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!