Life Is A Race

Life is a race. Not a competitive race. Everyone's life is just a different race.

Our race may change course, there may be obstacles we must overcome, but if we keep our eyes on the Lord, we will reach our finish line and receive our prize. It is not always about the finish line, though. The journey is just as important. We need to make sure we don't miss something along the way while keeping our eyes on the prize.

Because I am a Christian and an athlete, this analogy is easy for me to see. Why do I race? Not to win (otherwise I would have given up long ago), but because it is a personal challenge. I'm a woman wearing so many hats -- wife, mother, Sunday School teacher, school volunteer, soccer mom -- juggling life's joys and frustrations. Talk about personal challenges! I hope to use this blog as an outlet for my frustrations and a proclamation of my joys as I tackle all the challenges I face in life.

One of my favorite Bible verses that helps me get through the hard times and relates to racing is also imprinted on my Road ID:

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

Monday, December 12, 2011

Be Prepared, part 2

So, my last post inspired me to blog some more about being prepared. This time, it is going to be more run-focused. I have to start with the Advent wreath, though. We have an Advent wreath that sits in the middle of our dining room table (pictured above), and we light it every night for dinnertime. My kids made clay Advent wreaths in Sunday School last Sunday, and of course, they all ask why one candle is pink. So, as I do every year, I looked it up. In case you didn't know or have just forgotten, here is the meaning of each candle:

1st Candle (purple or blue): The Prophecy Candle or Candle of Hope -- We can have hope because God is faithful to us and will keep the promises made to us

2nd Candle (purple or blue): The Bethlehem Candle or Candle of Preparation -- God kept his promise of a Savior who would be born in Bethlehem. Preparation means to "get ready." "Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight paths for Him." Luke 3:4

3rd Candle (pink): The Shepherd Candle or Candle of Joy -- The angels sang a message of Joy! "I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all
the people" Luke 2:11

4th Candle (purple or blue): The Angel Candle or Candle of Love -- God sent his own Son to earth to save us because He loves us!

5th candle (white): Christ Candle -- It reminds us that Jesus is the spotless lamb of God, sent to wash away our sins!

Whether you think of these things week by week during Advent or all together, it doesn't matter. These are the important things to remember. This is what the Christmas season is all about. I'm so glad my kids asked because it was a reminder to me as well as them what to focus on. We must not only focus on these things at Christmastime, though. I struggle with trusting that God knows what he is doing. So, that first candle reminds me that He keeps his promises. I have a reason to hope. Trying to make the decision about coaching was tough for me because I kept doubting. God was calling me to do it, but I still kept doubting. Now, I know I can have hope because He will keep His promise to support me in that calling. When I read Joshua, that was the theme over and over again -- Be courageous, God will fight for you, He will keep His promises.

Then comes the preparation. I think this is what we focus on most during the Christmas season and really all year round. We are always "getting ready" for something. I often get caught up in preparations, especially when someone is coming over. I have to make sure the house is just right. Why? I have to step back sometimes and remember that I am not here to please man. I am always preparing for something, though. Usually it is a race. More about that later.

Then comes the joy part. This is something I discovered recently about myself. I do not like cleaning the house. I do not like doing laundry. I do not like a lot of things that stay at home moms do, though that is my "job" that I chose. (Those things I already knew) I would get discouraged and frustrated because I would put those things off, then I'd get overwhelmed because the house was a mess and I'd take it out on my family, etc.... I discovered that I needed to find joy in doing those things to bless my family. I was looking at it all wrong. I am blessing my family by doing those things. I have recently recruited my daughters to fold laundry, and they actually like doing it (for now), which has been a HUGE help!

Last is Love. I know that God loves me just the way I am. Sometimes I have to remind myself when my clothes don't fit just right or my face is broken out, but lately I've been reminded by those around me who don't seem to know that. There are so many women concerned about their image. They must wear the right clothes, have their hair done, be the perfect weight, own the right purse and the right car. They must get their nails done and always have the perfect house. I used to just get frustrated and downright envious of those who appeared to have it all together. God has helped me to see what's really important. Unfortunately, because I'm seeing people in a different light, I've now started judging, so now I'm working on that. ;) I'm praying for those people, not that they are bad people, but I pray that they know that God loves them no matter what.

So, back to the preparation part since that just seems to be the focus. I'm currently training for my second marathon with my friend, Jen. The training is going quite well. We are doing more mileage than last time (we're up to 33 miles per week), and we're feeling really good about the race. We just ran 20 miles last week and will run 2 more really long runs of 22 and 24 over the next month. I know from experience and from coaching some people and talking to people that training to 20 miles isn't enough for your first few marathons, even though many plans stop at 20. It kind of depends on how much time you have as well. We would rather run more miles than more times per week. The plan we are using also stops at 20, but I revised it. I keep praying that we both stay healthy (no injuries!) and that we have good weather on race day. Those are the only two things that could prevent us from having a great race. When you prepare for so long for a race, you just really want it to be perfect. I have a really hard time handing it over to God, though. I'm a planner, so I will obsess about the weather for 10 days before the race (even though the weather in Texas changes every 5 minutes) as if I can change it. I will calculate and re-calculate our paces for the race and for training. I'll overanalyze what to wear. I think and over think everything! It is ridiculous! I'm sure Jen is glad I do all this planning and thinking so she doesn't have to. ;) The thing is, Jen always beats me. We do the same training, the same preparation, but she beats me, even if just by a few seconds (though the marathon was by a lot more). We are both competitive even though we are friends and training partners. We will never hold each other back in a race, though. We always start together, but we almost never finish together. It's o.k., but it would be nice to actually finish with her this year. If I don't, that's o.k. I'm pretty used to it now (she is 3 years younger than me, and therefore, faster). ;)

Jen and I after our first marathon

Training and preparing for a marathon or any event takes perseverance (pushing on the harder and longer runs), dedication (running even in the cold and rain), and faith. Faith that we can do this. Faith that God will help us succeed. I have decided to do an Ironman in May 2013. I have not yet laid out a year long plan yet, but it is rough in my head. I prayed about this race because a year ago I said there was no way I was doing one. That's because I was going to do an Ironman for the wrong reasons. I do think God is calling me to train for and complete an Ironman in a year and a half, and I have faith I can do it! It will definitely take LOTS of preparation. I need to make sure I allow God to make my plan for me, though. :)

Having hope, joy, and love are part of being a Christian. Those are the things God gives us, but we must remember to prepare our hearts to receive these things and give back to those around us. I must remember to find joy in the little things and not lose hope that can happen because God loves me no matter what!

Be Prepared

It's been a while since I blogged. Just short on time and inspiration, I guess. So, here's a quick update. I have decided to get certified as a triathlon coach through an online program. My plan is to do that in January. I already have some prospective clients, which is great. I'm not going to worry about it until then because I have more important things to do right now!

It's that time of year again -- Christmas!!! I love Christmas. Every year, I get stressed and bogged down trying to get everything done. This year has been a bit different, though. Almost all my gifts are bought. The ones that are here (I order everything online) are wrapped and under the tree. The Christmas cards are ordered, though I still need to write the letter and print the labels. I have a couple packages to mail, but that should get done in the next day or two. I have baking to do, but a lot of it can be done next week when the kids are out of school. Of course, we have holiday parties this week and Polar Express Day and all kinds of fun activities for the kids at school. Holiday preparations can be fun, especially with a little holiday music in the background. I even had time to snap a few photos of our family's Christmas preparations and included them in this blog.

My kids love to help decorate the house -- the garland, the tree, the advent calendars and wreaths all come out, and they get so excited. They love all the "traditions."

My son bugged me non-stop for a week about putting the lights up because our neighbors had theirs up already! I let the kids do a lot of the decorating. They each have a tree in their rooms as well. It's just lots of fun for us, and I just do a little at a time. Do I sound too calm just 12 days from Christmas Eve?

Be prepared. I know what it means to be prepared here on this earth (even as we count down the days until Christmas), but what does it mean to be prepared in God's eyes? I honestly don't know that we can ever be fully prepared for anything since we don't know what is to come. If Jesus walked in my front door right now, I know I would probably faint! (or I might scream) But being prepared for the coming of Christ is different. We are to prepare our hearts and minds. What does that mean? During this Christmas season, think about preparing your hearts and minds for the love of God. Accept what He has in store for you, even if you don't feel prepared.

I think this season has gone more smoothly for me because I just haven't gotten wrapped up in everything being perfect and I've asked God to guide me. I've asked Him to make my to-do list. I'm prepared for Him to be in charge. Inviting God into your heart and asking Him to be a part of everything you do is part of what it means to be prepared. God will prepare you.

As you prepare and anticipate Jesus' birth, find some peace within the hustle and bustle of this world by just talking to God and asking Him to be your guide, just as the star guided the shepherds and wise men to Jesus. Trust that star. I hope you have a blessed season.

Linking up with Jen and the Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood at Finding Heaven Today:

and journeytoepiphany in her Picture Scavenger Hunt:

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Purpose and Perspective and Giving It Up

So many things racing through my head right now. Not sure where to even start. This whole identity subject has come up several times in different ways throughout this past week after I wrote my last blog about it. So, I'm just going to throw my thoughts out there.

I think the question of identity is coming up because that is something I am struggling with. I need to know who I am before I can go forward with what I will become. So, I wrote my blog last week about what your identity is. Then, in Sunday School (our Rector's class), we were talking about money. It started with the story where the rich man essentially tells Jesus he has done everything right as far as following the commandments to get to heaven. Jesus tells him he must sell all of his possessions and that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to be accepted into the Kingdom of God. It makes you really think. You start to think, "Well, he was REALLY rich. That's not me." So, our priest asked us what our non-negotiables are. What are the things we would not give up. Lots of answers came up, and we discussed the true meaning of this story and how Jesus isn't asking us to give up everything and how money can be a good thing if used in the right way, but it also made us think. One man got up and said that we basically have to define our identity. If we gave everything up would we lose our identity? I think in this world, the answer is yes. I'm not just talking about tangible things like houses, and cars, and college educations. I'm talking about how we spend our time as well, like exercising, spending time with friends, going on vacations, knitting, volunteering, and all the other things that make up our livelihood.

So, I've been thinking about this identity crisis I'm having from different perspectives. What is my identity from God's perspective? What does God want me to be? I need to look at it from His perspective because that's really what I want to be. I want to please Him. So, I started by listing things I know about God. Then, I listed things I know about me. Last, I was going to list things God considers part of my identity or would like to be part of my identity. This part was the hard part. I'm able to list things, but fear keeps me from making some of those things part of my identity. I keep telling myself that I should tell people I am a coach, regardless if I have certification or not, but I feel like I have to have some sort of certification to really introduce myself that way. God doesn't care if I have certification, though. My mind gets in the way. Fear and doubt set in. Insecurity gets the best of me, so I don't consider that as part of my identity. Just like those "runners" who don't say they are runners. God doesn't expect perfection, but I tend to expect if of myself.

Don't get me wrong. I know this is what I should do. I also know that I would be good at it. I'm not insecure about being able to coach people. I've already done that successfully. I'm insecure about the unknowns like how to get clients, whether people will find me qualified, whether people will like me, whether I'll make money, whether my business will become what I picture it becoming, whether I'll have time without sacrificing family time too much, etc... Most of these things don't matter to God, though.

So, I'm struggling because I'm a stay at home mom. That is something I feel God called me to do. Now, all my kids are in school, so I'm feeling like my mom job is less than full time. I'm still doing that job, but I have more free time. I can do my runs during the week so that I can spend more time with my family on the weekends and after school. I struggled because of the college degree I got and am not using anymore. I often wonder what the purpose of that was, but I think I have a better idea now. I know I have the gift of teaching. That is a gift I have used in many ways through my life and continue to use to this day. Coaching would be another avenue of teaching that I can explore. I also plan our VBS program at our church. That is something I feel God called me to do as well. I'm just struggling with my purpose. I can think of lots of "purposes," but what is my SOLE purpose? Is there one?

I think I have to pray about this some more. God has told me to read the book of Joshua again. I'll let you know what comes of that. For now, I have to keep thinking about that rich man. Jesus asked him to give up everything. I feel rich at times, and I have to stop and think of what I can do to serve God. I think I can at least try to do what he's calling me to do, even if it is scary and unpredictable and might end in failure. I have some ideas about my business, so hopefully they will pan out. I have to get away from the money and just think about the people I will be serving through my coaching. I think that's what Jesus was really telling us through that rich man.

Think about your identity from God's perspective. What is He calling you to do? What are you willing to give up to accomplish God's identity for you?

This song sums up what I'm feeling lately. I have this song in my running playlist, and I love when it comes on during a long run. It is just a good reminder that God is always there, and we can do all things through Him.

Anything by Natalie Grant

I'm feeling undone,
Just a little lost in place,
A little insecure,
With this mountain in my face.
I am supposed to fly,
But I can't get my feet up off the ground,
I need You Lord to turn me around!

I may never be a star,
But I close my eyes and there You are!
You simply say to me that I can do,
I can do anything!
I may never walk the ocean blue,
But I know that I can talk to You!
I believe that with my trust in You,
I can do anything!

Not even past go,
And I'm already behind.
Now I've got to learn to see
Beyond what's in my mind!
Ready or not it's calling.
Now it's time to take a stand,
I can do anything when I'm holding your hand!


When I start to walk on my own,
Everything gets magnified,
And I don't feel qualified.
When I can't believe what I see,
I know that I can find you on my knees!
And you remind me


Linking up with Jen:

Friday, October 14, 2011

What is Your Identity?

Are you a runner?

As a runner, I hear that question a lot. It is either asked of me or I am asking. What's funny are the answers. It sounds like a yes or no question, but as with many yes or no questions, I will hear yes, no, and everything in between. So, I obviously would answer this question with a definitive "Yes!" and probably go on to ask the same question back and end up in a whole conversation about how I started running (that is another blog altogether!). My running and triathlete friends would answer it the same. My non-running and non-athletic friends who can't run more than 5 mins. would obviously answer the question with a definitive no. Then, there are all those in between. Some will say, "I'm a jogger" (what does that mean?) or "I'm not fast" or "I run some" or "I can only run 3 miles" or "I used to run" and on and on. I find it interesting because it really was a yes or no question. Why all the other answers...or... "disclaimers"?

There is some debate among runners as to what makes a runner a runner. Are "jogging" and "running" really different? Some will say you have to run a certain number of times or miles per week to really be a runner. Or you have to run a certain pace to be a runner. So, I asked myself, what makes a runner a runner? There are different categories of runners. There are competitive runners, like me, who train regularly toward specific races. Then, there are recreational or casual runners who just run for fitness. These runners may be fast or slow runners. In my mind, it doesn't matter, but some will say the slow ones are joggers. What is jogging? Is jogging not running? Well, technically, if at any moment both your feet are off the ground, you are running. In fact, here is a definition from Wikipedia: a gait in which at regular points during the running cycle both feet are off the ground. So what is jogging? According to Wikipedia, jogging is a form of trotting or running at a slow or leisurely pace. OK, so it's settled. Jogging is running slowly. It's still running (since I have no idea how a human can trot)! I'm glad I settled that debate once and for all. ;)

So, why do people who run not all respond with a yes? I think it has to do with our identity and how we view ourselves. Running is part of my identity like so many other things I do. I think new runners or people who don't run as often or as fast either don't feel running is a part of who they are or they are afraid the person asking is going to judge them based on their running ability. They have inserted another word into the question in their head.

What is your identity? There are many questions about our identity that we may answer yes or no or somewhere in between. Even when we answer yes, do we add a disclaimer to our answer? Do we feel we are answering truthfully if we don't? It depends on who is judging. The question about being a runner or not has a grey area only because we make it grey. We judge others and ourselves. I think God would see it as black or white. For example, Are you a mother? Well, that question is pretty black and white to us. Either you are or not. Most people would agree if you have children, biological or adopted, then you are a mother. What if we change it by adding just one word: Are you a GOOD mother? That changes things a bit.

Are you a Christian? Just like the mother question, this one is pretty black and white. If you have accepted Jesus as your savior, then technically, you are a Christian. Add that word, though: Are you a GOOD Christian? Now you've made it grey. What's funny, though, is that word is not usually in the original question. Like the question, Are you a runner? it seems we have added that word in our head (because that's obviously what she REALLY meant to ask). If someone asks if you are a Christian, but you don't go to church, you will often add that disclaimer to your yes answer. Why?

So, to be a Christian, we don't have to go to church and do good deeds and read our Bibles, BUT if we want it to be part of our identity, we need to do these things. God is a forgiving and gracious God, but he does desire a relationship with us. Living out the Christian life and working to know Him makes it become part of who we are, just like being a mother or a runner. It doesn't make us better, but it makes us who we really are. If you run regularly and work toward becoming a better runner, you will answer the question, Are you a runner? with a YES! If you work hard to be a good mother and do what's best for your children, then you will believe you are a good mother. Christianity is the same. You have to practice it and work toward knowing God and becoming a better person, then it becomes a part of who you are.

So think about your identity and who you are. What are some words that describe you? What are some words you would LIKE to use to describe you without a "disclaimer"? How can you make those words part of your identity? It may be something concrete. For example, I would like to be an Ironman. So, I need to do an Ironman triathlon. Simple. It may be something less concrete, something grey. You can make it more black and white to you by working hard at it. Try to see yourself as God sees you, not as the world sees you. After all, God is the ultimate judge. Everything does not have to be black or white, but the closer we are to that, the more we will identify with the traits and identities we use to characterize ourselves. The more we are in a relationship with God, the less His character will be grey to us as well.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Why We Do the Things We Do

As parents, we will do anything for our children. Not all of us are going to train to do an Ironman carrying our grown child the entire way like Dick Hoyt does (see 10/4/11 blog post), but we make sacrifices everyday for our children. Big or small, it doesn't matter. As mothers, we all have those things we go all out for. Some delve into scrapbooking, others volunteer endless hours at the school, and some spend every cent they have (and some they don't) on doctor's appointments and therapy to make their child well. For me, it's birthday parties and Halloween costumes. All our birthday parties have a theme, and I search the internet endlessly for ideas. My children's friends can't wait for our birthday parties. We always have our parties at our houseand make it fun for everyone. I just really like to make not only the birthday child special, but every child who comes to the party should also feel special. We don't invite a huge crowd, only their closest friends. This is my philosophy on birthday parties, and I always feel I am blessing each child that walks through the door. It is not about looking good for other people. It is for my children.

Our Halloween costumes are usually pretty unique, and they are homemade, of course. Last year, I made a dragonfly, turtle, and bat costume (photo above). I also made my husband and daughter the tortoise and the hare for the Capitol 10,000 race in March of this year. Making a tortoise costume than one can run in is not an easy feat!!! So, Halloween is upon us, and I'm to make a jellyfish costume (that glows), a shark costume, and an owl costume. My kids and I try to spend as little money as possible by using things we have around the house. It's a challenge for us. It is really fun and gets them thinking about conservation. Sometimes, it doesn't work, but we try. This year, I've already spent hours looking for ideas on the internet. I'll spend more time trying to find the materials needed to make these costumes and yet more time actually making the costumes. Why do I do this? It makes my kids happy. Of course, the whole neighborhood waits to see what our costumes will be each year. I love to make every neighbor smile when they open that door. I loved that the people running that race would smile or laugh when they got passed by a tortoise (my husband and my daughter are fast runners). It isn't about pride. I don't do it so everyone will think I'm the best mom in the world (well, I want my kids to think that). I do it only for my children. For their happiness. And even when I've gotten 3 hours of sleep 3 nights in a row (as I did for the Harry Potter birthday party), I still do it joyfully.

So why is it so hard to do things joyfully for God?

I can't say that everything I do is not about me and all about blessing others. Far from it! I really like instant gratification. So, when I do something for God to make Him happy, it is hard for me to see the result sometimes, especially if it doesn't benefit me in some way. I have to ask myself why I am doing something to be sure it is not just for me. Recently, in our Rector's Sunday School class, he has been talking about a study done on the perception of Christians by 18-29 year olds. This study was done just a few years ago. They asked them what they desired most in life. The top two answers were wealth and fame. Wow. Fame? I honestly would have never given that answer, even in my 20s. That was the exact word they used. Fame. I thought the American Dream was to get married and have kids and work hard so you can have a happy life and retire comfortably. Apparently, not anymore. Now, it's to be on American Idol or to get rich and famous without doing much of anything. Times have certainly changed. So, I say I would have never given the answer fame, but I do think we all desire to be well-liked by our peers. So, it isn't hard to do something that makes us look good. It is hard to do something that makes God look good, but does nothing for our self-image in the eyes of man. There are times when we do things for our own glory and not God's.

So, about a year ago, I completed my second Half-Ironman. After that race I swore I was not doing another one for a long time, and I had even pushed out the possibility of doing an Ironman. Completing an Ironman has been a dream of mine for some time. After that race, though, I felt defeated. Even though I improved my time, it wasn't good enough for me. It was a hard race. I wasn't prepared for all those hills on the run. Well, I've been thinking about that race and about my future as a triathlon coach, and I think I'm supposed to do that race again next October and then go on to complete an Ironman in May 2013. My training partner, Brian, has pushed me toward this decision a bit. He completed his first Ironman this year (that's him finishing in the photo above). When he told me, "It was easier than the Half-Ironman," I laughed. Then I heard that same thing from someone else. Then, I knew that Brian was planning to do it again in 2013 and "needed a training partner." I know the training will be hard and take up lots of my time, but I know I can do it and complete one of the hardest races in the world. The reason I didn't want to do it before is because I felt I was only doing it to say I've done an Ironman and get the tattoo. I was doing it for me. I wanted the recognition and the pat on the back, so to speak. I have a different purpose now. I need to do it so that I will have the experience and knowledge to share with my future clients. I need to do it to show them that they too can complete an Ironman. I need to do it to show them that even when you have a bad race, you can learn from it and go back and do better next time. I need to do it so they can see that I didn't give up on my dream. I know this time God wants me to just go for it. So, when my friend Jen asked me, "Do you REALLY want to do a race that long?" I said yes. Honestly, it scares me a little bit. I don't know if I REALLY want to do a race that long, but I feel like it's something God is asking me to do. The race itself doesn't scare me because I know if I train I'll do fine (I always do). All the training I'm going to have to do scares me. I'm worried about burning out and not seeing my family as much. I just have to have faith that He'll bring me through.

"Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Finding Contentment

I'll just put it all out there. That's the bike I want. That's a triathlon bike. It's the 2012 Women's Cannondale Slice 105. It's not the fanciest one you can buy, but it's also not the cheapest one you can buy. To put it in perspective, it costs 2 mortgage payments. The pros often ride on bikes 4-5x that, though. The 2012 came out recently, so I went to the website to check it out. Unlike cars, bikes don't come in your choice of color. They come in one or two colors, then the colors change with the next model. I'm a bit picky about color. I don't want a bike like everyone else's (black, red, or white). I really think a bike should fit your personality. Waiting year after year for the right color seems silly, but I've waited. Not just for the color, but for it to be the right time. In fact, I haven't even test ridden this particular bike (I've REALLY restrained myself), but I'm pretty sure it's going to be the perfect fit. So, imagine my elation when I saw that the 2012 bike was the color scheme I REALLY wanted! Sa-weet!!!! OK God, you're telling me to buy a tri bike now, right?

I really wish it was that simple.

You see, we can afford this bike. Even though we are planning a trip to DisneyWorld in February AND we just paid for a trip to Boston so my husband can run the Boston Marathon in April. Even though we did a major renovation in 2010 and have to make payments toward that for the next 10 years. Even though we are paying for soccer and races and triathlon coach certification and endless clothes the kids have outgrown.... the list goes on and on. It's not about whether we have the money because I know we can find the money somewhere. It's about contentment.

We live in a world of wants. I'm just as guilty, if not more so, than the next guy. I want a tri bike. I want a TV for our gameroom. I want new bedroom furniture. I want someone to clean my house weekly. I want new cabinets and granite countertops in my kitchen. I want a new coffee table. I want my Master bedroom painted and decorated. I want the pile of bamboo flooring in my garage to be installed perfectly overnight by the bamboo installing elves. OK, so that's probably never going to happen! We all have our list. Our "wish list." We also have the "to do" list. How do we find contentment? I ask myself all the time. Am I content with what I have? Why or why not? I seem to always want something, whether it be a material item or just wanting something done. Why? Because I see the world around me, and I'm comparing.

Everyone says we will never be content. That's the world talking, though. What is enough? If we have a relationship with Jesus, that should really be enough, right? That sounds so simple. Then enters Satan. I ask myself if I got everything done I wanted to get done and was able to buy all the things I want to buy, would I be content? Then, I ask myself if I had more than anyone I knew, would I be content? The answer most days would probably be no. Yes, really. Don't get me wrong, I am content in many areas of my life. I am so blessed. I really cannot complain about my life. I live in a nice big house in the suburbs of Austin (best city anywhere) with a wonderful husband and 3 beautiful children and I get to stay home and not work and still have all of this. I am healthy and exercise, and apparently, I'm among the 4% of women who would say they are beautiful. I have wonderful friends and enjoy life to the fullest. I'm happy. Isn't that the American Dream? It may be, but God has a different dream for us, and it doesn't include houses, or cars, or clothing, or appearances, or even tri bikes. (Can you believe that?) It doesn't mean we can't buy things for ourselves, but we should make sure we are content with only Jesus first. We must listen and sometimes wait on the Lord. Instead, I tend to focus on the things I don't have only because I know other people who do have those things. I want them now. That is the enemy trying to steal my happiness!! He knows how to get to us. He tempts us and tells us we can have these things which leads us to be envious of those who do have those things. So, how do we know our wants and desires are not a blessing from God? We have to step back and see if obtaining that thing will bless ourself or others or if it will instead instill pride in ourselves and make us want to boast. If it blesses, then that's God telling us to do it. If not, then we might think twice.

God has been working on me in this area. I've finally begun to let go of the worldly wants and just be content in Him. It doesn't mean I don't still want a tri bike (after all, don't I NEED it if I'm going to be a triathlon coach?), but it means when I do finally get one, it will be a blessing from God, not just something I got because I can and because the pressures of the world said I need it because EVERYONE has one. I've been listening and waiting for the right time. I'm wondering if taking the step to become a coach might have been the key. MAYBE that color thing is a sign. If not, I'll just have to be content with my awesome blue road bike. I have been for 5 years. We'll just have to see how God plays this one out. I might just have to go for a test ride and see what happens. :)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

I Can Do ALL Things Through Christ?

We read it and hear it all the time. That scripture from Philippians 4:13 that is supposed to enable us to do anything: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
It sounds so simple. Just believe that, and you can do anything. It is true, but there is always that one thing. We will say I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me except_______.
Yes, that thing. I can't do that thing.

The "except" is not there, but we put it there. God makes no exceptions. There are things that we just think are too big or too complicated or just too scary. Nothing is too big for God, though. When He says ALL He means ALL. I have to keep repeating that verse in my head when I'm making a big decision. A decision that might be life-changing. I have little faith sometimes that it's all going to work out. The enemy will put the negative thoughts in my head. Of course God has a plan, but I'm a planner. I want to have control. I want to see the grand plan, but I can't. Even if we have little faith, He will come through. God said if you just have the faith of a mustard seed. Wow. That's REALLY little. If we just have a little bit of faith, He will help us grow our faith. We can only do that if we are listening to Him, though. We cannot allow the enemy to interfere. The enemy can sound just like God, and he will do anything to keep us from hearing God. The enemy puts the "except" at the end of that verse.

So, this whole triathlon coach leap of faith thing scares me (of course, that fear is the enemy, not God). It doesn't scare me because I have to provide for my family. It scares me because I don't want to fail. It's all about pride. I'm learning to put the pride aside and just do what God is telling me to do. I may have the faith of a mustard seed sometimes, but God helps my faith grow. He does that through people in my life. I call them my earthly cheerleaders. God is my biggest cheerleader, but it helps to have cheerleaders here on earth to keep us focused, get us through the hard times, help us make those big decisions or just say the right thing at the right time. Sometimes our children are our cheerleaders. We often do things for them or because of them. For some reason, those things are easier to do. Right now, my kids are not my cheerleaders. They are at times, but not now. Right now, my husband and my friend, Jen, are my biggest supporters and encouragers through this decision. They both tell me I'd be so good at coaching. They tell me what I should do. I even read things like the membership in USAT has increased 300% over the past 10 years. Why is it so hard then?

On my easy run this morning, I was thinking about the verse from Philippians. I was thinking about REALLY hard things I know people have done. Things that I know they thought impossible at the time. The first one that came to mind was Team Hoyt (picture above). If you don't know anything about Team Hoyt, watch this video. There are other videos if you google it, but this one gives the background then shows the video to the music "I Can Only Imagine" that brings me to tears every time. Make sure you have a box of tissues close by. Even though they state it in the video, I wanted to reiterate: an Ironman triathlon is 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile run. I hope to complete one in 2013 (that's another blog altogether), and it will probably take me 13-14 hours. I can't imagine completing one while pulling/pushing another person!

I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me.

Monday, October 3, 2011


No, I haven't fallen off the face of the earth. Life happened and blogging wasn't at the top of the list. So, why blog now? Well, I have my reasons, but the biggest one is just that God is speaking and I'm listening, and I'd like to share.

First, I'll summarize what's gone on with me over the past year. I am going somewhere with this. Back in the spring, I started a triathlon training group for the Danskin Triathlon. This wasn't a group I got paid to coach, but instead, it was sort of my way of getting my feet wet. So, I had a meeting and started a Facebook group and
e-mail list. I had some that wanted to do the tri and others who just wanted motivation to work out. Most of the women were new to triathlon. So, I'd e-mail out the weekly workouts and give everyone encouragement. It ended up being really fun, even though I only had about 5 women actually compete in the tri that we were training for. There were a couple who really got pumped up, though, and went on to do several other tris. That excited me! I was also excited that I placed 3rd in my age group at Danskin, which was a first for me, and I really surprised myself. In the midst of all this coaching and training, I planned and put on my twin daughters' 10th birthday party. They wanted a Harry Potter party, so I went all out. It was the best party ever! That will be a future post because I promised several people I'd blog about it. ;) So, I continued through the summer training and racing in 4 triathlons. It was a REALLY HOT SUMMER for triathlons. I survived, though.

So, that brings us to now, the fall. I'm now training for a marathon, and I have been thinking about beginning coaching or personal training for a while now. I've prayed about it, and God keeps telling me to wait. Then, my youngest child started kindergarten this fall. That's when it started. The questions...."So are you going to get a job now?" "What are you going to do all day?" Etc.... Those of you who are stay at home moms and have all your kids in school know EXACTLY what I'm talking about. Even though I had PLENTY to do at home (everything that got put off for 10 years), I was feeling the push and this urgency to get a job. I wanted to get my coaching started NOW.

Wait. You don't really need the money.

There were things I wanted to buy, like a new tri bike, granite countertops, and bedroom furniture.

Wait. You don't need those things.

I thought I was going to miss an opportunity with running season coming up. I wanted to get started before tri season starts so I can get clients, etc... I didn't really want to travel to a clinic for certification, though, I started to consider doing that.

Wait. Your opportunity will come.

I kept looking for ways to get some sort of certification so that I could get liability insurance and start coaching. There were no running coach clinics listed on the website, so I signed up to get e-mailed when they posted new clinics. There were no USAT (USA Triathlon) clinics anywhere near me either, and they didn't have much posted for 2012. I thought about personal training, which is something I could do on my own, but it would take 6 months and cost the same, and that just isn't what I wanted to do.

Wait. Don't settle.

I was tired of waiting!! Please just tell me, God! Then, I realized that this wasn't something that had to happen right now. It wasn't as if my family depended on me earning money. I haven't worked in 10 years. What's another few months?
So, I finally surrendered and decided it would happen when it was supposed to happen. Then, I get an e-mail that 3 running clinics were posted. All three of them are in Texas. This was my opportunity. I talked to my husband about it, and he thought I should do it. I hesitated for a day and thought about it. Then, one of the clinics had already sold out. I was feeling pressure to sign up before the others sold out. I'm not great at doing things without LOTS of research. I'm a planner. I looked into the certification and saw that the liability insurance would not cover triathlon. So, again I felt I was at a dead end and should

This is it.

I felt that tug. There was a reason those clinics came up in Texas. What are the chances that the clinics that came up would be in Texas. They could have been anywhere in the US! I got the e-mail. It was like an e-mail from God saying "Go For It!" So, I did a quick google search for "triathlon coach certification". Of course, the USAT site
came up but so did another one -- International Triathlon Coaching Association (ITCA). They have a 32 day online certification. I wouldn't have to travel or get a hotel or wait until next year! Ultimately, I want to get the USAT certification, but this would be very good information, and it would get me my liability insurance so I can start coaching running and triathlon.

So, I still haven't signed up, but I don't feel rushed. I feel like I can wait until the time is exactly right. God will tell me when. I feel so much more at peace. I really hate to be pushed into something or feel like I'm rushing into something. I'm also still trying to figure everything out, but I know God is going to guide me and bring me
clients. For now, I'll continue to coach my friends for free because I am passionate and care about them.

Waiting. We spend so much of our lives waiting. We wait in line at the grocery store, we wait in traffic, we wait for our paycheck, we wait for an e-mail or a phone call, we wait for that package in the mail, we wait at the doctor's office, we wait on the phone on hold, we wait, wait, and wait some more. I don't know anyone who LIKES to wait, whether we are waiting for something we want or don't want. We just don't like to wait. Just tell me!! I've found that the way we feel about waiting all depends on what we are doing while we are waiting. If we are waiting passively, we feel like our time is being wasted. If we can wait actively (even if it means doing dishes while on hold with Samsung to get the microwave fixed), we feel a little better about the waiting, but we still don't like it. We feel stuck. Is God really wasting our time by making us wait? Do we need to find something to do while waiting on God? I think God wants us to wait actively. I think usually He just wants us to listen. He is trying to tell us something. How many times do we just get frustrated waiting and tune Him out, though? I feel like He's saying, "If you will just wait and listen in the waiting, I'll give you the answer!" It wasn't until I listened and stopped getting frustrated with the waiting that He gave me the answer I was waiting for. Now, I have a whole bunch more questions, but those can wait.

Linking up with Jen: