Friday, June 26, 2015

Weary yet Wonderful

It's been said time and time again that the most beautiful things can come from the most terrible circumstances.  I totally agree.  During the lowest times of my life, I learn more than I ever do when I am on a mountain top.  Since I am a stubborn person, learning the hard way is often how I have to do it.  I hate feeling totally broken, but I have learned to be thankful for those moments.  They are all a part of what Christ uses to get our attention and rid us of our selfishness.  Another relevant quote:  "When God is all you have, you'll realize that He's all you need."
 "But He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness.'  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong."  2 Corinthians 12:9-10
This basically sums up the things I've learned so far in 2015.
Learned:  You may never realize how much you enjoy something until you make yourself (or have no other choice than to) do it.
One example of this in my life is taking some easy days.  I always hate the feeling of "doing nothing," so I try to do little bits of things throughout the day, but I have realized that it is really great to just have a day to spend extra time on other things.  For the second half of the track season, I rested the day after night meets.  Those were always long days because I would run the 1600, sometimes the 800, and always the 3200, which is the last event except the 4x400.  That means I'm not even done racing until after my bedtime.  Then I still have to cool down.  I haven't had dinner or dessert yet either.  And sometimes, we are an hour away from home.  Then once we finally get there, I still have to shower.  Yeah...nights like that killed me this season.  Saturdays after those races ended up being awesome, though.  Sleep, rest, recover, enjoy
"Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power." 
Ephesians 6:10
Exhibit A
This was my dinner after a meet at Anderson County, where I barely made it to Bojangles before they closed.  Luckily it was literally right next to the school.  They were cleaning everything up to close at 11:00.  We walked in the door at 10:56.
This is one of my favorite fast food meals, so I was incredibly thankful.
In the car, I had to use my iPad as a light so I could see what I was doing!
Another reason I was thankful for this Bojangles in particular was the atmosphere.  These signs were hanging in the entry way with Matthew 19:26, Proverbs 3:5-6, and Philippians 3:14 on them.  They were also playing KLove music!  One of the songs that played while we were there was one that I had in my head during the races.
Jeremiah 29:11 is probably the most well-known and fitting verse that could go with this quote.
"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a future and a hope.'"
Not coincidentally, as I am posting this just now, I realize that the man who is quoted here wrote the book that I have been doing occasional devotions with, The Purpose Driven Life.  Not only that, I found this picture in April, and I just read those exact words in the book last week at the beach.  Along with the theme of this post, life is tough; we get weary.  But in those times, that is not what we are to focus on.  Although we may be weary, every part of our situation part of the wonderful plan that God has to make us more like Jesus and to share His gospel to the world.  In fact, when I focus more on the wonderful plan and try to ignore myself, I feel so much more joy in serving others.

This is something that I use to remember my purpose for the opportunities to run and all the blessings that I experience in life.
"...From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked."  Luke 12:48
I have been through two sides of this.  On one hand, starting in cross country season, I saw how blessed I was.  That was the most running success I'd had in my life!  I had so many chances to make an impact.  With all those blessings given, God expected me to use them in mighty ways for Him.  This spring, I still had many opportunities, especially with so much success in indoor track, but I let the worries of the world wear me down over time.  The more I thought about those things, the less faith focus I had.  More things started to crumble as I wasn't focusing on God more than myself.  If we do not use God's gifts the way that He intends, He will take them away so that we shift our focus back to Him!

Anderson County actually has a really cool track and football stadium!  The bleachers were concrete, but the view was great!

Megan and I were taking a picture being the "not fun ones" because we had a lot of homework to do before this meet, then a couple guys wanted to join in the photo, too.

This was a rough race.  After running one of my worst 1600s ever, I broke down to God.  But that got me refocused.  I was so ready to be finished, all I did the whole race was sing songs and pray.  I felt so much better, though!  Taking my thoughts from stress over my performance to rejoicing in running changed not only my attitude, but my physical feelings as well.

Song lyrics that fit the race and filled my mind:
Lift Me Up by The Afters
"You lift me up when I am I'm letting go!"
The Well by Casting Crowns
"When you're running on empty, and you can't find the remedy, just come to The Well."

I like to fix peanut butter oatmeal with some kind of fruit before races, and I even get the matching spoon!  Apple chips and the spoon says "chip away."