Monday, July 1, 2013

I Can't Write That!

[SIDENOTE:  I'm not sure where this post is going, but it has been on my heart.  To keep it real, I don't plan to edit it like I usually would because I've found that there are often reasons for things like this.]

The purpose of this blog, for me, has been about transparency - about being real and finding a way to get things out, while feeding my need to write.  When I sat down to write, I felt like I had something on my heart, but no real topic in mind.  My first words on the page were:

"An interesting thing happens when we stop for two minutes to digest the world around us, when we take a moment to unplug, and when we review our motives.  It is often in that moment that we find...." (Yes, it was blank after that as I paused, feeling that what would come next would be fake...or, worse yet, something I wasn't ready to admit or share with others.)

Gasp.  I stopped writing.  My hand shook a little.  Why were those the words that fell on the page?  I jotted a note below it before quickly closing the book to close the thoughts that were falling out of my heart.  The note read:  "I can't write this!" *insert hard underline* "I feel so lost sometimes." The words left a shiver as I thought of the range of feelings that I had been feeling these past few weeks.  Cue slamming shut of my little book I write my blog posts in.

For the next couple minutes, my mind raced.  Where was my heart going with all of that?  As is usually the case, I felt compelled to open it again, which is how this post started.  Clearly, something -some feeling- is inside that needs to come out.

I've been struggling as of late, searching for guidance on how to stay strong in my commitments and my convictions.  I have been battling with feeling ranges of overwhelmed at times to content at others, angry on one side to pleased on the other, lost in on hand and filled up in the other.  To be honest, it freaks me out more than a little.  It causes me to question my usefulness and my abilities.  I mean, I'm supposed to be more put together than this, right?

I generally end up pressing on because I feel this nudge that there is something more - some deeper meaning to all these random crazy thoughts.  I guess I try hard because I feel like that's the only noble course to take and I want to be known as a noble body, willing to be used.  Some days, it does take more convincing than others. 

Today, I came upon Proverbs 3:5-6.  I've seen/heard/read it several times, but today it caused me to think on the ebb and flow of these feelings I've had as of late.

Prov 3:5-6 "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight."

Interesting how that works - how inspiration comes at just the right time to cause us pause and to cause us to think.  While I often feel lost in my thoughts or in life itself, I am reminded that my path is laid out for me.  All I need to do is continue to walk forward with my eyes and heart directed upward....oh, and be sure to be looking out for the people that God places in my life to keep me on his path and inspire me to move forward to contentment, fulfillment and pleasure rather than being overwhelmed, lost or angry.  I guess being honest about how we are feeling is part of that process.

Can you relate?

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Keep Getting Back Up

Side note:  Sorry about the length of this post.  I hope you stay with me.  This is not a boastful post to say that I have it all together.  On the contrary, it is meant to show you that I struggle and give you a peak into the provision that is granted when we choose to persevere in the midst of the storm.


Things in life take time.  In this day of instant gratification, it is difficult to remember this at times.  It is difficult to see something we want and look at all of the steps involved to get there and not be overwhelmed, causing us to either quit or look for a shortcut.  But, it is in these moments (often blindly) that we must persist down a path of right steps. 

Example:  You don’t sign up for a marathon the day before you consider running it.

Back in August or September last year, I was feeling pulled to run a marathon.  I know, crazy!?!?!  My quiet voice (well, it often shouts) said that I couldn’t do it –that it was too far.  After running a half marathon in October, the nudging became greater and greater.  I found that, while I was afraid, this thought occupied my mind endlessly.  In November, I signed up and mailed in the registration, feeling that this was something that God was asking me to do – a part of my faith journey and learning to trust God fully. 
(Cue nervous, throw up feeling and email to my hubby saying “I’m not sure I CAN do this.”)

I immediately started looking at the training plan ( ) and anxiety welled up inside me.  How was this slow, achy and gimpy body going to do this?  I had people doubt as well, asking “How do you know you can even do this?  Have you ever even walked 26 miles?”  Truth?  In that instant, I didn’t think I could.  I took those words to heart and they created doubt and fear.  Heck, there were many days I told God I didn’t even want to.  I remember asking God, “What could this possibly do for your kingdom?...So, I raise money for water, but that’s so few people.  Can’t you get someone else?...This looks impossible.”  Possibly the lamest excuse I tried to use was that I simply didn’t have the time.

God didn’t lose his patience with me (I certainly would have if I were him).  Instead, I kept feeling him ask, “Do you trust me?  I can use you.  I’ve chosen you, not someone else right now.”  I felt like this was my Jonah moment.  God had Jonah swallowed by a whale.  *gasp*  Ok Lord, I thought.  I’ll train, but you better make me strong.  (Wow, arrogant much?)

As I posted the fundraising page and money came in, I started logging miles and the weeks started flying by.  9 miles, 10.5, 11.5, 12, 14…Seriously, I ran more than a half marathon…for fun?  All the while, there was that constant stress about winter temperatures, doubts, aches and exhaustion from pushing my body harder and harder.  But, beneath that surface stuff there became a desire to see what God was up to.  16 miles, 17, 20.  I started to feel good about the race and about blowing away a finish time that I had set as a goal.  Sure, I was still complaining and asking God why I was out there in below freezing temperatures.  That 20 miles included head on bitter cold winds, fatigue and a painful fall at 16 miles, complete with tears and a bruised wrist and ego.  But, part of me was excited to continue –persevere and be stronger than I had been before.

Two weeks later came my 23 mile run that would be my second to last long run and clearly the furthest this tired body had ever run.  I started out and felt good.  In my excitement, I got cocky about God’s provision and failed to ice and stretch after the runs.  Cue the ridiculous knee pain and buckling that would end my training and my ability to run for anything longer than 1 to 2 minutes at a time for nothing further than 3 miles total.  Did I mention that it was about 6 weeks before the race? 


I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t spend a tearful week (at least) depressed that God would bring me to this point and then kick me to the curb.  I became angry at the hours and sweat equity that I had invested.  For what?  I was hopeful after that week that I’d get back to training and would still do my last long run.  Nope.  That certainly didn’t happen; the knee was simply not strong enough.

Wow.  I started feeling guilty.  God had given me such an opportunity.  Had I valued it enough?  Had I taken that for granted?  Had I been working toward glory for myself instead of God’s kingdom?  I cannot tell you how humbling that was to see a path that had looked clear and straight that suddenly became narrow and filled with blind curves.

As I sit here, tears well in my eyes, remembering the realization that I had taken God’s will in this and given it a back seat to my desire to excel.  This began a different thinking.  Perhaps God didn’t want me to run and instead wanted me to walk.  Ok…”That is still far, but ok, Lord.  I feel you working.  I just wish I knew why.”  I started working to keep my legs strong with low impact stuff and decided to pour over his words, begging God to help me follow this through however that looked while still honoring him for his glory.  I could feel him reassuring me that his way is always best.

Race week came.  The knee was still sore, but feeling better.  I had been dying to test it out and run but hesitated because I certainly didn’t feel that testing God was the right answer.  I prayed, “God please let me run some of it, but prepare me to walk.”  I was a ball of emotions and nerves at the opportunity.  As the gun went off, I ran with the crowd for a bit, feeling the surge of 6 months of waiting from the day of registration.  I’ll get into the details a bit more in the next post, but I will say that I will never forget the feeling of God carrying me, allowing me to walk/run the course and come across the finish line into the arms of my husband who believed in me all along.  It wasn’t the way I had thought it would look when I signed up, but it was God’s way.  And, he allowed me to see that he provides for those who persevere even when things feel lonely or impossible.  He is ALWAYS with you.  You just have to keep getting up when you fall.

Zephaniah 3:17~ “ For the Lord your God is with you.  He is a mighty savior.  He will take delight in you with gladness.  With his love, he will calm all your fears.  He will reign over you with joyful songs.”

 Many of those miles were spent by myself on the road.  But, I was never alone.  I was surrounded by prayers from people God put in my life and cheers from my family and friends –all honoring the journey into a deeper faith that I was taking.

My God was, and is, bigger than an injury midway through training.  He is bigger than a layoff right at Christmas or a son moving away.  As Beth Moore says, “You will do what you can’t when you BELIEVE.” (emphasis mine)
(That black stuff on my arm?  That would be the smeared marker reading "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." While the marker didn't work out like I had thought, I'm glad I put the most important one on there first.)
What is God asking you to do?  Are you willing to do the hard stuff for him?

Saturday, May 4, 2013

You Don't Have to Understand

Obedience.  It's a long word.  It has many syllables.  It means:

noun: 1. compliance with someone's wishes or orders or acknowledgement of their authority. 
2. Submission. (according to

But, it's more than that.  It's hard too.  Hard to do.  Hard to understand.  But, it is also necessary.  When we become a follower of Christ, we begin our journey to many things.  God never promises that the road will be easy or without potholes (or all out sinkholes).

He never promises that we'll understand the road while we are traveling it - be that by plane, train, car, bike, running or, yes, even walking.  BUT, he does promise it will be worth it.

No one has to understand your acts of obedience.  Those acts are between you and God.  Perhaps you can try to explain them, but I'd wager a guess that you may not be able to find words to fully explain it.  I struggle with that.  Sometimes explaining it, or trying to, just makes the act sound even crazier.  And yet, God is still asking you to do it - whatever that "it" may be.

The entire act of obedience is a seed planting sort of thing.  You are doing God's will even in the midst of difficulty or aversion.  God will use that obedience for his kingdom.  It may not happen today or tomorrow.  In fact, you may never get to see the result of your obedience; you may only be able to guess at the "why" of it all.  But, that isn't what obedience is about.  It is about being faithful, doing what God asks of you regardless of whether you either want to or understand why he is asking you to.  You have to step forward and lay it on the line, asking him to give you strength to forge along.

Obedience is a conscious act, one that you need to practice at.  Will you always get it?  Probably not. Will you fight with God over the thing he has asked you to do?  Probably, I sure did. Will you doubt God and try to talk yourself into the idea that God would never ask that of you? Quite possibly.  But, your obedience (and mine) holds so much for your life and your walk as God blesses you and gives you more ways to be obedient.

So, wake up, wipe the vestiges of sleep from the eyes of your life of control, stretch out the arms of your analytical, must-know-everything being and step out.  Spread the wings of your obedient heart.  It is longing to do something for God.  Soar in his love and provision.  He will make you strong when you think you cannot continue.  I promise you, the journey and the work will be worth it.

What has God been asking you to do?

Isaiah 40:31 "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."

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Beauty in the Mess

As people, we are not much different than that of the might Sycamore tree.  We are layered.  We have the capability of being mighty and strong in a graceful way.

The trunk of a Sycamore sapling starts out small, with a dark covering of bark to protect it as it grows into a massive tree.  As the tree ages and faces weather, the bark peels down in places, exposing different, lighter colors.  And, in some places white.

We are the same way - innocent in our protective environment as a child - until the storms of life happen, tearing away at our protective "bark" and exposing the sensitive side.  This tearing away often causes scars, causes us to look or act differently.  It affects us.  It changes us.  We are not the same after it.

As the Sycamore grows and reaches towards the sky, it's branches spread, sometimes growing into a gnarly, curly, confusing mass of branches.  Our lives are not much different.

Sometimes the circumstances of our lives create a gnarly mess and layers of...well, "ick".  This gnarly mess may appear ugly to an onlooker.  Tangled.  Confused.  Messy.

God uses those massive branches of the Sycamore to create homes for wildlife; he uses them to protect from the wind; he uses them to create awe in the onlooker.  He can do the same for the tangled web of circumstances in our lives - mine and yours.

I once heard a lesson given to middle school students that has been forever etched in my mind.  It was that God makes beautiful things out of our messes - no mess is too big for God.  Nothing, nothing is ever too great or too big of a mistake for God to use in powerful ways.

So, let us be strong, graceful and mighty despite our tangled past or our gnarly present.  May we allow those layers to shine brightly and the hurts to float away on the wind like the layers that pull away from the mighty Sycamore. 

2 Corinthians 12:9-10~ "But he 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 insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

Sunday, January 6, 2013

From Travesty to Faith

We each suffer from qualities or traits that we wish did not exist in us.  For me, I have insecurities that drive me crazy at times.  I doubt myself.  I feed into the insecurity.  I hide from life.  I don't believe in myself.  I let it all limit me.

Guess what? There is one that enjoys this process - the devil.  He flourishes when I listen to that negative voice, when I doubt my capabilities, when I allow that voice to hold me back.  It is a travesty of the mind - truly.

My fear gets in the way of me following God, living out what he wants for my life.  It clouds my vision, brings me down, creates battles in my head...and really accomplishes nothing.  And, the devil throws a party every single time that happens, every single one.  I could get down on myself when I allow that to happen or I can choose to pray right then and there to give my fear over to the One that can eradicate it.  I can stop and realize:  " God would never say that about me.  God loves me regardless of how many times I stumble.  THIS ISN'T OF GOD."

Further, I rededicate myself (flaws and fears) to God.  I will open every corner of my heart to his goodness and grace.  I will strive in faith to continue walking (or running) for Him.  And, if necessary, I will awake the next day and rededicate all over again before the devil gets a foothold on my day.

Call it a pact for my life, but I refuse to allow someone - devil or earthly person - to tell me that I am not enough.  I was uniquely made for a purpose.  I will strive to do that which I feel God is directing me toward.  My lifelong prayer will be that my faith grow deeply and take root, growing into a fortress, impenetrable by the dark one. 

Do you need to consider rededicating your life, giving up your fears? 

NOTE:  My marathon, crazy as it sounds, is my journey in faith to something I feel God wants to use.  And, I'm along for the ride...err run.

Exodus 15:2 "The Lord is my strength and my song; he has given me victory.  This is my God and I will praise him.  My father's God, and I will exalt him."