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Why Do I Run?

Over the hills and through the woods…running to reach the next point where I could cheer on my son in his cross country race.  After he ran by, I’d take off and run for the next place to cheer for him.  Sometimes I barely made it there in time.  Sometimes I had to cheer from afar because I couldn’t quite make it across the field.  I was out of breath, my legs heavy, and sweat pouring down my face.  But I kept going – all out of deep love for my son.  So if you see that crazy mom running across the cross country course – that’s me – or some other dedicated cross country moms cheering on their offspring.

Lately, this is how I feel in life.  I’m straining up some parenting hills, blazing trails in the woods of women’s ministry, and high stepping through knee deep grassy fields of website technology – struggling to get to that next place but many times lagging behind.  But I keep going.  Recently, I’ve had to slow down to check the course map to see if I’m going the right direction and to figure out why I am running this race of faith.  I know why I chase my son around the fields and hills of cross country courses.  Because I want to get to him and cheer him on to victory.  This why keeps me running hard even when everything in my body is screaming STOP!

The Bible is my race of faith course map.  The last few weeks I have been studying First Corinthians 9:24,25: “In a race, all the runners run, but only one gets the prize.  Run in such a way as to win the prize.  Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.  They do it to get a crown that does not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.”  In these verses I am reminded to know my why. Why am I running this race of faith, of following Christ and setting the pace for others to run their races victoriously?  The answer to this question lies in the key words last forever.  Because what I am doing (living by faith in Christ and reaching/teaching others) will last forever.  I can make an eternal impact in the lives of others.  So I keep going.  Persevering.  Taking the next step.  Straining up that next hill.  What I do matters.  Paul coaches us to “be steadfast, immovable;  Give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (First Corinthians 15:58)  So when I trip and stumble on the trail in the woods, I get back up and keep running – because I know my why. 

My prayer for you today is that you will check the course map of God’s Word often and persevere in your race of faith.  My website runtowintady.wordpress.com is a resource for you as you follow Christ.   Prayerfully it will be helpful to many.  Please share my website and blog with others to multiply the impact we together can make.  Let me know how you are doing in your race of faith in the comments below.  I’d love to pray for you and be able to cheer you on at this point in your race!

Feeling Validated

“You’re a fruit loop in a bowl full of cheerios.” 

This quote was printed on the orange slip of paper I expectantly pulled out of the fish bowl labeled Thursday’s Thoughts at my local YMCA.  I laughed out loud!  How did they know?  Who told them I was a little fruity or loopy or both?  (My husband calls me a nut so maybe I’m really a mixture of fruit loops and honey NUT cheerios!)  Every Thursday I look forward to grabbing my quote out of the fishbowl to see what inspirational words will validate me or infuse warm fuzzies into my day.  I love the ones that say something to the effect that I am brave or will embark on some great adventure soon.

Have you seen or perhaps participated in the latest Facebook quizzes called Your Quote and How would you describe me?  I’ve played along – clicking the link to see what they think my life quote is or what they think my positive attributes are.  If I don’t like my answer I just click again until I do!

All the craze over these Facebook quizzes has made me ask the question What causes people (myself included) to take the bait?  What’s the big lure?  It could just be that inquiring minds want to know!  Or maybe it goes deeper.  I know I often times have a need for something to anchor me.  A life quote could fit the bill for that.  I think I also need and even clamor for validation – I like to hear people  tell me things about me that they like – that I’m funny, passionate, helpful, or even a fruit loop in a bowl of cheerios!  The Facebook description quiz gives us warm fuzzies by announcing to the social media world that we are kind, generous, or a person who goes out of their way to help others.  

So what am I getting at with all this?  Simply this:  Why don’t we go straight to THE SOURCE to find out what our life beliefs/convictions (life quote) should be and to discover who we truly are?  Everyday we can crack open God’s Word, the Bible, to unearth treasures of wisdom and understanding. In Psalm 119 the author gives us 176 reasons why he goes straight to the source of God’s Word to gain sure footage in life.  In verse 18 he says, “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things from your Word.”  In verse 20 he goes on to say, “My soul is starved and hungry, ravenous – Insatiable for your nourishing words to me.”   Oh how our souls crave truth.  I can literally turn to any page in scripture and read truth from God that will anchor and affirm me.  Just yesterday I found myself resting in God as my refuge as I read Psalm 91:1,2: “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.”  What better life quote than that?

What have you read lately in God’s Word that anchors and affirms you?  Leave your comments below, because inquiring minds want to know!

 

Pep Talk

Coaches are known for their pep talks.  Before a competition they gather up the team to impart directions and instill confidence into their athletes.  I remember my dad giving race advise to my teammates and I.  He said that in a race, we shouldn’t look back, but keep our eyes and focus ahead.  We find such a pep talk given by Paul to team Philippi with the following words:  “Not that I have already obtained all this or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it, but one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.  I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12-14)

This pep talk from Paul has infused confidence and direction into my race of faith.  As I’ve studied this passage I have asked myself three questions that help me understand this passage of scripture:

1. What is the “goal” Paul writes about?  Earlier in verses 8 and 10 Paul makes his passion and goal clear:  “I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” “I want to know Christ.”  In addition to the goal of knowing Christ, Paul is committed to making Christ known.  In Colossians 1:28 he says, “We proclaim Him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ.”  I, too, have as my goal to know Christ and make Him known.

2. What does “forgetting what is behind” mean?  Paul could have meant that he no longer focused on past pursuits, passions, and even problems, and wanted to keep his focus riveted on what Christ had captured his attention and  allegiance to accomplish now.  I, too, want to run not looking back on past accomplishments and failures, but to keep asking God to direct me to what he wants me to do for him today, this week, and going forward.

3. How can I press on toward the goal? (of knowing Christ and making Him known.)  I have three ways to press on:  1.  Press into God for direction and courage.  I have compiled scripture verses that I say to myself to help me have courage and confidence: ( i.e. Philippians 1:6, Ephesians 2:10, Psalm 138:8).  2. Put one foot in front of the other.  Break the goal down into smaller steps and start walking.  When I had a goal of developing a website to “coach” others in their race of faith, the task was daunting. I had no idea how to do it. So I broke the goal down into achievable steps and began moving forward. Eventually, my website was launched.  3. Pray for God to accomplish His work through me.  Psalm 127:1 says, “Unless the Lord builds the house, the workers build it in vain.”  Psalm 90:17 says, “May the favor of the Lord rest upon us.  Establish the works of our hands for us, yes, establish the works of our hands.”

How are you pressing on for Christ this fall?  Let me know so I can cheer you on and pray for you!

 

Tough Mudder

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David debuts his high school running career at the Forest Park Cross Country Festival.

This past Saturday my son was among thousands of runners competing at the Forest Park Cross Country Festival in St. Louis, MO.   Due to the torrential rains the previous 24 hours I renamed the 5k race The Tough Mudder.  The competitors achieved rugged status as they ran on the course turned mud and muck.  Many ended the race covered from head to toe in said muck.  Others crossed the finish line shoeless ( shoes to be found somewhere back in mile #3 mudpit.)  Witnessing this Tough Mudder brought back running memories of my younger days which included achievements in the rough and rugged arena.  I ran my share of muddy miles, heartbreak hills, snow-covered courses, wind-whipped workouts, and trails of tears.  To build leg strength and mental toughness, my dad (and coach) had me train in waist deep snow drifts.  (I felt like I was flying on the indoor track in comparison!)  I was a tough and tumble teenager!  So as an adult, I hate feeling weak!  I highly value feeling strong and in control.  This summer I’ve had to relinquish this tough mudder mentality and face some harsh reality.  Many of you know that I had a heart attack in mid-June.  Just hand over the wimpy prize, thank you very much – NOT!  After I posted my heart attack reality on facebook I hated the thought of people thinking I was weak, frail, and well, not measuring up.  I’ve dealt with the yucky emotions of feeling like I don’t measure up and needing to achieve to be somebody my whole life.  I dealt with it as a competitive runner who found herself sidelined with a career ending injury in college.  I dealt with it as I sunk into deep depression after the birth of my fourth son.  During each of these low times of my life, God met me in my place of despair and inadequacy and spoke into my heart through His Word, reaffirming His love and purpose for me.  Scriptures I had memorized in the past became the lifelines God used to pull me out of the slippery, muddy pit of depression.  In high school, facing injury and disappointment, I memorized Isaiah 40:28-31.  It reads: “Do you not know?  Have you not heard?  The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He will not grow tired and weary and his understanding no one can fathom.  He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  Even youths grow tired and weary and young men (and women) stumble and fall;  but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles;  they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint.”  In each of my difficult times, God brought these truths to my mind and heart.  He wanted me to sink my trust into Him.  He gave me fresh strength and hope every time.  Another scripture God has used to sustain me is 2 Corinthians 12:9, 10 in which Paul says, “But he (Jesus) said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses…in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  Fast forward to today.  God is once again telling me that I do not have to be tough and tumble!  That, in Christ, I am enough!  I am secure, significant, and strong.  Even after a heart attack.  Even on days when all I accomplish is grocery shopping and watching my son run like a gazelle through Forest Park!

 

 

Run to Win!

“In a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize.  Run in such a way as to get the prize.” (I Corinthians 9:24)  If my life had a motto, this scripture would be it.  Run to win!  I grew up in a fiercely competitive home.  My Dad was a world class runner and renowned cross country and track coach.  By the time I was six, I competed in my first mile race.  At 16 I ran a marathon in 3 hours 14 minutes, qualifying for the Boston Marathon.  Growing up, I was expected to set goals and train consistently.

Equally prevalent in our home was the emphasis on following Jesus.  My parents passed the baton of faith in Christ on to my brothers and I.  In 2 Kings chapter 2 we are given a glimpse into the passing of the baton from the prophet Elijah to Elisha.  It was the day that the Lord would take Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind.  (an amazing way to go!)  Elisha insists on sticking close by Elijah’s side – wanting to soak in all of his mentor’s wisdom and character.  In verse 9 Elijah turns to Elisha and says, “Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?  Ask me anything.”  Elisha’s reply reveals his deep desire to follow in Elijah’s footsteps.  “Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit.”  The Message translation reads, “Your life repeated in mine.  I want to be a holy man just like you.”  Wow!  Elijah passed on his character and calling to Elisha.

I thank God for my parents and the opportunity to learn from their lives and examples.  From my Mom I inherited a passion for people.  She is an encourager.  From my Dad I inherited a passion to study and teach God’s Word.  He is a teacher.   My desire is to take the baton my parents have passed to me and run with it.  Run fast!  Run to win!

I Corinthians 9:25 continues, “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.  They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.”  I have boxes of broken and rusted trophies from my running competition days.  They didn’t last.  (lots of good memories and lessons though.)  Our reward for running the race of faith will last forever.  We will receive it from Jesus Himself who is the “starter and champion” of our faith race. (Hebrews 12:2)  The best decision I ever made was to put my faith in Christ as the forgiver of my sins and coach of my life.  Have you “registered” for the Race of Faith yet?  Your entry fee has already been paid.  By Jesus, on the cross.  Have you received His payment?  Who has passed the baton of faith to you?  I’d love to hear how your race of faith is going.