Burned Out

Ryan Hall wrote a book called Run the Mile You’re In. God lead me to this book at just the right moment. I first heard Mr. Hall on the John Tesh/Gib Gerard podcast Intelligence for Your Life (Episode 88 “Run for Your Life”). In his book, Hall expands on the biblical metaphor of running and life.

Each chapter is a mile of life each person has to deal with eventually. Hall uses running anecdotes to illustrate each point. One of the miles that hit home with me was the mile of Comparison. Hall shows how comparison will harm our running and, therefore, life. We compare all the time – to friends, strangers, and even ourselves. Yes, we compare to ourselves.

I was comparing two things to my former self. The comparisons were leading me dangerously into depression. I am a high functioning depressive, so I get even more busy when I am depressed. I fill my to do list with so many things, so I can’t stop to think. Then I crash. My children think it is normal for moms to come home from whatever it was they were doing and have a 3 hour nap. I assure you it is not. (Naps are good, but all things in moderation!)

I wrote out an activities list for my parents to see if they wanted to join us at any of the items. It was late May and I was writing the list to November, so there was no way it was comprehensive. I laughingly spoke of how much there was to do, but it was all “fun” stuff, so we’re good. However, seeing it in print made me realize that I was headed down a not so good path if I were not careful.

June was the relaunch of my running efforts and my comparison to the 30 year old me was concerning. I was trying hard and my mind and heart were ready, but my body was adjusting too slowly for my liking!

Also, my 6 month online dating subscription was ending. I was not going back as very little good came from it. I started to compare myself to a younger me and friends for whom that tool had worked. I felt overlooked. I truly felt invisible. I even mentioned that to friends in passing – I really didn’t intend to put myself down – but they were furious with the lies that were still in my mind and heart.

It was time to take a good look at what I was doing spiritually and emotionally to myself. Oh yah, and maybe I should remember to take my meds… So, I kept running. I am in week 7! I am proud of 41 year old me. I ran for 27 minutes today with no breaks. Not exactly half marathon ready, but my 5km in August is going to be great. I will keep going “forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead…” (Phil 3:13)

Yesterday and this morning there was a breakthrough. After reading Mr. Hall’s mile on learning to be un-offended (Mile 14) by how God answers prayers, I realized I had once again allowed myself to be depressed by the fact that I was trying to tell God what to do and He wasn’t listening! [insert stomped foot here]

He was listening. He never stopped. He has something so good for me I will be overwhelmed by it. I needed to stop getting so offended by the fact that when God works on a need to know basis, He doesn’t always fill me in.

I had replaced my kitchen light bulb just a few days before and it blew – badly. It was completely black inside. It was not a simple filament breaking. There was something more serious going on. I was on a ladder changing the bulb when I saw just how badly it burst, I knew that I needed to get off that ladder and spend some time praying. The evil one wanted to attack.

The girlies and I met in the living room and prayed protection around our home. When I am in a spiritual battle, it manifests in the physical realm in burned out light bulbs and electrical appliances breaking down.

This morning, I headed out for my run and began to pray. I asked God what He wanted me to dwell on in my training and in my relationship – or lack there of… I heard Him say, “Right now, your posture.”

My posture? Oh yah, I was slouching. I adjusted my posture and heard in the back of my head my yogi’s comment “heart open to the sun.” My mental light bulb went on. Of course, my heart needs to be open to the Son… I needed to be a good steward of my body and spirit. This was the need. No comparison. No offense.

As I ran, I asked God, “Ok, so as I wait for you, how will I know it’s time?” The simple answer came, “When he shows up…” So, I run. I live. I stay close to God. I am no longer burned out. I got out of the shower and felt light and airy and at peace.

I will run the mile I’m in…

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The Pruture

I am at the stage in my newly launched running where I am truly enjoying the present but looking forward to the future. I have mapped out my official 5km run. I am 2/3 of the way through my 5km training and almost a 1/4 of the way through my half marathon training. I feel good!

I look at my 5km route and want to run it tomorrow. I have challenged myself with some hilly bits and I do think I could do it. However, I choose to go slowly and calmly and wait for my body to catch up to my mind and heart. I am not sure if I will wait the entire 8 weeks – at least 1 more though!

Becky said we should walk it together, but she’s leaving for vacation for two weeks and I might have run it by the time she returns! I told Reneta that we could walk it without her:) She laughed and said she thinks that’s a great idea. I look forward to Becky’s return as her training will be close to resuming at that point. Hopefully, her injury will be behind her. The stories she can tell in her short running career are pretty cool – although and injury is never fun.

She told me that I should tell you about all the wonderful things I’ve experienced since mixing up my route to include a bit of the park. I have come across some amazing things. I particularly enjoy the song of the birds, the croak of the frogs, and the splashing of the ducks.

The human wild life has been an adventure as well. I love the subtle runners nod as we pass each other. The dog walkers’ smiles are pleasant to behold. I could do without the early morning couple and their public displays of their love, but hey, it’s all part of building up one’s story bank!

When I get antsy about the future wishing I were further down the road, I remember that the journey is what makes up the joy of the race. We don’t start at the finish line. I am proud of myself for coming this far. My memories of my abilities and adventures from long ago fuel my desire to get there again. If I waste my time wishing I were back there or pushing to get there before I am ready, I will hurt my journey. I will slow it down and not enjoy it any more.

So, I take a day off to move my kiddos bedrooms around. I take days of active rest and dance with Reneta. Running is PART of my life. If it doesn’t fit properly or becomes my entire focus, it will not last. I choose to run in this stage of the journey – loving every moment – knowing it will pave the way from my present to my future. Tomorrow will become today and I will be that many steps closer to the finish line – which is really just a fresh start line!

From YouVersion

Counting Telephone Poles

Tuesday dawned overcast and muggy. I was itching for something a little new. We’d had a long weekend and had been very busy celebrating Canada. The break between runs was too long for my liking, but plans change and fun times are had and I was warming up with no regrets about the weekend. I just wanted something different.

I headed out towards the park rather than the busy traffic area. I was asking God to help me figure it out along the way as running without planning your route can get you in trouble when the park is down hill.

I remember when I summered in Switzerland and they told me that if you go for a hike, start by going up so that the way home is down! Well my little hill certainly wasn’t the foothills of the Alps, but if I was not ready for hill training, running up it would hurt. I wanted to run not injure myself!

It was a lovely run. The creek is a far better companion than commuting cars. As it babbled along, I muttered prayers and thoughts and allowed the weekend to settle into memory storage as I looked forward to the week ahead. The little voice on my app chimed, “You are half way…” I gently turned towards home.

All thoughts of the uphill climb had taken a back seat to my meditations and then it was there, in front of me. It wasn’t actually all that much of an incline – simply a steep but short incline. Here we go!

As I crossed the street and began the run home, I touched the telephone pole beside me. One! Two! (huff puff) Three! (you can do it) Four to Seven were steep incline and Eight I’d level off a bit. Nine! Ten! Did I just finish the hill and not even be bothered by it? I ran all the way to Thirteen before my legs and mind registered that we had climbed the hill. Wow! Such a great trick remembered from long ago training. Nice work and into cool down.

I was proud of me. It was one of those moments that remind me that there are times in life where the obstacle seems so large, and I feel that I’m not ready to face it. A new job… A new church… A kid in high school… Paying off that car loan bill… Through that little hill, God reminded me that one step at a time is all he’s asking for. He doesn’t expect us to finish before we start. All he wants is one step at a time and he will provide the momentum.

My job is to get moving and follow the prompting of the Spirit. He will guide my steps.

The Not-so-Long Road Home

Wednesday dawned – beautiful and clear. I took the same route and ran to Sixteen telephone poles. We’ll see what tomorrow holds…

The Benefits of Little Bits

Do not abandon yourself to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.

Pope John Paul II

I have my alarm set for 10:45 a.m. It’s time to Take 5 with Adriene (youtube yogi extraordinaire). Five minutes of stretching mid morning boosts my energy and ability to concentrate on my numbers. Every Monday is “Yoga Day” in my training. I need a longer session to stay flexible for running. The little bits each day boost my ability to benefit from my hour long sessions on Monday. Sound familiar?

We meet at church on Sundays. We have a longer session of dwelling on God and all things spiritual. What do I do to boost that? I need the little bits. I need the personal one on one time with the One who made me, well, ME!

I admit, I need more than 5 minutes, but often in the business of life, I get 5 minutes here and 5 minutes there. As I meditate on my origin and identity, as I look at the world with poet’s eyes and see beyond the surface, I can take one of two roads. I can see the pain and darkness of the state of humankind (or human-unkind) OR I can choose to see the every day miracles around me.

The sun reflecting off the puddle left by night time rain. Walking past a lilac bush and smelling the glorious perfume of nature. Watching a 14 year old go for her morning run – towards the school bus about to pull away – hoping she grabbed her lunch! Receiving the phone message from 11 saying, “Hi! We’re home. Bye!” Click….

Such are the beautiful miracles surrounding me. In this moment, I choose to see the good of the present rather than the pain of the past or the momentous mountains of the future. This is not always easy. I admit that I cannot always say that. Some days I choose to stay in the shadows – pouting, filling with depression and anxiety. On those days, I must set a timer and give the pity party a time limit.

I then need to roll out the spiritual “mat” of gratitude and stretch my heart for a bit. Just as my physical muscles need the long stretch of a full yoga session and the little bits each day by my office desk, so my emotional and spiritual muscles need both a full session in the Word and prayer with my spiritual family and the little bits alone thanking the Miracle Maker.

As I work to move the mountains of depression and anxiety from my life, I start by moving the pebbles of discontentment, disillusionment, and ungratefulness. Soon, I see the mountain doesn’t need to be moved at all – simply scaled until I reach the summit with joy having conquered the climb one little bit at a time…

What are some ways you support the Big Bits of life with the Little Bits?

If you wish to move mountains tomorrow, you must start by lifting stones today.

African Proverb
Another Morning Miracle

Relinquished to Renewed

Who hindered whom?

Becky showed me this verse the other day when I was sharing a dream with her. I expressed regret about giving up this dream so many years ago. She simply said, “Read Galatians 5:7.” So, I did. (*see text above*)

Who hindered me? Who hinders me? What keeps me from running the race of a redeemed life? I can conjure up many an answer. I can place blame at others’ feet. Yet, I know the truth. When I choose to turn from God’s best for me and live for my own ends, it is always MY choice. I am the one who hinders myself.

Friend, YOU are the one who hinders yourself too – not your mental health, not the person who hurt you, not your finances or circumstances. You see, those are hurdles and the Coach stands ready to help you get up, keep running, and finish the race no matter how many hurdles you’ve tripped over. Tripping over hurdles isn’t sin. However, our response to them may become sin.

Did I give up? Did I have a pity party and stop trying? I did well in many areas of life and overcame much, but not in my health. In my health journey, I did give up. I relinquished it because it was too large a hurdle amidst everything else I was going through. Here I am far too heavy to have running be kind to my frame. I need to let go of the habits that keep this weight here. I need to be a good steward to the body God gave me for this earthly life.

I am human. Guilt is not permitted here. I cannot turn back the clock and make life turn out the way I had dreamed, but that does not mean I am not allowed to dream again! It is time. Time to dream. Time to act upon those dreams. Time to stop disobeying and begin running well again – in every area.

The entire theme of Galatians (particularly chapter 5) is that when I choose Jesus, I am set free to LIVE! If I wrap myself up in a world of perfectionism – I must be perfect or it’s not worth trying – I am enslaved once again. I need to cut myself some slack and give me the same grace God helps me give others.

This aging frame might not be a light as it used to be, but it can still move. I can still urge myself to run well again. I do not have to get trapped in thinking that because I cannot do what I used to do I might as well not try again.

Today, I choose Jesus. I choose to allow Him to renew me in mind, spirit, AND body! I choose to put one foot in front of the other “forgetting what lies behind and straining froward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:1-14)

What are you choosing today? I ask you to think about your journey because I’d hate for you to take as long getting here as I did! Learn from my race and let it impact yours. Are you choosing to run the race God has for you, jumping over the hurdles of depression and anxiety or are you allowing them to trip you up and give you and excuse to walk off the track?

There are times for rest stops along the way, but don’t give up! Don’t relinquish your race to or for anyone. Allow God to renew your mind and coach you along the way. You’ve got this!

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”

Psalm 51:10

The Running Bib

Mom and Me

I watched as a beloved friend waddled down the sidewalk clinging to her hubby as her body was preparing to deliver their first little one. I ran out with a friend to pray over the expanding family. As we wandered back to our desks, we had a feeling of joy and connection. THEY are the ones running the race of birth, but we got to cheer them on and be a part of something amazing they are accomplishing.

That reminded me of all times I’ve been struggling through something in life and looking up to see a cheer leader urging me to keep going. This occurs when running in an organized event as well. In many of the bigger races, the running bibs are published with our first names on them. I tell you, come KM 16 of 21, I often zone out and hit a type of cruise control.

This is where the run becomes more of a mind game than a training and form of running game. The start and middle are long gone and the end isn’t quite close enough for the crowds of cheer leaders yet.

I remember the first time I ran with a named bib. I was in a mind-over-matter moment pleading my feet to keep going when someone screamed, “Run, Marilyn! You can do it!!” She was standing alone at the side of the road with a Starbucks in her mittened hands. Us runners were spread apart enough that she could see our bibs. She chose to stand in the cold and call out our names in encouragement.

I don’t know who she is, but I’ll never forget her.

She taught me the value of letting people into your journey. Some runners fold their bibs so their names aren’t visible because they don’t want to be known. Our amazing cheer leader wouldn’t have been able to call out personalized support.

I was fortified by her willingness to join in my accomplishment. I picked up the pace and finished strong. It wasn’t the year I broke 2 hours for the 1/2, but it was the year I knew this was something I really COULD achieve. That’s what made me stay at the finish line encouraging others as they crossed over. I knew what it meant to encourage and be encouraged.

Who do I have to cheer on today? Is there someone out there that needs a bit of invigoration or fortification? Will I choose to join their journey with a harrowing cry of hope or will I stay inside hugging my hot coffee close too caught up in my own journey to cheer someone else on?

My Cheerleaders!

“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up…”

1 Thessalonians 5:11
These ladies know my name!

Friends, Family, Feet

Oh, my feet did not want to run today. Well, I think my feet did, but my mind did not want to wake up to join them! The alarm went off at 5:50. I snoozed until 6:30. I was literally running late. My brain argued all the way through the warm up. “You’re not supposed to be doing this! It’s YOGA day!!!!”

You see, I missed my last run of week 2 last week. It was supposed to be Saturday, but I spent all day with my daughters at Wonderland. It was an active day, but I did not train. Sunday was Father’s day. Spending time with my dad is no excuse for not running. I choose a nap instead.

So, there I was, warming up and shaking out the cobwebs. I just let the thoughts of the beautiful weekend roll through. I am so thankful for the time flexible training gives me. I don’t have to be exact to succeed. I am not a failure for missing one run. I have so much to be thankful for.

My dad is an awesome reminder of strength. He has a quiet way about him that brings me peace when my thoughts are spinning like a tornado. He may not enjoy running, but he is the embodiment of what running does for my spirit – points me back to Jesus, quietly, persistently, lovingly.

During my cool down, I got out my phone and texted Becky. She is a week ahead of me in training, but she’s never done this before. I was asking her about next week’s schedule as next week starts tomorrow for me! She was such an encouragement. She reminded me that listening to my body – surrendering to the nap – was what was best for my journey. She even called me “amazing”!

This woman, a new single mom, is struggling to hold the lion of anger and the sloth of depression both at bay and choosing running to help with that. Wow! I gave my running away at that stage of life. I am so inspired by her. SHE is the “amazing” one, yet she encourages me – never negative even amidst her pain… I am a better person for having her in my life.

My mind went full circle as I think about the mountains before me today: emergency eye doc appointment for my daughter, music recital for me tonight, mountains of laundry to do for daughter’s trip on Wednesday. Yet, as the schedule swirls, I do not. I can simply run the task at hand, one step at a time…

Thank you, Dad. Thank you, Becky Thank you, God, for the “AMAZING” friends and family that you have gifted me. They have beautiful feet!!!

Romans 10:15 “As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!'”