green thumb envy... · it's a runner's world... · who knows?

run your pace…

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A few days ago I came across the sweetest little yellow rosebud that I ever saw.  She was hanging on for dear life,  on the rose bush in front of my house.  Here, in mid-November, she is a bit of an anomaly, waiting patiently to bloom.

She has a hard road a head of her over the next couple of nights when the temperatures are supposed to drop and the wind is supposed to pick up; normal weather for November, but, not for delicate yellow roses.

I can’t help but wonder how she feels about it.  Does she feel like she’s blooming at the wrong time?  maybe misplaced? or dismissed?  There are times when I can identify with her – in many parts of my life, but specifically in my running.

You know, I wasn’t in good shape as a younger person when it would have been normal or convenient.  When others were playing ball,  beginning new sports or even running, I was sitting on the piano bench practicing for hours at a time and days on end.

So now, here I am at forty, just now taking up with being healthy and I feel like such a late bloomer.  I know that this path I’m on has been carefully laid out for me by the Heavenly Father himself.  However, that doesn’t help me sometimes.  When running with a friend, or with my husband, when I’m working out trying to improve, or running in a race –  I’m slow.  painfully slow.  And I find myself trying to run at someone else’s speed – desperate to keep up with others.

Do you know what I’m discovering? I can only be myself.  A little late to be learning at 40, right? But, I’ve arrived at this moment in my life, by His hand. I can only be who He’s created me to be. Regardless of what others are capable of – I can only run my pace.   No matter how wrong it may feel at times, He’s created me and He’s thinking of me at every step.

I love this reminder from Psalm 139:14-17

I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them. 
How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How great is the sum of them!

Sometimes it is cold and windy, waiting to bloom in November, but I am not a mistake. and I am not alone.

a bit of history · friends and loved ones · it's a runner's world...

run together

There’s something about having a running buddy.   This is me and my running buddy, Patti.

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She knows how to run.  She has experience.  She’s already run races the distance we’re training for and much longer.  Her words of advice are significant because she’s been there.  But her encouragement bolsters my faith, because when she says, “You can do this!” I’m confident she actually knows  if I can!

And she knows how to run with me.  She runs with a spring in her step, and cheery words coming from her lips.   Attentive, she can tell by my breathing whether I can converse, or if I need to just answer yes or no questions.

For a long time, before she and I teamed up, I thought I liked running alone.  As a terribly independent soul, I was prepared to take on long runs alone.  But, I’ve quickly learned:  I need my running buddy.

This lesson I’ve learned is true in my life as a believer as well.

I love what Paul says in Ephesians 4:1-3 (the Message)

 In light of all this, here’s what I want you to do. While I’m locked up here, a prisoner for the Master, I want you to get out there and walk—better yet, run!—on the road God called you to travel. I don’t want any of you sitting around on your hands. I don’t want anyone strolling off, down some path that goes nowhere. And mark that you do this with humility and discipline—not in fits and starts, but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love, alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences.

Could there be more accurate words when it comes to training for running or for real life?  Run, together!  Keep each other on the right path, with discipline!  Love one another!  All of us running, we need each other.  

Heavenly Father, Give me the grace to live in community this way; with love and humility – pouring myself out for those you’ve put on the path beside me!    Let me be a “running buddy” for those who are running the race too.  amen.

 

 

it's a runner's world...

trust your training

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On the eve of my most recent 5-k, I found myself on the phone with my sister.  She’s a seasoned runner, and gives good advice, which I needed.  I was in a panic.

Well, not a panic – just nervous.  terribly nervous.  I’d completed my couch to 5k training plan and knew in theory that I could run the distance.  But – what if I couldn’t in the morning.  So many unknowns – and running such a new thing for me – I was very unsure of myself.

Over the course of our conversation, she said to me several times, “Melody, trust your training.”  What did she mean?  You’ve done what’s necessary and that work will carry you through the race.  Because of her good and true words, I was able to put things in perspective and run with confidence.   And that was run, uphill for at least half a mile.

Since then, I’ve remembered her words many, many times.

Trust…

In my life over the last couple of months there have been a lot of instances where I’ve felt insecure and unsure, emotionally and physically.  Things happen, uncomfortable, unhappy things; I feel completely uneasy.    And I truly don’t understand the purpose at all.   Sometimes I think I’ve missed the mark and I’m headed in the wrong direction – maybe I’ve made a mistake.

But, in these moments,  I’ve also had the opportunity to remember a truth from Scripture:  All things work together for good. Because I know these words to be true, I find myself knowing one thing for sure.  Not only do I have to trust the training I’m going thru spiritually.  But, because of these difficult times, I have to trust the Trainer Himself.

Nothing in life that happens is futile.  He promises there is reason behind each leg of the race I run.  He doesn’t promise happiness and a comfortable life.  No.  However, on these long, sometimes painful parts of the journey, I am conformed to His image, for His glory.   Regardless –  good is the outcome and His glory.    No matter what, I must keep running, trusting the Trainer and His training plan.  It may be rough.  It may be heart-breaking.  I may not understand.  But, I can keep running, knowing He is in charge and His roadmap is the best for my life.

So, feet to pavement, I’ll keep going.  And believe I can, because of His promises.  As I follow Him, He will give the strength to carry on.  And that is really all I need to know.

from Romans 8:

26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

friends and loved ones · it's a runner's world...

what you need for running a race.

I’m training for another 5-k.

I know, I know – you’ve been down this road with me before.  But, after a year and a half of succumbing to inactivity, I knew it was time.  Time to get moving again.  The only problem is:  it is terribly uncomfortable.

I knew this about running from the last 5-k.  But, still I’m running.

After seeing a nutritionist at my doctor’s office, who is also a runner, I’ve been able to glean some exceptional bit of advice. Here are two of the best things I’ve learned during my visits with him:   First, becoming a runner has everything to do with how okay you are with being uncomfortable.  And second, even in your best, most tip-top shape, it is never a good idea to attempt the hard stuff alone.

He couldn’t be more right…

So, I’m hoping to run the upcoming race with a friend.  It seems we may be able to run and keep the same pace, so hopefully we’ll be able to be uncomfortable together all the way to the finish line.

He’s not just speaking truth when it comes to athletics.  He’s right about the Christian life – and I’m not even sure if he’s a believer.   The reality is, this is how we’re made.   God created us for companionship ; for survival through friendship and encouragement from the body of Christ.

Life is hard and becoming a believer isn’t a bed of roses.  In fact, it is referred to to in Scripture as denying oneself and taking up the cross.  The marathon of the Christian Life requires a unique willingness to move thru or surrender to trials that are painful.  It is an impossible journey without the gifts of perseverance and faith.

But, there is the promise of help.  The fellowship of the Spirit brings strength by supernatural means, but also embodied in other believers.  When I feel like I just can’t take another step, it sure is easier if someone is standing on the sidelines saying, “Let’s go!  You can do this, I know you can!  Let’s keep doing this hard stuff together!”

Paul talks about sharing in this life together, being like minded – looking out for each other:

Philippians 2:

Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy,  fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.  Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.  Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

Heavenly Father,  Thank you for making a way – for the gift of faith and the power of the Holy Spirit that keeps me in constant motion towards the call you’ve given me.  and for the means of grace you provide in friendships that encourage and strengthen me daily.   Let me set aside my own selfish ambitions in order to bring mercy to others in need, cheering them on in their own race, for your name’s sake.  amen. 

 

 

a bit of history · it's a runner's world... · who knows?

The Shackles

(I’ve exchanged my shackles, for these running shoes…)

None of you (and I’m confident saying that) were there the first time I ran a kilometer.  1000 very long meters.  I know that none of  you were there because it was during my gym class in grade two.   The event is engraved onto my memory.

It wasn’t eventful because I finished first, or because it was an epic moment where I realized I was going to be a runner.  No.  I remember it because I hated it.  At the time, I had exercised induced asthma and couldn’t quite manage extensive cardiovascular activity.  As my class ran around the block, I tried – but, it was a struggle.  By the time I finished everyone else had already gone inside- well, except the P.E teacher who was waiting for me.

I’ve gone through fits and starts of attempting to be an athlete… volleyball in high school, I tried swimming in college.  But all in all, the task of doing much above vigorous walking has been difficult.   For quite some time I  carried an inhaler with me, and there was a point where I needed it daily.  As an adult, I’ve settled into a sedentary lifestyle and so, I haven’t used an inhaler for asthma recently. I’m not proud of the fact, its just the way it has been for me.  Like a big heavy set of ankle weights strapped on… that asthma diagnosis has held me hostage.  I was shackled.

Until recently.

A year ago I realized I wasn’t going to be able to lose anymore of the baby weight I had gained in my pregnancies without working out.  We have an elliptical in our family room, so I began exercising.  Initially my effort couldn’t really be described as anything other than delicate.  I didn’t want to push too hard for fear of the unknown. What would happen?  I’ve had enough asthmatic episodes to know I didn’t want to have one without meds on hand.

In January, I made the commitment to train and try to run in a 5K with a group of friends.  Several times I have wondered what in the world I was thinking.  But honestly I came to realize something Friday when I was running at the track.  A song came on in my earbuds.  If you didn’t listen to Christian contemporary music in the 1990’s, you’ve probably never heard the song by Mary-Mary called, “Shackles.”  One of the phrases says, “You took the shackles off my feet so I could dance…I’ve just gotta praise You, I’ve just gotta praise You!”  And at that moment, when I heard those words, everything within my frame of reference came into alignment- from my grade two running failure to the present.

The Heavenly Father was in the process of taking the shackles off my feet – and I realized:

I CAN RUN!

Now I know what you’re thinking…  Some people would not agree that I’ve been healed of asthma.  They would say that I’ve just outgrown it.  But do you know what I think?  I believe that the God of this Universe created me and this earthly body I’m wearing.  And do you know what? It is an amazing piece of work! There was a time I could not go any distance at all.  But today, for the first time I RAN.  I ran THREE MILES in thirty six minutes.  I give HIM the honor and the glory and the praise for  healing my asthma, so that I can run!  I just have to praise Him!

16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.  Colossians 3:16-17

Thank you Heavenly Father, for being a God who answers prayers, who heals our bodies and makes us complete.    May I never take it for granted.  Let my life always give you the glory for everything I’m able to do.  amen.

it's a runner's world... · who knows?

you won’t believe who I ran into at the park the other day…

Well, maybe you will.

Friday morning, 10:30 AM, I loaded my beautiful children into my mini van and we headed out for the park.  I was planning a run and they were planning to play.  It was a lovely, sunny morning.  Slightly windy, with a chilly bite, but none the less, it was perfect running and playing weather.

We pulled into the parking lot, the kids hopped out and were on their way and I prepared for my run.  Physically, I knew my body could do it.  Mentally, its all so new, my mind was not so sure.  But, there was no turning back – I had week 7 day 2 pulled up of the “Couch to 5K” app on my phone; the phone was strapped onto my arm and my earbuds were plugged in ready to go.  All I had to do was tap “go” on the screen and my warm-up walk would begin. Today was set for a five minute walk, followed by a 26 minute run, and then a five minute cool down.

Just as I was about to finish stretching and take off, who showed up at the park but the dissenting  duo, doubt and discouragement.  seriously.  How do they always know when to show up?   How?

I began my warm-up, walking at a steady pace.  and they were stepping along behind me, in my shadow,

the dissenters: Psssst… you know you’ll never finish this, right?  Not today… you should probably plan to walk part of the way. 

Hmmm…Just a few words from them and I found myself considering a walk break, and I hadn’t even started running yet.

me (in my most convincing voice) : Oh yes, I can finish.  I’m so ready and I really want this!

The buzzer went off and my “couch to 5K” app told me to start running. I inhaled deeply and got started. But, doubt and discouragement weren’t far behind.  They would pop out from behind a bush or park bench with something negative to say…

the dissenters : Aren’t you ready to walk yet?  Your legs have to be burning.  I bet your feet are numb. You’ll probably end up with a heart attack or something and leave your children motherless…

At the five minute marker of what I hoped to be a twenty six minute run, I felt my courage beginning to melt away.  But, my legs kept pushing and my running playlist was pounding in my ears, propelling me forward.

me:  I really thought I was ready.  really…  I did…  

the dissenters: well, who do you think you are?  a runner?

But before I could even begin to respond, HE stepped in and illuminated the darkness of doubt and discouragement on my path.   And He said,

She’s my daughter (Galatians 3:26).  She’s courageous (Joshua 1:9).  She’s strong (Psalm 27:1).  She’s a woman of God (1Peter 2:9).  She’s a fighter (1 Timothy 6:12). And yes, by My might and by My power, she is a runner (2Corinthians 4:7-10).

And with that, doubt and discouragement, ran with their tails between their legs, leaving me to run in peace.

Hearing these truths from God’s word while I ran, I realized He meant them to be life giving, not just when I’ve tied my running shoes on, but for every day, for every situation.  I can live by His power, a strong believer, finishing the course He’s set before me, living a faithful life.

Thank you Heavenly Father for meeting me at the park the other day, for being my defender and my deliverer and for loving me…  I couldn’t have gone running without you!  I can’t be the runner you’ve called me to be unless you show up to be my strength every day.  amen.

it's a runner's world... · who knows?

courage on fire…

Over the past month I’ve been on a journey through the program, “Couch 2 Five K,” which I renamed, for my own purposes, “Courage to 5K.”  And it has taken every ounce of courage I have in my body to continue on this journey.

Today was week 7 day 2 on the plan.  I had to workout indoors on my machine because it is too cold for running outdoors at the park.  Well, let me rephrase that.  I do not own cold weather workout clothing, so it is too cold to run outdoors in shorts and a tank.

I pulled up the app on my phone and made sure my “running” playlist was selected for my listening distraction, er, I mean enjoyment.  I scanned the schedule for week 7 day 2.   It read: walk for a 5 minute warm up .  run for 26 minutes.  walk for a 5 minute cool down.   I took a deep breath, stepped on my machine and hit the start button.

The music began pumping thru my earbuds and I started moving.  The five minute warm up passed like it was five seconds. The app buzzed and C25K’s voice said, “Run for twenty-six minutes.” It was time to go for it.  Twenty-six minutes of running pleasure.  another deep breath.

It was the most I’ve tried to accomplish. ever.  Six minutes and two songs passed. I was doing just fine.  Up until the thirteen minute mark, things were normal, nothing out of the ordinary.  When C25K said, “You are halfway done,” something happened.  Something remarkable.  I was strong.  My legs were moving because I wanted to run, not because I was forcing them to keep going.  Shoulders back, arms pumping, I was prepared to go the distance. I had my eyes on the prize.  I wanted to hear my app say, “You have completed twenty six minutes of running.”  Nothing was going to stop me.

As I approached the twenty two minute mark, music came on that propelled me even farther, harder.  And I chose to run as hard as I could for the final four minutes.  My legs ached, sweat trickled down my back and my breathing was a bit labored.  It took perseverance like I’d never known before, but nothing else mattered. I was on fire.  Everything that was a weight to me before, had been incinerated in the presence of a fiery courage.  amazing.

After  the cool down, I had a few moments to catch my breath and think about what happened.  I found myself in a new place of prayer and submission, with these words from Philippians 3 in mind:

But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

The Holy Spirit truly used running to speak to me. loudly.   Running with the end goal in mind is so much like what the Christian life should look like.  “forgetting the past,”  “pressing toward the prize,” “conforming to His likeness.”  It all takes courage.  And it requires a letting go;  its a blatant disregard for all of the things that I used to care about because they don’t matter to the cause of Christ.  When I choose to live with that kind of courage, that’s when there is a promise of victory at the finish line.  

Heavenly Father, Keep my eyes on the finish line and the calling you have placed on my life.  Help me to be determined to complete the course with courage.  Give me the faith to pursue your will with strength.  I want to hear You say that I’ve finished well at the end of the run. amen.

(I thought I should be completely clear, in an effort to not be disingenuous – when I am working out indoors, it is on an elliptical on the “hill” setting to resemble what I know it feels like running out side as much as possible.  but, I don’t know what verb to use for that – ellipticalling?  I have no idea – regardless – the victory over the couch, the courage to workout is still there. )