I Can, Because God Can!

As I mentioned in my post a few weeks ago, I have started my own personal word study of the words “can” and “cannot” in the Bible. I am still in the beginning stages (I’m up to verse number 85 out of the 285 listings of the word “can”). There is so much that God has already shown me, but it’s still going to take me a while to get all of my thoughts organized so that I can clearly share everything with all of you.

One thing about Bible reading, I have found that I learn more when I read the Bible straight through from Genesis to Revelation . . . no “Bible studies” or Bible reading plans that make me skip from one passage to another . . . just a straight, pure reading from God’s Word to see what God says about Himself. I have nothing against Bible studies, but I personally use those resources as the “salt and pepper” to the real “meat” of the Bible itself. I am now on my third reading of the Bible for the year. A few days ago, I started reading in the book of Exodus about Moses and the children of Israel. The thing that stood out to me was that God chose Moses to lead the children of Israel out of bondage, but Moses was the one who kept saying he was not physically capable. During the entire burning bush encounter, God never implied that Moses could not do the job even after all of the excuses Moses gave! If God calls us to do a task, He gives us everything we need physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually to complete that task.

I always like to use my running as a parallel to the life lessons God teaches me in His Word. Training myself to run has taught me that we don’t have to be in competition with each other. I do want to continue to improve my time and stamina. I know what to do to make that happen. The thing is, I never feel pressured by anyone else even when I’m in an official race. When I’m focused on what everyone else is doing, I’m not concentrating on my own goals. There’s nothing wrong with a healthy competition, but if competition is the only reason why I do anything in life, I’m doing it for the wrong reason. The real satisfaction comes in the completion of the race and the lessons learned along the way.

The same goes with Christian ministry. If God has called me to a task, He has chosen that task specifically for me. That does not mean that I am better at it than anyone else, or that anyone else is better than me. It means that that God wants to use the task He has given me to draw me and others closer to Himself. I may not win any contests or medals, but as in racing, the ultimate joy comes with the lessons learned along the journey, and with the satisfaction of knowing that the task was completed the way in which God intended.

Before we criticize Moses about his lack of confidence in himself and God, as Christians we must ask ourselves how many times we have made excuses why we can’t do something we know God has called us to do. God has already promised us that He will give us whatever we need to do what He wants. Again, I use my running as a parallel, because as I mentioned in a previous post, running is something I never thought I could do because of my clubbed feet. Doctors told me that I should not do any physical activity that involved running, so I avoided it as much as I could. However, as my dad used to say all of the time, none of us will ever really know whether or not we can do something until we at least try. Out of curiosity, I tried in January. So far, I have run TWO races, and I’m looking for a THIRD! God has given me the physical stamina, focus, and determination to keep going. I am finally learning that no matter what the task, I CAN do it . . . because GOD can do it!

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

Memories of Dad

I am so thankful for the years God allowed my dad to spend with my mother (they were married for 53 years), sister and her family, and me. The wisdom and leadership he gave to us are gifts I will cherish for as long as I live.

Dad was a go-getter. He never met a stranger. We used to laugh when we would go on vacation, because we could be hundreds of miles away from home in an out-of-the-way place, and within 10-15 minutes, Dad would meet someone who grew up in the next town from where he was born! Dad was also a good salesman. He was an insurance salesman for almost as long as I can remember. His positive outlook and love for people were beneficial in his chosen career.

I think I’m a lot like Dad in more ways than I ever realized when I was younger. As a child, I had to spend a lot of time inside our house while recovering from surgery instead of playing outside with other kids. As a result, I retreated within myself. It was difficult at times to relate to other kids at school since I had to spend most of my time alone or with adults. I was in my mid thirties when I finally began to learn what true confidence in God and in myself really meant. My similarities to Dad began to blossom at that time.

Dad loved all of his family dearly. He was the youngest of nine children. All but two of his siblings have now passed away (Dad included). All of his siblings have children and grandchildren. Our family reunions are HUGE!! My grandpa also had several brothers and sisters, but Dad’s immediate family always has the largest representation at our annual gatherings.

One of Dad’s weaknesses was food. He used to joke that he liked “see” food . . . if he saw it, he ate it! The spicier it was, the better he liked it. I used to laugh when we went out to eat, because Dad had a sweat gland in the back of his neck that worked overtime if he was enjoying a spicy food. However, Dad enjoyed too much of the wrong kinds of foods, and it caught up with him. He was diagnosed with Type II Diabetes when he was not much older than I am now. He tried to control it with diet and exercise, but Dad was never one to use discretion when it came to controlling food portions. Therefore, he had to go on insulin. I’m not a medical expert, but in my opinion, the diabetes was the catalyst to Dad’s other physical problems that eventually took his life a year ago last February.

One of the reasons I am training to run races (besides proving to myself that I CAN) is to get my body back in shape. At the time of Dad’s death, I was at my heaviest weight . . . 226.5. My BMI showed me as obese. I was physically heading in the same direction my dad went, and I knew I had to do something immediately. I joined Weight Watchers . . . again . . . in April of 2017. I am happy to say that I am over 50 pounds down! I am not one of those people who says everyone should join Weight Watchers, but I just know that it works for me. You can’t beat eating right and exercising, especially when you’re part of a plan that keeps you accountable.

Over the last year and a half, I have had a few memories of Dad that have caused tears to flow. I believe God understands that. Training myself to run has not only built my confidence, but it has also been an emotional release. Maybe that’s another reason why God has given me the desire to run at this stage in life. Each time I run, I can feel my dad cheering me on as he’s looking down from Heaven.

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

I Am Me

I am the kind of person who has to figure out on my own where my current abilities lie and what I have to do to improve. I’ve always been told that I “march to the beat of my own drummer”, and that is just fine with me! My methods for improvement may not work for everyone else, but they work for me. I admire people who know how to think outside of the box in order to get things done. I may not always agree with them in certain areas, but people like that tend to be trendsetters and leaders. As far as my running goes, I still want to keep improving, and I know what I have to do to make it happen. I went running in one of our local parks again yesterday. I knew I was going to be pushing it, but I also knew if I didn’t start pushing even harder that my speed would stay the same as it was. I wanted to see how close to 40 minutes I could get. I got my Pandora going in my ears . . . I’m a Southern Gospel girl . . . gotta have good thoughts going through my head while I run . . . and I also pulled up my running app. I’ve been using ZenLabs Fitness, and it’s AWESOME!! One of the nice things is that you can repeat previous weeks that you’ve already finished if you want to. Even though I’ve graduated up to their 10K app, I decided to go back several weeks and just run their equivalent of a 5K which is a total of 40 minutes. I ran it in 35:44!!! I had to look at my timer at least two or three times to make sure I read it correctly, and I DID!!

I said all of that to say that I don’t always do things like everyone else, but I know what works for me, and I do it. I am not everyone else anyway . . . I am ME!! God made me in His image. Sure, I have weaknesses . . . all of us do. God knows that. He created me exactly the way He wants me to be. I love what the psalmist David said in Psalm 139:14:

“I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.”

WE are “marvellous” because GOD’s WORKS are “marvellous”!! How exciting is that???!!! If we are “marvellous” as David said, we are most certainly physically capable of doing EVERYTHING God chooses for us to do in the way He chooses for us to do it, no matter of what anyone else says, thinks, or does. Readers, take comfort in that thought!!

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

Keep on Pressing!

In my last post, I mentioned that the words “can” and “cannot” only appear one or two times in the Bible. That information was based on what I found in the concordance in the back of my Bible. However, Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance shows that the words “can/canst” appear approximately 285 times in the Bible; the word “cannot” appears approximately 185 times. Sometime in the future, I plan to break down each Scripture reference further, but for now, back to the task at hand.

I ran my second 5K race today . . . the second one I have ever run in my life. I started working with a trainer (Megan . . . she’s AWESOME) after my first race last month. She gave me some tips on exercises that I can do to help increase my speed. I completed my first race in 49:35. My goal for today’s race was to get below 49 minutes. When I looked at the results, I was ecstatic: chip time was 48:55, and gun time was about 49:15. By regularly doing my exercises, I was able to knock off about 20-30 seconds from my last race time!

One thing that I am constantly learning is that anything worth striving for requires focus, dedication, consistency, and faithfulness. I don’t always feel like running or going to the gym, but I do it because I know that my body will ultimately be better off for it.

The same goes for the Christian life. If we truly strive to know everything that we can about God like I mentioned in my last post, we must be focused, dedicated, and faithful at spending time in His Word every day. We must be open to the things He wants to teach us. We must not get discouraged and give up because of past failures. The Apostle Paul said in Philippians 3:13-14: “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

I have learned in racing . . . and in life . . . that I cannot compare myself to others. If I do, I am wasting time focusing on the business of others instead of completing my own tasks. When racing, participation and completion are most important, no matter what it takes. The Apostle Paul also saw the same importance. He did not let what others were doing distract him from his goal, which was accomplishing, the “high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

If there’s one thing that I can encourage my readers to do, don’t let anyone or anything discourage you from your goals. Stay focused, dedicated, and keep pressing toward your “mark”.

Until next time . . . let’s keep on running! IMG_0531

Crawl . . . Walk . . . RUN!!!

IMG_0512Everything in life has a story. If the flower in the photo above had a story, I wonder what it would be. I wonder what things it experienced during its days of sunshine. I wonder how many storms it had to weather. I wonder how many obstacles it had to face to become the beautiful, exuberant color it is today.

Every person on this planet also has a story. Everything we have faced in our past . . . EVERYTHING . . . has molded us into the people we are today. We can either take the unpleasant things we have faced and allow them to keep us from living our lives the way that they are meant to be lived, or we can learn from them and allow them to propel us into living our lives full of confidence, love, joy, and compassion for others. If you read my last post, you know part of my story. Another part to my story is that I never learned to crawl. Since I had casts on my feet from the time I was a week old until the time I was almost two years old, I did not have the chance to crawl around like most babies do at certain stages. I went straight from casts that had to be changed on a weekly basis due to my constant growth to wearing corrective shoes with a metal bar in between. I have heard that crawling helps babies develop problem solving skills, abilities to run, and it also helps to develop their confidence. Confidence is something that I have struggled with for most of my life, even though I became a Christian when I was eight years old.

This journey that I have been on has set my mind reeling in so many different directions. As a Christian, I am a firm believer in studying God’s Word every day. I am not a Bible scholar, but I started embarking on a word study to see how many times the words “can” and “cannot” appear in the Bible. Guess what? I only found them one or two times! The only place I found the word “cannot” in the King James was in Matthew 6:24 where it says, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” The only other place I found the word “can” was in Philippians 4:13 which says, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” I LOVE that!!! Nowhere in the Bible does it say that I do NOT have the physical capacity to do the things God wants me to do! I strive to do everything in His strength alone. If I live my life in my own strength, I’m living it for the wrong reason.

Since I could not find many verses with the words “can” or “cannot”, I decided to look up the words “know” and “knowledge”. If, as a Christian, I am speaking of confidence, I have to know that my confidence is in God alone. I found the word “know” at least eighteen times in the King James Bible. Job 19:25-27 says, “For I know [emphasis mine] that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.” Psalm 56:9 says, “When I cry unto thee, then shall mine enemies turn back; this I know [emphasis mine]; for God is for me.” If we truly know God . . . everything that He is . . . beautiful, holy, righteous, faithful, mercifulperfect in every way imaginable, (and I could go on and on), how can we not be confident in Him to continue to mold us into the people He wants us to be? I am so thankful that God has given me the desire . . . and the ability . . . to crawl, walk, and to RUN!!! Physical running has given me a new confidence . . . not just in myself . . . but a confidence in God to strengthen me physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually every single day.

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