My Goal Race

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Most of my life, I have dreamed a little bigger than my reality, usually resulting in disappointment and heartbreak. About 16 months ago, after not having run even a mile in 20 years, I discovered that I loved trail running. It didn’t come easily to me. I was slow. But, I loved it. It brought me peace, it connected me in a deeper way to God, and it challenged me. I love a challenge!

After adding a few miles here and there to my runs, I decided that I really wanted to run an Ultra (50k or more). I really don’t know why. I always told myself that I couldn’t run and that I didn’t like running. For whatever reason, the challenge of being on a mountain trail for so many miles and the opportunity to push myself physically while out in nature greatly appealed to me. So, I found a race that I wanted to do and that became my goal. Training for it was not easy. Six kids, homeschooling, a husband and a part-time job made it pretty difficult to squeeze in long runs. Hubby and the kids were amazingly supportive, though!

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This past Saturday was my goal race. Stump Jump, in Chattanooga. It was a beautiful day! I had been pretty under the weather the whole week leading up to Stump Jump, which was stressing me out a little. But, come Saturday I felt mostly better. The race was amazing. Amazing people, amazing trail. Challenging trail! Running has become a very spiritual thing for me. God meets me every time. It is a precious gift He has given me. He was there on that trail. I felt Him in the cool breeze that blew across the top of the mountain and in the warm sun that shone through the trees. I heard Him in the trickling water and the singing birds. And all of the smells of the forest–the flowers, the wet rocks, the earthy ground–He was there. The feel and textures of the different barks on the trees.


“I just ran in awe of all that He has done for me.”


The things I saw with my eyes–so many kinds of flowers, fungus, rivers running between the mountains, moss-covered rocks, knobby tree trunks, little green lizards, huge rock walls, little creeks running down the mountain–all amazing wonders of His creation. I just ran in awe of all that He has done for me. The beauty that He surrounds me with. Not just in the mountains, but in my everyday life. I felt so loved and I felt so known by Him. He created all of this for me. He created all of this and more for everyone! He’s such a good God. I’m so grateful I get to experience Him this way.

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I didn’t finish my 50k. I made it to mile 28.6 and didn’t make the time cut. I was disappointed. I was so close! I was emotional. But I was so thankful! It was an incredible day! I learned so much about myself, about my strengths and weaknesses (both physically and mentally). And I just really enjoyed being out there and experiencing everything I got to experience. I am a little sad that I didn’t achieve my goal, but I will try again. I don’t quit very easily and I’ve got a lot of people on my side.

Goldendoodle Wisdom

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“This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” – Nehemiah 8:10

“But as for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall.”
– Malachi 4:2


I want to emulate my Goldendoodle, Chewie (short for Chewbacca). Heart heart heart!

He has unconditional love always. He greets us EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. the same way. First, he barks because he is kind of a ding dong and is trying to protect his beloved family. But once our ditzy Goldendoodle realizes it’s us, even though we have abandoned him all day long and might have yelled at him as we were leaving, all is forgotten as he runs to the door and begins jumping for joy, kissing us repeatedly.

He is affectionate always! While we are watching TV, he will come up behind us and literally give us a hug with his big ole lanky front legs and rest his head on our shoulders. Or squeeze up next to us on the couch, lay his head on our laps and hold our hands with his furry paw.

He is fun always! He is never too tired to play. He never turns down a chance to go for a walk or run with one of us. Every object is a toy. And going outside never gets old! Like it’s his first outdoor experience. Each and every time, he is full of wonder and bounces around like a calf put out to pasture.

He is happy always! He adds life to the space he is in. I’ve never seen him mope, or act sad and dejected. He walks with a skip in his step, excited about life and in love with his people.

We’ve neglected him, disciplined him too harshly, rejected his love…

He’s pooped in the house, eaten Tucker’s sandwich, chewed up earbuds…

And yet he holds no grudges, has no regrets and has no shame.

Lord, help me to be like that! I want to be fun and love people well. Forgive quickly. Get over my stupid mistakes. And see the joy in every moment.

Church In The Midst Of Yard Work

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I will say that even in the simple activity of weeding and planting, I saw God everywhere I looked.


This weekend I took time to do some much needed yard work. I also recently read a post by a well known food author. She talked about how being outside was her “church.” While I don’t recommend giving up church for hiking, I will say that even in the simple activity of weeding and planting, I saw God everywhere I looked. Not just the “isn’t God amazing” feeling we get when we view an awesome sunset or watch a spider spin a web, but the kind where God speaks directly to your heart through a very simple thing.

Here are a few things God said to me…

Bloom where you are planted. We feed a lot of birds at our house (and a lot of squirrels, but that’s a whole ‘nother issue). Subsequently, we have a lot of “volunteer” sunflowers randomly popping up all over the yard. These volunteers literally bloom where they are planted. Rocks? Not a problem. Shade? No worries. The ones in the shade do the best they can. Are they tall and strong like the ones in the sun? Nope. But they are giving it their best, and they produce a flower. Do I do that? Do I complain about my situation? Do I wait to serve, or to help until all the conditions are just right? Perfect soil, right amount of water, great location. Or do I do the best that I can right where I am…even if I struggle?

Sunflowers know their job. Everyday, all day long, they face the sun. Their bright beautiful faces are even brighter, because they point in the right direction. They are not looking around to see what all the other sunflowers are doing.

God can redeem all things. A few of the trees in our yard have become diseased and are dead or dying. One of my favorites looks this way this year. It’s leaves are dull and small instead of bright green and healthy like it’s neighbors. I have worried that it too will begin to lose its leaves and die. This weekend I saw one bright green leaf emerging from the end of one of the branches. There is struggle, but there is hope. God can make beauty of ashes, rivers in the wasteland, and bring new life to what was dull and lifeless. He is reminding us of that every day. Every season.

I felt spent and tired that day. But as the song goes…His love never fails, never gives up, never runs out on me.

 

Cultivating The Mind Of Jesus

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C. S. Lewis said, “No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good.” This truth has been reinforced to me in recent days. During a battle with my 11-year-old son, I wondered what Jesus would do in my situation. The words of Philippians 2:5-8 came to mind: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who…humbled Himself.”

The mind of Christ is not a natural fit for me, and each time I embrace meekness, my flesh exalts itself with thoughts of what I “deserve.” In my quest for humility, I am finding out just how prideful I really am. Discouraging as that can be, the lessons I am learning through these
struggles are rich. Thankfully, changed thinking is the first step toward changed behavior! Here are five things I am learning that help me let go of my “rights” and meet my son where he is: Continue reading “Cultivating The Mind Of Jesus”

Future Joy

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“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” – Psalm 30:5


Jesus spoke to His followers of both abundant life and of trouble. These two things may seem contradictory, but my experience verifies that God’s children will have both. As I have dealt with the ups and downs of life, particularly of parenting five sons, I have experienced joyful seasons as well as darker times. I learned, with one son’s heart transplant, that a single situation can bring great heartache as well as immense joy. Despite this knowledge, I am sometimes overwhelmed by new difficulties, forgetting that they, too, will culminate with days of rejoicing. When difficult days turn into difficult seasons, it is easy to forget past victories and the promise of future joy. Continue reading “Future Joy”

2RC Stories: LaKeisha James

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I grew up in church when I was younger. My parents got divorced when I was 14. I kinda fell out of going to church. I started smoking marijuana at 16, and I was pretty much a user. At 18, I was using other drugs and was just in bad relationships. I ended up getting in a relationship with a girl. I was with her for 5 years. I was 25 whenever we broke up.

I had always been suicidal with depression and stuff like that, and always battled with that. And the place that I was staying at ended up calling the cops that night, because I was trying to leave after I had cut my wrist and stuff. The cops came, and they took me to the hospital. From there I went to jail. Continue reading “2RC Stories: LaKeisha James”

The Way Jesus Treats Women

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I was inspired by one of my childhood favorite singers, Brooke Fraser. I was reminded from a post of hers, on International Women’s Day in early March, of the way Jesus treated women, which is the same way He does today and every day. With mercy when our choices fail Him, with grace when we don’t have any left for ourselves, with humility to invite us to Him, and love to pursue us beyond the pits we find ourselves trapped in. Continue reading “The Way Jesus Treats Women”

Give Back

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A few years back I decided that I needed to find something I could do to pour into my community and be a blessing, even in the busiest seasons of my life. I can tend to get into very busy seasons which make it difficult to set regular volunteering commitments and keep them. So, I thought I would try to find something that was meaningful to me, helpful to others and flexible, no matter how my schedule might shift. Sometimes the place to find a need to fill is in a place that you or someone you love at one time had need.  Continue reading “Give Back”

Doing Christmas

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My mom and I enjoyed looking through some old holiday pictures recently. We remarked that the best ones were not the ones that found us lined up in front of the tree, lipstick on and dressed in our new holiday outfit, but the ones where we were actually DOING Christmas.

Being a good southern family, there were always biscuits in our house growing up biscuits and gravy to be exact. When my kids came along, it became my Mom’s ‘thing’. Grandmother, as they call her, always made biscuits and gravy. (At home we were more likely to eat frozen waffles…hey, those were busy times…don’t judge me.)

Continue reading “Doing Christmas”