Sunday, May 31, 2009

Twenty-six point two

I am training for a marathon! Tomorrow is Day 1 of marathon training. (Saturday June 6 is half marathon day). I am going to be running all summer, hopefully running the last 3 points of my BMI off. Anyway, I'm going to dedicate Sunday posts to training, so if you are interested in my training, you can keep up with me on Sundays. If you think I'm insane (and many people do) you can ignore Sunday posts. I just need an outlet for sharing things like wrecking my bike and having a bruise that is the shape (and size) of Louisiana on my right calf. Getting to watch a baby bird learn to fly on a trail run. Sharing pictures of my blisters. And if any of my gentle readers are also runners, cyclist or like to pump iron, I'm always looking for tips and tricks to make my workouts more effective. Right now, M Day is October 17 in Kansas City. But I'm considering a trail marathon August 29 in Seattle at the Redmond Watershed Preserve, so the pressure to be ready 6 weeks earlier is on. I think maybe I should post a full body shot as a before and then October 18 post an after and see if 560 miles this summer takes any inches off.
Week 1 training plan a is 3.5 mile run, 5 mile run, 35 minute bicycle ride, the half marathon on Saturday, and two days of strength training. So check back in next Sunday and see how I did.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Conversations with Whitney

Setting: Not necessary, no contextual background needed.

Whitney: Mom, how come when you were little you didn’t want to be anything when you grew up? How come you just got a job?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

I am...

Have you ever attended a Bible Study where the leader asked you what Bible character you most related to? I have been asked that question (more than once) and I have never told the truth. I am going to come clean today, lay down my pride, and tell you who I most relate to (and really would love to have more details than just the 11 verses in the Bible devoted to her). I relate to...the woman in John 8 that was caught in the act of adultery. See why I don't want to share? Who wants to sit in a room full of godly women and (those pretending to be) and tell them that? But she and I have a lot in common. I wasn't dragged physically from the act, it was 1991, it was actually pretty acceptable. But, I was caught. Pregnant, unmarried, and had already broken up with the father by the time I knew I was pregnant. UGLY, messy story. Sin generally is, there is no way to make it pretty. It's like putting lipstick on a pig. I wasn't stoned literally, but verbally, my fundamental Baptist church stoned the living daylights out of me. That old saying sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me? Not true. Words hurt. They leave marks and scars that don't show, but never completely heal. Here's where I would like more info from this story, although I know God in his wisdom didn't think we needed it. How many people were there watching? Were there other women who felt sorry for her, or did they condemn her too? Were there other women there that had gotten away with it and instead of lifting her up after this humiliation and loving her and praying for her, did they heap abuse as well? And of course the question everyone asks, WHAT DID JESUS WRITE IN THE SAND? I would love to know the rest of the story of this woman's life. Was she able to "go and sin no more"? I sure haven't. I try not to, but I fall more often than I would like. I really like the idea that this woman left feeling like Jesus had her back. He didn't condemn. He didn't approve, he forgave. And this same Jesus is mine.
Amplified Bible (AMP)Passage John 8:1-11: 1
BUT JESUS went to the Mount of Olives. 2Early in the morning (at dawn), He came back into the temple [[a]court], and the people came to Him in crowds. He sat down and was teaching them, 3When the scribes and Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery. They made her stand in the middle of the court and put the case before Him. 4Teacher, they said, This woman has been caught in the very act of adultery. 5Now Moses in the Law commanded us that such [women--offenders] shall be stoned to death. But what do You say [to do with her--what is Your sentence]?(A) 6This they said to try (test) Him, hoping they might find a charge on which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger. 7However, when they persisted with their question, He raised Himself up and said, Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her. 8Then He bent down and went on writing on the ground with His finger. 9They listened to Him, and then they began going out, conscience-stricken, one by one, from the oldest down to the last one of them, till Jesus was left alone, with the woman standing there before Him in the center of the court. 10When Jesus raised Himself up, He said to her, Woman, where are your accusers? Has no man condemned you? 11She answered, No one, Lord! And Jesus said, I do not condemn you either. Go on your way and from now on sin no more.
If you deal with guilt in your life from past actions, take Jesus there. Tell him the deepest darkest things that have happened. And then read this passage again. It's for you as well as it was for her, and it was (and continues to be) for me. Jesus wrote a message to me. In blood. On the cross. NOT GUILTY. I believe it. So no details needed, unless you want to share, but what character in the Bible do you relate too? And no judging, even if you relate to Mary the Mother of Jesus or Esther, but be warned, I'll be hunting you down for advice if that's your character.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Blind Faith

Trust in the Lord with all your heart;do not depend on your own understanding". Prov. 3:5

Today Steve went for a trail ride with me. Steve is a daredevil. He's an explorer. We found a trail that runs by the Arkansas River we had never explored before, and he says, "let's see how far it goes". I ran out of energy before we ran out of trail, so I'm guessing our next "date" will involve two mountain bikes, two bottles of water and a lot of dirt and sweat. I love that man. About 40 minutes into an 80 minute ride I realized something. I trust Steve blindly. I would follow him anywhere, even with no visibility of the path ahead. I was riding 10 yards behind him. I could not see around him, all I could see was him. When he switched to the other side of the trail, I followed. When he rode out of the saddle to get through the sand easier, I came out of the saddle too, not knowing what I was up against. When he angled around a root, I followed his path. When he got off the path and rode through grass, again, I followed. When he slowed down to watch the baby birds running on the trail in front of us, I slowed down too. (It was pretty cool, one actually finally took wing and flew after running from us for about 100 yards). I know Steve would never knowingly or willingly hurt me or put me in danger. Yesterday when I rode by myself, I had a wicked wipeout. I have a bruise on my temple, my left shoulder and back of my arm are scraped raw. Both knees are scraped, left elbow and right palm are cut, back of my left hand is bruised all down the outside, big bruise on my left thigh and right calf where the bike landed on me. But today, following Steve on a ride twice as long on a trail I have never been on, I was fine. I have more confidence in his leading me than I have in getting there myself. This is a big deal for someone who had been on her own for 10 years, single mom for 4 years when I married him. It didn't happen over night, but I know now that I would follow him anywhere. STAY WITH ME, I'M DONE BRAGGING ABOUT STEVE. What God laid on my heart today is that I have more confidence in following Steve then I have in following God. Steve is following God, so basically, I'm getting there that way too. But why would I trust a man, even a great man, more than I trust God? Steve is not perfect, but God is. Steve is confident in where he is going as far as he can see, but God can see what's around the corner, on the other side of the tree, up the hill, etc. Steve can yell encouragement to me to pedal harder to get up the hill (that's a little annoying, but it worked) but God gives me the strength and the health to do it. I thought before today that I trust God. That I believe he's on my side, wants good for me. But I realized that maybe I have been giving God human attributes, which is a dreadful sin against him. When things don't work out the way I want or the way I pray, I wonder what I'm doing wrong or what God wants from me or how I can please him. What should I be doing to get my way? Why is he mad at me? THAT'S NOT HOW GOD WORKS. He knows. He knows the future. He knows what I need, and he knows that what I want is not the best. He knows that what I want may be good, may be the right thing in some areas, but it's not the best in the big picture. And while I can't see the big picture, the finished product, I know that Isaiah 55:9 is right "For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts". I'm not going to change my blind faith in following Steve, but I'm going to have that same blind faith in God again. I'm not sure how or when I lost it, but I found it again today.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Conversations with Whitney

Setting: My living room

Whitney: Mom, I want to get you an extravagant Mother’s Day gift

Me: That’s nice.

Whitney: Can I have $20.00?

Me: Laughter

Whitney: Mom, what do you want for Mother’s Day?

Me: Whitney, if I have to give you money and tell you what to buy me, why don’t I just buy my own gift?

Whitney: Because then it wouldn’t be heartfelt from me.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The end of a school year always brings the comments “I can’t believe my child is this age, finishing this grade, this level of school”, etc.  I have enough kids that I have celebrated (endured) almost every milestone children have several times over.  I feel emotional more when my children start a new endeavor than I do when they finish one.  The end of the school year is a celebration for me, I love it almost as much as the kids do.  The first month school is out my son has a ritual 1:00 a.m. “No school tomorrow” dance he performs.  For mom, it means no more washing a baseball uniform and/or baseball practice clothes, favorite jeans, tee shirt and chucks every night.  It means no more worries about lunch accounts, lunch money, or packing lunches (except for Steve’s and mine).  The end of the school year means no more homework, no more enforced bed times, and no more waking everyone up and getting them out the door for school.  My kids are happier, well rested, and life is easier in the summer.  The beginning of a new school year is different, first of all, enrollment is expensive, they all always need some updating of their wardrobe, and it just makes me tired thinking about it, and school still has 4 more days, SO NO MORE ON THAT SUBJECT.  This fall, my young will be starting her last year of middle school and my oldest starting his senior year.  I am excited about the future for my kids. And while I have teared up over milestones in my kid’s lives in the past, more recently I have had a change of mind/heart about this.  For any readers who don’t know me, I have 3 stepdaughters and 2 children of my own (the only two I blog about, because I own them).  I am a bad 1980’s John Hughes movie, think Breakfast Club.  I have the freak, the princess, the rebel, the brain/normal one, and the sport.   It’s a dysfunctional yours, mine and ours that has never let our life become boring.  Some milestones this year include but are not limited to (and this is for all five kids, and Steve was the college graduate, just wanted to throw that in too): Fiddler on the Roof performance, volleyball club team success, three honor roll breakfasts, a winning high school baseball season with a batting average of .388 which is top 25 in Greater Wichita Athletic League.  One college graduation, one high school graduation, (and we sweated that this one would actually happen).  Stepdaughter had a baby.  Three huge fights with a teenager, and more boy/girl issues and break ups than I can count.  Jobs, arrests, jail, two speeding tickets, a car accident, two 3 day suspensions from high school, and 4 of the most boring music/choir concerts I have ever sat through.  Looking back on the year with four teenagers there were more downs than ups, or so it would seem.  The thing is, when I look back on this year, I see success.  I see growth.  I see the closing of a chapter and the fresh pages of a new one waiting to be written.  (I didn’t kill any of them either, literally or metaphorically). As they grow up and move into new worlds and new situations and new circumstances, I am excited for them. I like to see the impact that they can make with their friends and in their niche in the world.  And when I hear good things come back around to me through external sources, it makes me even prouder.  So here I am at the end of the 2009 school year.  No field trips to Cow Town.  No field day at the school.  We pretty much finish up as we started, kids get in one car and go to school and I get in the other car and go to work.  Am I sad?  No.  I certainly understand a mother’s heart and understand the tears and sadness of a child leaving childhood behind.  I understand wanting to protect them from the big bad world.  And while I will most likely suffer an emotional pang or two when Nate starts his senior year of high school in the fall, I have changed from that mom that cried when he started kindergarten, he didn’t look back at me when he started that new era of his life, and he hasn’t shied away from a single challenge since. A few weeks ago Mark Hoover at Newspring brought a sermon on Creativity. Patsy’s condensed version, God is the creator, we are created in His image, therefore, we are creative.  Creativity here means that God brought light and order to a world of darkness and chaos.  Where am I that is dark and chaotic?  Where am I that needs order and light?  I thought about this, and I can see evidence that my son and my daughter bring order and light to their worlds.  So I’m not saddened by what they are leaving behind, I’m excited for what God can do with them.  That is, IF THEY WILL LET HIM.  I pray for all my kids that they will choose to live for God.  And when I know that they aren’t, I pray he will turn their hearts towards him.  I have great memories of my kids, I love to look at their scrapbooks, but I choose to look forward with optimism and hope.  To dream big dreams for them, with them, and push them forward, never holding them back.  Letting go, not with sadness, but with excitement for what is possible in their lives.  I love this passage, Lamentations 3:23-24 “23 Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. 24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”  What a wonderful thought, looking forward to new mercies, fresh each morning.  This is about looking forward with hope for what is in our future, our inheritance.  I can’t change the past, and I certainly don’t want to dwell on things that make me sad because today has enough trouble of its own.  I’m going to look forward to new mercies every morning. And look out world.  I’m unleashing a whole mess of almost grown ups on you.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Graduation Day

Today is my second step-daughter’s graduation, along with several hundred other high school seniors at Heights High School.  They actually finished last week on Thursday, and tonight is the ceremony, the walk across the stage in cap and gown to receive their diploma.  This day holds so much promise for the future for so many of these kids.  But today, I am very sad for some of them.  My step daughter graduates as the mother of a five day old baby.  We are proud of her for finishing high school and graduating.  It’s a sweet baby.  But saddened because her life is set on a course, that no matter what she chooses to do going forward her prior choices have dictated that she is on a rougher road than many.  Anyone with kids knows that parenting is one of the toughest roads there is.  It has many rewards, but it comes with pain too.  Whether it’s the pain of an infant with an ear infection or teeth coming in, a kindergartner who got called a hurtful name they had never been called before, or a high school kid with their first broken heart, a mother feels all that pain too. And this is why I’m sad today.  I know of two boys from Heights, friends and acquaintances of two of my kids, that while they finished their work last week and technically graduated from high school, they won’t be attending their graduation tonight because they are in jail.  My heart is so heavy for the mothers of these two boys.  Regardless of their parenting and how they raised their sons, I believe we are born with an innate sense of right and wrong, and also, children are taught even in public schools that fighting is wrong, you don’t hurt other people and you don’t take what isn’t yours.  One boy is in jail for robbery and one is in jail for his third charge of domestic violence.  And again, I feel so sorry for these two boy’s mothers.  I’m sure they are wondering where they went wrong.  What should they have done different?  What could they have done different?  And I bet you anything they have a list of things.  They may not share it, and they may pretend they aren’t taking any of the blame, or they may take all of it.  But I believe they know without anyone saying a word where they failed their children.If I could talk to these mothers today, I would tell them how sorry I am.  I am sorry that they feel they let their children down.  I am sorry that their children let them down.  I am sorry for all the hurtful things that people will say under the guise of advice or comfort.  I would tell them that I’m praying for them.  I would also tell them that children make their own decisions.  Just like I made bad decisions as a young woman, and paid the consequences for my sin (not the price, Jesus did that, I merely lived through the fallout of sin and it can be brutal) I have tried to teach my children not to make the same decisions I did.  I have tried to teach them to stay away from sin, and to choose to live a life for God.  To say that because I sinned my kids would isn’t necessary.  Because Adam sinned we all will.  To say that my children will sin like I did is also ridiculous, they aren’t going to do everything exactly as I did, so why pick this?  I feel pretty strongly on this, as I know a couple of really great sets of parents.  They are wonderful people that have lived for God; they have made impact on their communities serving God.  They have wonderful testimonies.  But their kids aren’t perfect, they have sinned, even some of the BIG sins.  This doesn’t comfort me, because I know this hurts these parents, and I would spare every parent this kind of pain.  I do believe though, that we raise our kids to love and serve God.  And we train them the best we can.  And we make mistakes and we try harder.  And they make mistakes and we love them anyway.My prayer for everyone who reads this is if you are a parent that your kids will love and serve God and that they will live passionately for Him.  If you are a parent that God will give you wisdom and strength (and endurance) raising your children to be Godly women and men.  If you are not a parent (or even if you are) my prayer is that when someone struggles with parenting issues that you will support them in Christian love without casting blame or giving advice that will hurt.   In fact, my prayer for all of us today is that we will love each other and lift each other up and bear each others burdens and not tear each other down.  Galatians 6:2 “Carry each other’s burdens. And in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”  What I found when I studied this Scripture is that Paul’s reference to Christ’s law was mostly likely Christ’s teachings.  Did anyone love more and care for the hurting more than Christ? 

Friday, May 15, 2009

Conversations with Whitney

Setting: my living room, watching Top 100 Greatest One Hit Wonders of the 80’s

Whitney: What one hit wonder from the 80’s would I know?

Me: Safety Dance

Whitney: No Way! That was a one hit wonder? That guy is a musical genius!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I have learned

1. My Spiritual gift may be sarcasm.
2. Solomon knew what he was talking about.  Read Proverbs, in the Message version or New Contemporary Version.  Wise man.  And funny.
3. My love language is cupcakes.  I read this in the Gary Smalley book.  I read it between the lines, but I’m sure it’s cupcakes.
4. Wearing your hairpins too tight will give you a headache.  I would rather my hair look bad than have a headache.  This is surprising, because I always considered myself a fairly vain person with a high tolerance for pain in the name of beauty.  (If you have never plucked, waxed, had your hair highlighted or cut yourself shaving, you don’t know what I’m talking about).  Imagine my shock to learn that this tolerance for pain in the quest for beauty translates to beauty treatments, high heeled footwear and set in waist bands, but not hairstyles. 
5. Popcorn is not a dessert.  It cannot replace a dessert.  Unless you pour a bag of M&M’s into the bowl of popcorn.
6. My husband killing a snake in my backyard did not make me get all gooey thinking about how he was protecting his family.  It freaked me out that there was a snake 20 feet from my patio door.  Even lying in bed last night next to my mighty warrior (okay, he ran over it with the riding lawn mower), I was petrified that a snake might somehow make it into my house.  I will probably die of a snake induced heart attack.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


I'm looking forward to Heaven for lots of reasons. Today the reason would be that I know I will be rested in Heaven.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day

17 years ago I celebrated my first Mother’s Day. I have a busy weekend this Mother’s Day weekend. And while I think it might be fun to have a relaxing weekend all about me, all my activities that will keep me busy are because I’m a mother. Ironic, don’t you think? Puttin’ on the Ritz musical at Heights Friday night, Saturday morning 10K River Run (I run to lose weight because I gained weight when I was pregnant, so this is because I’m a mother), double header baseball game to watch Nate Saturday afternoon. The rest of the weekend is full of regular mom duties that have to be done. I am not complaining, my children are probably two of the best things I’ve done with my life.
Have any of you had a mother of older children tell you to enjoy it because it will go by fast?

Freshman 2007 Sophomore 2008 Junior 2009

I love these pics cause they are taken at the same time every year, same clothes, same everything. Look at the difference 2 years made. These pics were taken April 2007, 2008, and 2009. Two years and my baby went from boy to man. I’m crying as I write this, because next year at this time, he will be preparing for his high school graduation. I’m not ready yet. I have a year to get ready, but I won’t be. I don’t feel this way when I think about Whitney. There must be some truth to that Irish saying “A son is a son till he takes him a wife, a daughter is a daughter all of her life.” I won’t say that he is the greatest or the best because I know every mother thinks her kids are the greatest, and we all should. What I will say is becoming his mother saved my life. Not in the literal sense of life and death (well, it’s possible there too), but I was on bad path when I found out I was pregnant. He made me make changes in my life. I fell in love for the first time in my life with a 10 week old heartbeat. At that point, no one but my family doctor and OB knew I was pregnant. My life changed forever at that moment. I remember the room, the table, the doctor, the black shirt I was wearing, and laying on that table with tears running down my face into my ears, wondering how I could love something that was only an idea, a sound at that time.
I have not always been the best mother and I have moments I am not proud of, there are things I wish I had done differently. But I have truly tried harder at being a mother than anything else I have ever attempted. I can honestly say that my son has already at age 16 become more of a man, a better man than I had dreamed. I spend a lot of time talking to God about him, and I can say I am proud to be his mother. This Mother’s Day, I am celebrating what (who) made me a mother, and I’m letting Mother’s Day be about my kids.


Friday, May 8, 2009

Conversations with Whitney

Conversations with Whitney (12 years old)

Setting: car on the way home from Kansas City

Whitney: How ya doin, Mom?

Me: I’m okay.

Whitney: If you need me to drive I can.

Me: Thanks. Maybe at the next rest stop.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Philippians 3:13-14

Philippians 3:13-14 - Focused on the Goal “I'm not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don't get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I've got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I'm off and running, and I'm not turning back.” (MSG)
A friend asked me a question about the above Scriptures, and I got out Steve’s books from seminary and several different translations of the Scripture and looked at these verses in depth. I chose to print this one because I love the use of the word “running”.
I relate very well with Paul when he says “I’m not saying I have all this together, that I have it made”. You have to know me all of 2 minutes to get that I don’t have it all together. Just as Paul knew he had not reached his goal, he was also aware of his weaknesses. I’m all over that. My weaknesses? Cheesecake, Starbucks, reality television… okay, all kidding aside, I really do know my weaknesses. Without giving too much information, but willing to share a little, there are some things that side track me. Busyness. Life is crazy busy. I try to simplify, I keep things at a minimum as much as possible and I do manage time fairly well. But the age of my kids and my husband’s commitments to taking care of our family and meeting the commitments he has made to serving God put pretty high demands on my time. Satan uses this to get me off focus, filling my time up with good activities to the point that I miss out on time with God. Discouragement and discontent are two that get me down. I think they go hand in hand with busyness, too. Left to fester, these will quickly become oppressive. One of the things I get caught up in most is not waiting for God to work. My actions would show that I think he needs my help. And when I take over, it is never with a good outcome. These are a few of my weak areas. Not sure what Paul’s were. I think sometimes that the Bible is just not long enough. So much more I want to know about these people.
The goal or prize would appear to be eternity with Christ Jesus in Heaven. Once we have accepted Christ as our Savior, Heaven is the start of our eternal lives when our earthly one ends, James 1:12 says that we will receive the crown of life. I would love to have a crown. I always loved those cardboard crowns at Burger King. And the princess sets that came with Tiara’s. But I digress… My son has said “Dad’s 401K is in Heaven”. Not a bad way to look at things.
In some translations, the word “reaching” was used. Reaching was a strong term, used to describe a runner who stretches himself. I think “straining” says it well also. These Scriptures say that this is a calling on our lives, to leave our past where it is, (you gotta put your behind in the past) and look forward, pursue, stretch, strain, reach for the high, heavenly prize, and this is a calling from God.
The runner in me loves this, because when I crossed the finish line in races there are always people at the finish line calling “you can do it”, “almost there” and “great job, hang in there”, etc. cheering for you as you cross the finish line. There are people keeping track of how you did so you get your reward. In my races, the biggest reward has been finishing. But also, I have some tangibles that I consider rewards or prizes. I have my number from each race. I have pictures. I have the free tee shirt. From the half marathon, I have a finisher’s medal. When I reach Heaven, I want rewards. I want to run hard and finish strong. (I also want to do better being an encourager and a cheerleader here on earth).

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Giveaway #4

The winner is Angela McKenna. I will find you at church sometime soon!

Monday, May 4, 2009


More on endurance, Romans 5:3-5 We can (I CAN) rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. 5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
I am continually amazed at how God brings the right Scriptures to me when I need them. Or as I have said before, if you are actively looking and seeking answers from God, they are in front of you. This one, I can relate to so well in the area of physical training and endurance so to make it relevant to spiritual training and endurance was an easy jump.
When I train for a run, I work harder than when I am just exercising. I stick with my training routine and follow it as closely as I can. I learned how valuable this was the very first time I ran in an actual race. Steve could just go out and run the distance he wanted, so he didn’t train like I did. I ran twice during the week, short distances, never more than 5 miles per time, and on the weekend, increased distances from 5 to 8 in preparation to run a 10 mile run. We ran the 10 mile run. I was tired, and sore (and extremely hungry for a couple days), but not as bad as Steve was. Now he did run harder and faster than I did, and came back and ran the last mile with me, making his run a mile longer. But the benefit of training for the run and not just counting on my physical capabilities and strength allowed me to recover faster. The next time we scheduled a race, he trained with me and ran my distances and my days. His recovery was much different, better and faster.
So in an effort to build endurance, I push myself. I go off the beaten path, and run hills, (yes there are hills in Kansas) cross country, in the colder temperatures and in the wind. All of these variants build endurance. They are not fun to undertake, and sometimes I am flat out miserable while I’m running. But I do it because I enjoy the race, and I want to perform to the best of my ability. This does not mean I expect to win, or be the best, I just want to be the best I can. It requires suffering. And I am willing to undertake the suffering to perform better.
So it’s not much of a jump to see how this would relate to my spiritual life, except, at the first time of trouble, I beg God to fix it and take it away from me. If I have the Word of God telling me that this problems and trials will help me develop endurance, character, and a hope that does not lead to disappointment, why would I ask for them to be taken away? I think I should be praying different. If I think about how I deal with my physical training, I can apply that my spiritual trials also and here is what I think I should be doing. I should be asking God for the strength to continue to move forward towards the finish. I should be digging deep into past training and drawing on what worked then and applying it to the problem at hand. When I encounter the uphill battle and the wind, sometimes at the same time, that is when I have to work harder (as my trainer Steve would say) and walk down the hill on the other side. Just like I have training partners in running, I have training partners in life. And they pick me up with their encouragement. Their belief in me sometimes surprises me, because I know they believe I’m stronger than I am. But that belief, those kind words, encouraging words, are like the cheerleaders along the path that yell “you are doing great!” “You are almost there!” “Only 1.8 miles left to go.” One of my favorites was the man that told me and Sheila “looking strong ladies” with about half a kilometer to go. After 9.5 kilometers to still be looking (and feeling) strong was amazing.
This comes at the end of 4 especially troubling weeks for me, lots of trials and unexpected new problems. But if I believe God’s Word, and I do, I CAN rejoice, too, when I run into problems and trials, for I know that they help me develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens my confident hope of salvation. 5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For I know how dearly God loves me, because he has given me the Holy Spirit to fill my hearts with his love. (changed we to I for my own benefit). Here's to building endurance!

Here are a couple pictures from my first endurance event, my half marathon. I love the one with the cow. He was actually on the trail. Does this count for running with the bulls?
It really was more fun than I look like I'm having.

Mile 3

Mile 8.5