Monday, November 26, 2012

Run a Half Marathon - Check!

I saw my fingers typing before I could stop them. I glanced at the names on the screen...all part of my accountability group. What was I thinking? My head believed it too. My heart wanted to trust, but my body was revolting. Are you insane? You will surely fail. How many times must you fail before you realize the goal is just too lofty...I mean you are 42 years old and just now getting healthy for the first time in over 20 years. With all of that talk running through my head, I re-read the email....

My goals (as far as running) are to finish a 5K (walking mainly), run/walk a 5K, run an entire 5K, finish a 10K, run an entire 10K and begin training for a half-marathon.

Before I could stop my right hand, I hit the send button, and it was out there to my accountability partners. A half-marathon? Really? I could not even run a 5K at the time much less 13.1 miles. It seemed like a long way away and perhaps I could just increase mileage each week and get there. I could always walk...or crawl.

Then, the day came. In Orange Beach, Alabama where there's a beach and sand and supposedly the sun. It should be warm, right? Nope, the day we are to run, a cold front has arrived overnight, and it is now in the lower 40's. So, I put on my hooded running jacket and shivered. And shivered some more while we stretched and waited for the race to start. Surely, I will warm I took off the jacket and walked briskly to the start line.

JT was a little nervous as it was only five minutes before the start when Madison and I showed up...there's always a line at the women's bathroom, you know! It's a good thing we went when we did as we were not able to go again until the race was over. That was a miracle in itself....

People crowded around, and my heart was beating out of my chest. Thoughts of failure and training and injury and finishing all ran through my head. And then, just like that, I saw people begin to run. I followed. We wanted to stay together as a family...that was our priority.

Our goal was simple...stick together and run the race. Don't go too fast so we give out before the end. Drink along the way and stay the course. As we approached the water station at mile 4.5, we felt pretty good. We ran along the main beach road and then headed back onto the trail system. We pass mile 6...okay, we are making it. Then, I hear my Nike app declare that we are halfway there. I celebrate just a little in my head. And I see the sign that reads "Alligator Habitat"...I might run a tad bit faster through that section.

By mile 9, my legs are feeling every single step. I am naming all the people around me (Turkey Boy, Bumblebee, Models3, Bible Scholars, Josh Moffatt...that was his real name..the youngest participant. I felt it my duty to know his name and encourage him. Chevron Stripe Girls, Blue Momma, Edna and Ethel...). I read all of the benches that are named in honor or memory of people. I read anything I can see. Whatever it takes to get my mind off the cramps in my legs.

I see mile 10 and know that we can certainly finish a 5K. The two miles it took to get to mile 12 though seemed more like 10! But, God sustained and kept us going. We followed JT's lead wherever he went. Occasionally, we started walking and tried to stretch out our stride to loosen the muscles or kick our rear to stretch the quads. It didn't work too well. My body was revolting. But, then we saw mile marker 12 and knew we only had 1.1 to go. We picked up the pace.

The most glorious sight was the small opening of the park ahead. I knew the finish line was close. I could hear it. We rounded the corner and heard the announcer call our names. Side by side we pushed forward. On the left side of the finish line, I saw Kaitlyn snapping photos, my nephews Clarke giving a high five to JT, my older brother Bill who traveled down just to see us finish, my brother David who had just completed his fastest half-marathon, Jett, Zeke and Elly who were screaming You Did It! I thought I would cry, but I didn't. I just praised God for all that He had done. He was and is and will be good. He gets the praise. This medal belongs to Him.

It was only a daydream on paper and in the cyber world six months ago. Now, it is a reality. Half marathon - check.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Twas The Night Before The Half Marathon...

One year ago our family was overweight and out of shape. I weighed over 200 pounds and needed a nap every day. I would easily tire from walking up a flight of stairs and gladly sat on the front porch to watch my children play (as opposed to playing with them). I ate junk and indulged in sweets on a regular basis. I had no desire to see what God's Word said about glorifying Him with my body...because that certainly didn't apply to me. I have 5 children and homeschool and lead all of the administration for a missions can God possibly expect me to be healthy too?

Then, He convicted JT and me of our sin and made our rebellion painfully obvious. It was ugly and it was wretched. We bore our souls to our Heavenly Father and repented. It seemed to take a few weeks to fully disclose every part of our eating/exercise/pride/gluttony to Him. He just kept revealing aspects our our lives that needed cleansing, and we continued to confess and repent. It was an emotional, desperate and freeing time. It was uncomfortable and healing, disheartening and refreshing. God was glorified, and we finally submitted, willingly.

It's one year later, and what a journey it has been. There were the early days of crying through meals while eating out, begging God to make it easier and faster, and coffee dates that saw me only drinking water. We stuck strictly to the plan God had placed before us, and we saw results. God set our feet to running, and we could barely run a minute without huffing and puffing.

There were certainly lows...walking (barely running) my first 5K and finishing in 48 minutes, trying to run a full 5K and not being able to run the entire course, trying on clothes and not being where I thought I should be, plateauing for weeks at a time with weight..... But there were highs that kept me going....running an entire 5K, finishing a 10K, trying on new clothes in new sizes, and now getting ready to run a half marathon.

No matter what has been accomplished, it is God ALONE who gets all the glory. This is NOT my is His Story. He has only used me to bring Him honor. That's why I am scared silly the night before this race. I do not want to disappoint Him or fail Him in any way. I want His name to be lifted High...for His glory to be on display in and through this journey.

I hope to write more this weekend after finishing this half marathon...if I have to crawl across the finish line, I will finish. I will finish for His glory and His good name. And I will cry...a lot. Thank you all for walking this path with me. I could not have done it without you.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Scared stiff

Scared...frightened...nervous...anxious. That's where I am today. And, don't you know that, in the sermon yesterday, Jim Shaddix said "Do you spend as much time in prayer" as you do being concerned about other things?...uuggh, why does he speak truth? I needed to hear that.

After surgery that required total bed rest for a week and a seriously adjusted schedule for a month, I began training for the half-marathon on August 1st. I set up a gorgeous spreadsheet with a plan for each day as well as goals for the weeks. The plan was to color code each day for reminders...yellow if I didn't do what I planned, green for everything went according to plan and blue if something extra happened or I went longer/faster. The chart is a beautiful thing.

I can look back and see many green days...a few yellows...and more than a few blues. It is a good thing. Remembering is critical for me. It is essential in the Bible as well. How many times does God tell the Israelites to "remember" where they came from and how He directed and preserved them? In Deuteronomy 6, God reminds them that He is the One who brought them out of Egypt. How could they forget?

God Himself remembers His covenant and promises in Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy and 1 Chronicles. God reminds His people to remember Him and what He has done, and He remembers His people and His faithfulness to them. In saying that, I know that God calls me to remember as well.


God has been faithful despite my faithlessness (2 Timothy 2:13)
God has called me to honor Him with my body (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
God has transformed my mind to focus on His ways and His will (Romans 12:1)
God has allowed me to forget many old habits so that new habits have emerged and redirect my thoughts to Him alone (Phil. 3:13)

So, as I approach this week (it's been one year to the date this weekend), and I realize that I will celebrate by finishing a half-marathon, I am scared silly. But, God is gracious to calm me as He tells me to remember...remember where I was one year ago...remember the early lessons....the tears...the anger...the repentance...the forgiveness..the second chance at life. I will choose to rest in Him and remember today.

Monday, November 12, 2012


Photo courtesy of Tracie Hicks, Loganville, Georgia

Do you remember the hymn "Amazing Grace?" My favorite line was "Twas blind but now I see!" And when I'm running, I often hear Casting Crowns "And Now My Lifesong Sings" - again my favorite line is "I once was blind but now I see"....oh how I love those words. But, the lines that grab my heart the most are from Chris Tomlin's "I Will Rise" - It says "There's a day that's drawing near when this darkness breaks to light. And the shadows disappear. And my faith shall be my eyes!" The book of Hebrews tells us that we are living in but a shadow of what is to come...I am so glad that this is not all there is! One day I will see Him clearly, and I will KNOW Him. I will no longer be blind or need faith. I will SEE!

This past week we had a team in Guatemala leading outreach to the village of Sacjavilla. The mission church there led the way with a medical clinic, construction projects and VBS for the kids. My job was to keep the medical clinic flowing smoothly which was not quite as easy as I anticipated. I ended up leading the introduction to the clinic in the triage each person came in, I took his/her form, welcomed them, took their height, weight and temperature and sent them on to a nurse nearby.

Then, HE came in. The blind man. He shuffled in with a cane swiftly moving from the right to the left. On his other arm was his granddaughter who gently led him into the room. My heart broke. Tears welled up in my eyes as I thought about the daily life of not being able to see. And, God reminded me that I am still so blind in many areas. I praised Him for opening my eyes in so many ways this past year and for the places that He will unveil this next year.

Almost a year ago (the Saturday after Thanksgiving will mark the official day), God convicted our family of living in a way that did NOT glorify Him at all. We were eating mindlessly, unhealthily, and without regard for Him. Exercise was non-existent. Our attitudes and behaviors around our physical bodies were sour and rebellious. He broke our hearts. He took the blinders off our eyes. We saw, for the first time, how our disobedience was hindering God's glory in our lives.

Are there areas where you are blinded today? Maybe there's something that you do NOT want anyone holding you accountable for? A subject that you have lots of excuses/reasons/justifications to support? A place that is hidden and not open for discussion?

I have been on the other side of accountability and didn't like it one bit. When God unblinded us, the years of rebellion and disobedience came flooding back. It was overwhelming...and humbling...and embarrassing...and humiliating. It was a breaking of sorts...a breaking of our wills and desires. We had to submit to God's call on our lives for His ultimate glory. Only He could do this and get all the credit. We are weak and feeble. He is strong and enduring. We gladly accept His ways in all of this!

Take a good look at where you may be blinded today...face it and ask God to show you what He wants you to do. You never know where He will take you!