Rainy Days and Mondays always get me down. (Except it’s Friday)

It’s happening again. I recognize the signs. Heaviness. Over sleeping. Ignoring to do lists. Not showering. Empty stares. Not caring about anything or anyone. And yet, smiling at everyone I see. Asking how people are. Being overly kind, just because. And then… nothing.

I know all the right words and I know what to do and I know you have to fight to keep the darkness away. But I’ve got no fight left. I have fought most of my life to keep this away. Sometimes it grabs hold of me for a short time, a few days, a few weeks. Sometimes it won’t let go for years. The fight is draining. Depression likes me. It wants to be right with me. I pretend for as long as I can that I’m fine. But the gig is up.

Sometimes I hate my body. Because of my chemical make up, I am very prone to depression, and particularly Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). It has been raining off an on for over a week. I know that is part of why I can’t seem to shake this heaviness off of me. I know that when the sun comes back out to stay, I will slowly start to feel better. I hate that I am a slave to this flawed body. But those are the facts. Yes, I am still taking my antidepressant. Yes, I am still running. Sometimes it’s not enough.

And to top it off I have been praying for the same request for over a year. New and trying situations keep occurring. Asking and waiting. No answers. No resolutions. No nothing.

How long O Lord?

Block Party

May 16 the group Bigger Than The Trail (BTTT) held a virtual “block party” run in place of a physical location. BTTT is a 501(c)(3) organization that uses running as a platform to advocate for mental health. They team up with licensed counselors to provide free online services. Amazing.

Anyway, I don’t normally do virtual races. My race budget is limited and if I am going to spend the money, it’s more about the people and the experience than a shirt or medal. So I skip them. However, because of the mental advocacy I was going to participate in this Block Party as it is something near and dear to me. Because Hubs was without work, I wasn’t going to officially register, just run. I mentioned that on their IG page and got a DM that they had some donations and I could have the last one!

I officially registered! I have been in a lupus flare so I was not up for a very long distance so I opted for the half marathon. The idea was to make your own route around your block where you live. Hubs ran the first 10K with me and I finished the rest on my own. It was crazy going around and around the same streets. I was definitely getting bored of that. But it’s the perseverance when things get hard or tiring or boring that makes you stronger. So I kept going.

I used that time to pray. I have been in a slump. The anxiety from the news and the unknown future about Hubs getting a job and not being able to do the things that help me mentally has taken a toll on me. The stress is wreaking havoc in my body. Depression and lupus flares up. I know I am not the only one who is having a hard time.

In a blur of tears I cry out to God, I don’t feel your presence? Where are you? Why have you left me? In moments like these I must stop and repeat God’s promises.

  • I know he will never leave me.
  • I know he is for me, not against me.
  • I know I can approach the throne of grace with confidence, and I will find mercy and grace.

Our emotions will get the best of us if we let them. That’s why we need to keep God’s word in our heart and other believers pointing us back to the truth.

It’s Permanent

May is Lupus Awareness Month AND Mental Health Awareness Month. These two things effect me greatly. I thought I would share a little more of my story through my tattoo.

I had been contemplating getting a tattoo that would represent me in a special way; one that would remind me who I am and how far I have come. I thought long and drew some ideas out. And then I finalized my drawing. The next step was to decide where should I get this tattoo? I knew I wanted it visible to myself. I wanted to see it to remember. But did I want it visible for everyone? Am I ready to talk about it? Do I want to explain it and open up to vulnerability? I kept that drawing for over a year. My son gave me the gift of this tattoo for Christmas this year, so I had no excuse not to do it.

There are three components to my butterfly tattoo. The butterfly is one of the symbols for lupus, which often causes a malar or ‘butterfly’ rash across the face on cheeks and bridge of the nose. Lupus affects my everyday life and there is not a cure. It is sometimes called an invisible illness, because ‘you don’t look sick.’ I want to bring awareness to lupus. The Lupus Foundation of America estimates 1.5 million Americans and at least 5 million people worldwide have a form of lupus.

The semicolon makes up the butterfly’s body. Amy Bleuel, founder of Project Semicolon, shares the meaning of the semicolon. 

“It represents continuance. Authors usually use the semicolon when they choose not to end the sentence. You are the author and the sentence is your life, and you’re choosing to continue.”

I have depression and have contemplated suicide multiple times. Yet I continue, I chose not to end the sentence. I got help, and I continue to seek help at times when I can’t fight it on my own anymore. My story is here, if you would like to read more.

Chronic Illness and Mental Illness overlap in many ways. We don’t always feel free to share our struggles. We are afraid of being judged or thought less of. But we need to share. We need to speak out. Others are struggling and feel alone in their feelings and isolated from others. We need to bravely share our stories to encourage those struggling and to inform and educate the other people in our lives.

There is no shame in admitting you are not well, be it physically or mentally. Mental illness is a medical condition. Treatment is available. Please reach out to someone if you feel helpless. Suicide is not your only option.

So I said there were three components to the tattoo. The last thing is really the first thing.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come! 2 Corinthians 5:17

When I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior, I became a new creation. Like a caterpillar becoming a butterfly, the old has gone, the new is here. When you belong to Christ, you become a new person, you begin a new life with Christ. You are a child of God!

Of course this does not mean my life is easy or I am always happy. But I have a solid hope to build my life on.

Continue reading “It’s Permanent”

Why I am No Longer a Pessimist

“Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter.” ~ Ruth 1:20

Naomi means pleasant. Mara means bitter.

When I read that, I told my closest friends I felt like I should change my name to Mara and wear a scarlet B on my clothing, like in The Scarlet Letter. I didn’t need to wear a ‘B’ it was evident in my demeanor that I was bitter.

When I think back to my attitude several years ago I just want to apologize to everyone I knew at that time. I can hardly bear to remember how bitter, pessimistic and depressed I was. I would not want to be around me. I could not see anything positive at all. I was stuck. And worse, I was convinced that my life would never change, that it would never get any better. Thank you to those who stuck by me in my season of despair.

I wish I could say that I saw the light and snapped out of it quickly. I did not. My journey through bitterness lasted years. I read a few really good Christian books and went through all the old counseling material that I had from my counselor several years prior to try to make sense of my feelings. I prayed and prayed for God to take away the situation, to move me, to make it better. Nothing changed and I sank further away. My mind kept telling myself that what was in the books and even the Bible didn’t apply to me and good things were for everyone except me. I felt pretty hopeless. One day God spoke to me in his very quiet way and told me to accept it and stop fighting.

Here I am thinking why on earth would God tell me this? What kind of crap life has God destined me for? Why?? Where was my Abundant Life?? Accept it and stop fighting? I was not exactly jumping for joy. Accept it and stop fighting… At this time Ann Voskamp’s book One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are came out. I don’t remember how I heard about it, but the title intrigued me. Her style of writing is rather poetic and I had a very hard time getting into the book. But the gist of it was to find something to be thankful for, no matter how small. I started to take this to heart. I had also started running around this time too. My story is HERE. I distinctly remember seeing a wildflower (or weed, depending on how you look at it) blooming in horse crap. This is where my slow transformation began. I saw a poor flower surrounded by thorns and crap and felt sorry for it. But friends helped me see for the first time that God wanted me to shine no matter where I was or whatever my circumstances were. He wanted more from me and for me. He wanted me to be content no matter what else was going on around me.

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God wanted me to see that He was all around me. I started to notice little things – the sunlight catching a tree branch, birds singing. God used these little things to bring himself to the forefront of my mind. I started to focus more on him. I started to see what was true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable – whatever was excellent or praiseworthy – God called me to think on these things. (Phil 4:8)

This was a long process for me. Years. I struggled with my old self and the natural tendency of my thoughts to go to the negative, and to think the worst and my new self that I was becoming, a supernatural changing of my thinking that maybe things weren’t as bad as I thought, that there was some good not only in the world, but even in my own circumstances.

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:22-24

God was changing my attitude in my mind. Slowly but surely there was a change, and it is still an ongoing process. But I had to let go. I had to accept it and stop fighting. And when I finally started to really live this, that is when God changed my circumstances, that is when he moved me. I have days where I struggle and don’t want to fight for joy, but I don’t stay there anymore. God truly has changed me. Hallelujah!

If you had asked me 5 years ago if this was possible I would have said no. But here’s the crazy thing. If God had answered my prayers the way I wanted back then, to move me, change my circumstances, etc. I would have never become who I am today. I would still be fighting any uncomfortable situation and see things negatively. In His love and mercy, He patiently walked me through this process. I wish I was a faster learner.

If you are struggling to see any light, any change, any hope – please don’t give up. God does want more from you and for you too. Turn your eyes to him. Find something no matter how small to be thankful for – the sun peaking through the clouds, the smell of brewing coffee, a really hot shower, your car that gets you places even if it’s not pretty. These are good gifts. Take notice and give thanks.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like the shifting shadows. James 1:17

Paul tells us the secret of contentment in every situation is Christ in him. Phil 4:11-13 It is not easy nor come naturally, but with Christ, we can find contentment. He loves us too much to give us everything we want because he knows exactly what we need.

 

Guilt, Pain, and Spoons

I haven’t written in a long time. I haven’t run in a long time either. I feel like I haven’t done much except exist in a long time. I have been wanting to express my thoughts for some time now, but I haven’t been able to formulate sentences beyond what is necessary  until recently. So you might guess that I was feeling bad, but am now feeling better. Somewhat. But that is too simple. Here’s the thing – there are thousands of people that are like me – functioning, but not fully functioning. People with Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, Hashimoto’s, Sjogrens, etc, etc, etc. Some people have a diagnosis. And so many more people do not. They have no idea why they are “not up to par” as I would say about myself.

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I want to talk about guilt.

I love my job. It suits me well. But, when my body is flaring on the days I work, that’s where all my energy went. I have nothing left to give the people I love the most, the people I care about the most. That makes me feel guilty. Especially knowing who might read this. My kids are growing up so fast and will be out of the house within a couple of years. I feel like they have not gotten the best of me, I hate this. My husband gets the least of me. How will this impact our marriage down the road? Friends? I just trust that the good ones will still be there.

People with autoimmune disease sometimes throw around the term ‘Spoonies’ because of the Spoon Theory that Christine Miserandio came up with to explain what it’s like to live with Lupus. Each task one must do each day takes a spoon. A healthy person has an unlimited supply of spoons, while one with a disease only has so many. We have to think carefully about what task we must do each day before we ‘run out of spoons.’ This includes getting out of bed, taking a shower, any housework, writing a blog post, going to work, getting gas, going to the grocery store, going to church, etc. My husband doesn’t understand why I don’t take a shower everyday. He asked sincerely, doesn’t it make you feel better? The answer is no, it takes so much energy to get in and hold up my arms to wash my hair. I am more tired after a shower. Every little task is something that can be overwhelming to me.

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I want to talk about pain medication.

Not everyone on pain meds is an abuser or faking it. Here’s the thing about pain medication. It masks it. It doesn’t take it away. Any pain medication strong enough to take away the pain, also takes away the ability to think clearly. So most of the time my pain is a 3/4 on the pain scale. When it goes to 5, 6 or 7, I take something that brings it down to a 3/4. Any more than that, I may as well sleep. And what good does that do when you want to be a functioning member of society? Massage helps. But it doesn’t last. And insurance (at least mine) doesn’t cover it anyway. CBD oil was like taking a whole bunch of money and flushing it down the toilet. Tequila is nice for an hour, then I just feel sick. So I live with chronic pain. Running helps. Eating right helps. Massage helps. But each of those things takes a spoon. I only have so many. I have to choose between what would be really good for me and the stuff that has to get done. That is why I don’t always shower or stretch and do exercises because I have to do laundry because there is nothing left to wear, and go shopping because there isn’t food in the house, or go to work, because it’s time to go to work.

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I don’t want this to be a whiny post. I want it to be for people who can say, yes, that’s me. I am not alone. And for others to say, oh, I didn’t know.

I get it, I don’t look sick. I do a lot. I run many many miles and it helps me to feel better and in more control. I smile at work and shake hands with people and help them to help themselves. I coach others to find the joy in running and make it a lifestyle because it is SO SO good for people mentally as well as physically. I do all these things and I have a genuine smile, somewhere, deep down.

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I just want people to know there are many many people that are having a tough go of it. Be nice. Be kind. Be understanding. Be gracious. Be helpful. Be generous. Be loving. Be forgiving. Be patient.

 

 

My Story with Depression

This blog post has been rolling around in my head for some time now. In light of the recent celebrity suicides, I think it’s time I write it. My own family doesn’t even know much of what I am about to say, so this is extremely hard and I am going to make myself extremely vulnerable here. I know that depression still has a stigma, and an even greater one within the church. I remember as a child hearing that suicide was an unforgivable sin because once you did it, you couldn’t ask for forgiveness. What a thought to go through a young persons head, but even at age 8, I could understand why someone would take their own life. It did scare me though that you wouldn’t go to heaven if you did kill yourself.

My childhood was probably pretty typical for someone growing up in the 70’s- early 80’s. Parents fought a lot, one drank a lot, nobody really talked about stuff like alcoholism, depression, abuse. Nowadays, there are support groups for everything if you are willing to go. It wasn’t always like that. These were the “skeletons in the closet” that you hid from the rest of the world. Then one day my mom was Born Again (the phrase that was used back then). God certainly had set a plan in motion way back before I was born. My parents both came from Catholic families. Around the time I was in kindergarten is when my mom truly found Jesus. He began a work in her that started a chain reaction in our family. She brought us kids to church and I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior at age 6. Yes, that is very young for someone to grasp all that He is, but I knew I was being called to Him. I remember that day like it was yesterday. Though a child’s faith then (isn’t that what we are supposed to have anyway?), I have definitely grown into it over my many years.

I first had manic/depressive episodes in high school. I would be so full of energy and giggles and elation, it was the most wonderful feeling in the world! Then the crashes would come, an oppressive dark cloud suffocated me. I cut my wrists. Superficially. But I was crying out for help when I didn’t know how to ask. Several months of this cycle went by and I finally told my mom because it was getting worse and I didn’t know how to make the bad thoughts go away. My mental problems were hush hush in my family except with my mom. She at least had the good sense to get me help. We went to several therapist and doctors until we found someone I was comfortable with. Thank you mom, for doing this. It saved me. And thank you Georganne, you helped me know that it is ok to get help.

As a teen and college student, keeping up with therapy and medication was not what I wanted to do. The medication took away all my manic episodes and I missed them; for they so wonderfully took away all stress, pain, and worry. I didn’t want to “talk” about my feelings. That was so dumb and a waste of time for a person in the prime of their life. So, I quit it all. Then depression came back. Then I started drinking to numb myself. Then I passed out while driving. God protected me through all that. I started taking my faith more seriously again. I was still a confused young adult trying to find my way through a move across the country (running away). It was here that God finally broke me. But it was the most blessed breaking ever and I was washed clean and forgiven years worth of self loathing and destruction in one prayer. A million steps away from God, one step back. Hallelujah. The weight was lifted off and I could breathe again!

I met and married my husband, and all was well until after my first baby was born. Postpartum depression attacked my brain and I saw images in my head that no mother should see. I knew I needed to get help again. I was put on an anti-depressant right away and thank God it worked. Fast forward baby number two and we were proactive in starting a safe anti-depressant right after she was born. I was able to take myself off it after a year and I was fine. Fast forward again and depression came back with a vengeance.

It was different this time. It was mind and body numbing, an emptiness, a nothingness. I felt as though under water. Words weren’t understandable. I felt paralyzed. Medication only took the edge off. We attended a wonderful church at the time and I was able to receive biblical counseling. This was not a “let’s talk about your feelings” this was let’s dig in God’s word, and see what is real and what is not, as depression is a big fat lie. Your brain is messed up and you think your emotions are fact, but they are not! The book Depression, A Stubborn Darkness was absolutely imperative in my healing as a depressed Christian. I struggled so much with negativity. During this time my family had a job change and a move. I had to move from my friends, my church, my support. I did not want to move. It was no secret I did not like where we moved. But I was fresh off great counseling, somewhat stable emotionally, and prayed up. For 6 solid years I was clinically depressed and fought and wrestled with God. I prayed and begged for Him to take this thorn from me. His answer, “my grace is sufficient.” And that is how I lived for 6 years; resigned to live with underlying depression, bitterness, resentment. I had read books on God taking away depression and knew it just wasn’t in the cards for me. I accepted it. My medication was enough to keep me from being suicidal again, but I could not find any joy in life. I struggled to reconcile this as a Christian, who’s outward sign was supposed to be JOY. I had none. No inner smile. Just nothing.

I started to run again because I had gained weight. That story is here. It was a struggle to run. It was not easy, but I kept at it. After about a year, I realized it was changing me. Little by little I was seeing a difference. I was reading the book One Thousand Gifts and started to notice little things, like the way the sun hit the wildflowers, the way the wind moved the leaves, things like that. Directing my thoughts and finding thankfulness to God was healing me. Along with medication and running. It was the perfect trifecta! The cure! When one of these three things is neglected, I revert back to depression. It is hard to be on constant vigilance. Sometimes you just want to go on auto-pilot. With depression, I can’t. With autoimmune diseases, I can’t. Sometimes I am just TIRED. But when I ignore a key player in my mental and physical health, I am out much longer than what’s good for me, for my family.

I never ever thought that I would be free of depression – and I guess truly, I am not. But, God has changed me from a hopeless and bitter person to one of hope and joy. God was with me all along in the darkness – when I suffered insomnia and would walk alone during the middle of the night, when I drank myself into oblivion, when I cut myself, when I cried until I could cry no more, and when I smiled that first smile after seeing Him light up the sky in brilliant colors just for me! He changed me. He has made me whole. He has made me see my worth. He has made me see His infinite worth, He allowed me to see a tiny glimpse of His glory and it is a sign of what’s to come.

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in us. Romans 8:18

There is hope in this world and it’s Jesus. During my imprisonment of the last big bout of depression, I never thought I would be free. Like Paul singing in a jail cell, I thought that is what I would have to do. Except I wasn’t good at it. I had moments, but mostly I just complained. Sure, I prayed as Jesus did – take this cup from me, not my will, but yours… And just knew I would have to be okay with living “below the line.” (Dad, you know what I am talking about.) God really did set me free. It’s unbelievable when I really think about it. So I need to stop and think about it more and be in awe of God. Not to be bitter when He doesn’t take away pain or illness, but to trust Him in the process. He is the answer. Not that I ever want to go back into that kind of depression again, He allowed me to grow during that time, so yes, I am and can be thankful for it. For in my tears were some of the sweetest moments with God, the closest I have ever been to Him. Even though he didn’t take away the pain, he suffered right along with me. In my weakness, I was strong – in Him.

I think that is why running is so important to me. It is raw and brings you to the end of yourself. For me, it parallels the fight with depression. I can overcome, I am stronger than I thought, I will press on towards the goal, I will not grow weary in doing good, I will fight the good fight, I will run with endurance, I will run and not grow weary, I will forget what is behind and strain for what lies ahead, I will rejoice in the Lord, I will run in such a way as to win the prize, I will not be afraid, I will hope in the Lord, for I can do all things though Christ who gives me strength.

 

If you are battling depression, I highly recommend this 3 part series from Desert Springs Church. It can be found here. This was turning point for me. 

Passion

Runners High? Numerous studies show that running releases mood-enhancing hormones and neurotransmitters. It’s no wonder running helps me with depression. When I don’t get to run for a few days in a row I am grumpy, easily irritated, and short tempered. Running makes me a better version of myself; I am more calm and easy going. I even have more energy. I look forward to running when I am not. I feel a twinge of jealousy when I see others out running and I am not. Don’t even mention the possibility of an injury that keep would me from running. I am always looking for races that I would like to run in the future. I am exploring longer and longer distances I never thought I would consider. Running to me equals freedom from all the garbage in my head, the negative thoughts and the worries of the day. It makes me feel like a child again, filled with wonder at the sky, the clouds, the trees, the birds.

I am very fortunate right now to have the privilege of coaching beginner runners. I tell them my passion is sharing running with anyone and everyone because I know if I can do it so can they. I share my story on how running helped me lose weight and deal with long term depression and disappointment. I’ve seen running become a viable treatment for addiction in a friend. Running also helps people with anger issues. I’ve said to friends that if the world was full of long distance runners there would be no wars! Running definitely changes lives. My favorite thing about coaching is seeing those that make running their own, those who set goals and achieve them! It fuels my passion for sharing the joy of running.

I’ve been throwing the word passion around about my running for awhile. With this being “Passion Week,” as Easter is a few days away, it got me thinking about the word Passion. I did not know the Latin origin means to suffer. We use it to mean strong emotion, to really love something, but originally it was understood to mean the suffering and death of Jesus on the cross. When I think about all that Christ endured from the Last Supper to his Resurrection there certainly are many strong emotions going on in my head. How? Why? What?!?! That Jesus suffered to save ME? Because I lie, I hate, I am envious… I am a sinner. Talk about love.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

His love is so great for us. It’s there for us. All we have to do is believe. I am passionate about running. I want to share the good it does for me, for many other people. Guess what? Jesus is even better.

 

Alter Ego

As a runner, sometimes the going gets tough. When your legs are tired and there are still miles to go, when you just want to quit and stop, you have to find a way to keep going.

There are many strategies to fight the urge to give in, to beat “the wall,” to push through the “pain cave.” People come up with mantras or quotes to inspire them, some practice visualization. Others try to use sheer will power. One technique I read about recently is to come up with an “alter ego” – to get out of your own head and become someone else; stronger, grittier, tougher. I’ve thought about this for a few days. Who would I be, who would I channel? Wonder Woman? She’s determined and incredibly powerful. Not afraid to get her hands dirty. Maybe Jyn Erso, from the Star Wars movie Rogue One. She was self reliant, cunning, and never gave up, fighting until the very end. Or what about Black Widow, from the Marvel Movies? She’s just badass.

What do I really do when the going gets tough? I fall back on what I know, what has helped me get through some of the most difficult situations I have been in. The thing I have learned to do is call on God and the scripture I have memorized. There really is power in the Word of God.

The Alter Ego I choose to channel is the Apostle Paul, who by the way uses the metaphor of running many times in the New Testament. This is what I do when my legs are tired and I feel like I can’t go on:

Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Hebrews 12:1

Run in such as way as to get the prize… 1 Corinthians 9:24

I press on toward the goal… Philippians 3:14

The Apostle Paul knew how to suffer. He was taken prisoner, flogged, beaten, survived 3 shipwrecks, had been in danger of rivers and bandits, gone without sleep, suffered hunger and thirst. (2 Cor 11:16-33) And yet he never stopped believing in the Gospel. He never gave up hope, he continued his course, he had joy in it all. He had peace in it all. How? This is impossible! Yes, it is, without God. But with God, we can have peace, joy, comfort and hope in the middle of whatever we are going through.

Depression started for me around age 15. I have called it the thorn in my flesh because, like the Apostle Paul, God has chosen to not take it away. “My grace is sufficient for you.” I have fought hard with depression and almost let it beat me a few times. I have wanted to quit, to give up. Let me tell you his grace is sufficient. Running is a huge part of keeping depression away. And medication. And my faith. If one piece of this puzzle gets misplaced, I suffer. Running long, it brings you to the end of yourself. You are left raw and exposed. This is where God wants you. This is where He can reach you. When all else is stripped away, He is there, waiting with open arms. This is the place of comfort.

Sometimes life throws you a curve ball. How are you going to handle disappointment, fear, unexpected anything? Whatever situation you find yourself in, seek God.

Don’t worry about anything: instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs and don’t forget to thank him for his answers. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 TLB

Life is hard. But there is one who walks through the trials with us. One who loves us and who will never leave us. We only need to believe and trust him.

The Gift of Running

I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. May my meditation be pleasing to him, as I rejoice in the Lord. ~ Psalm 104:33-34

When I run trails I am much more focused on my surroundings. I am looking where I step, watching my footing, listening for animals (especially rattlesnakes, thank goodness they are not out in the winter). My senses seem more awake on trails. Light catches my eye as yucca plants are highlighted by the rising sun, birds sing louder and clearer, wildflowers give heavenly scents. I can’t help but think of my creator, who made all of the earth and saw it was good.

My thoughts are raw and unfiltered. There is so much chaos. So I pray. I seek forgiveness and grace. I need clarity. Running becomes my meditation. I lift my eyes, I seek his face. I feel his love wash over me and I am calm. In this world you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33 Thank God this is not all there is. He has gifted us glimpses of himself, and that is the hope I need. My faith is renewed. Hope is restored.

I thank God for the gift running has given me. When I started up several years ago, I only  hoped to lose weight. I had no idea what I would gain through running, least of all a closer relationship to God and ease of depression. But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31 God truly is the God of hope. I am so grateful that He brought running back into my life. I’m grateful for the friendships it has given me, the places I’ve been able to travel to and the opportunity to share my love of running through coaching.

 

I want, but…

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. Romans 7:15

I want a vibrant prayer life. But I don’t spend much time in prayer.

I want to study the Bible, know it, love it. But I don’t read it often.

I want to run miles and miles and miles! But I sleep past my alarm.

I want to cook healthy meals for myself and family. But I let fresh food rot in the refrigerator.

I want a clean house. But I waste time on my phone.

For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. Romans 7:18b

I can blame a lot of things.

  • Depression. You never have energy or motivation.
  • Autoimmune Diseases. That is certainly limiting.
  • I’m lazy.
  • The Flesh/Sinful Nature

So, there you have it. It looks pretty hopeless to me, because I am all of these things! I can make lists and set reminders and yet I ignore them. I can tell myself, “Self! Today is the day! Pull yourself up by your bootstraps! Put on your Big Girl Panties and just get things done!” It may work for a moment, but the reality is, I am very flawed. Depression messes with rational thought. My body is fighting itself, wrongly. And I am still very much a sinner even though I am a child of God. So what do I do?

Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7:25

I confess, ask for forgiveness and give thanks that His mercies are new every morning. And afternoon. And evening.

I would be lost without God. Truly, I more than likely would have taken my life. He knows I have thought about it many times. The best part about being a child of God is the feeling you get after you confess. You are washed clean and are brand new! He doesn’t hold grudges! He doesn’t even remember! He never brings up our past! He sets us on a new path, puts a new song in our mouth. He loves us. In His presence is where there really is peace. Even when we are depressed, sick, lazy, sinful.

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1