Sunday, October 25, 2009

Celebrating Brett

Today is October 25th. Usually, on this day, I re-post something that I wrote in memory of my beloved uncle (who passed away sixteen years ago). This time, I’m not going to re-post that blog (though you can read it by clicking here). Even though it was a good post about processing grief, and learning how to appreciate the people in your life before it’s too late, I feel that now is the time to write a post that concentrates on celebrating his life. Everyone still misses him, and that‘s why it’s time to tell the world WHY we miss him. His life was a life that touched so many and he truly made an impact on everyone he met!

If I had to describe my uncle Brett in one word, I doubt I would be able to do it. Not only because I always have so many things to say, but because someone like him cannot be contained in one word. The uncle Brett I remember was an incredibly handsome, charming, funny, loving, and talented man who could really make you smile! And, as my Mom and aunt can attest to, he was also very ornery and they have been the butt of his jokes many times (though, my Mom has shared stories with me about how they pulled their own jokes on him!). The family and friends that know him best can probably tell you funnier and better stories than I can! The only ones I have are the ones that I have heard or have seen firsthand in the few years that I knew him (I was in fifth grade when he died).

One of the first memories that comes to mind is the time my Mom, brother, and I visited him at his place. He had his synthesizer set up and he allowed me to play on it. Without my knowledge, he recorded me as I played something from memory. Then, he boasted that he could play that same thing using only his nose! Of course, I thought that was impossible, but he proved me wrong - well, sort of!! I watched in astonishment as I heard my exact song playing as his nose moved up and down the keyboard! Knowing him (and the fact that I hadn’t played a simple chopsticks!) I figured he had tricked me somehow! Mom says my expression was priceless! He never would admit that he tricked me. In fact, he always insisted that he could still do it, but that it would have to be another time because he had a cold or something and couldn’t use his nose that day. ;) It was kind of a running gag between us. He was so funny! Grandma always said he was so good at getting people to fall for such outlandish things (he “got her” a LOT!). ;)

The other thing I remember most about him is his music. I would LOVE to be able to share a song of his with you, but I can’t. Everything he recorded is on cassette tapes. Maybe one day, we will have them converted but until then, you’ll have to take my word for it that he was VERY talented!! I remember we used to listen to his tape in the car non-stop! One of the ones that my brother and I liked best was “The Ice Cream Song”. It started: “Going to the Country Kitchen. I’ve got some dinner on my mind….” The chorus, addressed to the waitress, was something my brother and I always liked to say: “Helen, Helen, I want some ice cream. I used to get it here free all the time….all the time I want some ice cream.” I know, it’s hard to appreciate it or understand it if you haven’t heard it with the music, but trust me….it gets stuck in your head (I’m humming it to myself right now! Won‘t be able to get it out of my head!).

Aside from his original compositions, he also sang a lot of well-known songs. He used to have a band called “R-Tyme” (family/friends, I hope I remembered and spelled it correctly!) and I remember my brother constantly singing “Johnny Be Good” after seeing/hearing my uncle perform it. Uncle Brett made Michael J. Fox’s “Back to the Future” version look like child‘s play!

There are three other songs that I remember him singing/playing that I was especially fond of. One of them was “Rocky Top” (my brother and I LOVED this one!). Another one was “Alone” by Heart. He played that song on one of his visits to our house. I was really young, and I remember how much I loved the piano solo at the beginning of the song (and it always takes me back to that memory when I hear that song today). I remember I was dancing in circles like I was a ballerina or something. He was making up his own lyrics as he went along. I remember him singing that I was a pretty dancer or something. ;)

By far, the song/memory that stands out most in my mind is when he played the song “Can’t Fight This Feeling” by REO Speedwagon. It was during Thanksgiving 1985. I was three years old and my brother was a newborn and we were at my grandparents house. He played the song and his friend, Rosie, sang it. My Dad had a BETA recorder (um, yeah… preceded VHS tapes lol) and he taped it. Recently, my Dad got those tapes converted to DVD. The picture and sound isn’t very good, but it’s so precious to be able to watch again! I don’t have the right programs to convert it and put it on YouTube (and if I do, I don‘t know how to use it) so I just played it on the computer and videoed it with my digital camera and uploaded it that way. I hope you can see/hear it alright (and yes, the little girl running from Mom‘s lap to Grandma‘s is me)!! It is my great joy, honor, and pleasure to share it with you!!! This song has become “Brett’s Song” to many of us (at least to me). It used to be difficult for any of us to hear it (Mom used to change the station immediately if it came on the radio). Now, however, I can listen to it and enjoy it. Though, I do still tear up from time to time (see video at the end of the blog).

There is a lot more that I could say and share with you, but to tell you the truth, he really leaves me speechless. Greater than all of the things I mentioned was his love for others. He was extremely giving! And, towards my brother and I, he loved us as if we were his own and was extremely kind and generous to us in so many ways! I remember telling him one time that I had a “boyfriend” and he said, “Well, you tell him that he has to go through Uncle Brett first!” That always makes me smile, but yet, sad that my husband never got to “go through” him and get to know him (sadder still that he didn’t get to know our kids). However, I am glad that this world had him for the short time that he was here and I know that his legacy lives on (and so does he).

I hope that this blog, pictures, and this priceless video, has given you an idea of how amazing, funny, talented, and special my uncle was (and still is to so many!). I remember my Mom telling me that there were SO MANY people that came to see him at his viewing. I can only imagine the countless stories and memories that people have of him! If you are one of those people, and you would like to share, leave a comment! I would love to read them (as I’m sure all those that know and love him would too!).

Grace and peace to all of you!! Thank you for reading! It has been my joy to share these memories and I hope you have enjoyed them too!! God bless you!!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Blessed Peace and Rest

In the past few weeks, I have had some rough moments. I won’t go into details, but let’s just say that emotionally and spiritually, I have felt down. In times like these, I cling to what I know and not to what I feel. Yet, it can be frustrating when you are waiting for your feelings to catch up to your faith.

I’ve had some of my dear friends say prayers over me recently, and each time I felt a renewed sense of peace. One of the many things that I often struggle with is just the personal pressure I unnecessarily put on myself (and my fears of letting others down if I don’t come through for people). Though, as I heard recently during the church service before my friend Jama’s baptism, we are human BEINGS and not human DOINGS. The preacher is absolutely right in that he was saying that we get so caught up in the daily grind of “doing” that we forget how to just “be”. That is one message that I constantly need reminded of! It brings to mind a verse that was shared with me years ago about how we “do and do” and refuse rest. It’s in Isaiah 28:12-13: to whom he said, “This is the resting place, let the weary rest"; and, "This is the place of repose"—but they would not listen. So then, the word of the LORD to them will become: Do and do, do and do, rule on rule, rule on rule; a little here, a little there—so that they will go and fall backward, be injured and snared and captured. (NIV)

It’s not that our “doings” are bad things. After all, we do have responsibilities as well as serving opportunities. What it all comes down to is that “b” word (that I always find hard to define) which is “balance.” And, as the pastor pointed out, God CHOSE to rest on the seventh day. We must also choose to rest, to recharge, to remember to “be still and know” (Psalm 46:10). Otherwise, we will wear ourselves out and be just like those in that last verse. Overdoing it can definitely cause us to fall backward (rather, backslide) get us injured, snared, and captured (by the enemy). Think about it.

In connection with the “pressure” that I put on myself is usually an accompanying worry and/or condemnation. Of course, I truly know better than that because there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ (Romans 8:1) but nonetheless, I still get attacked with it from time to time. Satan would love nothing more than to try to enslave me back into a shell of low self-worth and self-loathing. However, that’s what prayer is for! My sweet prayer sister and mentor, Kim, asked God to affirm to me what HE thinks of me. In my mind, the phrase was: “I think: I love you.” The response I felt was, “So what am I so afraid of?” (to the tune of that all familiar song by David Cassidy).

That moment wasn’t about the song, but about the concept. Though, remembering the tune is what keeps me singing it back to God any time I start to forget these two key verses:

For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. - Romans 8:15 (KJV).

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. - 1 John 4:18 (KJV)

Do you know what God thinks of me (and you)? His first thought is “I love you.” If He loves us, why do we fear? That’s what I keep asking myself. As a daughter of the King, I am perfected in love. Grace doesn’t enslave me to fear, it’s what sets me free (Galatians 5:1)! My heavenly Father does not (and will not) condemn me and NOTHING can ever separate me from His love (Romans 8:38-39)!

Furthermore, I needn’t try so hard and be “doing and doing“ all the time. The Holy Spirit will do His job and I will be content with whatever role I have. As my brother in Christ prayed for me recently, I felt the Holy Spirit assure me that He does want me. The one thing He said was that I am overcompensating. Often, I go beyond where the Holy Spirit wants to go. The perfect example is of how Mary had Jesus work a miracle before it was time. He even told her that His time had not yet come (in other words, she was rushing Him) but out of love and honor for His mother, He turned the water into wine (John 2:1-11).

I know that I sometimes do too much (and say too much). No doubt most of it is probably good things, but I know that it takes away from what the Holy Spirit wants to do (if I try to do too much of His job or rush His timing). I don’t want to slow down or jump-start whatever process He has in mind by being too eager or impatient. I don’t want to limit Him or others by taking away from it all by being over-involved. All the more reason to remember to “rest” and “be” and to “wait” on the Lord. And if it takes a mild illness (such as I have been battling the last few days) to remind me of that, then it’s been worth it!!

This isn’t the first time I have learned this “lesson” but it seems like it takes repetition of a concept (and often in various forms) before something truly becomes cemented into your heart. I hope that I don’t have to learn it too many more times. ;) I hope that as I think on this more and more, I will become better at being concise with my words and actions and that I will no longer be one who “overcompensates.”

May the grace and peace of our heavenly Father be with you!! God bless you!!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

God on the Greenway: Questions and Answers

Indiana weather; love it or hate it, it is what it is. Temperamental? Yes, VERY! However, it has its way of giving you a few pleasant curveballs. Yesterday, for example, was that kind of day. It had been cool, rainy, sunny, and just about everything in-between for most of the week and that’s pretty much how it was yesterday too. Generally, it was cool and mainly sunny. Not too bad. It made for great running weather!

As much as I love the warm summery days, I also enjoy the cooler ones. Most agree that summer is probably the sweetest time of the year. However, each season has its perks. Summer may be sunny, warm, and bursting with life, but for people like me it’s also allergy season (not to mention humidity, sweat, and other unpleasantries). That’s why the coolness of fall is such a nice change of pace. I can run outside without having to take OTC allergy medicine to keep my itchy eyes and sinus issues at bay. Also, I don’t get as hot, sweaty, and uncomfortable. I don’t have to pray for some light sprinkles or a cool breeze to cool me off at this time of year! So, I pretty much have it made! Plus, who doesn’t like cozy sweaters, fireplaces, hot chocolate, and some light snow from time to time? And, as hectic as the holidays can be, they are still many fun moments of celebrations and togetherness. But yeah, of course there can be rough weather in the fall/winter months. When it’s extremely cold and dark outside, that’s no fun. I also get saddened by the dead trees and the fact that the wildlife and all of creation is starting to go into “sleep mode.” It makes me think of the beautiful song by Nichole Nordeman: “Every Season.” (Watch the video I found! It takes you on the beautiful journey through each season and the symbolism of Jesus and his birth, life, death, and resurrection! Think about it!).

As I prayed for the strength and endurance to run yesterday, I tried to concentrate on all the positives generated by the season change. I even decided to “change” things up on my iPod. Sometimes I listen to my own custom playlists. Other times, I just let it shuffle and have God choose my songs for me. In fact, the last time I ran, I ended up listening to some songs that I hadn’t heard in a long time (some even for the first time). All of them seemingly speaking a message to me from God. Each song I listened to had a couple common themes. One being that God was assuring me that He would never leave me (in fact, that was the title of one of the songs). The other one being a “hang in there” type of message. As much as I sometimes hate that cliché, I actually cherished it after that run because it had a fresh meaning to it and I truly had some hope. Those of you that are closest to me know why I say that and what I’m talking about here.

One of those “hang in there” songs was by Todd Agnew. It was off a CD that Mitch had gotten a long time ago. We both synced it to our iPods, but I had personally never listened to it. Imagine my surprise when the song “Still Has A Hold” started playing. At first, I wasn’t sure who was singing. It was only a voice at the start, and it sounded slightly off pitch (Todd Agnew sounds like a mix of Johnny Cash and Jeremy Camp - and I mean that in a good way). At first, I thought it was some corny song off of one of the kids’ albums that I have in my iPod (which I play in the car for them - when I can tolerate it anyways lol). I had already run into a few “kiddie tracks” in shuffle mode and had skipped over them. I was about ready to do it again, but my curiosity caused me to avoid pressing the “next” button. I soon realized that it wasn’t “kiddie music”. In fact, I really started liking the song. I was blown away by the music and the lyrics. I was also wondering why I hadn’t bothered to listen to it before! That song totally spoke to me. I felt like it was MY song! I probably listened to it 2 or 3 times!

Remembering that instance, I decided I would see what else was on his “Better Questions” album. So, for my entire run, I listened to Todd Agnew and was pleasantly surprised and moved by every track that played! His lyrics were so personal, thought-provoking, and pure; very real and honest!! Most of his songs describe the daily battle within; the doubts, despairs, and struggles that we wrestle with. The song “If You Wanted Me” talks about how he’s glad that he’s not Peter, King David, or John the Baptist. He says he would have likely been too afraid to walk on water or wait in a jail cell for his “day to die”. And as for King David, he sings “I think I’ve fallen for more than Bathsheba. Your creation’s a temptation for me. If you wanted me to love you only why’d you make the moonlight sparkle in her eyes?” That’s a candid confession that makes you think! He winds up the song with: “If you wanted me to die to myself why’d you make me fall so deeply in love with life? If You wanted me to surrender why’d You make these hands able to hold on so tight? And if You wanted me to be like You why’d You make me like me?”

It certainly makes you ponder. What are the answers to those questions? Todd himself doesn’t even answer them! In fact, that was the only thing throughout the album that I thought was missing. He sings the words that so many of us wonder and don’t have the guts to ask or say. He even brilliantly brings Paul’s words and thoughts to life from Romans 7:14-24 in the song “War Inside.” It’s all about how we KNOW the good that we ought to do, but we don’t do it. Instead, we disobey and do the very things we shouldn’t and that we hate to do. Indeed, it is a “war inside”; the war of the flesh vs. the Spirit. The subject also arises in the song “Funny” as well. The song talks about how things like the big fish that swallowed Jonah and Balaam’s donkey and how they could hear and obey God’s commands. Yet, we who are made in the image of God and are favored above the rest of creation can’t seem to listen to Him. “Funny” indeed! It’s sad and ironic.

He also sings about the church’s lack of empathy and unity in the song “Peace on Earth”: “As long as we say prayers for our children that we do not pray for others there won’t be…and as long as we take offerings for those in need to appease our guilt over our greed….there’s won’t be….there won’t be peace on earth.” Similarly, he sings in “Lovers in Our Heads”: “Are we more concerned with the fruit of another never noticing our own barren branches? Are we more consumed with casting stones at each other while ignoring the lovers in our beds? Our own beds in our heads.”

What if we started loving each other the way we should; acting like the family of God like he sings about in the song “Family”: “We are all family. If we’re all under one Father, that makes us all brothers.” He goes on to say that we don’t’ have to be like or look like each other to be brothers. We don’t have to talk or dress like each other. We don’t have to go to the same church or think/agree on everything. God is our Father and His Love is the tie that binds. Therefore, shouldn’t we be functioning in unity? Yes! Yes we should (and YES WE CAN! There, let’s put that saying to REAL use people!).

I’m not sure why Todd doesn’t take the next step in his album. The songs seem “unfinished” in a way. Why didn’t he close the songs with the hope and promise of the victory that God’s grace brings to our lives? Was his purpose just to stir up questions and get people thinking so they would start seeking for themselves? Perhaps. After all, I’m not saying Todd doesn’t know the answers to the things he sings about (I’m sure he does). Maybe he was just trying to do what Jesus did. Jesus often asked others questions; though, not for his own benefit but for theirs. He already knew the answers; they didn’t. Even still, He goes on asking so that we will pursue HIM for the answers. Maybe that’s what Todd meant in his “prelude” where he says: “I’ve got better questions than I have answers. Better dreams that I have plans. I’ve got better thoughts than I have actions. So I built my house on what I thought was solid ground. But I know it could be sand.”

As I finished my run (and the album) I gave God thanks and praise for getting me through and for blessing me so much through the music. I deeply appreciated how “real” Todd’s music is and the songs meant a lot to me (and God knew I needed that!). I could relate to every single one, and many of them had that “cliffhanger” feeling (which, as described, can likely be a good thing!). However, there is still a lot of value in the “buts.“ “Buts” mean (like I’ve heard Dr. Phil say): ‘Forget everything I’ve just said. Now I’m going to tell you what I really mean.’ Jesus is always the “but”; the REAL meaning! Todd sings about all the struggles we go through and the reality of how sinful and wretched we are…..BUT…….there’s GRACE! BUT……..there’s JESUS!! Because of Him, our sins get canceled out and what it “really means” is that God forgives and forgets because Christ saved us from everything that comes before “but”!

I mentioned Romans 7:14-24 earlier, but it doesn’t end at 24. There is a 25th verse that states that Jesus Christ is our deliverer. Romans 8 then goes on to say that there is NO CONDEMNATION for those who are in Christ and that we are to walk in the Spirit! Yes, my friends, that is our answer to all the questions! THAT is hope and truth!! Walking in the Spirit is where we find victory and eternal life!! Eternal life isn’t merely our reward in heaven with Christ forevermore as Todd sings about in “Martyr’s Song”. Christ’s sacrifice doesn’t just give us victory “later” but life NOW! John 3:16 doesn’t say “will have everlasting life.” It simply says “have”. In other words, you “have” it the second you believe in Him. Everlasting life starts from THAT POINT FORWARD!! Life doesn’t begin when you die, because you don’t truly die. Life keeps continuing!! Our victory in Christ is for now AND always! He came to give us life abundantly (John 10:10). So LIVE in victory! The war has already been won! He has set you free (Galatians 5:1 ) so don‘t despair! REJOICE!! “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.” - Philippians 4:4. Live by the Spirit (Romans 8:4-5, Galatians 5:16) and don’t be mastered by anything (1 Corinthians 6:12 )!

Look at all these things: the weather, the seasons, the questions. All of these bring elements of change; often with uncertainties. We don’t always know what the weather will be like, but through technology we gain insight. We don’t always know EXACTLY how the seasons will pan out, but we know how they cycle and generally what to expect. Also, we live life with many questions; some of which we can’t and won’t have answers to until Jesus makes them all clear in the end. The one thing that is constant and certain in all of this is Christ. We have the assurance that He is the One and Only thing that never changes (Hebrews 13:8, James 1:17). Isn’t that wonderfully refreshing and assuring?! We can count on our wonderful and perfect Heavenly Father whose unwavering and unfaltering character remains steadfast and strong! Amen to that!! He’ll always be there for us; no matter what changes we go through or how our seasons of life transition. He will always be there to ask (as well as answer) the many questions we have. All of it fitting together according to His plan (Romans 8:28, Philippians 1:6).

Grace and peace to all of you!! May God grant you the ability to persevere in everything you go through as you embrace the divine destiny that He has for you!! Sometimes it will be difficult, but His hand has a hold on you! He won’t let you go; even if you let go of Him! He’s always there and He’ll never leave you! He loves you so VERY VERY MUCH!! He’ll see you through every struggle and tough decision and even pick you up and dust you off if you’ve made a bad one. His love and grace is amazing!! Never forget that!! God bless you all!!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Video: Steve and Me as Life Church (Spartan) Cheerleaders!!

Last Sunday, our church had a "Ministry Fair." So, they needed some cheerleaders to help encourage people to get involved. In SNL Spartan Cheerleader fashion, Steve Surbaugh and I gave it our best!!! :) Thank you Kimberly Gerber for the excellent script!! You and Steve are awesome people to work with and you both ROCK (and yes, the choreography was AWESOME!). ;) Gosh, that was so much fun and I look forward to doing that again!! It was great getting to act so goofy on stage and bring glory to God at the same time!! LOL Who would have thought that such silliness could be a gift/blessing from God?!! To Him be the glory!! Uh huh, uh huh, UH HUH!!! "Check us OUT!!" :)


God on the Greenway: Decisions

Before every run, there is a moment of evaluation. It’s a determination point. How far/long will I run? What is my pain level today? What am I capable of doing today? The answers to these questions shape what success I have on that particular run. The numbers my heart-rate monitor reflect in the end are the result of the decisions made before and during the journey.

The one thing that I can tell you with certainty is that regardless of how far or how long I run, there is one decision that stays the same: “I will do my best.” Sometimes, my best is 30 minutes on a busy or pain-filled day. Other times, it’s above and beyond that. My “best” can vary from day to day because every day is different. Though, my best is my best as long as I am giving it all I can. More and more, I compare my “bests” less and less because there is no comparison or competition (even against myself). As Aslan said to Lucy in Narnia, “Nothing happens the same way twice.”

Those were some of the things I was thinking of a couple weeks ago as I went for a run. I was wondering what my “best” would be like. The previous night, I had done a Turbo Jam video that I hadn’t done in a while and so I was feeling extremely sore. My back was feeling it the worst. So, when I pondered my plan of action on the Greenway, I started thinking about all the factors at hand. Time, I had. The pain….yeah, I had that too. The day - absolutely beautiful!! Clearly, my only obstacle was physical. I could definitely run four miles, but it was up to my body to cooperate. I prayed and thought out the possible ways that it could go. I could run one mile down and run one mile back. Or, I could run all the way down (2 miles) and then walk 2 back if my pain was truly bad. I wasn’t clearly decided on which option I would end up doing, but decided that when I approached the one mile marker, I would have a better idea of what I would do. Sometimes, you are absolutely certain about your objective and sometimes you’re not. When you’re not, baby steps will do.

As I began my run, I was taken in by the beauty of God’s creation as well as the great weather He had blessed me with. It was further enhanced by the Narnia soundtrack that I was listening to on my iPod (as I often do on the Greenway - it’s beautiful and peaceful music!). The more I ran, the more I enjoyed my surroundings and realized, I didn’t want to be done in just two miles - no matter how much it hurt. So, I knew that turning around at the one mile marker wasn’t happening (especially since I had plenty of time and I desperately needed to take advantage of it and burn as many calories as possible).

The next decision was whether I would turn around and run back two more miles or walk the last two? Without much thought, I decided on the first option. God had somehow numbed the pain in my back (or maybe it was the sports cream I used lol) and so I kept going. Even though my hips were what was feeling it the most (which is usually the case) I wanted to give until I couldn’t give anymore. I didn’t want to wimp out and walk if I didn’t have to yet.

As I reached the last mile or so of the journey, I almost wanted to quit. But, as often happens, I thought: “DON’T YOU DARE QUIT! NOT WHEN YOU’RE THIS CLOSE!” Not only that, but what business do I have quitting and saying “I can’t” when Christ tells me “YOU CAN!” (Philippians 4:13). Am I going to let Satan cut in on me while I’m running a good race (Galatians 5:7)? Absolutely not!! His pathetic attempts to get me to quit do NOT work (and he should know that by now but he still tries! He‘s just as stubborn as I am! LOL!).

Knowing that I would reach the end of my four miles in under 60 minutes, I resolved that that wouldn’t be the end. I WANTED that full hour! I wasn’t going to quit; even though I had gotten my four. So, I started running around the round-about at the end of the Greenway for those last 10 minutes or so. Sometimes, I feel silly doing that (yes, I have done it before!). You know what though? It IS silly! That is, if that’s all you EVER do! Some of us are on a round-about our whole lives and we never run the real thing because we are afraid to take a risk. We are afraid that we will stop and turn back or that we won’t make it. We are afraid of the unknowns and of so many variables. We are afraid; so very afraid! So, fear keeps us running in circles. But, at least it’s comfortable right? After all, we can stop doing that at any time and not have to worry about being stranded on the road we should have taken. Running circles in your own backyard is a lot safer than running down the street and back. However, do you really go anywhere? Why be like Will in “Good Will Hunting” and waste our time and talent just because of fear? In his particular case, a mind really was a beautiful thing that he was wasting. He was on a round-about; never stepping beyond the comfort of his own backyard. He was comfortable not taking risks because fear and pain told him that he shouldn’t. He wasted a long time believing that lie - and his friends knew it too. One of his buddies told him that he was sitting on a winning lottery ticket and was refusing to cash it in.

All these lessons were swimming through my mind as I finished up my run. I MADE IT! Sixty minutes and 800 calories! My pain was REALLY bad and yet, I did it! More importantly, HE did it. HE accomplished it in me! I didn’t do this on MY strength because truthfully, I had none!

You know what the icing on the cake is? It’s the fact that so many would probably think running four miles is a hellish nightmare and yet, I had run to hell and back lol. WHY would I do that? It’s because I know there is a reward at the finish line; cold water to drink and a hot shower. I will run the race and through Christ, go through hell and back because His blood already ensures that victory is mine and that I will cross that finish line and win! So, why give up? I got a reward waiting for me if I persevere (2 Chronicles 15:7, Hebrews 10:36, James 1:12).

This run caused me to think on my life and the race that I am running. Who or what am I letting cut in on me? Will I give up? What RIGHT do I have to give up when I have Christ saying that I can do it? Also, in what areas do I need to stop running in circles and take a risk? What fears do I need to surrender so that I don’t waste sitting on the winning lottery ticket? I don’t want to waste my mind, my life, and the talents He has blessed me with. Furthermore, I don’t want to cheat myself out of the rewards and blessings that God has for me. It’s clear. More often than not, the one cutting in on the race is “self.”

Grace and peace to all of you!! Keep running the race!! Persevere and be determined. Let no one (neither Satan, yourself, or others) cut in on you!! May you all have the courage to say that you “can” because HE says “you can!” I pray that you can get off any round-about in your life, surrender your fear, and start journeying towards your destination; knowing that even after you have gone through the best and the worst, there is water to quench your thirst and a hot shower to ease your pain! It’s all worth it! You will be replenished, restored, and rewarded in the end!! God bless you all!!