Monday, September 13, 2010

I Run:Lesson Eight-Part 1

The latest lesson I’ve learned from my running (that never ceases to amaze me as to all the spiritual applications) is the difference between running in the heat versus running in the cold. I highly recommend all new runners beginning in the cold because running in the heat can be down right discouraging!

Lesson #8: The cold is a slow start with a fast finish. The heat is a fast start with a slow finish.

What does this mean? Well, for me, when I started running back in November 2009, I had to invest a decent amount of money in the right Cold Gear for running in 30-40 degree weather. The hardest part was getting started. It was almost like your body just didn’t want to get going, anything to not be exposed to the freezing air outside. Mentally, it was the same likeness to how you feel when trying to get in a cold pool—your whole body cringes, and you really, REALLY just don’t want to do it. By the time you can convince yourself to get going, your blood starts pumping, and as you heat up, the run actually begins to feel good. The colder the weather, for me, the stronger I finished my runs because it really felt good to be warm.

I liken this to someone, albeit myself at times, who is quite comfortable with where they are in life. They are in a warm, safe environment that isn’t really challenging them mentally, physically, or spiritually. They aren’t necessarily doing anything wrong, but they’re not really doing anything right either. They just are. They eat, sleep, and do every day exactly the same thing in the same way. If they’re Christians, this means you are probably going to church regularly, fairly consistent with your quiet times, and possibly even involved in Bible study or service opportunity. But what you’re NOT doing is listening to the nagging voice deep down inside you that keeps saying, “Isn’t there more? Isn’t there more to this life than just being? Take a risk! Do something different! Be all the God-creation God made you to be! Your Source of power is unlimited! Why are you settling for less than what could be?”

Now, there is a season for everything. And I honestly believe that God sends seasons of comfort, peace, and contentment because we need them. We often experience them at the end of some trauma or hardship or when we’ve reached a spiritual plateau, and we’re still forming the good habits of the Christian walk. We need these times and places, but we have a God who ultimately always calls us to more because He knows us best.

He knows that when we get too content, too at peace, and too comfortable, we begin to forget about the One who brought us to this pasture land. We begin to rely more and more on our own strength to get us through our contented days, and gradually, we move from contented to complacent. Nothing good comes from complacency, unless you consider pride, boredom, rebellion, selfishness, and laziness a list of admirable character qualities.

No--God eventually calls us to come walk on the water with Him. (Matthew 14) He wants us to sell all we have and follow Him. (Matthew 19) He challenges us to go cast out the demons, or preach to ALL the WORLD the good news of Jesus Christ. (Matthew 24) God is about big, hairy, audacious goals because He knows us best. He knows we always need more—something to attain. For where there is no vision, the people perish. (Proverbs 29:18) He’s a BIG God with so much to offer. We can set goals and chase Him our entire life and still need more, still be more. Why would anyone chase anything or anyone else? I know of nothing on this earth that has more to offer than God Himself. I challenge anyone to taste and see that the Lord is good that He has abundantly more to offer than you could ever think, dream, or imagine. (Ephesians 3:20)

All that to say, listen to that small nagging voice…there is more. Be grateful for the time of rest God sends your way, but when the time comes and that small voice begins to ask again, “Isn’t there more to this life?” Do something different! Take a leap of faith! Grab onto God and run. It might be a slow start like a cold day, but I promise, you’ll warm up to the idea=)post signature

Sunday, September 12, 2010

August Portraits

So here's some snap shots I promised of the kids, and a few of me and my parents as well. Thanks to my beautifully gifted friend Dezirae Estes of Sugar Snap Photography for capturing these precious moments as always=) Have I told you lately I love working for you? =)

That's really about it. Nothing much else to report or see. With school getting back in session, Savannah starting gymnastics, Joey back in school, and a bout with pink eye held under control, I haven't really had a whole lot of time to take pictures myself=) Life is good.

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Friday, September 10, 2010

Where I Am

I know you really want to hear about the kids....I promise I will post another one soon with new pics. Right now, my head and my heart are full.

The kids are good. Surprisingly, and thankfully, healthy. We're in a good rhythm around the house, so why is it I feel so burdened? So pushed to the end of my rope some days? (Hang with me if you really want to hear the answer=)

Physically? With all the humbleness I can put in this statement, praise be to God, I am in the best physical shape I have EVER been in. Do I have to work hard? Yes. Am I tempted to give in and give up? Yes. But that's not the "crux of the issue" as my Granddaddy Frank would say. Plus, that's another blog for another day=)

Spiritually, I am in the middle of two Bible studies. One I started with my mom in the beginning of the summer, and I just keep plugging away at it. Some weeks only completing a day or two of homework in one week. This study: Ruth by Kelly Minter. I'm also, half-committedly, doing a Friday morning Bible study with some women from church. The study: Esther by Beth Moore. Why God has me doing a Bible study on both of these great women of the Bible at the same time, I have no idea. But it leaves me feeling very challenged and thought-provoked on a daily basis.

Not to mention that both of these studies refer and overlap with the Proverbs 31 woman. Geez! As if we as women don't put enough pressure on ourselves to perform, there's always this lady to live up to. But then it dawned on me, a new revelation. A God gift. In Bible study this morning, our leader mentioned that the Hebrew interpretation of our word "commandment" is seen as an "opportunity". They (the Jews) don't view it like law--like a "have to." They view following God's commandments as an act of love--like a "get to." Wow! If only I could let that really sink in. If only God would write that into the fiber of my very being, so my flesh would stop fighting. Just think how that changes the outlook of an entire day?

Being commanded to be a suitable helper (Genesis 2:20b) to my husband--a cook, a maid, a nanny, a cheerleader, a lover, a partner, a friend--it's all an opportunity to love him, ultimately loving God. (The burden seems lighter.) The commandment to train (Proverbs 22:6) up your child, to walk, talk, and live God's example (Deuteronomy 6:6-9)--lived out by daily being a nurse, doctor, law enforcer, teacher, counselor, gate keeper, body guard, chauffeur, chef, waitress, bus boy--it's all an opportunity to love them, ultimately loving God, and prayerfully helping to point them to God. (The burden is still noticeable, but Some One's carrying it with me.) The commandment to be a child of God--a humble servant, a seeking heart, a brave soul, a prayer warrior, a praise instrument, a trumpet to the world around me, a light to all who care to look this way--it's all an opportunity to love myself, ultimately loving Him. (The burden seems bearable, almost enjoyable.)

If only we could see the Ten Commandments as Ten Opportunities, this nation might not have taken them out of our court houses. Because hey, we're all about the land of the free the home of the brave and the golden opportunity. What if we just need to change our marketing technique for God's Word? What if instead of preaching it to others as The Command over their life, the Ultimate Rule Book, we simply said hey, here's some opportunities you might not have considered yet? Here's a way of living, that if you give it an honest really throw your whole heart and soul into it, you might find there's more to it than just an old book that's been around for centuries. You might find the living, breathing, Word. Alive. Active. Full of opportunity when it seems there is none.

Mentally, I am exhausted. Daily I pray that God would grant my brain the "nothing" box that He has given the men in my life. I would give almost anything to truthfully be able to say, "I'm thinking about nothing." And mean it. Daily I run through each and every relationship in my life in my head. Because you see, I'm not just a wife, a mother, and a child of God. I'm a sister, a daughter, a cousin, a niece, a granddaughter, an aunt, a mentor, and a friend as well.

Each relationship requires different communication, different maintenance techniques. Each relationship, sometimes more than one at a time, on a daily basis, requires forgiveness. Truly forgiving is exhausting, but cleansing at the same time. I take that back. Truly forgiving is not exhausting. It's the arguments or "conversations" I've had in my head with all these people before God convicts me and brings me to the conclusion I just need to forgive them, that is exhausting.

These people never know they've hurt me. They never know how their actions or decisions effect me. Most of these people probably don't even consider my feelings when they go about their daily lives, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. I'm not saying they should. We can't please everyone. We can't live our lives for others. We only answer to God for ourselves. But I am learning, that just as in the life of Esther and Ruth, every decision we make, no matter how seemingly insignificant, has a ripple effect in the lives of people around us, and even the generations to come.

I want to live my life defeating and overcoming generational curses, so that I can pass down an even greater abundance of generational blessings to the ones who come behind me. I was encouraged today when I heard that generational curses are passed down through the third and fourth generation (Exodus 34:7), BUT generational blessings are passed on for thousands of generations (Exodus 20:6)!!! How great is our God! We must live with our consequences (and according to Scripture, our children must also), but His blessings always outweigh those consequences in the end.

My husband said it best the other day, when he said he's been working on living life more intentionally. This means that not a day goes by when he doesn't ask me the question, "So what's the plan for today?" or make the statement, "So here's what I'm thinking the plan for today should be..." I love surprises and spontaneity. There is a time and place for the "fly by the seat of your pants" moments, but ultimately, I want someone to look at my life and say, she intentionally lived her life to please God in every decision she ever made, and she had a great time doing it!

Now, I know I can be a little more on the pessimistic side some days, so I'm working on that last part--this world is designed to steal joy, but I'm encouraged because our God says, "Take Courage! Hear it is. Right here in My hands, and in My presence. All you have to do is come and take it! Take Courage." So I'm resolved today, to put aside some fears, and be a noble woman--a woman of valor (Proverbs 31:10)--who takes courage. Not a woman who sits around waiting for some one to give it to her or to approve her for it. No--I'm just gonna take it. Why not? My whole life just might hinge on that decision--on that action or inaction. What is it you need to intentionally live to do today?

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