My Keys to Success

I’ve been on a mission during the last several weeks/months, and it’s been an exciting one for me. God has been teaching me so much . . . not just in running . . . but in life itself.

The first thing God is teaching me is to set goals for myself. My goal with running is to run at least one 5K outside in less than 40 minutes by the end of this year. So far, my average has been around 42 minutes. A few weeks ago, I started setting a weekly goal of getting below 42 minutes. I’m still running three times per week and strength training at the gym twice a week. The first week after I set that goal of 42 minutes, I ran a 5K in 41:59! I met my goal by ONE SECOND!! I’m sure you can tell that I was beyond elated. The second week, I ran the same distance . . . outside . . . in 40:47. I’ve still got some work to do, but I am so close. With God’s help, I know I can do it. I’m also learning to set attainable goals for myself in other areas. In order to do that, I make lists of things I want to accomplish each day. When those things are done, I check them off of my list. Making lists helps me to avoid procrastination.

The second thing I am learning is the importance of sharing my story with other people. I recently met a couple whose baby was born with severe clubbed feet just like mine. I shared with the young father some of the things I experienced while growing up. I encouraged him by saying that even though my experiences were not a walk in the park, I am living proof that his child will be okay. I also told him I started training to run 5Ks, and the look on his face was priceless!! You may not have clubbed feet, but whatever you have faced in life, think of all you have learned from it, and thank God every day for the things He has taught you. Don’t be afraid to share your story with others. All of us are survivors of something. There is someone in this world who needs to hear what we have to say. We may not know who that person is; only God knows that. All we can do is to share what we’ve learned each time the opportunity presents itself. We never know how we may be able to help someone else.

The last thing I am learning as a Christian is the importance of sharing God’s Story. If God thought His Story was important enough to share with us in a Book that has been in existence for over 2,000 years in multiple languages worldwide . . . and not just any Book . . . but His Word . . . the Bible, how can we not share His love and compassion with everyone we meet? Sharing God’s Story does not mean shouting it from a pulpit or yelling it from a street corner. It doesn’t mean just wearing a cross around your neck. It means reaching out to neighbors or friends in need. It means being faithful and dedicated in your job. It means encouraging your coworkers in any way you can. It means not getting involved in gossip or anything else that tears others down. It means asking God and others to forgive you when you know you’ve done wrong. It means doing what you can to live out your faith before your family, friends, neighbors and coworkers so that they can see God’s love in and through you. We don’t have to announce our faith in God over a loudspeaker. Others will see it if we remain faithful to His Word.

The keys for success I’ve mentioned are not a magical “cure-all” formula that will automatically make life easier. We will all face hardships of some kind until the day we die. It’s what we do with those hardships that makes all the difference.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!! Until next time . . . let’s keep on running!!


We have all been tempted to give up at something whether it be fitness, weight loss, education, job, or . . . you fill in the blank. If we are going to get anywhere in life, we cannot give up . . . no matter what it takes.

I came so close to giving up many times when I was in college. One of the most discouraging feelings is to reach your final semester of student teaching, and to finally wake up and realize that you don’t belong in a classroom after all! As disoriented as I felt during that entire semester, I made it through with the help of my amazing dormitory supervisor, my parents, a very close family friend who lived in the same town where I attended college, and . . . most importantly . . . God Himself. Not long after I completed my undergraduate degree, I started to see that my abilities don’t have to be limited to one area in life. I may not be teaching in a classroom, but God has given me so many opportunities to “teach” in ways I never imagined were possible. How incredible is that??!!

There are days when I get frustrated with running as well. My overall time may not be as fast as I want it to be, or I may get tired too quickly. No matter what the situation is, I keep reminding myself that everything in life is a learning experience. Life is a “classroom” of sorts. I fully believe that God uses everything in our lives to draw us to Himself and to make us more like Him.

In Genesis chapter 37 through the end of the book, we see how God had a few things He wanted to teach Joseph. Joseph’s brothers were jealous of him. They knew that their father loved Joseph most, so they sold him as a slave to the Midianites. The Midianites then sold him as a slave to Potiphar who was one of Pharoah’s officers in Egypt. Joseph could have said something like “this is not fair”. He could have chosen to fight it . . . or, as some would say, “protest” . . . but he knew he was right where God wanted him at the time. Therefore, he did his very best at everything. He proved his worth to Potiphar, so Potiphar made Joseph head of everything in his house. Potiphar’s wife constantly tried to seduce Joseph, but Joseph refused her every single time. One day when Potiphar was out of the house, his wife tried to seduce Joseph again. In Genesis 39:9, Joseph said, “There is none greater in this house than I, neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife; how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” Potiphar’s wife tried the same thing day after day, but Joseph still refused. Eventually, we read that she framed Joseph saying he tried to seduce her, so Potiphar threw him in prison. The Bible doesn’t say this, but I’m sure Joseph felt like giving up. He probably had times when he felt the weight of everyone . . . including his family . . . being against him. Let’s face it . . . he wasn’t perfect. I’m sure I would probably roll my eyes if someone in my family told me they had a dream that I was going to bow down to them! What Joseph did not know at the time was that God was using every circumstance in his journey to prepare him for something greater. In order for Joseph to ultimately be a leader in Egypt . . . he became second in command under Pharaoh . . . he had to learn to be a servant. God had to bring Joseph to the lowest place possible . . . a prison . . . to prepare him for his Divine Calling.

Whatever your current circumstance is, whether it be a fatal illness, a difficult job situation, a broken relationship that needs healing and restoration, claim the hope that whatever it is, God is using it to prepare you for what He has planned next for your life. No matter how difficult your current situation is, there is an overwhelming sense of peace and contentment that comes in knowing that you are right where God wants you for the time being. God will reveal His plans for you when and how He chooses to do so. When you look back at the end of your journey, you will stand in awe and thankfulness for everything He taught you along the way. Whatever happens, DON’T. GIVE. UP!! Keep moving onward and upward, always keeping your eyes on God.

Until next time . . . let’s keep on running!!

A Life Well-Spent

James 4:13&14 says, “Go to now, ye that say, To day or tomorrow we will go unto such a city, and continue there a year, and buy, and sell, and get gain:

“Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is a vapour that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.”

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything on my blog. I put it off for good reason. I’ve had a lot on my mind lately. I had to back off on my running schedule due to a respiratory infection. I just started running again last week, and it feels incredible to be back.

There’s so much more that has been on my mind as well. The recent sudden death of a close college friend has sent my mind reeling. I read in her obituary about the many children and young people that she was able to reach for God whether it was through substitute teaching, tutoring, or through her music and drama ministry at her church.

Exercise is a wonderful and necessary thing, because it helps us to stay healthy so that we can live longer. I am currently in my fifties. My dad passed away when he was seventy-six. My grandpa passed away when he was in his eighties. At the most, I may have another twenty to thirty years left. We tend to think that thirty years is a long time, but it’s not. The older I get, the faster the years go by. Exercising and eating right in order to stay healthy is great, but why do we want to live longer? Is it just so that we can enjoy our retirement, cruise around the world, or relax and enjoy the view at the beach or in the mountains? Please don’t misunderstand; all of those are wonderful things, and we should be able to enjoy things like that from time to time. However, if the purpose of our lives is only for self-service, what’s the real point?

My heart’s desire is not to do what I do for myself; my desire is to keep running, strength training, and eating healthy so that I can be a better servant to my family, coworkers, friends, neighbors, and to God. When I exercise, I like to do it with family and friends so that I can use that time to be a witness and an encouragement to them.

My aunt passed away this week. She never had any children of her own, but she loved all of her nieces and nephews like we were her own children. She lived every day of her life loving and serving other people. That’s what this journey of life is all about. When I reach the end of my journey, I don’t want to look back on my life with disappointment. I want to look back and know that I did the best I could to love others and to point them to Christ. Life here on earth is short compared to eternity. What are you doing with the time God has given you? Are you only using it for yourself, or are you doing what you can to make a difference in someone else’s life?

Until next time . . . let’s keep on running!

The Hardest Necessary Ingredient

The word endurance has been on my mind quite a bit lately. I have never been one who is satisfied with staying at the same level with anything in life, and that includes running. I’m always thinking of ways to keep learning, growing, and expanding my horizons so that I can be as useful and as versatile as possible, regardless of what the task is. To be honest, the journey to expand is not always so pleasant. The average person doesn’t like doing homework or taking notes in class . . . much less taking a class PERIOD! If we want to keep improving ourselves in any area of life, let’s face it . . . we are going to have to work for it.

I’m still keeping up with 5K training, but I’m now only doing it twice a week. I’ve also added 10K training to my running schedule once a week. I’ve gone back to using my Zen Labs app when I do 10K training, and I’m now on week 14. I love the way the app works, because it builds endurance by gradually increasing the running time each week. Today, I walked for 5 minutes, and then I ran for 30 minutes before taking a 1-minute walking break, and then I ran again. By following the 10K running plan, I completed a 5K in less than 44 minutes . . . one of my best outside running times so far!

This whole journey has taught me so much about life in general. Do I always want to run? No! Hey . . . there are some days when I don’t even feel like leaving my house, but do you know what? There’s this thing called a treadmill located in my garage that I get to use on rainy days, so I have no reason why I can’t go for a run. I’ve also learned the hard way that if I don’t put in the work to keep my body in shape that I will pay for it later in life. Lack of exercise and eating everything in sight was part of what got me to 225 pounds a few years ago.

Building endurance is hard work. You endure a lot of sweat, tired and sore muscles, all kinds of weather issues, and a plethora of other things. There have been so many times when I didn’t think I could go for one more second, but I forced myself to push beyond the temptation. When the run was over, every inch of my body was dripping with perspiration. However, each drop of perspiration had a cleansing affect on me. I was able to thank God for allowing me to enjoy His magnificent creation while getting physically fit. I was able to thank Him for giving me the ability to run . . . even with severe clubbed feet! It builds my confidence every time I look at my running time on MapMyRun. It is a constant reminder to me that God can and WILL do amazing things in and through me. I just have to be willing to submit to the journey He chooses for me. I also have to understand that not everything God chooses for my life will be easy, but everything He has chosen will make me into the kind of woman He wants me to be.

Endurance is a large part of the Christian life as well. Before I go for my runs, I don’t like the idea of what I have to go through during those runs, but I do it because I know what it feels like to me when the run is over. It has a freeing affect that is a positive source for me. I also know the long-term advantages it has on my health. There are many things that happen in our Christian lives that we would never choose for ourselves, but God has chosen them for us because He already knows what the end result is . . . each circumstance makes us more like Christ, and He gets all of the glory!

Webster’s New World Dictionary defines endurance in this way: “The act, quality, or power of withstanding hardship or stress”. In II Timothy, the Apostle Paul advises Timothy in various areas of ministry. II Timothy 2:3 says, “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” In the subsequent verses, Paul proceeds to list the areas with which Timothy may struggle. There’s no denying that our journey here on earth is difficult. We all face trials of many sorts . . . loss of jobs, loss of loved ones, terminal illnesses . . . but as long as we have breath in our bodies, we cannot give up no matter what! The end result for the Christian is in II Timothy 4:7&8:

“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:

“Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them that love his appearing.”

Endurance is one of the hardest ingredients in running, but just when I don’t think I can go one more step, God gives me the strength to go all the way to the end of my training. Endurance is also one of the hardest parts of life, but it is necessary to become more like Christ. As difficult as the process is, it’s such an amazing and humbling feeling when we reach the end of our trial, and we look back to see all that God did, and continues to do, in and through us . . . every single day.

Until next time . . . let’s keep on running!!

What Can I Do?

Writing this post was particularly difficult for me, because the lesson is one that constantly hits me right between the eyes in more ways than one. When we trip and fall, our immediate response is to do what we can to get back up on our feet so we can keep going to reach our destination. When we “fall” in life, doing what we can to fix our messes is much easier said than done especially if we have hurt other people, but making things right is necessary in order to succeed.

Part of having a healthy body includes having the right kind of thoughts and heart attitude. Having a right heart attitude includes having a right relationship with other people.

Going back to my theme in previous posts of “can/cannot”, the third Bible verse in my study is in Genesis 31. In the story of Jacob, we see how he was deceived multiple times by his father-in-law Laban. The first time was when Jacob had served Laban for seven years so he could marry Laban’s daughter Rachel. However, Jacob was disappointed on his wedding day when Laban gave Leah to him instead. Jacob worked another seven years for Rachel since she was the one he loved. He then worked an additional six years for Laban’s cattle. During that 20-year period, Laban changed Jacob’s wages ten times. Jacob was understandably angry. When he confronted Laban in Genesis 31, Laban did not deny what he did. I love what Laban said in verse 43:

” . . . These daughters are my daughters, and these children are my children, and these cattle are my cattle, and all that thou seest is mine, and what can I do this day unto these my daughters, or unto their children which they have born?”

Laban knew what he had done, and he knew Jacob was angry. When we know we have messed up . . . whether it’s with our diet, exercise, or with anything in life, the first thing we have to ask ourselves is, “What can I do”. Sometimes the answer to the question is obvious; sometimes it’s not. As a Christian, I believe we must also pray and ask God to forgive us when we’ve done wrong. If we have wronged another person, we must go to that person and ask for their forgiveness, regardless of how difficult it may be.

Having right relationships with other people is not only essential to good health (mental and physical), but it is essential to a right relationship with God. Notice in Genesis 31:51-52 how Laban carried out his intent to make things right with Jacob:

“And Laban said to Jacob, ‘Behold this heap, and behold this pillar, which I have cast betwixt me and thee;

“This heap be witness, and this pillar be witness, that I will not pass over this heap to thee, and that thou shalt not pass over this heap and this pillar unto me, for harm.”

We won’t always see eye-to-eye with others even after we have restored our relationships with them, but a restored relationship proves that we can put aside our differences for a much greater good. Remember, when we make mistakes, we have to ask ourselves what we can do to fix them, and then take necessary steps to correct the mistakes. If we have wronged other people, we must take responsibility for our actions. We must do what we can to make things right with those who we have sinned against. Only then will our relationship with God be restored.

Until next time . . . let’s keep on running!!

Strategies, Successes, and Skinny Jeans

My weight loss journey has taught me so much over the last year and a half. One of the main things I have learned is that I have to strategize and plan ahead . . . with everything. As an extreme Type B personality with a massive bent toward procrastination, learning how to strategize and plan ahead has been an enormous challenge, especially when it comes to food choices. I found that if I don’t pre-plan my meals and snacks for the day, I’m prone to snack on junk. That’s what caused my weight problem in the first place, and there’s no way on earth that I’m going back to what I was when I started this journey! Being a Weight Watchers member has helped me immensely, but I occasionally still have struggles.

The same thing goes for my running/exercise plan. I have to be honest . . . I have to get creative with my exercise plan since I work three 12-hour shifts. It’s really hard to get in any strength training on the days that I work, so I’ve had to incorporate little things like planks and pushups on the days that I run.

Strategizing and planning ahead are two of the many keys to success in anything, but as Christians, we have to keep everything in the right perspective. I Corinthians 6:19-20 says, “What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

If my body is God’s Temple, I owe it to myself . . . and, more importantly, to God . . . to daily take time to plan out my meals and snacks. Just as a house will start to deteriorate if it is not properly cared for, so our human bodies won’t function properly if we don’t daily take care of them.

I’m learning to get creative with my running strategy as well. For a while now, I’ve been doing 5Ks at just over 45 minutes. I am pleased with my progress, but I really wanted to do an entire 5K at under 45 minutes at least once. During my running time, I alternate one minute slow/one minute fast. During my slow run, I count to 60 in my head. Even if I haven’t reached a full minute when I get to 60, I will still start my fast run. I keep track of my exact time on MapMyRun. By “fast running” until the timer hits zero, I’ve been adding about 10-15 seconds. By doing it that way I was able to complete a 5K in about 44 and a half minutes! By having a strategy and staying faithful to the plan, successes like that will start to happen along the way.

The same thing goes with my eating plan. By pre-planning all of my food choices every day, I reduce my chances of snacking on junk food. Don’t misunderstand . . . I still enjoy an occasional small bag of chips, but again . . . all of that is figured into my pre-planning.

By strategizing my running and eating plans, I am seeing small successes. In running, my endurance is gradually increasing. I am able to run for slightly longer periods of time without running out of steam. By making a few slight changes to my eating plan, I saw a small loss this week after maintaining the exact same weight for about a month. Even though I am currently in my normal range, there is a certain number that I want to see that is still in my normal range before I start maintaining my weight on a permanent basis. I also did something last week that I never thought I’d be able to do . . . I bought my very first pair of skinny jeans! I even thought I might have to go up a size from my regular pants size since denim seems to fit tighter, and I wasn’t sure what to expect with skinny jeans. I decided to risk it and see if my regular size would fit. When I slid into them in the dressing room, I was so excited about the perfect fit that I started doing my own version of a happy dance! 😉 Those skinny jeans are a small reward for my hard work.

Readers, if you don’t have a strategy, get one. If you do have a strategy, stay faithful at it. Learn to celebrate your successes along the way, and maybe you’ll feel like doing a happy dance too.

Until next time, let’s keep on running!

Onward and Forward

Taking another break from my normal topic just to share something that has been on my heart for the past several weeks. I am not going to lie to you . . . last Christmas was a tough one for my family. It was the first Christmas in fifty years that we all had to spend it without my dad. We all put on our “game faces” since we were determined not to be sad. This year, I even started listening to Christmas music the day after Halloween . . . which is WAY early for me . . . to help myself to get into the Christmas spirit.

I have heard people who have lost close loved ones say that they just did not feel like celebrating Christmas. I understand, because I was at that point last year. Different people grieve over lost loved ones in different ways, and we all have to let them grieve in the only way they know how. No one can put a timetable on grief either. Two weeks after Dad passed away, a former coworker of mine told me that I needed to “just get over it”. What he said shocked me so much that I didn’t know what to say! My initial response was to slap him into the next century, but I knew if I had done that, I’d have probably ended up in jail! One of the many things I learned through Dad’s death is that people can have the best intentions, but sometimes they can say some of the dumbest things. It’s because they have never experienced the things we have; therefore, they don’t know what to say, and what they do say comes out in ways that they did not intend. No matter how dumb those things sound, as a Christian, I must never respond in such a way that could possibly ruin my opportunity to be a blessing to others in the future. Let’s face it . . . if Christ tarries His Coming, other friends will face the death of a loved one as well. I must be able to be an encouragement to them, and I cannot do that if I respond unkindly to them.

As a single woman, one of the other things I occasionally struggle with is . . . well . . . being single. I go through times when I wonder why life isn’t different, but don’t all of us do that, regardless of our marital status? Too much of our society has been snowed by the fairytale that we will live “happily ever after” if we find a spouse. Facebook and Twitter are filled with dating sites urging us to find our “perfect match” (for the record, I DETEST dating sites and avoid them like the plague . . . more on that in a later blog post . . . maybe). Marriage is a wonderful calling . . . only for those who are called to it. However, even in the best marriages, there are still always going to be problems . . . because, guess what? The husband and wife are HUMAN!!

As a Christian, my true peace and joy is not in the relationship and love that I felt with my dad. It is not in the safety I felt when he was around. My peace and security does not come from any human relationship. Humans will always fail each other. It may not be on purpose, but it happens because we’re human. We are not perfect. My true Peace, Joy, and Contentment all come from God alone! If I spend all of my time searching for a “perfect mate”, I’m going to be in for a big disappointment. The only Perfect Person is God. If God is my only Source of Peace, I have every reason to celebrate Christmas no matter what my circumstances are. I Thessalonians 4:13-18 says:

“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”

My hope, joy, and peace is in God Almighty Who came to this earth as a baby for the sole purpose of sacrificing Himself so that I and the whole world can spend eternity with Him. No other human being could ever come close to offering that same peace and security. That reason alone is the only reason any of us need to celebrate Christmas. It is the only reason any of us need to go on in life . . . period.

Until next time . . . let’s keep on running . . . onward and forward!

The Right Equipment

I had an epiphany this week. It was what I call another “yes I can” moment. I’ve been trying to find alternatives to running outside during drastically inclement weather. I found when I tried to use MapMyRun while using the indoor track at my gym that my GPS did not work properly; therefore, my time and distance was always off. The last time I tried to run on a treadmill, the only kind of exercise shoes I had were Skechers. They were great for walking (although not for long periods like my current job requires), but HORRIBLE for running! I was also still having a lot more trouble with balance at the time. I was afraid that I had broken an ankle since I felt like a joint was out of place. As much money as my parents spent to have my clubbed feet corrected, there was no way on earth that I was going to intentionally do anything to reverse that. Therefore, I stuck to either walking on a treadmill or using an elliptical . . . until I really got serious about training myself to run.

I want you to pay attention to the photo at the top of this post . . . not so much the time or distance, but what it says at the top . . . “Treadmill, Run”! Once I switched to Hoka One shoes with orthotic inserts and stayed faithful at my strength training and core exercises, I found that I can run on a treadmill without damaging my body or falling off of the machine. It’s all in using the right equipment that is suited for us. If our exercise clothing/equipment doesn’t fit right, we could seriously injure ourselves. That’s why it’s so important to be fitted for shoes and to work with a trainer who knows what he/she is doing.

As Christians, we also need the right armor to be effective witnesses for God. When King David was just a boy attempting to fight the giant Goliath, King Saul tried to allow David to use his armor. I Samuel 17:38-39 says, “And Saul armed David with his armour, and he put an helmet of brass upon his head; also he armed him with a coat of mail. And David girded his sword upon his armour, and he assayed to go; for he had not proved it. And David said unto Saul, I cannot go with these; for I have not proved them. And David put them off him.” When David tried to use Saul’s armour, he knew the pieces did not fit him. There was no way he could conquer Goliath with the wrong equipment.

Before I started training to run, I felt so inadequate and unsure of myself. One of the things I learned is that I just needed the right shoes. Once I went with my Hokas and really got serious about training, I felt free . . . free in the knowledge that I can do this; free in knowing that I am not in competition with anyone else; free in knowing that it does not matter how fast or how slow I run, but what matters is that I run, and that I complete my race.

Instead of choosing Saul’s armour, all David needed was a small sling and five smooth stones to complete his task. Once he had the right tools, he was able to approach Goliath with the assurance that God would protect him.

As Christians, we sometimes may feel inadequate or not intelligent enough to share the love of God with others. We may feel like we do not have the right to share Christ’s love with others if we don’t have a PhD in theology or if we are not making a six-figure salary. If there is one thing I want my readers to get from this post, it’s that the only two things any of us need to share the love of God are these: 1) experiencing God’s love, and 2) God’s Word itself. If you have never experienced God’s love to begin with, how can you expect to share it with others? I urge you to read the books of Isaiah and John. Allow the words to saturate your heart and mind so that when you feel like temptation is squeezing the life out of you, the only thing that oozes out of you is the radiance of God Himself! Readers, we can complete this race called life . . . successfully! All we need is the right equipment.

Until next time . . . let’s keep on running!

My Finite Mind; God’s Infinite Wisdom

So many changes have occurred in my life during the past few weeks. Necessary changes to my work schedule have affected my daily eating schedule as well as my sleep pattern in a good way. It’s taken me this long to update my blog as a result!

When changes occur, sometimes it’s easy for us to lose focus and wonder if we will ever accomplish what we set out to do. God continues to show me every day that He is the One Who accomplishes in me what He chooses to do, and He does it in His Way and His Time. For instance, my running and gym schedules have changed as a result of the change in my work schedule. I wasn’t sure how my running was going to be affected (see the photo above . . . one of my best running times yet), and my weight leveled off for a while as well. As Christians, we are to remain faithful to what God has for us. The same goes for fitness and weight loss. I am determined to do whatever is necessary to get all of my workouts in each week. I have knocked off over a minute and a half of running time, and I finally lost another pound this week.

I love it when God whispers in my ear, “Just sit back and watch Me work.” As Christians, we have to remember that our understanding about life is finite; it is limited to only what we have seen and experienced. It is very easy for us to make judgments based only on what we see in front of us. However, God’s understanding and wisdom is infinite!! His wisdom covers everything!

Going back to my theme in previous posts of “can” and “cannot”, the next Bible verse which includes the word “can” falls under the category of God’s infinite power.

The story of Abraham has always been interesting to me. In Genesis 12, God commanded Abraham to leave his current dwelling and to follow wherever God said to go. God had promised Abraham that He would make a great nation out of him, and “I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee, and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” With a promise like that from God, one would think Abraham would have known to trust God at His Word. However, the subsequent verses tell us otherwise. Abraham decided to take matters into his own hands. Instead of trusting in God’s infinite wisdom, Abraham followed his own finite thinking. He decided to tell Pharaoh that Sarai . . . who was Abraham’s wife . . . was his sister! Abraham was so fearful of what Pharaoh would do if he knew Sarai was his wife that he chose to lie about it. He hadn’t considered the fact that his lie could have caused his own wife and Pharaoh to sin against God . . . not to mention the curse it would have brought to the Egyptian people! When Pharaoh forced Abraham and his entire family out from Egypt, they returned to their homeland of Bethel. Lot, who was Abraham’s nephew, went one way. Abraham went the other. The interesting thing is that the direction Abraham chose was less pleasing to the eye. Most people, only trusting in their finite thinking, would not choose the direction that Abraham did. However, God in His infinite wisdom had other plans. Genesis 13:15-16 says, “For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever. And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered.” Notice how God did not give all of the details regarding how He was going to give the land to Abraham. He simply said that a great nation would come from him, and that the land would also be given.

God tells me every day that He will help me . . . whether it be in my running, my job, or whatever situation I am facing. He doesn’t provide the details right away . . . not because He’s trying to keep me in the dark about everything . . . but because He wants me to trust Him for everything. If I am running races for myself and trusting only in myself for protection, everything I am doing is in vain because it is done for the wrong reason. However, if I am running races to help me become a better and healthier servant for God, and if I am truly trusting in His infinite wisdom instead of my limited understanding, only then will I fully understand the joy of “sitting back and watching [God] work”!

Until next time . . . let’s keep on running!

Can I/Should I

I stated in one of my earlier blog posts that I was going to start a word study to see how many times the words “can” and “cannot” appear in the Bible. From everything I’ve been able to gather so far, the word “can” appears 213 times. I have taken the time to write down each verse, and I have just started to separate each one into various categories. This has been an ongoing project for quite a while, and I have a long way to go before it will be completed.

The first category is called “can/should”. Every one of us has the ability to consciously make choices. We must weigh the consequences before we make those choices. For instance, with running, I no longer question whether or not I have the ability to run. God has helped me prove that one to myself over and over during the last few months. However, I am now learning to listen to my body. If my heart starts to beat too fast or if I can’t catch my breath, it’s not that hard for me to figure out that I may have a heart attack if I do not choose to slow down. I like to train myself to go faster as much as possible, but occasionally I have to ask myself if I am physically ready to run faster or if I should back off just a little.

People in the Bible also made choices all of the time, just like we do in our lives. Like us, they did not always make the right ones. The first time the word “can” appears in the King James Version of the Bible is in Genesis 4:13. It says, “And Cain said unto the Lord, My punishment is greater than I can bear.” The New American Standard Bible translates the verse this way: “Cain said to the Lord, ‘My punishment is too great to bear!'”

If you are familiar with the story of Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden, you will remember that both of them chose to disobey God. Their son Cain followed suit. He and his brother Abel brought offerings to God. Both men had the ability to give time and careful thought to their offerings, but only one of them truly obeyed by giving his absolute best (verse 4 says Abel gave of the “firstlings of his flock”). As a result, God gave favor to Abel. Cain made the choice not to give his best. Instead of facing his consequences, he got jealous and killed his own brother . . . another choice. Cain had the ability to choose to do right, but he chose to do wrong instead. God then punished Cain by making the ground he tilled unfruitful and by banishing him and making him a wanderer in his own land. Again, instead of choosing to accept God’s punishment, Cain chose self-pity. The beauty of all of that is that God chose to protect Cain. Verse 15 says, “And the Lord said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the Lord set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him”.

In running, I make choices all of the time. I make choices about how far I want to run, my running pace, the location, etc. I have to weigh the consequences each time. What are the risks if I choose to go alone? What are the benefits of running in the morning instead of the afternoon . . . or vice versa? The choices I make are based on what I feel is best for myself at the time, and sometimes I fail even when I may have had the best intentions. No matter what, I have to learn to deal with the consequences every single time.

Cain could have chosen to obey God with his offering, but he consciously made the choice to disobey. There has been some debate about whether or not God specifically commanded that the sacrifices brought by Cain and Abel must be blood sacrifices. I have heard arguments on that subject from all sides. The Bible does not seem to be clear about that. Regardless of the specifics of the sacrifices, what is clear is that Cain chose to offer his sacrifice as a last-minute duty, whereas Abel viewed God worthy enough to take the time to offer his very best. Cain’s choices spiraled downward. His choice to murder his own brother is not only a result of not asking himself ahead of time whether or not he should do it or what the results would be; it is a result of his bitter and angry heart. He did not consider his consequences ahead of time.

My choice to constantly overeat was a result of a lack of self-control and anxiety. Even now, I have to consider the consequences of much of what I put in my mouth. I am daily improving with my portion control. Being a member of Weight Watchers has helped me to remain accountable to my health.

I may be wrong, but it seems to me that accountability is God’s way of keeping us from making wrong choices. It is also His way of drawing us back to Himself when we slip up. God could have chosen not to protect Cain in verse 15, but He showed mercy instead.

As much as I ask myself whether or not I should do something before I do it (notice I did not say whether or not I can do it), there have been times when I make mistakes. I am so thankful for the mercy that God extends to me every single time and for the things He teaches me along the way.

Before we participate in anything, we should not ask ourselves whether or not we can do it; we should ask ourselves if we should do it, and consider the consequences ahead of time. As Christians, we should also ask ourselves what God wants us to do. It might save us a lot of headaches . . . and heartaches later on!

Until next time . . . let’s keep on running!!