Friday, August 09, 2013
Light cannot exist with darkness. It will cast a shadow over the light and block it out, much like a solar eclipse. I tried taking a picture of a rock my daughter made with scripture on it and my bible was casting a shadow over it. I had to keep inching the rock away from that shadow so I could get the picture I wanted, so that the rock could be seen in the best light. As I moved that rock, little bit by little bit, it reminded me of my journey with Christ and how the world tempts me to dip my toe into that darkness. But if I go too deep my own light will extinguish. I won't be putting my best forward to give the glory to God.. We have to take baby steps to keep moving toward the light.
"Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both." The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.
Corinthians 6:13 - NIV
I am reading a book about the holy spirit, "Lead Me, Holy Spirit" by Stormie Omartian and I have been feeling God guide me to certain books and bible verses. Probing me about that little glimmer of disbelief that God can take away an unhealthy friendship, and yes, an addiction of sorts. Looking for self worth and love separate from God will not work.
It's like walking a tightrope between what I want, and what I know I need to do. I am flirting with danger, and I am soon going to fall. Thank you Lord, for your grace and mercy and for letting me catch myself before I made mistakes that are harder to recover from. I won't say can't be reversed, because I know through YOU I am redeemed and made new.
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.
- John 14:26
My life is my own to live and I am taking back starting NOW. no more living in the past, having fantasies about who I am. I am going to embrace all that I have now and not let satan win.
This past week ended with a 13.1 mile run. My running partner was sick and wouldn't be able to join the team. Since no one else is my pace I knew I would be running these miles alone. I was afraid.
As we started out I prayed for God to be with me and give me strength. I had my pandora set to play Christian songs. Every song that came on spoke to me. I was filled with peace and I knew the Holy Spirit was I side of me, and the first 10 miles went by so quickly. I had energy and had no doubt I could finish the last 3 miles, too. Not on my own, but with Him.
I was afraid, but it turned out to be such a blessing. As I am letting go of parts of me that are not meant to be, not pure, I am feeling more blessed with the presence of the Holy Spirit. I am seeing God everywhere. That run was the easiest half marathon I have ran, I felt light...and free.
During my 13 mile run (notice the light?)
After this week I will be exploring uncharted territory. There's no pretending I can't do it myself, Lord I need your help.
"And I had to find out who I really was
Who I really wasn't
So sick of who I was becoming
Yeah, tired of running
Time to look at the man in the mirror until I can learn to love (her)"
-Make the Money lyrics, Macklemore
"So this is what you meant
When you said that you were spent
And now it's time to build from the bottom of the pit
Right to the top
Don't hold back"
- Imagine dragons It's Time
Picture taken during an early morning run.
"Early in the morning I will celebrate the LIGHT."
"When I stumble in the darkness, I will call your name by night."
God of Wonders, Caedmon's call
Friday, July 12, 2013
Week 9 marked the first official week of marathon training. Before this we were in "pre-training". So now everyone who is running the Chicago marathon, or a marathon on the same date, is in training. There's excitement in the air about it.
Through my fundraising I won two free tickets to see the Spirit of the Marathon 2 movie. I went to see it with my husband, and some members of the team. This movie was incredibly inspiring and followed several runners along their journey to the marathon. There were a few where it was their first marathon. It was exciting, but also scary. God calls us to do the unexpected, to take those leaps of faith that seem huge to us, but in the reality of time are really just a blip on the screen of life.
I've been neglecting finishing this blog. I think because I struggle with perfectionism, but also of admitting failure. I finished the book "Anything" and I feel like I am not even silly putty, let alone clay that God can mold. On the train home I passed a sign that said "Jesus is the way to heaven". I know this on a spiritual level, but deep down, do I believe it? Or do I feel I need to be perfect for it to apply? If I feel like God can't even use me until I'm perfect, then god will never use me, because I will never BE perfect. None of us will be until we are made perfect in His image in heaven. A good friend, Erin, reminded me that God uses us although we may not feel we are worthy. It is through our own struggles, perhaps, that our faith is demonstrated to those around us. That can create change on a large scale. Someone may be reading my words now and also feel inadequate, as I do, and feel empowered to still do God's work.
I am not a baker, but because I don't like to come empty handed to thanksgiving or church pot lucks, I have become proficient at baking exactly one pie that I know is perfect -- my chocolate pecan pie - after all, since its the only pie I ever make, how can it not be perfect? I've had time to realize which ingredients are necessary and which I could use less of. How long it needs in the oven and how to protect the edges. I can mix the ingredients with my eyes closed. You get the picture.
Well recently my family joined a CSA (community supported agriculture) and you don't get a choice of what you get in the basket each week. I received a bunch of what looked like red celery. It turns out it was rhubarb. I don't know what else to possibly do with rhubarb other than make a pie (I've heard of rhubarb pie). So I googled and found a nice, simple recipe for rhubarb pie. I had no clue how thick to cut the rhubarb or how to treat it, so of course I queried my Facebook friends. However I wanted to get the pie started, so I just winged it and opened up the oven and in the pie went.
After the pie had been baking for 45 minutes, I heard back from one of my friends that I was supposed to peel the rhubarb and sauté it before baking. Or else the pie would taste like celery pie.
I wanted to turn off the oven and throw that pie out. But my husband encouraged me to just wait and see what happened.
And do you know what? That pie came out perfect! People had seconds and there was no pie left. It reminded me that God can make beautiful things out of our messes.
Sometimes I feel as messed up as that pie. But God uses broken things and broken people. He can still use me,even though in my mind I'm broken and far from perfect. Through this mess beauty can live, and he is working through all of us as well, all the time, sometimes in big ways, sometimes behind the scenes.
We were created to fail. Because it’s in our failure that we see our need for Jesus, the One who never fails. God is there to take away my sin, to help me forgive myself, and as a reminder that every day is full of new mercies.
"Failure is an opportunity for grace, to give it to others and receive it for ourselves. When I fail, it’s the perfect time to fall into Him." Lysa Tykherst
The process of giving up everything is difficult. It is not something we can ever be perfect at, we are constantly changing and evolving, but if our hearts are in it, if our desire is to give God the glory, then it all counts as good. Giving up everything we are trading in our wants for His. And through this offering, we will be blessed.
Recently I witnessed the unlimited power of God and just how much prayer can do. One of my best friends was given a frightening, life-threatening diagnosis. She reached out for prayer. She had to endure a week of waiting after she had a second round of tests. I prayed, my friends and family prayed, my church prayed, her friends and family prayed. There was a lot of prayer going on. I asked her what the best case scenario would be. She said a false positive. That's what I prayed for, but deep down I wasn't sure such a prayer could be answered. I didn't know how often these things happen. But I prayed, having faith that God would work it all out the way He does. But I have to say, I didn't expect to hear, a week later, that my friend was given a clean bill of health, having to retest in 3 months. God is so good. My spiritual mother, Karyl, said to me after I told her I didn't think it would happen, that I may not have known, but she did. She knew that God was capable of amazing miracles.
I want my faith to be as large as that. I don't want doubt to creep into my prayers. Jennie Allen says that all sin comes from unbelief. We don't think God will work a situation out, so we take things into our own hands. Our needs aren't getting met, so we search outside of ourselves. If we only take the plunge, jump off that cliff, hand all of our needs and desires over to god and say "here" and actually TRUST him with our lives, our lives will be God-shaped and will not look anything like what we might have imagined for ourselves. They may be even better.
In Week 11 I ran my second half marathon (full race report blog will be posted separately). One thing I heard from those around me and in my own head was "You've got this." I kept changing it in my head to "God's got this." However my spirit was reluctant to embrace that. I don't know why. There was that doubt again, creeping in. God can take whatever we need him to from us and make us stronger, we can get through things with Him. But we have to first give it over to him. All of it. And I think as a society built on accomplishments, on pride, it's hard to do that. To give God all the glory. To trust that he will have our backs.
But I remind myself that I am in process. And that is good enough.
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7)
Saturday, June 15, 2013
I am realizing that my blogs are less about running and more about God. And I think that is how it should be, when one goes on a journey with the sole intent to become closer to Him, that the result is exactly that. I just honestly didn't expect it. When I answered that voice that said I should run a marathon, secretly I didn't think it was God talking to me. Maybe it was my secret wish, to run a marathon. That was a thought, that I was just spinning it I to thinking it was God's plan, not my own, to perhaps feel a little less selfish. And as a Christian I want to follow God. And I sometimes feel a little (ok, a lot) undeserving...I am still building my relationship with Him, how do I "really" know that it is his words I hear? Who am I to think I can hear Him? It Is called faith, my friends, and it's true what they say, you don't need a boatload of it, just a tiny mustard seed, like the bible says.
So...part of me felt that during this journey I wouldn't hear him speak, that my footsteps wouldn't walk with His, that this whole marathon thing would really just be about running.
But it is anything but.
Yes, I am training, and getting stronger physically, but spiritually and in my relationship with Christ I am growing by leaps and bounds. Like my Faith. And yes, I am trying new fueling methods (I like cliff shots), and have learned ways to recover from sore muscles (foam roller), and I a building endurance, but it is the race to salvation that concerns me.
However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace
1 Corinthians 9:24-25
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.
I am reading a book called "Anything" by Jennie Allen. This book is nothing short of amazing, and is exactly what I needed right now at this point in my journey. A spark friend, Rachel, (RUNNERRACHEL) recommended it to me and I am so glad she did. This book is about one simple word, "anything" it challenges the reader to make a promise to God. Promising to do anything He asks. Go wherever He may lead us. Not questioning, but having a faith as large as this world that God created. I want that.
Last week I talked about running from God. I didn't want to be a runaway bride, I wanted to get closer to God, and in fact, would do anything to do that. This marathon is my anything. Letting go of my past and people in it that don't serve me, or even more importantly, enable me serve GOD as I should, is my anything.
In the book, Jennie says that "little deaths always feel like big deaths until you let go. After you let go you wonder, what was the big deal?" Let go. This is something I've been wrestling with. Letting go of people and things, ideas I don't need and most of all, letting go of my fear.
In the book she also says that at the root of all sin is unbelief. I believe that is true. We look for other things to fulfill and sustain us other than our God. But nothing else can ever fill us up like He can. It's like going to the gas station for fuel for your car, and filling up the car with water - it just won't work.
Another quote from the book, "he'll always feel far away, drowned out by other louder rivers, until every other thing fades away and He becomes the only thing."
I'm finding that my love for Jesus is outweighing my love of the material things and people of this world. That I want to follow him. It's not a "have to" anymore.
I also love this:
”But God often seems unconcerned with helping us maintain same, simple lives where everything fits and works. I don’t know what God’s plans are for you, but I do know that we don’t hear from him until certain things die. He doesn’t compete. And when he does speak, it typically costs something.”
There are things in this world that are going to be hard to give up. But I am renewing my vows and will release those things that take up space inside my head and heart. I'm going to make room for Him.
And I've found that even when we are running from god, he is always faithful, and is running towards us. Our past doesn't matter. Who we are doesn't matter. God weighs our hearts and sees what is on the inside, he redeems us. And we are NEW.
"No amount of falls will really undo us if we keep on picking ourselves up each time. We shall be very muddy and tattered children by the time we reach home. But the bathrooms are all ready, the towels put out, and clean clothes in the airing cupboard. The only fatal thing is to lose one’s temper and give it up. It is when we notice the dirt that God is most present in us; it is the very sign of his presence."
-- C.S. Lewis
This week I was out of town in Michigan for my long run. I have always wanted to run the Kal Haven trail --the closest I got was walking it once n the winter for about 5 minutes. I wanted to run 8 miles to prepare for my upcoming half marathon. But I didn't want to do it alone on the trail. So I asked my dad if he would come with me and ride beside me on his bike. My dad has bad knees, and his feet are pretty messed up. The bike was too short for him, but he rode along with me, every step of the way, encouraging me.
A photo of my dad ahead of me on the trail
After the run
It reminds me of how God is always there with us, directing our steps. Of how much Jesus sacrificed for us up on that cross. It was amazing. I had reverted back to listening to hip hop and rap for running, but it didn't inspire me anymore. So this past week I turned back to the Christian music and it made me feel so light on my feet, like I was flying. Reminded me that I am running for those women and children who don't have water.
The prayer for this week is simple to get closer to god, no other demands that make my heart heavy.
Plan for this week:
Mon: 3 miles
Tues: 3 miles
Wed: strength and core
Thurs: 3 miles (hard)
Sat : 5 miles long
Sun: cross training
Joel 2:12-13, "'Yet even now,' declares the LORD, 'Return to Me with all your heart, with fasting, weeping and mourning; And rend your heart and not your garments.' Now return to the LORD your God, For He is gracious and compassionate, Slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness And relenting of evil." (NAS)
You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth?
For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,[e] 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you[f] to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Friday, May 31, 2013
Well, after the promises from last week, about returning to God and He will return to me, you would think I had a stellar week, right? A week full of certainty in my faith. It was like I had been given the all knowing “nod” from God that I was on the right track! Everything should have been great. Until, it wasn’t.
One thing I am learning in my journey is to surrender. To let things go, to let God do what He will do – he is the author and perfector of our fate, and I want to give him the controls. The problem is, I am a control freak.
I realize that these blogs are turning more into my spiritual journey than my physical one. My training went well last week – except that I only did one short run in addition to the group run, due to being all encompassingly busy at work. Maybe that is the stem of my “terrible” week. The thing is, I know I am in trouble when I a.) Don’t make time for my runs, and b.) Don’t read my bible daily. Taking time to be in the Word really focuses my day, and when I neglect that, other things fall to the wayside, too. So for me, it is all connected. The one short run I did get in was mid-week, I had worked another late night, and came home to my two beautiful daughters, begging me to spend time with them. What was a working mother with a backpack-size of guilt to do? I spent time reading with them after we ate dinner as a family, and then I felt that other tug, the desire to get my run in. I looked at their faces, now 8 PM and not a glimmer of sleepiness in them, and the daylight outside on this gorgeous spring day.
So I decided to do what I do best (multi-task), and told them to get out of their PJs, put on their gym shoes and I let them ride their bikes and catch fireflies as I ran up and down the sidewalk of our very short block. Now I tell you, that is love, that run was more boring that running on the dreadmill, or around the track at the gym over and over. But I did it and it made me happy to be able to watch them in our front yard as I ran, and to let them take advantage of the balmy spring day. It made me feel like a.)– a good mom, and b.) a runner in training who was doing what she needed to do, at any lengths.
So what does this have to do with running from God? Well, just like when our parents told us what we should do, when you get closer to God, his helper, that pesky Holy Spirit gets inside of you and tells you what you should be doing vs. what you are doing. There are certain behaviours that God may not like, perhaps some addictions, that I like just fine, and I want to have both. There are certain things that we turn to instead of God to fulfill our needs, and I want my proverbial cake, and I want to eat it, too. But the bible is very clear about double mindedness, that we should have an undivided heart, and love God fully with our own hearts.
Sin is anything that keeps you from God. When we are in this place, we won’t open up the bible, we won’t pray, because we feel so guilty, we feel we aren’t worthy, and so we avoid God (although He’s always watching). We create this distance that becomes a chasm if we aren’t careful.
This week ended in a blow up between me and my husband because I wanted MY way in a situation, in an argument, and I ended up hurting him. I forgot all I had learned about words and the weight they carry. About praying first, about listening more than speaking. And I could have ruined one of the most important relationships I have. I think this blow up was designed by God to bring me back to reality, and to show me the things that are important, and the things that are not.
I am also reminded of how when you pick a fight, and want to be “right”, to remember that with every “winner”, there is a “loser”. I don't recall who said this, but I heard it recently.
It’s not easy to juggle working full time, being a mother, a wife, and also being a good daughter, sister and friend. It’s something I’m working on – we are all works in progress though. And I am thankful to God for his faithfulness to me, and for not giving up on me, no matter how many times I turned up my nose at Him.
I’ll get it right someday, God. Not perfect, not in my own time, but yours, I will learn to follow you and to trust you, not my own plans.
So I am learning this week to let go.
I'm also learning that no matter how far or fast you run, God is always there, waiting to peek out at you from behind the clouds.
Photo taken from the train ride home after a late day at work
Caitlin and I on a long run.
The schedule for this week is:
Mon: 40 min run
Tues: 30 min walk
Wed: 40 min run
Thurs: 30 min walk
Fri: 40 min run
Sat: 60 min run
I am up to run/ walk intervals of 5 min/1 min.
Bible verses for the week:
The unfailing love of the Lord never ends!
By his mercies we have been kept from complete destruction.
Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each day.
I have swept away your offenses like a cloud,
Your sins like the morning mist.
Return to me, for I have redeemed you.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, when I think about your unfailing love, I am amazed that you continue to love me even when I sin and turn my back on your or just become apathetic. I am amazed that in your mercy you continue to welcome me back. I am amazed at your faithfulness, that you never give up on me. That you would lavish all this on human beings – on me—is beyong my comprehension…thank you.
Saturday, May 18, 2013
"The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth" (Luke 3:5).
In this blog I'm combining the 4th and 5th week of marathon training (woo hoo week 5!) because week 4 was a crazy/ busy week for me at work and I didn't have time to write.
Along with the physical aspect of training is the spiritual. I'm on a journey and I can't have one without the other. When God gave me this God-sized dream of running a marathon, I knew that it wouldn't just be me running the race. He would be right along beside me, every step of the way. So while I am getting stronger on the outside, I am also changing on the inside. I am shedding the old and becoming new. So in these blogs I will talk about the spiritual breakthroughs I've had as well as the milestones and barriers I break through physically.
I love the Global Positioning Systems (GPS) in the new cars. A voice comes on and tells me how far I have to go and when to turn. However, sometimes I get off course and the voice says: "Recalculating route." The GPS is telling me I have gone off course and it is now recalculating the route based on my wrong turn. Sometimes we can make wrong turns in our spiritual lives. There is an amazing thing about God. He can make our crooked places straight. He has an ability to make whatever blunder you make turn out right. It may mean there might be some consequences to those decisions, but He will always allow your actions to work together for good for those called according to His purposes if we repent and seek Him fully to make things right. These lessons can even contribute to greater wisdom in our lives if we learn from our mistakes.
(Above from "Today God Is First (TGIF) devotional message, Copyright by Os Hillman, Marketplace Leaders.")
So my relationship with God is hot and then cold. Meaning that most times I am reading the bible, feeling God's presence in my life, and following that straight path. But sometimes, I veer off. I stop living in the Word. I get a little selfish. I want to have some fun, and I become more of this world, and living more in temptation than I care to admit. But I am human. Still, in bible study this week something pretty noteworthy happened. One of our questions was to put on our own words Jacob's promise to God. Now these are my own words and are not Jacob's (if you want to read what Jacob promised refer to Genesis 28:18-21)
I wrote: "If you will promise never to leave me, I will never leave you. And if I should lose my way, please make the path back home clear."
Now this is nothing profound. Until the following day, I refer to the next day of the bible study, and it asks us to read Malachi 3:6-12, which reads:
"Return to me and I will return to you." (Verse 7)
Now, call me crazy, but this to me felt like God's affirmation to me, his returning of the promise I gave him the prior day. I was sitting on the train en route to work and I got such a case of the "God is with me" moments, those moments that affirm our faith. Since we can't see God, there is no way of knowing if he's truly with us sometimes, but it's these moments where our faith grows, and we know we are on the right path.
I was also brought to this scripture during this same time, not through my study, but a podcast I was listening to through Redeemed Girls Ministry:
"Return to me, for I have redeemed you." - Isaiah 44:22
Ok God, I am listening!
See God takes up residence within us, "Emmanuel" means "God with you" and he is with us, and I'm blessed to have felt His presence this week. And we saw a double rainbow this week during a family walk, reminding me of another promise, made by God to Noah.
Last week, in Week 4, I missed two of my short runs. It was a really busy week at work, and it was near impossible. However, the group run was great, and Caitlin and I went early again so that we could double our mileage. Here are some pictures I took of Knock Knolls, the beautiful place we are running:
This week, Week 5, I got all of my runs and cross-training in. I am so happy with myself, it wasn't easy to get up at 5:30 to run in the mornings, but that way I can spend time with my family after work. I have to say though, sometimes even the short runs feel hard. It makes me worry that I won't be able to do this. I know though with training, faith and prayer that I will push through. We are on a run 4/ walk 1 interval right now, and I like it. I run for more time if I feel strong, otherwise I stay on the intervals. They actually make me quicker, and I get more recovery time. And those minutes go by quickly!
We ran a different route on our short runs this week, and we ran two towns over from where I live, it was such a sense of accomplishment!
I am feeling very happy and just honored to be able to run for such a great cause, and to make a difference.
I had a wonderful Mother's Day, my husband planted me an herb and veggie garden and I got to spend time with my lovely daughters.
The schedule for next week is:
Mon: 40 min run
Tues: 30 min walk
Wed: 40 min run
Thurs: 30 min walk
Fri: 40 min run
Sat: 55 min long run
I think one of my short runs this week I will double the time to run at least 8 miles so I'm prepared for the Women's Half at the end of June.
Here's some photo inspiration that's been sent to me this week by family and friends.
Have an amazing week!
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