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All posts for the month April, 2017

Accidentally Running My Best

Published April 26, 2017 by Dawn

I just accidentally ran 3.75 miles.

You think I’m joking, but no … I am serious. And seriously terrified of how this is going to feel tomorrow. I don’t even know how this happened! Well, wait, yes I do. Here’s what happened:

My average run is a typical 5k. Slightly over three if I push myself, but no more than three most times. I run every other day, but mostly only three times a week. Never two days in a row. I need my heal-time.

Today, I went to my running guru, Stone. He’s the track coach at school and he works just a Stone’s throw away … see what I did there … Ha! Okay, I’ll quit.

Anyway, I asked him what his best advice was for me to transition to running every day. I told him my routine, and he suggested scaling my runs back to two miles and running every day until I can build back up to three miles on a daily. So that was my original plan when I started out today. I checked the weather on my five-minute warm-up walk and noticed it was going to rain tomorrow, and I don’t run in thunderstorms … rain ruins shoes. A light drizzle is okay, but storms are a NO. Do you see how anal I am? Now you must believe that this was all an accident!

I wavered, trying to decide whether to do two, or go ahead and do three since tomorrow was an off day. Since I’m goal oriented, I had to make a decision. I can’t just play it by ear because I’m a quitter if I don’t have a definite goal. Two or three it was, depending on how I felt at the end of two … do you see what I did there? This was the beginning of my losing control.

I ran one mile. My first is on that notorious hill that’s uphill both ways. I hate it, but it adds time and keeps me close to home. My first mile also includes “Quitter’s Hill.” This is the hill I walk almost every time I come up on it. If I can run this hill (I’ve only done it a handful of times), I can run the rest of three miles no problem. I lowered my head on Quitter’s Hill and pushed myself. I couldn’t look up because I did not want to see what was left of it, I just wanted to be over it. Halfway up it, I hear a loud, booming voice say, “You’re doing great! Keep going!” I looked up, fully expecting God to be wearing my favorite colors and waving a fan flag, but it was just a guy standing on his back porch. He said, “That hills a killer!” I laughed and replied, “Yeah it it. I hate it!” He hollered back, “You’re almost there, keep going!”

With encouragement like that, how could I quit? I waved, pushed my head back down and pressed harder into my foot falls. Finally, I crested the hill and began a slow descent. Not too long afterward, I heard my first mile on the app. Twelve minutes, eight seconds. I just kept going. My legs weren’t hurting yet, so I hit my second mile with a relish. I was really surprised when I heard my second mile time: ten minutes, twenty-nine seconds.

Guys! That’s a minutes, thirty-nine less! That’s a full minutes less than my usual second mile. This is where it happened. This is where I lost all control. I could have run forever on that high, so I pushed into my third mile with such gusto and not long afterward heard it: my third mile time. It was nine, fifty-six. At this point, I knew I had to get home but I couldn’t stop. I kept running. I ran three and three-fourths miles this evening. I didn’t mean to, but isn’t it amazing what a little bit of Christ-like encouragement and seeing victories can do to a person! It makes one lose control! In a good way!

Keep running the race, friend. Notice and acknowledge the little victories. Don’t give up, press on! And if you’re not running at the moment, be Jesus. Be an encourager. We’re all in this together. Let’s do this thing, and let’s do it well!

 

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In the Likeness of the Glory of the Lord

Published April 20, 2017 by Dawn

“Above the vault over their heads was what looked like a throne of lapis lazuli, and high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man. I saw that from what appeared to be his waist up he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and that from there down he looked like fire and brilliant light surrounded him. Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord” (Ezek. 1:26-28)

I read past this the other day with much difficulty. I reread it a time or two, but endeavored to move on in reading Ezekiel. Instead, though, I kept turning back to it. It was like the Lord was beckoning me to really consider what the Word was saying here. So I turned it over in my head, taking it apart word by word until the full meaning of it sunk in. You see, Genesis 1:26, 27 says this: “Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness … So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”

Always questioning my own understanding, I pressed in. “Teach me, Father, what you want me to know in this.”

Here it is: We were created in the image and likeness of God, and created to bear His glory out into a lost and dying world. We should be that rainbow on a cloudy, rainy day. We should be aglow with the radiance of God all over us. On fire from the waist up and on fire from the waist down. Surrounded by brilliant light. Sadly, I have to admit that I am often blowing on dying embers instead. I asked, “God, what will it take to be on fire like that?”

He told me … it’s not an easy thing for anyone. One must be willing to be set on fire. And when the fire of the glory of God comes on a person, it burns up everything that is not of God until that person is walking in a supernatural, consuming blaze in the likeness of God on his throne.

Many of us are willing to pay somewhat of a cost. Many of us will submit to God on one level or another. Some of us will go further than others, willingly taking on the pain of burning a little for a flame.  But very few of us are willing be completely consumed because that means complete destruction to the fleshly nature and we tend to love her … a lot. Especially in these days, because we have been led to believe that our feelings are gods. We worship so much of ourselves without even realizing it. We harbor the flesh when we should be allowing the Holy Spirit’s fire to burn it up ‘til there is no more of us left and we say, as Paul did, “Not I but Christ lives in me.”

God told Moses at the burning bush that no flesh can see him and live. The glory of God is not a trifle. It’s dangerous. You must be willing to be consumed, or not approach at all. Sadly, many of us reach a point in our pursuit where we know it’s safer to turn around than to continue forward and we turn around without hesitation, though God is beckoning us to come nearer still. He knows the cost. He ordained it. But still, He beckons us because he also knows what he can do in  and through one soul that is willing to submit in all things, walk into the blaze of glory and come out on fire from the waist up and from the waist down.

Will you be one? After all, friend, we were made in the image and likeness of God. We were made to operate in that glory. We were made to be consumed by it. Scared as you may be, don’t let fear keep you from your rightful position next to the heart of God, walking about in a radiant light in a world otherwise steeped in darkness. Cast everything else aside that has been distracting you from this one thing and kneel before the Father in complete submission. Let him rid you of yourself so you can be his hands and feet. After all, this is what we are called to. This is what we were made for. On fire from the waist up, on fire from the waist down. Ready and equipped to be the likeness of God in a lost and dying world.

Happy Freedom!

Published April 16, 2017 by Dawn

“Look, Lord, on my affliction, for the enemy has triumphed” (1:9).

I woke up the other morning with no words. Surprising, right? No words to express to my Husband, my King … no exaltations, no entreaties. No words to describe my feelings or my heart toward Him. No words even to describe my deep hurt and pain. I was numb and empty.

I’ve been pushing Him away for a while. When life hurts, I tend to do that. When I do finally speak to Him, it’s with a big pink elephant in the room because there’s nothing in my but a submissive crying at His feet and saying, “Thy will be done.” Sometimes, I have to, at the same time, push down feelings of bitterness because my hope is in the One who is afflicting me and my children.

“Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both calamities and good things come” (3:38).

It’s such an uncomfortable truth, but true nonetheless, isn’t it? I mean, you either believe the Word of God or you don’t. All that we go through is overseen by a tremendously powerful God, and some of it is good and some of it is bad. And the bad hurts. In our case, the hurt has become unbearable and every time I pray about it, God assures me He is making warriors in my home. I want my kids to be mighty warriors, but the cost is heavy on a mother’s heart. My kids are learning deep spiritual truths for themselves and I can’t save them from the breaking. Thank God He forgives my disapproving, accusatory glances.

As my children learn spiritual warfare, I try my best to teach them truths that have delivered me but it is not easy.  “Those who pursue us are at our heels; we are weary and find no rest” (5:5) … All [our] enemies open their mouths wide against [us]; they scoff and they gnash their teeth and say, ‘We have swallowed her up. This is the day we have waited for; we have lived to see it’” (2:16).

Naturally, I find myself saying, “My splendor is gone and all that I had hoped from the Lord” (3:18).

In His faithfulness, but with such a purpose I cannot fathom the depth of, He whispers back to my screaming heart,  “Arise, cry out in the night, as the watches of the night begin; pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord. Lift up your hands to Him for the lives of your children who faint from hunger at every street corner” (2:19).

Bitterness will keep a person quiet for a long time, but age will make sure you don’t miss that clarion call of the Lord. How many mornings have I been awakened in the darkness of the early morning out of a dead sleep. The Father looking down at me, waiting for my to speak the words my heart refuses to utter in mutiny. He knows them already, but He bids me speak so I might be free. So many nights over the past few months, but it finally happened just this morning. I woke up wanting to thank Jesus for His sacrifice, but the heaviness wouldn’t allow me to be grateful until I had spoken my peace. I found my heart-cry in Lamentation yesterday, and it was exactly what I needed to express to my Savior:

“Restore us to yourself, Lord, that we may return; renew our days as of old unless you have utterly rejected us and are angry with us beyond measure” (5:21;22). “For no one is cast off by the Lord forever. Though He brings grief, He will show compassion, so great is His unfailing love. For He does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone” (3:31-32). “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him.’ The Lord Is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord” (3:22-26). “You came near when I called you, and you said, ‘Do not fear.’ You, Lord, took up my case; you redeemed my life” (3:57-58).

I poured forth my heart in tears this morning, weeping over time lost and lies that have bound me for so long. Finally emptied, I was able to tell Jesus how much His love and sacrifice means to me. I heard His response so clear: Today is the day Satan knew he was defeated. Do you know it? Take off your graveclothes and live again!”

Oh. My. Goodness. To be washed in freedom. Thank you, Jesus, for your life. Your death. Your resurrection. Your intercession. Your mighty ways. I love you.

 *All Scriptures from Lamentations. 

 

 

 

Beyond My Strength to Endure

Published April 4, 2017 by Dawn

This past weekend was EXHAUSTING. It was really good, but really exhausting. So exhausting that this blog took me four hours to write because I took a nap in the middle of writing it.

I took the youth group on a weekend glamping trip to a nearby theme park (and by nearby, I mean a four-hour drive … and we camped near the park … in cabins). We left on Friday and came back on Sunday. It was hands down the best extended trip I have ever taken a group on and I would do it again in a heartbeat. But it was long and took a lot out of me. Travel back with me to when it all started and see if you don’t come out exhausted too:

I woke up Friday and took the kids to school. Came home and went on a three-mile run before getting ready to go because I knew I’d not have a chance to run all weekend. Showered afterward and then left to drive 40 minutes north to pick up the rental van. Brought it home, packed our things into it, went shopping for weekend supplies (that took an hour of fast-paced aisle hopping), and then headed to grab the kids from school and meet the rest of the teens at church.

Our adventure began with a four-hour drive, complete with a concert at the top of our lungs and other shenanigans. We arrived at the campground, unpacked the van and while they all went off in every direction to “hang,” I sat down for a few minutes to unwind … I get uptight after extended periods of nonstop action.

An hour or so later, I started the campfire for dinner. We roasted hotdogs. I kept up with the trash and micromanaged a bunch because I didn’t want the messes to get out of hand. It happens quick with kids. Dinner done, they headed up to the gameroom for some evening fun while I enjoyed the peace and quiet of the fire. I know you think I should have been well-rested and not exhausted, and truth be told, I was at this point. Friday, after all the early hassles, turned out really awesome. I had a lot of down time. But then we stayed up until eleven, and I had to share a bed with my daughter and niece. I don’t share a bed with anyone, so this part was really hard. They were laughing, bouncing around on the bed, refusing to go to sleep … I was tired and there was way too much noise for me to sleep. I finally fell asleep at midnight and got a total of five hours of sleep before I was up for Saturday. Saturday, we left the campground at 8:00, so we had to wake the teens up at seven and have them breakfasted and on the van ready to go by seven thirty. We arrived at the park, waited a bunch and while they all rode rides all day, I ambled around the park talking to a friend who went with us. She wanted to ride a few rides, so I sat for an hour or so in a chapel there and read a hymnal until it was time to leave.

We went to dinner, played games for a few hours back at camp and then headed to bed. I finally fell asleep around 1:00 a.m. and managed to stay blissfully unaware until 7:00 a.m. If you are adding up sleep hours, that’s eleven in two nights. We went back to the park for a few hours before heading home, and then four more hours crammed into the van got us home. At this point, I was sooooooo done. But I really wasn’t done. I still had to wait for parents to pick their kids up (waited an hour for one), then I had to drive the van back, which took another hour and a half. When I finally made it home, I had to turn around and leave again because it was my son’s birthday and we hadn’t properly celebrated (or eaten), so we headed out to his favorite restaurant.

Back up just a little and I will let you into my head: On the bus on the way home, as the second Top-O’-The-Lungs Concert was happening right behind the driver’s seat, I started thinking about that drive to take the van back. I wanted to be home so bad, relaxing before bed, knowing I had to go to work today. That drive to take the van back was taunting me. I didn’t want to do it! I nearly cried for most of the drive home because I just wanted to be done. I wanted to go home at the same time as everyone else. I wanted to sleep!

I started praying for strength to endure. The same prayer I pray while I’m running. “Help me to make it to the end. Your word says you are strong in my weakness. Be strong in me!”

This truth became painfully obvious while I finished the long evening ahead of me: God’s calling has nothing to do with convenience. He’s not always concerned about us. When we submit to being His vessel, He uses us faithfully, but His ultimate concern is the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the lives of others. The “job” isn’t always over when we like for it to be. It may require more of us than we would give on our own. It may require all of us. It may not be easy and God doesn’t necessarily apologize for that. Our comfort is not His main concern. Paul recounts this same truth in 2 Corinthians 11:27: “I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. God’s calling in Paul’s life had one aim and that was to use Paul to the fullest for God’s glory.

God’s aim in and through us is the same. We cannot allow our needs and our desires to dictate our usefulness to God. We cannot allow our comfort to keep us in a place where God can’t use us fully. If He is going to have His way through us, we have to be willing to be used beyond our feelings. Beyond our fleshly abilities to endure. We have to allow ourselves to be weak and still persevere through what God wants to do, being made strong by His Holy Spirit. The finish line isn’t dictated by our feelings. It is dictated by the Father, and He has promised to sustain us.