Sunday, September 28, 2014

In the rhythm of the run

Forward motion always brings God's healing.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles." Hebrews 12:1a  (NIV)

I often overhear people talk about their love of running. How they lose track of the pain and just run in the rhythm of their run. How their deep breathing and movement of their legs become one.   secretly wondered how they could lose track of time, how they look forward to that time alone, and how they fantasize about spending their days being content with something so hard and painful.

Let's set the record straight. I am not one of those runners.  And yet, now, I want to accomplish this idea of running in that kind of rhythm.

The other day I found myself outside early to meet the sunrise, with my phone in hand to send a "morning gram" of God's handiwork in the sunrise.  Now, if you are like me, you can come up with a thousand excuses why I wouldn't want to hear a voice that says, "Go put your running shoes on." But that day, there was no wind, it was early and I felt gutsy enough to give it a whirl. I went inside and dusted off my shoes.

I set out and put one foot in front of the other and started out with a walk. The next thing I know, I was running.  I hadn't thought about exercise in so long. It was one of my New Year's resolutions to just move 30 minutes a day. Honestly, the idea of fitness fell quickly by the wayside once it got hard, or I was too busy to make it a priority, or I thought it was a waste of time, or...I didn't care about keeping my promise to myself.

I had no idea how far I could run but I successfully ran to my neighbor's mailbox. Then, I made it over half-way through the mile section without stopping and my lungs didn't collapse. I was running, with my legs and lungs cooperating as one. This was a first. I didn't stop, and didn't think about stopping. I only thought about reaching the next corner.

The movie "Rocky" came to mind and if there was a flight of steps I would've been at the top of them, in my gray sweats, sweat dripping, and double pumping my fists into the air. I had just ran a mile without stopping. What a banner day for me and a statement to the strength that emerged inside of  me. Breathless, I called my friend and running mentor. She was elated for me, encouraged me and was oh so happy that it all clicked in the rhythm of the run.

This happened weeks ago, and I've been running ever since. Now every day I get up and try again. So far have made it to 2.25 miles without stopping. Major accomplishment for one who never thought she could.

I am running in the rhythm of the run.  I'm not comparing runs anymore because it's about the change over all.

Now, I often get lost in the fresh morning air. I lose myself in trying and staying on course. I find myself falling into a rhythm of easy breathing and deep thinking. I often run a praise worthy run while praising God for helping me stay the course.  I may not get it right every time, nor run as far, especially when it's windy, or on some days I might not be motivated, but every time, every day, I'm gonna try. I'm gonna remain in this trying because I am liking the change over all.

It's one thing to know freedom, it's another thing to live free.

Spiritually, I've been stalled on John 15, the whole chapter. Such wisdom is found there. I can't run without thinking about the fruit that I bear, the fruit that God is bearing in me, and how I am learning to abide in the change of seasons that I am bearing.  I am learning to bear in the remaining, the staying the course, the trying and in God's pruning and cleaning of my vines.

Ever think about how Jesus tells us to try hard things so that He can exhibit His strength in those hard things?  If you would have told me a year ago that I could run from corner to corner without stopping, I would have laughed you right out of my life. I never thought I could, therefore I never tried.

There is a healing that comes in the pain of trying something again and again and again. You give yourself another stab at something that hindered you. You take a stab at confidence. It's the power of the Holy Spirit that gives us strength to try the things that pleases Him. It's the Spirit who prunes us, or cleans us to bear the fruit that He plants inside of us, and in that process we can bear even more fruit.

What I love is the change overall that abiding brings in me, and how it exhibits a resiliency that can only come from letting the Holy Spirit have His way in our hearts.  It is God who gives growth in this faith process, and asks us to try, to trust, and to become more dependent on Him.

I might not like running but I love idea of letting God have His way in me. For I cannot run in God's rhythm without the work of the Holy Spirit. Leaning on His strength, confidence and trust that I have in Him.  I cannot experience living free without trying and continuing to pursue God with intensity.   As it turns out, I cannot do any running without His strength and He changes my overall.

It only takes a few steps into it His rhythm for me to remember that He is the Gardener to gardeners: pruning, clearing, cleansing, removing that which chokes, and making space for things beautiful.  I always end running a different person from the one who first strapped on her failed confidence in this. Having done the dirty work, admitting my laziness, I run easier, cleaner, meeker, and forgiven and more free.

I am learning how to abide in God's remaining in me. I am learning the art of living free.

What have you tried recently and have experienced a little success when doing it God's way?

Friday, September 19, 2014

Finding healing in the hope


Disasters happen. Life is full of them. It shouldn't surprise us, but yet, it does each and every time. Diagnosis, death, and devastation strike. We strive to just catch our breath.
Shouldn't we be better prepared given our technological edge with predictions and warnings?  No matter what, it ushers in a certain undoing in our lives.

Truth is death is just a breath away for all of us. Our own mortality reminds us that our lives are but a wisp.  Many days we brush closer with it than others. The tick-tock of our own heartbeat brevity, reminds us of our starting and stopping. 

The cycle of life.  It's easy to wax poetic on those days, thinking we matter, yet missing the very thing that does.

You might ask why it's happening to you.  You might cry out in the middle of your pain, and miss your healing.  Oh if only I could tell you a few stories. God has each of our stories written specifically for us. Like He was only writing one. 

Yours.

When life strikes with sadness, when sorrow shapes your faith, when tears fall like a waterfall, think about this...

We don't have the answer to what our lives require. That's God's job.

This week my little grandchild's life came close as he was gasping for air. That one fact, left us all gasping for hope. That's a hard place as a family. I personally have held hands with sadness, death, and sorrow. We deal, we hurt, we have pain.

Life is a great teacher. Compassion is the calling of God on our lives to make a difference in the middle of hurt, pain, loss, and death. We can point people to Jesus by shining a light of hope upon those who are looking for the only answer to make sense in the chaos of life.

God's healing of our lives comes in many forms and He longs to give us compassion. He longs...for us to know Him through the compassion of what it takes to bring us closer to Him.

This week I learned how to have peace in a new way. It was a piece in the perfecting of a personal and peaceful storm. I had hope in the face of loss, I had trust in the face of compassion, I had a deep love that moved my life, God healed a sore place, a place once filled with death.

His healing in hope is worth sharing.  God healed my hope. Isn't that just like God to get us through our own crisis moments when we do something for someone else?

"So the LORD must wait for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion. For the LORD is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for his help." –Isaiah 30:18

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

What I leverage when practicing what I know



I used to be afraid of reaching my weight loss goal.   This fear morphed into a weird sense of doubt that I would never achieve success in this area and I tackled defeat for many years.  And then there was the lie that even if I did arrive at my goal, I would gain it all back right away.  I had been on this Merry-go-round of the scale ups and downs for most of my life.  I am talking about losing a 100 lbs or more of excess weight and attaining a healthy weight range.  To take this a bit further, how would I ever be an expert in the world of losing weight or even an authority to write a book about it?

I found out two things, I am a loser and I'm an authority of what has worked for me.  First, I had to overcome the doubt that plagued me.  There is a bit of wisdom that I cling to in maintaining a weight loss of 132 lbs.   It's this:

"Eat today for how I want to feel tomorrow."    

If I want to live a healthy tomorrow, feel good about myself, see a healthy and balanced reflection in the mirror, experience good confidence and self-esteem, I will choose to eat towards my healthy goals.  My goals won't include chocolate anymore.  My goals will include healthy choices for today.  I chose a healthy lifestyle yesterday, and those choices feed my motivation to feel good about today.  This idea helps me make better choices for today, which affects tomorrow.  It removes doubt and gives freedom to acknowledge what does.

I leverage doubt to work in my favor.  I choose to believe that making healthy choices are right, good, and safe to lose and maintain a healthy weight.  Instead of throwing hurdles or stones in my path, I will cast the doubt out of my way, to clear the path of resistance, and create distance between good and bad choices.

In the distance between me and doubt, comes much resistance to what feeds my fears.  

That's not to say that I don't think about ice cream.  I do, but I think about practicing freedom more.  Every day, I practice sticking with what I know.  Because of what I have experienced, healthy choices and having a defense against doubt, I have been set free from the fear of gaining.

I have a strong health ethic now.  In working hard to accomplish a life-long goal of healthy living, I let my freedom win over my doubts.  I am free, confident, strong and 132 lbs lighter than I was 6 years ago.   

This practice works for me.  Choose to practice what you believe over what you don't.  Don’t stumble over doubt that you can’t achieve something.  Practicing doubt defense, gives me a weapon to fight against the enemy.  It doesn't remove doubts but I am better prepared for the mix of healthy tension that this struggle brings.  Most days I see doubt as a war to prepare for.  I hate that faith and doubt hold hands so tight.

I choose to believe over doubt.  I leverage what I know doesn't work against what I know does.  I put that d-word in its place and I guard my mind from going to a place of dismal defeat.  

Practice fortifies my faith, faith exercised brings strength.  (Someone should tweet that!)  Doubt debilitates and can whittle your confidence down to the nub.   Leverage doubt to fuel you instead of fool you.  

Monday, September 1, 2014

"Stick with Me kid, I'll take you places"

I know it's labor day, I hope you are getting the rest you need.  I have been traveling down memory lane lately and found this.  This is my most embarrassing work.  Finding it has caused a great concern.

Why am I concerned about this video making the rounds again?  I reminds me that I have been a bit calloused toward my freedom, perhaps I haven't celebrated God's work enough.  Friends, a look back will always remind you of the journey in which you have just overcome.  Reminders are good in that it helps you stay where you need to stay, in a place of overcoming a huge battle to victorious living.

Today I once again, on this Labor day, celebrate my freedom from food in finding that freedom God's way.

Overcoming a life long battle of the bulge is dreamy and something I have been longing for...well, a life-time.  May I never go back to being a slave to food.  No longer will I hide behind my own imperfections.  I don't speak about it often but it's time to let this little secret out.

I don't have a big story to tell but I do have a big story of God's telling in my struggle of how I have overcome a HUGE battle, one that has plagued me since I was born, or at least since I can remember.  In the losing of 132 lbs. of excess weight, I have uncovered a new me.

Guess what friends, I am not chopped liver.  I am a lovely redeemed daughter of the King and am free to tell His glory story.  I am free.  No longer do I have to make food behave because I have learned to behave myself around food.  Addictions of any kind are just that, addictions, and we all have them.  Mine doesn't make me better than you nor more shameful.  I was just desperate enough to seek God's deliverance from it and in my searching, God revealed His loving character and truth.

I had been looking for love in all the wrong places.  There is hope for all of us, the least of us, the lost part of our dreams, and the last in line.  There is hope.  Jesus says to his friends, "You are truly my disciples if you live as I tell you to, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." ~ John 8:31-32 (TLB)

The Janelle Keith paraphrased version is this:  "Stick with Me kid, I'll take you places"

I am free indeed, and I have hope.  It's come with a great price but every step has been worth it when you see from where you came from to your new place in this world.

Freedom changes everything, one decision changes everything, small changes add up to make a big difference.  The results are worth it, the courage and bravery I have found in me are refreshing and oh so lovely.

Freedom, truth and courage run hand in hand.  Run with me to the land of courage of being honest with yourself to take a look at where you have been, and to discover God's best life for you, and where He wants to take you to, the land of truth and freedom.

Here is where I once was, my most embarrassing moment.    Below see the me that has been set free.


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Dear you, It's been six long years,


Today I am celebrating the work that has been accomplished here.  I am so taken aback by your generosity in linking arms in my mundane to see God in our everyday life.  It's an honor for me that you spend time to read the thoughts that have spilled out here.

Why do I come here often and write to you?  Because...

It's my heart's response to what God has already done in my life.  It's my expression of God's glory to do the work that has been placed in my hands.  It's my heart displayed for you to see.  Sometimes when you come around you cheer for me, and I thank you for that, it encourages me to continue the work that God has begun.

Honestly there are days I have to remind myself of why I do this.  Being transparent with you is probably the hardest part of doing this.

Sometimes when you don't come around, well you don't encourage this.  I've learned how to get past the doubt in living my spiritual life online.  It's not about that, it's about having faith in knowing this is my calling and then being obedient to write what God has placed on my heart.

I don't show up to highlight my problems.  I'm here to show you who God is in my everyday life.  So thank you again for your cheers in lifting the name of Jesus high in the thoughts that are spilled out before you.

It's the shoes that God has fitted me with.  Ironically, my very first post six years ago was all about shoes.  Little did I know the pair of shoes that God was fitting for me today.  I wish for you is that you too would go in and discover the difference written from that place to this one.

Thank you for believing in the fact that this pair of shoes fits well.  I'm learning how to go the distance in this faith gig, this dream, this what I call a crazy life.

Everyday we all have the opportunity to display God's glory when we do what He has lovingly designed us to do.  My pair of shoes will never look like yours, and that's okay.  Your shoes will pinch my little stubby toes, or the heels you wear might be too tall.  I have to learn this balance this dream for myself, with the Holy Spirit as my teacher.

But friends as you discover what pair of shoes that God has for you, as you recover the dreams laying deep inside that you think will never happen, have hope today.  Don't give up in seeking God's best for you.

God's dream for you is to know who He is in your life.  You just want to do God's will?  Know who God is, then His will is evident to you.  If your prayers are asking for what He wants in your life, then believe me, and if you listen to nothing else that I say here, lean in on this...

God loves you.  You don't have to earn His love, you don't have to look to your husband, or food, or your earthly parents to love you like you long to be loved.  You don't have to look to anything but God for the love you yearn for.  Lift up your eyes and see the keeper of your heart, your soul, your future, your destiny, your calling and just receive the love that HE has created you with.

Once you know the depth of God's love for you, things fall into place and you stop searching for all those missing pieces in your life that you long for in your dreams.  So far in my trying on shoe after shoe, dream after dream, I have found that God's love, his words to me, the fullness of His love is all I need to get out of bed.

I know nothing can separate me from that kind of agape love.  It's all I need in my life, in my dreams, in my today, in my tomorrows, in my full life.  If you never come back, please know that this is on my heart today.

Yes, God you have prospered this writing in very long loving way.  Thank you God for the journey you have given, may I faithfully serve you with all the love I can give back in response to your great and everlasting love.  When it comes to words to encompass your love for me, well I don't have them.  You are everything You promised You are.  It's not just words I proclaim here, it's your Word, it's Jesus, who's name stands forever.  Amen.

There are some changes coming soon.  So excited for what's ahead.  Thank you for joining in!  So thank you for the encouragement you have given in your comments, your prayers, your cheers along the way.  Please holla back anytime.  I love to hear from you.

Love, lattes, and laughter all along this way,
Janelle
your word nerd