Monday, November 11, 2013

Because I'm Only HALF Crazy!

"Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust Him and He will help you!"
Psalm 37:5

Filled with nerves and anticipation, I put my earphones on and waited for the sound of the cannon. This was it! After starting my jogging journey seven months before and five months of half marathon training, the moment was here. My very first half marathon in Pensacola, Florida!
The cannon went off and the crowds of people around me slowly started to move forward. As my music began to play, my nervousness slipped away and I picked up my pace. We looped through a street and suddenly, there was the sunrise over Pensacola Bay in front of me. As I hit the first half mile, "Revelation Song" by Kari Jobe began to play. It was so perfect! I started this journey as a way to grow closer to the Lord and I couldn't wait to spend 13.1 miles praising His Name!

"Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty. Who was and is and is to come. With all creation I sing praise to the King of kings. You are my everything and I will adore you."

The crowd began to slowly thin out as the faster runners moved ahead. We took a left and moved on toward the Graffiti Bridge. Here it was: my first hill! I took my first "walking break" as I climbed upward. At the top of the hill, I picked up the pace and kept moving forward. Although my original plan was to run thirty second intervals, keeping a steady jogging pace felt surprisingly well. 

After a right turn on Cervantes, we passed mile two and hit another bridge. As I crossed the bay, the road began to slowly climb upward once again. As I felt the tiniest bit of panic start to rise, "God's Great Dance Floor" by Chris Tomlin began to play. My nerves subsided and I very nearly danced across the bridge!

"You'll never stop loving us. No matter how far we run. You'll never give up on us. All of heaven shouts: let the future begin!"

From miles two to five, we gradually ran higher and higher. I walked through the water stations and then continued jogging. Two days before the race, my running partner and I drove the first half of the course. At certain landmarks, I said quick prayers in my head for God to give me peace and energy. This was my first prayer circle and it worked! As I passed the cemetery and certain signs I had prayed over, God's peace overwhelmed me. I also couldn't believe how much fun I was having and how amazing I felt! My emotions were so overwhelming that I found myself crying.

After making a left turn onto Summit, we ran through some housing and past the airport. The support along the way was amazing! I was so surprised at how many people showed up to cheer us on! The volunteers at the water stations were friendly and encouraging. I was nearly seven miles in and I was having a blast!

Somewhere between miles seven and eight, "Speak Life" by TobyMac came on and gave me another burst of energy. 

"Raise your thoughts a little higher, spread the love like fire. Hope will fall like rain when you speak life with the words you say."

As I passed mile marker eight, I couldn't believe that I had so much energy left. I was keeping a 12/13 minute pace and it was the best "long" run I'd ever had! And then I saw it. Between miles eight and nine, a huge hill came into view. I knew there was supposed to be a hill here, but I was surprised at how large it looked to me. But then "Live With Abandon" by Newsboys came on and I dug down deep to face it.
"I wanna live with abandon. Give You all that I am. Every part of my heart Jesus, I place in your hands."

After making it to the top, I was so relieved. The rest of the course was supposed to be flat or downhill. With just four miles left to go, I was confident that I could finish in under three hours! As I jogged past mile marker nine and moved on toward ten, I couldn't believe what I saw in the distance. Was that an overpass?!
I took one of my earphones out and chatted a bit with an older gentleman next to me. He was so encouraging as we started to walk up the overpass. I realized once again why I love to run so much. Everyone is rooting for one another! There are no losers in a race, no matter the distance. What matters is that you finish! Why can't every sport be like that?

Coming off of the overpass, we passed mile marker ten and the hills were over. I rejoiced inside because I was sitting at two hours and seven minutes. With just 5k left to go, I knew I could finish under three hours!

Unfortunately, my legs disagreed with me. At around 10.5 miles, both of my legs and my left foot started to cramp. I tried to jog short intervals to break up my walking spells, but I just couldn't do it. As I walked along, I watched the time on my watch quickly tick away and I began to get discouraged. 

I passed mile marker 12 as I came into historic downtown Pensacola. Just a mile left! My legs were screaming in pain but the crowds of spectators were getting larger and I just kept moving forward. I turned left and there it was in the distance: the finish line! I half walked, half hobbled, to the roundabout, clicking through the songs on my iPod until I found the one I was looking for. "Overcomer" by Mandisa!

"You're an overcomer! Stay in the fight 'til the final round. You're not going under. 'Cause God is holding you right now! You might be down for moment, feeling like it's hopeless, that's when He reminds you ... that you're an overcomer!"

As I came out of the roundabout and hit the last stretch toward the finish, I pushed with everything I had and started to jog once again. To my right, I spotted my wonderful husband and kids as they cheered me through to the finish. I can't even begin to explain the emotion I felt as I received my medal. I had done it! My legs felt like they were literally going to fall off of my body, but I had finished 13.1 miles!

My official time was 3 hours, 2 minutes, and 28 seconds. Although I felt the urge to be a little disappointed that I didn't meet my 3 hour goal, I quickly reminded myself of how far I've come. Seven months ago, God convicted me to get off of the couch. What a blessing it was to obey!




Saturday, November 9, 2013

My Biggest Blessing

"Jesus told him, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
John 14:6

I know, I know, it's been a month and a half since my last post. The big day of my first half marathon is tomorrow, but instead of focusing on my nervousness and excitement, I want to share the most wonderful news a parent ever gets to share. On October 23, 2013, our sweet son asked Jesus into his heart! 

It was after church and AWANA on a Wednesday night. Jack and I were laying in his bed reading stories and had just finished a Bible chapter in the Jesus Storybook Bible. (If you haven't seen or read this children's Bible, look it up! It's amazing and I think it directly affected Jack's understanding of salvation!) After reading about Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, the next chapter was about Jesus dying on the cross. Jack flipped over and saw a picture of Jesus carrying the cross and he told me, "Mom, Jesus died to take our sins away. I want Jesus to take MY sins away." 

I have to admit, I was in a little bit of shock. For the last several months, Jack has been asking many questions about salvation and sin. He has been able to explain to us in detail who Jesus is, why he died, and what sin is. But I wasn't expecting him to put everything together and realize his need for salvation at such a young age. 

I told Jack that Jesus would take his sins away if he asked. The next moment was the sweetest and most precious moment of my life. He closed his little eyes and said, "I love you God. Will you take my sins away? Will you come into my heart and save me?" 

I know a lot of people question whether or not young children truly understand what it means to be saved. But, Jack has such faith. He understood God's plan for salvation and accepted it. 

So while I do have a big day ahead tomorrow, it's still nowhere near as exciting as the day my only son accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior! Praise the Lord!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Peace

"I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit."
Romans 15:13

Well, I realize I've been somewhat slacking on the blog front. I can barely find the time to run, let alone blog about it! But I'm going to really try to make it a habit again. Our schedule has been packed since school started, but we're finally getting into a routine and adjusting to this new way of life. 
I won't lie, I've slacked just a little on my training. The weekend before last, I was supposed to do a 9.5 mile long run. I attempted it mid-morning, outside, and I barely made it two and a half miles before I had to walk home. The heat was unbearable. I am anxiously awaiting the day when our temperatures drop below 80 degrees! I think I'm over the heat and humidity!

The week after my failed long run, I didn't run at all. I know, I know, shame on me! But I did do my three miles the next weekend with a magic mile of nine minutes and finished a 5k distance in 32:32, which is a personal record for me. If I had done my maintenance runs during the week, I probably could have done better. But, I'm happy to see my times improve anyway!

A certain subject has been on my heart the last several weeks: peace. I took a night last week to just sit in my little library and have some praise and worship and prayer time with God. I felt the Holy Spirit pressing something upon me, but I couldn't quite figure out what it was. Finally, the word "peace" came to mind, and I just began to write out verse after verse about it. One particular verse that stood out to me was Romans 15:13, "I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit."

God is the source of hope! When I trust in Him, He will completely fill me with peace! I will overflow with confident hope from the Holy Spirit!

While looking through these verses, I was listening to the Rend Collective Experiment station on my internet radio. For me, music can be both a blessing and a curse. Songs can help heal my heart and pull me toward the Lord, while others bring up painful memories I'd rather forget. In the midst of praising, a song from years past began to play. Just hearing this song usually brings me to tears and feelings of despair, because it was one I listened to constantly during the darkest time of my life. After five or ten seconds of shock, I realized that Satan was trying his hardest to interrupt the sweet moments I was having with the Lord. So I decided to fight back.

I listened to the song in its entirety, fighting desperately against Satan with my pen and paper. I haven't written a poem in years, but I immediately began to identify the lies that Satan wanted me to believe and counteract them with God's Truth.

The place where I find peace
To forget, to leave, to move on
Hiding
My mask
Where is my transparency? 
I can't
... it's six years too fresh.
I can't be used
I've already been used
Lies
Steal, kill, destroy
Interrupted
Reminded, wounded
But NO
I am loved
I am forgiven
I am pure
I am useful
I am a princess
I am a daughter
I am YOURS
Use my pain
... bring me to you.
To the place where I find peace
Peace, sweet peace
Jesus

Just a few songs later, a new song came on that I knew came straight from God. It was called, "Your Love is Strong" by Jon Foreman.  I wish I could quote a particular line from this song, but I can't choose just one without all of the rest. It touched my heart and it was just what I needed. 

To make things even better and more amazing, I felt led to wait up until my husband came home from work. Even though he got off work an hour late, at midnight, I never doubted that I should sit right where I was and wait for him. For some reason, I felt like I couldn't sleep until he heard this song. After he got home, I had him listen and it was just what he needed to hear as well! He shared some struggles he's been having and they all led right back to the theme of the night: peace. I threw open my notes and had him read every verse I'd recorded. It was so wonderfully obvious that God was working through us, for us, that night. 

I am still so unbelievably overwhelmed, a week later, at the blessings God has heaped upon our family. I am so fortunate to have a Godly, spiritual husband. I am so thankful that we are closer than we've ever been and that we can share these "God" moments with one another. We don't just share them, we each see them exactly for what they are. 

Ever since that night, I've been trying to live with God's peace in my heart. While the world around me rages, I want to be the virtuous woman from Proverbs 31, the mighty warrior from the story of Gideon. I want to be strong and courageous, like Joshua and Esther, and rest in the Father. I want to experience the confident hope that comes from the Holy Spirit.

I am choosing to believe God's Truth. To not just believe it, but to live my life believing that it's true. I AM forgiven. I AM loved. I AM good enough. I AM a good wife. I AM a good mother.

I AM a child of God.







Tuesday, August 27, 2013

From Beginning to End

"Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God's work from beginning to end."
Ecclesiastes 3:11

Again, it's been awhile since I've last posted, but I've been mentally preparing myself for the beginning of school. My son just started preschool and it's a big adjustment for everyone. But, I know we are just moving forward to a new stage of life and God has a plan for him!
A lot has happened with my running over the past couple of weeks. I broke my mile record, twice! My latest record is 8:59, but I won't be running a 9-minute mile in any half-marathons. It's just exciting to know that I can do it, especially since I couldn't run a mile in less than 14 minutes just five months ago! 

I also added two miles to my longest distance. The Saturday before last, I ran seven miles in the pouring rain! It actually wasn't quite as miserable as expected. I couldn't listen to my iPod, but the rain was much better than the heat and I felt like God was giving me exactly what I needed to get through those seven miles.

Just the way it has taken me time to strengthen my running, I also know it takes time to strengthen my faith. Sometimes I feel so frustrated, like I'm never going to be able to overcome difficult things I'm dealing with, but I am reminded that I'm not just going to automatically have a strong faith. My faith, like my running, has to be strengthened over time.

But, there is still beauty in my life, even when my faith seems to be at its weakest. In Ecclesiastes 3:11 the Bible says, "Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God's work from beginning to end." I can't physically see that half-marathon finish line when I'm in the middle of my training, but there is a special beauty in the place I currently sit. The same goes for my faith. I can't physically see my eternity with God, but there is a special beauty in the places where I find my faith growing. 

I'm at a time where my faith is really needing to mature. School is a new adventure for my son, but it's also a new adventure for his mommy. And while my heart is breaking, I am so proud of the smart, wonderful big boy he's become. I just need the Lord's reassurance that my son is held in His Hands and that my heart can endure this change in our lives.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Heart Talk

"But in my distress I cried out to the LORD; yes, I prayed to my God for help. He heard me from his sanctuary; my cry to him reached his ears."
Psalm 18:6

We had a fun, busy weekend. It was so busy that I didn't get a chance to run on Saturday. But, I did have the chance to spend quality time with my kids and husband, and sometimes I need that more than a jog! Even in the middle of half-marathon training! 

After dinner tonight, I went for a 30-minute "maintenance" run. I usually try to do around 2 or 2.5 miles on my weekday runs, but I did 3.2 tonight. It wasn't nearly as hot, so I enjoyed going a little further than usual. Maybe this means I'm slowly making progress!

As I jogged, I reflected a little on how far I've come in the last four months. To be honest, I'm pretty excited that I haven't quit by now. Usually when I take a "week off" from something, I end up giving it up completely. Although my upcoming 5k and two half-marathons probably have a lot to do with me pushing forward, I'd like to think that I have some determination hidden inside as well. 

Sometimes I'm tempted to just "give up" when it comes to my relationship with God. There are those weeks when it seems like I'm totally in tune with the Holy Spirit and I can almost visibly see God's presence in my life. Then I have a bad day or two and I feel like I'm lost with no way back. I go through the motions and my heart isn't in it. Those are the times I have to beg God to help me desire Him once again.

So often in life I just have to let my heart do the talking. I can't find the words to say to God, so I just sit in His Presence and open up my heart. The Lord knows my every thought, wish, and problem. I truly believe that I distract myself by trying to come up with the "perfect" thing to say. I forget that I don't need to impress God. He already knows what I need. He just wants me to bring it to Him. 

Psalm 18:6 reminds me of a song we've been singing a lot lately, "From the Inside Out" by Hillsong United. Although the verse may speak of verbally crying out, I think of my heart crying out. Maybe I will be less tempted to "give up" if I start pursuing God with my heart, instead of my words.

No one wants to admit when they have a heart problem. We say things to make ourselves feel or look better, but we can't hide what's in our heart. Even if we make our prayers "sound" good to God, or others, they don't change the underlying problem inside. From now on, I want to just open my heart to the Lord and let Him fix the things that really need work. I know He's tired of me trying to convince Him that I'm someone I'm not. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Finding New Strength

"But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles."
Isaiah 40:31

I know it has been a good long while since I've posted, but there are both good and bad reasons for that. The good reason is that my husband and I were chaperones for our youth group as they spent a week at Student Life camp. I didn't have much time to sleep, let alone write a blog post, but the Lord worked in wonderful ways and the entire week was such a huge blessing. It was wonderful to see our youth group grow and to experience growth ourselves! I went jogging one morning while I was there and on another morning, I took a walk with one of the girls in our group. It was well worth slowing down. I got a chance to get to know her better and she was such a blessing!

Now for the bad reason. When we got home from camp, I took a break. I took an entire week off. At first, it was just supposed to be a few days to catch up on sleep, but it quickly turned into me missing three runs! I was a little disappointed in myself, but I got right back out there this week. I'm still trying to get back into the swing of things, but it feels good to be lacing up my running shoes once again!

Anyone who has been to church camp knows what it's like once you get home. You've experienced this amazing spiritual high and you're on fire for the Lord. You hold on as tight as you can, but as soon as you step one foot away, Satan starts attacking. And attacking. Then attacking some more. I've been in deep prayer concerning our group because I knew that they were going to face spiritual warfare. But I forgot to pray that hard for myself!

I feel like I've really been hit hard by Satan. I lost my will to run last week, but I've been fighting back this week. My kids have been sick. I couldn't go to church on Sunday, or Wednesday, or go to Bible study. I've felt like I can't catch a break and I've been MAD about it. Mad enough to start holding it in, which is not my nature at all!

When my husband got home from work tonight, I told him I needed to go run. I needed to get away, to listen to my praise music, and to get alone with God. I probably didn't vent my frustrations verbally to Him as much as I should have, but I believe that God knows our hearts. Every time my feet hit the ground, I felt like I was stomping Satan in the face. And it felt GOOD! 

As soon as I saw Isaiah 40:31, I knew it was the Lord speaking to me. I only need to trust in Him and He will get me through this tough week. Or two. Or three! He will give me new strength! I don't have to put on a brave face and stuff my frustrations inside. God is patiently waiting for me to toss them over to Him so that He can carry that burden for me. 

So I'm just going to keep tossing them over. And I think I'll keep running, too!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

God's Strength

"As soon as I pray, you answer me; you encourage me by giving me strength."
Psalm 138:3

We've had a busy week, getting ready for youth camp next week. But, I've stayed on target with my training. While I haven't been walking at least a mile every day like I've intended to, I've kept up with my half-marathon training. For the last week or so, I've been taking the kids to the track to run. My son plays on the playground and I push my daughter in the jogging stroller. Although the heat is miserable, I've wanted my body to adjust to running in warmer temperatures. Plus, the track gives my knees and ankles a break!

Lately, the subject of God's strength has been brought to my attention on several different occasions. I've heard of His strength in the stories of Joshua, Gideon, and King Hezekiah. It has taken some time, but I've realized that there are many things I attempt, and fail, to do in my own strength. Sometimes I try to run in my own strength and that never goes well. But, there are many other day-to-day things I fail to get past because I don't ask God to help me. Sometimes I think about what it would be like for God to help me. But I never ask! I  just keep moving along on my own and failing miserably.

Although I truly do pray on a daily basis, I don't continually pray throughout the day. I think a lot. I rationalize feelings and emotions in my own head. But, I don't take things to the Lord, especially in the heat of the moment. 

It hit me that I'm going to have to take some drastic measures if I want to consciously lean on God throughout the day. While I like to think that I'll close my eyes and say a quick prayer to the Lord before I say or do something dumb, it doesn't usually happen that way. I might close my eyes and start to pray, but then my mind wanders and I start to think about all the ways in which I'm right. I never ask God to really help me!

So I made the decision to start getting on my knees when I need to pray. When I pray for my husband and the kids during nap time, I get on my knees. When I start to have negative thoughts or feelings about situations or other people, I get on my knees. When I'm running late and I'm feeling frustrated with the kids because I can't seem to get out of the door, I stop and GET ON MY KNEES. I give God my undivided attention. Even if I'm late getting out the door, it's better than losing my patience with my kids. 

I haven't been doing this long, but it hasn't taken long to see that it works. In addition to slowly growing closer to God, my children are able to see that I truly am taking things to the Lord. I want them to know that prayer is the best solution for any problem. I don't want to just tell them that. I want them to see it for themselves in my life! I want them to see that I am not strong on my own. I need the strength of God!

I chose Psalm 138:3 because it speaks such a simple truth. God doesn't want me to just bring Him the "big" things in my life. He wants me to pray about everything. As soon as I pray, He answers me. He encourages me by giving me strength! The strength to change my thinking, to change my reaction,  and to change my words. I want to access God's strength in every aspect of my life. It's right there waiting for me, all I have to do is ask.


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Wherever I Go

"This is my command - be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."
Joshua 1:9

It's been about a week since I've posted, but our computer had a virus and was being held hostage at Best Buy. I think it was a nice break, though.
My hip is feeling much better now. I took two full days off from running and walking, but I picked back up last Saturday. I did three miles instead of four, but I didn't want to push myself too hard and hurt myself again!

On Sunday and Monday, I just went on leisurely one mile walks. I went alone on Sunday and really just enjoyed being in the presence of the Lord. There was a nice breeze and I listened to praise music, letting my heart converse with God. It was wonderful and I could feel myself beginning to rest again in His arms. 

On Monday, I went on walks with the kids. Jack walked right alongside me in the morning and rode his bicycle in the afternoon. We stopped on the pier, visited with a bird, and just admired God's creation. I know how much I enjoyed that quality time with my dad when he was here, and it was nice to do the same with my own children. 

This morning I was back to serious training, but I struggled! My body just felt tired and I only made it 2.27 miles in 32:38.  Fortunately, I didn't really care. I traveled down part of a new jogging path and spent most of my focus talking with the Lord. I've been struggling with letting outside negativity get the best of me. Today, I just prayed that God would give me the strength to stay focused on the positive. There are so many positive things and positive people in my life and I am so thankful!

I am also so thankful that I serve a loving God. He is my heavenly Father who welcomed me back into His Presence with open arms. After praying through my struggles last week, God immediately answered my prayers through the pages of a Bible study. I was so excited to see God giving me the answers in what seemed like such an obvious way! There are so many things I see when I'm actually looking!

So today, I pray that I can be strong and courageous. I have no need to be afraid or discouraged because God really is with me wherever I go. Even if I take a detour from the path He has made for me, He is still right there waiting for me. He isn't waiting to condemn me, but instead to overwhelm me with His love.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Becoming Proud & Forgetting the Lord

“Do not become proud at that time and forget the LORD your God, who rescued you from slavery in the land of Egypt.”
Deuteronomy 8:14

To be honest, I debated on whether or not I wanted to publish this blog post at all. It is my heart’s desire that my jogging journey be an encouragement to others in their walk with the Lord, but I know that no one can take me seriously if I only publish the “good” parts and leave out the times when I fail spiritually. So while this post may not be encouraging, I can only pray that the Lord will help me on the path to humbleness.

After a long weekend of walking and jogging with my dad, I skipped my maintenance run on Tuesday because I was worn out. I intended to run on Wednesday morning, but the rain and storms had arrived and kept me inside. But, by Wednesday evening, the rain had temporarily cleared and I was ready to lace up my running shoes.

According to my running plan, I’m only supposed to run two 30-minute maintenance runs during the week and save my long runs for the weekend. If I really push myself, I can almost finish a 5k in 30 minutes, but the weekday runs aren’t really for “pushing.” They are more to keep me in shape. But, I decided that since I’d missed my run on Tuesday, I would run an hour and see just how far I could make it.

I have to say, I’ve tried to be very patient throughout this process so that I don’t injure myself. I finished a full 5k training plan before running a 5k. I bought the right shoes. I researched proper form online so that I would know the right way to run. Most of all, I sought to keep God as my center focus for running, not my actual performance as a runner. But recently, my focus has shifted, and instead of focusing on the Lord, I began to focus on me.

While running yesterday evening, I found myself too distracted to pray. That should have been my first warning sign. That hour of running should have been a wonderful conversation with God, but instead, all I could think about was how far I could go. I don’t think I even spoke to the Lord a total of five minutes.

After an hour, I had successfully finished five miles, and I was feeling pretty proud of myself. I’ve never run further than a 5k and I couldn’t believe I’d actually made it that far. I didn’t care that I wasn’t even supposed to run five miles for another two weeks. I was just excited that I’d made it!

Not long after getting home, I noticed a deep pain in my hip and upper thigh. As time went on, the pain got worse and I realized I’d actually hurt myself. I iced my leg and took some Tylenol. At first, I was extremely disappointed that I’d pushed myself too hard and gotten hurt, because now I couldn’t run for a few days. But then I realized something worse. This entire journey wasn’t supposed to be about how “good” I could run. It was supposed to be about drawing closer to the Lord, and at that, I had failed miserably. Instead of being proud of the work the Lord had been doing in me, I was ignoring Him completely and feeling proud of myself.


Deuteronomy 8:14 speaks so well of the situation I’ve gotten myself into. I have become proud and I have forgotten the Lord. If it hadn’t been for God, I would have never started jogging in the first place. It may have taken an injury to open my eyes, but I’m thankful that the Lord didn’t allow me to become hurt even worse. He has given me the opportunity to turn my attention back to Him, where it’s supposed to be.  

Monday, July 1, 2013

When You Walk Along the Road

“These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
Deuteronomy 6:6-7

It has been nearly a week since I posted last, but I haven’t been skipping my workouts. In fact, I walked more this last weekend than I have in a long time! Last Thursday, I met up with a friend for an early 30 minute maintenance run. We met around 5:45 a.m. but it was already in the 80's and extremely humid! I can’t help it though. It’s too beautiful here to workout inside!

On Friday, my parents arrived for Charlotte’s birthday party. I had previously asked my dad if he wanted to run a 5k with me on Saturday morning, but we decided against it because Charlotte’s party was also in the morning. Instead, we decided to jog my usual path together. We made a trip to the local running store on Friday afternoon and my dad got himself some good running shoes. I also came out with a Garmin Forerunner 10, which I’m so excited about. I almost want to go run every single day, just so I can use it!

When we got up at 5:15 Saturday morning, we were sad to see it raining and lightning outside! But, Florida storms don’t usually last long, so we were able to head outside around 7! We did a 5 minute warm-up walk and then we started our interval running. Can I say again how much I love my Forerunner 10? I’ve spent the last two weeks counting 30 second intervals of running and walking, but now my watch just beeps when it’s time to switch! We ran/walked until we were about half a mile from the house and then we started our cool down. By the time we got back, Dad had finished his first 5k distance!

Over the weekend, Dad and I got up at 5:30 every morning to go walking together. On Sunday night, we even walked with Mom and Jack! Overall, we traveled 11.3 miles while he was here visiting. It was such a blessing to get up and spend quality time with my dad. He is incredibly wise and it is so obvious, now more than ever, that he puts God first in his life. When he says he’s praying for us, he really means it, and when I ask advice on situations in my life, he gives me biblical counsel.

When thinking back over the last weekend, Deuteronomy 6:6-7 came to mind. My dad impresses the commandments of the Lord on me, his child. You can tell that they are in his heart. I especially liked the part about “talking about them while you walk along the road.” My dad and I shared something very special this weekend. If God hadn’t convicted me to start exercising a few months ago, I would have missed the huge blessing of getting up and walking with my dad. The time we shared this weekend is something I wouldn’t trade for the world.


So again, I’m thankful for God’s conviction. The more I see God working through this specific aspect of my obedience, the more I desire to trust Him with other areas of my life. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Pressing Forward



“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”
Hebrews 12:1

I started my second week of half marathon training this morning and it went pretty well! My Tuesday and Thursday runs are just maintenance runs in preparation for my long jogs on Saturday. So I’m able to take it easy and really spend some time with the Lord. 

I set out a little earlier today than usual. I was out of the house right before 5:30 and it made such a difference with the heat. Getting up 30 minutes earlier was definitely worth it!

I’ve been struggling lately with some serious frustration. I feel like I keep praying and praying for God to take something away for me, but at the same time, I try to find solutions and take care of it myself. Yesterday, a good friend pointed out to me that God isn’t going to fix it until I let it go and give it to Him. So this morning, I prayed and asked God to give me the strength to let it go. I prayed that He would help me to act as He would act, and to not give up when Satan attacks me. 

While praying, I thought of Hebrews 12:1. A missionary visited our church Sunday night and used this verse in his message. It first stuck out to me because it says, “and let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” With all of this running I’ve been doing lately, it’s only natural that such a verse would catch my attention. But this morning I was able to really relate it to my life, in more ways than in my jogging. 

This verse is a direct answer to my prayers. No one knows for sure who wrote the book of Hebrews, but whoever he was, he was surrounded by people who lived out their faith in Christ. People who encouraged each other, brought each other out of sin, and assisted one another in running the race God had set before them. This is what God wants for my life, not a constant feeling of frustration. God has given me very special people to build me up, to provide sound advice, and to point me in the right direction. Not by giving me their opinions, but by pressing me toward the Lord.

I am so thankful for the work the Lord has done in me the last several months and for the people He has placed in my life. Sometimes it takes difficult situations to really and truly appreciate what you have been given. So I won’t give in to Satan’s attacks. I will keep pressing forward with endurance, toward a half marathon and toward a closer walk with God.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Becoming a Vassal

"Remember the LORD your God. He is the one who gives you power to be successful, in order to fulfill the covenant he confirmed to your ancestors with an oath."
Deuteronomy 8:18

It was just 3 months ago that I had a moment of extreme conviction from the Holy Spirit. I wasn't taking care of my body the way that I should and the Lord let me know that He wanted me to fix it. With His help, I began a journey to better myself physically and though it has been hard, the Lord has been with me every step of the way.

This week, I faced another moment of extreme conviction from the Holy Spirit. I've started a new Bible study and on the very first day of homework, the author, Priscilla Shirer, pretty much asked if there was anything in my life hindering my relationship with God. I know it might sound crazy, but the answer is yes. The one thing that hinders my relationship with God the most is social media. To be more specific, Facebook!

Facebook can be a positive thing, especially living far from family. I can share pictures and videos of the kids and keep in touch with friends who don't live near me.  But more often than not, Facebook has a negative impact on my life. It results in lots of wasted time, distraction, and feelings of irritation and anger that are unholy and definitely NOT what God for me. It hinders my relationship with God in a big way and it was time for it to go. 

When I was convicted about exercising, it took me several weeks to respond to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. But I've learned such a great lesson by following God's Will for my life. When God calls me to do something, He will equip me to do it, even if it's hard. It shouldn't seem hard to take something like Facebook out of my life completely, but that just goes to show how much of my life I threw away on it. The time I have with my family is far too precious to waste.

Priscilla Shirer explained something called the Deliverance Principle in this study. Basically, a more powerful kingdom, called the suzerain, would adopt a smaller kingdom, called the vassal. The suzerain had authority over the vassal and would protect and provide for it. In return, the vassal was expected to be loyal. 

A true vassal for the Lord is what I want to be. I don't want to half live my life for God. I want to be completely loyal and "all in." God promises to protect and provide for me, but I need to be living according to His Will. The Holy Spirit impressed upon me that Facebook needed to go. So on that very same day, I deactivated my account. 

I don't believe that this conviction is God "taking" anything away from me. In fact, I think that God has many things to show me, things that I've been missing while sitting on the internet. I don't want a computer screen to take away real, one-on-one relationships I could have. I don't want my relationship with the Lord to be hindered by wasted time.

God promised to help me when He convicted me to jog, and He has been with me every step of the way. I feel better about myself and have drawn much closer to Him. I can't wait to see what He has planned for me. I desire so much to keep following Him in obedience.


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Training

"Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."
Proverbs 22:6

So, it's official. I'm registered for the Disney Princess Half-Marathon in February 2014! I'm pretty anxious about it, since I've never walked/ran over about four miles, ever. But, I'm determined to do it! I'm technically not supposed to start training until the first week of October, but I started this week. My hope is that I can run the Pensacola Half-Marathon in November and prove to myself that I can make it 13.1 miles! 

I'm using the Jeff Galloway run/walk method and training program. Every Tuesday and Thursday I run maintenance runs and on Saturday, I do my long runs. Right now, a 5k is a long run to me! So I'm interested to see how this is going to go! I have faith that I can do it, though! As long as I keep God as my focus while I'm running, I believe I could make it through a full marathon, if I ever decided to do it!

On another note, today is my daughter's first birthday. I can't believe a year has gone by so quickly! It seems like just yesterday that I went to Dr. Whitaker's office and was sent straight to the hospital. Just a few short hours later, she was here! Three weeks earlier than expected, but a huge blessing all the same! 

Now she's crawling around, walking behind toys (or while holding Bubba's hand!), pulling up, taking a few first steps, talking like crazy, and just being the sweetest little girl in the world. There's no question at all when it comes to her favorite person. She loves her brother very, very much! I can't wait to see their sibling relationship blossom, and I also can't wait to see her transform from a baby to a "big girl."

 I started a Priscilla Shirer Bible study this morning called, "Gideon." Our first session mainly focused on the the life of the Israelites after Joshua passed away. Priscilla discussed many different things, but what touched me the most was the relationship between generations. Why did a new generation of Israelites fall away from God? Was it the parents' fault? The children? Or both?

No more than today do I see the importance of training my children in the Word of God. It's so important that they learn about the Lord from the day they are born and that I point out to them when God is working in our lives. I don't want God to just be a story to them. I want them to recognize His very real presence in our lives! 

So no matter the circumstance, I vow now to continually show my children that God is alive and He cares for us. I also resolve to apologize to them and in front of them when I'm wrong, and to thank God in front of them when He blesses me.

Even when it comes to something seemingly small, like training for a half-marathon, I want my children to realize that God is there for us to lean and depend upon. I don't want to just speak these things, I want to prove them with my life. 


Saturday, June 15, 2013

When I Just Don't Feel Like It

"So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of His call. May He give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do."
2 Thessalonians 1:11

Since I started this blog, I've tried to post every time that I run. After completing my first 5k last weekend, I took a few days to rest and to be honest, I wasn't all that excited about getting back to it. Although I've grown to love jogging, it was a little nice not having to go out in the heat and run! But, I fought the urge to  be lazy and got out on Wednesday night. I knew I had another race coming up and I was hoping to at least do a little better than the week before!

Even though I was tired, we ran pretty well on Wednesday night. We finished 3 miles in 32:25, with a pace of 10:46. But, it was painful! Even after dark, the humidity and heat were intense. It left me the tiniest bit discouraged because my next race was going to be a night race, and I was hoping I'd be able to do better! 

I have to admit, though, my spiritual life hasn't been the best this week. I know most people would think that my spiritual life has nothing to do with how well I run, but it actually has everything to do with how well I run.

I've been struggling with some things this week and instead of giving them to God, I've complained and basically let my frustration completely take over. I noticed how terrible my mood was on Thursday, and I know the only way to fix it is to give these feelings over to the Lord. I can't expect to be able to run without God. The only reason I was able to begin running in the first place is because of Him! 

I finished my second 5k last night, a glow run, with a time of 33:40, which was 53 seconds faster than my first 5k. I was proud, but most of all, I was proud of a dear friend who ran her first 5k ever, right alongside me! She did so well! 

But now that my race week is over, I'm reflecting on 2 Thessalonians 1:11, "So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of His call. May He give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do." Not only am I in prayer, I ask that anyone who reads this prays that I can stay focused, not on being a great runner, but on living a life worthy of God's call for my life. I pray that I can embrace the power He gives me to accomplish all of the things I'm convicted to do. I pray that I can lean on the Lord when I'm facing trouble, instead of giving in to my sinful nature. 

Lord, help me remember why I started running in the first place, and help me to keep pursuing a life as an ambassador for You, even when the enemy tells me otherwise. 




Saturday, June 8, 2013

Run for the Red, White, & Blue 5k!

"Each time he said, 'My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.' So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me."
2 Corinthians 12:9

Well, today was the day. I ran my first 5k! I unfortunately had to walk part of it, due to the heat and humidity, but I finished strong with a time of 34:33 and a mile pace of 11:07. 

This was the first time I've ever run/jogged/walked over 2.5 miles. So just completing 3.1 miles in itself was an accomplishment! Even though I had to walk part of the way, I'm proud of myself for listening to my body's cues and not pushing myself too hard and getting injured. 

Most of all, I'm so thankful for the close relationship I've developed with the Lord throughout this journey. While I was at first tempted to quote Philippians 4:13 on this triumphant day, I felt led by the Holy Spirit instead to reflect on 2 Corinthians 12:9. 

In the last ten weeks, I have realized more than ever before that the Lord's grace is all I need. I don't need the approval or acceptance of others. I'm finally beginning to see my worth through God's eyes, and that is so unbelievably freeing for me. I wholeheartedly believe that if I had attempted to run this race any sooner than today, I would have felt defeated for walking part of the way. Instead, I realize that I set a goal, dedicated myself to accomplishing it, and followed through. Whether I ran the entire way or walked, I listened when the Holy Spirit convicted me to get off of the couch. Following God's Will for my life is what matters most. 

Never before have I understood so completely the power in letting Christ work through  my weaknesses. I'm not exaggerating when I say that ten weeks ago, I couldn't jog one full minute without being out of breath. My physical health was my weakest area and so it was only through the Lord's power that I was able to make it this far.

I feel like I can relate so well to the apostle Paul now. I want to boast, not about my success with running, but about my weakness. I want to give God all the glory for taking me this far. Without Him, I never would have had the strength to get out of bed those mornings and put on my running shoes. Without the Lord, I never would have had the strength to push through the pain and finish my workouts every day. I am not that strong, or determined, on my own. It was entirely God's power working through my weakness, and for that, I want to boast in His Name! 

Although the first race is finished, my journey has only just begun. I run my second 5k next weekend and after that, my 10k training begins! But most of all, I intend to continually grow closer to my Lord and Savior.

"Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come."
1 Timothy 4:8


Thursday, June 6, 2013

Refuge and Strength

"For the Lord has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self-discipline."
2 Timothy 1:7

We were very excited last night, thinking we were going to get to run in the rain, but no such luck. It rained for maybe half of a lap and that was all! But, a tropical storm by the name of Andrea is headed this direction. I am officially registered for a 5k this weekend and although I think it would be hard to run in serious rain, I also think it could be quite fun! How many people can say they ran their first race in a tropical storm? :)

Yesterday was somewhat of a traumatic day for my son and I. My four year old suffers from food allergies and for the first time in his life, I had to take him to the emergency room because of a peanut reaction. I think I was in a state of shock for most of the day, but by bed time I was a nervous wreck. I was consumed by fear and guilt. For as long as I've known about his allergies, I've taken every precaution to protect him. My son knows about his allergies and is so good at being careful, even at such a young age. But, all it took was one small change in our normal routine to show, yet again, how serious his allergies can be.

We spent our morning at the splash pad and, like I usually do for trips to the water or beach, I packed he and I both sandwiches. Because of the heat, I pack us peanut butter sandwiches. My sandwich is always in a separate, air-tight container and with the crust. Jack's sandwich is made from soy butter and is always cut into the shapes of animals and placed inside a sandwich shaped container. Running behind yesterday, I didn't cut his sandwich into animal shapes. 

As we sat at the picnic table eating, I looked to my right and noticed an extra bite out of my sandwich. Before my son even had the chance to swallow, I got it out of his mouth. But just a few seconds later, he grabbed his throat and started to cry and I realized my worst nightmare: I didn't have the epi-pen. I handed my daughter to a friend, got Jack in the car as fast as I could, and drove him to the emergency room. He was able to talk to me the entire way, which assured me that though his throat was hurting, it was not swelling shut. His cheeks were puffy and he continued to cry, but thank the Lord, he could breathe!

The people at the ER were quick to get us back and make sure his throat wasn't closing. Not long after we arrived, my son threw up what little peanut butter he had swallowed and was given Benadryl and a steroid. His cheeks went back to normal and he assured me that his throat was feeling better. After 30 minutes of observation, we were allowed to go home. But I left the hospital with a heavy heart. 

How could I not cut his sandwich like I always do? I'm the most careful and cautious person in the world when it comes to his allergies, and with one small mistake, we ended up at the hospital. I refused to let him out of my sight all afternoon, even as he slept on the couch. I felt so guilty for the fear he'd experienced and I was still full of anxiety myself. I would still be in that state of mind today if the Lord hadn't quickly reminded me of 2 Timothy 1:7.

"For the Lord has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self-discipline."

The Lord does not want me to live in fear, even when it comes to my son's food allergies. The Lord was there with us every step of the way yesterday. He  nudged me to turn around at the right moment and notice that bite in my sandwich. He gave me the strength and power to react quickly and get it out of my son's mouth. He protected my son and kept him from having a worse reaction, and most of all, He allowed this to happen when we were just two minutes from an emergency room. Instead of burdening myself with fear and guilt, I need to thank the Lord for the hedge of protection He placed around my son yesterday. I need to thank the Lord for pressing upon my heart the importance of being prepared and knowing what to do in this type of situation.

I just really want to thank You Lord.

"God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble."
Psalm 46:1


Monday, June 3, 2013

Just Stay Calm

"The LORD himself will fight for you. Just stay calm."
Exodus 14:14

So for a bit of disappointing news, the 5k I intended to run this Friday was cancelled due to a lack of volunteers. There is another 5k on Saturday, but I still haven't decided if I should go ahead and run or wait for the free 5k I'm signed up for next Friday. I'm really anxious to get through my first race, so I may just sign up for the one this weekend!

I feel like I'm just full of disappointing news today. On top of a cancelled 5k, I had the bright idea to run an hour after eating six chocolate chip cookies and drinking a Coke. Can you say bad idea? I don't usually drink caffeine after lunchtime, but for some reason, I lost my mind tonight. I was only able to jog for 18 minutes before the pain under my ribs became too much for me. Luckily, I didn't beat myself up too much for quitting. I learned my lesson and won't be making that mistake again!

A friend and I recently began a Bible study together and I have to admit, I'm really enjoying it. It's all about new beginnings and fresh starts, which is quite an appealing topic, even if it isn't the beginning of the year. For about a week now, we've been reading the devotional content and Bible chapters on our own and then messaging our thoughts to one another. For today, we had a short devotional and then just a memory verse, Exodus 14:14, "The LORD himself will fight for you. Just stay calm."

You know, I've read through Exodus several times in my life. How often have I decided I'm going to read through the Bible, made it to Numbers, and then quit? I read Genesis and Exodus many times before I ever actually accomplished reading the Bible in its entirety. But even after reading the book of Exodus so many times, this particular verse never struck me until today. This is one reason why I love so much that Bible is the LIVING WORD. Reading it once isn't enough. The Lord has something new for me every day, whether I've read the Bible once or 100 times!

Exodus 14:14 is short, but so powerful. The LORD himself will fight for me. I find it hard to remember sometimes that the enemy is not actually people who have done things to hurt me. The enemy is, in fact, Satan. The Bible clearly states in 1 Peter 5:8 that my great enemy is the devil. He prowls around, seeking out my weaknesses, waiting to devour  me. But with just a short verse in Exodus, the Lord has assured me that He will fight for me. Not only will He fight for me, but he wants me to remain calm. The Lord is basically saying, "Have no fear. I've got this!"

So no matter the circumstance, I should rest easy. Because even though "the thief's purpose is to steal and kill and destroy, the Lord's purpose is to give me a rich and satisfying life." (John 10:10)

The Lord himself will fight for me. 

I need to just stay calm.


Saturday, June 1, 2013

"Pinch Me!"

"And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak."
Matthew 12:36

I'm just 6 days away from (hopefully) running my first 5k! I'm praying that enough people volunteer to help so that it doesn't get cancelled. I'm becoming less nervous and more excited as the day draws closer. 

First of all, I faced my fear of running in front of other people. In fact, I ran with two people tonight! Besides running alongside them, there were several other people on and around the track. It wasn't nearly as bad as I expected it to be!

Also, I'm confident that I can make the full distance! I've been so afraid I wouldn't be able to run the entire way, but tonight we finished 2.8 miles in 26:45 minutes, with a pace of 9:38! I couldn't believe it! My personal record was 11:07 and I ran nearly 2 minutes faster than that tonight! I'm still giddy with excitement! I seriously never thought I'd see the day that I ran less than a 10 minute mile.

The first time I ever recorded a jog, my pace was 14:42. Tonight was such a huge accomplishment for me and I just have to give thanks to the Lord with the words of Psalm 107:1:

"Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever."

On another note, a friend and I made an agreement to stop gossiping to each other. We like to call it complaining, or venting, because who really wants to call it what it really is? We sometimes find our conversations heading in that direction without even meaning to, and after we leave each other's company, we think, "Why did I say that?" I think it shows great maturity in our friendship to be able to admit this flaw to each other and then agree to call each other out on it. (We jokingly made a pact to pinch each other!)

So tonight while running together, we felt our conversation being pulled in that direction, in the form of complaints. Thankfully, this friend had the strength to "pinch" me, and the sin was knocked out before we even got seven minutes into our run. Reflecting on this, I think about Matthew 12:36, "And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak."

I'm sorry, but giving an account to God for every "idle word I've spoken" does not sound like a fun time to me! Instead, I want the Lord to be proud of the encouraging and positive words I speak! After calling out our sin, the rest of our jog was filled with building and edifying one another. Now that's the kind of person I want to be! 

So again, I have to give thanks to the Lord for convicting us in our friendship, for giving my friend the courage to speak up, and for allowing us to finish our jog on a positive note. 

"Don't use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them." Ephesians 4:29

As Joyce Meyer would say, when you're tempted to gossip or complain, "run to the THRONE, not to the phone!"

Friday, May 31, 2013

God's Masterpiece

"For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago."
Ephesians 2:10

I enjoyed a new experience on my jog last night: jogging with a friend! I typically jog alone because it's my quiet time with the Lord, but I think spending time encouraging and being encouraged by others is important as well.

We actually did quite well in our run. We ran 2.5 miles in 30:51, with an average pace of 12:19. We were both excited! The night was cool, our run was enjoyable, but most of all, we shared some great conversation.

(The fact that we could talk while we were running still amazes me!)

I think we as women often forget how important we are to the Lord. We get so caught up in our feelings of insecurity that we forget that we are "fearfully and wonderfully made." (Psalm 139:14) God created us just the way we are for a purpose. He wants to use us if we will just let Him!

I love reading Ephesians 2:10. I memorized it so that I can think on it daily. I am God's masterpiece! When I accepted Christ as my Savior, I was created anew. From the time I was conceived, God had good things planned for me. The only thing I have to do now is trust God and do them! 

I just want this friend to know that she, too, is God's masterpiece! She is beautiful, inside and out, and I haven't just read in Scripture that God has good things planned for her, I also feel it in my heart! 

"Hold firmly to the Word of Life; then, on the day of Christ's return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless." Philippians 2:16

So run, girl! You've got this! And God does, too! 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Commitment Vs. Competition

"Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people."
Colossians 3:23

The date of my first 5k is quickly approaching and I must admit, I'm getting a little nervous. To be honest, I'm most nervous about running in front of other people. I've said throughout this entire journey that I'm not exercising as a way to compete with other people. I so much enjoy that quiet time between God and I and I'm learning to see my value through God's eyes. 
While healthy competition can be good, I don't want to feel defeated when someone has a better time than me. People will have a better time than me. On the other hand, I don't want to become prideful if I run better than someone else.

 I want my running to be enjoyable and to improve my walk with the Lord. I don't want pride or feelings of defeat to drive a wedge in the relationship I've worked so hard to develop. When I begin to notice such feelings creep up, I pray Colossians 3:23.

"Lord, help me to work willingly at whatever I do, including jogging. Help me to make this journey about my relationship with You, not comparing myself to other people."

I truly believe that if I can let the Lord teach me this now, I can instill the same values in my own children. I want my kids to know that while it's commendable to be the best they can be and to excel at the things they do, they should never focus solely on being better than everyone else. They should always work willingly for the Lord, not just work to impress us as their parents, or anyone else for that matter. I want them to know that it's okay to be happy when they succeed, but being humble is even better. 

The Lord takes pride in His children when they work hard with the right motives. Even if I don't run a 10 minute mile, the Lord is still proud that I'm out there running and that I'm spending time with Him. I can rest assured that even if I come in last place, I'm not a failure. Failing would be never trying in the first place. I thank the Lord that He has showed me this while my children are still young so that I can hopefully never pressure them with unrealistic expectations. 

So I leave you with 1 Samuel 16:7 today, "But the LORD said to Samuel, 'Don't judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The LORD doesn't see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.'"

Even if my outside appearance or performance isn't the "best" according to the world, I can always rest assured that God sees my heart. And that's what really matters.