Posts filed under Running and Ruminating

Music To Run To #5

On Labor Day my husband and I decided to run in our local holiday road races, the 10k and 5k Franklin Classic. Since we have a 4 year old daughter who is not quite a runner yet, we chose to each run one of the races so that we could take turns watching her while the other was sweating it out in their race. I do a bit more running than my husband so I decided to run the 10k and he decided to do the 5k. The night before I sleepily put together what I hoped would be a good running playlist for the 6.2 mile race and then quickly forgot what I had chosen as I fell asleep. The 4:45 AM race day wake up call came fast and soon I found myself standing at the starting line, the definition of bleary-eyed. Well, well, well...let me just say this, the play list I put together the night before was

AWESOME!

It was running playlist royalty and as a result of my upbeat mood and excitement after I finished the 10k, I decided to also run the 5k while pushing my 40 pound daughter in her 40 pound stroller alongside my husband.

This has led me to todays blog. You need this playlist, I just know it. I hope you enjoy (Please remember: I like weird music).

1. White Rabbits- Heavy Metal(I stumbled onto this album and band. I still don’t know anything about them but their album has not left my running playlist) 2. Broken Bells- The Ghost Inside 3. Ellie Goulding- Lights 4. Chairlift- Amanaemonesia (I can’t even pronounce this song but it doesn’t stop me from trying to sing along while I am running) 5. Imagine Dragons- It’s Time 6. St. Vincent- Actor Out Of Work (Can’t beat this beat and the guitar solo makes me grin…She.Is.So.Good) 7. Deadmau5- Some Chords (9 and a half minutes of four on the floor awesomeness) 8. Santigold- GO! 9. Miike Snow- Silvia (I made my husband listen to this song the other day and thought I would see him smile and bobbing his head like I do when I listen to it but he only grinned politely, once again reminding me that what I like is NOT necessarily what other people like…maybe I shouldn’t have made him listen to all 9 minutes of it…I couldn’t help it. I love it.) 10. Metric- Youth Without Youth (It’s gotta be impossible to run slow to this song)

Let me know if any of these songs make it into your own workout or running playlists and what you think about them in there. Also let me know what new songs you have found making you pick up the tempo in your own playlists. I love discovering new music so put them in the comment section below.

Yippee for good music!

Posted on September 9, 2012 and filed under Anything and Everything, Music To Run To, Running and Ruminating.

Never Underestimate How Weak You Are

The other day I was doing push ups and realized I think I am much stronger than I actually am.

ugh.

I have had this same revelation again a while back when I spied a box in the garage that was in my way. I bent over (in the most incorrect box lifting form) and tried to pick it up and move it. Well, it was very heavy, so I stood back up, gathered myself and then squatted down again (the correct box lifting form this time) in another attempt to move the box. I got the box moved, but once again I looked at my body in disbelief at it's weakness.

I have always been strong. This is what I tell myself, but have I really? Or has my brain just automatically filled itself up with delusions? Has my brain attempted to make reality out of what I want to be rather than, well, reality? Even when I am my most fit, strongest self I have always been caught thinking I am stronger than I really am (usually I realize my mistaken perception while doing something like carrying a 240 pound freakishly large piece of musical equipment up a flight of stairs with my husband on the other end).

I can't help but notice that this kind of thought pattern has been seen within my spiritual life as well. There are moments where I have been crushed beneath the weight of some life problem and I feel my mouth drop in awe that I was so weak. I will find myself thinking, "This shouldn't have affected me like this! I thought I was spiritually stronger than this!"

I am starting to find that these are the moments when actual strengthening occurs because strength is developed in the tension, the repetitive push and pull.

If I don't know where I am weak (perhaps my arm muscles-physically OR my prayer life-spiritully) then I don't know where I need to focus my strengthening attention.

BUT, knowing that I should be fit doesn't make me fit. Knowing that I need a prayer life doesn't make a prayer life. So when I see my weakness played out in my life then I must stand before the reality of my vulnerability and decide if I want to grow stronger, though it mostly likely means quite a bit of hard work, or remain weak, though it means a life of enslavement to inability. I even hate to use the word "inability" because that would imply that you could just have someone else with "ability" do the hard stuff for you, but, let me tell you, no one can live your spiritual life for you.

Not your parents.

Not your spouse.

Not your pastor.

Not your friend.

In Phillipians 2:12 it says,

"work out (cultivate, carry out to the goal, and fully complete) your own salvation with reverence and awe and trembling (self-distrust, with serious caution, tenderness of conscience, watchfulness against temptation, timidly shrinking from whatever might offend God and discredit the name of Christ)."

No one can do that for you.

We live in a world where it is becoming increasingly easy to ignore physical weakness. An extra 40 pounds and the racing pulse and shortness of breath that come with it are much easier to ignore with a world full of escalators instead of stairs, wheels on our luggage or children's backpacks, TV remotes instead of a physical knob on the TV, email instead of walking to the physical mailbox, shopping online instead of a physical store, and a great percentage of people who look/huff and puff in the exact same way, etc.

It is the same with the spiritual. We have the "verse of the day" pop into our email inbox instead of actually having to touch and crack open our bible itself, we use our iPhone bible app in church instead of actually bringing that bible to church, we read devo's from one of the popular devo writers instead of actually digging into the word and studying on our own with only the prompting of the Holy Spirit to lead us. Then we wonder why we are weak. Why temptation is so hard to fight. Why storms blow us over instead of blowing over us. Why the "race" of life we are supposed to be running is leaving us breathless and panting and hopeless.

Hebrews 12:1-2 says.

"Therefore then, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who have borne testimony to the Truth], let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us, Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus"

In order to throw aside the encumbrances (the weakness) of our lives we have to acknowledge them, we have to see them, we have to look down at those weak, untoned, flabby spiritual arms and belly and legs and admit that we are weaker than we let ourselves think we are.

We are more shallow,

We are meaner,

We are more bitter,

We are more gossipy,

We are angrier,

We lie more,

We cheat more,

We are more jealous,

We are more lustful, envious, gluttonous, manipulative, narcissistic, pessimistic, lazy, complacent, apathetic, and unloving than we think we are.

Ahhhh and ouch.

Once we can admit and truly see our weakness as it is then we can finally settle into the verse found in Hebrews 12:11-13

"For the time being no discipline brings joy, but seems grievous and painful; but afterwards it yields a peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it [a harvest of fruit which consists in righteousness—in conformity to God’s will in purpose, thought, and action, resulting in right living and right standing with God]. So then, brace up and reinvigorate and set right your slackened and weakened and drooping hands and strengthen your feeble and palsied and tottering knees, and cut through and make firm and plain and smooth, straight paths for your feet, so that the lame and halting [limbs] may not be put out of joint, but rather may be cured."

The strongest people are the ones who never underestimate how weak they are and as a result they are continually bracing up, reinvigorating, setting right, and strengthening their spiritual selves. As a result, when the wind blows, they stand firm. When the load is great, they do not crumple beneath it. When the race is long, they can endure it.

Only you can do this for yourself, so acknowledge your weaknesses and begin the work of strengthening.

Posted on September 5, 2012 and filed under Anything and Everything, Running and Ruminating.

Careening Downhill

The other day I was hiking. Up a steep, dirt and rock strewn path I walked, panting but smiling. I have to admit, I love the feeling of endurance activities. The burning ache in the chest, the being out of breath, the hovering on the edge of muscle failure and then the pushing beyond, beyond what my body thinks I could or should do. That’s why, when someone else might walk back down the trail, I ran. To walk would’ve been too easy. My body would have started to cool down, my heartbeat slowing instead of staying in the hurried rhythm that the one and a half mile incline had established, and I wasn’t ready for that yet.

So I leaned back, planted one foot firmly in front of the other and headed downhill, fast. Everything looked different than it had on the way up. Blurrier. All of a sudden there was a breeze in my face and there seemed to be more rocks and roots on the trail. More turns and fewer chances to look around at the scenery. Moving without tripping and careening downhill became the #1 priority and it was a priority I took seriously. The muscles in my legs twitched with each step I carefully placed so that I didn’t roll an ankle (I have done that before and did not want a repeat performance). I was concentrated and focused on the trail just before me, not too far out. There was no time for doubting or second guessing each step. I remember thinking that I shouldn’t look more than 1 step ahead or I would fall on the step I was presently taking. Then, boom, I thought about how similar this was to my life. There are moments when everything is moving slowly. I can look far ahead, I can easily turn my head and look back, I can even gaze over my shoulder at the scenery that I am passing without worrying too much about each and every step I am taking. I am thinking more of the entire path rather than the next footfall, but then sometimes life begins to speed up. Each pebble in the path becomes a large boulder. What seemed like a gradual incline becomes a steep descent. The horizon is no longer an acceptable gazing point and instead I am forced to change my focus to the limited view of what is just in front of me.

I would like to say that I am just as happy each time my life mimics my trail run but I am not, and I think I have discovered why. When I run, I enjoy the moments that make most people never put on a pair of running shorts again, because I know that I can do it. I have run far. I have run uphill and downhill, in rain or in the blazing heat of the day. I have run when I am sick and at my best health. I have rolled my ankle and been hit by a car (It may be better to say, “I have been bumped by a car”…wasn’t badly hurt, just shaken up mostly so don’t imagine some crazy movie scene here), both times I ran a couple of miles home a bit in shock before I noticed bruising. I have run short and long races. I ran through the first 7 months of my pregnancy and then while pushing a 40 pound kid in a 40 pound stroller…once again, uphill, downhill, in the rain…

I think you get the idea. I am a runner. My body knows, without having to do much thinking, how to run and do it efficiently. It knows when I can daydream and when I have to focus, but bigger and more important than that my brain knows. My brain knows that even though my muscles may be saying, “Enough!” and my lungs may be saying, “Quit! Slow down! You can’t do this!” my brain knows that I can. My brain knows the work that I have put into running the days and weeks before. My brain remembers that I am strong enough, that I am equipped.

My brain REMEMBERS that I can.

It is because of this that I smile when a run is hard or the terrain changes and becomes daunting, even if all I can see is the pinpoint of the trail in front of me. I grin because it is so amazing knowing that I can do it. I will make it and I will grow stronger, more confident and more experienced because of it. I will look back, happy, that I pushed through.

Have I put as much work into my spiritual life? Do I have the days and weeks, years of strengthening and confidence building that would lead to smiling during trials? What a weird thing. Perhaps this is what James, the half brother of Jesus, what talking about when he said

"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing....Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial..."

I am going to look back and REMEMBER the moments where I have spiritually encountered challenges and trials. Then I am going to REMEMBER how I persevered through those trials even though they sometimes seemed to be too much for me, like they would conquer me, leaving me permanently broken and bruised. I will REMEMBER that even when those moments seemed too much, moving too fast and I didn't know how long they would last or if I could make it to the end that my heart knew I could...

because

I have the same God who David did. The same God to whom David sang,

"From the end of the earth will I cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed and fainting; lead me to the rock that is higher than I [yes, a rock that is too high for me]."

Oh Lord let me remain steadfast when I am careening downhill.

Posted on August 22, 2012 and filed under Anything and Everything, Running and Ruminating.

Christian Music To Run To #2

It's that time again. Time for me to post my newest additions to my Christian music to run to playlist. Here are my thoughts about this playlist that I blogged on Christina Music To Run To #1:

"Running to an all Christian Music playlist can be dangerous. Perhaps it is only dangerous for music listeners like me, but let me tell you, if you add these songs to your running playlist and find yourself tripping over an unseen road hazard due to the fact that, instead of paying attention to what was in front of you, you were busy worshipping, don't blame me. I've warned you. But let's do this anyway. I am going to list my all time favorite songs that have been staples on my running playlist and then over time I will blog new running favorites songs that are creeping or bursting onto my playlist over the months."

I hope you find a few of these songs (if not all) are worth adding to your own playlist and they make your run as fun as mine! Enjoy...

1. Future Of Forestry- Love Be Your Mantra (Start your run with this song...it will be your best run in a long time.)

2. Hillsong Live- Beneath The Waters (There are songs that make me want to close my eyes in worship with a grin on my face because of the revelation of my Savior that they carry with them , this is one of those but I have been extremely carefully not to while running…hehee)

3. Hillsong Live- I Surrender (I am a sucker for a slow driving song, especially one that builds to an anthemic bridge.)

4. All Sons And Daughters- Oh Our Lord

5. Jesus Culture- One Thing Remains

6. Leeland- The Sound Of Melodies (Leeland had two songs on my last running playlist and since then I have gone back and listened to their first album. This is a song off of that first brilliant album but there are many that I could've chosen from.)

7. Aaron Strumple- Never Finished (Are you kidding me, I could be faint from hunger and sleep deprived but this song would still make me want to go run.)

8. Scott Cunningham Band- There May be Tears (I just got this album from Scott himself and saw his 15 year old daughter Madison sing this song live. Yes, she wrote this song by herself and yes I said 15 years old. When I was 15, the extent of my writing was writing in a diary. Yep a really cool early 90’s diary with a lock and key.)

9. Thad Cockrell- A Great Rejoicing

10. NEEDTOBREATHE- Keep Your Eyes Open (The first time I heard this song I was driving in my car and it came on the radio. I knew my husband was at home about to head out for a run. I immediately called him and told him to download it and put it on his running playlist. We both love it.)

11. Lovelite- Every Breath Is A Chance (The beat plus Jen's voice equals running heaven. Period.)

12. David Crowder- Oh My God (Foot stomping fun)

Do you think something is missing from this list? Well just add your own suggestions in the comment section below then ☺


No More Shouting Please

I'm at the zoo playground area and scanning my eyes back and forth, up and down for the chance to glimpse my daughter running from cargo net to slide, to wooden tower to bridge to swing. There, I find myself smiling as I see her curly hair bobbing past me while she chases after an older little girl on a fun mission. She is rosy cheeked and has a grin of pure joy plastered to her face.

The area of the playground is very large and there are kids swarming like ants on an anthill just after you jabbed a stick into it. The difference is the sound. Watching the ants would be a rather silent affair except for the rustling of trees and an occasional bird, but this zoo playground is a cacophony of squeals, shouts and yelling, parents calling children's names, a nearby zoo exhibit's T-Rex roar, the whooping of the very noisy Gibbon Monkeys who are right next to the park, the pounding of feet as kids run across the jangle-y bridge. It is loud.

I hear little girls occasionally calling for their mothers or fathers from afar off and I wonder at my brain being able to pick out those cries among all of the other noises. Then I wonder even further at the knowledge that my brain knew at once that those little girls were not my little girl. A few minutes later I heard the sweet, excited rise and fall of a girl's voice and know, "there she is, that is the voice of my daughter." Sure enough, in a blur, I see her run past me, about 20 feet in front of me, while she jabbers with the other little girl she is playing with.

Now, how does my brain do it? How did it pick out those few notes of her run by sentence and grab a hold of them, identifying them as the ones to pay attention to? The ones that mattered?

I suppose it comes from years (3 years and 10 months to be exact) of listening to the emission of sound rolling past her tiny vocal chords. I have practiced the listening, the turning of my head, the leaning in, the pausing, the hushing, and the identifying of her voice to the point where now I hear her amidst the craziest of sounds. My ears are tuned to the frequency of "Scarlett's Voice" and now that is the voice that catches my attention. That is the voice that makes my heart beat a little faster and a smile pull and the corners of my mouth.

This reminds me of when Elijah picked out God's voice amidst the wind, earthquake and fire in 1 Kings 19, knowing that God was not in the tumult but His was the still small voice that followed. I think on that moment and wonder at how he knew. It's not that God couldn't have been in the wind or the earthquake or the fire but for that moment, with Elijah, he just chose not to be, and Elijah, being the God listener, knew it. He heard.

I felt my chest swell with motherly pride at the thought of being able to pick out my daughters voice from such a mayhem of sound as the zoo's park but can I say I also so easily hear my Heavenly Father's voice? Have I worked at listening, leaning in, quieting, focusing on His voice so that when the noise of life shakes and crashes and thumps and beats and alarms around me I can still pick it out? I can still hear what He would have to say to me? Can I hear enough to even run towards it?

C. S. Lewis has said something that has lingered within my chest causing a dull ache there for some time and last night I realized why. He said, "God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world." I sat in bed last night and worried that I would need the megaphone in my life in order to hear God shouting to me. The megaphone of pain. I laid there arguing with Him that it is not fair that it takes pain for us to hear Him and then I remembered the first half of the Lewis quote: "God whispers to us in our pleasures." Ah! He is always speaking but I have to be finely tuned to His voice if I am to hear the whisper of it in those times of pleasure in my life. I need to be aurally scanning the hum around me so that I can be quick to respond when His whispers begin. He is a God who will be heard, my part is deciding when and how I will listen.

Reading the scriptures, praying, meditating, discussing this God listening life with those around me, learning about who He is from others who are further down the road than I am, these are some of the ways that I will be able to identify my Savior's voice. So these are what I am focused on.

I don't like to be shouted at, so I will be a listener.

Posted on June 25, 2012 and filed under Anything and Everything, Running and Ruminating.

If A Fire Comes...

My daughter thinks she is an extremely fast runner. She is 3 1/2 and yes you are imagining right, the legs she runs on are still a bit wobbly and with barely the strength to push her forward fast enough to flee a determined turtle, BUT, that's not how she sees it. The other day she was in one of her favorite places in the world, perched on her Daddy's shoulders, where she was talking and making great progress on the some 20,000 words a day that girls supposedly say per day. Then, right in the middle of her dialogue she stopped and said, "If a fire comes, then we will run away really fast like I run. You know, how I run fast." Yes, she was referring to how fast she runs verses how fast she thinks that we, her fairly fit parents, run and her conclusion was: she is the faster runner. So, if we were being chased by fire, we would be well advised to run as fast as her instead of the leisurely pace her dad and I would normally flee danger.

I chuckled to myself, thinking of her perception of our family's running speed. I am a pretty slow runner. I usually focus on running far not fast so I guess I'm not too surprised by her assessment of my speediness, but her dad, I was surprised that she thought she ran faster than him. I began to wonder why it was that she thought she was supremely speedy. Then I imagined myself in her tiny body, pumping arms and legs with a huge grin and the wind blowing through her curly hair, wooshing past her ears and in her face. Yes, I can understand why she would think she was exceptionally fast, because when she runs, she FEELS fast. It feels hard and challenging. It gets her blood and adrenaline pumping. She can't imagine what it feels like to be faster. Her perception of the reality of her running capabilities is askew.

I wonder how many times I do this as a christian. How many times do I feel the adrenaline of being on stage in front of many excited music listeners or how many times I feel the "wind" of challenge blowing in my face and begin to daydream that I am the one doing all the work. I am the one who is the best. I am the one who can save myself, do what's right. I am the most capable, etc.

Seeing the silly-ness/immaturity of my daughters line of thinking reminds me of my frequent immaturity/silly-ness and why would I want to settle for that? Why would I want to endanger myself by being left to myself and my capabilities? What is the alternative?

Jesus.

And what can He do?

Ephesians 3:20 says,

"Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think."

Infinitely more than what I think or ask.

Perception- the act or faculty of grasping the meaning of by means of the senses or of the mind; cognition; understanding.

Do I have a good perception of what He is capable of as my Savior? No. Am I bummed about that? Ha! No.

If a fire comes, my finite legs are looking pretty toddler-like compared to His infinite capabilities so you'll find me sticking with Him.

Posted on February 22, 2012 and filed under Anything and Everything, Running and Ruminating.

Christian Music To Run To #1

Running to an all Christian Music playlist can be dangerous. Perhaps it is only dangerous for music listeners like me, but let me tell you, if you add these songs to your running playlist and find yourself tripping over an unseen road hazard due to the fact that, instead of paying attention to what was in front of you, you were busy worshipping, don't blame me. I've warned you. But let's do this anyway. I am going to list my all time favorite songs that have been staples on my running playlist and then over time I will blog new running favorites songs that are creeping or bursting onto my playlist over the months.

These songs are NOT in any particular order other than alphabetical due to the fact that I went through iTunes alphabetically while I was deciding which were the songs for this list. There are songs on this list that are chosen more for their beat, making a steady rhythm for running (Hills Of Indigo Blue) and others are chosen for their lyrics (these will be the dangerous ones, i.e. Everything). Some were listened to clustered together because it almost seemed as if they were meant to be listened to together (the David Crowder list) and others were listened to at specific times in a run (Tear Down The Walls is 10 minutes long and I always used it during the most difficult part of my runs thus making that 10 minutes seem to fly by). Please let me know your favorites. I would love to add them to my next run!

I hope you enjoy and don't hurt yourself.

1. City Harmonic- Manifesto

2. David Crowder Band- Do Not Move, Come Awake, You Are My Joy, Our Happy Home, We Win, Rescue Is Coming

3. Future Of Forestry- This Hour, Hills Of Indigo Blue, Slow Your Breath Down

4. Gungor- Let There Be, When Death Dies, Wake Up Sleeper, This Is Not The End

5. Hillsong United- King Of All Days, You Hold Me Now, Tear Down The Walls, Take Heart, Like An Avalanche, Rhythms Of Grace, Bones

6. Jars Of Clay- Shelter, Run In The Night

7. Jimmy Robeson- Heaven Resounds, Light My Way

8. John Mark McMillan- Reckoning Day, Carbon Ribs, Skeleton Bones

9. Kye Kye- Introducing Myself, Trees and Trust

10. Leeland- The Great Awakening, I Can See Your Love, We Will Sing

11. Matt Redman- Wonderful Maker

12. Paul Baloche- Glorious

13. Phil Wickham- True Love, Beautiful, Sun & Moon

14. Tim Hughes- Everything