It's raining this morning. I'm committed to this wunning thing, but I'm not that committed. So I'm going to write about wunning without actually wunning in the wain...I mean rain. (I feel like I'm turning into Elmer Fudd!) I have to be honest. Wunning has been very, very hard the last few times. Do I say that every week?! One of the challenges is that my legs often last longer than my lungs. I run out of breath before I run out of steam. I remember asking my friend Rhonda the Real Runner about this problem. She said, "Amy, are you running slouched over? When you feel out of breath, lift up your head, throw your shoulders back and give your lungs room to expand." Now that's good advice. For life. Lots on times when rat race gets hard, I find that I'm chugging through life with my head down, focusing on the ground I'm covering and feeling defeated. I'm slumped over huffing and puffing for dear life. Scripture says that the Lord is the lifter of our head. He calls us to run through life with our head up and our eyes fixed on the goal--Jesus Himself. I need to command my soul to bless Him and to throw back my shoulders to remind myself of Truth to let my spirit expand with a breath of His Spirit. I need to straighten my posture, strengthened with the Truth about God... He is compassionate. He is love. He is sovereign, and nothing that happens to me has gone unnoticed or undirected by Him. He is faithful. He is full of grace and mercy. He knows everything. He owns everything. He sees everything. His forgiveness is sufficient. His grace is lavish. His mercy is abundant. And then I also need to be strengthened with some truths about myself... I am holy and dearly loved. I am God's own child. I am forgiven. I am under grace. God delights in me. God loves me. God sings over me. Mercy! Now those are all things that make me want to take a deep breath of God Himself and keep running the race.
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Monday, March 28, 2011
"Some days, doing 'the best that we can' may still fall short of what we would like to be able to do, but life isn't perfect--on any front--and doing what we can with what we have is the most we should expect of ourselves or anyone else." --Fred Rogers I've been reading a fantastic book called The Grace Awakening by Chuck Swindoll. One of my main struggles is with legalism. As I've grown older, I've gotten better about extending God's grace to others, but somehow I've left myself out of the bounty. Phil 2:12-13 says, " Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed--not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence--continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. " What does it mean to "work out" your salvation? It doesn't say that we "work for" our salvation. Salvation is a free gift, but it is a gift that is both instant and progressive. I am saved at the moment that I submit my life to Jesus, but I am also a work in progress. I am joining with God to be made more like Him, however I'm definitely not there yet. That means that some days "I'm doing the best I can" just means that even though I've fallen short, I'm in process. It's not an excuse to not move forward, but it is a place to rest. I'm thankful for that truth.
Friday, March 25, 2011
Sorry this is so late, friends. The day just got away from me! I wanted to start my Friday focus on Jesus, though, so here's a goldie-oldie from a devotion I wrote years ago.
I also want to encourage you to check out my friend Melissa Taylor's new online study that will begin next Monday. You can get all the details at her blog. She'll be doing Rachel Olsen's It's No Secret and offering optional conference calls as well. The first one features Samantha Reed and Carol Davis--a combo of wise and funny that is irresistible! Make sure to check it out.
Without further yada yada...
Our culture has many things to say about Jesus. Some say that He was a master teacher or a prophet. Some say that He was a good man who set an example for living. Others say that He is a myth or a symbol of a religious system.
His method of teaching qualifies Him as a master teacher without a doubt. In this scene, Jesus begins with two questions that are still essential today as we face questions about faith both in our culture as a whole and personally. His first question to His disciples is, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” (Matthew 16:13 NIV) This question begins to open a door to the opinions of the day about Jesus who used “Son of Man” as one of His own titles. The disciples obviously have the pulse of the crowds around them. They answer with a list of prophets, all of whom are dead.
Why did Jesus ask the question at all? If He really was divine, didn’t he already know the answer? I believe that He asked the question not to gain information but in order to get the disciples to examine the perceptions of the culture around them. There must have been quite a bit of talk about Jesus in His time. The news of reported miracles and confrontations of the religious leaders must have spread like wild fire. Scripture reports that once His ministry was in full swing, crowds followed Him relentlessly.
Sadly, there’s less and less talk about Jesus in our present culture. Jesus has become a politically incorrect term. You step on far fewer toes when you just refer to your chosen deity as “god”. Even so, every once in a while there will be a new furor over Jesus. Think of The Da Vinci Code as an example. For a time, talk of Jesus was on the front burner again. I think that it’s still appropriate for believers and unbelievers to examine the answers to Jesus’ piercing question today. “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
For believers, it’s important to be able to address the views about Jesus in our culture. I heard different responses from Christian leaders about The Da Vinci Code. Personally, I felt led to read it so that I could respond to those in my book club, at the bus stop and others who were curious but undecided. It’s important as Christians not to “switch off” (our brains) and “tune out” (our culture). We are called to be salt and light to the world around us (Matthew 5:13-16). It simply shouldn’t be an option to hide out in a little safe bubble of our own making when God’s heart is crying out for the unbelievers around us to know Him. A scriptural response to unscriptural beliefs in our culture can help to plant seeds of faith in hearts filled with confusion.
For unbelievers, I encourage you to ask God to show you who He is. It’s important to face the question that Jesus poses. Floating along undecided and filling all the voids with anything that we can get our hands on only satisfies temporarily. God has something better to offer as we turn our attention to Him and ask the hard questions.
Next we’ll look at Jesus’ follow-up question. It’s hard-hitting and heart-piercing. Don’t miss it!
Jesus, we want to know who You truly are. As we examine the thoughts and attitudes about the Son of Man, help us to know the truth. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
If you're visiting from my devotion at Encouragement for Today, welcome! For my usual circle of friends, I'm wunning today but not writing about it until next week. Hope your wunning goes well this week!
It's always such an amazing honor to get to live life with ya'll, but I have to admit that it was hard for me to write about such an unlovely part of myself. My tendency to want to keep my life's waters smooth no matter what the cost has been a hard flaw to overcome.
But God is so faithful to blow a little wind over our waters when needed. I went through a five-year period when I damaged several friendships, and it made me start realize that I needed to change. I was not reflecting the character of God, and as one called to be an image bearer, I begged to be molded into His image.
Here are some beautiful scriptures that show how God stays:
Exodus 34:6, "The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin..."
Psalm 27: 9-10, "Do not hide your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger; you have been my helper. Do not reject me or forsake me, O God my Savior. Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me."
Hebrews 13:5b-6, "...God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.' So we say with confidence, 'The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?'"
Psalm 36:5, "Your love, O LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies."
II Timothy 2:13, "...if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself."
Why does He stay? Because of love.
I can never make Him leave.
I can never disappoint Him too much...
I can never make a wrong decision...
I can never commit a sin too big...
I can never run away too long...
To make Him leave. He is faithful, steadfast and true.
His love covers me and it never fails. Love and staying are parts of God's character, so it's who I'm called to become. Lord, make me like You.
Monday, March 21, 2011
"The think I remember best about successful people I've met all through the years is their obvious delight in what they're doing...and it seems to have very little to do with worldy success. They just love what they're doing, and they love it in front of others." --Fred Rogers
I just adore the thought of success being a love for what we do and loving it in front of others.
Last summer I met Emily Freeman at She Speaks, and I've been reading her blog ever since. A couple weeks ago, she wrote some posts about dreams and callings that so beautifully expounded on this same idea. Follow this link to read my favorite.
If you already love what you're doing, great! If you don't, pray that God will either change how you feel or provide a way to do what you love. He has answered both prayers at different times for me, and I rejoice!
Friday, March 18, 2011
Starting next Friday, I'm going to start a series (that might last forever!) about Jesus Himself. I've been listening to a sermon series from Louie Giglio about carrying the Name. I thought since I've been high-lighting quotes from Mr. Rogers that the least I could do is give Jesus equal time. :)
But today...it's spring-like outside here in NC. I'm heading outdoors, and I hope you can where you are too!
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
"Not another hill!"
"How can I get AROUND this hill?"
"I can't do this hill. I've got to stop."
One of the ways that God is using wunning to teach me spiritual lessons is through hills. I really hate hills. I can be chugging along just fine, but if you add a little incline my lungs start to burn and my legs start to wobble.
I've been through this process of working up to a 5K before, and the hills almost did me in. I tried to find the flatest places possible to train, but the course for the race through Raleigh was very hilly. I did run the whole race which was my goal, however, I hadn't really trained properly.
There are going to be hills.
And you can't skip the hills.
It's just like life, right? Because we live in a very broken world, either sooner or later we're going to experience difficulties--sickness, rejection, death, abuse, loneliness, insecurity, financial crisis, job loss, divorce, the pain of a rebellious child, whiplash from bad choices...
There are only two choices when we face a hill--park at the bottom or start up. Although I don't like it, I'm working to master hills. In the process, I'm getting stronger. I'm becoming less afraid. I'm enjoying the downhill slopes as a reward!
As I run the hills, I'm focusing on beautiful Psalm 121:
"I look up to the hills. Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord. He is the Maker of heaven and earth.
He won't let your foot slip. He who watches over you won't get tired.
In fact, he who watches over Israel won't get tired or go to sleep.
The LORD watches over you. The LORD is like a shade tree at your right hand.
The sun won't harm you during the day. The moon won't harm you during the night.
The LORD will keep you from every kind of harm. He will watch over your life.
The LORD will watch over your life no matter where you go, both now and forever."
Monday, March 14, 2011
Note: For any of you who are praying about She Speaks, please make sure to visit my friends' blogs where there are scholarship contests going on now:
Writers, visit my friend Glynnis.
Speakers, visit my friend Karen.
Leaders, visit my friend Renee.
Hospitality Gals, visit my friend LeAnn.
I hope to see lots of you there!
"Part of the problem with the word disabilities is that it immediately suggests an inability to see or hear or walk or do other things that many of us take for granted. But what of people who can't feel? Or talk about their feelings? Or manage their feelings in constructive ways? What of people who aren't able to form close and strong relationships? And people who cannot find fulfillment in their lives, or those who have lost hope, who live in disappointment and bitterness and find in life no joy, no love? These it seems to me, are the real disabilities." --Fred Rogers
I love this quote. When I think of Jesus, I think of how He came and turned accepted "truth" on its head. He was the exact representation of God (Hebrews 1) and behaved in almost a completely opposite way from the religious, world system. He surprised everyone, and many could not accept the differences.
What does our world system value?
Physical ability (our pro sports encompass the first three!).
You fill in the blanks!
I think we could add Mr. Roger's to the list: healthy emotional lives, fulfilled, joyful, loving lives...
How about some more from you...
Friday, March 11, 2011
Sitting in a small church in the mountains of Ecuador, I watched as the people gently unwrapped their Bibles from beautifully hand-embroidered, cloth coverings. I listened as their voices reverently echoed the speaker as he read from scripture. I reflected on how easy it is to waltz into Walmart and toss a Bible into my cart already full of other "treasures".
This 10-minute video reminded me once again of the treasure that sits this morning in a basket beside my "quiet time chair".
His very Words.
Right there beside me.
What a treasure.
(Don't miss this video. It's 10 minutes that will impact the rest of your day, week, maybe even life)
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
I'm really a pitiful wimp about this wunning stuff. Truly. Couch to 5K sounds lovely (easy even!), but the reality is really, really hard for me.
My dad says that I'm going to get to a point when I LOVE running...when I can't live WITHOUT running. (My parents ran every morning at 4:45 am until they were well into their 60s. They started before running was cool. What happened to THAT gene?!!)
But this is the sacrifice that I'm learning from right now, so I have to find ways to stay inspired. I have to find ways to make it to the goal.
One of my problems is my head--or what goes through it. Here's what it kind of sounds like...
Ouch, ouch, OUCH!
That thought pattern is not conducive to many minutes of running.
I've tried lots of things. I've tried music. I've tried focusing on a visual goal. I've tried praying. I've tried to grab some happy thoughts.
Those things work temporarily, but they are failing me as my running starts to significantly exceed the walking. The thing that really works for me is to listen to sermons on my Shuffle as I run. That may sound goofy, but the mixture of inspiration and a place to occupy my mind works.
Three mornings in the last two weeks I've found myself crying and running as I listened to Francis Chan talk about his trip to India, as I listened to Andy Stanley give the most simple and beautiful invitation to follow Christ I've ever heard, and this morning as Louie Giglio described God's love for me despite my smallness.
Truth, inspiration and a mind occupied with God. That's a win, win, win.
I'm also VERY visual, so I've put together a little craft to get me to my 5k goal. It's based on Lysa TerKeurst's story about her son Marc and how he moved the "math mountain". Lots of you have probably heard it, but here's the basic lesson:
Sometimes God moves mountains instantly and miraculously. He is perfectly able to work that way.
But sometimes God takes our hand and strengthens us to move a mountain rock by rock.
Here's my visual:
I have 28 days of wunning to be running-a-5k-ready!
2 down, 26 to go! Each day I wun, I'm going to move a rock from one poster to the other until I'm RUNNING!!
Monday, March 7, 2011
"When my mother or my grandmother tried to keep me from climbing too high, my grandfather would say, 'Let the kid walk on the wall. He's got to learn to do things for himself.' I loved my grandfather for trusting me so much. His name was Fred McFeely. No wonder I included a lively, elderly delivery man in our television 'neighborhood' whom we named 'Mr. McFeely.'" --Fred Rogers
Who has had that kind of influence in your life? Who made you feel confident, grown-up and special?
I think of the snacks my grandmother made me in the travel trailer she lived in when she visited our house.
I think of a shopping trip when my grandfather let me help pick out my grandmother's gift.
I remember running barefoot in my other grandparents' garden.
I remember teachers like Mrs. Warren , Mrs. Alder and Mrs. Shaw.
I credit Sunday school teachers like Mrs. Honeycutt and Bible study leaders like Joseph Sasser.
Most of all I am thankful for parents who loved me unconditionally from the hairs on my head to the tips of my pink toenails.
Who's on your list?
Today I'm also thinking about my desire to make other's list. How do I encourage and empower the people around me?
Friday, March 4, 2011
Sometimes I forget...
Amidst the email dinging, the tv blaring, the electric bass and french horn vibrating the walls.
Sometimes I forget...
Amidst my calendar filling, my brain spinning and my hands whirring.
Sometimes I forget that relationships need nurturing.
They can't function on auto pilot. They can't be sustained in distraction. They can't thrive without feeding.
Sometimes I forget, and I need a place like this to remember.
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
First, I want to share the plan that my friend Rhonda wrote out for me. You can find lots of versions of Couch to 5K plans including apps in the itunes store. You can follow this link to find one by ESPN.
But here's Rhonda's plan if you want to copy it and start Wunning (walking and running) with me!
Start: 8 straight days of walking. Days 1-4 20 minutes. Days 5-8 30 minutes
This schedule is four days a week. I'm doing MWF and Sat.
Week 1: 2 minutes running followed by 4 minutes of walking. Repeat 5 times.
Week 2: Run 3 minutes. Walk 3 minutes. Repeat 5 times.
Week 3: Run 5 minutes. Walk 2.5 minutes. Repeat 4 times.
Week 4: Run 7 minutes. Walk 3 minutes. Repeat 3 times.
Week 5: Run 8 minutes. Walk 2 minutes. Repeat 3 times.
Week 6: Run 9 minutes. Walk 2 minutes. Repeat 2 times and then run 8 minutes.
Week 7: Run 9 minutes. Walk 2 minutes. Repeat 2 times and then run 8 minutes.
Week 8: Run 9 minutes. Walk 1 minute. Repeat 3 times.
Week 9: Run 13 minutes. Walk 2 minutes. Repeat 2 times.
Week 10: Run 14 minutes. Walk 1 minute. Repeat 2 times.
Week 11: Run 30 minutes.
Rhonda wrote this for me, "At any time, if you feel tired, you must repeat that week of training before moving on to next week!"
Let me tell you how that translates for me... this is a 22 week program. I haven't been disciplined about wunning 4 days either, so I've been poking along. I'm at week 3, and 5 minutes is still wearing me out.
HOWEVER, I have turned a corner. I'm committing to 4 days a week, AND I'm pushing through these weeks now.
Next week, I'll show you the visual that's helping me. Please, please let me know if you're starting with me. Because I've gotten such a slow start, ya'll will be caught up in no time!