Scripture Memory: Exciting Update & Encouragement

Hello dear reader!

Recently I posted a blog/vlog discussing the importance to the Christian of memorizing Scripture. I won’t rehash the points here. You can watch the video if you want. I did, however, want to share an exciting update.

At the time of that post, I mentioned that I had found a resource that made it easy to memorize longer passages of Scripture – something I had been wanting to do, but couldn’t quite figure out how. This resource, which I will link to below, helped me achieve a long-standing goal of memorizing Psalm 19.

Using its technique, I moved on to what would previously have seemed an insurmountable challenge. I memorized the entire book of James! All five chapters (108 verses). It took me about two months to do. James has always been one of those epistles that has ministered to me in many ways over the years. And now, I have it committed to memory.

In no way am I saying this to boast. Hardly. More accurately, I share it with you so you know that if I can do it, YOU can do it.

I used to have a rock solid memory; one in which I could and did boast. Being able to retain thousands of little details was great. However, as time has marched on, I am sad to say my memory is not as sharp as it used to be. I rely on notes a lot more now, and my brain space gets filled up a lot easier than it ever did before. That is why I am confident that if I can do it, you can.

With a desire to hide God’s word in your heart (Psalm 119:11), humbly asking for His help to do it, and committing to work diligently at it, you too can memorize whole chapters and even books of the Bible.

Here is the link to the pamphlet I read that got me started:

https://scripturememory.com/downloadables/andrewdavis.pdf

What do you think? Are you ready to commit more Scripture to memory? If you decide to try it, I would love to hear how it goes!

Have a great week, and thank you for reading this blog post!

 

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Posted in apologetics, Bible / Christian Living, Biblical insights, Lifehacks, Opinion | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Remembering Toonces, Her Life As Told by Mom

Today marks the sad occasion when we chose to have our cat, Toonces, put down, due to failing health and complications from old age.

Toonces was our cat for 16.3 years. She lived a good, long, pampered life. My aim here is to highlight her journey.

Toonces was the fulfillment of a promise I made to myself in eighth grade. I have always loved cats, and I had several from elementary school through junior high. Unfortunately, each one managed to meet their end either in a tragic way or in one case, simply disappearing, never to be seen again.

After the loss of our fourth cat, my parents decided they’d had enough. They refused to let me get another cat, and suffer more tragedy. I was upset, but I knew their minds were made up. It was at that time I vowed to myself that as soon as I finished school and moved out on my own, I would get another cat. That was sometime in the mid-90s.

Fast forward to 2002.

Fresh out of college, I had moved to the tiny South Texas town of Beeville to take a job as the evening DJ at a country radio station. At that time I was determined to eventually become a syndicated radio star, and getting your start in an unrated market was the natural first step.

Living in my own apartment for the first time (2200 miles from home), I remembered my vow and realized I was now able to fill the ever-present longing in my heart for a kitten.  However, I was hesitant to take on any additional expenses in light of my meager salary. I was indecisive about it, and not ready to make a move.

One sweltering hot Saturday afternoon (in other words, any old Saturday in South Texas), I was on my way home from a walk, when I came upon what I later referred to as the “ghetto roadside humane society.” A group of kind-hearted ladies had formed an organization with the intent of finding a home for every stray cat in town. They took them all under their wings, refusing to take them to the actual humane society, where they would likely get euthanized if they weren’t adopted.

They had lawn chairs set up by the road, with pop-up tents providing shade for a couple open kennels full of kittens, and some older cats up for grabs to a good home. In my uncertain financial state, I planned to just keep walking, but I thought to myself, “I could at least go take a look.” Famous last words.

The selection process

I had my heart set on a gray, frisky kitten, to replace the last one I had as a youth, that had gone missing after only a few weeks. I found a cute gray one, sitting in a box with several other kittens that were resting in the hot afternoon sun. My mind was almost made up, except for one thing. Frisky, high energy and gray were equal criteria in cat selection. The gray one was definitely not high energy, but she fit the bill for looks.

Sharing the box with her was an adorable fuzz ball with a black & gray head and back, with the rest of her body white. While the other kittens tried to nap, this one was stumbling about like eight-week-old kittens do, frolicking, and climbing over the sleepy cats as if to say in kitten-ese: “Hey guys, it’s time to play! What’s everyone sitting around for?? Hey, who wants to play? Hey!”

I knew I “needed” this cat, but was hung up on the gray one. The lady managing the kennel slyly suggested I could have both. I wasn’t even sure about one, let alone two. But she assured me they would pay for its shots, so I decided, what the hey, why not take both of them?

As a side note, I did take both, but they gray one turned out to have serious health problems (it sat motionless most of the time and would sit in the litter box without moving for long periods, so I gave it back to them after a week or so). I only mention it because she was part of the story.

That is how I ended up with Toonces. She was my roommate and faithful companion in those lonely months away from friends and family. My odd working hours and introverted tendencies provided me with only two hours of human interaction each day, with co-workers, before everyone in the office and studio left for the day, and I was alone doing my show until midnight.

I would return home to have her greet me at the door, meowing with happiness to see me. I was equally happy to see her cute face, but I left the meowing to her.

Next stages of life

When it was time to head back to the northwest, I packed up all my belongings into my 1983 Honda Civic hatchback and placed my beloved Toonces in her cat carrier perched where I could see her from my rear view mirror. As we made the multi-day journey home, through the hot southwestern United States in a small car without air-conditioning, though I was extremely uncomfortable as well, Toonces did enough whining for both of us.

Upon my return, I did the now standard boomerang move and reclaimed my childhood bedroom at my folks’ house while I worked on the next part of the plan. My parents wouldn’t allow Toonces in the house (something about ruined furniture I guess?), but my dad allowed her to stay in his workshop, where I would frequently go out to visit and let her run loose in the yard under supervision. It wasn’t an ideal dwelling, but I didn’t have many other options.

Eventually, I moved out to rent a room in someone’s home; another dwelling where the cat was not welcome to roam the house. Having no other choice, I turned her loose to become an outdoor cat by day, and in the evening I would bring her into my room, where she was allowed, as long as she was kept contained.

An upward trajectory

After having survived in conditions that she I am sure she felt were far beneath her queenly status, things took an upward swing. A move to an apartment with a couple cat-loving roommates (one being a cat whisperer) meant three times the affection and freedom to claim the whole living space. Finally, dwellings worthy of her royalty.

She thrived in this environment, got fat, remained sassy, and continually filled my heart with delight at her cuteness and friskiness.

As bachelorette living goes, things change often, and people get married. When the cat-whisperer roommate got hitched, it was time to move again. This time back to a rented room, where Toonces was confined to my bedroom when I wasn’t home, to avoid destroying the homeowner’s fancy furniture. Although it wasn’t ideal, it was at this stage in the game that a new dynamic changed everything.

Introducing … your future dad

In July 2009, I invited a handsome bachelor over for dinner. It is worth noting that over the years, Toonces developed highly anti-social tendencies. She would run and hide whenever someone unknown to her entered the house. So imagine my surprise when, this guy in whom I was extremely interested comes over and sits down in the kitchen, and Toonces heads straight for him, jumps on his lap and allows herself to be petted like he was her best friend. It was a sight to behold.

Mike Toonces 1st meeting

Mike and Toonces meeting for the first time.

Their friendship became cemented from that point forward, as that handsome bachelor became my husband, and Toonces suddenly had a father. 🙂 Turns out that Mike is a cat-whisperer himself, and it quickly became clear that Toonces liked his doting ways even better than she seemed to like me!

Family of three

From 2010 on, it was nothing but luxurious living for the cat. She had her own place, which she was kind enough to share with her mom and dad, and the transitions and woes of the unstable life behind her.

She remained a frisky cat until the last few years. We got endless amusement out of her fiercely batting around pens and bottle caps and tirelessly chasing the red dot from the laser pointer. She warmed our laps in the evening, retained an unquenchable need to be petted at all times, and looked and acted like a youthful cat for many years.

She had spells of acting naughty, some of which were very trying for mom, and later for dad. I suppose all pets do that. But overall, the joy, mirth, and cuteness she provided far outweighed the trouble she caused.

It was sad to see her slow down over the last year and troubling to see her health take a nosedive in the last few months. I shed many a tear thinking about the inevitable arrival of this day. Her symptoms of illness were adding up, and the full-of-life cat that we had known was replaced with a sickly, weak, shrinking, shell of a kitty with very little life or energy left in her. In the end, we knew it was time.

It was a very gut-wrenching decision to make. But I am convinced it was the right one. We had over 16 years of delight with Toonces; many more than I ever thought possible. She used up all of her nine lives with flair. In so doing, she brought untold joy to our lives. We’ll miss that cat something fierce.

IMG_1227

Toonces even learned to take selfies! 😉

 

 

Posted in Family, Random | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

13 Obvious Facts, About Which There Can Be No Dispute

I’ll jump right in here and list some facts!

  1. The correct way to hang a roll of toilet paper is with the paper facing out. Everybody knows this.
    tp_diag01
  2. When telling a story, if you find yourself without a suitable ending, just say, “So … yeah.” Works every time to wow your audience.
  3. Cats are superior to dogs as pets. Enough said.

    IMG_2415

    How can you argue with that face?

  4. It is appropriate to brush your teeth after breakfast, not before.
    If you brush before, you get rid of morning breath, only to foul it up again upon eating breakfast and/or drinking coffee. Not to mention, the minty taste doesn’t jive well with food. Come on now, pre-breakfast toothbrushers. Listen to reason.
  5. When you’re sick, coughing and sneezing into your elbow is polite. Using your hand is barely more sanitary than not covering your mouth at all. Defiling your hand with mungy mucus, then proceeding to touch things that others might touch, thus spreading germs – where is the love in that??
  6. When it comes to a box of chocolates, the ones with fruit filling are revolting.
  7. People who regularly state their opinions as facts cannot be trusted. (Unless they are right.)
  8. The Golden Rule is based on the words of Jesus (Matthew 7:12). The Platinum Rule is based on ever-changing cultural wisdom. Therefore, Golden Rule wins.
  9. Facts don’t care about your feelings. (Ben Shapiro coined this one, I believe.)
  10. You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Unless it is a romance novel with an illustrated cover picture of a shirtless, glistening-bare-chested man. Then you absolutely should judge it.
  11. The characters in Parks & Recreation are more endearing than those in The Office (American version).
  12. To up the ante even more, Park and Recreation is a better show than The Office. Hey, don’t look at me with that tone of voice.
  13. If you read this whole list, I think you’re neat.
    (Even though you may be in denial of at least one of the facts listed above.)

I really don’t expect any disagreement on this, because, how can anyone argue with facts?? Nevertheless, comments are welcomed. 🙂 Thanks for reading!

Posted in Advice, Blogging, Entertainment, For Entertainment Only, Opinion | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

5 Bible Verses That Prove Introverts Are Naturally More Godly

Much is written about the fact that introverts prefer to be alone, and that they recharge through alone time. This is true. The highly under-reported (and I think, much less known) traits of an introvert include a slowness to speak, due to different brain processing than quick-thinking, fast-talking extroverts.  Also included is a greater willingness to listen, due in part to slower brain processing that leaves introverts less comfortable in the spotlight.  I wrote about these traits and how learning about them changed my life dramatically for the better in a previous post.

That being the case, let us dive into five different Bible verses that hail the qualities with which introverts are born.

Guard your steps as you go to the house of God and draw near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools; for they do not know they are doing evil. Do not be hasty in word or impulsive in thought to bring up a matter in the presence of God. For God is in heaven and you are on the earth; therefore let your words be few. For the dream comes through much effort and the voice of a fool through many words.
– Ecclesiastes 5:1-3

“This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger.”

– James 1:19

When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable,
But he who restrains his lips is wise. – Proverbs 10:19

He who guards his mouth and his tongue,
Guards his soul from troubles. – Proverbs 21:23

He who restrains his words has knowledge,
And he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.
Even a fool, when he keeps silent, is considered wise;
When he closes his lips, he is considered prudent. – Proverbs 17:28-29

Connecting the dots

So? Are you convinced introverts are naturally more godly now?

Before I go any further, I have to admit that this post is intentionally meant as satire. Mostly. It largely ruins any sizzle to name it as satire, but I am doing so since it may not be crystal clear that it is. And because I haven’t yet developed quite a thick enough skin to post things that others might find insulting without explaining it. Maybe that day will come. Also, please know that I take God’s word very seriously. I exercise great caution in using it flippantly to make jokes, and study hard to ensure I use it correctly and explain it rightly (2 Timothy 2:15). However…

Do I actually believe introverts are naturally more godly? No, not really. I just happen to read such verses with an introverted understanding of the world and inwardly smile. Because in the eyes of “the world” having a quick, witty reply and being able to articulate the current state of affairs is deemed as most useful. Quiet people, who are less apt to speak up in groups, are many times perceived as less effective or intellectual.

But when we consider God’s ways, we see that sometimes fewer words and more reflection are often better, and are a recipe for curbing potential sin that comes from loose lips.

If you have any thoughts, comments, disagreements, or the like, I would love to hear them!

 

Posted in Biblical insights, Opinion, Satire | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

On Memorizing Scripture (My first ever vlog!)

I’ve always had a tricky relationship with memorizing Scripture. On one hand, I know it is a good idea. I’ve been immensely benefitted by the verses I have memorized. On the other hand, it is hard to do. I have often lacked the discipline, or perhaps also the right tactics for doing it.

I’m pleased to report, that through God’s grace, a handful of different influences, and a resource I encountered, that is changing.

I recorded a vlog (my first ever to be published!) about the discipline of memorizing Scripture. If this is a subject that you are drawn to, and you have a few minutes to spare, I’d be obliged if you’d watch this video and check out the resource I mention.

What are your thoughts on memorizing Scripture? Any success stories or goals you’d like to share? Please comment!

Posted in Advice, Bible / Christian Living, Opinion, priorities, Reliability of the Bible | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Why I Blog

I’ve been blogging for over 10 years. For nine or so of them, my posts were few and far in between. I often had ideas I wanted to write about, but I found it very difficult to develop the discipline and make time to sit down and write. I’ve been trying to make up for that the last year.

Some might consider it a waste of time. I don’t. I wouldn’t have kept it up all these years if I did. I thoroughly enjoy it, and in fact, would love the opportunity to do it even more.

So why do I like blogging so much? Allow me to elaborate.

I love to write

Maybe this one is obvious. Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve gotten a thrill out of expressing myself with the written word. Talking about personal experiences, even writing papers in school (though less so), is a chance to practice one of my favorite sitting down hobbies. I never get tired of it, nor run out of ideas of things about which to write.

As an introvert, it is a good outlet

I’ve written about the inner workings of introverts in the past. Without re-hashing the contents of that post, I’ll just briefly say that we don’t speak up as much in groups as extroverts do. It is just the way we are wired. My relative quietness in a group in no way means I don’t have anything to share, but it more likely means that either there wasn’t a sufficient opening in the conversation, or I didn’t feel prepared to talk, or likely, by the time I thought of something to say on the topic, the group was already talking about something else.

Thus, when I write, I have all the time I need to lay out my thoughts in an orderly fashion and edit as needed. The keyboard doesn’t mind long, awkward pauses. Writing is a way for introverts like me to express myself.

Additionally, I find that often my own thoughts on a subject aren’t fully known to me until I take the time to write about them. Somehow, taking some quiet time to tap out some words on a keyboard or write in a journal gets my mind working in a way it wouldn’t otherwise. Fragmented thoughts begin to flow together, and a coherent idea often begins to develop. Works well for personal therapy, professional and spiritual ideas and more.

I like to share ideas

I’m no spring chicken anymore, as much as it stings to admit. But with the miles and years I’ve experienced, I’ve found that I have grown in knowledge and, by the grace of God, in wisdom (James 1:5). With a head and heart full of insight from lessons learned and insights gleaned, I find that I am eager to share some of those things with those that care to listen. Turns out that is not many people, but hey, the least I can do is put them out there and see what sticks.

I don’t want to explode

I mentioned above that I often don’t express my ideas when talking to others. Nevertheless, they keep stacking up in my mind. Like a balloon can only take so much air before it reaches its limits and pops, I find that I need to get my thoughts down “on paper” before something explodes inside me.

Wrap up

That is a brief look at the reasons why I blog and believe I will as long as I am able. I hope that you, the reader, have identified something you are passionate about; something you do for the sheer joy of it. And so that you also don’t explode.

What is your passion? I’d love to hear! Feel free to leave a comment and let me know. Blessings and thanks for reading!

Posted in Blogging, Opinion, priorities | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Mythbusters: The Self-Made Man (or Woman) – Examining the Claim & A More Humble Perspective

It is sometimes said of or by successful people that they are a “self-made man” (Or woman.) This, to me, seems to indicate that those who report them as such are of the belief that they achieved their mountaintop status all by themselves. That they alone are responsible for their outstanding accomplishments.

I personally think that is a load of hooey.

Enough so, that I deemed it worthy of the second installment of this blog’s “Mythbusters” series. The first post in the series was on the false belief that it is possible to get everything done.

Now I’ll grant that there is a school of thought, found none other than on selfmademan.com, which determines that one becomes self-made:

“the moment you decide to shape your world, rather than be shaped by it.

It is a spark… A decision… An internal will that can never be given by another, and that can never be purchased or borrowed.

In that moment, you become the sole architect and artist of your life – a Self Made Man or woman, where the rest of the world serves as the hammer and chisel you wield in order to shape it to your desire.”

That makes sense, and I am even inclined to agree with it.

What I take issue with is the mentality that one can get to where they are with no help at all. That one can forge their destiny out of sheer determination and brilliance.

My belief is that is arrogant, and fails to acknowledge formative influences in one’s own life.  The quote above describes the behavior of someone who has chosen to take control of their life. But let us give credit where credit is due.

Everyone’s story begins in a fashion that is beyond their control: where and to whom they are born, and how they are raised. It isn’t until one’s brain is developed and they begin making deliberate, independent choices, that the trajectory of their life gains some autonomy.

Some examples:

The person born in poverty to poorly educated parents. They may stay in the cycle into which they were born. Or perhaps they will encounter an outside influence that ultimately leads them to complete a higher level of education, go on to have a successful career, or even start a wildly successful company and end up in the “1%” club.

An individual with parents who have no interest in a healthy lifestyle, who raise him or her on processed and fast food, loads of sugary garbage, and provide no model for exercising. That person may follow the example they are given, or they may realize their inherited lifestyle is leading to trouble, and end up being a health-food junkie marathoner.

Or how about a rank-and-file worker bee who marches through the rat race for years, enduring terrible bosses, low pay, and a dearth of growth opportunities. Discouraged, they begin taking classes to beef up their education, and eventually switch careers to a job about which they are passionate.

Are all these folks “self-made?” I would argue, no. Not entirely.

The first person may have had an inspiring teacher who their potential, and encouraged them to break the cycle of poverty. Or a sibling who reminded them that there are other options, and it wasn’t necessary to maintain the status quo. Or a friend who had grand ambitions, which opened their eyes to other possibilities.

Perhaps the second person witnessed a parent struggle with health problems caused by poor lifestyle choices. Researching how to treat and prevent such issues lead to the discovery of the vast world of resources out there to help one get and stay healthy. They team up with a friend and join a gym, where they meet others who pursue health, and their life takes a different turn.

The third person may have endured poor or cruel management, being overworked and underpaid, all the while carefully taking notes about “what not to do.” They see in other leaders qualities they admire and seek counsel from them and other co-workers about how to best navigate the situation in which they find themselves. In their next position, they take what they have learned and use it to forge a more rewarding environment for themselves.

The point

The bottom line and the point I am attempting to make is that we all have people in our lives who, for positive or negative, help shape who we are and who we become. We are ultimately responsible for who we become, but the end result was not created in a vacuum. It was forged by the input we received from others every day of our lives.

My mental exercise

I’ve had this topic on my “blog ideas” list for quite some time, but a recent exercise of mental gratitude for specific people in my life is what pushed it to the top, and with greater focus.

Just today I was thinking about a particular individual who started out as a respected supervisor, who eventually became a friend with whom I have stayed in contact even years after we last worked together. We’ve since often commiserated, worked out together, shared the struggles of our various goals and dreams, and helped each other along the way. At least I know she has helped me. She is one of the dozens of examples of people I’ve had the privilege of knowing, whose skills and outlook on life have impacted and shaped my perceptions and abilities.

As I began to think about a handful of other such influential people in my life, I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed with gratitude. I give the credit to God and His kindness and providence in guiding my life to allow me to cross paths with so many fabulous people. Not to mention giving me an outstanding family in which to grow up.

When I reflect on where I am today, I am keenly aware that who I am has been shaped in a big way by the influence of others. Some good, some bad. But all have contributed to my current outlook on life.

Conclusion

That is why I scoff at the phrase “self-made man” and find it arrogant when someone believes they got where they are all by themselves. As I said earlier, I prefer to give credit where it is due and embrace the gratitude for the people and battle scars that have contributed to my success.

What are your thoughts on the “self-made man?” Do you agree or disagree? I am guessing you could name at least one person who has made an enormous impact in your life.

Posted in Mythbusters, Opinion, Professional Development | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

Things I Constantly Have To Remind Myself About Productivity (Confessions of a Recovering Perfectionist)

As a recovering perfectionist*, I tend to be too hard on myself when I think I haven’t gotten enough done on a particular day. Can anyone else relate?  Especially on a day off. I have grand visions of checking things off a long and aggressive to-do list.

At the end of the day, my husband will often ask, “How did things go today?” Almost without fail, I say some variation of, “Well, it was OK, but I didn’t get as much done as I wanted.” This happens so regularly, it almost makes me crazy.

My first reaction to such a realization is to feel bad for myself like I failed. This is my perfectionist nature, which can never be satisfied. Fortunately, I’m slowly coming to realize the trap that my perfectionism continually sets for me. I outlined a few things I learned in a previous post about productivity. Building on that, here are a couple things that I often need to remind myself.

Communication counts as productivity

One of my trademark moves is forgetting to account for the time it takes to communicate, and the necessity of it for getting things done. Not many of us accomplish things entirely in a vacuum; we must work with others in one way or another.

A big mistake I often make is limiting my sense of accomplishment to only tasks that appear on my list. When I don’t count human interaction item(s), I am setting myself up for disappointment in the amount I have gotten done, when in fact, I have done much more than I think.

For a work example, let’s say I walk into the office at 9 a.m. From there, I greet my co-workers, check my email, and write my to-do list for the day. Then a co-worker stops by my desk, and we chat for 10-15 minutes about an upcoming project. Afterward, I proceed to reply to time-sensitive emails from clients and employees, which gets interrupted multiple times due to incoming phone calls, and a text from a co-worker which requires a thoughtful response. In the midst of all that, I get an urgent, drop-everything-and-do-it-now email from the boss. To respond to it, I need to do some research, check with employees on various items, and take the time to write a well thought-out, detailed reply.

Next thing I know, it is pushing 11 a.m., and I haven’t gotten a single thing on my list done. Have I been utterly unproductive? No, quite the opposite. I’ve been humming with productivity and collaborating with others to help them get things done as well. My problem, at least partially, is failing to acknowledge the task of communication as a thing achieved. If I would re-frame my thinking, I would realize that I have in fact gotten quite a bit done. Just different things than I planned.

Caveat: I know there are 100s of articles and books out there from high acheivers on how to set up your day for productivity. That is not the focus of this post.

Make room for the unexpected

Just like that surprise email from the boss that can change the entire trajectory of the day, there are unlimited amounts of other surprises that crop up to veer me from the path I planned for myself. An older relative needs to be taken to the doctor. Traffic is worse than normal, and it takes an extra hour to get home. I run into an old friend at the store, and end up chatting for a long time in the parking lot. Etc, etc., etc.

Everything takes longer than I think it will. Everything.

Not much explanation needed here, other than expanding on the obvious. Take a simple task, estimate honestly how long it would take to do it while thinking vigorously, without interruptions. Then add 50% or more. That is how long it may actually take with all factors.  The one who knows to build in a cushion for the unknown when estimating a time budget is wise indeed. Now multiply that process for every project. It suddenly becomes clearer why I don’t get done as much as I think I will.

Conclusion (*)

I started this post with a * next to recovering perfectionist. That is to denote that I have learned that perfectionism, left unchecked, leads to perpetual dissatisfaction with one’s performance. There is always 1-12 more things that should have been done, and of the 78 things that were done, they weren’t done well enough. This type of thinking is a joy-stealer.

I am not advocating that we all loosen our standards of hard work, or pat ourselves on the back after a lazy day. What I am saying is that, if you struggle as I do with often feeling like an under-achiever, despite working hard constantly, it may be time to take a closer look at some of these items. Realize that communication is work, and worthy to be acknowledged as such. Acknowledge that unplanned items will pop up, and that is OK. Realize that everything might take longer than you think, and plan for it.

Once you’ve done all these things, adjust your expectations accordingly and give yourself grace when you don’t get as much done as you thought you would. Tomorrow is another day.

Posted in Advice, Lifehacks, Opinion, Productivity | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Running, the Christian Walk

The analogy the New Testament uses comparing running to the Christian walk has become more poignant to me recently as I have reignited my love for running in the last year or so. As I wrote about in my most recent post, I am all fired up about running these days.

By the grace of God alone, I am also all fired up about using all I have for His glory. Thus, the fondness for the analogies. First, let’s look at a few of them.

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” – Hebrews 12:1

“Do you know know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win … Therefore, I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.”
– 1 Corinthians 9:24,26

Considering the comparisons drawn, here are a few takeaways.

Both take discipline

When starting out running, or living the Christian life as a new convert to Christ, it can seem overwhelming. How do I become a proficient runner? How do I grow in my relationship with God through Christ?

The answer boils largely down to discipline. Someone who is serious about either pursuit will get after it with regularity, perhaps even every day. Just as the runner pounds the pavement each day, the Christian prays and pours over the Scriptures daily to get to know the God of the Bible, who has revealed Himself to us in its pages. What seems as a great gap in physical ability or knowledge is slowly, systematically chiseled away by persistence and discipline.

Endurance is built over time

Just as the new runner will probably not be able to run a 10k race the first week, the new Christian will by no means immediately have the answers to all their questions, or have a solid grasp of the coherent story of human redemption woven throughout the pages of the Bible. These things take time. An inordinate amount of time. A lifetime, in fact.

There is always another fitness goal to reach. There is always another question to answer, another passage to scour, another sin to forsake.

As the runner and the Christian continue to plod away toward their respective missions, things begin to change for the better. What once was maybe only two minutes of running before stopping to walk becomes three, then five, then 10, then 45. What once was a mystery about the ways of God becomes a fascination, then a foundation of knowledge as truth after truth is revealed in Scripture and through prayer and fellowship with other Christians. The progress each one makes with consistency is truly remarkable. Which brings me to my next point. 🙂

Progress is established with endurance

In the trenches, sometimes progress goes unnoticed. We want to give up because we don’t see the results of our faithful plodding. Then, miraculously, one day we find that we’ve reached our first fitness goal or that we are getting awfully close, and we think about how far we’ve come.

One day, we may be having a conversation with a friend and a passage of Scripture pops into mind with which we can encourage our friend. Or we find ourselves reacting to a frustrating situation in a way that is far different than how we used to; in a way that shows God’s handiwork in our life.

It is those situations that show us that we do not labor in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58). Our discipline creates endurance, our endurance produces progress.

Conclusion & Encouragement

If you find yourself in either or both of these challenges, be encouraged. You’re getting better all the time, whether or not you realize it.

To the runner, I recommend you keep a log of all your workouts: distance, time, how you felt, etc. Seeing your stats over time gives a realistic and encouraging look at how far you’ve come, especially on those days when you are questioning your progress.

To the Christian, similar advice applies. Keep a journal of your spiritual progress. When you learn something new in your time with God, write it down. When you’re struggling with a certain sin, write it down. (Also, confess it to God and ask for His help in overcoming it, of course.) When a truth from God hits you in a fresh way, write it down. This journal, just like the runner’s log, will provide immense encouragement as you look back on all the ways God has been working in your life.

Don’t give up. Keep running the race. Keep plodding along. With an eye on the great things already accomplished, know that it just keeps getting better.

“I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
– Philippians 3:14

Posted in Advice, Bible / Christian Living, Health, Opinion, Running, Self-Improvement | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

On (Almost) Reaching a Long-Held Running Goal

I’m the type of person that prefers tidy endings. I like it when a story wraps up neatly at the end. I use that same preference quite often in the stories I choose to tell: I don’t like to share them until they have a neat little bow wrapped around them, with all the details in place.

This post, then, is a departure from the norm for me. It’s about a story that is still in process.

To bring you up to the current point as briefly as possible, I’ve been running off and on since high school. I started because I figured it was the quickest way to shed a few pounds, and I was right. Once I started, I realized I enjoyed the challenge of it, and I adored the hard-to-quantify feeling of “being in shape.” So I kept at it. (The need to run increased dramatically as I found the “freshman 15” in college, that just didn’t want to go away.)

Fast forward many years, and multiple seasons of running regularly, then not, then back at it, etc. The ebb and flow of my fitness seemed to naturally coincide with not only the busyness of life but how that busyness managed to impact the priority I placed on exercise.

After a couple years of highly inconsistent exercise, I decided it was time to step it back up at the beginning of 2017. I set my sights on the lofty goal of a running pace I had achieved after months of practice in my late 20s when my pant size was smaller and lung capacity larger.

Fast forward to now

Since that time, I’ve been reasonably faithful in pounding the pavement multiple times per week, save for exceptions like being out of town, and the occasional day (or week) when I let the laziness or doubt and fear in my head keep me on the sidelines.

Just this morning, I completed an eight-week interval training program (it only took me 16 weeks! ;)) that excruciatingly takes the user through guided running and sprinting workouts. I’ve used it in the past to shave some time off my pace and opted to employ it again to attempt to blast through the pace plateau in which I had found myself. What follows is the motivation to write this post.

Just a few weeks ago, I did a three-mile run where I came within 14 seconds of achieving the overall pace goal I’ve been working towards for the last year and a half! I was unbelievably amped! Then the next run I did, despite my best efforts, I logged times like I was doing at the beginning of the year. Buzzkill.

Even though I realize after months of logging my times that they fluctuate wildly, I still allowed myself to be discouraged by an average run on the heels of a record run. The head games took over, and I didn’t run for almost two weeks. (Granted, I was doing other exercises, but I was avoiding running because I was spooked.)

Today, I finished the last run in the interval program and was reminded afresh that I need to keep pounding the pavement with gusto if I want to achieve my goal. It is truly remarkable how going for even one run can help push through the emotions that fight to keep me from getting after it.

Conclusion

I’ve been working towards this comeback story long enough to know that the moments of record-breaking victory are infrequent, and they come hard-earned on the back of countless average days, where I choose to show up and do the work that lays the foundation. The mountaintop is breathtaking on its own merits but made even more so by the dramatic contrast of the valley below, and the grueling climb it takes to get there.

If like me, you’re in the middle of hustling for a goal (fitness or otherwise), I hope you’ll be encouraged by this. Don’t let the average days be the end of the story. Push through the sweaty, unremarkable portions of the journey and get ready to celebrate the sweet view from the top. Each step gets you closer. I’ll keep taking steps if you will.

Posted in Advice, Opinion, priorities, Running | Tagged , , , , | 11 Comments