Category Archives: Soul Moxie

Fear Not #1

I’ve been dealing a lot lately with anxiety and depression.  How’s that for coming out of retirement and being honest.  I think when I went through cancer I thought that eventually I would be glued back together, have a few physical aches, pains, and scars, but I’d be happy.  I’d be a survivor.  I’d be the warrior on top of the mountain beating my breast having slain the giant.  Right? 

It doesn’t seem to be quite that way.  Well….at first I felt like a conqueror.  I did beat my breast (or what was left of them) and stood proud…..I had survived!  I was so happy.  I didn’t want to take mediocre in my life anymore.  I wasn’t going to lay on my death bed and say “I wish I’d done this,” or “I wish I’d done that.”  I was going to live fully.

So I wrote and I was happy and cancer was gone. 

But then fear started sneaking in.  Here are some ways it sneaks up on me:

1. Silly little lumps or bumps, or pains or bleeding.  I don’t want to live wondering about every little change that is a bit unusual, but if it lasts longer than a few weeks I usually say something to my doctor, which usually leads to scans or blood tests, and it’s the skanky-scans that give me cause for fear.  Just the waiting and the wondering.  I thought I’d get used to it, but I don’t, not really.  It still causes anxiety and I don’t like it.

2. About a year ago I decided to quit blogging.  It was starting to get too painful.  It hit too close to home.  I had become friends with many of the women I blogged with about cancer and had joined a group blog called “Mothers with Cancer.”  I know we all knew the seriousness of our cancers, I just don’t know if any of us really thought it through as to what would happen when one person didn’t make it, and then another, and another and another.  We’ve lost many.  I quit blogging because it became too hard.  I felt sad, I felt guilty, I just couldn’t understand how I was doing so well, while others were slowly dying of cancer.  It didn’t make sense and I didn’t want more fear and anxiety in my life.  But it didn’t really work because even though I quit blogging I couldn’t just cut them out of my life.  I still read their blogs, was friends with them on facebook.  The plan backfired. Not that I really wanted to cut them out of my life, I just didn’t want to hurt anymore.

3.  I think there is also a sense of urgency when someone has cancer.  The physical pain is very visible.  No hair usually gives it away, an ashen tone from being tired or a nice pink flush from the steroids given during the chemo.  But then the flat chest too.  So the doctors go about fixing you and they do their best and you hurry and fight and you stay focused on getting better and then you’re given the free and clear, the NED, no evidence of disease…..and then….”chirp, chirp, you sit and twiddle your thumbs and listen to the silence for a little while and you wonder just how to pick up and move on.  And your family is just glad it’s not cancer and you’re healthy, at least on the outside, but on the inside you’re still hurting.

4.  And then there is the clean-up after cancer….finances, children and their scars, marriage and the strain it puts on the relationship and a host of other issues that were put on the backburner while you try to fight cancer.

And it’s just going to take time.

All while you’re trying to enjoy life because YOU LIVED, and you dare not complain, because YOU LIVED, and you better live fully every single day because YOU LIVED.

You feel guilty, because others didn’t, and won’t.  And husbands are missing their wives, and children are growing up without moms.  And it all seems overwhelming.

And you still have aches and pains to remind you of your scars.

And the internal scars sometimes feel far worse than the external ones.

But nobody really knows.

And you wonder if that happy-go-lucky girl who lived without fear and anxiety will ever return?

And in some ways you tell yourself you are happier now because you see pain more deeply.  You notice people’s pain more.  You feel deeply.

But then you wish sometimes you could laugh more.

And so all I can do is try to move forward the best I know how.  Reading scripture, God’s promise to me.  His love letter to us.  And writing.

I can’t promise anything.  I have no idea how this writing will go or how consistent I’ll be, but I’ve decided to cover as many “fear not” scriptures as I can.  I’m pretty sure there are alot in the Bible.  So I think I’m set for a while.

I’m hoping God’s Word will help heal my broken spirit.

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  Matthew 6:34

Taking it one day at a time.

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Blueberries and Jonah

It’s blueberry season.  We love blueberries at our house.  And besides that, it’s the only natural thing most doctor’s will mutter at me when I visit them.  Under their breath they’ll whisper something like “you might want to eat blueberries.”  like they can’t believe they’re encouraging something that doesn’t require a prescription.   So enough doctors have eeked out the word blueberries (and green tea), and enough studies have been read, that I eat blueberries, and I pick them and stash large quantities in my freezer for the winter.

It’s a family tradition for us to head west towards the lake (Lake Michigan that is) where most of the blueberry farms are located.  Our favorite lately has been True Blue Farms near Bangor.  Then we head over to the beach for the afternoon.

My kids love the IDEA of picking blueberries.  But that usually fades within minutes under the sun.  We head out with our buckets, down the rows of blueberries looking for the perfect spot, which is usually way back at the very back of the field.  And it never fails, as soon as we get situated in a good spot, someone has to go to the bathroom.  Elijah is usually good peeing and pooping anywhere, but Meleah, no, she’ll whine till one of us gives in to take her back to the bathrooms.  Pooping is such a big deal in our family I don’t know why it doesn’t occur to me to always make sure my kids go to the bathroom before we go anywhere.  And with my little Meleah, the minute we either take our first bite of food at dinner or arrive in a designated location, she will have to go to the bathroom.

And there’s really nothing more unappetizing then having to go wipe children when they poop during dinner.

She always times poop so perfectly.

So we were out in the middle of the blueberry patch and it started.

“I have to go to the bathroom mommy.”

“No I won’t squat.”

“You use leaves to wipe your butt mommy!  Gross! I am totally NOT doing that!”

“I don’t feel good mommy.”

“Yada, yada, yada, yada, yada!”

“Is it time to go yet mommy?”

Until finally I just yelled, “either squat here or go sit under a bush and sulk like Jonah.”

Leave it to me, mother and pastor, to bring up the Bible out of anger in the middle of a blueberry patch.

“Mommy, who is Jonah?”

Jeremy is now like “now you did it Jen, now you’ve got to finish this little Bible lesson you started.”

So then I had to explain Jonah.

“Do you remember the man who was swallowed by a fish in the Bible honey?”

“Yes mommy,” she says.

“Well, after he was spit out of the whale he did what God wanted, he went to Ninevah to warn the people that God wasn’t happy with them for what they were doing, and even though they believed Jonah, Jonah still got angry and he went and pouted under a tree.” (Jonah 4)

(This is why none of you are named Jonah honey, because even though mommy really likes the name Jonah, daddy doesn’t like that the last we see of Jonah, he is pouting kids.  Ok, so I didn’t say that, but I totally thought it….lol)

So if the people believed Jonah, why did he sulk?  Why did he pout?

I can’t help but wonder if all the while God was preparing Jonah’s heart through the experience of the whale, and facing the Ninevites, Jonah was far more concerned about himself.   He just couldn’t see beyond the end of his nose that God was developing something good in Jonah. 

When he left Ninevah, even though the Ninevites repented and believed, Jonah was still irked about the whole ordeal.  He didn’t think God should have mercy on the Ninevites. 

Maybe he was still ticked because he had been forced in to something he didn’t really want to do.

I mean, who really wants to go tell a city they’re going to be destroyed if they don’t get their act together?  Hmmm…”angry mob” comes to mind?

Maybe he had missed God’s mercy on his life and couldn’t understand how God would show mercy to the Ninevites?

God had been preparing Jonah for this task, yet Jonah never saw how God was shaping his heart towards compassion on the Ninevites.   To bring the same message of love and compassion and forgiveness to the Ninevites, that God had already bestowed on Jonah.

He was too self-focused.

I read this great little thought about how God was preparing Jonah:

“I would suggest to some of you here who have to bear double trouble that God may be preparing you for double usefulness, or he may be working out of you some unusual form of evil which might not be driven out of you unless his Holy Spirit had used these mysterious methods with you to teach you more fully his mind.” (Spurgeon) 

I have been far too concerned lately with what God has not done in my life, than what He has done already.  You would think cancer would have shaped me up for good, but what can I say, we are forgetful people in constant need of God’s gentle nudges.

We forget God prepares us in every journey and in every task.  We are constant God-learners. 

I love the idea that double trouble could in fact lead to double usefulness.

But not if we’re an angry sulking mess, unwilling to remember God’s mercy.

It took a whiny little girl, in the middle of a blueberry patch on a hot day to remind me of God’s faithfulness even when we don’t deserve it.

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The Little (Stolen) Tree of Hope

When I take my kids to school I have the option of driving them about 1/4 of a mile down to the school or walking.  The quickest way is a path through a little wooded area near the school. 

Last spring I was walking along and noticed a small dogwood tree buried back in the woods.  No one really goes back in there.  The school used to use it and there is actually an amphitheatre buried under thick garlic mustard and vines.  Call me naive.  Or stupid.  Or Both.  Jeremy can’t believe I did this, but I waded through the garlic mustard and foliage to dig up that little dogwood tree to transplant it in my backyard (I love dogwoods and I’m too poor or cheap to buy one).  I know, I’m a total thief.  I’m not sure who I stole from, maybe the city, maybe the school, but quite frankly I don’t think either of them cared about that little dogwood tree buried under the garlic mustard.

He was certainly annoyed, or maybe humored, or angry.  Sometimes I can’t tell.  He took one look at the roots and said “there’s no way that thing is going to grow, you barely got any roots!”

I figured he was probably right because I really am not that strong and I couldn’t get very deep, nor could I talk him in to going down and digging up stealing a dogwood tree in the woods.and at that point I felt pretty bad because not only had I stolen a little dogwood tree, but I had probably killed it as well.

But I asked him to dig me a hole in the backyard, and he did.  Humored, angry, annoyed.

So I planted my little tree and I watered it, and watered it, and watered it again hoping it would survive. 

And then I sort of gave up on it.  I looked at the stick I had planted and I figured he was right.  I had killed it.  I had stolen it and I had killed it.  I decided to ignore it.

And then I forgot about it.

Till a few weeks ago I was sitting on the back porch and I looked at that little stick in my backyard at the edge of my little patch of woods, and there it was, clear as day.  So little I could barely see it.  So I had to get closer.

I ran up the path into the woods.  It was up on a little hill so I had to climb around, through a bunch of bushes to get to the little stick tree to examine it.

But there it was, clear as day.

A LEAF!

A brand new baby leaf, and several more were popping out in other places.

I hate to gloat to Jeremy, but, well I did.  I said, “Jeremy, look, my baby stick tree is growing leaves!”

And I ran to get the hose to give it a long overdue drink.  Because for heaven’s sake I had been neglecting it!

Then a few days ago I was crying in the backyard to Jeremy and he was hugging me and I was crying and carrying on to him about how my life isn’t turning out how I imagined it. 

When I was 20, I would never have imagined I would have faced death, battled cancer, let alone my career.  That I would struggle to find security in a church community.  That I would go five years straight without a request to interview for a job in my chosen career field and my beloved denomination.  I had just finished attending the Willow Creek Leadership Summit and although phenomenal in so many ways, and with so much that I needed to hear, about trusting God in the desert times, I still felt so emotionally drained, and tired, and useless after seeing so many people who seemed to have it all together and who were having so much success in their chosen field.

And so when I was crying, and he was holding me there in that backyard, I saw that little tree there with just a few leaves.

Just waiting to give me a piece of hope.

The whole book of Habakkuk is basically God’s prophet going from doubt to trust and the process it took to get there. In chapter 3, the very end of the book, the last words we hear from him are these:

“Though the fig tree does not bud
       and there are no grapes on the vines,
       though the olive crop fails
       and the fields produce no food,
       though there are no sheep in the pen
       and no cattle in the stalls,

 yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
       I will be joyful in God my Savior.

 The Sovereign LORD is my strength;
       he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
       he enables me to go on the heights.”

I know I’m not alone in my feelings of inadequacy and doubt.  To wonder if God really knows what he’s doing. To question his intentions for good in my life.  Even though he delivered me from cancer, and he has provided for me over and over again, I still feel scared and helpless.

Over the past year I have talked with countless friends who have felt this way too.  I sat with a woman just the other day as she said, “Jen, I never would have guessed 20 years ago I would be a divorced, single mother of 3, wondering if I would have enough money to make it to the next paycheck.  Divorce, affairs, bankruptcy, scary health issues.  I am overwhelmed by the amount of sadness right now.

Sometimes it all feels like way too much.

And it is.

But then there’s Habakkuk, who reminds us to trust despite hopelessness..

That even though we feel stolen,

trampled on,

broken, 

dug up,

cracked,

replanted,

dug up again,

forgotten about,

dry,

and lost,

we are not alone, nor are we ever without hope.

I’ll cling to that.

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Risk Management or Stereotyping

Recently I had a conversation with a friend about a recent risk management policy change at her church. The policy basically says that no men are allowed to change diapers or take children to the bathroom while volunteering in the children’s ministries area. This can only be done by women.

My first reaction was not a good one. But of course Jeremy and I discussed it and he did say that the policy protects men from any claims, but even he seemed a little surprised by the policy.

But I guess I have to ask, even if it protects men, how does it protect women?

And does it really protect men or does it stereotype them?

And how does it stereotype a woman?

And what does it say to children or teens? It certainly doesn’t communicate equality or encourage men to be involved in rearing children at the most basic level.

It seems when the policy is spoken about, it’s in hushed tones as if it’s not really supposed to be leaked to the entire congregation. And women raise their eyebrows and shake their heads, but don’t feel they can say anything.

I say the policy should be that two people always need to be present when changing a diaper or taking children to the bathroom.

I’m just curious, what say you?

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Confessions Of A 5 Year Old

At 4 pm we made the switcheroo.

Jeremy came home from work and I ran out the door to a meeting with my web designer (it’s slow, but it is coming soon) and then to go meet with some folks for a run.

I had chicken in a marinade for Jeremy to grill, I set out some brown rice and showed him where he could find vegetables to throw in the microwave.

And I ran out the door.

Fast forward to 7:30 pm.  I arrive home and drink a gallon of water because it’s outrageously humid here in Michigan.  Then I set about looking for leftovers.  I managed to find the chicken and the rice.  “Jeremy” I yelled, were there any vegetables left? 

To this he answered.  “I didn’t make the vegetables.”

“Honey, you seriously fed the children only grilled chicken and plain brown rice?”

“Yup,” he answered.

So I heat up the leftovers, including the vegetables, which were the easiest because they were the microwavable vegetables with teriyaki sauce, and I go outside to sit on the front porch to eat my dinner.

Meleah comes out and sits next to me. 

As usual, my deep thinker asks me why God made tornados.  This of course led to a long drawn out answer from me starting with Adam and Eve and how we now know both really good and really bad.  Which of course led us to discussion on death and dying.

And my children do recognize I had a brush with death when I battled cancer and so she mentioned that I hadn’t died.

So I asked her if she would miss me if I died.  And she always gets this silly grin because the girl KNOWS how to tease, and she paused for a second and she finally said “yes mommy, I’d miss you if you died.” And she laughs.

And I say “You better miss me if I died!” 

And I went on “look, who’d cook you vegetables little girl, not your dad, that’s for sure!  And I make you breakfast and lunch and clean up after you…..”

And as I’m rambling all the reasons she should be really grateful I’m alive, she cuts me off and says in a really loud voice to make sure I hear:

“And mommy, you wipe me after I poop!”

And that my friends tells it all right there.

I knew I was good for something darn it!

“For an answer Jesus called over a child, whom he stood in the middle of the room, and said, “I’m telling you, once and for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you’re not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in. Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God’s kingdom. What’s more, when you receive the childlike on my account, it’s the same as receiving me.”But if you give them a hard time, bullying or taking advantage of their simple trust, you’ll soon wish you hadn’t. You’d be better off dropped in the middle of the lake with a millstone around your neck. Doom to the world for giving these God-believing children a hard time! Hard times are inevitable, but you don’t have to make it worse—and it’s doomsday to you if you do.” (Mathew 18:2-6)

 

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Walk Away

I like to be liked.  Who doesn’t.  I get rather envious of people who really don’t care what other people think.  I’m an ENFJ on the Meyer’s Brigg’s test, and I’m scary high on the third letter.  If you don’t know what F stands for in this test, let me enlighten you: FEELING.  So yes, I am highly moved and grooved by outside sources.  I try to find this as a blessing but quite often it is a curse.

When people are critical of me I want to crawl in a cave and hibernate.  I want to hide away from ever putting myself out in the open to be hurt again, and again….and yet again. 

But I do. (somehow the E part of the ENFJ wins over since I am a natural extrovert and need people)

Not too long ago I had someone attack my character.  In a discussion I made a statement about how I felt about a particular situation that I felt was unfair and I got an ear-full of character flaws.  I won’t go in to details, but it hurt me. 

I suppose with every accusation there is an ounce of truth, so I’m weighing what was said and trying to let the rest roll off my back.  It’s hard to do.  But here’s what I’ve started asking myself when someone hurts me like that:

1.  How much does this person know you?  If they know you well, they might have poor presentation (It’s ok to say that to them) but the information might be good, albeit hard to hear.

2.  How much does this person care?  If they don’t know you very well and aren’t willing to invest some time in to helping you change for the better, you might not want to dwell on it too much.

3.  Disagree with the situation, not the person.  If someone says, “well, I didn’t like it when you did this,” and you let out a barrage of accusations about their character, it solves nothing. 

4.  Everyone comes in to a conversation with their own baggage, stress and experiences.  Try to remember this and give them some grace.

5.  You aren’t alone.  Every day, somewhere, someone is experiencing a hurtful situation, a bruise to their self-esteem, and a comment made without thinking.  It’s the challenge of human-ness.  We try to be kind, but we fail often.

The Bible might be the most popular book in history, but Jesus wasn’t liked by everyone either. (I know this surprises you) He was rejected in his very hometown.  They didn’t like what he was about.  They didn’t like the changes he was making.  They were fearful of what he was doing and claims he was making.  He spoke truth, but they weren’t quite ready for it yet. 

I want to share a passage with you that I was looking at recently.  It’s in Luke, from the beginning of Jesus’ ministry.  He show’s up in Nazareth, his hometown to teach and preach.  He’s been preparing for this, fasting in the desert, listening to God.  He was the hometown boy, now 30, ready to start his ministry, but things don’t go very well….read this….

He answered, “I suppose you’re going to quote the proverb, ‘Doctor, go heal yourself. Do here in your hometown what we heard you did in Capernaum.’ Well, let me tell you something: No prophet is ever welcomed in his hometown. Isn’t it a fact that there were many widows in Israel at the time of Elijah during that three and a half years of drought when famine devastated the land, but the only widow to whom Elijah was sent was in Sarepta in Sidon? And there were many lepers in Israel at the time of the prophet Elisha but the only one cleansed was Naaman the Syrian.”

 That set everyone in the meeting place seething with anger. They threw him out, banishing him from the village, then took him to a mountain cliff at the edge of the village to throw him to his doom, but he gave them the slip and was on his way.” (Luke 4:24-30)

Here’s a couple interesting thoughts about what Jesus is trying to communicate here in this unassuming passage.

1.  Elijah wasn’t sent to an Israelite.  There were lots of Israelite widows who may have believed Elijah.  But instead he was sent to a non-Israelite or a Gentile.  This means the God of Israel has sent His prophet to be assisted by someone who does not serve the God of Israel.  Yet, if you read in 1 Kings 17, Elijah asks her to go and use the very last of her flour and water to make him bread, because this is what the Lord wants, and she does, with very little hesitation.  

2.  Jesus is pointing out to them that God shows up in to people who don’t necessarily fit the criteria, in ways we don’t always understand, to people we don’t understand, not just the Israelites, but people like you and me.

3.  This made the Israelites angry.

4.  Jesus walks away. 

People aren’t always going to like what we’re about or what we say.  I try to imagine what brought me to the intersection in that conversation the other day that would make this person lash out and say the things they said.  Was it fear?  Was it the inability to see beyond a single perspective?  Did they need to hide something?  Was it how I said it?

I don’t know.  Nor do I really understand why the Israelites in this passage were worried about sharing God’s goodness and blessing with a non-Israelite, or why they were fearful of Jesus?

But I do know what happened when Jesus realized the information was not being taken well.

He walked away. 

He didn’t stay and fight.  He didn’t argue his case.  He didn’t put them in their place.

He walked away.

What mis-information do you need to walk away from today?  Did someone say something recently that hurt you and attacked your character? 

Take an ounce of what they say for good measure.

And walk away.

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Faith Communities

Some days I feel like having a little more freedom in worship and raising my hands and swaying my hips and I think about joining the Vineyards.

Sometimes I crave a bit more friendly  debate on relevant issues and I think about visiting with the United Methodists.

Occasionally I get tired of worrying about how I’m dressed and I think about going to a church where the leadership all dresses the same to remind me of a unified front against poverty and I think about joining forces with the Salvation Army.

Some times I desire a bit more reverence and communion with God and I think I should worship at the local Catholic Church.

I get curious once in a while about people who worship with emphasis on speaking in tongues, and although I might be uncomfortable at times, I think that might be good once in a while to worship with the Pentecostals.

Then I visit the Evangelical Lutheran Church website and I see the way they emphasize caring for the disenfranchised and I want to know more about how they’re making a difference around the world.

And then sometimes I get tired if the weight of denominational chains that slow things down and I wonder if there really is more freedom in a non-denominational church.

And sometimes I wonder about my own denomination, the Free Methodist Church, and I want to be a part of the re-awakening of a denomination that has a rich history in standing for what is right and just.

At times, the fighting I see on tv, in my neighborhoods, among family and across the ocean seems too much and I want the peaceful community of the Society of Friends.

Sometimes it seems like there are churches that focus on who not to like rather than who to love, but I wouldn’t put the Presbyterian Church (USA) in that group.  They seem to like everyone and I like that.

And sometimes when I realize I’m not treating my body with the respect that God desires, and I think about the Seventh-Day Adventist and I appreciate the discipline they emphasize in their lives.

But mostly I want to be in community with people who love Jesus and give evidence of that love. 

Do you need to be challenged by one of these faith communities?

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles.  All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:42-47)
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July 7

Today I cannot play blogger. I am only mom. I spent the morning consoling a sweet little boy who couldn’t move because his neck hurt so bad. He cried to go to the doctor so I took him to a walk in clinic, who sent us on to Bronson for the pediatric specialists. Thankfully, our fears of meningitis were not realized and he is home but still clingy.

Today I’m thankful for good doctors who were kind to my son, and for the great doctors who put me back together so well that I held a 35 pound 3 year old ALL day and he had nice pillows to lay on.

I love being mom and I love being here on July 7, 2010 to comfort my children.

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Day after Day

I used to run cross-country in high school.  I wasn’t very good, but there weren’t many sports options for a girl with no hand/eye coordination.  And since I went to a high school with about 300 students our sports selection was limited as well.  So I was a cheerleader (woohoo) and ran. 

Oh the stories I can tell of running track and cross-country.  The funny thing about most of my stories is they involve “cheating” of some sort.  Thankfully Jesus saw me as a work in progress when it came to my leadership skills, because I certainly led a few astray when it came to running. 

Like the days during pre-season training when we were really out of shape and the coaches sent us out on a long “there and back” run and we stuffed money in our shoes and stopped at the local “small-town” gas station for a candy bar and mountain dew.  Seriously, who were we kidding.  Not only were we not running but we were eating 800 calories to boot.

Or the time we were running on those old country roads in October and it occurred to me that we should take a short-cut across the corn-field since the corn stalks had recently been cut down.  It seemed like such a sensible “cheating” option.  So off we went across the field.  It never occurred to us that it rains a lot in the Fall, or that we might find mud in the middle of the field, or maybe even a small lake.  Or that the field was extremely uneven and we were practically falling down as we tried to cross it.  No, none of that occurred to a group of sophomore and junior girls.  And if anyone knows how Michigan is laid out, our roads run in squares in the country.  They are usually one mile blocks.  So this meant, it was one mile across that dang field.

So when we got back, we tried to act like everything was really cool, but we were covered from head to toe in mud.  I think we probably looked like we had been rolling in it.  And I’m pretty sure we were way more tired than if we had run the entire training route. (I’m thinking this may be why I was not team “captain” that year as well.)

And we were totally busted.  Our coach had gone out looking for us and didn’t find us, which isn’t very cool when it’s a pack of 5-6 girls we’re talking about.  Needless to say, we ran extra the next day….and the next, and the next. (Not only that but we had to face our mother’s and explain the mud.  I’m not sure which was worse!)

Last summer I started running again after an almost 10 year hiatus.  I keep waiting for it to get easier, but it doesn’t.  My mind tries to convince my body I should stop and walk.  Lately I’ve been running 3-4 miles every day so that 3-4 miles won’t seem so difficult, but I’m beginning to think I’ll never get there, which is a real bummer because I really want to run a half-marathon in October.  Somehow I need to go from 3 miles to 13, and I feel like I can barely get to 4.

Discipline is tough.  I remember a few years back telling a friend something to the effect that everyone has different spiritual gifts, so aren’t some of us better at some disciplines than others.  She nailed me on that one….and rightly so.  She said “Jen, if it was easy it wouldn’t be called DISCIPLINE!”  And she was absolutely right. 

Hebrews 12:1-2 talks a little about running and discipline:

“Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!”

I don’t know what discipline you struggle with.  Maybe it’s an addiction.  Maybe it’s taking care of your body and finding value in how God made you.  Maybe it’s really taking time to decide what you believe and why?  Discipline is never easy.  Even if I do get to running 13 miles, I’m sure there are days when 3 miles will feel like 500 and some days it won’t be so bad.

But get on with it.  Quit carrying around the baggage, make the choice and go for it.

And the great thing is, every morning is new.  God’s not keeping track and neither should you.  If you’ve set a goal and you get off track, start again.  And again, and again. 

Cheating never felt good.  I either felt guilty, or I would totally “bonk” during the race.   

But what really did feel good was crossing the finish line strong, knowing that I had not only run the best race possible for me, but I had trained the best I could for that race.

I like finishing a race with no regrets.

How about you?

(Here’s a great song about “starting over” from Addison Road.  This is your last day to make a comment on my blog.  I’ll be announcing the winners tomorrow!) 

 

 

 

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“Thing-finding”

“Then he told them this story: “The farm of a certain rich man produced a terrific crop. He talked to himself: ‘What can I do? My barn isn’t big enough for this harvest.’ Then he said, ‘Here’s what I’ll do: I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll gather in all my grain and goods, and I’ll say to myself, Self, you’ve done well! You’ve got it made and can now retire. Take it easy and have the time of your life!’

Just then God showed up and said, ‘Fool! Tonight you die. And your barnful of goods—who gets it?’

That’s what happens when you fill your barn with Self and not with God.” (Luke 12:13-21)

One of my favorite memories of elementary school was when they had special assemblies. It was at one of these assemblies that I fell completely in love with a girl named Pippi Longstocking. Not the newer Pippi movies, but the older ones where they do the voice over because it’s in Norwegien. The Pippi that knew no boundaries, did her own hair, ate what she pleased, and followed her own set of social boundaries. That Pippi. I fell madly in love with her. I wanted to be just like her.

So a few years ago, I found the Pippi movies on Netflix for my girls. And of course, they too fell in love with her wacky and wonderful free spirit. So then I got the books to read. One chapter stood out to me because, in reality, Charis is really Pippi. Seriously, the girl is a free spirit. Social boundaries, what social boundaries? She would wear a bathing suit to school if I didn’t set out her clothes. And she would eventually make it down to school if I let her walk, but the five minute walk would take her several hours because something would interest her along the way and completely distract her.

But in this particular chapter, Pippi invites her friends to go “thing-finding” with her. She talks about all the little nick-nacks you can find when you go looking.

The interesting thing about this chapter is that this “thing-finding” past-time is also Charis’ favorite past time. Every few months Charis’ teachers send a bag home full of the treasures Charis has found on the floor of the school, out on the playground, etc. If the teacher is throwing it away, Charis will regularly retrieve it from the garbage to bring home.

Now Meleah does this too. I’m not sure if Charis has taught her this past-time or If most children do this. But Meleah has taken to getting on her hands and knees to look for “gems” on the floor at the dollar store. Once, Charis was digging under the shelves and cut her finger. The manager got us a band-aid, and I loved it when she told the girls….”anything on the floor is yours.” Lovely, like I don’t find enough treasures in the laundry already?

What is it about “stuff?” From an early age we are smitten with the accumulation of stuff. The girls just love anything that’s glittery or bright. Even Elijah loves to find money on the floor.

I heard someone describe their future plans for retirement like this “we plan to live high on the hog.”

I’m not bashing planning for retirement. That’s a sensible thing to do. But what good are we doing hoarding things?

John Wesley once said “make all you can, save all you can, give all you can.” I think that was the order anyway.

We try to fill our desires with things that make us happy. We become treasure hunters rather than God Hunters.

What are you filling your self with today? Is it little treasures that don’t add up to much or are you filling the void with more of God.

Pippi was fun. But the sad thing really, about Pippi, was that she had lots of fun, lots of treasures, lots of great treasures, but no mom and dad. Her dad was a sailor at Sea and she had no supervision. That sounds really fun as a kid, but in reality, it’s sad and scary to be alone in the world.

What “things” or “treasures” are you filling up in your life today that only God can fill?

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