...On Running

Although I'm not a fast runner. In the past few years I've finally been willing to admit that I am a runner. I don't have the "runner's body" I hoped I would get before I started running, but I do have a body that can run. After completing 5 half-marathons, I'm grateful for all I've learned over the miles, and I'm well aware that there is more ground to cover with my shoes as well as in my emotional/spiritual life. So, especially for those of you that think anyone that enjoys spending hours each week running is CrAZy, let me share some of the things I've gleaned from it. Perhaps others can learn them by other means, but I have no doubt that I could only have learned them so well through the pain, sweat and labored breathing in all the miles I've covered.

First and foremost, I've learned that I can do more than I ever realized. My mental concepts of what I can or can't accomplish are way off base, either that, or they become self-fulfilling prophecies. I'm not usually a person that likes a challenge, if it seems too hard or too painful, I'm usually the first to admit my limitations. But running has taught me about the value of pushing harder and going further, and the rewards that come with it.

I've also learned that I am my own biggest obstacle. I can go slower or faster. I can lose 10, 15, even 20+ pounds and running does get easier. I can gain 10 or 15lbs back again, easily! I can allow that to get in my way, or I can choose to run anyways. If I want, I can make room in my schedule to run or not. It's really not about anyone else, which leads me to...

The most important thing I've learned from running is that it is HARD. Don't run, fine. But don't complain about how you don't have any endurance or are out of shape. If we're going to grow and get better at anything, it is GOING to HURT. We have this notion in our safe little society that we can have it all, that we can improve without doing any work. We hope, in the depths of our hearts (and while watching infomercials at 2am) that we really can get a little bit of something for nothing. It just doesn't work that way. Everything costs something. (It might be, that it costs someone else something---but regardless, even gifts freely given came at a price). If I want to get better at running, or ANYTHING, it is going to take WORK. There are no shortcuts, there is no way to get through that 10mile run besides putting one foot in front of the other. The agony will end and the endorphins will be there and it will feel great! You won't have a "mountain top" experience during or after every run or every week, but when you do, all the things you love about running will come rushing at you all at once like a refreshing, cleansing, full-force waterfall. *sigh*

Endurance doesn't come without going further than you've gone before. And while I might complain and my mind may SHOUT "I can't do this!" I must keep going. It's true on a run and it's true in life.

Press on.

They say that all of life's troubles can be solved with salt water--- tears, sweat and the ocean. My guess is that when you live in Kansas, you'd better get some extra sweat out to make up for our lack of ocean :-)

Enjoy. (and PRESS ON!)


My thoughts are Not His thoughts...

Last week I was at church, in worship and prayerfully reflecting on my own little life and also about some of the happenings in the lives of a few close friends. I was thinking about the struggles we are facing. Problems with jobs, family, in our finances, relationships and in looking to the future. I was mostly focused on my own struggles and something I've spent a long time praying for and wanting. And then the still, soft voice of the Holy Spirit spoke to me and reminded me that, not only (as I wrote a few months ago for reasons entirely different) is God's love stronger than anyone's doubts, but it is in our struggles.

God's love is in the struggle. 
God loves me in the middle of the pain and in my anxiousness. 
God loves despite my fear, lack of trust and confusion.
God's love is in the "no." 
His love is amidst the busyness and meandering. 
His love is in the waiting.

It's there. It's always, always right there. My attitude, feelings and emotions are as fickle as the weather. But God's love for me never changes. He's not just kind and caring, but constantly, compassionately head-over-heels jealous for each of us. Love that's neither humanly possible nor fathomable. His love for me is insatiable.

Now will I trust this? Will I walk in a way that shows I know this is true? Learning about God's love and hearing the truth is far from actually living within it. But I do believe that He longs to show us all how even the most painful and frustrating situations are full of His beautiful plan. And you know what, even when you're not happy about it and you want to throw a big ol' fit about it, He's not like I am as a parent (which would mean telling you to stop crying because He's frustrated with your lack of maturity). Nope, He's ready to hold you and He's ready to show you more of His heart and His plan. He's gentle and reassuring. Or if it's what you need, He is a kick-in-the-pants and a source of constant reassurance.

Oddly enough, before I ever had a chance to share any of this with anyone, something in my own little world changed. Something I was having a hard time being hopeful about. But something HE truly wanted to show me He had had a plan about all along. Something I'm not going to go into detail about just yet because I want to dwell on all the times He was loving on me before I had any answers. All the months I was grappling and struggling and crying out, the times I was trusting and obedient--as well as the times I was as mature as a screaming toddler, that whole time---He was right there loving me close-up.

Wherever you are in the process of praying for a change, hoping and begging for it, praying for a change-of-heart and an open mind to what He has in store, don't think that He's not loving you in every minute second of that process. Because He is. No matter how long it's been, His plan is clear. Let's not forget that our human understanding from our limited perspective pretty much sucks. He knows that, and He knows we want to capture His vision. But He also knows what we'd try to do if He gave us the whole plan all at once. We'd walk. Because unlike Him, we are far less faithful. Let's not just trust when we're hopeful. Let's not just sing praises when things are going our way. Let's not pretend we're happy about things if we're not---but let's not wallow in our inability to get everything when we want it the way we want it.

He loves us just as much when He says "No," as He does when He says "Not now" or "Yes." My circumstances do nothing to change Him, despite the way satan wants my circumstances to distort my view of Him. So let's trust and know that despite how cloudy and dark your days might be (or get), His love is there, and He's not going to leave you there. He is trustworthy. He is Holy.


Isaiah 55:6-13 (MSG, Italics mine)

Seek God while he's here to be found, pray to him while he's close at hand. Let the wicked abandon their way of life and the evil their way of thinking. Let them come back to God, who is merciful, come back to our God, who is lavish with forgiveness.

"I don't think the way you think. The way you work isn't the way I work." God's Decree. "For as the sky soars high above earth, so the way I work surpasses the way you work, and the way I think is beyond the way you think. Just as rain and snow descend from the skies and don't go back until they've watered the earth, Doing their work of making things grow and blossom, producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry, So will the words that come out of my mouth not come back empty-handed. They'll do the work I sent them to do, they'll complete the assignment I gave them.

"So you'll go out in joy, you'll be led into a whole and complete life. The mountains and hills will lead the parade, bursting with song. All the trees of the forest will join the procession, exuberant with applause. No more thistles, but giant sequoias, no more thornbushes, but stately pines— Monuments to me, to God, living and lasting evidence of God."