Saturday, August 29, 2015

Walking With God.... Literally

Deuteronomy 5:33
Walk in obedience to all that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.


A few weeks ago I went back to my doctor for a follow-up visit. Earlier in the summer he had been concerned because my blood pressure was a bit higher than it should be. The whole thing really surprised me since my blood pressure had always run a little low. The doctor had told me to return just before school started so we could see if there was any change.

The follow-up did not bring good news. My BP was still running high, so I was told to change my diet and exercise. The doctor recommended walking, something that I used to enjoy.

I racked my brain and tried to figure out HOW to fit walking into my daily schedule. I already get up far before the sun does and, with school starting, I would be there until late in the evening. I needed motivation and I needed help. 

Allow me to introduce you to the 2 (or 3) new friends that have helped me along my walking journey.


You thought I meant actual PEOPLE? Well..... there is one other person in that picture above. (An explanation will shortly follow.)

You see, I first needed some accountability. That is why I bought the FitBit. I knew that it would accurately track my steps each day as well as the amount of time I spent engaged in physical activity. It has worked wonders for me! 

I have worn the FitBit for 10 days now. On 9 of those days I actually met and slightly exceeded my goal of 10,000 steps per day. Even a sore ankle didn't stop me. I just wrapped the ankle in an ACE bandage and kept walking on.

The second thing I needed was some encouragement- some type of motivation to keep walking during those times when my body was tired and I felt like stopping. That is where the iPod comes in. I loaded a playlist with every gospel song that I could find on my computer. (Between my daughter and I, we had collected a LARGE number.) I added a good set of earphones that would allow the heavenly tunes to come straight to me- loud and clear.

That brings me to the other person on this journey with me. You can't see him in the picture above, but trust me.... he is there. GOD.... You see, while I walk I pray, I think, I listen to the music, and I allow God to speak to me. He never fails me. When I am feeling tired and my shins are beginning to ache, a tune will come on my random playlist that pushes me to keep on walking and not give up. When I am thinking of one of my children and the struggles they are having, a song will begin playing that lets me know that God is there for them AND for me.

This daily walking isn't always easy, but I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. It is my daily worship time, with God and whatever message he chooses to send me through my earphones. 

So, if you see me out there walking along the halls at school or along the roadside, seemingly lost to the rest of the world, with a smile on my face and a bounce in my step perhaps you can better understand WHY I am so happy amidst the sweat and pain. I strongly recommend this type of daily walk with God....... It has heart benefits in more than one way!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Many Hands Make Light Work


The school year has begun and with it comes many jobs that need to be completed: copying papers, learning how to implement new computer programs, clearing out and moving rooms, making schedule changes..... it all can seem too immense, if you allow it.

My Bible study this morning was from the book of Nehemiah. As I was reading the story in Chapter 3 about how the walls were rebuilt, I was hit with a brainstorm.

In that particular chapter, various groups took a personal responsibility for rebuilding one small portion of the wall. When looking at the whole wall that needed rebuilding, it would have been very easy for them to just throw their hands in the air and say, "It can't be done!" The task before them was immense, but they realized what I have often been told, "Many hands make light work."

It isn't easy to accomplish some tasks; it would be so easy for us to just give up and think that the job lying before us was too large or too difficult to actually be completed. Yet, when we stop and work together, great things can be accomplished: houses get built, documents get written, and programs are begun.

Working together also makes it less likely that you will give up and quit. When you know that other people are counting on you and supporting you, it is much more difficult to walk away from a task at hand. My husband and I have recently begun a diet/exercise plan to try to get a little more physically fit. One of the purchases that we really want to make is to buy Fit Bits for the two of us so that we can challenge one another and others to walk more. My sweet hubby said, "I think I have a better shot at actually doing it if others are doing it with me."

Do you have a personal task that seems overwhelming? Maybe you need to ask someone else to help you. If you can't think of one, try praying for God to send you someone. That might just do the trick!

Friday, July 31, 2015

Drowning.....



Last night, I had a dream. In the dream I was driving down the road when I suddenly encountered water streaming across the surface. For some reason, I kept right on driving through, heedless to the danger.

I felt my car slip to the right and head off the road into the raging water. The car went down, down, down below the surface; yet, I did not feel fear. Instead, I was remarkable calm. It was at that point that I awakened.

I puzzled about the dream-  Why did I head straight on into the water rather than turning around, as I have been taught? Why was I so calm in the midst of danger?

Then, this afternoon, it all became clear.....

I was sitting at home reading some devotionals from my iPhone, when these verses popped out at me:

Isaiah 43: 1-2
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;



    I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
 
When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.


WOW! I felt like I had been shoved with an elbow in the ribs. This was so much like my dream. With further reading, I saw that the devotional was referring to fear and how it can overwhelm us, but for me, the verses held a different meaning.

This summer I have felt extremely overwhelmed. My father has been ill and has 2 different surgical procedures, my husband has been experiencing heart issues and has been undergoing several tests, and my son is experiencing some "about to enter adulthood" stress and indecision which has caused him to experience high blood pressure. Through it all, I have been trying to be the stalwart, the one who is there for everyone, to the point that I have ignored my own health issues. . At times I have felt like I was there, all alone, trying to be all and do all. This was my own personal flood..... my own raging waters.

Yet, here was God, telling me that he IS here with me. No matter how hard life gets, no matter how high the flood of stress gets, he IS there with me to help me through. I am NOT alone! I have no reason to fear. I am HIS and he will be there. I simply need to remember that and lean on him for strength and support.

Lord, please help me to remember to call on you when times get rough and I feel the floods of life's stresses pouring in on me. Help me to remember that I am not alone and that you will always be there for me. I am your child and you will be my life-vest when the storms begin to rage. As much as the stress weighs on me, you will keep my boat afloat on the waters of life.




Monday, July 6, 2015

Something New

It is hard to believe that a little over 6 weeks ago I was monitoring end of the school year testing. Each day I circled the classroom, almost endlessly, monitoring my students as they took assessments designed to show what they had learned this year. Each evening I would come home and collapse on the couch, resting my feet, my body, and my brain.

It was during one such rest that I discovered something new that I just HAD to try..... Bible art journaling.

What is it?- I could explain it, but I do not think I could do it justice. Instead I will refer you to some of the many websites I discovered via Pinterest and Google.

The first of these is written by Danica: Anatomy of a Bible Art Journal. She sounds a lot like me.

The second website is written by Kristin: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Bible Journaling. I found her blog entry to be a good introduction to the process that she uses when she journals, as well as to her supplies.

There are some beautiful examples of art journal creations online. Just go to Pinterest and do a search for Bible Art Journaling. You will find literally hundreds of BEAUTIFUL blessings! While I cannot see myself coming anywhere close to the techniques and art that these wonderful women have created, I do think that I can use the journaling to help me get closer to the Lord.

I know that some people might feel hesitant about doing some of the artwork in the BIBLE.... I am still struggling a bit myself. As an English teacher, I love communicating with the book that I am reading by underlining or making notes in the margin. Over the past year I have given myself permission to do that in my Bible as well. There aren't many notes yet, but the ones that are written down help document my relationship with God, his promises, and his desire for my life. This quote says it better than I can.....


Think about it..... of all the books that I read, the Bible will be the one that holds the most importance for me and for my life. There is no other author that I would rather have a conversation with than God himself. These art journals can help with that.

I also think that my Bible and all of its entries will be a wonderful legacy to leave behind for my children and whatever grandchildren I may one day have. Through its words and drawings they will surely be able to catch a glimpse into my devotion to God and the role that he played in my life.

Mission number one for me is to find the ideal Journal Bible to begin my journey..... More on that to come soon. Keep watching!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Half Marathon Update

I wanted to take a minute to update you on my daughter's half marathon.

We traveled to Williamson, Kentucky where the Hatfield-McCoy Marathons would begin. The night before our daughter's race we took the opportunity to drive the course. It was then that we got our first glimpse of "Blackberry Mountain", the nemesis of the first half of the course.  (Take a look at the elevation map below. That BIG spike about mile 6 and 7 is Blackberry Mountain.)


A quick run to the grocery store to pick up some bagels for the next morning's breakfast and then we were off to slumber for the night.

We dropped Kari off at the race start just before 7 AM Saturday morning and she still had a bit of a smile on her face, though she was nervous.


Glenn and I drove the 30 minute ride around curvy country roads to park in Matewan, West Virginia where the half marathon would end. We sat a while, looked at some of the historical sites, and then scoped out a spot close to the bridge entering town. Runner after runner came down the hill and turned the curve toward the bridge. Glenn and I waited.... and waited... looking at our watch and trying to gauge when Kari might come into view. Finally, about 2 hours and 30 minutes into the run we glimpsed her bright orange outfit coming toward us.


Kari had made some running pals as she ran; she later would tell us that they had discussed it being her first marathon and how she was feeling. No doubt, their encouragement helped her keep walking and running toward her goal.

Meanwhile at the finish line, Glenn had created a make shift sign using papers and crayons he had found in the back of the car. We had also told several others who were watching the race about Kari and her determination to finish this, her first half marathon. By the time she crossed the bridge there were several people yelling her name and encouraging her as she continued the brief run through downtown toward the finish line.


Kari crossed the line and learned that, not only had she finished the half marathon, but she had also placed 2nd in her age category!


Kari does not really consider this half marathon to be much of an achievement. "I am a runner, Mom. They expect us to do things like this." As for me, I consider it a GREAT achievement. I feel so blessed to have a daughter like her: one who sets goals, works toward them, and makes it her purpose to achieve them. She may be younger than the other runners on her college team; she may be younger than the classmates in her college classes, but she does not let that prevent her from achieving what any other college sophomore might achieve. 

I also feel blessed to have a daughter who is so God centered. As I listen to her sing solos in church my heart swells with pride and I often find tears welling up in my eyes. Proverbs 22:6 says "Train up a child in the way he should go; when he is old, he will not depart from it." Glenn and I have attempted to do that, and I am so blessed to see that Kari has accepted God and his guiding hand into her heart and her life. 

Friday, May 29, 2015

Determination



I should have learned by now that God always knows when I need a little push or lesson. A couple of days ago God chose to send me just such a nudge.

I have been a little discontented with my waistline. Since turning 45 several years ago it has become increasingly difficult for me to maintain a size that I like. Weight loss commercials blame it on hormones; I sometimes blame it on my tendency to stress eat and rushing lunches at school. Whatever the reason, let's just say that I do NOT like what I see in the mirror most days.

As we neared the end of the school year I made a promise to myself that I would get back in a walking routine, in an effort to burn more calories and get a bit more physically fit. I have been adding steps into my daily schedule and my children even purchased me one of those step counters to wear on my wrist as part of my Mother's Day present. Yet, somehow things have been getting in the way- first weather and then my shins.

Every time I start walking for an extended period of time my shins begin burning and hurting. My daughter (the runner in the family) informed me that I must have a problem with shin splints. That didn't help solve the problem though.

On Wednesday I decided that I would get up early, get dressed, and be ready to walk while my daughter did her morning run. We drove to the designated parking area and got out. She took off running and I set out walking. Sure enough, two tenths of a mile into my walk, the burning began, but I kept walking.

I set my eyes on the horizon where I could see an orange shape growing smaller and smaller as my daughter ran into the distance. I kept thinking to myself, "If she can attempt to train for a half marathon, surely I can walk a mile." I pushed the button on my watch and found that I still had not reached the half mile marker. I kept walking, glancing up once more to see that my daughter was no longer there. She had run out of my line of vision, determined to run her designated length and speed.

God wants that same determination for us, in our daily lives. In Hebrews 12, verses 1 and 2 we find the following:

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. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

God wants us to keep running the race of Christian faith, never giving up, never ceasing to trust him and the fact that he will be there- our greatest cheerleader! He has set a path for us and he wants us to stay on that path, ridding our lives of things and people who prevent us from achieving the goal he has set for us. We simply need to keep our eyes focused on that finish line- with Jesus standing there, arms outstretched ready to congratulate us for a race well run and to nourish us with the refreshing cool water of life that only he can give.

I may not shed the inches around my middle that bug me so much- but...... I plan to keep walking, exercising, and making the best me that I can. I also plan to keep delving into God's word and sharing what I have learned with others. I WILL keep my eyes fixed on Jesus. I WILL run this Christian race with perseverance!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Back on Track

Wow! Has it really been months sit I sat down and actually shared my thoughts on this blog? I feel a bit guilty about it actually. I had good intentions, but sometimes life just got in the way and I felt too tired, too busy, or too stressed.

The wonderful thing is ..... it is never too late.

I can get back on track........

I think back to the parable of the Prodigal son. He had wandered away from home, being gone so long that some people might have even forgotten about him. Then he returned home- to find himself welcomed back with open arms, a feast, and a father's heart filled with love.

I can return to a routine, trying to post at least once a week, sharing my heart, my thoughts, and God's message with all of you. I know that God will gladly welcome that- hopefully you will too.