For Whom and For What

“For whom and for what,” is a question learned from my Dad that I ask myself when training my clients. Who am I working with (mom, weekend warrior, grandpa, pro athlete, secretary, etc.), and for what purpose? Is their goal to just “stay in shape” and be able to keep up with their kids? Do they want to prevent bone loss or correct bad posture caused by their day to day activities and job? Or are they an athlete who wants to get strong, lean and powerful? It matters, because what we do with one person we do not always do with another. Believe me I do not have my 70 year old clients doing box jumps on a 3 foot step…not that some of that could not do it! However, that is not going to help them reach their goals and could very well put them in the ER!
I always ask this question when designing programs for others, but I never gave it much thought towards myself or my activities. Have you? Who is your focus? Why do you do what you do? These questions can be asked of almost anything in your life….your job, activities, hobbies, etc. When I started to think about this, I uncovered some ugly truths about myself….maybe you will too?
For years I lived a “triathlete life.” I swam. I biked. I ran. Then I ate, slept, and repeated it all again. Eventually, I raced, and raced, and then raced again. I had years where I felt fast, strong, quick, light, like I was breaking through a barrier, and I was on a high in many ways. There is no explanation for the feeling after an accomplishment such as an Ironman or marathon or even a 5k, if it is something you have trained hard for, and put your heart and soul into, but who was I doing this for and why?
It is only now that I look back and start to think about it and what I accomplished, what I went through to get there, sacrifices made, and also how I had one sole focus. Me. There were missed family functions, early bed times, early rises, lack of energy to do anything fun, etc., and I compromised relationships, my job at times and other things to do what I did. Now, do not get me wrong…I did love it, and I still cannot believe God allowed me to have such awesome experiences. However, the “who” I did this for was mostly me, for the pride and attention that came with it. I finally found something that I was good at, so I really did enjoy the attention I received, the compliments, the label (triathlete), and I sought the pride in others eyes. See, I told you this was ugly! It is pride, and it is fear of man too. Proverbs 29:25 states, “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.”
I am not saying sports, hobbies, jobs, etc. are not good to do or be involved with, but it goes back to, “for whom and for what?” If you have them in their proper place, that changes things. I was consumed by that world, and the biggest person that I left out of my life was Jesus. It became an idol, an identity, and I forgot that I was first and foremost a child of God. I am not my sport, my job, my failures, my successes, etc., and neither are you! There are many who participate in these events where that is not the case, but for me it was. It became all about me, my training, my accomplishments, me, me, me. Colossians 3:2 states, “set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Unfortunately, for me, my thoughts on Jesus were secondary to myself.
When the bottom dropped out a few years ago I was bitter, lonely, and in pain, literally. Injuries, surgeries, flare ups of my illness, etc. all started to take a toll, and somewhere along the way I got older too. (Still trying to figure out how that happened??) All this time Jesus was waiting with open arms to catch me when I fell, because guess what? He knew I would. There is a transformation that has been taking place in my life over the last few years, and this time it has nothing to do with me. It is all Jesus and what He has done for me and through me. He took me low, but as Luke 14:11 says, “For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Well, by darn, he humbled me, and continues to do so. After another failed attempt at a race (in one week I was to do an event) I can honestly say I am o.k. with it. There is a reason, and only God knows, but I know this – Isaiah 48:17 states “This is what the Lord says, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. ‘I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.’” As long as He is leading me and my steps are for Him, and not for me, anything that comes into my path, whether good or bad, is for my good and His glory. He is refining me, like gold, and I am pretty sure He is not even close to being done!
I am still under trials he has placed in my life, and it is hard, as I am sure you can relate too. We all go through trials. But I will remain under them and wait upon the Lord as he continues to lift me up, because I believe He will. It may not be in this lifetime, but I am not living for this lifetime, for the glory, attention, and love of others. I am living for Him and His kingdom, for my eternal home. I hope you are too! The more I have focused on Him since He got my attention, the more joy I have, joy that far surpasses any high from finishing a race! Now, I am striving to exalt Him, to praise Him, and to share Him with all I know, because the “for whom” needs to be Jesus, and the “for what” needs to be His glory and honor and praise!

Ready…. Begin!

I once had a client who worked very hard, but when she needed a break, she took it, and when I finally told her, “o.k. enough rest, let’s go,” she would take a few more brief seconds and then say, “ready…begin.” I believe this came from her former cheerleading days?? Anyways, point being, she needed a moment to tell herself, “o.k. enough messing around, just do it,” kind of like when you are in a nice hot shower and you have to count to ten to make yourself get out of it. (Please tell me I am not alone in that!) One of my phrases has always been, “don’t think, just do,” which does not always apply to every aspect of life, but in certain circumstances, it is required to get you to move forward in the right direction. In so many ways I am waiting for life to “begin” for me, but as I get older I realize it is not looking good based on my own standards! However, this past weekend I took one step forward in an area of my life and said to myself, “ready…begin!”
Since Boston 2013, I have not raced. Maybe it is because I had such a great experience that I feel nothing will top it? Or maybe it is due to the fact that I feel guilty that many did not get to have that experience, that I “lucked out,” and do not want to press my luck any further? More so, it could be the fact that since that experience I realized I needed a priority shift in my life. I needed to refocus on Jesus and the real reason I was put on this earth. No, it was not to compete in as many events as possible and pat myself on the back afterwards or be recognized by others for my athletic achievements, (John 12:43 “for they loved human praise more than praise from God.”) It was my identity to many and for many still is, but not to me anymore. I am a child of God, my identity is in Him alone, and nothing else matters except what I do to further His kingdom. I was physically training my body, but not going through the spiritual training I so desperately needed.
Due to this, I thought my racing days would be over, that it was somehow not right to experience joy in that area, that God did not approve. The last few years have brought more joy than I could ever imagine, all because of Jesus, however at the same time, I feel like I am living the movie Groundhog Day, and sometimes I wonder, here on this Earth, is this really it? I mean, do not get me wrong, I am SO blessed in SO many ways, and am thankful for all the Lord has given me! I realize though that God also wants us to find joy in this world too, not just when we arrive in Heaven to meet Him. Job 33:28 says, “God has delivered me from going down to the pit, and I shall live to enjoy the light of life.”
He got my attention and rescued me, not just to give me freedom from bondage but freedom to enjoy life too, and push the “re-start” button. I mean, if I am being honest, I did, and still do, find joy in getting together with like minded individuals to run or ride together through beautiful countryside, feeling that sense of accomplishment, even if it means paying a fee to do so. Signing up for a race was my first step. It was nothing too crazy, not too far away, and not with any goal in mind, other than finishing, having fun, and enjoying the beautiful scenery. I thought maybe I could get back out there and enjoy racing again, while keeping it in perspective and realizing my worth and identity are in Jesus, nothing else.
After 2 years, I finally got to toe a starting line once again, feeling the energy of those around me, and I was able to run like there was no tomorrow down a gorgeous stretch of road. Knowing my parents would be at the finish was comforting, (they were in Boston with me as well), and even though it was “just for fun”, yea, I pushed it a bit. What runner does not want to do their best if they are being honest?? When I crossed the finish line, I expected to feel the excitement and high that I always felt, but guess what? It really did not come. I mean, I was happy, felt like I accomplished something, and knew I did my best, but not like before. In some way this was almost better. There was no pressure, no expectations, so I could enjoy it for what it was and know that win or lose, God loved me just the same. He already recognized me. He loves me, for me. The comfort and security in that trumps any accomplishment here on earth, even Boston. Racing was my idol. “Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God’s love for them,”(Jonah 2:8) It is now in its rightful place, and I feel confident that I can go forward and enjoy more events with Jesus at my side, knowing that He wants me to enjoy it but to also remember my hope is in Him alone. Do not get me wrong, I am far from perfect, and I will continue to work out the cobwebs and renew my mind in Him on a daily basis.
Maybe you are like me and you feel a bit like your life is on repeat, like you are only allowed so many “good experiences” in a lifetime? Maybe you feel you have already used them up, or you actually have had very few and you think that none will exist for you in the future? I promise that is not true. God is a good God, and He wants good things for His people, both here on Earth and in Heaven. Maybe you need to let Jesus get your head screwed on straight so that you will adjust priorities, give thanks for your blessings, and begin a new life with a new attitude. 2 Corinthians 5:17 states, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” Ready…. Begin!

Seeking Sunshine!

My dad hates winter. This is not a news flash to anyone that knows him well. Every fall we hear something like this, “This is the worst time of year…everything is dying…it just represents death and the beginning of a long miserable winter.” Guess he has a point, right? Right now, most of us would agree we feel like a daffodil in the ground, eager and waiting to rise up, seeking the warmth of the sunshine, seeking life, and reaching for the sky with every ounce of our being!
It has been cold, dark, and icy, and to be honest, the last few months have just been depressing for me. Sadness has surrounded me, my friends, and my family, with deaths, illnesses, and losses of memory filled family properties. Then about one month ago, I lost my baby, my “sunshine.” Charlie was with me through it ALL, and the memories of his last few days are still haunting me. I sang “You are my sunshine,” to him on repeat during his final hours. River (my other dog), and I both have been blue. He continually searches for his big brother, and I cry every time I wish to pet Charlie’s soft, baby face. Ugh. What a season. What a depressing, lonely, miserable season. BUT Spring!!
How easy it is to get stuck in the sadness surrounding us that we all experience. However, there are two things I have realized through all of the past few months’ events. First of all, no one person should ever go through hard times alone. Watching friends and family support me and others I love, I see joy, I see hope, and I see tremendous love. Galatians 5:13 says, “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.”Being significantly blessed, I thank God for my parents, my friends, and my brother and his family. During bad times, people do tend to reach out with goodness and kindness, and if we are so focused on the negative and the depressing state of our hearts, etc., then we miss out on the positive, heart filled goodness of those around us, and the fact that we are NOT alone, unless we allow ourselves to be.
Bottom line, community is so important. If you do not have it, get involved, whether that means with a book club, a walking club, or most importantly, with a church. We are not meant to live this life alone. Notice God did not just form Adam, but He then made Adam a partner in Eve. Two by two, Noah’s ark was filled. Matthew 18:20 states, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Jesus wants us to be in community for accountability, and to support and pray for one another.
The second thing I have realized is that God slowly allows the bad memories to fade away, and fills us with more of the good ones. Charlie licking up ice cream from the bottom of the “doggy dish” bowl, swimming after the ducks on the Potomac River, catching snowballs in his mouth…these are the memories I am thinking of more and more, and slowly, but surely, the last few moments will vanish. I think about good moments with family that God blessed me with during a health issue last year, instead of the times of immense pain and discouragement. Have you seen this to be true in your own life?
I believe some of us enjoy being down in the pit, and choose to stay there no matter what. That is unfortunate, because God is right there with His hand waiting for us to reach towards it. We DO have to make that first step however, and just like that daffodil, we have to reach up towards Him, towards the sunshine, to begin our climb out of that grimy pit. Things die. Dad was right. But things come alive too, and just like Jesus had to die on that cross for a debt we could never have paid, He rose again 3 days later so that we could have life with Him, not just in Heaven, but on Earth! He did not do that so we could mope around complaining and setting up a cot deep down in our dungeon of a pit. No, he wants us to have life, to have freedom in Him, and He will help us put the bad behind us each time it comes, because believe me, it will come again. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery,” Galatians 5:1. In other words, if you are alive in Christ and have a personal relationship with Him, you should be living in freedom, and not a slave to sin, to sadness, or any other troubles of this world.
Live with your eyes towards Jesus, not horizontally towards the world. I know we have our moments, believe me, because often I can get discouraged and go down towards my cold, dark pit again, but then I remember where I need to look, and I feel the warmth of those around me, and realize that God will eventually lead me through this and allow the sadness to be put out of my mind. One of my favorite passages in the Bible is in Mark 9. Long story short, a father wants healing for his son, and he asks Jesus “If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us (vs22).” I love Jesus’ response, which is, “If you can? Everything is possible for one who believes (v23),” to which the response of the father is, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief (v24)!” How awesome is that?! I can relate, as I am sure you can too, when it is hard to believe anything good is on the horizon. BUT God! All things are possible to those who believe in Him!
Freedom to live, freedom to have joy and hope, and freedom to love others as they have loved me, is what I crave on a daily basis. I may wait another 10 years for relief from some of my “struggles,” and maybe you will too. However, that does not mean I am going to look for new furniture for my pit and stay down there. I will allow myself to grieve when those times come my way, because after all, I am human, but then I will reach, I will search, I will look to grab that hand, that warm sunshine, and I will not look back! For I did not lose my sunshine, I just cannot view it from my deep, dark pit….. But God, and But Spring! It is coming into view!

Inward And Upward Resolve

Working in the fitness industry you see and hear it all. This time of year, you hear the most common statement, “I resolve to lose weight or get ‘buff’ this year.” All across the country, fitness classes and fitness centers are packed, and by March, up to 60% of the “newbies” will be gone. When you ask someone what their resolution is, it is most likely geared towards there outward appearance, not really their health or wellbeing. Now, that is not always the case, but more often than not it is. Vanity has consumed this society, and I am not immune to it, always wanting to look better, to fit the “mold” that we are told is appropriate, and to fit into those size 2 jeans that I wore back in 6th grade. Oh wait, I never wore that size. Ugh. What if we stopped focusing on what is not important in this world, stopped trying to be conformed to this world, and switched the focus inward and upward, to what really matters?
Now, I am not saying that working on your health or fitness goals is a waste of time. I would be out of a job if I believed that! Giving up cigarettes or Krispy Kreme donuts to try and get your cholesterol down, or decrease your risk for multiple illnesses is a reasonable goal. Health is important, taking care of our bodies is important, but I think we should view them a bit differently than the world’s view. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” If you are a born again Christian, you know this to be true, and taking care of our health and well being is a worthy goal. However, why do even Christians struggle with perfection, with losing those last 10 pounds just to fit the mold? If you are healthy and fit, does it really matter if you can fit into a certain size or look like the latest supermodel to impress someone? Again, I am female, I am in the fitness world, and I am subject to all of this as well, so I get it. It stinks.
So, how do we change our views? How do we turn the focus more inward and upward, and resolve to do something that has more meaning or to just get our eyes on Jesus and quit looking at our friend’s tiny waist?? Change the focus to include what truly matters in life, not the “fluff,” that when you are buried in the ground, will not mean a thing. 1 Samuel 16:7 says, “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” God, fortunately, could care less about what size you wear or how perfect you look. What matters is your heart, do you know him, and what are you doing for His kingdom? Now, do not take that the wrong way…”works” do not get you into heaven. It is not a pass. Isaiah 64:6 says, “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.” So, “being good, doing good, even looking good” do not matter. Sorry to burst your bubble.
On the flip side of that, what freedom we can have in Jesus! On our own, with our own strength, we cannot defeat this world or its opinions, however, with His strength, all things are possible. I once was told by a nutritionist that we need to train our digestive system just like we train our bodies. So, for example, when you are training for a marathon, you need to “trial” different food/liquid options to see what will work for you and what will not, come race day. I believe we need to also train our mind and our spirit as much, if not more than we do our bodies. Again, it is the important part of life, what we were designed to do. We were made in His image for His glory, so we should all be training and renewing our minds in His word. 1 Timothy 4:7-8 states, “Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”
What makes one want to train for godliness? A shift in priorities, and a relationship with Jesus is the only way. If you are wrapped up in this world, which many of us are, or have been, you will continue to run on that hamster wheel, for no other reason than to fit into those size 0s, but if you meet Jesus and begin a relationship with Him, He will adjust your priorities, and change the desires of your heart. You will crave it, desire it, and find a reward in it that FAR outweighs anything that a treadmill, a certain size, a certain look, or an acceptance from others, can give you. Go ahead and keep a few of your noteworthy, healthy goals, but also set your eyes inward and upward, on a more worthwhile pursuit, and the outward appearance will change all on its own in more ways than one, with joy filled smiles, and a renewed, healthy mind!

Let It Go!

“Let it go, let it go, turn away and slam the door!” Recognize that? In case you do not have any children, are not a “child at heart,” or have not seen the store displays, I am here to tell you that it is from the movie “Frozen.” Yep, I am a fan. I love that song, and my dogs get the benefit of me belting it out around the house! What a great phrase, right? This time of year everyone is walking around all bunched up, in a ball of stress knots, and we are all guilty of forgetting the “reason for the season.” If we could just learn to “let it go,” maybe we would chilax a bit and get back to what really matters. Do you wonder what would happen if you just let it go? Who would be responsible then? Who would be in control? What would happen next? How would that person know they are being ignorant? Who would solve all of the world’s problems?? Hmmm, well then, can I suggest you, “let go and let God?”
Let go of what you ask? The rude person who cuts you off on the highway, the politics in the world around you, the cookies you did not make, the gifts you feel you should buy, the package that was delivered and got destroyed by your dog, (yep, that happened), etc. We all live in this crazy, messed up world, and we are all messy people. No one is perfect, no, not one, and no matter what you do or say or how angry you get, most likely, it will not change one little thing about the situation, other than make you miserable and unpleasant to be around. I know, because I have been there myself, but I am happy to say I have a new joy in my heart, and as the song goes, “I’m never going back, the past is in the past!”
One verse states, “It’s funny how some distance makes everything seem small, and the fears that once controlled me can’t get to me at all!” It is so true that distance makes a world of difference. Do you ever look back on situations you got all fired up about or things you said, and wish so badly you could go back and do it over again? Or maybe you wish you would not allow your blood pressure to rise over the silliest little things, like the person behind the counter who gave you one more shot of cream in your coffee than you ordered? It can get ridiculous. We can be ridiculous. Once you are removed from the situation, it seems small and not even worth giving another thought too. So, how can we be in THAT frame of mind while the situation is occurring?? What do we need to help us overcome those fits of anger, the stress of the never ending ‘to do’ list, and the fear of what is happening around us in the world? How can we let it go? Jesus.
This time of year, we all celebrate the birth of the baby Jesus, the joy, the peace, and the hope that he brought to this world. That is all good and true, however, do you know that He came not just for the world, but for you, the crazy, frazzled, angry, overwhelmed ball of messiness that you are. Remember me mentioning that “no one is perfect?” Well, I lied. Jesus was. He lived a perfect life, and He was brought into this world as a sweet, innocent baby, but He was here for a purpose, as a sacrifice, a living sacrifice, to cover each and every one of our sins, every single one of the gazillions we make every day. John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
I just said to someone the other day, the Christmas story is really kind of sad. I mean yes, it is joyful, hopeful and wonderful, but, ultimately, Jesus was brought here to die, to be sacrificed as a lamb would have been in the Old Testament. It seems a little unfair for a perfect person, does it not? And if you would have been the only person on this earth, He would have died still for YOU, so that you do not have to live as an uptight, worried, bitter, fearful person. Freedom comes through his birth and more so, his sacrifice.
So, what does all this mean? I am suggesting we cannot let it go on our own. It is too hard. I personally am a stubborn, strong willed individual who screws up all the time, gets angry over dumb things, and can have a tendency to feel the need to do it all, and if it were only up to me, forget it. I would be in crazy town with everyone else. But, by constantly renewing my mind and keeping my eyes on Jesus, I can take all of those situations, those ignorant, annoying people, and those pressing tasks I feel I need to do, and give them to Him. It is an instant lift of a burden, all because a little, perfect baby was born, and then became the ultimate sacrifice on the cross, so that I can live in freedom and know Him personally as my Savior.
If you are having trouble letting it go this Christmas season, remember to “let go and let God,” and if you do not know Him, I urge you to get to know Him. He not only died for us, for you, but He rose again, and He is alive today! There is no better relationship, none worth having, more than one with Him. Without Him in my life, there would be no ability to let it go, and no joy. For those who do not know Him, I wonder how they survive? How do they not go crazy and get irritated with every little thing in this world? So much does not matter, because in the end, God is in control, and what will be, will be. Breathe, relax, and remember that while Christmas is about love and family and giving, the ultimate gift was already given and sacrificed so that we may know Him and freedom through Him, and that is why we are celebrating. “For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6.

Hope in a Headlight

Wet roads, darkness, and a hill that felt like Mt. Everest were consuming me and my thoughts. My bike, and I were getting reacquainted after a long period of distance due to health issues, and my fight to ride on had faded. It felt difficult, lonely, and overwhelming, kind of like I was starting over, because ultimately, I was. Being home with a cup of hot tea, followed by multiple hugs from my dogs, was much more appealing to me than continuing this effort. “Pink lightning,” and I were struggling to get along, as she just did not seem to be able to give me an easier gear. Ugh. However, as I looked ahead and around the bend in the road towards the meeting spot for us “crazies,” I saw a light, a bike headlight, and all of the sudden I had a renewed sense of urgency to try, to ride on, and to keep the faith.
Wondering why I found hope in a bike light? It is because it gave me a sense of comfort and an excitement that I did not have to do this alone. I had a riding partner that would ride beside me and go my pace until I was “up to snuff,” at which point he would progressively push me further. To see him, to talk to him, and to know that he would be with me through this “comeback” was all I needed to perk me up and give me hope. It has been a long haul for me, I am slowly coming around, but while that bike light gave me hope, it was also a sign to me to remember where my true hope comes from. Psalm 33:20 says, “We wait in hope for the Lord, He is our help and our shield.” Where does your hope come from?
Life is hard. Most of you can relate to that statement. Living paycheck to paycheck, working hard, and trying not to let the news depress you is tough enough, but constant curveballs can push you over the edge, and before you know it you are headed to the operating room for knee surgery. No worries you think. I will recover from this and come back stronger. Nope, it leads to the next ailment, and so on and so on. Sound familiar? It seems as I have been growing even closer to Jesus and in my relationship with Him, the evil one is attacking me at every corner, and as I am only human, it wears on me and makes me want to give up, give in, and stop fighting the fight. Hopelessness and bitterness can settle in quickly. Anyone relate to this scenario?
However, when I look at what is going on in the world around me and with people surrounding me, I realize it could always be worse, much worse, and I am so thankful that I have a hope in a much higher power, because if my hope was in this world, in the people surrounding me, in my athletic aspirations, my job, my health, it would be such a depressing, dimly lit existence. Realize this; Genesis 3:19 says, “By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” If you do not know Jesus or have hope in Him, this will be it for you, but for those of us who do know Him, we have hope that what exists beyond our time on earth is something bigger than we could even think or imagine. Proverbs 23:18 says, “There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.” That is what I am living for, where my hope is, and really all that matters.
Yes, struggles are real, health concerns are very real, but when it comes down to it, how are you, (and me), conducting ourselves through it? With eyes on Jesus there is hope, as Psalm 25:15 says, “My eyes are ever on the Lord, for only he will release my feet from the snare.” With eyes on your problems and those around you, you will fall into a deep, dark pit. Trials come and go, they are part of life. Jesus did not promise it would be sunshine and rainbows all the time, but He is so faithful and takes you through them all. Isaiah 43:2 is a great verse telling us that, “when you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” Do you see how the word “when” is listed several times. In other words, it IS going to happen, no matter who you are, there is no avoiding it, however, now notice the word “through!” There is an end to it, AND there is one that is willing and able to walk beside you!
So, what do you do when trials come and when you want to give up hope in everything and anything? Whether you know Jesus or not is a determining factor in answering this question. If you do not know Him, I am not sure where your hope comes from, but if it is in the things of this world, you may want to reconsider. You will return to the ground and none of this will matter, not one little, tiny bit of it, not the size you wear, the medals you have, or the car you drive. If you DO know Jesus, there is good news! First of all, it will produce fruit in you when you come out on the other side. James 1:2-3 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” Even better, you will grow so much closer to God through it. I know this from experience, and let me tell you, as trials persist, there is no greater thing in life than having Jesus as a friend and knowing where your future lies. He is my rock, my anchor, and my shield.
There are 3 things that I plan to do, (along with the good Lord’s help!), and those are to be joyful, be patient, and be faithful, for Romans 12:12 says, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” That pretty much sums it up better than I ever could. If you are currently going through a trial or struggle, just know you are not alone, and there is a future hope available to you. It is worth more than gold, and as someone who thought life would end when I could not run, compete, or just be able to put my socks on my two big feet, I can tell you that if it were not for my hope in Him, it would have ended, however, I am happier than I have ever been. Joy in Jesus beats joy in your job, friendships, athletic endeavors, or finances. My body will turn to ashes, but I live and hope for the day that I am with Jesus, where there will be an unlimited supply of sunshine and rainbows, and no need for a bike light!

Why Not You?

Have you noticed that some people just never seem to catch a break? Myself aside, (just kidding!!), I see them everywhere….the local grocery store, the gas station, walking down the street, lying in a hospital bed with a family at home praying they survive. Granted, there are those who do not do much to help their case, but others work two jobs, live in a “no frill” house, drive a car that barely passes inspection, and “rob Peter to pay Paul” quite often. “Poor thing,” we usually say, “too bad nobody can help them, what a tough situation.” Well people, why not you??
Now, I am not saying that we can put on our superman capes and save the world one person at a time, but then again, maybe we can. Too often we see people in need, whether that be with their finances, their health, their household, or their situation, and we decide that there is nothing we can do that could possibly help them and we leave it to others to give the helping hand. Some of us figure if we do not have these superpower gifts to give, then what is the point? Maybe we are struggling ourselves and figure “each man for himself!” Let me let you in on a little secret….. Any spiritual gift that the Lord has given you, whether big or small, is worthy of being used and SHOULD be used!
First of all, if you read your Bible, which I highly recommend, God did not choose the strong, powerful, and ubertalented to lead people and follow His commands. Instead, he chose people who were weak, humble, not eloquent, and even those who were at one time killing christians (Saul/Paul). Moses is a great example, and he also questioned God as to why He was choosing him to bring the Israelites out of Egypt, (Exodus 3:11). Moses was basically asking, “who am I?” He stated he was “slow of speech and tongue,” (Exodus 4:10) and wanted God to send someone else (v. 13), but God told him He would be with him and help him. 1 Corinthians 1:27-28 states, “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise: God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are.”
I am not sure about you, but I have wasted a lot of time being selfish and serving only myself, thinking what good could I do for someone anyways? I cannot afford to help the poor, heck I cannot afford to pay my own bills some weeks, and I cannot lead the worship team at church, unless of course they want to run everyone out of the building! However, I CAN offer my time to someone who is ill to help clean their house, I CAN give a $5 gift card to someone to cheer them up and let them know someone cares, and I CAN send an e-mail or note with a word of encouragement to a person going through a difficult time. After all, when it comes down to it, I am richly blessed and should share what the Lord has given me! There are numerous little things that can be done to help someone in need, and they do not have to include superhuman acts of holiness! Sometimes the simple gifts that we each have are the best and most effective at helping someone, by showing them Christ’s love.
Romans 12:6-8 says, “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.” What a powerful punch, right?! We should walk the walk and not just talk the talk! See, we each have our own unique gifts even if we think otherwise, and I think we hide behind the idea that they are not big enough to make a difference, as an excuse to do nothing. Honestly, we are a self-absorbed, way too fast-paced, “me, me, me” society, and I feel it is time we start saying, “why not me?”
Do you bake amazing pies? Clean a house like no other? Have a gift for inspiring, motivating or encouraging people? Do you have time to invite that friend to lunch who could really use a one on one chat? Is it possible that you could afford even just a $10 gift card to give to the person who hands you your coffee every morning at D.D., to help them buy groceries? Maybe you know someone struggling to pay her medical bills, buy food for her family, and put gas in her car to get to work? What about donating a bag of food to her? “I wish that all of you were as I am. But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.” (1 Corinthians 7:7)
Note that if it is done for selfish reasons, it is just not quite the same. If you are only giving to those who have given to you, well that is really nice of you and not necessarily wrong, but what about just giving to give?? Reach out to help others who do not ask for help, nor could they give you anything in return.
I do not know what your gift is, but I know it is different than mine and the next persons, so stop thinking about yourself, (like we all have a tendency to do!), and start thinking like Jesus did when He walked the earth. Go out and seek others in need. I promise you will not have to search far or long, and instead of pitying them, dig deep within to find the gifts God has given you, put on your “big boy pants,” and ask “why not me?”

“Fear Not the Engine!”

When one is being pushed outside of their comfort zone or is faced with situations they have not been in yet, they may want to retreat, to back off, to choose a different path and run as fast as they can in that direction. Out of fear many never know what their potential is, what they are capable of, and what the good Lord above has for them in the future. They fear the engine, the leader at the front with the strength and power to move things along. They choose to be the caboose, staying in the back, allowing others the lead position and not even attempting to fight for it, maybe staying stagnate. Heck, sometimes they choose not to follow altogether, throw in the towel, and go their own way.

Well, I was definitely one of those people this weekend. I not only feared the engine, but all 6 of them! As most were still sound asleep in their warm, comfy beds, I was headed down the road on two wheels for a chilly 6:30a.m. start at the usual meeting place, expecting the usual suspects. However, one by one a few more showed up, some of which were new faces to me. “Uh-oh” I thought. This could be bad, six strong, male cyclists and one female who is the self-described, “little engine that could.”  Suddenly a solo ride out to jacks, at my pace, with no pressure, sounded pretty good to me. After all, I figured I would never be able to hang on their wheels, and would just slow them down. I most definitely feared all the “engines” straddling their bikes around me. I could have bailed easily at that moment, but then thought, “Well, if I can hang with them for a little, I can always cut off and go my own route, so what the heck.” Off we went, across the river and up the road, and I was already hanging on for dear life!

Do you ever feel that way with something in your life? Maybe you are being asked to do more, to be more, or to get involved and step it up? Maybe God is calling you to follow His will and to quit being still, but rather, push forward for His Kingdom and glory?

15 miles into the ride I was absolutely considering throwing in the towel, and I knew at some point I would get past the point of no return, unless of course I wanted to get lost. A stagnate caboose is one thing, a lost one is another! For about 10 more miles this was circulating in my mind, but I just kept on doing the best I could and pressing on. After all, it was kind of cool to be out with a “pack,” to have a sense that we were all working towards the same goal. Thank God for stop signs, because that is about the only time I could catch up, and then off we went again.  I am pretty sure it was a beautiful day, but between trying to stay on the wheel in front of me and chasing them down hills (big, strong men go much faster downhill on a bike!), I was not noticing much of my surroundings.

There were a few kind souls that would make sure I was still back there and even slowed down until I could catch their wheel to pull me back to the group. As they said, “no one gets left behind.” Thanks guys! While they were recovering I was busting my butt to catch them, and once I did, turbo speed once again, so forget soft pedaling and forget water. There was no time for that!

Do you ever get weary from the journey that is life? Do you want to give up, throw in the towel, stop working so hard and not have to sacrifice for your job, your family, friends, or even God? The Bible says in Acts 20:24, “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.”

Even 35-40 miles into the ride I still heard this voice saying “stop trying, cut off, you are holding them back,” blah, blah, blah…. But at one point I finally realized I was in this for the long haul, and I was not only going to be the caboose but be the best caboose I could be! “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” Philippians 4:13. The end was near.

 Somehow, at some point, I ended up in the lead. How did that happen, you ask? They decided to back off and rest a bit. J Wow, I was the engine! They were counting on me to pull them into the headwind and push my lungs and legs to their ultimate capability. I felt focused, strong, and excited, and it lasted maybe a half a mile if I am lucky! Ha! I suppose they wanted to give me an ego boost.

Towards the end, I fell back again, but one lone rider waited for me to pull me back yet once again. It was all I could do to hang onto his wheel, but hang I did. My guts are now out on route 45!  Rolling into town I just wanted to get home to my banana and peanut butter and drink about a gallon of water, so I had hoped for the direct route home, however I stuck with them and followed their way, not mine, and eventually made it to my front gate. 2 Timothy 4:7 says, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” Maybe I was the caboose, but I still finished, with a valiant effort.

I have gone my own way too many times in the past several years, gotten off path, become stagnate in my walk with God, and the whole time He has been calling me back to Him, wanting me to chase His will for my life and to work with a steadfast focus, hope, and love for Him. Only then will I finish the race He has set before me. How about you? Where do you stand? Do not get complacent or ride off in the opposite direction trying to avoid any and all uncomfortable situations. Work hard with all the strength and stamina that the Lord has given you, for His glory. Fear God, not the engine(s) that scare you away from fighting the fight He has set before you. He is the only one worth fearing. This world would be a different place if more people feared God and His mighty, mighty power. Ecclesiastes 8:13 says, “Yet because the wicked do not fear God, it will not go well with them, and their days will not lengthen like a shadow.”

Would you believe me if I told you I actually had fun on that chilly, Saturday morning ride?? Well, I did. It was great. I was a happy, pink caboose, who could not wait for the next challenge ahead!

“10 Years of Pruning”

Where are you at? No, I am not asking for your location, but rather, where are you at in the growing process? Are you experiencing growing pains, are you blooming like the spring flowers, or are you like a dead branch that is not growing or blooming, but instead is withering away with a scary future?  Maybe you are struggling with an addiction, family issues, or failed relationships, or maybe you just have your priorities all screwed up and no part of your life seems to be flourishing? I can tell you that for the past 10 years plus, I have been there in some shape or form. After listening to a few sermons recently that spoke directly to me, I thought I would share some of what I have learned, in hopes that it may help you.

God says in John 15:2, “He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” Further along in verse 6, He says, “If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.” I am the first to admit I did not remain in Him for many moments of my life, and was not producing fruit, which explains a lot of the pain and suffering I felt. Now that I am walking closer to Jesus, He is richly blessing me in so many ways. I figure God’s pruners are worn out by the amount He has had to cut away from my life, including relationships, hobbies, etc. Where there are small glimpses of fruit, He is pruning continuously so that they can be more fruitful and glorify Him.

You may be wondering what this has to do with you and your situation, but it has everything to do with it! Once you allow Him to come into your life and start pruning away, you will be richly blessed, and have a peace and hope unlike any other. It will all come together for you, I promise. But first, you must take the first step, giving your life to Jesus.

No matter what you go through in life, healing must take place first. Whether you have an addiction to alcohol, are going through a difficult divorce, or are physically ailing, you must take the time to heal. Where do you receive that from you ask? Well, as much as we hate when people say it, time DOES heal all wounds, and Jesus will deliver it even faster! As Psalm 147:3 states, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” He has healed me time after time after time! Heartaches, illnesses, and injuries have been regular occurrences in my life, and many of you could say the same. The moments I have “let go, and let God” are the times He has healed me as promised. Trying to heal on your own will not work.

 Believe me when I say I am a stubborn human being. Stop laughing family members! J Independent, strong willed, determined, focused, driven…… Yep, these are all words that describe me. That is great you say? Well, it can be, but it can also be bad if those qualities steer you down your own path of destruction time after time. God blessed me, and you, with traits and abilities, but He wants us to use them for His purposes and to seek His guidance and His help. Trying to do things my way, as Frank put it so well, did not work for me. One failed relationship after another, one injury after another, until I realized He was trying to get my attention and show me my way was not working any longer. “I was pushed back and about to fall, but the Lord helped me,” (Psalm 118:13). When I finally, truly let go of my issues, guess what? I healed, in all capacities. I found out it does feel good when you stop beating your head against the wall! Those around me say “the old Lis is back.” I needed God’s help first, and the help of those surrounding me to make needed changes. Where does your help come from?

In tears over a recent failed relationship, I cried out to God for help and hope, to know I was following His lead, and as He promises in Psalm 30:2, “Lord my God, I called to you for help and you healed me,” He not only healed me, He in an instant gave me hope! Without giving details, let’s just say, God may as well have called me Himself! Something happened to me that made it clear I was on the right path and that I had hope in Him, not a run, not a man, not a job, not an addiction, but Him! Ever since that moment, I am in awe of God, so blissful, and I have a long lasting hope that will not go away no matter my circumstances or what life throws at me. I am clinging to one of my favorite passages, Psalm 37:3-5, which states, “Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the Lord, he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this.”  See, He knows the desires of my heart, he always has, so why for goodness sake have I been trying so hard on my own to get them? The closer I walk with Hi , the more He will bless me!

As a born again Christian believe, I was saved when I was young, and because of that I am certain of where I will go after this life, however, my walk with Jesus has been pathetic for lack of a better word, and He obviously is aware of that. The pruning that has taken place I am sure is not over. I am a work in progress, as all of us are, but now I am excited, exhilarated, and eagerly awaiting His shears! Words cannot express the peace and hope I have, and you can have that as well. First, allow the healing to take place, and in the process find the help you need through not only Jesus, but through those around you that love you. Finally, have hope, not in your circumstances, because let’s face it, the world is going downhill fast, and we are never guaranteed a rosy future, but rather, put your hope in a solid foundation and let the pruning begin! He will throw the dead branches in the fire and prune what you have left, so that you will once again grow, flourish, and produce so much more than you ever thought possible!

Identity Theft


“Who am I?” Hmmm…A personal trainer, a triathlete, a marathon runner, a daughter, sister, aunt, etc. This is partly how I view myself, but lately with my failed attempts at signing up for marathons, etc. and then not being able to follow through due to injuries, it has been my thought that I am “nobody” if not that. If I do not have an answer for the next person who asks what I am training for, or if I do not maintain a certain appearance, then what will people think? Who will I be? It is what I do, so what else is there? Wow! Working through this over the past few months, God has shaken me to the core, and I realized, as I continue to do so, that I let others, including myself, take over my identity!!! Have you?

I am a child of God – He handpicked me for a reason. He loves me not for my athletic accomplishments, work success, or anything else I have done well. He loves me because I am precious in His sight, and He wants the best for me. Yes, He provided me with talents that helped me to succeed in races, etc, and maybe I still will in the future, but that is NOT why I am here on this earth, and He does not give one hoot that I did an Ironman! Ugh. How selfish can I be? Do not get me wrong, God is happy when we are happy, and celebrates our successes with us, but He also wants us to be just as happy regardless of whether or not we can run, finish a marathon, or anything else for that matter. Despite our circumstances, God wishes us to be happy in Him!

Let me try to explain….. John 3:6 says, “Humans give life to their children. Yet only God’s spirit can change you into a child of God.” John 1:13 says, “To be a child of God has nothing to do with human parents. Children of God are not born because of human choice or because a husband wants them to be born. They are born because of what God does.” Nothing I have done or will ever do could ever be enough to earn God’s approval, because it is about what God has already done for me, (and you)! His grace has provided me an invitation for salvation, to give myself and my life to Him willingly, in which all He requires is a simple act of faith, belief, and acceptance. You either believe this or not, and that is the choice He provides you with; what you do with it is up to you! When I was young, I realized this, and accepted Him as my personal savior, so I have been “born again,” and His spirit changed me into a child of God. Just because I am a Christian does NOT mean that it has been all sunshine and unicorns! God does not promise any of us that. At times I have grown further away from Him, but looking back, I am realizing that those were my darkest days.

So, back to not running….. Think about who Y0U are. If you could not do your job, perform your hobbies, or be a mother, what would you think? Would you decide you are nobody if you do not have kids, run the company or run the race? If not, that is great! I am glad you have your priorities in order, but unfortunately as a human being, I really kinda suck, and my priorities got screwed up. I had my moments, which included tears, “what is my reason for being here” talks with my mother, and feeling hopeless. Again, selfish, selfish, selfish! After prayer and a few pertinent sermons from my friend’s Pastor in S.C., I have realized I need to change the way I am, the way I think, and I need God’s help to do so. He loves me unconditionally and wants me to succeed in Him!

What did all those events do for me? They provided some satisfaction, a sense of accomplishment and exhilaration, but years later, who cares? It does not give me a lasting gift or a heavenly reward. Instead, I need to realize I am here because of God and because HE has a purpose for me that I may not even have realized yet, and He surely has one for you too! Being happy in Him and because He lives is all the reason I need, whether I can run or not. That is just a perk.

Interestingly enough those closest to me have noticed that lately I am happier than I have been in a long time, and I have not been on a run in close to 6 weeks. You fellow runners out there know what that can do to your psyche! I am not going to lie – I do not miss running in the cold, icy, windy, downright miserable weather we have been having. However, God is the one changing me, and partly because I am finally allowing Him to do so! I have been “barking up the wrong tree!” Because I am seeking and searching God to do what He wants me to do with my life and to be happy in Him no matter what, He is blessing me ten times over! Matthew 5:6 sums it up well. It states, “Blessed and fortunate and happy and spiritually prosperous (in that state in which the born-again child of God enjoys His favor and salvation) are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness (uprightness and right standing with God), for they shall be completely satisfied!” Maybe this is not for you nor do you believe a word I am saying, and that is o.k., but let me tell you, I have been more richly blessed, more fortunate, and happier these last few weeks than I have been in years! I am continually working on being “spiritually prosperous,” but I know now, more than ever, who I am, and that is all that matters.  

Yes, God gives us talents, hobbies, jobs, interests, but we need to keep them in perspective. I failed to do so, and am the first to admit it. Search your own thoughts. Please do not be a victim of “identity theft,” as I was. Though others have known me for my athletic achievements, my job, my family, etc., it is more important to me that they know me as a child of God, someone who is not just the daughter of “so and so,” but the daughter of the creator of this world! Awesome, right?