Saturday, March 26, 2011

God in the Yard - Week 5 Part 2 - Why I am comfortable expressing my feelings and problems

"I feel comfortable expressing my feelings and problems openly because..."

I am not defined by my problems. My challenges, even the internal ones do not make me who I am. They are only a part of me in the process of facing them and walking through them one day at a time.

Maintaining the perspective it is not "about me" makes these easier to share. My victories aren't any more "about me" than my defeats. My wounds, scars, processes all are for the purpose of glorifying God. When I hold back in fear of being judged when He is asking me to share, I rob Him of the glory He deserves.

When I fail in a big way and I am open about it, without fear of judgement, He is glorified as One who gives Grace, Who is capable of infinite Love and Strength when I am weak. Paul states this quite clearly in one of my favorite verses  "But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me". (2 Corinthians 12:9) When God gives me revelation on why I failed or where the root is in my weakness, who am I to hold back and keep it only for myself? If another can find victory from my weaknesses exposed, then I want that for them, because again, it's not "about me".

The flow of giving and receiving can be hindered if I hold back out of self-protection instead of allowing Him to be my protector and my vindicator. Like Isaiah says in chapter 54 verse 17, "No weapon formed against you shall prosper, And every tongue which rises against you in judgment You shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, And their righteousness is from Me,” Says the LORD.

Now, to be clear, I am not saying EVERYTHING should be shared ALL the time. If others are involved I seek permission share their aspect of the issue and I try to use discernment about who/what/when I share - ALWAYS.

When He gives me insight in my strengths or in my weaknesses, it is always a gift. He is building my faith, strengthening my spirit and affirming His love for me. He has called me to share these insights with others because inviting them into my trials can bring encouragement to us both and God often has healing for them as well.

Ultimately, since it is not "about me" I am free from my need to make sure someone doesn't think poorly of me or judge me. When my eyes are on Him, my ear is listening for His heartbeat, and I wait on Him for revelation in my challenges and circumstances it doesn't just bless me, it usually blesses others too!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The "Heart" of an Athlete

Since my last blog was two weeks ago, I probably should confess a few things…

I am working out every single day I can. I am training for the Spring Dash, a local 5 mile race on April 17. I decided to run it this year after walking the whole way last year.

I have been training pretty hard for it, because despite my knowledge that I can finish it, I really want to run it.

Now, to clarify how I define running…

Right now I can run pretty steady at 4mph for at least a mile. That was my pace at the triathlon last September. The funny thing about that is, when my friend “Iron Tony” was helping finish my training before my race, he was walking beside me while I ran!

I see the other folks at the gym running 6mph or faster, and I assume that when you aren’t lugging my kind of weight with you, that is how fast you can actually run.

I decided that I want to increase my speed, so with the help of my fitness coach, encouragement from a few friends, I decided to up my speed. Carefully. Or so I thought.

This is where it gets interesting.

The canned response for almost anyone encouraging anyone to do anything is “Of course you can do it!” but you have to take in to consideration your audience. Most people are reasonable and stop when they know they are supposed to. I didn’t.

Last Friday, after being cooped up in the house for 3 days with sick kids AGAIN, I finally made it to the Kroc for a good hard workout. I needed it. I needed the endorphins and the pent up mommy frustrations to be pounded out on the treadmill and in my strength training routine.

My goal – Walk 5 minutes at 3mph, which for me is a pretty good pace, stop and stretch a bit, then run for 3 minutes at 4.5mph, walk a minute, 3 min run for 5 sets of 3 minute runs. It doesn’t seem unreasonable does it? I didn’t think so.

I am running along the first set staying relaxed, keeping my breathing even, and keeping an eye on my heart rate on the machine (I do not have a heart monitor). I ran my second and third set pushing harder as my heart rate continued to climb and I was having to really focus on my breathing. During my fourth set I noticed my hands were starting to tingle a bit, I grabbed the monitor bar on the treadmill and my heart rate was higher than I have seen it before. I walked for my minute and considered if I should push for the last set.

I decided I have spent 3 minutes of time wastefully and ridiculously in the past, why not push a little harder and finish my goal. I didn’t want to get all caught up in my head thinking I couldn’t do it when I was pretty sure I could. It’s just one foot in front of the other right?

As I started that 5th set, I could feel my heart pounding in my chest. During the first minute I remembered all the years I was an athletic trainer working “Hell Week” football and imagined this is how those poor guys felt running in the Cali heat in August!

My second minute I was noticing I had to breathe more carefully and try to relax a bit because breathing was becoming quite painful.

My third minute, I was so miserable I just pictured my backside in the mirror ( I have been making myself study my body in the mirror, making note of what I’d like to change and what changes are happening – Yes, I even “flex” a muscle or two ;)). Then I pictured how I wanted it to look. As I was staggering for the last 30 seconds I kept hanging on to the picture of the smaller behind. I grabbed the monitor bars in the last 15 seconds to check my heart rate and steady myself for the last few steps.


I finished my goal. My final heart rate 180 beats per minute. I walked for a few minutes holding the bars and watching my heart recover back down to 150ish, and then it stayed there for a bit. I decided to get off the machine and just walk around.

My chest HURT. It felt like I strapped an elephant to it and the weight just kept increasing. I sat for a few minutes and stretched my legs. The pounding was subsiding but my whole upper torso ached.

I picked up the kids from the playcare and headed for home. I made a few phone calls to see if anyone was available to ask about what was happening to my body. I eventually called my doctor, since he knows what I am doing for training. He said I likely strained myself pushing too hard and if I still hurt in a few days I should come see him.

The pain eventually subsided but spiked again the next day after my second set of 3 minute runs. So I stopped. Stretched and did some weights.

The next day was better, I could get through three sets, but had to slow down to 4mph for the last set.

The fourth day I did three sets again starting at 4mph, then a faster set at 4.5, then another set at 4.

Each time I completed my run I felt like collapsing. Each time I didn’t want to do it again. I was afraid it would hurt like before. I tried harder to listen to my body and today, I am resting. No running. For 24 hours.

You may think I am nuts. And quite honestly I do too. But right now I am pressing ahead for the vision of myself becoming an athlete. Every true athlete I know pushes past discomfort to really get the most out of their workouts. I think what I proved to myself on Friday is that I already have the “heart” (not physically- but mentally) of an athlete.  

Thursday, March 3, 2011

God in the Yard - Week 2 - Sabbath on a Page - 40 day FOCUS

Sabbath on a page happens to speak of resting and writing whatever comes out. The day before I wrote this I was in such turmoil I couldn't even think straight and my last words to my husband for the day were, " I suck!" and I went to bed. SOOO... with that in mind

The next morning I woke up refreshed and clear. I slept through the night for the first time in weeks (which definitely helps my perspective on life) and opened up to the end of week 2 of God in the Yard . The encouragement to have a "sabbath on a page" was less than intriguing, but as many of the exercises in this book do, I decided to plunge ahead and see what would pop out of my super sloppy scribbles.

I asked HIM for something to hang my hat on, focus on and marinate in. When I get out of sorts it is because I have lost focus. Considering the equation from my blog before this one and the scripture it contained, I decided to ask Him for a little more. Greedy? Yes, for the things of God, absolutely.

As I prayed I saw this reference in my mind - John 17:17 I looked it up first in the NIV (New International Version) but I wasn't sure what it meant by sanctify. So I looked it up in the AMP (Amplified version) which includes all the appropriate descriptions from the actual root word. Then I read on through verse 19 .

I then felt like I needed to make it personal. If the God of the universe was going to speak to me through His Word, I needed to do what I wrote about before and PAY ATTENTION.

In John 17 Jesus is praying to the Father about and for us. So we can personalize this because even way back then Jesus knew He was praying for YOU and ME. (I love that, by the way!)

Here is what that looked like:

17Sanctify Jennifer [purify, consecrate, separate her for Yourself, make her holy] by the Truth; Your Word is Truth.
    18Just as You sent Me(Jesus) into the world, I also have sent Jennifer into the world.
    19And so for Jennifer's sake and on her behalf I sanctify (dedicate, consecrate) Myself, that she also may be sanctified (dedicated, consecrated, made holy) in the Truth.

Okay now to make it even more personal, an actual prayer I can pray first person,

Father, please sanctify me, purify me, consecrate me, separate me for Yourself, make me holy by the Truth; Your Word is Truth. Just as You sent Jesus into the world, You also have sent me into the world. And so for my sake and on my behalf Jesus sanctified (dedicated, consecrated) Himself, that I also may be sanctified (dedicated, consecrated, made holy) in the Truth.
Thank you LORD!!

Okay, so what does that mean to me?

The sanctifying, purifying, consecrating, separating, holy-making work has been done (Jesus did it on the cross). He died so I could be all of those things. But I don't live that way.

So for the next 40 days I will be focusing on what walking that out looks like. I am not sure yet other than it is submitting to the caloric intake established for me, spending time in His Word, and listening to sermons on these topics. Beyond those things He has shown me to do, I will pay attention, listening for Him and watching for Him.