The End of 2014

The End of 2014

2014 began with this…

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And ended with this…

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A special year indeed. When I chose my word for 2014–Behold–I had big goals. I wanted to run 1000 miles this year. I wanted to go to Colombia with my dad and teach women about the love of their Savior. I wanted to start writing a book. None of those things happened.

Instead, I spent much of the year being the vessel for God to grow a beautiful baby girl. Which means I spent much of the year moving more slowly than I would have liked. “Be still,” I heard him whisper over and over.

We begged God to keep Ethiopian adoptions open, and I heard Him remind me, “Hold on.” I walked with two people I love dearly through the searing pain of divorce and heard the same reminder, “Hold on.”

I faced new fears, new doubts, new questions and felt the weight of the angels’ anthem, “Fear not. For Behold, I bring you good news of great joy.”

I never imagined Behold becoming so literal, but it did. Be still and hold on. Two things I struggle with greatly. I want to go and do and move and see. He asks me to be still and know that He is God. I want to abandon the endeavor when it gets hard or I think I might fail. He asks me to hold fast to my Hope without wavering for He who promised is faithful.

I loved studying how often God used the word Behold in his love story to us. It’s as if He knew we would need the reminder time and time again. It’s as if He knew I would be prone to struggle with control and perfectionism. He knows me so well.

Sometimes we run across the finish line and sometimes we pad gingerly banged up and bearing scars. But I’ve learned this year, what matters most isn’t the speed I travel but the Hand I’m holding.

He who calls you is faithful. He will surely do it. (1 Thes 5:24) Someone needs to hear that promise today. Someone needs to be still. Someone needs to hold on. Someone needs to stare fear in the face and declare, “Behold.” We do not walk this road alone. And tomorrow we begin a new year, but before the clock strikes midnight tomorrow night we will have already messed up. But January 2nd we will begin again. And January 3rd and January 4th.  Our goals may change because God has surprises in store we cannot imagine. Some we will like. Some we will resist. But the promise we can always hold on to is that He is faithful. Great is His faithfulness. Morning by morning, new mercies I see.

With a grateful heart for the blessings and lessons of 2014 and with an expectant heart for what 2015 holds, thank you, Lord, for being my Sustainer and for never letting go.

Running Hard

Running Hard

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetOne foot in front of the other.

Those are the words I will say over and over to myself tomorrow. My friend Heather gave me that sage advice at the beginning of my training and it’s the phrase I’ve repeated countless times, sometimes with my hands in the air and other times muttering those words through clinched teeth. I packed my bag this morning preparing for warm temperatures. The high is 65 tomorrow. Earlier this week I ran in single digits, so the weather change should be interesting. My tummy feels like butterflies have taken up residence, but I’m really just ready for my feet to hit the pavement.

Somewhere during the early part of my training I realized this journey of training was about far more than just physical stamina. I have this habit of writing Scriptures I’m praying on little paint chips collected from trips to Home Depot and Lowe’s. One day last spring on a little peach paint chip, I scribbled 1 Corinthians 9:26-27…

Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

The New Living Translation says, “So I run with purpose in every step…” Purpose in every step. The easy ones and the ones that leave me cringing. The beautiful ones where it seems almost easy and the ugly ones where I’m tempted to give up. The brave ones and the ones that leave my toes curled in fear. Each footprint on the asphalt a testimony to God’s redeeming work in my life.

This morning I took my peach paint chip off the cork board in my closet so I could pack it in my bag. But before I put it away, I pulled out The Message to see its interpretation of this Scripture…

I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.

God, you are my Sustainer, and I’m grateful for this journey you’ve brought me on this year. I’ll forever treasure the sunrises You painted for me, the timely truth you brought to my ears and the freedom You’ve given me over perfectionism. Thank you for never giving up on this very imperfect girl. I pray every victory I experience brings glory to the One I love.

One foot in front of the other. Purpose in every step. Running hard for the finish line. Tomorrow and every day. This is my prayer.

Canceled

Canceled

marathon.jpgLast night as I was checking the Weather app on my phone every ten minutes hoping for a magical heat wave, I went to set my alarm and realized I never changed one of my training alarms. It still read “1/2 marathon coming!” This exact weekend last year, I decided I would run the St. Jude half-marathon in 2013. January 1st I started training. When I began, I couldn’t run for two minutes without having to to stop and walk for a few minutes. But over a few months, I worked up to running seven or eight miles. Sometime in the spring I started thinking about going for the full, and on June 1st when I registered for all 26.2 miles of the St. Jude Marathon I thought I had lost it.

I used the Couch to 5K program to get to the Bunny Run 5K the Saturday before Easter. Since that Saturday I have run 658 miles in my training for the marathon I was supposed to run tomorrow. I have woken up in the 4 o’clock hour to go running so many times I’ve lost count. I have run in 96 degree weather and I’ve run in 16 degree weather. I have seen more sunrises this year than I’ve seen in my other twenty-eight years combined. There were so many mornings that I just wanted to stay snuggled up in bed, but I went running anyway. And there were several runs that I wanted to give up and walk home, but I took the advice of my wise running friend Heather and kept putting one foot in front of the other.

When I got the text from race officials a few hours ago saying the race had been canceled because of our ice storm, I was so bummed. I really wanted my marathon to be in Memphis, to run through St. Jude, to leave my footprints all over this city that has become our home. Next year, St. Jude, next year. In the meantime, I am going to log another 168 miles over the next five weeks (and now I really want to cry) and run the MS Blues Marathon in the city I grew up in. When I saw my alarm last night, I realized that while I might not have hit my original goal of running the St. Jude half-marathon I have run 13.1 miles a half dozen times now.

Sometimes the destination doesn’t look like we thought it would, but the journey served its purpose nonetheless. One foot in front of the other, run on.