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Category Archives: I Call It Running

Running Up Hills

I took a run the other day. A run. As in, I mostly ran the whole time, which I have only before really wanted to do. I ran because I know now that I can go farther than I think I can. That I can go farther than even the hardest I can push myself. Because I know now that running up a hill feels more doable than teaching my kids German, and I have to do that. So I ran the hill.

When we first heard about this opportunity, to live in Germany for a year, we thought we would homeschool our two kids. Well, we though I would homeschool them while my husband went to work everyday. Because my kids don’t speak German, and the thought of putting them in German school scared the poopy out of me. And them. Then we found out that homeschooling in Germany is illegal. Even the kind of homeschooling where they attend online academies. So we found an international school close to where we would live, one that teaches in English. But it only goes up to the grade below my oldest’s current grade-level. No can do. Still, the thought of putting them into a state school, where teaching German-as-a-second-language is not widely available, was not an option for us. That’s when we found the Montessori school. The one where the teachers speak English, and they start teaching it in 1st grade. The best fit for us.

But my kids will need to know German if they want to make friends, or watch a movie. Or order a pretzel at the bakery. So this summer, I teach them German. Yep. I. Because, although we have a tutor, two hours a week doesn’t cut it for the intense learning curve we have to turn. Here’s the catch – I really don’t know German, either. So we get kids magazines and come up with questions using google translate and play memory games for vocabulary words, and we continue to work through Rosetta Stone, and all of the sudden I am teaching my kids a language with which I am only barely familiar.

Running the hill was easier, I think.

I am learning that God’s strength is really the only kind that can get me up the hills. I started running up the hill because I wanted to know that strength that can only possibly come from Him. The living He offers every morning when I get up and first-thing ask Him to somehow speak life into my soul with His Word, is the only way I can really live while I’m here running hills and teaching kids to speak what I myself cannot.

And He keeps reminding me that those who fear Him lack nothing. He keeps whispering, as I run up the hills, that trusting Him is the key to this living. The key to this year. The key to running up this hill. He keeps pointing me back to the verse I found just before we left, the one I find myself clinging to time and time again.

He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the LORD is the key to this treasure.  (Isaiah 33:6)

So I run, and I look for the rich stores of the wisdom and the knowledge and the salvation for this living I know I want to do. I plan a German lesson for my kids, and I wonder what God was thinking when He moved us here with such little understanding of this German-speak. I start to think He might have overlooked this (rather large) detail when He plopped us here in the middle of these beautiful hills. And then I remember the key to the treasure of the rich stores.

The fear of God.

So I run some more, and I tell Him I trust Him, and I realize I fear Him more than I fear ordering a pretzel at the bakery. I fear following His way for me, the way I know He has laid out right before my eyes for now, more than I fear not knowing exactly how the German-speaking hairstylist will use those scissors on my long locks. I fear God and trust Him more than I fear the burning lungs at the top of that hill. And that, my friend, is when I find myself running up the hill.

The Road Beyond the Road

I needed to get out. By myself, if you know what I mean. Because even out here in this great big world, the flat’s walls threaten to close in and every word spoken within the family relationship starts to sound like an annoying creaky door that needs oiled.

So I took the road, shoed and ready for a run in hopes of clearing my head, breathing in deep the country I am learning to love.

I took the road off the road that we’ve begun to know so well. A dirt road just to the right of the one we travel when we need bread. Or the sounds of civilization.

It led to more roads off the road. More journeys to be had. The road beyond the road led to more roads.

I ran until I needed to stop, until I couldn’t breathe in deep. I even ran up a hill. It felt good and difficult all at the same time. Good to be outside. Alone. Amazed at the beauty that lies just outside my front door right now. Just beyond the road beyond the road.

I turned around when I was ready. No sooner than that. Turned around and walked back to the place we call home for now. I soaked it all in, the colors and the hills and the new whatever kind of crop that grew just beyond my fingertips. I soaked it in and thanked God for the now.

I thanked Him as I looked over the wheat field just beyond our home in the country. And that’s when He playfully moved the wheat stocks like I play with my daughters’ hair. That’s when I saw Him move them all crazy and beautiful-like as if tousling their hair and showing them off. The hand of God, the soft breeze He blew, made me realize the pride He takes in all that He has made. The love He has for His creation. The playful, I’m-so-proud-of-you spirit of a Father Who had so masterfully created a field of wheat reminded me of His delight in me, too. His I’m-crazy-about-you spirit for even little me.

If God gives such attention to the wildflowers, most of them never even seen, don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? (Luke 12:28, MSG)

I walked back home in the light of the reminder. God delights in His creation. He delights in me, too.

And the road beyond the road led me straight back home to the truth.

 

Learning to Run

The clouds cover and drip and move around to allow a glimpse of what they hide. And the blue sky above peeks through long enough for barely a breath before returning to hiding.  And I wonder how long. How much longer?

I turn the corner and my eyes find my next goal. I will run to the stop sign. Then I’ll catch my breath and pick up the pace again.

And I am learning to run. Becoming a runner.

And somehow as the soles of my shoes touch every foot of five miles, my soul learns too. I grasp for the energy to finish that stretch, and He whispers His pleasure at my faithfulness, even as He shows me a picture of the hope of blue sky that, although hiding, still remains. And He reminds me of His own enduring faithfulness. His faithful endurance.

I turn left at the stop sign and discover a hill. It’s steep. Good thing I’m walking now. I wonder if He hates hills as much as I do.

I started learning in January so I could (mostly) run a 10k in two weeks. To help rescue kids whose parents sell them for sex. To save children in Southeast Asia from destitution and more evil than my stomach can handle. Because running a 10k is a tangible way to get on board with the Father’s plan to save orphans. I have trained for three months and have yet to enjoy the running.

But today He lets me smell the pleasure. And as I round the next curve and pick up the pace again, I realize how good it feels. This running. I smile and think how thankful I am for this moment. Finally. Because sometimes when I know He’s called me to do something, it’s fun and easy to answer. But this time it’s been harder. Not as much fun. 

Until today.

And my feet keep the beat of the song of praise that He teaches me to sing. The new song He gave me for this run.

13. learning to run and praise God all at the same time

14.  sister-friends to share life with

15. the flower-disguise of purple and yellow weeds in my yard

16. glimpses of sunlight and bright blue sky

17. evidence of the Father’s work in a little girl’s heart

18. finding my sweet spot

19. early morning cartoons

20. six-year-old fingers wrapped around mine

21. remembering

22. new songs

23. skinny vanilla lattes

24. friends who celebrate the day I was born

The New, New

I took a run through my favorite pathway the other day. The one the mercy storm decimated last September. It was my first time back since that tornado storm ripped treetops from limbs and flattened buildings along my favorite pathway. The path along which I trained for two half-marathons. I had spent many hours walking many miles in that arboretum before it became a wind-tunnel’s playground. And it was time for me to return.

It was a new experience for me in so many ways. And my visit prompted a whole new set of challenges from those I had faced in years gone by. It was the challenge of a new season. For me, it was a redefining of the truth of newness.

First, it was a run. In times past, it’s always been a walk. Or a walk mixed with some running. This time, though, it was a run mixed with some walking. A new challenge for me. But that’s not the redefining. The new landscape – the missing trees, the flat earth having replaced the tree-lined streets and the buildings that once proudly stood along the way – it created an unexpected sense of new inside of me. Not the crazy-excited kind like what comes with a new car or a new pair of shoes. It was a more somber, almost sacred kind of new. Like what happens when you find yourself in an unknown place without a map. A little bit scared but not wanting to miss the new scenery for fear that you may never again have the chance to see it. That’s how I felt as I rounded the curve that led up the hill along the circuit I run. I didn’t want to miss the sacred of what was coming because I was lost in the sadness of what was gone.

And then, just to my left, right along the trees that still remain in the forest next to path, I noticed four yellowish-green sprouts.

 The ever-faithful return of the new. Spring will come! And all will be new again. The ground will once again produce tulips and daffodils and beautiful blooms. Even amidst the newly created treelessness that now marks that favorite pathway of mine. God is in the process of redecorating. And last fall, He did a little remodeling as well. And now, His faithful newness will shine in an altogether new way.

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
   for his compassions never fail. 
They are new every morning;
   great is your faithfulness.           Lamentations 3:22-23, NIV

Giving Up On Famous

I have this thorn in my flesh called Pride.  It’s been there for a long time.  So long, in fact, I think my body has adapted to it as if it’s a new appendage.  Which means it’s in there pretty deep.  So deep that only a doctor can remove it.  And there’s only One Whom I trust enough to dig that deep and pull it out.

At first I didn’t recognize it as a thorn.  I thought it was just an inevitable scratch from grabbing for the rose called Significance.  A battle wound of sorts.  But it started to infect the blood of my soul with diseases like wrong motives and critical attitudes.  That’s when The Doctor gave me the diagnosis.

“Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them.  If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.”  Matthew 6:1

I walked a 13.1 mile half-marathon seven months ago, and thought I smelled the rose.  That rose called Significance.  The one that tells me I matter.  Because I did it to raise money for kids whose parents sell them as slaves.  I did it so that they could be rescued.  And, as I walked for three and a half hours that Sunday, thousands of people cheered me on and congratulated me as I walked the course and crossed the finish line.  I even got a medal.  I thought that was part of the rose.

But I walked a 13.1 mile half-marathon three days ago, and I know I smelled the rose.  I’m pretty sure I even saw some of it’s beautiful petals.  This time, there weren’t very many spectators cheering me on.  Many of them didn’t even seem to know that walkers could be part of the race.  I found myself annoyed at having to slow down for the couple lolly-gagging across the street in front of me.  Right in the middle of the course.  And there’s that darn thorn again.  But that thorn couldn’t keep me from the real rose this time.  Because this time the same Doctor Who’s pulling out the thorn is the very One Who held it out for me to smell.  The rose, that is.  It smelled like my Father’s pleasure. 

image courtesy of www.downloadfreedesktopwallpaper.net/

The rose called Significance smelled like true importance.  The kind that never ever gets trampled on or dwindles away.  The kind that can only come from Perfect Love Himself.

I walked in obedience this time.  I walked because He asked me to help those kids.

And He walked with me.  Quietly sharing our hearts.  Me whining about the upcoming hill as it came into view.  And thanking Him for not asking me to do the whole marathon.  He reminding me how happy He is with me.  Even if I don’t finish.  Even though I’m not running, like I wanted to.  But pushing me on with His gentle strength.  And He held out the rose for me to smell.  The real one.  He let me breathe it in.

Because my significance does not lie in achieving something that others have not.  It does not come from doing things that others admire.  It doesn’t come from writing a blog that gets lots of traffic and comments.  Or from raising children who are amazing people.  My significance does not come from anything or anyone but the One Who created the very meaning of significance.  He alone holds the rose called Significance.  He’s The Gardner.  The One Who planted it.  Who sustains it.  Who prunes it and shares the beauty of its fruit with all who care to see it.  With all who stop to breathe it in.

holy experience

As If

My walk/run today involved some hills.  Expectedly.  I mean, I do live in a very hilly area.  And, although I took my usual route, it came time for me to run, and I found myself on an incline.  And as the ensuing panic fell on me, I asked God for His energy.  Because I was still breathing hard trying to recover from the last running interval. 

Maybe I should explain…

See, I’m training to walk and run for 13.1 miles one Sunday in May so I can help raise awareness and money for the children in Southeast Asia who are literally trapped in sex-slavery and other horribly disgusting evils that no person, much less any child, should even know about.  And, while I am in decent physical condition, I. am. not. a. runner.  I am a *wannabe* runner.  It’s who I’ve always been, with the exception of those two very brief stints during whilch I trained myself to run one and a half miles without hyper-ventilating.  So I am training to split the time between running and walking for that crevasse-like expanse between the starting line and the finish 13.1 miles in May.  My goal is to be ready to run every last tenth of that 13.1 miles next October in what will be my third half-marathon.  So for now, I walk/run.  My goal today was to walk three minutes then run for two.  My first time at that interval.

And I was struggling.  Ugh.  Darn hill, anyway.  So, as I walked, I asked God for the strength to run.  As I walked.  And I pleaded for His energy to run to the stop sign at the top of the hill. 

But instead of taking over my legs and Forest Gumping them into a run, He reminded me that I can’t possibly know that He’s answered such a prayer unless I let Him show me.  In other words, I had to turn my walk into a run if I wanted His energy to carry me to the top of the hill.  I had to literally step out in faith if I intended to see His answer.  To act as if it were already true.

So I picked up my pace and ran to the stop sign at the top of the hill.  Then I thanked Him for the energy.

I think I ought to live my life like that.  Believing that everything I need for real and true living is already mine  (John 6:35).  Not just believing.  But living as if it were true.  Because.  It is.  I think I ought to live my life like the only thing that really matters is knowing God and following hard after His Son.  Because.  It is.

“The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see.”Hebrews 11:1 msg

He Loves Me So Much He Likes Me

I ran four miles with God today.  Well it was more walk than run, but that’s not the point. 

photo courtesy of http://www.dreamstime.com/

I usually pray during my walk/runs, so I started my requests in the usual way.  “God, use me as I train for this half-marathon in May.  PLEASE free those children and use the money we raise to bring more of them in out of the disgust and evil in which they are trapped.  And, God please, You know that my family is hurting right now.  Please, God. . .” 

But I couldn’t get any more words out.  Like laryngitis in my soul, I was unable to express my heavy heart.  I tried to pray for that painful family crisis.  I tried to lay it all out plainly for Him to take.  Again.  But I couldn’t.  My heart just fell silent.  My soul was tired.  Like muscles fatigued after lifting weights.  Or a four-mile run.  And I could not get my heart to utter another word.

Please don’t get me wrong.  I love a quiet spirit.  Quiet and calm in my inner being — oh yeah, I am all about that.  But this silence was different.   Like some sort of expression that I needed to get out, but was unable.  And it struck me with a feeling of the exact opposite of quiet and calm.  It made me feel guilty and uneasy.  But just as my loud thoughts and anxious spirit started to spiral downward, I heard a whisper in my soul.  It said:

“Let’s just walk together.”

“Really, God?  Don’t you want me to lay my burdens down before you again?  I mean, that’s our routine when we walk and train.  Shouldn’t I keep praying?  Shouldn’t I keep searching for words?”

“No, Bria, let’s just walk.”

Because He knows my heart anyway.  He knows . . .  

And He just wanted to be my training partner today.

And isn’t it the companionship that makes the training more bearable?  In running.  In life.

I love the stuff I learn when I hang out with God.  Like today, when I realized that He not only loves me, He also likes me.  Words or no words.

So today, I am unwrapping the gift of God’s unendingly kind companionship.  His always.  No matter what.  Come on over to Emily’s Tuesday’s Unwrapped McKlinky party at Chatting at the Sky.  It’s always such a great time.