>A prayer for today

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“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 
because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 
Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” 
James 1:2-4

I absolutely love the book of James. He writes with such a passion and conviction that I can only imagine is magnified when read in the Greek. Pastor Rick included this verse in his sermon yesterday entitled Attributes.

Let’s do a quick word study, since Elizabeth is fascinated by the real meanings and translations of these words into the Greek. (My Hebrew/Greek Key Word Study Bible [NASB] was one of the best investments I’ve ever made.)

pure, or all (G3956) – each, every, any, all, the whole, everyone, all things, everything
testing (G1383) – the proving
perseverance (G5281) – steadfastness, constancy, endurance; a patient enduring, sustaining, perseverance
mature (G5046) – brought to its end, finished; perfect, complete

In order to reach maturity in our walks with Christ, we have to endure trials.. it’s not an option. We will be thankful for them in the end, for whatever doesn’t kill us has to make us stronger, right?

Anyway, I had to include a little blurb on this verse because it’s been racing through my mind in the past 24 hours or so.

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Thank You, Lord, for Your goodness, for Your mercy, for your abounding love. I come to You in absolute thanks of what You have done in my life. You have protected me and raised me up with Your right hand, all in love and all for love. You desire me to live a satisfying and joyful life, and for me to walk with You all my days. Now that I’ve been through many trials, with many still to come, I can attest to Your great love and patience that dwells in me.
Thank You for my husband, for our marriage. Thank You for your grace and mercy and your forgiveness for our sin. You have restored and redeemed us. By the world’s standards, we would have gone our separate ways long before now. Because of the adversity we’ve walked through together, I know that You have something amazing for us… some plan that we could never have dreamed up ourselves. You are preparing and molding us for the future, whatever it is, and I know You go before us.
I want to take life day by day, drinking in all that is before me in my job, my relationships, in nature. Thank You for health, for these legs that run farther and farther, and this heart that pumps so strongly. Running has made me see just how amazing our bodies are, and how You are the great scientist and engineer of all we see. Thank You for the feeling of being so alive.
Thank You for my job. You literally placed it in my lap and I can’t describe how satisfied I am in helping this particular student. Thank You for your gift of teaching that You’ve given me.. looking back I knew my calling a very long time ago, even as young as seven or eight. You are a good God, who fulfills and satisfies and restores.
Thank You for Your promises for future generations that come from Aaron and me. We have both overcome difficulty and generational issues and we know that our children and their children and even up to one thousand generations will be blessed because of our obedience!
Thank You for all these things and so much more.
I love You, Jesus. 
Amen.

>Marathon Training: Week 8; and crossing the finish line

>I seriously can’t believe training is halfway done. Only ten more weeks until the marathon! That means only nine weeks until my birthday. The next several weeks are crucial, as there is hard-core mid-week training as well as long runs on the weekends.

Monday: I rested since I did 12 miles the day before.
Tuesday: A difficult 3 miles (30 min) on Grandview. Took my running clothes to work and changed before I left. I knew if I went home first, I wouldn’t go back out. And besides my run I planned on just getting some things done at home (cleaning, cooking, baking bread.. yum!)
Wednesday: 6.58 mi (9:49 pace) at Mt. Hawley. Got home after work and was seriously contemplating “resting” again. I had a snack, messed around on the computer, and got my butt outside. It was so nice to run in a t-shirt and capris, and to have slightly warmer air fill my lungs. It was a fabulous run!! I had never run that far with such a good pace, and I sprinted the last half mile or so. It was heaven.
Thursday and Friday: rested… and I’m glad I did. I’m not sure that running four days a week is the best thing. If I had run the 4, 7, 4, 15, that would have put me at 30 miles again for the week. Not sure my body is ready for that. Really.
Saturday: 14 mi (10:30 pace!!!!) all around the Heights. Gabi and I went with her friend who’s much more experienced than we are. I can’t believe I lobbed off a minute per mile for a longer run! Last weekend if you recall I ran 12 mi with a 11:25 pace. It definitely makes a difference to 1) eat a little something beforehand, 2) run with friends, and 3) take something to drink (I mixed one of those vitamin packets into some water). I am seriously so proud of myself.
Sunday: Did some easy yoga poses and stretching in the morning; went to the gym and did 15 min on bike, 15 on elliptical and upper body resistance machines… I feel energized and my muscles aren’t as sore.

I think I cleared a major mental hurdle this week. I am such a perfectionist, and it’s something the Lord and I have been working on for a long time. It’s even worse when I’m new to something like knitting or running. I get down on myself; even if I got off my butt and ran, it’s not good enough unless I beat my previous times.

I also get easily intimidated by other runners who I perceive are better than or more experienced than me. I have a broken record of all the things they must think of me.. and I know it’s ridiculous and probably not even true.

I have to remember that God is in control, that He gave me these long legs, this strong heart and this curvy body for a reason and my times don’t matter to Him. He did give me a brain that loves logic and numbers, and I want to enjoy watching myself improve. But ultimately what matters is that I’m treating my body as a temple of the Holy Spirit and that I’m taking care to make it healthy and strong so I can fulfill His work in my life. I got a shirt made for the marathon that says “I run for His glory” with “Let us run the race of endurance, Hebrews 12:1” on the back. It will help me remember why I can even finish 26.2.

Running could so easily turn into a punishment for eating too much, or an addiction. I joke around about being addicted to running, but I assure you, I am not. I absolutely do not have to run every day, and I looooove food so much. (Yes, I know, I should just marry it!) I am, however, proud of my weight loss and maintenance, and I strive to be an inspiration to others, especially those who were never athletic before. Even in high school I couldn’t run to save my life. In fact, on our midterm running test I got a D. I only ran 14 out of 20 minutes, just to get by. And I was skinny then!

I will probably cry my eyes out when I cross the finish line in the U of I stadium in April. It’s not just an athletic achievement, but a culmination of everything I have been through spiritually, emotionally and physically in the past two years.

Two years ago I couldn’t even run a lap on the treadmill. I was fifty pounds overweight. We were $20k more in debt. I had no idea that we would be spending 26 months apart (ironic, right?). Two years later, we are both successful in our careers, I am fifty pounds lighter and more fit than I have ever been. We have paid off over $20k in debt and have no money worries because we know from experience that God will provide! My husband and I have a fabulous marriage and relationship that easily could have crumbled under all the worldly pressures. But in the eight years we’ve been together, we’ve never been more in love or more devoted to accomplishing what God has for us.

My personal goal is to break five hours, but regardless, I will be crossing the finish line for the both of us. For our growth, for our relationship, and for our future.