Posted in As A Person, Life, Nature

Am I Blind and Deaf?

Christ shines through His creation!

Nature.  In all its beauty and luster, can one be so hardened and hurt as to not see a single sign of its loveliness?  Not to hear the sound of singing birds or feel the warmth of the radiant sun?  The smell of spring roses, the trickling brook, the soft touch of a gentle breeze, could someone really miss it all?  Sadly, the answer is yes.  And what is even more heartbreaking is that that individual may not even realize they are deaf, blind, or unfeeling to their surroundings, perhaps because that is just how they have always been.

God created the world, stating that it was very good and would often take walks through the Garden of Eden while conversing with Adam.  The Bible says that through nature people would be able to see living proof of God’s existence because, after all, everything on earth has a creator.

So why would someone not be able to “experience” His creation?  The answer is simple, yet profound.  While easily not being understood by anyone except those who have been through the change and gone from blind to seeing and deaf to hearing, it is possible to see the miraculous healing in others.  You know they have something you want; you may just not know what it is.  You see it in their eyes or etched into that smile that warms you.  Your mind dismisses it, but your soul longs for whatever it feels in that person. 

When we are filled with hurt, bitterness, fear, anxiety or the like, we very often focus on that pain, so much so that we don’t see anything beautiful in life.  We cannot enjoy the peace and comfort that it can bring us.  Have you ever been so hungry that by the time you sit down for supper you scarf down the whole plate of food in front of you at a pace that when you are done, you really don’t even remember what it tastes like?  How about when you go on vacation and you have “what it’s” going through your mind the entire time, do you or really even can you, enjoy your time off and away from home?

Satan’s goal in life is to steal, kill, and destroy.  He will do anything and everything to make your life as meaningless and painful as possible.  He knows what a person can do when he is free in Christ, and he abhors the very idea.  Being filled with joy and peace, you can easily share God’s love and hope with others, something we all long for.

For a long time I hid hurts from family and friends from the past.  Being overly sensitive to any negativity created by words, I was emotionally drained.  So as I grew up I would build closets in my heart, stuffing the pain in them and slamming the door shut behind them.  When one closet became too full I would simply build another one.  Soon my heart was so full of closets that there was no room for anymore and I had to start stuffing hurts into cracks and under rugs, anywhere I could find to hide them.  It wasn’t until I began allowing Jesus to cleanse and heal this pain that I have been able to see God’s spectacular beauty in nature. 

As a result of this I gained a more intimate relationship with Christ through His creation.  I could feel Him warmly embrace me through the rays of sunshine.  He would sing songs of joy over me through the choir of birds.  When I would feel the breeze against my skin, I could only imagine him giving me a soft kiss on the cheek.  The sunsets became a gentle reminder of His love for me and the trickling brook seemed to fill me with His peace.  The flat farm land that seemed to stretch for miles reminded me of the freedom I have in Christ.  As one of His creations, I’m filled with more and more awe as I run these country roads in sweet communion with Him.  Oh how I have come to love my Savior through the elegant and magnificent work of His hands, namely the nature we all have available to us.  I have so much more to learn and room to grow in our relationship, but the more he shows me the deeper my longing for Him gets.  May we all seek after what our soul truly longs for and find it in Christ!

Posted in As A Person, Be Still, Life, Our Focus

Turn your Back to the Wind

Where are our eyes and feet headed?

I had heard it multiple times, “You are focusing on it too much.”  Has anyone ever told you that the water will never boil if you stand there and watch it?  Have you ever stared at a clock and wondered what is taking that minute so long to go by?    What about resisting a food you know you shouldn’t eat?  The longer you stare at it the more you probably wanted to eat it.  Ever have an annoyance in your life?  I bet the more you dwelt on how annoying it was the worse of a headache it became. 

Since we are what we eat, (physically and spiritually speaking), shouldn’t we be watching what we feed ourselves.  Physically speaking I guess I must be a chocolate covered banana, dipped in coffee and sprinkled with date slivers.  But spiritually speaking, what am I feeding myself?  Am I focusing on the news and what’s going on in this world?  Am I watching TV and playing video games?  Or am I spending time with my family and focusing on Christ?  If I do the first I could easily become an anxiety covered selfish sloth, but if I focus on Christ and serving my family, I could allow God to shape me into the image of His Son – my big brother, best friend and role-model!

I read a book on relationships a couple months ago and most of it, like most readings, is forgotten.  But two things stood out to me and one of them God has been pressing me to follow after.  I have always referred to the wind as my adversary – A Be Still and Run comparison – and would like to go back to it this week.

Is it easier for someone to run into the wind or with their back facing the wind?  Obviously it’s the latter.  So what does this mean for us as Christians, living in this world of turmoil and confusion?  It means to turn our back to the trouble and look at Christ.  Turn our back to the devil and run to Jesus.  Turn our back to the heartache and focus on our Savior.  Turn our back to the uproar all around us and look to God.  I have noticed that as I do this, as I turn my back on any evil, any sin, anything of this world, and look to Jesus, focusing my attention on Him, everything else slowly disappears and fades into the background. 

We need to use the example of a newly married couple on their wedding day.  They are so focused on one another that nothing else around them matters.  When they get a photograph taken, most likely the background will be blurred so that people can focus on what is most important in their photo. 

One afternoon I decided to try this method out during my run to refresh my memory.  Running into the wind took more effort and exertion as I tried to maintain a steady, slow pace.  I went about two miles into the wind before turning around and heading back home.  Not only was I able to double my pace comfortable, I noticed the wind was pushing me even faster to my final destination.  So by turning my back to the wind I got a double whammy; I was able to comfortably and almost effortlessly run, while the adversary was pushing me faster and closer to my goal.  The circumstances did not change, but the direction in which I set my eyes and feet did.  Do you see the comparison to our lives?  If we turn our back to temptation, to sin, to the enemy, and place our eyes on our Savior in Heaven, not only will our journey be more delightful and effortless because we will be allowing God to fight our battles, but the negative will help push us faster and closer to Jesus if we keep Him as our main focus.

I pray we would all be able to turn our back to the wind and focus our eyes on Jesus!

Happy Running ya’ll!

Posted in As A Person, Life, Training the Mind

Dying Breath

We never realize how good life is until we feel like we’re dying.

Ever walk up the stairs and feel like you’re out of breath?  Ever go for a walk or exercise and feel out of breath?  Honestly that is the worst part about running in life.  I hate it when I run out of breath.  I would rather have a painful run.  I like the feeling of being able to breath.

Anxiety, fear and pain all take our breath away.  It’s something that every person on earth has to learn how to deal with.  I’m not just talking physical pain either, I also mean that emotional pain of our heart being wounded, that hurtful word that sent a knife through your heart, and that feeling of being rejected or betrayed.

When we follow Jesus, we learn that God is the breath of life.  Without breath, we cannot live.

On one of my runs I decided to do what they call a negative split, where each mile is faster than the one before.  The first mile was supposed to be around 11 minutes but turned out to be around 10.  I turned around for the second mile and was hit full force with the wind.  Being as this mile was supposed to faster than the last, I pushed harder, but with little success.  I ended up finishing this one still around 10 minutes.

I was determined that the last mile, whether it rained on me or not, was going to be faster than the last two.  At about six-tenths of a mile I had to stop, I couldn’t breathe.  I cried out to God in desperation, I need strength, I need breath, I can’t breathe.  Give me breath.  All of a sudden an image popped in my head and I started crying.  Lord, forgive me.  I saw Jesus hanging on the cross gasping for breath- pushing against the nail in his feet in order to fill his lungs with air; blood running down his body… for me.

Now there was no way I was going to be able to run hard anymore being all choked up like that.  But I thank God for the lesson he gave me.  He reminded me in a very real way how much He loves me.  I finished the three miles in my average pace and ended up doing a couple tenth mile sprints afterwards.  The sprints were all around 50 seconds proving to me that my body really could have gone on, if I had only remembered to breath.

As humans we are capable of doing so much more than we could ever imagine.  I mean, we have the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead, living inside of us!  And Philippians clearly says that we can do all things through Christ because He strengthens us.  And in Matthew it shows us that Jesus’ yoke is easy and light.

But we first have to lose our own life.  We first need to die to ourselves and take Jesus’ yoke.  We need to be like a seed, to die and be placed deep in the earth before we can grow and produce life!  We need to lose our breath so He can breathe His breath into us! 

But then the question, do we want this?  Are we truly willing to lose our breath, our very life, for Him?  I challenge you to ponder this question in prayer and allow Jesus to speak true life into your being.

Happy Running Ya’ll!

Posted in Praise Report, Racing, Training the Mind, Uncategorized

“I Am Never Running Again”

Have you ever watched a hurdles race? To me that looks awful. Running straight forward is hard enough, but running and then jumping over fences throughout the race… no thank you. I sometimes just struggle picking my feet up high enough so that I don’t scrape my shoe across the pavement.

But do you know what happens when we determine to push through that wall, whatever it may look like to each of us? God gives us the strength and grace that we ask for because in our weakness, His strength is made perfect. Do you want God’s perfect strength over your life? Then you need to give Him your perfect weakness.

For by thee I have run through a troop; and by my God have I leaped over a wall.

Psalm 18:29

During my 5k race last Saturday, a thought crossed my mind that I’ve only had a few times in my running experience; I am never running again! But as soon as the race was over I couldn’t wait till the next one. What happens when I have this mental breakdown? The answer is mental fatigue and a stressed mind. When I run, I hit this mental wall that I dread. I call it a mental breakdown. I’ve learned that the sooner I can get over that wall the better my run can be.

This particular 5k, I had about three weeks to train. I had never run a 5k race in under 30 minutes so this was my prayer. But it seemed every time I prayed this, 28 would pop in my head. I would laugh and think, “Yeah sure, under 28 minutes would be great, but since that’s not possible, under 30 minutes will do just fine.”

Before the race I gave the results to God. The gun was shot and we were off. At the one mile marker I was shocked by how fast I had gotten there, and I felt great. A few minutes later, “Smack!” I hit the mental breakdown wall. I determined to push forward and prayed for peace. Coming up to the next mile marker I was praying it said two miles and not one and a half. It said two and I felt very relieved. A few moments later I noticed my body was getting exhausted, I knew I had pushed it harder than ever before. I prayed, “Please Lord, just let it be under…” Again, 28 popped in my head. I said, “No, under…” And this time, 29 popped in my head. I said, “No. Under 30. Please let it be under 30 minutes.”

I turned the last corner and when I could see the finish line, I took off as fast as my tired legs would let me. My parents were smiling and everyone was cheering me on as I crossed the line. When I asked my parents the time, they said it was around 27:30. I thought, “No way, you’re kidding!” It was then that I realized God must have been the one saying under 28. It seemed like forever before they put the final times out. And sure enough it said 27:30. I was ecstatic! I couldn’t believe God could, or would, or how, or… so many thoughts went through my mind. My HPR (Home Personal Record) was 29:48!

One thing I know… My Coach up in Heaven knows what He’s doing! If only I would listen and trust Him, I can’t imagine what the outcome of other things would be!

Posted in Be Still, Life, Training the Mind

Listen

This past Sunday I asked God what the topic for this week’s post should be. I instantly heard, “Listen.” Many times we love talking more than listening. Sometimes we have goals of “talk less, listen more,” or “be quick to hear and slow to speak.” But how often do we actually follow through with our good intentions of doing so.

This week God challenged me to take the headphones out, set the phone aside, and listen… and I listened. First, to the pounding of my shoes on the pavement, the soft breath of my lungs and the many people heading to work, creating the sound of what we call morning traffic. But there was more beyond that that I rarely ever hear; the cool breeze through the trees, the joyful singing from the birds, the crunching leaves from the leaping deer, the water trickling over rocks in the river, squirrels and chipmunks chewing up their nuts, and crickets quietly playing music in the swaying grass. In enjoying everything that God has blessed us with, how often are we quiet enough to listen to His still, small voice.

This was a struggle for me all week. To just listen and be still as I ran caused me to see and feel my negative thoughts about running on a more negative level. I prayed for wisdom and listened. I learned a lot. I came up with a ton of comparisons for this blog. However, I didn’t get the answer I was looking for. “How do I conquer these negative thoughts and get past my mental plateau?” During my quiet time Friday morning I asked God to show me something in His Word. I always try to do that. It’s one way I feel loved by God because my primary love language is words of affirmation. I listened but nothing seemed to stand out. I decided to just start writing the post. Praying for wisdom in writing this, I looked up and saw a verse I’ve never seen before. It was on the opposite side of the page from where my devotional had taken me.

Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?

Galatians 5:7

It struck me. I was believing a lie which was greatly hindering my running dreams. I would repeatedly say to myself, “I can’t do it.” That is a lie because the Bible clearly states, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Phil. 4:13) That is the truth! And the hinderer… is the enemy, Satan, that great deceiver. He is out to steal, kill and destroy. Now I must add something to my running prayer. That God would bind and gag the enemy so that he may have no influence over my running. Praise be to God!

Take out the headphones and tune into the voice of God. Don’t forget to Be Still – at all times – and Run! God bless ya’ll! Have a great weekend!

Posted in Charater Qualities, Training the Mind, Uncategorized

Run the Mile You are In

Run the mile you’re in… I had seen it many times before but I don’t think I ever totally understood what it really meant. Jesus said not to think about tomorrow because it has its own problems. We are to only think about today. Today is the mile we are in. Take one moment at a time. Why?

When I run, sometimes I look at how many miles I have left or what I need to do when I get home and how I need to hurry up and get back, or what my current pace is and freak out when I realize I’m going slower than planned, or maybe even if that dog is loose again and whether I should run by that house or not, and on and on and on, should I push past that pain or is it going to cause me to miss my workout tomorrow, should I bike tomorrow instead so I don’t have to worry about how much I push myself. Ugh, it can get very frustrating and easily take the enjoyment out of running.

But on the contrary, God has been taking me through a phase of learning how to control my thoughts. In looking forward to running a marathon in the next couple years, I have been researching how to train. Apparently its 20% physical and 80% mental! Yikes! This news was not exciting for me to hear, because I am definitely not in control of my thoughts.

Today, I ran 6.2 miles and really tried to focus on just the mile I was in. The first four miles was pretty good. I was able to enjoy the nature around me and for the most part my mind was pretty quiet. I counted down each mile that passed. But mile five was a struggle. My legs started giving me signs that they were going to get really heavy, I realized that my feet were sore, my hands were freezing, the wind was strong and cold, etc. etc. etc. All these thoughts started going through my mind and I purposed in my heart to focus on the mile I was in. I began counting tenths of a mile and thanking God that I was able to be doing this. I knew this run was going to give me the final words for this blog post and I was right. When I hit the sixth mile mark I felt like I ran out of the temptation to dwell on negative thoughts and I realized my body had more to give. I was sore and wanted to get home but I felt like I was free. I was able to give all I could to my body to keep going.

Anxiety pulls us back and keeps us tied down. Peace on the other hand gives us freedom of mind to think clearly and move forward. I’ve been learning that one of the best ways to push past those thoughts is to live in the moment. Live through just today. Don’t think about tomorrow. Don’t think about next week. Run the mile you are in. Run to Jesus and tell him everything that you are going through and then ask him for the strength to push forward. Today may be hard but God’s faithfulness is renewed every morning, so tomorrow you will have new strength to push forward in that day.

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7
Posted in Praise Report, Training the Mind

Challenged

Yesterday was my annual fall race.  This year I did Jeff Polen’s Music Fest 5k.  I was hoping for a PR but did not realize the difficulty of this course.  I knew there would be hills so I had ran the, apparently tiny, easy hills around us.  I even did hill sprints, though I do think those helped a lot.  But I was not mentally prepared for the challenge I was about to face.

The race started out, for about 3/4 of a mile, on pretty much flat ground.  With a pace of about 8:50 I was feeling pretty good, till I switched to a trail.  For the next mile and a half I was focused on keeping going.  All my training was being put to the test.  Going up hills I reminded myself of the down hills.  I ran in the grass during the rocky parts and another runner behind me said I was weaving all over the trail.  During this time my pace jumped to somewhere in the 9:00, which was still pretty awesome for me.  But because of the strenuousness of the new terrain I ended up finishing with my normal pace which was somewhere in the 10:00.

My average pace overall was 9:55, which was exciting comparing it to my training runs.  

My biggest lesson God “retaught” me was how much my mind has such a huge impact on my running.  The more I focus on how I feel whether in real life or running, the more it tears me down.  Who I think I am is who I am.  What we meditate on is who we become.  So if I am constantly telling myself lies, such as, “I’ll never make it,” or “I’m such a failure.”  I end up not even wanting to try.

During my run my mind kept saying, “you’re not going to make it.”  But a few days earlier, when I had asked God for some encouragement concerning my race, He told me, “You can do it!”  This thought also kept popping in my mind during my run and I can’t emphasize enough how much that helped me finish the race strong.

So what did I take home from my 5k?  Other than special memories with my family, God allowed me to see from a different perspective, yet real life application, how much dwelling on truth can benefit my life and help me become the person I want to be!