Journey to the Unexpected

Journey to the Unexpected

And so goes…the love/hate relationship I’m developing with my new running coach. I met Julia last week, knowing I needed help to meet some fitness goals for 2012–including running a marathon.

She sized me up quickly and immediately employed sarcasm, like gasoline to fuel me from excuses to the treadmill.

Today’s email (amid the weekly fitness recipe, tips and encouragement) ended with “I’m sure you’ll need to vent on Friday about how EASY all of this is.”

Touche!

So after talking outloud for the next 20 minutes while I angrily laced my running shoes, I drove to the gym. She told me I’d need a slogan; something to tell myself when it got tough. 30 minutes into my run, things like “help me Jesus”, “You got this girl” and “I can do ALL things through Christ who stregnthens me.” came to mind. Part of me wanted to give up.

But there was another part–the part of me that is an overcomer. I was determined NOT TO QUIT! I knew if I focused, I’d hit a second wind.

I did it! There’s such an amazing sense of accomplishment when you complete something; like crossing the finish line. Victory!

I labeled 2011″The year of No Excuses”. Designed to get me off the couch and in shape, where I’d failed too many times in the past.

That first step to just walk led to bootcamp then to personal training and on to several 5k’s. One step of action took me where I hadn’t imagined. I have MUCH bigger goals for 2012. There will be new layers of excuses and obstacles to overcome.

To go places you’ve never been to before, you need to DO things you’ve never done before. This year I am calling “The Year of the Unexpected.” I’m expecting to run a marathon by years end, but hoping I’ll do something beyond that; something UNEXPECTED!

How bout you?

A Refuge From The Storm

Yesterday was a glorious day in Branson. My friend, Mary and I walked along an acorn-strewn path overlooking Table Rock Lake. We marveled at God’s display of autumn colors. He was showing off in the Ozarks!

We decided to walk down to the Branson Belle shops. “There’s a cold front coming in tonight. We might even experience a light dusting” said the clerk. Forecasters called it to drop from 70 degrees to 30’s.

As I lay in bed, the wind whistled and moaned with tornadic sounds. Completely peaceful, knowing I was safe in my warm home, I thought about how regardless of the storms we go through, it’s possible to experience total peace; knowing God is our protector and provider.

Isaiah 25:4 says “For thous hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, A REFUGE FROM THE STORM…..” Refuge is defined as: “Shelter or protection from; a place one may turn to for help or relief.”

What storm are you facing? Financial? Relational? Medical? A wayward child? Are you struggling to hold on to faith that God even cares or hears your prayers?

God is a REFUGE from the STORMS of our lives! We can go TO Him for SHELTER and PROTECTION–or we can go elsewhere. God knows our needs before we even ask. He knows our thoughts, our fears. He waits patiently for us to come to Him. How many times do we make someone or something else a God in our lives—attempting to get our needs met—-instead of going to the ONE who can not only meet our real needs, but also give us peace?

If a storm is raging in your midst–some area where you have a total lack of peace, I pray you’ll go to God right now and let Him be your REFUGE.

 

Do You Have a Servant’s Heart

I eat out alot. Over the years, I’ve experienced a multitude of waitresses. When you get a really good one, you remember her.

Two years ago I walked into Ruby Tuesday’s. Gayle seated me and asked what I wanted to drink. It was cold that day. “A fresh and steamy hot cup of coffee.” Within moments, Gayle arrived with exactly what I asked for and added “I even steamed your cup.” I sat with my mouth dropped open as NO ONE had ever taken the time to do that for me.  Her excellent service continued throughout my meal. I noticed that she was really LISTENING to me and bringing me exactly what I wanted. She was rewarded very nicely for this service in her tip.

In contrast, the young lady who waited on me tonight did not have this same excellent spirit. At first,  I was her only patron. After serving me, she handed me the bill and told me to pay on my way out. It was as if she was letting me know her service was complete. Another couple walked, sitting behind me. I waited patiently for her to return so I could order a small bowl of ice cream. Three times she came to the other table and walked away quickly without even looking in my direction for me to motion to her.

I was slightly irritated. I remembered Gayle. I wondered why all waitresses did not have her same attitude. “Why doesn’t she ask if there is something I need?” I thought.  I felt God  whisper “To care about one’s needs is the marking of a good servant. To ask Me “Father, what is it that you need from me today?” would be most welcome and refreshing and rewarded nicely.

I’m usually to busy running my mouth to God with a list of prayers of what I need from Him—-that I rarely ask Him what He needs from me. I wonder if we took the time to LISTEN to what God needs and wants (like Gayle did for me that day) how God would reward us? Something to think about and become aware of as we go about our day.

The Cost of Love

I’ve been thinking alot about the “Cost of Love”. Much of what I beleived about love was not love at all, but rather a combination of fantasy, romance and wishful thinking. As little children, fairytales like Cinderella and Snow White are read to us over and over again. As we grow older, our minds are often filled with sitcoms and movies–based on the world’s idea of love. Thus, many of us are often unprepared, disappointed and disillusioned by love.

When we become dissillusioned; similar to needing correction in our vision and seeking the advice of an eye doctor, we can seek God’s advice through His word and obtain correction for our dissillusioned minds. If we believe love will not cost us, then perhaps we do not truly know what love is.  God, who IS love–gave us His most precious gift in Jesus. It cost Him greatly.

God did not pull Jesus off the cross, nor did Jesus run from it, when the pain became too great. God’s plan was greater than the pain.

I could never have been Mary. How did she watch as Jesus was tortured? I would’ve caused an uproar! I’d probably have been arrested. Mary must’ve understood (to some degree) the plan of God and received God’s abundant grace for these circumstances.

My son has sufferred much in his young life and at times I’ve been so angry with God for allowing such pain, that I’ve begged, pleaded and even yelled for God to remove his sufferring. At times, God is strangely silent. Other times He pours out grace.

When I naively chose to follow Christ 15 years ago, I didn’t understand the cost of being a disciple. In Luke 14:33 Jesus said “…any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.”  I think what Jesus is saying here is that nothing can hold a more important place in our hearts than Him; not our children, not our spouses, not our parents, not our dreams, not our jobs, not our money, not our posessions, NOTHING. He must have pre-eminence in our hearts, minds and souls.

Have you understood the cost of being Christ’s disciple? If Jesus stood before you today, can you honestly say you’ve given everything else a lesser priority than Him? If your answer to that is NO–I encourage you to ask God to help you let go.  God understands the pain involved in seperating yourself unto Him. He also understands the greater plan that will unfold in your life, if you are but willing.

What does your Self-Portrait say about YOU?

A good friend and very wise woman used to tell me all the time, “Coleen, you are a 4-part being.”

Perhaps at the time, I wasn’t ready or able to understand this. In the past year, due to major changes in my life, I BECAME READY. I wanted to know about these 4-parts. I knew there was more to life and I wanted what that MORE was—I wanted to be WHOLE.

Being whole reminds me of when Jesus healed the 10 lepers. Of the 10, only one took time to return and say “thank you.” That man, was made whole. They all were healed, but one was made WHOLE. There is a distinct difference and I wanted to know what that looked like in my life.

I began to examine the 4 parts my friend told me about and saw this: We are PHYSICAL (having a body to care for), SPIRITUAL (having a spirit that needs to be constantly filled like a glass of water), EMOTIONAL (having the ability to feel and express emotions) and INTELLECTUAL (having a mind like a computer chip which can store tons of data).

Many times, without realizing it, we pursue the development of one or more of these PARTS of our being and neglect the other areas of our life. When I examined my own life, I noticed I’d focused on my Spiritual and Intellectual parts, but had neglected my Physical and Emotional sides. This year, has been about balancing my life by placing more emphasis on the neglected areas.

In my self-portrait journey, I’ve seen most people have either never understood or taken the time to apply this simple concept to their lives. If you were to draw a big circle on a piece of paper and then draw one line from top to bottom and another from side to side (like making a pie with 4 big peices) and then write in each slice (physical, emotional, spiritual and intellectual)—what does your self portrait reveal?

Which areas have  you focused on and which areas could honestly stand some work? Do you want to be WHOLE? If so, I can tell you from personal experience that if you will examine your life in this way, then make a committment to your self to concentrate more energy in these areas and ask for help when you need it, you WILL be on your journey to becoming whole. I must caution you that this PROCESS takes time. So, be gentle and patient with yourself. Asking for help along the way takes the pressure of yourself to try and figure it all out and makes it easier to accomplish.

Here’s to the NEW LIFE that can become yours—-IF YOU ARE WILLING!

The Promise of a Harvest by Choosing Discipline

As children we were disciplined by our parents and teachers. Hopefully, when we became adults we made good choices as a result of  this discipline. When I invited Jesus into my heart 15 years ago, I learned  a different kind of discipline; discipline to read the bible.

At first, I found it difficult. I’d get up early to read before starting my day, but end up falling asleep. Plus, I didn’t understand half of what I was reading. What was the point, I wondered? Then one day, I made it more appealing by brewing a pot of coffee and getting some help from the “experts”. For me, that was anyone who had more understanding of the bible and could TEACH me. Before long, I found myself looking forward to this time instead of seeing it as something I HAD to do. I’ve now filled many, many journals with my study notes and am able to share what I’ve learned over the years with others.

Hebrews 12:10-11 says “God DISCIPLINES us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No DISCIPLINE seems pleasant at the time, but PAINFUL. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

I’m undergoing a different kind of discipline right now. Discipline of my body; choosing to eat healthy AND physical training. I really relate to the words “no discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful!”. It requires discipline to say no to that chocolatey dessert and show up at the gym—-doing PAINFUL stomach crunches , weight training and laps around the track. My body, (if it had a say) would prefer to stay in bed and have what IT wants.

I take hope though in the latter part of that verse: “Later on, however, it produces a HARVEST….” Hallelujiah! If I keep showing up, doing my part, EVENTUALLY, I will benefit with great results for my efforts—just like I did when I learned discipline by reading the bible.

I always like to offer those who read my blog a personal challenge before closing. So, what area in your life needs some discipline? Are you willing to accept the challenge and make a committment to yourself? If you need help keeping whatever committment you make, ask a friend to keep you accountable by calling you, emailing you or texting you to see how you are doing. Remember, it will be painful in the beginning—-which is where we need the help–but after awhile, you’ll be zipping along with great results!