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.