3 Reasons This Christian Girl Runs

I get it. Some people hate running. I once was one of them, and some days, I still am.

When I tell people I’m training for a half marathon, I get a variety of responses. Most fall into one of the following categories. I’d be curious to hear yours, and I promise, you won’t hurt my feelings!

Asking the reason why

Whether you’re setting goals or getting ready to make a decision, pause to ask, “Why am I doing this?” That’s a healthy question.

Last time when we talked about goals, we determined the bottom line for doing anything is to glorify God (I Corinthians 10:31). Let me unpack that a little more today to explain why I’m growing to love this physical pastime. How can running glorify God?

#1: It builds endurance and discipline.

Oh, it definitely builds endurance. There are days when putting one foot in front of the other is an act of sheer will power.

But it teaches me that persistence and hard work pay off. As I discover that showing up day after day makes a difference, running becomes a metaphor that motivates me to give my best in all my endeavors.

Call me crazy, but I’m an English teacher, and sometimes, metaphors just make a whole lot of sense.

#2: It can benefit a great cause.

Some friends and I ran the Idlewild Hope 5K together.

Last weekend, I had the privilege of running in the Idlewild Hope 5K to raise awareness and money for survivors of human trafficking.

Newsflash, Florida is considered a hub for this horrific crime, even third in the nation. I love my Sunshine State, but that’s one statistic that makes me want to vomit.

Because yes, Florida, this disease is in your backyard. Regardless where you live, don’t think your hometown is immune.

Races often benefit good causes, and even if they don’t, they’re an outreach opportunity. You never know who God will bring along your path. Literally.

#3: It provides quiet time with God.

Who said you have to be sitting down in a quiet nook to spend time with God? Running often provides quality time alone with my Savior. When I run with friends, it even provides a chance to share our burdens (Galatians 6:2) and pray.

Since my friend Angela and I are training for a half marathon together, we encourage each other this way. (I both blame and thank her for talking me into this race.)

Now our prayers aren’t necessarily pretty. We’re panting and sweating, but we’re praying for the needs on our hearts, for family members and friends, and for the lost and those who need to know Jesus better.

The point is simple. You don’t have to be on a private perch to pray. You can be on a running trail.

We have the opportunity to grow closer to God wherever we are, whatever we’re doing.

We can’t compartmentalize our lives. This third is for serving Jesus, and this third is for my family and responsibilities, and this part is for me.

No, no, and no.

If we do, we miss out on the chief purpose and joy of our lives: to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever (as the Westminster Shorter Catechism so succinctly states).

Think about your weekly routine, and look at it with fresh eyes. How can you glorify God in the ordinary? 

~ Kristen

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2 Realities of Reaching Worthy Goals

I’m convinced that anything worthwhile involves sacrifice. To reach a great goal, you have to give up good things.

Take sleep, for example. For the last two Saturdays, when many people enjoyed the chance to catch some extra Zs, I set my alarm early to go for a long run. Granted, I enjoyed the morning with some amazing running partners, but I had to sacrifice sleep, embrace sweat, and push through fatigue (and dewy cobwebs along the trail).

But I’ll never be ready for my half marathon in November if I don’t.

As I type those words, I laugh, because not many years ago, I couldn’t even run a mile. In fact, I received a doctor’s note that exempted me from my college physical education class on account of my back.

Those of you who’ve read The Revisionary may be having an aha moment right now. My heroine Portia suffers from scoliosis and a back injury, a physical obstacle she must overcome in order to reach her own goal. I often give my characters something that lets me relate to them better (or a “piece of myself”).

Little does Portia know when she starts training with Luther that she will need that physical endurance to survive her satellite sentence and the next part of her story (coming spring 2018).

Her regimen requires pain and grit. Giving up would be easy, but she doesn’t. Why? The reason is one she doesn’t fully understand yet.

#1 – Sacrifice now builds endurance for future circumstances.

Truth is, we often don’t know what those situations will be. We can’t know what we’ll face next year, let alone next week.

What we do today affects tomorrow. But how can we prepare for a future we can’t see?

In his awesome little book I Dare You, William Danforth describes how the four sides of life are connected. He challenges readers to exercise all sides of their personalities, following Jesus’ example in Luke 2:52.

And Jesus increased in wisdom (mental) and stature (physical), and in favor with God (spiritual) and men (social). (NKJV, parenthesis added)

Developing our mental, physical, spiritual, and social capacities in our current circumstances equips us to better face tomorrow’s challenges.

Maybe that’s why I like running: I can see all of these elements at work. In order to develop stamina (physical side), I need mental toughness (mental side). Friends (social side) often provide the encouragement and affirmation to stick with the routine. As I run, I enjoy quiet time with God, appreciate the beauty He’s provided in His creation for my enjoyment, and recognize the parallel between running a race and the Christian journey (spiritual side).

Many of my students are competitive athletes (such as in dance, swimming, or other sports) or enjoy pastimes such as acting or art. I’m sure they could share that these rewarding experiences require them to exercise discipline and say “no” to other fun activities their peers invite them to join. However, they’re committed and confident that what they’re practicing today will produce results.

How and when is up to God to decide.

#2 – To reach the prize, show up for practice.

Back in college, I never dreamed of running 13.1 miles, and even now, know that I have many more long, hard training days before I’m ready for the race on November 22.

But I know that to be ready, I have to show up when I’d rather hit snooze.

The same principle applies to all walks of life. In order to invest in a friendship or relationship, you must invest time and emotional energy. In order to write a book, you must resist the urge to flee from your computer when your screen contains nothing but white space. (Yes, as a writer, I feel that way sometimes.)

Do you have a goal you want to reach but feel you can’t? Start showing up for practice. Set the alarm and go running, even if you don’t get far the first dozen times. Sit down at that computer and type even if the words feel locked behind an insurmountable dam. Dedicate intentional time to build into that relationship. Block time out in your calendar for the calling God’s burdened you to do.

The bad news is that you’re going to have to give up other good things in the process. The good news is that those things aren’t the passions God’s laid on your heart right now and therefore not your priorities. There will either be another time for them, or God will provide other resources and people to meet those needs.

Whatever you do and whatever I do, we should do it all for the glory of God (I Corinthians 10:31).

As I get ready to run this race, I hope you’ll follow along with me as I share about it right here.

I’d also love to hear about your goals! Leave a comment so others and I can cheer you on your way and pray for you in the process.

~ Kristen

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The Path of Resistance

resistanceLast week, I went biking on a particularly windy day. Starting down the trail, my dirt bike raced along without much effort on my part.

The return home, however, was not such a breeze. With head down, I peddled hard into the wind and made much slower progress. My thighs started to burn.

Resistance brings pressure, sweat, and sometimes pain; I’m not just talking about the kind that comes from biking into the wind.

Life presents us with resistance. In school, we have to work hard and figure out teacher expectations to earn good grades. In our jobs, we might have to deal with unpleasant customers, co-worker conflicts, or project deadlines. Good relationships also don’t come naturally but require honesty and patience to resolve differences.

We writers know all about resistance. Editors may return our queries with polite or critical rejections. We may have a deadline looming, and suddenly, our fingers feel frozen on the keyboard.

Chances are, most of us complain about resistance.

However, let’s take a different approach. If teachers handed out A’s like candy, we would never discover our weaknesses or learn from our mistakes and improve. If editors drew smiley faces on every writer’s proposal, the market would be flooded with half-developed plots and weak characters (books no one wants to read).

Resistance makes us better, stronger. We can’t grow without it.

The need for endurance

In the Bible, the Apostle Paul explained the need for a character trait that knows how to handle resistance. This quality is endurance.  In I Corinthians 9:24-27, he compared the Christian life to an athlete who can win a race only if he exercises self-control and disciplines his body. Resistance training helps the athlete succeed when the race counts.

The truth is, however, that none of us enjoys push-backs and disappointment. To appreciate them, we have to look beyond the moment.

20170130_073655One way to help keep the goal in mind is to remember past finish lines crossed. I’m a visual person, so you’ll see pictures of physical dares I’ve met around my house (usually in the form of adventures with my brother). Recently, I’ve also started keeping a gratitude journal. These entries remind me that God has always been faithful in tough spots in the past, and He’s not going to quit on me (even when I’m tempted to quit on myself).

Starting is easy. Finishing is hard work. But it’s worth it.

The prize before us

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it (I Corinthians 9:24).

As I biked home, I turned my gaze upward. In the sky, birds glided and swooped. The same wind that fought against me allowed them to soar.

When you’re faced with resistance, whether in your spiritual walk or personal life, press on. Set your eyes on the prize. (Make sure you have one picked out before you start!)

The prize I’m running for is to hear my Savior Jesus Christ tell me well done one day:

  • Well done for loving the people in your life, even when they’re hard to love.
  • Well done for being faithful where I place you, even when you’d rather be somewhere else.
  • Well done for listening for my voice, even when I seem silent.
  • Well done for writing the words and stories I’ve given you to tell, even if you never know what impact (if any) they will have.

One day, I pray I’ll hear words like these. Until that day, I say amen to what Paul said in Philippians 3:14.

I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

What prize do you have in sight? What well done do you want to hear? 

Today, embrace the resistance. One day, the wind that buffets you may give you wings.

Kristen

 

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