(re)writing definitions

No, I’m not working on school work; I’m still enjoying summer break, well, like a kid enjoys summer break! But I did feel the need to write some defining words on my arm before I went for a run a few days ago. 

chosen. holy. beloved. 
Those words define me. God’s word, in Colossians 3:12, says so. I was reminded of this truth a few weeks ago by my favorite Bible teacher. When I chose to follow Jesus and claimed him as my Savior, I was adopted into his holy family and given a sacred identity. I became defined as a child of God. I am chosen. I am holy. I am beloved. 

My past doesn’t define me. Where I live doesn’t define me. What’s in my bank account doesn’t define me. What is not in my bank account doesn’t define me. My degrees don’t define me. My job didn’t define me. My lack of job doesn’t define me. My church attendance doesn’t define me. How messy my house is doesn’t define me. How clean my house is doesn’t define me. My inability to cook a nutritionally sound meal that pleases a family of 6 doesn’t define me. How my kids act in public doesn’t define me. How my kids look in public doesn’t define me. The scale doesn’t define me. How much weight I’ve lost doesn’t define me. How much weight I’ve put back on doesn’t define me. My PR doesn’t define me. My double digit minutes per mile don’t define me. “Likes” don’t define me. The amount of friends or followers I have doesn’t define me. The long time between blog posts don’t define me. My successes don’t define me. Thank God, my failures don’t define me. My identity is defined in Christ alone and I am forgiven and redeemed. Chosen, holy and loved. 

I’m working on walking this truth out in my daily life, in the face of my fears, disappointments, rejections and embarrassingly long writing breaks. I’ll be writing and rewriting those words onto my wrist (I’m too chicken to get a tattoo) as I engrave them on my heart. See, it’s crucial for all of us as believers to accept, because once we can truly rest in our identity, we can better see others in their identity. God says we are to put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness and love like clothing and treat others like well dressed people. When we accurately see ourselves in the light that God sees us in, we’ll be able to more clearly see (and then treat) our family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, acquaintances and yes, even bad drivers, in that same light: worthy of being chosen, holy and loved. 

That’s you. Not the bad driver part. I’m sure you are (probably) a great driver. What I mean is, if you are a believer, you are chosen. You are holy. You are loved. Engrave it on your heart. 
If you are not a follower of Jesus, know that he loves you deeply. You are worthy to be called chosen, holy and loved. He desperately wants to write those beautiful words over you today. 

So, I’m definitely not giving you homework, but, if I did, I would ask, what words define you? 

Motivated by the Crown

I set a goal to finish a local half marathon over four years ago. For the next few months, I trained, sacrificed, worked hard and dug deeper in my faith than I ever had before. On December 1st, 2012, I completed the goal and finished a half marathon! I felt God’s strength getting me through the tough miles of that race and His victorious power carrying me across that finish line. I wish I could adequately describe the satisfaction I felt when accomplishing a feat I had once thought impossible! I want to emphasize though, the satisfaction wasn’t only in getting the finisher’s medal. I felt satisfaction in every day of training, in every mile completed, in every early morning run that I thought I wouldn’t be able to wake up for or have the ability to finish. Each mile, each training session, each daily victory proved that God was helping me, strengthening me, molding me into something new every day.

I set that huge half marathon goal for one simple reason: to prove to myself that I could actually complete the Disney Princess Half Marathon. The day I heard there was an event in which you could dress as a princess, run a course throughout the parks and finish a half marathon in the happiest place on earth, was the same day this Disney princess wanna-be decided I HAD to do it. First, though, I had to know that I could successfully finish such a race and that it wouldn’t be a waste of money or time for me to attempt the feat in Disney World, so I set out to complete a half, and I did! However, my running life took a backseat when God called me to be a mommy again. My running goals, including the Princess Half Marathon, were put on hold.

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A few months ago, my running shoes found themselves in the happiest place on earth! Our family was blessed to be able to spend Thanksgiving Break in Disney World and we loved every second of it! Lots of magical memories were made and it was truly a Thanksgiving we will never forget. Being in those parks, surrounded by the magic, definitely reignited my goal for running the Princess Half. The 2017 race was this morning, so for the past few days my Instagram and Facebook feeds had lots of fabulous pictures of the weekend long festivities. Seeing all the great pictures and videos from one of my runner friends who ran it today sealed the deal;  I am now determined to make it happen in 2018!

It’s amazing what having a goal in front of you can do for your mind and your soul. It can align your thoughts, focus your intentions and motivate you make better choices along your path.  If you aren’t working toward a goal right now, I encourage you to set one. It might not be health or fitness related.  Finances, organization, relationships, overcoming an obstacle….whatever your thing is right now that you’re wishing for or thinking about, find a measurable goal and commit to work towards achieving it. Whatever your goal is, can I humbly suggest that it should seem a little too hard. It should scare you a little. If, when you say it out loud, you think “I can’t really do this” you’re on the right track because no, if its a godly goal worth pursuing, you probably can’t do it alone, in only your power. However, if you are a believer and follower of Jesus, the Holy Spirit dwells in you, so with Him, Y-E-S you can!  He conquered death when He rose from the grave, so I don’t think you can come up with a goal that He doesn’t have the power to complete in you!  In John 15:5,  Jesus, the Prince of Peace, promises “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

I may not know your goal yet but I do know you can do it through prayer, faith, and reliance on God’s power! There will always be victory in Jesus! How can I be so confident of this? Have I told you about the time I finished a half marathon?

I’d love to know your goal so I can encourage you along the way. Leave a comment below! If one of your goals also happens to be the 2018 Disney Princess Half Marathon, let me know that too! We can be royal running buddies! 🙂

Keep going

Isaiah 40:31 says “but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” As of last Sunday, I had completed 353.8 miles and 142 runs and had never experienced what is promised in Isaiah.I’m super excited to be running my first race in over two years today. I’m pushing myself a little, since I’ve only done 3 miles twice recently. Last Sunday morning came and I knew if I wanted to get one last longer run in before race day, that was the day. The weather was yucky, but the radar looked like it had moved on and the forecast said it was supposed to clear up. I laced up my shoes and left, determined to do a whole 5k. (Two things you need to know: 1. I feel accomplished when I can run a challenging distance without stopping. I feel like a failure when I have to stop to walk. I know I shouldn’t, but I just do. My goal is always to complete the distance I set for myself without stopping. And 2. I don’t run in the rain. I’m scared my clumsy self will fall or my phone will get wet. Don’t know which one would be worse. ) So, I set off and things were great until I got to the section of my run that is about the furthest away from our house and it started to rain. My oh so stylish fanny pack phone holder is waterproof, so it was ok- I know you were worried- so what was I to do but keep running? If I stopped, I’d just get wetter and there weren’t any puddles for me to injure myself in yet, so I just kept running. About half a mile later though, I started to feel like I couldn’t do it anymore. Maybe I had picked up the pace too much, ready to be home and dry but for whatever reason, my breathing was off and I couldn’t talk myself to going on anymore. I stopped and walked for about half a block and started up again, but before long I had to stop again. I walked about the same distance and once I got my breathing under control, started up again. I was able to keep running till I finished mile two. About this point my route makes a nice loop and I’m back near my house. If I’m ready for a cool down walk, I take a right. If I take a left it takes me one mile to loop back to my house the long way. I was soaking wet but determined to finish a 5k, no matter what, so I took a left and braced myself for what I thought would be another tough mile. With about half a mile to go it dawned on me that I was feeling more energized than when I started out. I never had to stop again, or even felt like I needed to, the whole rest of the run! I can say I’ve never experienced being that low and then that high during the same run before. 
I felt God telling me sometimes I need to humble myself. I won’t always succeed at everything I venture to do, and when I try to do it all on my own, I probably won’t. I was discouraged that I had to walk, but I didn’t let it defeat me. Because I didn’t give up completely, and take the short way home like I could have done, he exalted me and renewed my strength! He really did! But if I would have forced myself to keep going without stopping, with my burning lungs and aching legs, I would have worn myself out, for what, a very small victory in my own eyes. The real victory was me being able to be humbled without being defeated! What I thought was a failure brought about a huge blessing- the chance to experience Him renewing and strengthening me like never before! 

It is not fun to be humbled, to fail at something, especially if it is in public view. God doesn’t intend for us to be shamed though. Shame never, ever, comes from God. We might need a reminder though of who is in control, that way the right person gets the credit for the victory. When we keep going, keep relying on Him, keep giving Him the glory- telling about the good things He does for us- we will be living out our purpose, which is a victory indeed. If you’ve got a goal you’re working on, don’t let a setback discourage you; a wonderful blessing is waiting on the other side if you’re willing to keep going! 

Getting Up

It’s happened in my running life and now in my blogging life. I have so much enthusiasm, so much drive. Then I get a little opposition and before I know it, I am way off course from where I wanted to be. My well-documented, enumerated and typed (in a cute font) plan never involves getting sidetracked and not completing the task, but that is exactly what seems to happen more times than I’d like to admit. In my running life, it is usually a minor illness or a multi-day rain or extreme weather event- just enough to get me out of my routine long enough to make getting back into the routine hard. In my blogging life, it has been the lack of discipline to carve the time I need to write out of my schedule. A bigger reason though, and the one I’m even more ashamed to admit, is fear- fear that I’d have nothing to say, or worse yet, that I wouldn’t be able to walk the healthy-life walk that I really desire to. Oh, I almost forgot one more: the guilt of all the holiday/stress eating I’d been doing. Nothing says hypocrite more than consuming nearly ALL of the holiday goodies your sweet students bring you in the first 24 hours of Christmas Break! I let all this lack of discipline, fear, guilt and shame keep me silent.

I start my daily quiet time with the First 5 app. (Its free and easy to find in the App store. I love it and highly recommend it!) We are working through the book of Joshua right now. He is the new leader of the Israelites after Moses’ death and has to conquer some territories to finally move into the Promised Land. God gives them very explicit directions and promises that if they obey, the victory will always be theirs. In chapter 7, a guy named Achan messes up, unbeknownst to Joshua, and he is completely confused when they lose a battle. He tears his clothes, falls to his face, covers himself with ashes and begs God for an explanation. God answers Joshua “Get up!” He goes on to explain that someone has sinned and tells them how to reconcile the sin. It was not easy, but they did obey fully, and God orchestrates their conquering of the very same enemy that had previously defeated them.

There’s a time for true repentance of sin- of telling God you are sorry and really meaning it- and a time for prayer over situations, but you’ve got to be ready to listen because God is probably going to tell you to get up! Take some action! Do something to fix the problem or right the wrong. I heard the call loud and clear.

Because of Jesus’ death on the cross, we can be spared the wrath that we deserve. Jesus loves us so much He  took the punishment for all our sins, once and for all. When you accept Jesus as your Savior, you are forgiven and cleansed. Forever. So, God doesn’t want us wallowing in the ashes, spending all our time on our faces begging for forgiveness and answers. Don’t let fear, guilt, shame keep you down. Confess your sins to the Lord, accept the forgiveness He lovingly and graciously gives, then take the steps He tells you to take. If we ask Him for guidance and wisdom, He will grant it, but it’s our job to act on the direction He gives us.

This lesson was probably just for me, but I wanted to share because it reminded me it is never too late to do what we need to do. Even if we’ve gotten off track. Especially when we’ve gotten off track. Today is the day to get up and get moving back in the right direction.

Aim(less)

She gives no thought to the way of life; her paths wander aimlessly, but she does not know it.

Proverbs 5:6, NIV

This was me. I wasted more than 30 years wandering aimlessly through life, comfort eating, stress eating and blaming my ginormous sized sweet tooth and busy life for my poor food choices. My path, littered with junk food wrappers, usually lead straight to the drive thru line. The proof I was not on “the way of life:” I was over 200 pounds and very unhealthy, not just in body but in mind, too. I had no self confidence or self worth. I was utterly ashamed of myself.

I might have been wandering, but I wasn’t completely lost. I had great, loving parents who raised me in church. I accepted Jesus as a child and was baptized at age 10. Surrounded by great friends, I graduated high school and college. I married my beloved, my high school sweetheart, who gave me much love and acceptance. I earned my master’s degree and gave birth to my firstborn. We experienced difficulty when trying to conceive our second child and this was when my true relationship with Jesus developed. I got to know Him on a personal level and all the things I had learned about God and Jesus growing up became very real. By God’s grace we did have a second child and then by an absolute outpouring of God’s grace, a third soon after! Not long after that, something awakened in me and I finally yearned for “the way of life.” I now knew I was never going to live the abundant life Jesus promised wandering aimlessly as I had been. I started leaning on God’s strength and not my own. I started asking for His help with temptation (and really meaning it). He answered. Day by day, I started making better choices and losing weight. Slowly and surely God transformed me! During that time, I lost 75 pounds and gained confidence and purpose. I eventually became what I never dreamed I could or ever would be- a runner! One step at a time, I finished a minute of running, then a whole block length, then an excruciatingly long mile, then a 5k and eventually, almost exactly 4 years ago, a half marathon! It is no understatement to say, from where I’d been, finishing 13.1 miles could have only been a work of God!

Since then, I’ve had to actually keep walking the walk, and the times I’ve wandered away have been my own doing. I’ve gotten off the path, lost sight of my purpose and suffered for it. I’ve gotten back on the path and wandered off again more times than I’d like to admit in the past few years. This path became even more difficult to navigate when trying to get back in shape after our fourth little miracle’s arrival a little over a year ago!

Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly…1 Corinthians 9:26, NIV

This is me now. I’m determined to be aimless no longer, to strive daily to be healthy in body and mind, to walk (and hopefully run) in “the way of life,” with faith and purpose. I’m here to share my struggles and victories along the way. I’m not here to say “if I can do it, anyone can do it.” Instead, I want to be an example of: if He can do it in me, He can do it in anyone. I just want to be a sheep in some running shoes.