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!"