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!
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.
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.
“I will lead them down a new path, guiding them along an unfamiliar way. I will brighten the darkness before them and smooth out the road ahead of them. Yes, I will indeed do these things; I will not forsake them.” – Isaiah 42:16
I will be the first mom to say that mommin’ ain’t easy. I have been blessed to be able to be a step mom for almost three years and now have the privilege of raising one of my own as well. Both roles are difficult in different ways but both are beautiful as well. They don’t tell you about the difficult times and the sleepless nights. Maybe they do but in your mind you imagine different. They don’t tell you about being so worried about either of them or praying for their future. They don’t tell you how deeply and completely your heart will belong to them.
If there is one thing I’ve learned these last three years and these last two weeks, it’s that being a mom should be hard because being a mom means sacrifice. It means giving when you are empty. Loving when you are hurt. Praying when you don’t know what to say. And hoping that through it all you can be a light in the darkness and a refuge from the storms in this world. God has reminded me that it is a blessing to be walked out with Him. Time with Him is crucial to not lose your sanity and patience. Prayer is our biggest weapon against the enemy and love covers all.
So while there are many days I have cried over these last few years, there are many prayers that have been answered. God continues to guide and show me how to walk along this mom path. Sometimes it’s beautiful and sometimes it’s just really hard. But at all times, He is God and He is with us. He gives us the strength we need for each day if we let Him.
I’ve blogged off and on for years now. I’ve written commercially about fitness, how to grow your gym, and how to motivate your clients. Somehow when it came time to write this blog (my first for #ThisIsLiving) I lacked the ability to motivate myself to do it. I’d write a few sentences here and there that I’d quickly go back and delete. I’d stare at my computer screen with the cursor flashing, daring me to write something. I even got a whole paragraph in comparing the spiritual pursuit to running- something that has way more parallels than you can imagine. Yet, I still found every excuse under the sun not to write a blog entry – something I had volunteered to do. Why?
After staring at the blank page for the better part of two months, I came to realize the reason I couldn’t write this is that I feel inadequate to impart any type of spiritual wisdom. I am in no stretch of the imagination what you’d expect a Christian to be. I am tatted up with a half sleeve, live in yoga pants, I curse more than I’d like to, I’ve been divorced, and I loathe the societal stigma that has somehow attached itself to being an Christian. So, who am I to write to you about anything to do with holiness?
…I came to realize the reason I couldn’t write this is that I feel inadequate to impart any type of spiritual wisdom.
On Sunday, the message at church was on Jonah. During which it became abundantly clear that like Jonah, I had been running from doing something that I feel God has called me to do. Don’t you hate that? When people say stuff like that? “God told me.” I used to hate that, too. It sounds totally cliché, but I assure you it is also totally legit. When I say that God called me to write this, I don’t mean I audibly heard him say it. It is more like something on my mind and in my heart that I can’t quite put into words. Obviously, it wasn’t something of my own creating. I’ve fought hard against it. Where is all this leading you’re wondering? Don’t worry I’m finally getting to the main idea.
Like Jonah, I was afraid and I had taken hold of a pagan idea and pretended it was true. I was afraid to put myself out there by writing and being vulnerable. I had taken hold of the pagan idea that Christians are supposed to be perfect. Since I don’t fit that mold, I felt I had no business in writing this. Then I recalled how Hebrew literature depicted some of the best of the best: David, Abraham, Jacob. None of these men were painted to be holier-than-thou and perfect. God used them in their imperfectness, and with their many sinful blemishes, to do amazing things. They knew what I’ve come to realize in writing this and through the message I heard…what I hope you’ll explore as well: “We can keep trying our plan, or we can yield to God” and “Sometimes, the thing you feel uncomfortable doing is the thing God’s called you to do.”
God was there in the beginning and God is Love, but I wasn’t there in the beginning…and I don’t feel that love right now. There are days when it’s hard to love others, but God says that those are the most important days to do just that. I stand with this reality in front of me on those days, and it’s difficult to say yes to a love that I do not see in action in others. I do not exist seeing the fullness of time knowing the eternal insignificance of my anger and the importance of love. I don’t want to see the fullness of time because the momentary affliction is too strong for me to wrap around my mind.
It is not easy to be the one sitting on the inside trying to look out at these issues. When the ones that I am called to love are fighting me at every opportunity they get, how can I be expected to love then? Sometimes I sit and wonder if it wouldn’t just be easier to not love at all. I wonder if I could exist in a world of solitude knowing that I don’t have to be hurt when my brother in Christ turns to me and looks me in the eye and lies. I wonder if it’s easier to exist in a world without commitment and accountability when he takes that advice I give him and spits it in my face. I wonder if it’s easier to love without covenant when my loved ones and I fight to the point where it gets too personal and too direct. When the resistance gets so strong I can’t stand, where is God’s teaching of love?
When the resistance gets so strong I can’t stand, where is God’s teaching of love?
What exactly am I expected to do? I turn to the books and I re-read them, but what I’m reading has lost its meaning long ago. I flip through the pages of my bible looking for the answer but the Spirit sends me back only with the commandment to, “love as I loved first.” These words sting in my ears because they are the very reality I am fighting against. Love. What a word to come from someone I have cursed out in my prayers and yet He stays there. Am I expected to understand the depths of love from Someone who knew my every action while sitting on the outside of time and said yes? How can I stand in between the pain of my brother and the ones I love with this knowledge in my brain and say nothing?
I come back to the depths of my mind and ask, “Where am I to go?” God sends me back to the beginning and asks me where I am. I look into the depths of Him and see myself there. In the beginning of time. When God was love, and I was on His mind. He loved me first, and I chose to fight Him every opportunity I got. He loved me first, and I looked Him in His all-seeing eyes and I lied. He loved me first when I cursed His Spirit as He called my life and made it personal and direct. He loved me first when the resistance got so strong and I said no to the forgiveness of His Son, and yet He still called me back with those three words. Love Me first.
I can’t begin to tell you how many mornings I’ve woken up in the last year to prayer and tears. Tears that were brought about by a foreshadowing loss, while trying to remain in Christ and His promises of strength and courage. The promise that God is greater.
Loss did occur and life was nothing as I had thought it would be, yet hope was not lost, somehow it has remained. I know it remains because of Christ, because only He can give real hope, peace and returning joy. Jesus never left me through any of the many trails, heartache and deep loss, a journey that I would never wish on anyone.
Continue reading “Loss & the Inconceivable Greatness of God”
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart…” – Jeremiah 1:5
The phone rang and on the other line I heard a familiar voice that brought me back to a place five years ago.
I love when God rekindles a friendship. On this particular Saturday, that is exactly what He decided to do. My friend and I began discussing life over the past 5 years. The hurts, the regrets, the joys, the mountains, the journey. Through it all, the presence of Christ being a common theme. As the conversation turned to a more serious subject, she said with a smile in her voice, “It is amazing to hear the confidence and security you have in your voice. It wasn’t like that the last time we talked to each other.”
I smiled, gave the credit to God and the work He had done, and was reminded of a time when my life wasn’t so confident or secure.
Continue reading “Identity: The Importance of Friends”
When it comes to living a lifestyle of Christian discipleship, you may call me a “late bloomer.” Really, really late. Like, so late that it’s sort of embarrassing that it took me this long to get on the right path. Looking back, I’m sometimes saddened by how much time I spent doing my thing instead of the things God had lined up for me to do. How much further down my spiritual journey road could I be if I had just started earlier?
Continue reading “Better Late than Not at All!”
Being a single mom is a hard road to walk. It is made harder by the fact most people do not plan on walking it and usually find it through traumatic situations. However, like many dark circumstances, it can serve as a back drop to show off the brightness of God’s love and depths of His grace.
Continue reading “The Beauty of Being a Single Mom”
I have a Yamaha Thinline Acoustic Electric Guitar that sits proudly in its case underneath my bed. I purchased it off of my best friend during my sophomore year of college, bound and determined to be the best guitar player this side of the Mississippi. I bought new strings, picked up the best set of picks I could find, found an instructional book on how to play the guitar, and even scheduled daily times for learning new techniques and practicing my new found skill. In short, I had all the pieces I needed to become a master guitarist. I was set to enter my name alongside the likes of Jimmy Hendricks, Eric Clapton, and B.B. King. I mentally and emotionally prepared myself for the spotlight, swooning girls, thousands of autographs and adoring fans. The future looked bright.
Nearly six years later, the only attention my guitar gets is from the dust bunnies that co-inhabit the space beneath my bed. I learned a few chords and was able to struggle through a few Chris Tomlin songs at youth group, but ultimately my career stalled out before it ever really began. All the pieces were there, the passion, the vision, the tools to accomplish my goal, but I lacked willpower and perseverance. I wanted all of the glory without the hard work. I wanted to pick effortlessly through the most complex songs, but avoided the calloused fingers and monotonous hours of practice. I wanted to pull off the impossible, move from Point-A to Point-B without taking the journey to get there.
Continue reading “So, I’m Not A Master Guitarist”