Saturday, September 27, 2008

Race For the Cure 5K

Hey, y'all! Today was the Race for the Cure in Greenville, SC. Approximately 6,000 folks participated in the run or walk. Years ago, when it first began, there might have been 500. I was just amazed at the number of people there this morning--and the amount of the traffic trying to park!!

It was extremely humid this morning--at 95% humidity! Once my hair got wet from the sweat, it never did dry out! Gotta love this weather!

I ran with part of our Team Dirty Feet. We did NOT have dirty feet today since we didn't run this on trails--only roads.

That's me, Scott, and Robin. And, no, Robin and I did not call each other last night to coordinate the matching running ensembles! Today is also Scott and Robin's 5th wedding anniversary! Happy anniversary you two!!

As the 3.1 mile race began, I realized how long it had been since I had done a race of this distance. The further along I got into the race, the more it reminded me that I truly do not like this short distance! It is a sprint....that's all! How hard can you run for 3 miles? Yuck! There is no beautiful scenery to take in, no mountains to climb, no snakes to look out far. Oh, we did have hills--mile 2 was nothing but an uphill! So, while I was having a pity party about how much I disliked this and that, I glanced over to the other side of the median (we were running in an enclosed business park loop)where I saw the noncompetitive runners and walkers. They were smiling, laughing, encouraging each other, and having fun--the way I usually do on a trail. I saw a precious friend of mine, Laurie, who is a cancer survivor walking with a group of friends that I had not seen in ages. We exchanged "hello's!" and "love you's" from a short distance. (Here we are! She looks great!)

Then, I saw another runner, a young girl with a prosthetic leg. She was smiling and running with her friends as well. What an inspiration. I realized that I knew who she was and remembered her story. She and some friends had been at the lake a couple of years ago swimming when she somehow got her leg caught in the motor of the boat. Her friend's dad saved her life, but her high school running days were over. Today, I watched her run with an awkward gait but with a huge smile on her face!

I then thought to myself .... I had no right to have a "pity party" with all of the beautiful moments going on around me. This race was not about me. It was about the wonderful moms, daughters, aunts, friends and grandma's who had struggled with this monster called cancer. Some had beaten it; others had not. I ran with two pieces of pink paper on my back. One listed girlfriends that I ran in honor of, and the other, ones I ran in memory of. That was what this celebration was all about.

Romans 12:12 says for us to "be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." God tells us that there will be pain in this broken world. We know the story of Adam and Eve, and the choices that were made in the garden of Eden. But, we are encouraged to be patient in that affliction. Those who endured chemo and radiation learned quickly what patience is all about. Sitting in a carpool line--or even the long unending line for parking this morning--is nothing compared to what they had to go through. Patience...patience...patience.

I'm sure that these survivors and their families prayed fervently along with prayer chains from churches all over. We should be faithful with our prayers in the good times as well...not just the emergencies. We must keep an open communication with our Lord. If we read His Word daily and pray throughout the day, we are being faithful in prayer.

Finally, the joy on the faces of the women and their families was contagious. A family from our church was there to run in honor of wife, mom, and grandmom, Linda, who had beaten the disease. It was so good to see her family and fellowship with them.

These realizations changed my attitude from " I am not having fun... I am so ready to be done... I hate to sprint up a hill." to "Thank you , Lord, for these precious women and their loved ones." and "Father, please comfort those whose loved ones are now with You."

I'll leave you with this thought today...How has your attitude been lately?

Enjoy this wonderful weekend! I need to take a shower!!!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Lessons Learned at Wal-Mart--#1

Yep....I had to go there this morning. One of my least favorite places to shop. There was no way getting around it. Duty--and a budget--calls! The dreaded weekly trip to Wal-Mart. And, I will apologize now to any of you sweet things out there who work at WM because I know you are not at the one where I shop! You are not the ones who grunt at you in line rather than ask" How are you today?" You are not the ones who totally ignore you while you carefully arrange over a hundred and fifty dollars worth of food, dog food, cleaning products, paper products, etc. on the conveyor belt while praying that your eggs don't get broken or your bananas squished as they are tossed into those thin plastic bags. You are not the ones who stand around talking in a circle while I am searching desperately for a checkout line that accepts over 20 items--I have over 120 items. I am NOT the person you want to be behind in line. You will stand there forever waiting on me and my 120 items. There are so many empty registers and so many workers...hmm...just pondering the reasoning behind that.

OK, enough said. Many of us have suffered through that before. I experience it weekly. So, I have asked God to help me with a project. I guess I can call it "Project Wally-World". As I drive into a parking space, I turn off the car and pray. I ask Him to give me patience and a chance to see Him in the store. Who better to take shopping with you than God??

I made it in and out of the store in under an hour today--new record! I still had not seen His presence. As I pulled carefully out of the parking spot--making sure not to run over any sparrows hopping around eating crumbs--I noticed a darling little girl and her daddy. She must have been around 3. They were exiting the store, and she had her little WM bag clutched tightly in her hand. Being that those are THIN bags, I recognized a coloring book in her one little bag. She was holding her daddy's hand and swinging the bag with the other. Y'all, her daddy was a very tall man. Her little legs couldn't keep up with his, but she was trying. A car was coming towards them--looking for that perfect place to park! As hard as she could, those legs just weren't getting her across the pedestrian crossing fast enough. Lovingly, her daddy scooped her up in his arms and carried her the rest of the way.

Do we let our Heavenly Daddy scoop us up when we simply can't keep up with life? Or do we try to do it all by ourselves? I encourage you, sweet friends, to give it to Him and go along for a ride on his Heavenly shoulders. What a view you will have!!!
"My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken." Psalm 62:1 NIV

Many Blessings,

Monday, September 22, 2008

Just Curious...

Believe it or not, this is going to be a short post by me in order to give you the floor to share! I emailed this question to one of my bloggy friends, and I thought that I would just post it and see what y'all have to say about this.

As I grow closer to God, I want to spend more time in His Word and in prayer. Sometimes, His precious Words go right over my little 'ol head. I do have access to concordances and commentaries--so that does help. What I want to know is how do you describe your quiet time? How do you discern His Word? How long have you been faithfully studying--not just in a Bible study-like Beth Moore, etc.--but truly reading and learning on your own about His wonders, His precepts, and His love for us? Just curious!

Many blessings,

Friday, September 19, 2008

"I Wear My Sunglasses at Night..."

Did you know that the moon casts shadows? I realized that quite early this morning as I went out for my run. I opened the front door to be greeted by a brilliant light! The moon was just gorgeous and shone brightly on the road. I felt confident in my footfalls on the pavement--I could actually see any potholes! Then, of course, songs started going through my head! "I Wear My Sunglasses at Night," and "By the Light of the Silvery Moon" just sorta stayed with me until I finished my run.

Do you ever get something just stuck in your head--a song, an old conversation that should have gone a different way, a situation that has not even occurred yet? Sometimes, while I'm running, this happens (especially when my ipod is NOT working!!). It can be quite aggravating unless it is something positive. It does help to pass the time while I'm chalking up miles.

What I have come to realize is that the best thoughts to put in your head are from Jesus :). If I can focus on having a conversation with Him, I feel like my time has been well spent. You see, I'm getting into high mileage now in preparation for an upcoming marathon. In order to run and finish strong, I have to train diligently---or else I'll bonk! I have bonked too many other times, and it is not fun! (Running out of energy due to lack of hydration, calories, or not enough practice is considered bonking.) So, I am in "guilty" mode at the moment. I really needed to finish cleaning my house and pack--we're going to visit my parents this weekend after another cross country meet. I didn't accomplish those chores yet. I DID get my long run in for the week--which I know is important. Chores were neglected, but I did spend some quality time talking to God!

Have you had some quality time with Him this week? This day? What did you talk about? And even more importantly, what did He say? Carve time from your busy day to spend with Him! It thrills Him when we do! "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." Jeremiah 29:13

Many blessings,

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Every Promise Fulfilled

We are completing the Bible study called "What Happens When Women Walk in Faith" by Lysa TerKeurst today! It has been such a blessing to read and discuss this book with so many of you--especially through Lelia's blog.

The last chapter, Every Promise Fulfilled, really spoke to my heart, ya'll! We have seen how the heroes of faith have relied on God for their confidence, their boldness, and their courage. Lysa then states that these promises from God can be ours as well. We come to depend on God and His promises to instruct us, teach us, and lead us. Secondly, our possession of Gods' promises affects us. He shapes and molds our character...Lastly God and his promises gain control over our lives. Our relationship with Him so profoundly changes us that we live completely different lives as a result. We truly become the new creation God intends for us to become. (2 Corinth. 5:17).

I AM a new creation in Him. But do I always act like it? I DO want to depend on Him each day. But sometimes, it's kinda hard! You see, there are still things that I want to do on my own! My way! Sorta like that toddler stage that creeps back into adulthood. I know that I need to let go and let God...but some days are easier than others! That, my sweet friends, is when I need to find a quiet place and sit quietly(which is hard for me to do!) and pray. Then, I need to LISTEN for His response. I desperately want those blessings, those promises, that He gave Abraham, Moses, and Joshua. But, it has to be His way and not mine. Surrender is the word that Lysa used in her book. If I want to live life to the fullest, I have to surrender myself to Him each day--maybe several times a day! I desire for my character to be more like His. I want to be filled to overflowing with the Holy Spirit so that I can walk in faith with confidence, boldness, and courage each day. I want to claim God's promises.

Many blessings,

Friday, September 12, 2008

Pass the Jelly, Please!

Looks can be so deceiving! A while back, I attended a lovely dinner program at a nearby church. The friendship was great, the program was inspiring, and the food was delicious. We were in a large room with many ladies seated at tables decorated with linen tablecloths, silver eating utensils, china plates, etc. Just lovely.

The men of the church were the servers for the meal that night. They were excited about the task at hand and were scurrying around making sure that each table had what it needed. The aroma of food was permeating throughout the room. Y'all, I was so hungry! I had substituted that day, and my lunchtime was at 10:30! I think that I had forgotten to eat an afternoon snack, so my tummy was ready and waiting.

Our server brought out the salads first. They looked lovely! Then I realized that there was no honey mustard salad dressing hidden between the flowers, salt and pepper,or water glasses. So, I waited patiently. Sure enough, he came back to our table of 8 ladies. Y'all, he had a squeeze bottle of Smucker's Grape Jelly in his hands! We waited to hear what he was going to say. He simply asked, "Would you care for salad dressing?" In a Smucker's PLASTIC container?? At a beautiful church function??? Had he had a mental moment back there in the kitchen and grabbed the wrong container? No one said a word. Then, of course, I asked the QUESTION. " And what kind of dressing is it?" He responded that it was raspberry vinaigrette that he had made himself. My little 'ol brain was thinking should I let him ruin my lovely salad with something that he had concocted in the kitchen that would possibly ruin the taste? Taking a deep breath, I replied, "Sure, I'll have some." He joyfully squeezed out the berry colored dressing onto my salad--it did look very grape! I thanked him and gave it a try. Y'all, this dressing would have been one that Martha of Bethany would have been proud to have served Jesus and the disciples on any occasion! It was over the top! Out of this world! YUMMY!!

How many times do we pass up something or someone just because of the odd packaging? How many missed opportunities do we give up to listen or to share with someone just because how they look on the outside? I am guilty as charged. I have done this numerous times, I'm sad to say, and I am sure that I miss out on a blessing of giving or receiving just because that person didn't look like those I am used to. 1 Samuel 16:7 reminds us that "...Man does not see what the LORD sees, for man sees what is visible, but the LORD sees the heart." (HCV)

The next time that I feel a little uncomfortable about speaking to others to get to know them, I need to remember that squeeze bottle of jelly and simply look at their heart.

Many blessings!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Wonderful Thing About Tiggers......

Hey, everybody! I can't believe that we're almost through with "What Happens When Women Walk in Faith." Join us at Lelia's blog to read other comments on chapters 18 and 19 of this wonderful book. Lysa's comments are in blue.

As many of you know who read my blog, I've been asking for prayers for our Women's Ministry at church. I want to make sure that as I step out in faith, it's definitely God's voice--not mine or satan's--that I hear. We had our first Dream Team meeting last Wednesday, and over 25 women showed up! Wow! Great ideas and very positive thoughts. We are in the very beginning stages of this ministry, and I am so excited! Yesterday, worn out running shoes led me to the store where God placed a friend whose church has just started a new Women's Ministry. Coincidence? Nope! Contact information was quickly shared!

Last night, our high school girls' Bible study began. God blessed me with 3 other adults to help lead. I was asking Him for a way out, and He knew the better way! One that I had not considered. Instead of my having to lead each week, I have 3 other women who can lead right along with me! Woohoo!

And this morning at church, over 15 women signed up for Lysa's "What Happens When Women Say Yes to God" Bible study. Because of answered prayer, we offered child care!!!! What a ministry those babysitting moms are doing! They are giving up their time to play with darling little ones so young moms can learn more about His Word.

I left church and bounced over to a neighborhood Bible study where 6 precious women were waiting. Y'all, God has bounced right along with me today! It has been a blast because it was all about Him--not me or the other women. Lysa states that, "Regardless of where you are today, God is with you. God is wooing you. God wants you to experience Him. Whatever you are going through today, you can find His joy and peace." Oh, how I love that! I have experienced Him several times over today. I prayed this morning to see Him, to hear Him, and to pursue Him throughout the day. God wants us to know Him and believe Him along the way. It's all about the journey. Each day is a new one. Am I just going to drag myself behind Him, or like Tigger, will I put some bounce into my journey?

Many blessings!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Just a Branch

Happy Sunday, y'all!

Today during both Sunday School and "Big Church," the focus was on the book of John. During the sermon, John 15:5-8 was discussed.

Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.

I started thinking about ways that I am a branch from the vine of Jesus. He is a vine that is deeply rooted. How deep do my roots go? Would a good rainfall flood the area and wash my roots away? I surely hope not. But it says that I am a branch--an offshoot of the Perfect Vine. I'm connected with the Beautiful Vine of Life that will never wither or die. That's pretty awesome!

Will my actions this week produce much fruit? We will be having our Senior High Girls' Bible Study--His Girl--staring back up tomorrow night. I know that I had prayed for guidance and wisdom about this. He has answered this prayer in a way that never crossed my mind! (Yes, His ways are definitely higher than mine!!) I really wanted to just focus on the Women's Ministry at our church. Instead, He has placed THREE more women in this ministry to help me lead! We can take turns leading, break into small groups, etc.! I am really excited about tomorrow night! I'll let y'all know how it goes. will you produce much fruit this week? I'd love to hear about it!!

Many Blessings!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Idle...No. Idol...Yes!

I'm doing an online Bible study from Lysa TerKeurst's book, What Happens When Women Walk in Faith. Join Lelia and other bloggers over at Write from the Heart. These chapters were wonderful. I wanted to post about one of the questions at the end of chapter sixteen. What idols do I have in my life?

When I was a little girl, my "idol" was Bobby Sherman! Oh, he was just too cute!! When I played Barbies, I would change my Ken doll's name to Bobby Sherman. Then, along came Donny Osmond! Good-bye Bobby S.--hello, Donny! And it continued! In middle school, there was the cutest basketball player for the University of South Carolina. I had all of his stats, posters from Daddy's Gamecock Club book, ticket stubs, etc.! I was determined that one day, I would marry him! Eventually, you grow up and those childhood idols are replaced by other idols. For some, it's prestige, money, things, food, get the picture. I really didn't believe that I had an idol.

This summer, I was talking to Kelley. She is just precious! We were discussing running. I told her about some races that I had participated in last year. These were very long distances and required running many miles per week in order to be prepared for upcoming races. Exercise is very good for you, and so is food, and so is sleep,and so are many things when done in moderation. Running is a part a of my lifestyle. I've run for many years and really enjoy it. Last fall, child #1 made the varsity swim team as a freshman. We were thrilled! In high school, you have opportunities to travel. Well...he had a meet in Charleston --about a 3-4 hour drive from here that required being there overnight. Guess who had a long trail run that just HAD to be run that weekend??? Mama. This wasn't even a race--just a training run. I was so determined to follow that training schedule to a T that I didn't want to miss a run. So, my family headed south to the beach, and I headed up to the mountain to train--with tears of guilt. I trained and trained and finally the big race weekend rolled around. It was an awesome experience--one which I'll post about at a later time.

I shared these stories and others with Kelley. In godly wisdom, she stated, " So running was kind of like an idol." Simple words....and true. I had just never put this together! Lysa says that an idol is anything that becomes a barrier to your relationship with Christ. Listen to Habakkuk 2:18-20:

"An idol does no good, because a human made it; it is only a statue that teaches lies. The one who made it expects his own work to help him, but he makes idols that can't even speak! How terrible it will be for the one who says to a wooden statue, 'Come to life!' How terrible it will be for the one who says to a silent stone, 'Get up!'It cannot tell you what to do. It is only a statue covered with gold and silver; there is no life in it. The Lord is in his Holy Temple; all the earth should be silent in his presence."

Yes, I had an idol. And, yes, I was now aware of this! And, yes, I did something about it! Lysa says that we shouldn't have to give up our dreams (training and partcipating in long races), but that we should surrender the dream and place it behind God on our priority list. One of my issues was waking up early to get in my run before the day began. Now, it's waking up early to spend time with my Lord! God does 5 am really well, y'all! The running has taken a back seat with my priorities. I still get in my mileage--very creatively! But, my family and my time with God doesn't suffer. My family is very supportive of my running, and they do encourage me to train and race. It was God who showed me that I was not making Him my priority, and that I was making running my idol. My perspective has changed and so have my quiet times--for the better! Matthew 6:33 says Seek first God's kingdom and what God wants. Then all your other needs will be met as well.

And where will I be on Saturday when my other trail running buddies are out on the mountain? I'll be cheering on my son at his cross country meet with my family --after my quiet time :).