Sunday, May 24, 2009

God Gave Me "Two Thumbs Up!"

My heart is so full. I don’t know where to begin! All I know is that I want to write it all down and remember it forever! So, here I am; about to immortalize tonight’s experience in a blog. Oh, where to begin?!

I guess you could say it started a few days ago as I was reading in the book “Captivating”. I was reading in the chapter about God romancing the heart. I wrote down lots of things that He had done lately to capture my attention and wow me. Most of them had to do with the things He allowed me to see and experience as I’ve been running lately. I’ve seen ducks, geese, cardinals, rabbits, and even a raccoon! All these things are only but a few of the many breathtaking moments that I can’t even begin to describe.

So, as I was reflecting over that chapter and all God has done lately, the author described how her husband got to see a whale (and at a time where they all should have migrated by then). She knew it was a special gift of love from God, and she asked God to give her a “whale” too. She watched and waited for hers, but it never came. Instead, God showed her an even more amazing sight: starfish, and lots of them! She said they were everywhere on the beach and it took her breath away. She said she realized that the whale was meant for John, and only John, but that the starfish were for HER! God knew that the starfish would be what touched her heart in that special way.

I loved reading that. Even more so, I loved thinking about all the “starfish” God has given me lately. Then, I read the line where she said to ask God for something like that. I was excited! I began to think about what I could ask for. I felt like God was saying, “what do you want to see the next time you go out?” (meaning, the next time I go for a run). I thought of lots of things. Among them were a rainbow, a white dove or swan, a deer, or anything unexpected and out of the ordinary. Though, for some reason, my heart was kind of set on a swan - just because I thought it would be neat to see a pure white bird in the dirty nasty river (a diamond in the rough kind of thing). Though, like the author, I know that God is full of surprises! We don’t always know what we are asking for. Sometimes, He gives us a starfish instead of a whale because He knows even more than we do what’s going to stir our hearts. So, I made up my mind that I would accept whatever “swan” He gave me; in whatever form it came in. I prayed that I would be aware and know it when I saw it - even if it wasn’t an actual swan.

And so, the stage was set! I couldn’t wait to go for my next run to see what God was going to do!! I had such anticipation and I could hardly stand it! It was so hard to take it easy and wait because I didn’t get that run in until today. I had hoped that I could have run on Friday but I just wasn’t feeling well. I remembered, however, that God’s timing is perfect. I wasn’t going to “miss” anything by not getting to run on the day that I wanted. It’s not like God doesn’t know when I’m going to run! He’s make it happen just the way it’s supposed to!

Finally, the opportunity came today for me to get that running time. Even though I still wasn’t feeling so great, I knew I would feel better (and accomplished) once I “got r done”. So, I started stretching and getting ready to go and wouldn’t you know, the phone rings. It’s a friend of mine that I haven’t heard from in a while (and she’s one of the ones that I have asked prayers for). She let me know that her daughter is still on a respirator and waiting to get stronger for her next big surgery (so keep praying people!). Yet, she did have some good news. One being that her daughter woke up long enough to insist that the nurse call her and ask her when she was going to be there (they are in different states at the moment). The other amazing thing is that she told me she seen a RAINBOW for the first time since she has lived down there in South Carolina. I was so happy for her, and KNEW that that rainbow was for HER!! I thank God for that!! WOW! I told her about how I was about ready to go out for my run and experience my own “wow” moment. As eager as I was to go, I still rested in knowing that God’s timing is perfect and that greater than any “priority” that I thought I had at the moment, my friend was #1 right then. PEOPLE come first!! I was more than happy to get to talk and listen to her and be present in the moment. I think if I hadn’t listened to God’s nudge to enjoy my friend and all the wonderful things she had to say (one of them being how she led a lady to the Lord without even really trying! Amen!!) I might have screwed up the perfect timing of events that were to happen next.

After my friend said her good-byes and well-wishes for me to have a great time, I made my way out the door. My goal this time was to once again run all the way to the Greenway, at the very least, before taking any kind of break. Right off the bat, I could sense the opposition. My ankles started hurting immediately; as if it were Satan’s deliberate attempt to discourage me and make me quit before I began. I started to wonder a bit, because after all, I hadn’t run in a week. However, my stubbornness kicked in. After reading in “Captivating” about Satan and his assaults, I wasn’t about to let him do that to ME! So, I pressed through the pain and I prayed. I just pushed on and little by little, I started feeling more comfortable. Ha! Boo-yah Satan!

I made it uptown. I went by a house and heard someone shout at me. It was one of the gals from the worship team (the one I referred to in my last blog). Well, what do you know?! I thanked her for her words onstage today as I continued to run and make my way to the intersection. I had to stop for a few seconds and wait to cross, but other than that, I made it to the Greenway!! When I got there, I just kept going! I wondered if I could just make it all the way down and continue running without any breaks at all!! I had to see if I could! I KNEW I could!!

The music in my ipod helped me keep pace; as well as my prayers and repeating to myself “I can do it. God give me strength!” I was starting to hurt a little right under my ribs on my right side. But, I kept my heart rate up and kept going at that steady pace. I don’t run “fast” but it’s a jog or run of some sort. ;) I knew I had to keep going! I had to do this!!

All the while, I kept looking to see a swan, or whatever. Maybe it wouldn’t be a swan. Maybe it would be a bald eagle or something even more extraordinary. Who knows! I just wanted to be alert and ready for it! I did see geese, ducks, and lots of people on the Greenway. Of course, there were also cars coming by on the road too. Every now and then, someone honks or waves or something. However, I was just amazed at what happened when a car started driving by; just as I was starting to feel really weak. The windows were down in the car and there was an arm out the window. I looked and I saw a lady smile at me and give me a thumbs up. I smiled back. Then, I realized just how significant that was. That was GOD giving me the “thumbs up”. He was saying, “Good job! You’re doing great! I’m proud of you!” Not only that, but that lady was noticeably overweight. I remembered what my prayer sisters had told me earlier that morning about being so refreshing and inspiring to them. I realized that maybe, just maybe, I gave that woman in the car hope. I’m no stick figure, so seeing me run might have given her a boost just like she gave me a boost. I’ll tell you what, it was just the fuel I needed and I could feel a new surge of strength! Not only that, but the car was white; like a swan. ;) I hadn’t seen a “real” swan yet, but I had seen/heard it mentioned on TV TWICE in the past few days. Now, I see this…..a woman who may feel like she’s an ugly duckling, but is truly a swan (my prayer sisters mentioned that to me earlier this morning too!!). Oh, it was just simply amazing and encouraging (and Alicia, Chris, and Maggie - I LOVE YOU!!!).

I carried these thoughts with me as I kept on going. Previously, my best time running was a 20 minute run with a 3 minute walk and then a 30 minute run. I thought surely, I could do 50 minutes straight - better yet, 60!!! I made up my mind to do 60!! I reached the end of the Greenway in under 60 and just turned around and kept going. As I did, I kept looking at my heart rate monitor to see how many minutes I had left to 60. I had to push hard, because I was starting to feel weak and worn out. I kept saying, “I can do this! I am NOT going to quit!!” And, wouldn’t you know, here comes ANOTHER white car. The window was rolled down, and a guy stuck his hand out the window and gave me a thumbs up!!!! Once again, God showed Himself to me and gave me the strength to keep going!!

As I was almost to 60 minutes, I was approaching a couple that I had passed earlier. They looked at me and the lady said, “My, you have stamina!” I was encouraged because truly, I don’t! The fact that I am able to do ANYTHING like that is because of God! It’s sooooooo NOT ME!!! I answered her, “It’s all God!!” Then, I looked at my watch and seen that it was now past 60 minutes! Then, I exclaimed “I made it!!!” I’m not sure what she was thinking, but it was amazing to be able to declare my victory and to give God the glory!! He is my strength, and He is why I can do all that I did! “I did it. WE did it!” I said to God. “Thank you!” I had tears of joy welling up. I could barely contain it!! I had only hoped that God would “cry” with me and finally let the cloudy sky release the rain. But, every time I asked Him to let it rain, He gave me a cool breeze instead. Fine with me! The breezes were just as good - maybe even better! Father, You’re amazing!!

The story doesn’t end there!! I didn’t stop at 60 minutes! In Forrest Gump fashion, I figured “well, since I’ve come this far…….” and I kept going!! I thought, “I made it to 60, but I want to FINISH this Greenway!” I had already made it start to finish one way. Now, as I ran it going back towards town/home, I thought surely I could finish it AGAIN! It was getting tough, but I MADE IT!! I finally got to a bench at the end and rested…..75 minutes of running! A new personal best!!

After my rest, I got up and walked the rest of the way home. There was a guy sitting outside on his porch (I think I passed him earlier as well). He said something to me about running. I couldn’t understand him very well, but I told him I made it and that God gave me the strength. I couldn’t understand what all he said, but I think he was just glad to have someone to talk to; and I was glad to share with someone that once again, God made things happen!

I was just filled with joy, but God still had a few surprised left. As I passed some houses on the way home, I saw some big white decorations. I think they were supposed to be big white ducks or geese, but some of them had the neck curvature of a swan (though, I know swans have the black beaks). They weren’t exactly swans, but the symbolism was there. It made me smile!! I smiled even more as I passed a yard and there were THREE cute little bunnies there, just watching me. I tried to get closer, but they eventually scampered away. Once again, it was another “God” moment.

All total, I ran 75 minutes and walked for 30. Not quite two hours like last time, but I burned a LOT more calories - over 1500 compared to 1200 last time!! Yeah, baby!! Amen!!! I really can do all things through Christ who STRENGTHENS me (Philippians 4:13)!!!

Thank you to everyone who reads these blogs and for all your motivation and encouragement!! I know that this is one of my ridiculously longer blogs (yeah, blogopotamus - right RT?!), but I hope something in it inspired you like it inspired me (like so many of you do for me)!!

Grace and peace to all of you!! I pray that all of you will get your starfish, swan, or thumbs up from God! Ask Him to show you, and then be aware! He will speak to you!! Ask Him! Then, expect Him to come through (because He WILL - and in ways you likely could have never expected!). AMEN!!

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