considering all of the interruptions I had during it. Three funerals, an injury, and three colds (one of which I was still shaking). But I felt good!
The first few miles were quite pleasant. The weather seemed to be holding up well and the expected snow seemed to be a possible wrong prediction. But around mile 8, the heavens opened.
Despite the snow/sleet and the brutal winds, I was still feeling ok and was on pace. Miles 1-13 flew by and before I knew it I was at mile 18, which was the longest run I’d done in training. With a wet face and feet, I kept pushing forward.
I could tell that these 18 miles were much more difficult than my training run of the same distance. The snow lasted from about mile 8-17 and was accompanied by some very intense wind gusts. By 18 miles, I felt physically drained. The snow and wind beat at my body for almost 10 miles and I was feeling it.
Luckily, a wonderful man named Mohammed, whom I will NEVER EVER forget was running close by and we began talking and encouraging each other.
I stopped at about 18.5 miles to take some pebbles out of my shoe, but when I slid my ankle back into my shoe, my left calf seized up as tight as a rock! I had never gotten a cramp during running so this was new territory.
With tears forming in my eyes, I began to message my calf and told it “Loosen up, right now!”. I used my mom voice to tell it who was in charge. I stood up and continued to remind my leg of its responsibility to keep me moving.
The cramp left, but the exhaustion stayed. My legs felt decent but my feet felt like lead. I knew as long as I could keep my mind strong, I’d be ok.
My family called to find me and as I approached about 19 miles, they drove by. I smiled and yelled at the kids from the road and it really brightened up the atmosphere. It’s amazing what being around the right people can do! (Another blog for another time!)
I pressed on and a bit before the 20 mile mark, my family had parked and were waiting for me. I stopped to hug my kids and to tell my husband that I was struggling. To this point I was still on my target pace, but I could see the crew removing the 20 mile tracking strip that’s used to update spectators of where there runner is. I literally had to run around the person removing it!
When I got to mile 21, the proverbial wheels fell off. I stopped to use the bathroom, hoping the change would bring on a second wind. It did not.
At this point, it crossed my mind to quit. I’d seen a lot of people drop out back when the weather got rough. It would be understandable. These running conditions were not ideal. I’d like to say that I fought hard the whole way through. I was mentally tough and nothing was going to break me down. But truthfully, I considered it.
As I sat in the port-a-potty, I had a decision to make. I can keep going or I can give up. But truthfully, I had already decided I was going to finish. I decided when I signed up for the marathon. I decided when I did the training. I decided when I pre-purchased the 26.2 sticker for my car!
I came out of the bathroom and kept going. I was doing ok, walking/running with my new friend. We talked about our running, families and got excited as we could see the capitol building in the near distance, which was the finish.
Feeling confident, I kept moving. Around mile 23, disaster knocked on my door again. And I let it in. The race crew was beginning to pick up the cones. One of the guys came to us to let us know that they needed to pick up the cones and mile markers so we needed to stay on the sidewalk to finish.
I’d been using the cones to guide me to the finish, and as a directionally challenged person, I knew if I had to read a map to get pack, I was toast. I burst into tears. Like, my dog just died tears.
Mohammed immediately checked on me. He thought I was hurt or something bad had happened. through my sobs I explained that I was scared I wouldn’t know the way to finish. He reassured me that we would follow the map and finish the last few miles together.
I wiped my tears and thanked God for sending me someone to help me when I was struggling. I apologized to Mohammed for falling apart and let him know I was ok!
My family called me at around 25 miles because the race was no longer tracking me since I would not make the cut off. I assured them I was doing fine and was on my way. The race crew had radioed in that we were coming so they left the finish line up.
At this point, I knew it was a good time to open the letter my daughter gave me days before the race. “See you at the finish line!”
I picked up my pace a bit and as I turned the corner onto the street where the finish line was, I could see my family. Tears welled up in my eyes. I knew I was almost done.
The workers who were still there cheered me on like I was running for gold! As my feet crossed the finish line, the floodgates opened and I couldn’t contain my emotions. I’d finished a marathon!
It was harder than I thought and I’d ran slower than I’d hoped, but I finished. I didn’t quit. I didn’t give up.
At the beginning of this year, I couldn’t run a mile and a when I finally could, it took me 15 minutes. I’d come so far and felt so proud. Since I didn’t finish the course by the cutoff time, I got a DQ by my name in the results. It stands for Disqualified. But for me, it means Didn’t Quit.
I felt like the psalmist in Psalm 27. “I would have lost heart, unless I had believed That I would see the goodness of the Lord In the land of the living.” (Psalms 27:13)
I learned so much from running 26.2 miles about me, life and what I hope to give in the time I have on this earth. I’m excited to see what’s next!
“Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for him with all their hearts.” Psalms 119:2 NLT
It’s the Christmas season. I know we haven’t gotten to Thanksgiving yet but ads, commercials and stores are definitely telling us it’s time. The loud, colorful commercials want us to believe that we will find joy this season by getting or giving the right gift.
But we will only truly be joyful when we set our hearts to obey God’s word and seek him. He is the source of our joy and contentment.
“…let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,” Hebrews 12:1 NIV
In 48 hours, I’ll be running my first marathon. I can’t believe that after almost 8 months of training it’s time. It’s time to run my race. My training has been interrupted more times than I care to remember but I’ve made it through.
I’ve learned so much over the past few months about both running and life. Many of the blog posts I’ve written were worked out during a run on the trails.
As I’ve been preparing for this race, I’ve come across Hebrews 12:1 quite a bit. In fact, the planner I use has a monthly verse and this month’s verse was Hebrews 12:1! Coincidence? I don’t think so.
This verse is such a powerful reminder that each of us has our own race to run that God has marked out for us. But many of us are too busy looking at other people’s races and envying their results.
I’ve found it so freeing actually running my own race. Both physically and spiritually. I use a running app that is basically like Facebook but for runners. We can see our friends’ runs and comment and like but I’ve heard many people say they feel bad about their own run after seeing others’ stats.
When we compare ourselves to others, it actually slows us down in our own race. We end up doing too much too soon or losing focus on what God wants us to do.
If I look at and envy the free time my friend has while her kids are at school, I won’t be content in homeschooling my children even though it’s the race God has marked for me.
If I envy the lavish vacation someone on Facebook posts, I won’t be content with sticking to the financial goals God has marked out for my family.
When we run the race that God has marked out for us in our homes, business, career or family, we can trust that he has everything figured out.
I know a few people who have a running coach. If ever I win the lottery, that will be one of my splurges. A running coach can create a plan tailored specific to your goals. You don’t have to think about what workout you need to do or how far you need to run; you just look at your plan. And if something comes up that interferes with your training, your running coach adjusts things and moves them around.
Now, a running coach is not in my budget (yet) but I do have access to someone who has created a tailored plan for my life. I don’t have to worry about what city to live in or what job to take, I can just look at his plan. I don’t have to know how long it will take for my blog to get noticed or my book to get published. I can look at his plan and know that “he who began a good work will carry it to completion” (Philippians 1:6).
When something interferes with my race, he can move things around so that “all things are working together for my good” (Romana 8:28). If you haven’t caught on, I’m talking about God! God has every detail of my life, and yours, mapped out and when we stay in our lane, stay in his word and stay in his presence, we WILL run our race and run it well.
“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12 NIV
It’s important to read the Bible. But you can read the Bible in more than one way. It can be read as history, literature, geography, even entertainment! Some of those Old Testament stories had more drama than some reality shows!
But it is when we read the Bible as a living document that is applicable to everyday life that we really gain the benefits God’s word offers. We can apply his grace that is sufficient to everyday problems. We can access his peace that surpasses all understanding when trying times come.
God’s word is meant to come alive as we read it. And in turn, we too come alive with hope, wisdom and direction.
“The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.”” Isaiah 40:8 NIV
It’s fall here in the Midwest, a season I had very little experience with growing up in Texas. I love this time of year. There is a street that we take to go to the library that we call “Tree Tunnel Road”. The trees on either side of the road meet above the road, like they are reacting out to each to each other. During the fall, the leaves trade their green wardrobe for yellows, orange, red and purple.
In a time when things can change overnight, it is reassuring to know that God is always the same. He is faithful and his great and precious promises (2 Peter 1:4) are not conditioned on what is happening in the world. Take heart! His promises are still YES and AMEN!
It’s that simple. If you love something you do it. No one has to force us to binge our favorite show or nag us to eat our favorite dessert. I’ve never begged my son to play is favorite video game or pleaded with my daughter to color with me. In fact, it takes very little persuasion for us to do the things we love.
I recently completed a 18 mile run for my marathon training. To my surprise, it went really well. I had been having some setbacks in my training, so running this distance at such great ease was very reassuring for completing the 26.2 miles I have awaiting me in a few days.
I posted my run on Facebook and a few people later told me they couldn’t believe I ran that far. “I could ever do that!” was also a common phrase. I remember when I first started running, I felt the same. A marathon? NEVER! But then again, I hadn’t fallen in love with running yet.
Almost 4 years into my running, I can truly say I love running. I love running in the heat or the cold. I love running fast and slow. I love running here and there, I love running everywhere! Sorry for getting Dr. Seuss on you, but it’s true. I now love running. t is no longer a struggle to put on my shoes and get out the door, no matter the distance.
When you love something, it’s not a chore. When Jesus told us in John 14:15 that we show our love for him by doing what he says, I believe he had this idea in mind. That the things we love are easy to do. We don’t need to be better about reading our Bible more; we need to fall in love with the Bible. We don’t need to try to make it to church more than once a month; we need to fall in love with the church, who Jesus calls his bride. We don’t need to be better about giving the tithe to God; we need to fall in love with obeying his word and blessing his kingdom.
We sometimes overcommit ourselves and schedules things we don’t even love. Or even like for that matter. I heard something that I will clean up a bit for this clean blog: IF IT’S NOT A “HECK YES”, IT’S A “NO”! I learned a few years ago that life is too short to fill with obligations and undesired commitments (I’m not talking about responsibilities like work, parenting, etc. if you don’t love these things, you can’t quit, you just need to ask God to help you make some adjustments elsewhere!).
When we fill our lives with the things we love, life doesn’t seem as demanding. Memories can be made because we aren’t just rushing to the next thing. We make time for what matters most. This week, commit to doing something you love, or would like to fall in love with, even if it’s just for 5 minutes. Read you Bible, read a book, color a picture, do a puzzle, play a game with your kids. You don’t need more time, you need to love it more!
“The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.” Psalms 19:7 NIV
No one wants to hear this but it’s true. There is freedom in laws. When my kids follow my “laws” they are free to do what they want. Room cleaned? School done? They’re free to watch tv or call a friend.
God’s laws, commandments, statutes and precepts, were given so we could be free from struggle. We can be free from unnecessary pain, debt, even disease. I give my kids rules because I know what’s best for them. And our Heavenly Father is the same.
“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” Psalms 42:11 NIV
I loved watching game shows when I was you get. I always like when the contestants got to choose their prize by selecting from a group of closed doors. The audience would yell at them and they’d look around frantically for the right guess.
I feel like that’s how many of us live our lives. We don’t know what to do so we look to others frantically for help in making major decision. Where to live, where to shop, where to send our kids to school.
I wrote a few days ago about choosing peace. What I love about making this decision is that I already know what’s behind the door. The psalmist was going through a rough time but he made a choice that gave him hope.
He didn’t have to guess what would happen if he opened the door to hope, he knew his soul would be revived. This day, my prayer is for you to choose hope and walk through it. Nothing is too hard for our God. Your miracle could be on the other side of your hope.
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33 NIV
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up? Do you charge into the restroom full speed? Do you stretch? Meditate? Pray? Grab your phone? Every morning we are presented with a new opportunity to start the day off in a way that will fulfill us or drain us.
When we choose to put the things of God first, the rest of life will come together. I can always tell when I haven’t been seeking God first. It feels like little by little, the other areas of my life begin to crumble.
We don’t have to go back to flip phones or delete social apps from our devices, but what if we seek before scroll? What if we read a scripture before taking that selfie? What if we pray before we play that game? When we take care of our spirits, our bodies tend to line up as well.