The Joy of Running

Preface: I wrote this piece before I heard the news regarding the Boston Marathon tragedy. This is a horrific and wicked thing. Our family prayed together for the families and people affected by this horror. I pray they are able to run again with joy and peace. That broken lives will mend. Please Lord, More Grace to them.

For the pure joy of running

“Want a strong, solid relationship that is willing to go the distance? Get to know your running shoes.”  –Dean Karnazes

How many pairs of running shoes have I owned? I have no idea! I wish I had kept track of the number of shoes I’ve worn out from the miles of pounding pavement and trails. If I had kept a folder of receipts from all those purchases and submitted copies of said receipts (with a sincere compliment for the brand) I may have won a free gift from ASICS footwear, the brand of running shoes that has been good to my feet for many years. Why change after 32 years of running!

I love to run. But I didn’t used to. In fact, there was a time I would avoid all exercise simply because I hated to sweat. Fast rewind. I had become an overweight and out-of-shape soccer mom who was always too busy with everyone and everything else to focus on my own physical needs. I realized that I needed to make a healthy change. With support from my encouraging husband and close friends to help with childcare, I was able to schedule a several hours each week to walk.

Eventually, the more I walked the better I felt…about everything. These daily walks became a rhythm for praying, listening to music or an audio book, and thinking about solutions to problems. Not only did I lose weight and drop pant sizes, but the “alone time” in walking made me a better wife, mother, friend, and leader.

After several months, the walking turned into “wogging” (which is a walking-jogging combination). I remember buying my first pair of ASICS around that time. After “wogging” for a while, I discovered I could run for a longer amount of time before stopping. Eventually, I was running 6 miles in an hour. My husband also started running and along with our children, we spent many a Saturday morning participating in family fun runs or 10K races.

Here are few things that have kept me sweating for the joy of running:

 1.  Take care of my feet. Wear quality running shoes. Understanding my personal pronation type is crucial to choosing the proper running shoes. Visit a retail sport store that specializes in running to receive the best advice regarding the right shoe.

2. Stay injury free! Practice right running techniques. After incurring repeated foot pain and knee injuries, I investigated how to run injury free and discovered the Pose Method of running, which focuses on mid-foot or forefoot strike versus heal-striking. I also had to practice the correct posture and learn how to run relaxed. I usually feel better after I run due to learning this technique. I’ve also seen a huge improvement in distance and speed when running on trails or grass with the Pose Method.

3.  Run with a friend or join a running group for encouragement. Running with a friend or group keeps me accountable to a routine and motivates me to stay on a healthy running pace. Plus if I can hold a conversation while running, then it’s a good sign that I’m not running too hard (anaerobic) and can run longer and burn more fat (aerobic). 

4. Select music with the right beat that matches my running cadence. I created several playlists featuring a variety of artists to keep my runs interesting and fun. I always run against traffic (facing cars coming head on) so I can move out-of-the-way of an on coming car. I don’t trust drivers to watch out for me so I don’t run with traffic. I always run with my cell phone.

5. Eat healthy and stay hydrated. I need energy (fuel) to run well and maintain hydration so I don’t burn out. When I eat healthy all of the time and drink plenty of water everyday, my runs are much easier and I feel energized after running. Sometimes, I’ll have a light snack before a morning run but always refuel after a run with a healthy meal or blend a kale-protein shake concoction (Really delicious! It’s all about the right ingredients.)

6. Take rest days. Go for a walk instead. It’s okay not to run everyday. In fact, rest is good for the body. Maintain core fitness, strength training and stretching also helps to keep me injury free. I enjoy listening to a podcast or “read with my ears” via Kindle/ while taking a long casual walk on the rest days.

7. Worship gives me pure joy while running. Many of the playlists I created are worship songs. Often times, I do not want to walk or run due to feeling blah or discouraged or the weather is cold and gray. This is when self-discipline is needed to lace up the running shoes and layer up to face the winter chill. Exercise is good to boost the endorphins and combine that with listening to praise music and worship songs elevate my heart to the right place of focusing on Jesus instead of the blahs. I do this for the joy of running…32 years of pounding the pavement and still counting!

Every physical, created pleasure is meant to serve a higher pleasure; the pleasure of God.  –Paul David Tripp

God Happenings

God Happenings

Talking about God with your children and noticing his handiwork in the smallest details, such as a blade of grass or the melody of a bird’s song should be as natural as walking together or kissing them on the cheek as they head off to school. Be encouraged and motivated to share with your children how God helped you get through the grind of your work day. Share the “wins” of your day and honor all of that to the glory of God.  Thank God for those wins. Every good thing and even the troubling ones can be used to show your children more of God’s grace. Let your children hear from you about the many ways you experienced the “God Happenings” in the small and big details of your day and they will soon begin to notice their own “God Happenings” where ever they are.

“Don’t walk around with your head down, trying to ‘just get through’ your day so that you can get up tomorrow and do it all over again”. *  God wants everyday to be a delight as you live in His presence and discover His blessings. Model to your children the true kind of delight and joy that only comes from knowing Jesus and the way to know Jesus is to know what God says about Jesus and to know what God says about Jesus is to read His Book…the Bible.

I appreciate this simple acrostic as a guide for my personal bible reading and it’s proven helpful for my family too. We use the word:  P-R-A-I-S-E

Here is a simple summary Adapted from The Journey by Randy Pope, Perimeter Church.

PRAY: Begin with talking to God. No need for eloquent words. Just tell God what is on your mind and ask him to help you see  “God Happenings” through the reading of his Word.

READ: Chose a passage of scripture. Perhaps a chapter from Psalms, Proverbs, or begin reading the book of John. You may want to read from a devotional book  with your children.

ASK QUESTIONS: What does this mean? What should I do? How do I see  “God Happenings” in the verses read? What did God do? How should I respond?

INTERPRET: If you don’t know the answers to your questions, then use an online resource to find the answer or ask someone more knowledgeable about the Bible to help you. Write down the question to remember to investigate later and share the conclusions with your family.

SUMMARIZE: Wrap up the bible reading with a brief summary of what was read. This is the best time to recount the “God Happenings” discovered and responses to the some of the questions asked. You may want to make a few notes to remember the comments family members say.

ENGAGE with GOD: You begin with prayer and you end with prayer. Talk to God and thank him for showing you more of himself. It is a beautiful thing when families pray together. It’s a beautiful thing to experience the “God Happenings” with each other.

I hope this acrostic is helpful for you. Be watchful and expectantly looking for those “God Happenings”!  I would love to know what you find!

**  Jesus Calling: 365 Devotions For Kids by Sarah Young; page 236; Enjoy Life! 

The UnMaking of a Worship Disorder

Good grief! What a week this has been! Topsy turvy, stressful, conflicted, heavy. I struggled to get a grip on my thoughts, my choices and emotions.

And there it is…the making of a worship disorder. I was so focused on the stressful situation to an exaggerated point that it began to consume my mind, will and emotions. That is a worship disorder.

Before you can understand what a worship disorder is, you  need to answer this question first, “What is worship?”   I like how Tim Keller defines Worship:

“Worship is an act of ascribing ultimate value to something in a way that engages your entire being.”

Obviously, I had ascribed to something of “value”… but in a very negative way, so much so that it was palpable in my home environment. I had amazing support, faithful prayers, and words of affirmation from my family but it wasn’t until I purposefully and with intentionality transferred all of that which was robbing my joy over to God that my entire being became filled with peace and equilibrium.

Psalm 95:1-11 is the coach that got me moving out of a worship disorder

Verse 1 of that Psalm spoke to my emotions: “Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!”  It requires emotion to sing, to dance, to shout joyfully because God is the rock of my salvation. And God gave me a song.

Verse 6 spoke to my will: “Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!” This took a humble volition, a choice to come, bow, and kneel before the Lord.  This act was the surrender.

Verse 8 spoke to my mind: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your heart…”  This meant I needed to actively listen to truth and choose to hear God speak through his Word. This is experiencing peace. This is experiencing forgiveness. 

Bit by bit by bit the more I worship, the more it changes where my  heart looks for peace and satisfaction.

The worship of the living God gives us peace and equilibrium to face the troubles of life. Worship engages our entire being in adoration and brings us to a sense of joy in God’s ravishing beauty. ~Tim Keller


FOUR Ways to Make Your Personal Worship Habit Forming

Kickstart Personal Woship

Photography by Donna Harris :: Remember the Year

Kickstarting a personal worship plan typically happens at the start of every new year. And I do this quite well the first month of the year. The rub is the remaining eleven months!  Here are FOUR things I do to keep me in the habit of daily personal worship. Surely I can manage four things!

Personal worship is the daily time you spend devoting your attention exclusively to the glory of Christ and receiving the satisfaction he gives. That is why it is sometimes called “Devotions”.  ~Randy Pope

1.  Decide on a time: There is no right or wrong time but whatever time you decide on, do schedule it on your calendar and set a reminder alarm if necessary. You will be more consistent if you view your time with God as an appointment to be kept on your daily schedule. I’ve become a “morning person” after years of practice and have found that morning devotions {personal worship} strengthens me prior to the stress of the day. Try to find a morning time if you can. You’ll probably need a minimum of 20 minutes. I found this article about how to become a “morning person” by  Michael Hyatt very helpful. Check it out.

2.  Decide on a plan: It is important to have a plan for daily reading of the Bible. And there are hundreds of options to choose from so take time to discover what works for you and stick with it for the year. For me, reading the Bible in a year has always been a challenge, therefore, my new plan is to not to continue with my old plan which was the, “Reading the Bible in a Year for Three Years” plan.  Check out YouVersion for a reading plan that fits your style. I’ve been using “Eat this Book”…I do hunger for more!  You may find that you need a daily reminder, if so sign up for email prompts from Bible Gateway. This year I chose “Table Talk Devotions  for the purpose of reading “on the fly” while waiting for an appointment or waiting for the crossing arms at the railroad track to raise. It’s refreshing to receive an email that compels me to step away from the harried pace. With a smart phone or tablet, you can access any of these plans with ease and flexibility to fit your rhythm of life.

3.  Use a translation you can understand:  My vote is to use the English Standard Version.  “nuff said.”

4.  You Do What You Want To Do:   “You do what you want to do”…words of wisdom that my husband shared with our children over the years and continues to say today. I do what I want to do…I have time to work out, to play, to eat, to watch TV, to be on the internet, to write this post…I do what I want to do. Is God Lord over what I do? Have I committed to spending time with the One who gave His life for me? Where would I be without His grace, forgiveness and freedom from addictions? (I hate to think of the options.)  To borrow from Nike…Just Do It! Make the commitment to spend time in God’s Book for 21 days. If you miss a day just start over. You will be more than encouraged after 21 days of personal worship!