Balance

I was running today using a training app.  On my training plan, it was a “Speed Run” day.  During the training, the coach had me balance on one leg for 45 seconds.  He said (something to the effect of…), “If your standing leg is shaking and moving, that is good!  That means it is working!  It is building strength and that is good.  We want to work and build strength.  We want balance, because that means we are strong. If this is revealing weaknesses, that is good too.  Then we know what we need to work on.”   As I was listening to the coach talk about training, balance, and strength, and as my standing leg was shaking and wobbling, something in me changed.

You see, I have been struggling in my life with stresses and challenges that are out of my control and they have me weary and confused.  These weary days and challenges have revealed weaknesses, and my reactions have been wrong.  As I have cried out to God asking Him what I should do, He showed me today that I need to keep strengthening my “standing leg” which are the things He has been teaching me through books about podcasts.  I may be “wobbling and shaking” through the process, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I need to stop.  I just need to keep standing and strengthening.   My weaknesses are revealed in my poor responses and lack of trust in HIM.  But by prayer, patience, trust and practice, I can respond and stand.  I can grow in strength, and I can keep running the race the Lord has set before me with endurance and power… in His power.  And I can give Him glory!

balance photo

So what has the Lord been teaching me?  Well, the book I have been reading is 7 Habits for Highly Effective People by Steven Covey.   In that book he talks about the Time Management Matrix.

In the Time Management Matrix, using Habit #3 of Putting First Things First, Covey showed that I must focus on things in my day that are important like vision, goals, relationships, and effectiveness.  These things take precedence over the seemingly “urgent” and possibly even unimportant things or time-wasters that eat my time.   This is my BALANCE.  What makes me wobble is when things come up that distract me from what is important and rob me of focusing on relationships.  When I respond in anger or even apathy to the ones I love the very most, I am not building what I deem most important.  It makes me so sad!  BUT, the Lord showed me today, through my balance training, that I need to build and practice my response, not give up on standing on the vision and goals He has put on my heart!  “A just weight is His delight” (Proverbs 11:1)

If you want to learn more about what I am talking about, here is a link for a more details: https://www.franklincovey.com/the-7-habits/habit-3.html

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Inquire of the Lord…

Are you struggling with a relationship in your life?  Your teenager?  Your husband?  Or perhaps it is your health?  Maybe you are  at a crossroads and not sure what decision to make?

In my full life and home of teenagers and toddlers, it seems like it is one crisis after another, issue after issue, and battle after battle.  So how do I cope?  How do I know what to do in each circumstance?  I go to the Lord as David did.  I pray.  I study.  I read.  I seek counselors.  I wait. I watch. I listen.  And I pray again!

“And when David inquired of the LORD, he said, “You shall not go up; go around to their rear, and come against them opposite the balsam trees. And when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, then rouse yourself, for then the LORD has gone out before you to strike down the army of the Philistines.” 2 Samuel 5:23-24

Sometimes the Lord wants us to take on our troubles head on, but sometimes He sees things we can’t see and knows things we don’t know.  He says, “Let’s not do it the way you are thinking.  Wait. Go around.  I will go before you. Then act.”  This is where the RELATIONSHIP comes in.  Sitting at His feet, reading His word, praying, inquiring of Him and waiting for Him to go before us.

May we be students of Jesus, listening for His marching orders, waiting on Him, and, and in His timing, walking in the path He has set before us.  May the Lord give us wisdom and show us which way we should go in each of our “battles” and go before us and give us victory for His Name Sake!

Are there any specific things the Lord is showing you? I’d love to hear your comments!

Keep Fighting!

Our family is following a program to read through the Bible in one year.  I haven’t done this in years, but I was encouraged by my prayer partner as she explained how her family was doing this together in 2019.  I asked my husband and talked to my children and we all agreed to start Jan 1st.  My prayer partner and I prayed, as each of our families read through God’s word, that God would reveal Himself and open our hearts to HIM.  It has been an exciting adventure!  My youngest listen to the bible from a dramatized CD version, so they were just re-telling me in a dramatic way what they heard this week.  My teenagers follow their own plan and reading schedule, so they can stay on pace.  Then we watch bible teachings on the book we are reading or discuss it throughout our days or at meal times.  Hearing God’s word permeate through our home is transforming.  We still have daily struggles, arguments, ups and downs, but we also have a common Rock to point to when we get off course.  It has been a blessing!

Something the Lord has been showing me through all of this is a common thread… God, our Creator, our Savior, our Deliverer created us in His image and formed us and is with us.  He walks with us, leads us, and helps us.  Humans, us, sinners, fallen, disobedient, weak, are stubborn yet constantly striving and fighting to do right.  God created us, but we must realize we are in slavery to sin and that we must follow Him to be free.  And then once we are free, we must still fight within ourselves to trust Him and follow Him and let Him lead us to complete freedom, to Christ.  And even then, we must still look to Him to provide and protect and redeem us.   Those like Abel, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, Caleb, and Ruth…  They see Him.  They know Him.  They obey Him, walk with Him (Genesis 6:9), and some He even calls His friend (Exodus 33:11, James 2:23).  Then there are those generations that “forget God”  or do not “obey His voice” or they “do what is right in their own eyes”.    You know, either journey taken, knowing Him or forgetting Him, there are battles and there is heartache.  But with God, the journey is full of strength and victory and redemption.  That is the message I want my kids to learn.  That is what I want my goal to be… That they would KNOW HIM and the POWER of HIS RESURECTION (Philippians 3:10).

As I read battle after battle in the book of Joshua and saw the Lord working victories through Joshua’s faith and obedience, I received such hope!  I want my kids and you to see that hope too!

See the source image

As we listened to a preacher last night discuss the book of Joshua in review, he said, “When a godly man dies, God’s work never dies.”  (Or something like that!)

Joshua fought valiantly.  He exhorted the Israelites to serve and love the Lord with all of their heart.  He fought the good fight and finished his race set before him until the Lord called him home.  But then, at the end, I thought, “Is he done?  Did he conquer all of the land before he died?”  Well, in the beginning of the book of Judges, I found my answer…

“[The Lord said…] I will no longer drive out before them any of the nations that Joshua left when he died…” Judges 2:21

I don’t know about you, but in my early parenting years, I had the notion that it was my “job” to protect my children from making mistakes and teach them God’s ways, so they didn’t have to fight any battles… but the truth is, none of us can avoid the fight!  They need to learn to fight for themselves.

Read below what the Lord said in Judges 2:21-22 and some of Judges 3:

“I will no longer drive out before them any of the nations that Joshua left when he died, in order to test Israel by them, whether they will take care to walk in the way of the Lord as their fathers did, or not.””
‭‭Judges‬ ‭2:21-22‬ ‭
“Now these are the nations that the Lord left, to test Israel by them, that is, all in Israel who had not experienced all the wars in Canaan. It was only in order that the generations of the people of Israel might know war, to teach war to those who had not known it before.”
‭‭Judges‬ ‭3:1-2‬

Yes, we need to keep fighting for our children until our last breath, serving the Lord like Caleb :  “And now, behold, the Lord has kept me alive, just as He said, these forty-five years since the time that the Lord spoke this word to Moses, while Israel walked in the wilderness. And now, behold, I am this day eighty-five years old. I am still as strong today as I was in the day that Moses sent me; my strength now is as my strength was then, for war and for going and coming. So now give me this hill country of which the Lord spoke on that day, for you heard on that day how the Anakim were there, with great fortified cities. It may be that the Lord will be with me, and I shall drive them out just as the Lord said.”  Joshua 14: 10-12

Yes, we must keep ourselves strong and keep fighting.  But we also need to show our children that they need to fight with the Lord leading them.  Let us prepare them to be warriors for the their own battles that the Lord is going to bring their way, so they can take care to walk in the way of the Lord for themselves for His glory!

Running with Jesus…a Book

A couple of years ago, I had a whisper in my heart to write a book.  I even posted about it here: https://wordpress.com/post/journeytojesus.wordpress.com/262 .

That whispering to write has never gone away.  In fact last year it became so loud that I even put time in my schedule to write.  Life gets so loud though, and the urgent won over the “important” more times than I can count.  I kept pushing it back.  But in 2018 the Lord was preparing me for today.   I read books like Mom Strong by Heidi St. John, Today Matters and Failing Forward by John Maxwell, Multiply by Frances Chan, Chasing Excellence by Ben Bergeron ,  Power Perfected in Weakness by Chris Klicka, and more.   So, 2019 is different.  I am back on the starting line with a new, stronger song in my heart, a determined and focused vision, fire in my steps and goals- real goals- written down with accountability and prayer partners.

All I’ve learned about Jesus While Running with My Family.  That is still the title.

And here is the starting line…On your mark… get set… GO!

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” 1 Corinthians 9 verses 24-27

We are all in a “the race”.  Everyone in my family.  Everyone in your family.  We are all in a race and all are running.  Some of us are running with a husband and children, and some of us are running alone.  Many of our races include running to work, school, sports practice, church and waking up and doing it again and again.  One runner may be running to the top of the corporate ladder.  One racer may be running from guilt or hurts of the past.  Many of us are running to find comfort, a place of no struggle or confrontation, just peace.  In this fast paced world of constantly being plugged in and full, we are all running.

In different seasons of my life,  I have run all the races mentioned above.  There were times that I ran many of them at the same time!  I have strived, wrestled, exercised, and wore myself and my dear family OUT!  But, truly, something changed when our family started running  for real, on the trail, running in races, and running together.  We started a journey of becoming strong, striving for a common goal, and becoming a team.  Now, in this season, we run together, we cheer each other on, and we run for Jesus!

I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14

In 2009, our family met another family who ran together.  We were so inspired that my husband made us all shirts with Philippians 3:14 printed on the sleeve.  He entered us in races.  We started training.  Most of us could hardly run a mile!  However, with every mile and every race, we got stronger and we learned more about ourselves, each other, and the Lord.  The truth is, we have found that anytime we have choosen to do hard things, we have tripped, struggled and even fallen and gotten hurt,  but we have also learned what it means to dig deep, find our “why”, grow, and learn.

Today, I am so thankful for all of the races, the wins, the training, and even the injuries and the struggles.  I thank God that I have my family with me on this race of life.  So, as I press on in this race of life toward the goal, I continue to strive and strain forward, running to Jesus.    Won’t you join me?  I don’t want to run aimlessly with my family trying to keep up at every turn or whim.  I don’t want to run “someone else’s” race.   I don’t want to beat the air in frustration when I can’t reach some perishable, temporary crown or praise of man.  I want to be self-controlled, disciplined, and led by the Holy Spirit of God straight into the arms of Jesus.  I want to run with Him wherever He takes me with strength in my mind, my spirit, my body, and my soul (1 Thessalonians 5:23).  I want to surrender all of me, and run the race He sets before me, looking to Jesus for endurance and hope.  Oh and I pray that while I’m running today’s race (preaching to my kids along the path), that neither myself, my husband, or any of us should be disqualified!

I want to tell you all that I’ve learned about Jesus while running with my family, so put your shoes on and let’s go running together.

Perspective…Fighting the Right Battle

I recently finished reading the book, Discerning the Voice of God: How to Recognize When God is Speaking, by Priscilla Shirer.  I highly recommend it!

Toward the end of the book, Priscilla directed me to verse 17 in Revelations 12: “And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.”  This verse combined with my personal study of Proverbs 8 and a book I’m reading aloud to my children called Boy, Have I Got Problems! by Kay Arthur and Janna Arndt, reminded me… WE ARE AT WAR!  Proverbs 8 reminds me that Wisdom and Foolishness call out to me in every situation and create conflict and trials.  They do the same for my children.

We may be at work, out playing a game, watching a movie, or reading social media.  None of these things are passive.  Yes, our time could be productive; we could be having fun or being entertained, but there is still a battle going on for our mind, for our allegiance, for our heart.  Never think, “This moment doesn’t matter,” or, “This is just a game.”  Everything matters to Jesus.  He created it, holds it together, and died for it ALL.  Your life matters.  Your battle matters.  Even your play matters.  May we not “shun the struggle” as the quote says below, but face it and fight!

1 Corinthians 10: 31-33 says,
“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.”

 

be strong!

Overcoming Weakness… in Running and in life

I once read in a running article, “Running doesn’t cause injuries, it reveals weaknesses.”  I wish I could give credit to where I read it, but I can not remember or find the source.  The words, however, struck a cord with me.  As I have increased my mileage over the last year, weaknesses have been revealed!  That one sentence gave me hope and inspiration to continue on.

My first running set-back began in my knees.  Weakness in my knees made going up and down stairs painful; getting up and down off the floor with my baby exhausting; and hitting the trail discouraging, knowing the first 1/4 mile was going to painful.  I decided to share my discouragement with my prayer partner and friend, and the two of us prayed for weeks.  Hebrews 12:12-13 inspired me: “Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.”  Then I began to research on-line and found that there were strength training exercises and stretches that could help.  I altered my training schedule to include these activities and gave myself “rest days”  or “biking” days.  Now my knees are so much better and I am stronger!  I still have to keep up the extra training and I notice when I let them slip, but I am so encouraged that this can be overcome and I can keep running!

Plantar Fasciitis was the next weakness to rear its ugly head.  (You can read more about my journey with that in this post: https://journeytojesus.wordpress.com/2017/05/24/running-with-jesus/ . ) Through research about this, I have learned to get good shoes, sleep with a brace fit to help this sort of thing, wear inserts where necessary, and do stretches to help strengthen and protect my feet.

Finally, and probably the biggest weakness of all, is wrestling with my mind and my flesh.  I constantly have to fight my laziness and my discouraging thoughts, “You can’t… It’s too hard…It hurts…and I’m tired!”  I fight to eat well.  I love sugar and chocolate and all things considered comfort food.  However, none of those help me on the trail or in my battle to stay strong.  All of these things: my eating, my thoughts, my tired body being pulled in by my comfy down comforter, suck me into my pillow and hold me tight on those cold mornings!  This is my daily wrestle, but my remedy is constant I pray and I read.  The Lord and His Word ALWAYS point me to hope and inspire me and give me purpose for all things.  Reading books, studying training programs and articles, trying new recipes, and making challenges like Crystal Paine’s “15 days to a Healthier You” or “Whole30”  motivate me and get me out of bed, even with my comforter beckoning me back! (https://products.crystalpaine.com/15dhy/   https://whole30.com/ )

The more I run and wrestle with these things, the more I see the need for endurance and strength and rest.  Isn’t this the same on our journey with Jesus?  As it says in the first and second verse of Hebrews 12: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”  Our journey with Jesus requires laying aside, endurance, strength, and -most of all- rest in Jesus.  When we say “Yes”  to Jesus, a full surrender is required.  Then as we carry our cross with Him, weaknesses are revealed in our actions, in our habits, and in our hearts.  We must pray about these things, lay them aside, and repent.  Jesus is Grace.  He is Forgiveness.  He will help us!  Then as we read His word and seek counsel and guidance, He will lead us to the help we need to run our race with endurance.  He will perfect our faith.  He will motivate and compel us. He will strengthen our “weak knees”.  He will heal us for His glory and His Name’s sake.  Hallelujah!  Thank you Jesus!

 

Out of Darkness…

I will bless the LORD, who hath given me counsel:

my reins also instruct me in the night seasons.

Psalm 16 verse 7

Note…  I am writing this post after the current storm (night season) has passed.  However, the storm was recent enough for the emotions to still be fresh and real. My purpose for writing is 1) to give understanding for those who know someone suffering and 2) to give hope to the sufferers.

Darkness… Depression… Feeling low…  A storm… or whatever you want to call it, is something with which I am very familiar.  My first bout with debilitating depression, that I remember, hit after my first child was born 19 years ago.  I didn’t know then what was happening.  The second “storm” of darkness surrounded me and paralyzed me during pregnancy about 10 years ago.  The most recent cloud appeared at the onset of Menopause.   Hormones,  health, major life stresses,  and relationships all played into the darkness.     But whatever the cause, whatever the reason, I am here to offer HOPE.  First, I want to describe the view from the eye of the storm.  Then I want to offer a shelter of protection and a pathway to hope that I have found.

The Night Season

You wake up heavy… heart heavy, body heavy, head heavy.  Thoughts of getting up and facing the day seems unbearable.  Your “why” for today and even purpose for life is a question.  “What difference does it make?” “What difference do I make?” I’ll sleep a bit longer and maybe I will feel better if I try again in about an hour.  Another hour goes by and now guilt is added on top of the other burdens that so heavily beset before.  The room looks dark even though light peeks in from the window.  Colors don’t exist and are not noticed.  Faces, even smiling faces are ineffectual to break through the heaviness. “Just do the next thing… Shower, dress, make breakfast,” you tell yourself.   You don’t even have enough energy to smile.  It is too heavy to offer, even to the sweetest ones.  You force yourself through the daily grind, but overlook so much: the mess on the floor, the clutter, the laundry, the dishes, sometimes you even look through people… numb.  None of it makes sense… The words of Psalm 16:6, “The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.” are still true, so “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?” (Psalm 42:11)

A Shelter and a Pathway

Where do you go when all seems empty?  What do you do when things don’t make sense, and you can’t uncover the heavy darkness that engulfs you?  Where do you hide?  Should you hide?  Should you tell someone?  What do you say? How do you get through?

I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Psalm 16:8

  • Set the Lord before you.  No matter how dark or lonely you feel.  Open God’s word.  EVERY DAY.  Read a Psalm.  Read through the gospel of John. God’s word is living and active and WILL give you hope and guidance.  Write down truth in a journal.   If you do not know the Lord, do this exercise and open your heart to what He has to say.  Believe it.
  • When things don’t make sense, cry out the The God Who Hears and Understands all.  He will answer.  Wait for Him. Listen to truth.  Listen to His word on your phone with the Bible app.  Even if it is in the middle of the night.  Play the Psalms and your soul will find peace.

For Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt Thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in Thy presence is fulness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore. Psalm 16:10-11

  • Ask the Lord to help you find an accountability partner/prayer partner for daily or weekly accountability.  Confess your thoughts to them and ask them to pray for you and over you.  Give them permission to speak life and truth into your life.  Remember, this is a “season” and it will pass.  You will want someone helping to direct you through the darkness and help lead you to the light.
  • Start a Gratitude journal.  No matter how dark, grapple for anything and everything you can think of to Thank God for, to thank those you love for, to appreciate.  I’m talking… “warm socks”, “a blanket”, “a hug”, “coffee”…
  • Create a ROUTINE and HABITS or ASSIGNMENTS for yourself and “Do the Next Thing” (as Elizabeth Eliot used to say) no matter how you feelJust Do It.  Get up, make your bed, read your bible, exercise, get a shower, get dressed, eat one healthy meal, smile at every person you see.
  • Surround yourself with positive- in addition to the bible, read books, listen to positive podcasts, follow positive people on social media, listen to and sing worship music.
  • Smile at yourself in the mirror.  (I am not kidding!  This helps!)
  • Memorize or meditate on Scripture, write it everywhere you can – on your mirror and refrigerator and remember the truth…
  • Find someone to serve, write a thank you note, or send encouraging text.
  • Pray Scripture, calling on His Name.  Some of my favorite scripture prayers are Colossians 1:9-12 or Ephesians 3:12-21 or Pray the Psalms with David.  Say them outload.  Pray them over and over. 

 

I cry aloud to God,

aloud to God, and He will hear me. Psalm 77:1

If you are in the night season, please know that you are not crazy and you are not alone.  You have great value and purpose, so much so that the God of the UNIVERSE created you in HIS image and He sent Jesus to live and die for you.  Do NOT give up.  There is a path out of this season that leads to life and joy and peace.  If I can make it out, so can you.