Category Archives: motivation

Marathon Training – a journey of faith and prayer

My prayer life has significantly chanced since November 27, 2016.

I imagine this unhurried and exhaustive way of praying about everything and for everyone that is a special concern or blessing to me to be more like how Jesus might have prayed when He slipped away to be alone with the Father.

IMG_0475

Last fall, I confided in my dad that I had been contemplating running the 25th Walt Disney World Marathon in 2018.  His immediate response was to mark the dates of the race weekend on his calendar with a note one year out (January 2017) to call and make hotel reservations.  What a supportive father!  Before I could even register for the race, he already had our rooms booked.

Oh, to be that kind of an encourager to my own children and to cheer them on in their “impossible dreams”!

IMG_0478
The images in this post are from the spiral notebook I made to contain all the information I collect pertaining to the Disney Marathon.

I have fallen back on his confidence in me several times since registering in February.

Since then, I have had a surgical procedure that corrected my heart issues which has allowed me to come off all my medications.  What a grace filled and faith building experience this journey has already been!  But, it also required me to take a significant break from running and then to begin again, building up my miles from a slow walk.

IMG_0500

I had to adjust to a normal heart rate, which felt abnormally fast when I  started to run, but with that came the blessing of higher blood pressure, which meant an end to the lightheaded and slightly tired feeling I had grown accustomed to.

Two months later, feeling unprepared and uncertain that I would finish before the course closed, I ran my fastest half marathon, thanks to a dear friend who paced me every step of the way, taking more than 10 minutes off my previous times.

IMG_0481

IMG_0483

What is extra special to me is how I ran it.  This was the first half marathon I ran without music.  Instead, I meditated on scripture and prayed.

This approach to racing began for me one Sunday afternoon while running at the school track.  I began to pray, but my mind was racing.  My rambling rabbit-trail conversation with the LORD felt rushed.  My thoughts hopped around like a frantic bunny chased by an unseen enemy, bounce on and off of every thought and concern as if to tag it with a blessing.

IMG_0490

I stopped.

Standing still for a moment, I asked myself, “What is your hurry?” 

I had planned to work on a run/walk ratio for an hour and a half to two hours.  I wasn’t in a rush to go anywhere and neither was God.

I pulled out my phone and wrote a start of a prayer to the LORD as I walked.  It began like this:

note prayer

And then I ran.  I ran and prayed about all that I wanted the LORD to be for me as I set out to pursue a dream.

After a while, I’d walk again, quiet my mind, ask the LORD to guide me in my prayers; type out the next theme that came to mind, and set off in prayer and in a run again.

IMG_0480

What developed from this list is my go-to prayer pattern for when I exercise.

  1. LORD, this is what I need You to be today…
    • LORD, be my Personal Trainer.  Push me, pace me.  Write my training plan and outline my cross-training workouts for me…
    • Great Physician, be my Physical Therapist.  Help me to strengthen my supporting muscles and keep me from injury…
    • Creator of all things, my body and all the food I will eat, be my Dietician.  Help me to know what to eat, how much, and when…  protein, carbs, etc…
  2. Head to Toe blessings (literally from my hair to my toenails)
    • my brain/thoughts – naming distractions and concerns
    • senses & emotions – starting by asking the LORD to sort out how I “feel” and then naming all five senses in this order:  sight, hearing, smell (concentrating on each one to take in my surroundings with thankfulness), taste (to even include the water/fuel I’ve carried along), and saving my sense of touch for last (focusing on the temperature, sun, and wind on my skin); which also brings me to…
    • my body – naming every organ, muscles, tendon, ligament, function, form, common injury, etc. that I know of (for an increase VO2 Max, to efficiently breaking down fuel into energy, from short to long muscle fibers, to thankfulness for a steady heart rate,…).
  3. Blessings on family and friends.
    • Since registering for my marathon, I chose a person to pray for on each of the 26.2 miles of my course.
    • My “mile 26” has more than one person.  Here I pray for all my friends who are training for a marathons.
    • Matthew DobsonMy “.2” to finish is for Matthew Dobson, an amazing Christian role model and the only American to win the Disney Marathon in 2004 with an amazing time of 2:27:58(Just as a reference, my best time for a half marathon was 2:26:26.    That was really moving for me, and a pretty fun number for someone dreaming of  running 26.2.)  Because his blog and books have  been a real encouragement to me  and  because I have tired to copy many of his tips, I also pray for him when I lace up my shoes.

I have also chosen a verse for each of the 26.2 miles, for a total of 27 verses/passages, which I turn into prayers for myself and for the person I am praying for.  I don’t always start with “mile 1” (the first person or verse), rather on different runs, I pretend to start a different mile on the Disney course.  It is also a fun discipline of my thoughts to think through the various parts of the Disney property I would be on and pray for the LORD to give me strength for each specific mile.

IMG_0506
I made prayer cards to give to the people I am praying for as a reminder that I am praying for them. The card has the mile, the verse I am claiming for them and for myself, and a few of my running prayer concerns.

At first my 27 scriptures were for memorization, but now I just take phrases and turn them into rhythmic mantra to meditate on.

For example, when I’m running up a steep hill and wanting to walk, I’ll tell myself to say the phrase 10 more times and count them on my fingers, “Strong and Courageous” (Joshua 1:9) or “Consider Jesus.  Do not grow weary; do not lose heart”  (Hebrew 12:3) .  Or on the final stretch, I push myself as hard as I can repeating, “I have fought the good fight.  I have finished the race.  I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7)

Before I know it, I’m concentrating on that spiritual truth and the hill is behind me or I’m across that imaginary finish line.

IMG_0508
This is the list of verses I carried with me for my last half-marathon. The font is just large enough for me to read. On the back I have a copy of the course map. I covered it with packing tape so it would hold up under sweat and rain over all my training miles

(When I’m running I’m running with someone, I have a much abbreviated version of this.  It I’m running with a family member, I often pray aloud but keep it brief.  Though I sometimes pray with my friends and even share the verse I’m on if they’re interest, but usually I try to cover most the first two parts while I’m getting ready or while driving to meet them or before they arrive at my house.  Then, I mentally tuck in prayers for others when there are lulls in the conversation.  But, when I am running alone, this is my favorite mental discipline!)

I still use my prayer notebook first thing most mornings and other prayer tools on days I’m not running, but I feel such a new fellowship with Christ in this season of life.  I imagine this unhurried and exhaustive way of praying about everything and for everyone that is a special concern or blessing to me to be more like how Jesus might have prayed when He slipped away to be alone with the Father.

IMG_0498

Though it may sound very structured, it really pretty free flowing for me.  Having a frame work to get me started and to return to when I’ve reached the end of a rabbit trail in prayer is such a help to me.

If you’re reading this, I’m praying for you…

for your physical discipline to tackle your responsibilities while still taking care of the temple God has given you, for physical activities that you are able to do safely and enjoy, for the discipline to start and the perseverance to continue, for the mental discipline to make the best choices for your health, for spiritual disciplines that thrill your soul and that you can make intimately your own, for contentment without settling for mediocrity, for the God’s truth to inspire you in the areas you seem to have the most excuses, for friends to share with all the wonders you find as the LORD answers these prayers specifically and practically in your life.

IMG_0482

May the LORD help you to begin something wonderful today!

And, may He give you the desires of your heart as you delight yourself in Him!


The following images are included incase anyone is interested in the type of information I’ve gathered to help me mentally prepare for the race:

 

IMG_0489
The historical weather conditions for the previous Disney marathons (starting temperature, high and low for the day, humidity, and wind speed).
IMG_0484
Pace charts for various finishing times

 

IMG_0492
chart to log my miles and cross training exercise for the entire ye

IMG_0493

Maps of the Parks:

IMG_0494

IMG_0495

IMG_0496

IMG_0497

IMG_0504
a pocket in the back for loose papers and maps of the course from previous years
IMG_0487
pages to journal and log times from long runs
IMG_0479
LOTS and lots of quotes, many from Disney, but many more from famous athletes and trainers and others from articles and books I’ve read
IMG_0499
a list of thoughts for the night before the race, another for the morning of race day, and a page of thoughts that might be an encouragement when considering the second half of the race
IMG_0501
a small section for each mile of the race to log prayer request for the person I am praying for, details of that section of the course (what to expect, locations, elevation water, food, etc.), and any thoughts I want to journal that might pertain to this part of the race  (Several people have worn cameras running the marathon or in ride-a-long videos from wheelchair racers; so a lot can be learned about the course on the days I run indoors on the treadmill.)

I’m sure this might seem over the top to some, but I love to research and study everything that interest me.  This first marathon  is such a stretch for me (my longest run previous is only 14 miles); so the more I learn about it the more excited and less nervous I become.

I hope, as I share this side of my personality to you, that you are encouraged you to be yourself, live deep and indulgently enjoy what you love, and chose to become an expert in those things that interest you.

And, remember, you can make anything and everything a matter of prayer“Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.”  Proverbs 16:3

LEAP – generously (June 29th)

“Generously”

… that was one of the first adverbs I picked describing how I wanted to L.E.A.P. this year.

Ironically, I confess, I chose it selfishly; because I wanted to clean out my barn and basement.  (It’s one thing to clean; it’s another thing altogether to clean-out.)

This has certainly been a memorable Leap Year as I’m learning to L.E.A.P.

  • to LIVE (“just live”, abundantly abiding)
  • to ENJOY (slowing down to appreciate and take it all in, find joy in every day despite circumstances)
  • to ADD (share, contribute)
  • to PRAY (first, last, and continually in-between)

and to do it

  • attentively
  • beautifully
  • intentionally
  • naturally
  • and GENEROUSLY

june 01

But, I obvious still have a lot to learn.

I’ve recently had some time to soberly think about my motives, and regardless of how things come across to others, the LORD looks a my heart.  If the motivation for doing anything is proud or selfish, my actions are down right ugly to the LORD.  But, if my heart is humble and pure before Him, He is pleased with me, and that’s what matters… even more than cleaning out the excess stuff in my house.

This month of generosity has more to do with heart than material things

june 02

 

Each month’s theme has built upon the ones before, and this month is no different.

  • So, I want to GIVE “BEAUTIFULLY“, not just to others, but to bless the LORD as well!  And, I don’t want an ugly motive to taint my gift.  (Though Proverbs says a gift open a door for the giver, generosity is not about bribing,  making someone think better of me, or even making me feel better about myself.)
  • I want to ATTENTIVELY see the needs of others and see the blessing I’ve been entrusted with as a stewardship to meet those specific needs.  (From overexposure, I’m blind to much of the wasteful clutter that surrounds me; so I’m asking the LORD to give me a fresh vision of future potential and clear sight to see what needs to be passed along.)
  • I can’t do this “naturally”; because I know  my own lazy and self-indulgent nature.  But as I’ve seen this past month, stuff and excess stand in the way of living Supernaturally-NATURALLY .  With the LORD, I can do this!
  • And I need a plan.  So I will continue to L.E.A.P. INTENTIONALLY.

june 03

My older sister has been the inspiration for developing my strategy for this month.

A couple years ago, my sister and her husband moved from a huge four bedroom house in the suburbs of Raleigh, North Carolina to a high-in-the-sky two bedroom apartment in the heart of Chicago.

Almost every thing in her house needed to go, how did she do it?

— GENEROUSLY!

Everyday she left for work with at least three bags/boxes.   She tossed a bag of “throw-away”-stuff in the trash cart by the curb.  She dropped a bag of items off at Goodwill, and everyday she had something (or a lot of somethings!) to give away to friends.

She became the conduit of blessings from the LORD.

This past year when she moved to a one bedroom apartment a few blocks along the shore of the beautiful Windy City , she found she still had a lot to give away, like a vacuum cleaner and a crockpot to a lady that had never owned either.

My sister is one of the most thankful, generous, and contented people I know.  And, what’s most refreshing is she is genuinely a hilariously cheerful giver!

What about me?

No one has every accused me of having the Spiritual Gift of Giving.   Though I appreciate presents and treasure them as prayer reminders for the friends that have given to them to me, my love language is primarily words and secondarily quality time.  So, I can obviously stand to stretch my weaker spiritual muscles this month.

Now before I go much further into giving “things”, I feel compelled to linger a moment and mention that generosity is not just about money and stuff.  Like me, many people don’t hear love in that language.  Generosity involves every love language.  And, so this month I am going to intentionally make a point to give “things” away, but if you are fluent in the language of gift giving, maybe you should become bi-lingual and generously give another sort of gift this month.

Be generous with…

  • encouraging words, prayer, and wise counsel
  • acts of service, being a “secret servant” as opposed to a “secret santa”
  • quality time, lingering and listening  (If you’re known for talking a lot, you can be generous with your silence.)
  • meaningful touch, a hug and a kiss, a hand to hold, a shoulder to lean on

as wells as

  • thoughtful gifts

(If these are not familiar to you, check out The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman)

june 04a

june 04

My Goals for L.E.A.P.ing GENEROUSLY this month:

  1. to display the 5 “languages” to the members of my family everyday
  2. to toss 29 items of “trash” everyday
  3. to donate 29 bags/boxes of miscellaneous “stuff”
  4. to pass along 29 items (re-gift a few gifts from God)
Here are a couple charts I created for myself to use this month:

chart 01 chart 02

Feel free to download these and edit them to use generously bless your family and to meet your own goals.

LEAP June – Generously

The first chart gives me a square to check off each day for each “love language” for each member of my family and the second is a simple bookmark sized paper to post and check off those 29 things I want to toss/give/donate.

june 05

Living GENEROUSLY should be a way of life for us.  So, what can you Add to someone’s life this month?  Make it a matter of Prayer.   I know the LORD will direct you and bless you.  Not only will you Enjoy it, but it will certainly be a source of joy to someone else, too.

Dear Seeker, 

If you're reading this, I pray that YOU...
Live, Enjoy, Add, and Pray 
more attentively, beautifully, intentionally, naturally, and generously 
this month.

Give something secretly (Matthew 6:2-4) and sacrificially (1 Chronicles 21:24; 2 Samuel 24:24).  It's a beautiful thing to the LORD!  

You do have something to give.


LORD, You've blessed us to be a blessing.  We want to be good stewards and to be free of all idols.   We give ourselves and this month to You.  Show us what to give, when, and to who for Your glory.  Amen.

What could you do in 6 months?

 “When I _____________ I feel God’s pleasure.”

Whatever you do, do your work with all your heart, as for the Lord rather than for men…”  Colossians 3:23

It was October 30th, a year ago this week; I remember, because the next night, while taking my daughter trick-or-treating at I thought, “I picked the worst day of the year to start something healthy.”

A friend had just shared that she was going to drink more water and eat real food for ten days, and did I want to join her?  Then she added that we might as well add some exercise.

I was thinking of going for leisurely walks, but she had in mind a Beach Body “Insanity” workout.  I spend a couple hours on-line reading workout reviews on Amazon and picked out a more realistic sounding DVD program.  (In this selection, I was setting a goal to engage in 30 minutes of exercise 6 days a week  for the next three months, taking me through those yummy-comfy-cozy winter holidays of feasting, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the New Year.)

As one good habit led to another, I began setting and accomplishing other smaller goals.   With each success, momentum built, till 6 months later, …

  • I had run my first race in freezing rain, coming in first in my age group (thanks to the very crummy weather narrowing down the competition),
  • run my first 5K without a friend to pace me and not slowing for walk breaks,
  • run my first 10K,
  • run a 10K in single digit temps with a negative degree wind chill (And I hope I never do that again!  My face was so numb at the end, I felt like I had been given a shot of Novocain.)
  • and had run my first half marathon(All of these felt like MAJOR milestones at the time!!!!)

race finish 01I discovered that I am a “slow and steady” girl.  I am not made for speed, but I can go longer distances (and really enjoy it).

The habit has stuck.  (It helps that I have a friend who is training for a marathon that enjoys company on her “short runs”, aka my “long-runs”.)  And, I’m really looking forward to my next half marathon; this time with confidence that I can finish strong.

I’ve never been a “runner”, but at my first local “Jingle Bell Run” when someone asked, “Are you a really fast runner?”  Instead of saying, “NO!!!”, I replied with a smile and a question, “Do I look like a really fast runner?”   We laughed, and I thought, why are we all so nervous and insecure?  Why I am I comparing myself with others?

We are all running our own race.

(Physically and spiritually.  We all have a course to run.  We must set our goal and press forward.  We our eyes on Jesus, run the race marked out for us, and run for the prize, bringing glory to the LORD as we do our best to steward what is entrusted to us… body, soul, mind, spirit; talent, time, and treasure.)

I decided then that I was going to run for “FUN” and, as Eric Liddell, run to feel the pleasure of God.  And, if I come in last, I’ll add “making everyone else feel fast” to my list of encouraging ministries.  (Sort of like my “fair-skin ministry” of helping others “feel tan” at the beach.)

Jeff Galloway’s goals have become mine, whether I’m running a short 5K race or walk-running a marathon some day,

  • to finish standing up
  • smiling
  • and wanting to do it again.

My first half marathon was one with the slowest required pace available, an 18 minute mile pace.  I was so nervous when I started training for it because 13.1 miles sounded impossible, and I didn’t even know if I could finish.  So when I registered, I signed up for the last and slowest corral.

Not only was I not picked up by a bus, I finished smiling with a most surprising time with energy to spare,  and one of my first thoughts was, “I gotta’ do this again!”  — In every way, I met and surpassed my goal.

I know I’ve written a little bit about this before, but running has been a huge part of my story this past year!!!  I did something that I never thought was possible for this non-athletic girl.  And, I want to encourage you to challenge yourself physically.  Whether it’s like my friend who has fibromyalgia who walks around her house and lifts 1/2 and 1 pound weights or like my beach-body loving, marathon running friends.

This kind of accomplishment gave me so much confidence in my ability to choose discipline over momentary comfort, and it has given me a lingering addiction to setting and pursuing goals.

Now, at the anniversary of my spontaneous 10 day commitment that changed my entire year (and hopefully my lifestyle from here on out), I’m wanting to address another area of my life.

Six months… What do YOU want to do?

  • set a goal
  • mark out a few deadlines/mini-goals to get there
  • invite a friend to join you, for encouragement and accountability
  • learn all you can about it (on-line, books, magazines, videos, related documentaries, seek advice and ask questions of experts and armatures)

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”  – 1 Corinthians 10:31

Eric Liddle said, “God made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure. ”  When do you “FEEL” the “PLEASURE OF GOD”. 

I want to challenge you to complete these sentences (with single adjectives/verbs or longer phrases) several times for yourself as a poem:

God made me _________________. 

And when I _____________ I feel His pleasure.”

Country Living

Handsome just handed me the latest issue of Country Living. He started a tradition for me several years ago…

whenever a magazine comes in the mail, he takes care of kids and dinner, and I get the evening off to soak in the tub.

“tub time”
Aaaaaah, love those words.
Love my man.

There was a time when I kept all my old issues, sorted them by season, and pulled them out as the calendar turned for inspiration and fresh ideas. When I was in a cleaning slump, I’d “pretend” Country Living or Country Home would be arriving any minute for a photo shoot. I could just picture my home featured in a spread. Maybe I’d even make the cover.

As the years pass and the styles change from genuine country to what I call “Raleigh Rural”, it is easy to pass old issues along as I realise these magazines have nothing on my own country home.

country — traditional, comfortable, cozy, practical, simple, enduring, affordable… wood, quilts, heirlooms passed-down…

Even this old tub was from the old family farm house. When a leaky toilet let to an urgent bathroom remodel, my father-in-law brought this cast-iron beauty our way.

My idea of “country style” is what we own. Maybe it’s another case of “beauty in the eye of the beholder”.

“old junk” or “antique”?

But somethings are worth passing down… heritage, a family name, traditions, memories, history, faith, morals, character,…

As I type away, I can’t help but wonder what my simple man would think of all this mussing… “boy, that’s a lot to get out of a magazine you haven’t even read.”

Well, one tradition I hope to pass down to the little women in my life is “tub time”.