Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Goal in Sight....

Jett running ahead of me in a recent race for Unadopted here in Birmingham.

The goal has been set, and honestly, it has scared me. One hundred miles in a month. With a husband, kids, homeschooling, soccer, helping to run a ministry, piano/voice, co-op classes, teaching a small group, keeping up a home, etc, etc, etc, life is a little busy these days.

In 2012 the most miles I ran in a month was close to 75. I haven’t come close to that until last month when I hit 86. The 100 mile month has eluded me so far, but I will have to do it over and over again in order to train properly for the marathon in January.

And now, it’s within sight. I’m at 81.4 with a week left to go in August. And, I’m fearful. A fear that I will give up. A fear that I just won’t make it.

But, who is the author of that fear? Not the Lord! It’s the enemy who whispers shame and guilt and fear into my life. And I listen…constantly. It is disappointing to say the least. But, the voice of the One who called me to do this is so much greater. It may not be louder some days, but it is clearer, and it is faithful. And, I will trust in His plan.

Please pray that I will be dedicated to the journey He has for me. I give in to my fear of failure too often, and it is embarrassing. It is shameful.

Do you have something God has called you to do? Are you scared? Will you do it anyway?

Let us press on toward the prize that He has set before us. For me, it’s trusting in Him for every step, knowing that He alone will sustain me. Keep my eyes off myself and my feelings…look to Him alone for every single need.

Thank you all for your love, support and encouragement along this path!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Big Mistake and A New Record

Have you ever seen two things that just don't seem to go together? Like a vending machine that sells bait. A beauty shop where you can file your taxes. Burger King selling fish.

I always laugh when I say the opposite ends of a spectrum but things that aren't even in the same category? Those things make me laugh. I have a friend who orders a hamburger at a popular seafood restaurant. Another who gets her nails done at a gas station. I am entertained to say the least.

I guess it's not as funny when it happens to me. As soon as I realize that I hit a new record, I simultaneously encounter a new low. And, I'm not amused.

Last week, I ran six days for a total of 29.9 miles. It's the most I've run in a week EVER. Along with the previous week's mileage of 26.1, my total for the month is now at 56.0. I'm on the way to hitting 100 miles in August...and that's will be a new record! Increasing mileage every week has been hard but necessary for training. God is stretching me in ways I have never encountered, and my prayer life has been at full force. It's amazing how much God brings to mind in an hour long training session!

At the same time, I made several huge mistakes this past weekend....and I write them down to help me remember what NOT to do again and to help anyone else who might be heading down the wrong road:

1. Because of our schedule, we had to run 6 miles early on Saturday OUTSIDE. We've only run 4-6 miles total outside at this point. With the heat and humidity (and the people we are responsible for caring for once we get back home), it's just not a good plan right now. We were soaked, hungry and tired. Way to start the day.
2. We didn't plan our eating and hydration well. We left our home after running to participate in a local run with Unadopted here in Birmingham. Great race and great cause. Poor timing on our parts. We had to run another 3 with the brilliant idea of getting in an additional two after the race. Wonderful concept. Poor judgment. We didn't consume enough carbs or protein or liquid before arriving and were pooped out by mile two.
3. Again, the race was outside which means miles 7,8, and 9 were outside too. That's a big increase to run outside when we've been running inside primarily. Not to mention that we were exhausted at this point.
4. Running after the race was a huge No No with legs that already felt like jelly, a stomach begging to be fed protein and carbs (and there were plenty of those available...but I didn't want to see them again on the trail), and a head that was spinning from the heat and lack of hydration.

So, I got in 10 miles for the day (coming up one mile short of my goal of 11) but it felt like 20. I made some major mistakes (I'm still a rookie, you know), and I am still paying for them. Lessons learned.

I think I'll focus on the new record and just learn from the error of my ways. Maybe you can too!

Monday, August 11, 2014


Not long ago I sat across from a young twenty-something year old beauty who told me a little of her history with the Lord. She had packed up her belongings, said goodbye to her family and planted her life in Africa. She was serving the Lord when He began to convict her about her motives. She moved back home realizing that she had some growing to do. God showed her that her intentions were not pure or holy…instead, they were self-glorifying and self-gratifying and brought the honor and praise to her, not God.

I think we can all relate. Many times our motivation is not God-honoring. So, we must re-examine our foundation often, daily, hourly, every minute!

In light of that, I have found myself frustrated with not being able to run sometimes. And during my quiet times I have gone before the Lord to ask Him to reveal my motivation for running. He has refined me way more than I ever desired or thought I needed in that area….and it has been very good.

Why DO I run?

1. Because God directed us to run. We’ve tried to do many things, but God continually brings us back to running.
2. Running allows us a platform to share our journey for His great glory. We struggle DAILY (sometimes, it’s an every-15-minute-kinda-thing) with our health, and God is most honored when we submit and obey Him.
3. My physical and mental discipline when it comes to health/exercise STINKS. God has stretched me over and over again and taught me to remain focused on Him. Often, God has used physical principles to teach me spiritual truths. Running develops a discipline that I otherwise do not have.
4. Finally, running gives me great alone time with the Lord. God allows me time to meditate on the Word I’ve read that morning or pray specifically for friends/family or on most days, I wrestle through something He is teaching me.

This past week was my first 25+ mileage weeks in over a year. And, it was tough. Again and again, I wanted to quit and just give up. But, God sustained as He always does. When I keep my eyes on His purposes and plans and not on my own inadequacy/weakness, the run continues.

I am hoping for a first ever 100 mileage month….that will be by God’s grace ALONE. I know that I cannot do it. But, He is greater than my insecurities and fear of humiliation. He will accomplish this by His great power. And, my only part is tiny…submission and obedience. It’s the least I can do.

Monday, August 4, 2014

God's Plan A

“It’s just a little walk from here,” she said with a sparkle in her eyes. I already knew that her definition of “little” and mine were quite different. “Shortcut” is another one of her misnomers. I am quite aware of the hike we are about to embark upon.

I step out of the van with nothing but my Bible and a rain jacket. Members of our team are waiting and I can see that they are blissfully ignorant of what lies ahead. With Gladys carrying her youngest baby, Marleni walking with her daughter, Anayeli, and kids running circles around us, we started down a paved path.

Soon the path became gravel-like and took several turns. Like Hansel and Gretel, I wondered if I shouldn’t have thought of leaving a trail of crackers or bread. Directions are not my forte, you know. Talking is less and I hear the huffing of others. I sure am glad I’ve been running lately.

“Right there,” Gladys calls out as we walk past a make-shift fence and a tin door. We stop and run around, making our way through the entrance. Immediately, my eyes shift from side to side to see the ratty conditions of the place but then, I look up. Quickly scanning the landscape I see a house ahead and a steep path above that leading to a shack on the top of the cliff. Somehow, I have a feeling that the summit is where we are headed. Sadly, I was right.

It’s a tiny home (think 250 square feet) with a rigged grill in the front area. A pot of beans is on the coals, and the smoke is wafting out over the sheet covering the door. We are led to the back partitioned bedroom with one full size bed. Light is pouring in the plastic that acts as a wall. Flash cards of sounds hang as decoration on one wall, so someone is learning to read. A picture of Mary, Joseph and Jesus hangs on the cardboard behind the bed…”There’s the starting point,” is what I sensed in my spirit.

We engage in small talk and introductions. The woman is in tears already as she pours out her heart about two sick children (one has a heart condition from birth and the other has been in the hospital lately), a husband who drinks and beats her, no money to feed the kids, and a hope that does not exist in her world.

God has, of course, appointed, Marleni to be on this team, and the similarities in their lives are numerous. You see, God designed a time just a few months ago, when Marleni was pouring out her struggles to a few of us in her home. She has been a faithful Christ-follower for years and has invested in the mission church in Lantana since its inception. With every team she gives of herself and her family to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Yet, her life is not without hardships, and she was crying out to God for His great comfort. Today, she stood in a home where another woman shared a similar story.

Opening God’s Word, I quickly went from one passage to another as the translator rattled off the words. God is holy. Man is sinful. Man is separated from God. He is just. We are dead in our sins. He is gracious. Jesus lived a perfect life, died for us, and rose again. And, all you need to do is STOP….um, what? STOP is clearly what God impresses upon my heart. STOP RIGHT THERE. That’s all you are to do.

I gotta admit that the moment was a little awkward. The problem has been laid out - we are sinful and God is holy. We cannot get to Him because we are a depraved and wicked people. The answer has been shared - Jesus Christ came and lived a life without sin, died a death in our place and was raised from the dead three days later. Silence. Silence. Silence. The translator stares at me with questioning eyes. I just stare back. And then, Marleni’s shirt is my peripheral vision….it hits me like a ton of bricks. She taps me on the back and says, “Ask her if she wants to accept Christ now.” I can’t. It’s not my role to play. The question is Marleni’s to ask. This is why she is on this team.

I have never heard her share the Gospel personally because she often prays while we are reading God’s Word. She steps up and looks at me like a baby wanting to be rescued. She is nervous and shaking and not sure what to say. My mouth is closed…just as it should be.

It was not by accident that Marleni was able to share how a personal relationship with God is possible and how Jesus made the way. She talked about believing in God, knowing what He has done for us, admitting and confessing sins, and accepting His free gift of salvation. Then, she said that the road would not be easy and told of her own struggles with a husband who left her earlier this year. She didn’t dwell there long. Instead, Marleni was able to share how God has brought her great joy and peace during this time. Only God did that. And it was good. And glorious.

Isn’t God’s plan amazing? I stand in awe of how He brought us all together to accomplish His purposes as only He can. Praise His name for His great will and the ways He brings it all to pass.