Saturday, December 11, 2010

Facing the Wind

Well, mark it down! :) It's an historic day here in Kansas City. The weathermen perfectly predicted this morning's weather system. Awesome job, guys! :)

According to NBC Action News (and, there was supposed to be a line of rain pass quickly through between 5 and 7 this morning. After that, the temperatures would plummet and the winds would kick up as a cold front moved in.

Spot on!!

I woke up for the morning's run at 7:00, and it was raining outside, but it was light. I checked the radar, and, sure enough, the system was almost through. So, I figured that by the time I'd stretched and changed, it would be done. Totally worked out! However, I also knew that the winds were supposed to pick up and the temperature drop, so I knew I needed to get started asap to minimize the damage. Had to start running pretty much RIGHT after the rain stopped so I could get as much of the run done as I could before it got too cold.

So, I started out probably around 7:45, and it was about 40 degrees with a 17 mph wind out of the west (slight angle from the north). It wasn't too bad, and I just thought, "Wow, this isn't terrible after all!" (I'd kind of been dreading the wind after last week's encounter with a 25 mph north wind.)

The first few miles weren't too bad save for the one mile straight into the west wind. But the temperature was pretty good, still, and once I turned south, the wind wasn't bad at all.

Oh, mama! Then things started to get ugly. By the time I was at about mile 6, the wind was getting confused on which direction it wanted to blow, and it was certainly getting stronger. When I ran over the interstate overpass, I swear I almost got blown over the rail. haha! :)

Finally when I started back home toward the north, I really noticed the temperature drop. YEOWZA! My 40-degree wardrobe was being outmatched. My hands were starting to lose a little dexterity in my "medium cold" gloves. (I have a system.) :)

It was interesting to watch the flags blowing in different directions. The ones at mile 7 were blowing straight southwest. The ones at mile 12 were blowing straight northwest. And I felt that! There's a little curve that shoots me straight northwest, and there are no trees to block the wind. Every time I run this into a northwest wind, I just about get swept back to Oz. Today, I honestly wanted to cry as I ran into it. The wind was like a brick wall, and I was an ant trying to push against it. Nothing felt better than when I finally turned the corner to turn out of it.

Emotionally and mentally, the battles that get fought on a run like this are interesting. It's my firm belief that running is one of the most amazing gifts in my life. The Lord has blessed me with the amazing passion and the ability to do it, so it is my personal policy to NEVER hate a run if I can help it. I've come to realize that any time I am able to enjoy this gift without the pain of injury, it is a good thing.

That thought was one small little blessing of the morning. Sometimes when I'm on a really tough run the Lord will just all of a sudden bring this thought to my mind: "Hey! What do you know? I'm running without pain right now. Awesome! Thank You, Lord!" :)

After dealing with injury so many times, when I finally DO realize that I'm running pain-free, it totally lifts my spirits. I'm reminded of the gift and of God's grace and provision. He has blessed me so much, and I have NOTHING to complain about. Not even a measly little 30-mph wind in a 27-degree air temperature. (I wonder what the wind chill wound up being by the time I was done.)

Bottom line: We're all stinkin' blessed, but we can easily lose that perspective by focusing on the wind. Today, let's all focus on the blessings instead of the obstacles. God is good. He is faithful. He is real. He loves us.

Thank You, Lord, for the ability to face the wind and to run pain-free. :)

Happy weekending, everyone!

Friday, November 26, 2010

The New Running Buddy

Gosh, it's been forever since I've blogged! I don't know if anyone is still plugged into this channel, but if you are, happy Thanksgiving!! :) We have so much to be thankful for. Even if we're at our absolute wit's end, we can always be thankful for something. If nothing else, salvation through Jesus Christ and the forgiveness of sins through Him. Hallelujah! :) :)

Today, I'm thankful for just about everything: my Lord, my family, my home, material provision, health and my running legs. :) I'm thankful for new experiences and puppies. :)

This morning, I went on my first run with my parents' lab/golden mix dog, Missy. :) She's probably the only dog they have that could have gone all 6.5 miles with me, so we hooked up the leash and went for a spin!

She did SO great! It took a while for us to find our stride. She started off super fast and didn't know where to settle in regarding which side. And I really didn't know what would work either. (We eventually settled her on my left.) There were a few issues getting out of the big metropolis of Canton in the form of other dogs that barked their heads off at us, but Missy did so great at ignoring them! I was so surprised.

Once we got out of town and hit the dirt country roads, we were on a roll! She kept up the pace so well. The biggest challenge was the cars. Man, those scared her to death! The first truck that went by wasn't anywhere close to us, but it sent her scrambling into the ditch, where she just sat down with her tail tucked. Poor thing. That happened most of the way. Good thing we only got passed by about 6-7 cars. And, by the time we hit the last mile, she'd gotten a little more used to it. She'd only slide back behind me toward the ditch and slow down. I'd do a little spin to get out of the leash trap and coax her back up to my side.

There were a few other distractions (i.e. a deer, a loose dog), and she got super tired by the last mile, but it was so fun to have a little buddy! I wish I could take her to the city with me. I'd feel so safe with her! I'm not sure how she'd handle the traffic, though. But, man, what a great running buddy! Who else could go out for their first run ever and survive 6.5 miles? :) Great job, Missy.

The bigger overall lesson for me was in releasing control of my run. haha! It's been my pace, my race, my choice for so long that it was a little adjustment to worry about someone (thing) else. And to put her needs above my own was new. Especially when working through the car issue. It's hard for me to stop during a run, but I had to stop with Missy a few times and love her back into the groove. And the love part was a challenge for me. It was honestly really frustrating at first. I did yell at her once or twice when she lagged behind or tangled me in the leash, but by the end of it, the Lord had ministered to my Spirit and given me the patience and love for my girl. :) It was a great experience. And she was so great. :) I love my Missy. :)

So, here's to a new running buddy! And to the new experience of dog running! :) Now that I think of it, I don't think I'd ever gone on a real run with a dog before. I'd taken them out for shorter runs around blocks just for their sake before, but I'd never done an actual morning run with a dog before. It was great! I can see why people love it. :)

Anyway...Boston training starts in a little over a month, so I'll get back in the writing saddle as the training gets going. I'm sure there will be more lessons than I can anticipate. :) That's just how awesome God is. :) He's got special plans in store for me and for us all.

Again, happy Thanksgiving everyone! Praise the Lord! :)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Boston Bound 2011!

Well, friends. . . It's the last Saturday in October. The beautiful fall weather held out for one more glorious weekend run today. I was able to run in the running capris and just a long-sleeve shirt and enjoy the low 50s temperatures. Marvelous!! :) I can't help but think our days are numbered, so it's important to savor each and every run before I'm out there in five layers of clothes freezing my tail off. :)

I had wanted to blog about this when it happened, but I just never carved out the time. But...It looks like I'll be Boston-bound again this spring!! Yee haw!! :) :) The Boston Athletic Association did registration a little differently this year, only opening it mid-October. And it filled up SUPER fast.

I hopped on my computer right at 8:00 a.m. that morning to register and the site was just jammed! I tried about 5 times and got absolutely nowhere. That's when I had a little mental battle.

"Do I even want to run this? Why am I doing this again? It's so hard! Would it be such a bad thing if I didn't make it in? Should I just quit trying to register and just take it easy and find another spring marathon?"

Now, here's the thing. It's good to not push yourself to excessive extremes and get carried away by things in life that don't matter as much as others (i.e. the Lord and people), but there's also a certain responsibility we have to extend ourselves when it comes to using the gifts that God has given us. (That's a mega-long sentence. Does it make sense?)

I think we can get carried away by our world's push to "relax" and "take it easy." "Oh, everyone is so busy. You should just relax when you can. Take it slow. Slow down."

Okay, all of this is good if you're excessively busy, but it can also be horribly wasteful. We can get so caught up in conserving our energy and protecting ourselves from busyness that we actually get lazy. I think that was where I would have gone if I chose not to register for Boston.

After a few minutes, I thought about it. "Jill, seriously, what would you RATHER do than run Boston next spring?" Easy answer: NOTHING! :) Dude, it's a privilege and a blessing to be qualified to run in the super bowl of running events, and I'm going to take it! Who knows how many times I'll be able to qualify in my life. But I do know that it's a HUGE blessing from the Lord and a door HE opened to put me in there. Especially considering the fact that I finally did get through the registration process online (which I tried again after my mental battle), which was something that a ton of people weren't able to do that day.

So, I'm one of the 25,000 blessed individuals who made it through the registration in time to sign up for the Boston Marathon in 2011. Hallelujah! Thank You, Lord! I know it's a blessing and a calling to be heading back. May every step bring glory to my Lord. I'm already praying for a mind that is focused on bringing Him into the process. After all...He's what it's all about.

Love you, friends!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Why we run.

For anyone who has ever questioned my sanity for running or the sanity of any runner they know, this ad is for you. THIS is why we run. We run to leave our old self behind. We run because we can. We run because sitting on the couch hurts more than running 26.2 miles. We run because the voice that tells us to stop is more detrimental than the one who tells us to keep going. The one who pushes us forward is the one who makes us stronger.

When we run we realize divine strength that is inside us--God-given, God-breathed, God-ordainted--which would otherwise remain untapped.

This is why we run. Because we can.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Post-Race Report: Prairie Fire Wichita Half Marathon

Oh, friends. . . What a day yesterday!! This is the official post-race report from the Prairie Fire Wichita Half Marathon.

First, I have to say a BIG thank-You to the Lord for the environment I'm in right now. Because of the busy weekend and the even busier one ahead, I took today off from work in order to just SABBATH with Him. Right now it's raining outside and I have every candle lit in my house. There's a strong cup of Starbucks Verona blend coffee in my hand, and I'm just in Heaven. :) Oh...And there's also a heating pad on my back. haha! War wounds. :) I'm in the infirmary today physically. But in SUCH a good way.

The official results of the race can be found here:

Let me just say that I never ever would have dreamed that I'd be finishing a relatively large-field race in the top 10 females. But that's what happened yesterday. I just cracked the top finishers by crossing the line as the 10th woman overall. Out of 1,647 half marathoners, that's an unbelievable blessing. I also finished 4th in my age group, which is awesome! Way to go 30-34-year-olds! We can move!! :) haha!

So, about the race. . . The lesson that the Lord gave me last week about running MY race was definitely key. Honestly, I had no idea what to expect from the day. I got a lot of questions about my goal for the day, and I would just say, "Oh, I haven't really thought about it. I'd just like to finish with an average pace of less than 7:45/mile." I didn't know what that was, and I didn't check. My whole purpose in going down there was to run the last three miles of the full marathon with my running SISTER, Amy (see the photo). She's my hero. She decided to take on the full marathon with only about 5-6 weeks of training, and she knocked out a PR and a sub-4!! Unreal. :) We'll get to that in a little bit.

But, like I said. No idea what to expect for myself. On Saturday as I drove down to Wichita, it honestly hit me a little bit, "Um...I'm actually running tomorrow. I should think about the details a little bit." haha! I guess there's good and bad things to being so focused on work and friends. But there is also a time when it becomes important to focus on the game at hand!

Anyway, I got the details worked out just fine. Was blessed BEYOND measure by a fun evening with Amy and her family on Saturday night, just hanging out with the girls and Matt and talking strategy with Amy. Then off to bed for an early morning!

Race day? AMAZING weather. No wind, perfect 60-degree temps throughout. Totally not typical of Wichita. But it was perfect-o! :)

The course itself was nothing like what I'd trained on. They don't have hills in Wichita unless they build an overpass. haha! :) This was so key.

I started out pretty average, keeping an 8:00 pace for the first mile. It being a half, I knew I didn't need to conserve energy like I did in a full marathon. So, after the first mile, I started to push the pace.

I wasn't quite sure how fast to take it, but in my head, I just fixated on going fast until mile 6 and then gunning it.

TOTALLY believe that was the Holy Spirit's wisdom there. I'd asked Him for wisdom to know how to race that day, and I believe He gave it to me. It's funny. At work we've been talking a lot about how Christian athletes should bring the Lord INTO their games, not just pray before and after. And we had another columnist write about this very thing last month. About how God wants us to discover Him through the actual inner-workings and wisdom of our sports. I fully believe this is what He's doing with me the longer I run. He's giving me divine wisdom to learn how to do this well and to, thus, help others do it well, too. It's fun to be at the point where I can start answering questions and offering advice.

So...Back to the race. Sorry.

Around mile 4, I started thinking. "Hmm. . . I don't do half marathons that often. I don't have a whole lot of time to race, here. This is a lot shorter than a marathon. If I'm going to race, I need to actually start racing soon."

I'd been keeping a low 7 average, but I think it was about mile 4 or 5 where I realized that I actually had a chance to do well in this field. And that's when it turned ON! :) haha!

This is the difference between running a race and RACING a race. When I race a race, I have a specific strategy that is very much like a game of seek-and-destroy. I'll find the next woman ahead of me, zero in on her, and focus on passing her. It's so funny. My little inner-competitor sees a girl, and it's like in Top Gun where the missile lock goes from red to green. "I'm got good tone. Firing!" :) She's going down.

When you're constantly focused on passing people, an amazing thing happens. . . You go really fast through a lot of miles without thinking about it. :) Before I knew it, the race was almost over, and I had been GUNNING it at a sub-7 pace for the last few miles.

The most fun part of the race, though, had to be the end. :) This was awesome. There was a guy I passed with about .2 left in the race, and apparently, he didn't like being passed by a girl. :) So, about 5 seconds later, he passed me back. haha! Well, this GIRL doesn't like to be passed at all, so I sped up to keep up with him. He was intent on leaving me in the dust, but I stayed right on his heels and tried to pass HIM back. We were SPRINTING down the home stretch. haha! And the coolest part was because I was a girl, the entire crowd was cheering for me! haha! "Get him, girl!!" (There's a photo of the finish here:

Well, I didn't get him. I bit his heels all the way in. But I had a BLAST doing that, and we high-fived at the end. :) It was awesome. :) Thanks, dude. Whomever you are. I tried to find out online who he was, but I don't think the results are posted correctly, or something. The guy it says who finished right before me says he finished like 30 seconds ahead, which isn't true. Oh, well. Whomever you are, thanks for the great race!!

But when I think about running MY race, I know that hit me several times on the course. My race that day was to find the hidden strength God had given me for the day. I wasn't supposed to run my race from yesterday, I was to run my race from today. Does that make sense? That's how the message fell on me. I'd only trained at a 7:30ish pace, but the Lord told me to run a different race yesterday.

I think that's part of running our race with Him in general. He trains us, and we may only think we know what we're trained for, but He knows the race He has for us. We may be FAR more equipped than we think we are. We have no idea what He wants to do with our experiences and how He wants to use them. We have no idea how He wants to show us His divine power through us by using us for things far greater than we ever thought possible.

So, that was my race yesterday. My God-given race was to run well and finish strong. Thank You, Lord. :)

Next up? Boston 2011!! :) :) Oh, man. I am psyched. :) :) :) Registration opens on October 18, so I'm just praying I get in at all. This is the first time they've done this, so we'll see what happens! :) Either way, I'm hoping to return to Boston for another fantastic experience at running my race with the Lord. :)

Love you all! Have a great Monday! :)

P.S. Amy is my absolute hero!! She gutted out the most amazing race yesterday, and I was so stinkin' blessed to be by her side for the last three miles. Even though she felt beat up, battered, bruised and beyond fatigued, she smiled her way to the finish and got to hug her babies with a well-earned medal around her neck. Amy, I'm SO proud of you, sister. :) :) :) You are inspiring and amazing and I love you!! :) Sisters at heart...just missed it by blood. :)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Prideful Truth

Ahhhh, today's run was ridiculously awesome. I've been pretty tired this week, so I figured today's tempo run would be super hard, but the speed was totally there! Sometimes I just sit back and marvel at what God can do. Sometimes He gives the speed and sometimes He doesn't, but days like today just prove that He's totally capable of it. There's no reason I woke up with energy--I was just blessed with it. :) Thanks, Lord.

YESTERDAY's run was SO interesting, thouogh, and that's what I want to write about. It was totally one long 6-mile spiritual lesson. :)

It was a slow-run day, which I do three days a week between speed workouts. During these runs I purposely just take. it. easy. Even if I feel super amazing, I don't push it. I know my body needs these days just as much as it needs the speed workouts to get faster.

So, I started out easy and was enjoying the morning when I came up behind a guy who was just running out of his subdivision. He came out just ahead of me and was keeping a pace a little slower than me, so I was going to have to pass him. Not a big deal, but it's always tricky how to do that when it's dark and quiet. You know these people don't hear you coming, so you always try to find the best way to shuffle your feet or cough to let them know you're coming up behind them and are not intent on mugging them. :)

Anyway, so I pass him successfully and go about the run. Well, about five minutes later, I hear someone behind me. It's the same guy. He passes me up and gets about 15 feet ahead of me and then just maintains the same pace as me. hahaha! Okay, now, here's where I get honest.

At this point I'm annoyed. To me, it's just courteous to maintain a faster speed if you're going to pass. It's just like driving on the interstate. I really hate playing leap-frog for hours with cars who don't set their cruise control.

Now, inside, I'm thinking, "Okay, I'm the one who is running slower than my pace. I could totally just speed up and pass this guy and leave him in the dust." But, if I were to do that, I would violate my no-fast-running policy for the day. So, I put my head down, focus on the pavement in front of me instead of the runner who was crowding my perceived bubble of personal space. (Which can get very big in my mind when it's 5:00 a.m. and I think I own the road.) Eventually he turns around and heads home.

Okay, so I keep going, and it's going great. I'm again enjoying the morning and my unlimited personal space. Then, on my way home, I come across this fast runner girl who lives in the area. I see her maybe once every couple of weeks, but she's always booking it. And it never fails that I see her on my slow days. My pride is ALWAYS challenged by this because she's never seen me run fast. haha! Inside I'm always thinking, "Oh man. She only sees me slow! She doesn't know how much speed I have in my legs!" Why I care is totally beyond me, but it's usually a blow to the pride.

This morning, she is running on the opposite side of the road and she, of course, passes me. But then, when I'm almost at the street that I turn on to go home, I see her cross the road and head the same way. Internal Jill says, "Oh, man. Now I have to watch her pull away from me the whole way home. This stinks! I just want to run fast and show her that I'm as good as she is!"

Okay...Time out.

The pride is getting ridiculous at this point. What is that? Well, it was what was in my heart, I guess. And I'm thankful that the Lord lets me see those moments so that I can confess them to Him and see more clearly. In those moments He brings the image of Christ on the cross to my mind, and I am struck by just how small and sinful I am compared to my Lord.

But this wasn't actually the ending spiritual lesson. After a little discussion on pride with the Lord, I discerned Him addressing the comparison issue. The whole deal was that if I watching the other runners, I was tempted to run THEIR pace. In reality, God was only asking me to run MY pace. He knew what I needed that day, and He had only called me to a recovery run. I wasn't to compare myself to those who were running ahead and going faster than me, perceptively "achieving" more than I was. I was to focus on HIM and not them. When I focused on THEM, I wanted to win their race, not mine.

How true of life! I have dealt with that so much in so many areas of life. It is SO easy to compare myself to others who are "ahead" of me. So easy to get wrapped up in comparing myself to others and thinking that I need to keep up with them in order to be considered good enough or to "win." Am I the only one who does that? I seriously doubt it. I think it's something we all do. It's human nature.

But God wants us to focus on Him alone and keep our hearts set on running the race He has called US to--not our neighbors.

That's what I came away with that day. "Run your race, Jill." It was a great life lesson more than just running, but it's something I can definitely use on the road, too. Maybe I'll take it down to Wichita this weekend and see what kind of race He has for me there. :) SO pumped!! :)

Ciao, friends! Have a great evening!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Oh, have mercy.

hahahaha! I just wrote the world's longest blog post and then tried to upload it guessed it! Internet Explorer Cannot Display Web Page. hahaha! Oh, man. I guess that message was just for my own personal memory bank. :)

Either way, I have to write SOMETHING on here for my time. Long story short: WINDY WINDY run this morning. If I wasn't prepped for Wichita before I sure am now! Bring on the Central KS wind! :) I'm rocked and ready!

Nope, I'm too mad at Blogger to write much of anything else. I'm going to go clean my apartment and praise God for awhile to get over my miffed attitude against the Internet. :)

Ciao, friends! Happy Saturday!! :) Walk in the light of truth today knowing that the Lord loves you and understands you better than you understand yourself. :) Trust Him!


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Spit Wads and Pit Bulls

Don't you just love Disney movies? :) I totally have a random playlist going on my iPod dock right now, and it's playing "Beauty and the Beast." Ah, I miss Angela Landsbury. Is she even still alive?

Okay, today is NOT about the amazingness of fall. It's about spiritual matters. The running has been simply amazing lately, of course, and I feel very ready for the half marathon coming up. Bring it on! :) But I want to write about what it means to really believe God.

It's funny. I had the BEST, most refreshing weekend. It was just absolutely blissful! The perfect mixture of activity and rest. The perfect run on Saturday. The perfect amount of quality sleep. I could NOT have entered Monday feeling any better physically or mentally.

Then, Monday night, in an odd turn of events, I had an anxiety attack. Where on earth did that come from? I freaked out about the upcoming schedule work-wise and personally. Just SO much going on. Deadlines, specifically, and how on earth everything was going to come together. (To be honest, I still don't know how it's all going to happen.) But there's just a TON on the old plate right now. And I feel like I'm staring down the barrel of a gun with it all, just waiting for it to go off.

What's weird is that I planned out my week on Sunday like I normally do. I sat down with old Franklin Covey and examined the week ahead and thought everything was going to fall into place. But then I started looking at the week AFTER. Um, that one is a little more chaotic. And that's when I started to freak out.

What is that? First off, I have, like, 10 days before any of it starts! Second, isn't this a blessing to be able to realize it now so that I can do as much damage control beforehand as I can? Nope. I just freak out and start trying to fix everything immediately. "What can I get done now?? What do I need to cut out?? Where am I going to find the time?? Nothing fits!! I'm going to die and be so stressed out!" Um, yes, I even get stressed out about getting stressed out. Is there a support group for that?

Anyway, Monday night, oddly enough, I slept just fine. Anxiety and all, I was out like a light. But last night was a totally different story. I honestly didn't feel that anxious at all, but I could NOT fall asleep. And with my history of insomnia, that just totally sent me into a horrible state of mind. I've spent the better part of the day dreading tonight and whether or not I'll have to lay there awake again listening to the fan.

It's not like I just LET this happen. I quoted every Scripture I could think of last night, out loud, whether it applied or not. I just wanted the Word of God to go forward and do it's thing. But nothing seemed to help.

Talked to my sister tonight, and we had an interesting conversation about it. Yeah, I had spoken the Word of God, but did I believe it? Was I just saying it and then trying to figure out the situation on my own? Truthfully, I think I was just shooting spit wads at a pit bull. But it wasn't God's fault. He had given me TRUTH to BELIEVE, and I was just being that "clanging cymbal" referenced in Scripture.

When it comes to the Word of God, we can't forget that it is TRUTH. It's not just words on a page. It's not just for kicks and giggles or to make us feel warm and fuzzy. It's actual, honest, powerful TRUTH. The Lord wants me to rest! He created rest! He knows that I function better when I'm well-slept. He said in Psalms that we could "lie down and sleep in peace" because He made us dwell in safety. That's not a joke or a fun quote. It's TRUTH. That's the part where we come in. We get to believe it! :)

God gave us that spiritual truth as a weapon. But I sometimes treat His double-edged sword like a rubber knife. Tonight, I am praying with a different mindset. The enemy is a guaranteed loser. I need only believe it. And then lie down and sleep in peace. :) Ah...Tempting. I'm already looking forward to it. :)

Ciao, friends! Believe God! :)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

All Things Good

Ahhhhhh. :) It's FALL!! :) It's probably the most bittersweet season there is for runners. At least it is for me. It's undeniably the BEST running weather. Way better than spring because you don't have as many storms, and temperatures that are just to die for! But...It means that the WORST running season is just ahead. Good ol' winter. Icy, snowy, blustry winter. But, it's winter that makes us tough and gives us the best training both mentally and physically, simply because we have to work a thousand times harder than at any other point. I think that's one of the reasons I was in such great shape for Boston last year. Winter training is H-A-R-D.

But, let's not talk about that today. Let's talk about the most unbelievable and amazing run this morning!! :) Perfect fall training run. Hallelujah! :) Thank You, Lord, for the blessing!! :) The temperature was a delightful 56. There was only a slight wind. And the sun was shining! :) Let the chorus of angels sing!! :)

And, lo and behold, wouldn't you know that my legs responded to the amazingness? :) A whopping 7:36 pace for the 14 miles! :) Yee haw!! :) That hasn't happened since the back injury. The times are dropping! And just in time. Got a half marathon that I'd LOVE to kill in two weeks. I haven't done many halves, so this will hopefully be a great place for a PR.

In all of this, I've been thinking. . . In God's economy, there is no good or bad when it comes to the situations that He orchestrates. There's only good according to Romans 8:28 ("And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose."). So, what does that say about winter training? It's only good! :) All that icy weather. All the treadmill runs due to sub-zero temperatures. All the "Where on earth do I run when the sidewalks are snow-packed?" days. They're all good! But we as humans only see them as bad because they cause us to overcome obstacles.

In these moments, if we're wise, we'll view those obstacles through God's lens and ask how He would have us respond. And, if we trust Him enough, we'll be able to accept His challenge and walk through it knowing that He's got a plan and that He's already made a way.

I think back to the one 20-miler that me and Jackie did during Boston training last year when it seemed like EVERYTHING went wrong. But we wound up being blessed with two stud treadmills and a free session at a 24-Hour Fitness. :) Icy roads, broken windshield wipers, and all!

Here's my own challenge to myself. As fall continues, I am going to prayerfully put aside my dread of winter and ask the Lord to help me see it through His eyes. May each ice-run be a fruitful strengthening experience, and may I use each day to connect with Him in a deep and intimate way. I'm thinking that's HIS plan. So, I might as well jump on board!

In the meantime? I'm going to enjoy these fall runs like there's no tomorrow. :)

Ciao, friends! :)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Battle Buddies

Man, I am just savoring every moment of yesterday. This whole weekend, actually.

My sister--one of my best friends--drove up to spend the weekend with me. :) And, man, I'm just having such a hard time putting this relationship into words. I cherish her so much! Unless you have a sister, it's impossible to explain. You know each other's past, and you can just spend hours talking about where you've been and where you're going. You can get lost in advising each other, listening to each other, and just talking nonsense. It's a most wonderful relationship. Totally unique to any other on earth.

Sis and I were actually blessed by the most perfect day yesterday. It could NOT have been any better. Truly, the Lord ordered our steps from start to finish. We had a blast at Worlds of Fun, garage sale-ing in a neighborhood WAY out of our tax bracket, playing with facial masks and nail polish, eating ice cream and watching football. But my favorite part of the weekend? Totally when I crawled under the covers with my girl this morning and got to snuggle with her. :) We just laid there after waking up and talked about our past. How much we loved our grandma who'd passed, how different life would have been if our grandpa hadn't died when we were kids, how we misunderstood our dad when he was alive, how we're blessed now in so many ways. It was one of the sweetest moments I've had in a long time. It was just like when we were kids. :)

Man, it's absolutely incredible to have relationships where people accept you for who you are and who reeeeeeally know you. My sister knows me, and the fact that she still loves me is just the most wonderful icing on the cake. She's one of the most grace-filled, patient, loving, selfless people I know, and I can't believe how stinkin' blessed I am that she's MY sister. :)

Running for the weekend? Totally blessed with a great 14-miler before we hit the amusement park. Wonderful temperature, no wind, beautiful cloud cover for most of the way. Man, it was a great way to start the perfect day. That's what I'm labeling yesterday. Perfection. :)

Ciao, friends!
-Jill :)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Perfect Timing

I have a lot of editing to get done today, so I want to warm up my creative brainwaves by blogging.

Great run this morning. It was totally divine, actually. Last night before I went to bed, I asked God if He would plan out the perfect time for me to run in the morning regarding the rain. I did submit and tack on the "if it's Your will" bit, which was totally genuine. (I'm not above a rain-run. They're often really blessed.) But I was also not afraid to ask Him to let me hit the road at a time that would allow me to NOT have to worry about wearing my rain shoes and carrying an extra 5 pounds of water weight on my feet. ;)

So...What happened?

I woke up and it was raining. haha! Of course. But, I dallied around a little longer than normal trying to find a radar picture on television, which took about 10 minutes. I finally found one (thank you KMBC), which showed really light preciptation in the area. Totally doable. I realized it wouldn't be that bad after all.

So, I got out the rain gear, DID put on the rain shoes, and headed out the door a little later than normal. hahaha! Wouldn't you know it? The rain had JUST stopped. Completely. When I walked out the door. :)

God winked at me this morning, and it was awesome. :) Sometimes He says no to our prayers; sometimes He says yes. And sometimes He makes it so obvious that we can't help but realize a little more of who He really is. . . The actual MAKER of the rain. :)

Ciao, friends!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Eight totally random thoughts...

Random thoughts of the weekend. . .

1. I love half-popped kernels of popcorn. I have no idea why, but I think they're awesome. As soon as the bag comes out of the microwave, I'll dump it out onto a paper towel and strategically dig for the unpopped and half-popped kernels first.

2. Just finished reading "Mansfield Park" by Jane Austen. Not the BEST book ever, but cute and fun. You can always count on Jane Austen for a good happily-ever-after, though this one's love story doesn't actually unfold until the last eight pages of the book. But the more I read her the more I can see her faith background. Her dad was a pastor, and she writes with such a theme of divine providence. Everything ends as it should, and all things work together for good. This one totally could have been summed up by Romans 8:28 and all the verses that talk about waiting on God.

3. As a single woman, one of my biggest battles is definitely finding identity in my job and career. It's shocking how much time I spend thinking about it or working toward some greater end. Undoubtedly it has to do with the fact that I don't have a family at a stage of life in which I thought I would. But it's becoming such an interesting mental puzzle--one that is being pieced together daily by God. It seems like He uncovers a new thought/truth/lie/fact about this present situation every day. Today's thought--and do NOT shoot me for this; I'm just being honest--was if women should hold high workplace leadership positions when we are designed by God in a far different way than men. I'm just thinking based on my own workaholic tendencies that have played out somewhat unhealthfully. It's not something I'm concluding, I'm just saying it's a thought. :) But, as I don't have a husband or family, what else would I be doing but working? But, if I hadn't dived into the career so heartily and had spent more of my 20s socializing instead of working, would I have that family? Romans 8:28 and Jeremiah 29:11. Going to trust God on that one. Either way, don't shoot the messenger for the thought. It's a blog. That's what they're for.

4. I have SO stinkin' many books I want to write. hahaha! One of them is about Christian men who "just stop calling" women. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHH! I had to get it off my chest, so I wrote a very heated document about it yesterday. I would love to write a book about what men should take into consideration when toying around with women's hearts. ESPECIALLY as Christians who are supposed to be held to a higher standard. Oh my lanta. I could get on a huge soapbox here if I let myself, but I'll save it for another time. Isn't this a running blog? Well, where do you think I spend most of my time thinking? :)

5. I'm completely at risk for becoming a complete recluse when it comes to technology. haha! I'm SO going to be one of those people when I'm old who has let every technological advancement pass them by. I'm going to depend entirely on the nursing home society to handle it for me. :)While I do use the gadgets, I don't entirely like them. Man, give me a pen and paper. Give me a moment without my cell phone. Give me a good ol rotary phone and a landline. Heck, as much fun as Garmin is in the car, I'd just as well like a good old-fashioned map. Weren't those fun? Especially when it came to folding them back the way they were originally.

6. Okay, this is turning into a long list of grievances, so here's a positive one. Wedding receptions might be the most wonderful of all events on the planet! :) How fun is it to watch a bride and groom at the absolute height of bliss? :) Plus, you get to catch up with so many friends you'd otherwise never see. And there's always good music. It's an absolute blast! Thanks for the great party, Clay and Liz! :)

7. Should I buy a house?

8. Yesterday's run was such an absolute joy. The weather was wonderful, and it didn't turn the slightest bit hot until I rounded the corner for the final mile of my 14. It was beautiful timing! Great pace (7:45) and strong legs. I'm tempted to bump it up by a mile next week just for kicks. I've been doing 14 for so many weeks now that I'm bored. Have I told you all that I'm training for a fall half marathon? Yep! That's the plan! :)

Okay...I gotta go to a meeting at church. Thanks for listening. All three of you who reads this. :)

-Jill :)

Monday, September 6, 2010


I have been thinking. . . We tend to do that as runners.

This week, my best friend from childhood experienced a HUGE tragedy. She's about to become a first-time mom in a few months, and she just lost her husband. They'd been married for only two years and had a wonderful start on their life together. Now, that's all changed.

Inevitably, when something like this happens, our tendnecy is to make it about us. "What on earth do I say? How do I help? What if I don't say the right thing? What if I...?" Hopefully, after a while, we get the Holy Spirit's anointing to realize that it doesn't matter as long as we are willing to lock arms with them and love them. When we let Jesus take over, we realize that He equips us and will use us to bring them love if we let Him. We don't have to worry about what to say, He provides the words.

But how interesting. I was thinking about this as I ran this weekend--how we fear our love for people sometimes. We fear allowing ourselves to go deep with people and get dirty with them in the challenges of life. We fear being inadequate. We fear lack of knowledge and wisdom. We fear how it will make us give up our comfort. We fear. We fear. We fear.

Jesus doesn't.

Jesus is so much different from us in His love. He isn't afraid of His love for us. He loves us intensely and authentically. He loves us deeply and passionately. He isn't afraid of our problems, of our sins, of our issues, of our trials, of our hurts. He isn't afraid to be with us when we hurt the most. He isn't afraid of not having the words to say or the strength to love. He isn't afraid. He is strong in His love. He is steady in His love. He is powerful in His love.

When no one else knows how to love us, Jesus does. When no one else is strong enough to be there with us in intense pain, Jesus is. He loves completely and with the most intense, fierce compassion we'll ever know. If we go to Him, He will be there. He will be RIGHT there. He will be there with force. With unshakable, unbreakable love.

That's how our Lord is different. Where we fear, He doesn't. He is unafraid of His love for us. KNOW that today.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

What a gift!

When it comes to speed, I have three kinds of runs, and I can usually tell by mile 2 which kind I'll be having that day.

The first kind is just the most amazing, awesome, energy-filled run. When speed is just there and you just run fast without even trying. Those days ROCK. :)

The second kind is when your body is a little tired and wants to go slow BUT it's willing to go fast if you push it. You have to fight for the speed on these days. You can get it, but you have to fight for it. No auto-pilot miles or else you'll slow down.

The third kind is when you are just NOT going to be able to run fast. For whatever reason, your legs refuse and you just have to do the best you can. Maybe wave the white flag, slow down and enjoy it for whatever you get out of it.

Today was a 2 for me. Had the speed, but I had to WORK for it. I say I can tell by mile 2 because that's when I pick up the pace after the warm-up mile. Depending on how easy the speed increase is, I can tell how the rest of the run is going to go. Today, when I kicked it in, it took a while for the numbers to drop and it was hard. But it was there, so I pushed it and just had to stay mentally engaged the whole way.

Trust me, there was a lot of Philippians 4:13 quoting going on this morning. And some Romans whatever that says we're more than conquerors! :) haha! God is so good to supply such physical strength when we ask for it, too. :) Thank you, Lord!

Here's the kicker, though. On the last mile, I had a moment of clarity. At the moment, I'm not injured. Which is good. :) But as I was speeding home on the last mile, I suddenly realized that I was running with absolutely NO pain. :) In my running history, that doesn't happen a whole lot. So, I started to think, "Hey, this is pretty stellar!" Mind you, I'd been running a tough run all morning and NOT exactly enjoying every step simply because it was tough. But by the time this struck me, I had to change my tune.

Every time I'm injured, I think, "Man, what I wouldn't give to run without pain!" And then when I get healed and start running pain-free, I totally don't even notice it. I dwell more on the fact that the run is difficult than on the fact that I've been given a gift of a BLESSED and amazing run--that God's given me the ability to run for extended periods of time, and to do it well. MAN, what a GIFT!!! THANK YOU, LORD!

I ended the run in the right frame of mind, thank God. He really opened my eyes to see how amazing today really was--that it was a sweet moment in which He could both bless and challenge me. Blessed by the strength and ability and time and weather. Challenged by the pace and the mental battle. And thankfully, the Holy Spirit won! :)

Have a great weekend, everyone! :)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Back to the Blog

Man, I haven't blogged in for. ev. er. It's been an interesting summer running and faith-wise. Faith and running-wise. Both, I guess. :)

At the start of the summer I hurt my back and had to take quite a bit of time off the road. It took a long time to get on top of the problem (it's not curable), but we're finally back at it. The trouble is that I lost most of my speed. And with the hot weather, it's been tough to get that back. But it's coming. I just need to be patient with it. I'm not reeeeeally training for anything right now. Going to do a half marathon with a couple of friends in October and then hopefully stay healthy to run Boston again next spring. Now THAT I am looking forward to. :) But it's a long way off. There's a lot of days and miles in between now and then for the Lord to work on me both physically and spiritually.

One thing I've come to love recently is the more frequent "naked runs." haha! :) I think I mentioned them in my blog before, but they're the times when you go out without any gadgets and just run. No iPod, no Garmin. Just you, God and the road. Man, oh man. Those are absolute bliss.

I actually had one of the best naked runs of my life yesterday morning. I am in LOVE with my hometown of Canton, KS. It is one of those quintessential small Kansas farm towns set on one square mile in the middle of a bunch of wheat fields and pastures. It's almost surreal.

Since I live in a city, coming home to Canton, for me, is more powerful than taking the most intense sedative. :) It's laid back, slow-paced and peaceful. There's no traffic noise, no stoplights, no interstates, and almost no internet connection. :) It's Heaven. :) And I fully believe that Canton is one of God's biggest blessings to me. He's given it to me as a retreat whenever I need to detox from the chaos of daily life in the city. (I'm also pretty sure that the family back there has something to do with it, as well. I LOVE you guys.) :)

Yesterday, I was up unexpectedly at 6:00, so I decided to switch my off day from Sunday to Monday and go for a pre-church run. Thank the Lord I did. I got to run along the most serene highway among the pastures and wheat fields and watch the sun come up over the plains. No distractions. No noise. Just me, God and His amazing creation. I did get a few looks from the cows alongside the road, but that was about it. :) And there were about five cars that passed. But they were all kind enough to not hit me, and even wave on occassion.

Man, that's one of the things that God's done in my heart more over the summer. With the rehab of the running, He's given me the peace to let it come back slowly. I've been blessed to push the pace when necessary, but to also enjoy the recovery/naked runs as a way of communicating with and worshipping Him. Running is most certainly a gift He's given me, and I am so blessed by it. We all need outlets, and I know He gives us each different ones. Running is the outlet He's given me. For SO many uses. Thank You, Lord.

Well, friends, I'm back to blogging. I don't know if anyone will read this, but it's nice to start writing it all out again.

Have a great day in the love of our Lord! :)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Exercising Wisdom

Today was a monumental day for me. A big step in the life of a very driven, passionate runner. It was the first day I was able to exercise wisdom and patience regarding my body and a race.

This morning, I was supposed to be down in Peculiar, Mo., running a small-field half marathon. I'd wanted a race on the calendar just to have something to work toward after Boston, so I found a local one and signed up. Since it was such a small field, I actually had a legitimate shot at winning the whole thing, among the women anyway. My time was close to the winner of last year's race. I was really excited about the idea of racing fast and taking home a prize.

Well, back over Memorial Day weekend, training took a detour. I was heading down to bed at my parents' house when I slipped and fell down the stairs. I landed on my lower back and slid about five steps. OUCH! I didn't feel any cracks or pops or anything, but it sure did hurt, and my muscles really tensed up for a while. But I just kind of hobbled my way to bed and went to sleep.

After that, I kept running on it for a few days since it didn't really hurt that badly. But then about five days after it, I went out for a run, and it just KILLED me afterward. Time to see a doctor. I went to several chiropractors, each of them giving me a different opinion (pinched nerve, muscle trauma, cracked vertebrae), until I finally found Dr. Rippee. HALLELUJAH!! This guy rocks! He ID'd the problem and started to work it out. AND, get this. He's a Christian, loves to work on athletes, and he really sees his role from the Lord as healing His children daily. He's got an awesome grasp on who God made him to be. I'm really blessed to be going there!

The problem in my back is a few slightly torn stabilizer muscles and a L5 disc that apparently never fused all the way when I was born. Somehow it is able to move back and forth, when it should stay in one place all the time. What happened when I fell was that it moved, and all the rest of the vertebrae above it had to adjust. Some of the nerves are getting compressed a little, and that's causing me some pain. (Sometimes to the point at which I can barely walk.) So, we're going to treat the inflammation and pain for the next week and then work on strengthening the muscles around this area so that it will stabilize it and keep that L5 from moving.

Here's the thing, though...I'm not going to damage the area by running. I'm not going to help it, but I won't hurt it any worse. I will hurt ME pain-wise, but there won't be any further damage. AAAH! Can you see how this is like dangling a carrot in front of a rabbit?? "Jill, you won't hurt anything any further if you race. You won't be able to walk for a month, but you won't hurt your body."

Okay...Here's the decision. No, I won't hurt my body, but there are a few things to consider. First, the fact that I wouldn't be able to walk for a week. I've already seen the effects of this based on what's happened this week, and it's NO fun. I don't want to do anything except sit down. I don't like moving around, and I don't feel like going anywhere. Not even to work. So, tell me this...How is that honoring to the Lord if I am being limited from serving Him? Not worth it. Not worth it at all if I'm not able to do His will as a result of the race. I do want to be able to work.

Second, this is His temple. The longer I live, the more I get what that means. It is the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit, and it should be cared for. That means that I need to deal with it wisely. Yes, God has given me a gift to be able to run. But He's also given me a mind to know when and how to use that gift. This go-round, I was called to lay it down. The use of the gift is to give it back to Him and say, "I trust You, Lord." He certainly made me a runner, but that doesn't mean that I have the green light to abuse that. The gift, after all, isn't to use for my glory. It's to use for His. And whenever He wants to put it to use for His glory in a way that doesn't line up with my own plan, I need to be able to lay my agenda aside and accept His desire.

So, here I am. Sitting in front of my computer. About to go hop on the elliptical machine to keep my cardio up. Missing the race. But knowing I'm in His will and He's got a plan.


Saturday, May 22, 2010

Unpleasant, but not Intolerable

Today, God had a very specific lesson in mind for me. It was a simple faith exercise. Kind of like homework, I guess. Just a simple assignment. And it could have been called, "How to praise through unexpected adversity." :) Nothing major, just a pop-quiz.

So far this year, I've not run in weather above 65 degrees. In fact, 65 might be pushing it. I knew that today was going to be warmer, and I was kind of looking forward to it. But I also knew that since it had been over half a year since I'd run in heat, I would have to relearn what it was like to run in that kind of temperature.

I guess I forgot how hot 70-80 degrees is for running. I always do when summer starts. It sounds like a nice temperature, but you forget that hot running starts in the mid-60s.

I slept in a little til about 7:30, got up, ate some oatmeal and plugged in for a quiet time with the Lord. Haha! It was about unexpected adverse situations and how to handle them in your mind. It made the point that you had to immediately surrender the situation to God, recognize His sovereignty and praise and trust Him. Otherwise, you'd get trapped in bitterness, anger and dispair.

Totally great lesson. If we truly trust God and know that He works for our good in all situations, then no matter what adversity we face, we can know that He's got a plan and is carrying us through.

Fast forward to miles 6-14 today. Until mile 6 it wasn't too bad. I was running into the wind, so I was able to stay cool. At mile 6, I headed around a turn that took me out of the headwind. Immediately I noticed the heat. And, man, was it hot! I think by that point it was in the low 70s. But by the time I was a few more miles down the road and running with the wind, it was darn close to 80. I had brought one flask of Powerade, but I ran out of that by mile 10.

Thank You, Lord! It was hard, but the whole time, I kept remembering the lesson from this morning. It really carried me through. The whole time I was on the road, the Lord helped me to understand that, while the circumstance wasn't ideal, it wasn't intolerable. He would carry me through. I could handle it because He could handle it. The situation didn't have to be pleasant, and no, I didn't enjoy it. But I knew the whole time that He would carry me through to the end.

What a great lesson today! No matter what situation, we don't have to deny the fact that it might be less than ideal, but we don't have to give in to the mentality that it's beyond what we can handle. God's always with us and will always see us through even the most crappy of situations. Might as well accept that as truth and take on His peace and strength. :)

Thanks for the great lesson, Lord. :)

Ciao, friends!
-Jill :)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Road Rage

I do have something to say this morning. And it is directed to all motorists: Please do not try to spitefully hit runners to teach them a lesson. You'll regret that, trust me. Now, this didn't happen to me, but to another runner just behind me.

First, I will tell you a secret that not many non-runners know. When you see us running on the paved streets when there is a perfectly good sidewalk about 5 feet away, there is a reason. The pavement is easier on your knees. Sidewalks are pretty much the most destructive surface you can run on. Hence, why we stick to the roads whenever possible.

So, this morning, I was running on the edge of the road close to the curb as usual. (I don't maliciously try to hack drivers off by taking up too much room. I do know my place.) There was another guy who was running toward me on the same side of the road. We passed each other, gave quick hellos and I kept running on. Not 20 seconds later, I hear a loud car horn behind me. I turned my head around and saw that this angry woman driving a dark green Toyota had honked at my fellow runner and pretty much tried to run him off the road by scooting as close to him as she could.

Let me set the scene even more. It's 6:15 a.m. This is a four-lane residential road. There is NO one else on the road. I'd been passed by 20 other cars that morning who had just veered slightly to the other lane and gone back after passing me. That's pretty logical. But this woman had an axe to grind with the runner. And when she passed me 5 seconds later, she wasn't any more removed from the curb. She was just mad.

Poor lady. My fellow runner and I certainly were protected by the Lord this morning, and undoubtedly, we're having better starts to our days than she is. But it was certainly a great exercise in praying for your enemies this morning. And it went right along with what we studied at Bible study last night about experiencing violence in this world. (We gave road rage as a very common example.)

Hey, that's just the world we're living in. Thank God that He controls the world with a Word. :)

Ciao, friends! Don't get run over today! :)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Jesus Calling

Um...Holy crap. I just ran a 7:20/avg. 14-mile run. :) That's never even come close to happening before! The closest I'd come was last weekend's 7:37 average of the same distance. YEOWZA!

Part of the reason I ran so fast this morning was because I wanted to time my half marathon. Not too bad 1:36:27. I haven't calculated the average on it, but it's not a bad pace. I can live with that. :) And who knows what I'll do on race day and what I hope will be a flat course.

Race day = June 19. I'm running in one last race before the summer heat puts the kabbash on racing until the fall. (At least for me. I know there are some people who can race in hot weather and love it.) But I'm in shape and want to maximize it before the summer sets in. So...Bring it on! I would love to place in my age group in this one. It's a pretty small race, so I do have a shot!

I haven't blogged in a while. Just haven't had much to say, I guess. (Shocking, I know!) But it's been a good week. Especially spiritually. God is really teaching me about the importance of letting Him transform your mind. How we think will determine how we live. We must win that battle of the mind or else we'll spend our lives in bondage to the enemy, who fills our heads with his poisonous lies. Thankfully, God's truth CAN trump all of those lies and expose them. But we have to position ourselves to receive that truth, and we also have to do our part. We have to be mindful of what we're thinking and then surrender our thoughts to God and allow Him to reveal whether they're true or false.

At the recommendation of some of my small group, I got the book "Jesus Calling" by Sarah Young. It's a devotion book that has messages written as if straight from the voice of Christ. It's a fine line to walk putting words in His mouth, but it's also VERY powerful when you receive these messages. Today's was about spending time alone with Him and now it's necessary and not just a luxury. So...I'm going to spend a good chunk of the afternoon in His presence. He carved out an afternoon free, so I'm going to accept His date. :) I hope you all have as wonderful of afternoons as I'm about to in the presence of my Savior. :)

Ciao, friends!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


A big shout-out to my friend Amy from my small group. She shared the most awesome quote with us: "Courage is fear that has said its prayers." AMEN! She didn't cite who'd said it, and I haven't looked it up, but whomever it was absolutely nailed it.

Sometimes I still get nervous before a routine run. I'll be worried that I haven't slept enough or eaten properly, or I'll fear getting injured. Heck, sometimes I just even fear how hard the workout is going to be. The best solution to those fears is ALWAYS prayer. Through prayer, God reminds me how big He is, how small I am, how much He loves me, how capable He is, that He is the provider of my strength, and that He will be with me. And then, He always tells me, "Jill, don't be ridiculous. You and I have done this a thousand times. Go out and enjoy the experience with Me." :) Thanks, God, for Your patience with me.

I think the most clear picture of that quote above is Jesus in the garden. Worst fear ever? Yes. Most courage ever? Yes. MASSIVE prayer? Yes. That's how Jesus handled fear--He prayed. And He prayed honestly.

If I'm scared before I run (for whatever reason), it's important to verbalize the fears to the Lord so that He can squash them. It's that way with any fear in life. Heck, even going to work some days takes courage and prayer. (I'm about to head out to a magazine deadline day. COURAGE!) But we must remember how strong and mighty the Lord is and that He's with us.

Today, let's say our prayers and accept His courage. :)


Monday, May 10, 2010

Get Focused

First, thanks to everyone who read this on Saturday and prayed for Georgia. I got home Saturday afternoon and went straight to her and Jim's house. Walked in, hugged Jim, and then went and latched on to Georgia and cried. We both did. It's really scary to almost lose someone you love so much. That hasn't happened to me in a really long time. And I am thanking the Lord that He saw fit for her to stay here on earth for a little while longer. I can't imagine life without her. And when I try to think of what that would be like, I break down.

So...please keep praying for Jim and Georgia. They have a good system of care for her now, but it's tough, and the road to healing will be long. But I know that the Lord is with them. That's evident in the fact that she's still here at all!

The run today was nice. One of my easy days out there, and I didn't take the iPod so that I could get in some extra prayer time. That was awesome. My best conversations with God happen in two places: the running road and my closet. :) I think it has to do with the solitude of each. Jesus has my full attention.

You know, the story of Peter walking on water with Christ has been coming up a lot lately in my life. One thing I've been thinking about recently, especially in my own life, is just how important it is to focus on the right thing. Peter looked at Christ; he walked. Peter looked at the waves; he sank. In my life, I look at Christ; I walk. I look at the problems; I sink. It's easy to let troubles overwhelm us when we forget that Jesus is right there, allowing us to stand on stormy waters. But when we look at Him only, we won't see the massive waves crashing around us. I know for me recently, I've spent far too much time looking at the waves and forgetting that Jesus is right there allowing me to walk on water with Him.

Today, I want to stay focused on Him. And I will pray that all of you will do the same! :)

Love you guys!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Speed and Prayers

Um, nothing like a little love and concern to fuel a pace. I got a call last night that my aunt Georgia is really sick. I talked with her on the phone, and her voice really scared me. I almost got in the car and headed home then, but I didn't. I decided to stay here.

Well, when I got up this morning, I knew I wouldn't be at peace if I didn't go home to see her. So, I called my momsy, told her I was coming home, choked down some oatmeal, packed a bag and then headed out for a run (on too full of a stomach). :) Either way, it didn't matter, I wanted so badly to get on the road that my legs FLEW. It was the fastest long run I've ever done. 7:37 pace. Not that it was exceptionally long, but it was a long run, and it was in strong wind. But urgency pushed me on.

"Why is she blogging if she's so anxious to get home?" you may ask. Well, there's an urgency, but there's also a demand from my knees to be iced. I'm letting them get their post-run treatment and then hitting the road.

No long spiritual lessons today. No deep thoughts. Just a prayer request for Georgia--one of the dearest women to my heart. Please pray for her.

Thanks, all!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Martyrs, Thieves and New Shoes

Happy Friday, everyone! And a MARVELOUS day it is! :) Why? Because it's NEW SHOE DAY!!! :) :)

This is a big day in the life of runners. We get new shoes 3-4 times a year, and every time we do, we get about 2-3 days of absolute HEAVEN on our feet. It feels like you're running on pillows! The old shoes have gotten beat down pretty badly, but you don't even realize it because it happens so gradually. Until, that is, you slip on a pair of new babies and take 'em for a spin. Oh, hallelujah! :)

When I run, I wear the Saucony Ride. They're not the most beautiful things in the world, but man, do they feel good! :) They're rated pretty well among neutral/cushioning shoes regarding their softness, and that's what I like. I need good support, but I need good cushion more. Every runner is different (hence the number of shoes out there), but this is just the one I've found that fits my running style best. So...Praise God for the first week in the new shoes! I'll be celebrating the whole way! :) And a HUGE thanks to Ashley for making the pit stop by Gary Gribble's for the pick up. Ash, you are

I've had a lot of feedback from the blogs the last couple of days, and I want to thank everyone for their encouragement. Man, I am truly surrounded by a "great cloud of witnesses." :) I love you all so much! And I want to encourage you back and say how incredible you are to take the time to bless your sister over here. :) I really have been blessed with some great friends.

There's a song by Jennifer Knapp that I've had rolling around in my head for the past couple of days. It really brings a smile to my face regarding all of life's challenges and the truth about what we are to do with them. If you have a chance to listen to "Martyrs and Thieves" totally do it. It will encourage you so much! But here's a line from the chorus:

"So turn on the light and reveal all the glory.
I am not afraid to bare all my weakness
knowing in meekness
I have a kingdom to gain
where there is peace and love in the light, in the light.
Oh, I am not afraid
to let Your light shine bright in my life, in my life..."

Amen, sister! Turn on the light! Let's bear our weakness today knowing that in our weakness, He is strongest.

Ciao, friends!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Truth and such...

Good morning, everyone! :) Happy Thursday! :) What a marvelous morning to get out and use the bodies we've been given by God. Great cool temperature and a bright, shining sun. Praise the Lord! Great run this morning, by the way. Far, fast and filled with the Lord's presence! :)

I have to apologize if I alarmed anyone else with yesterday's post. I shared from a point of great frustration, and I should have been more peaceful about it. God is so good. He's got everything under control, and I have nothing to worry about. He's graciously and patiently revealing to me many of the things over the past few months that I could have done better, and He's making adjustments in my heart and mind.

For one thing--and I just realized this on the run this morning--I didn't realize how much I thought my weight was tied to my finish time in Boston. I so badly wanted to PR that I subconsciously kept trying to keep dropping pounds so that I could run faster. I'd read somewhere that so many pounds is equal to so many minutes off your marathon time. That was always in the back of my head during training. That's one of the reasons I was internally okay with it when I went to a really low weight. Sure, I looked bad, but don't all runners? Especially the fast ones? :)

Well, I have to say. . . I think I am wrong about that. I have two shining examples of FAST women who are at healthy weights who can kick my butt on the road any day. The weight thing certainly does carry some truth, but it's not the final say. And I should have been more concerned with my overall health than with my finish time anyway.

So, there's one lesson from the day. For my next marathon, I'm going to do a few things differently. Nutrition will be one of them. The amount of control I put into my schedule will be another. I don't want to abandon my social life again, and I don't think I have to.

But that's a blog for another time...:)

Ciao, friends!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Shedding Light

I have a feeling that Tuesday nights and Wednesday mornings are always going to be a bit of a struggle. As much as I look forward to the morning runs, I look forward in equal dread of the Wednesday elliptical machine workout. It has nothing to do with the physical action itself--I'm glad to give my knees and body the rest they deserve. It's the sheer boredom factor.

In the past workouts, God has helped me focus by meditating on Scripture. Today, He gave me quality time with the new issue of Runner's World. YES!!!!!!! :) I was wondering when I'd get a chance to sit down and read it. Well, there's a magazine stand on that workout machine for a reason. I'm sure it hurt my focus on the workout, but really, let's be honest. These days aren't about getting fitter. They're about getting moving in a restful way. So, I feel completely okay with the fact that I got to read up on Ryan and Sara Hall's recipe for Cytomax pancakes. haha! :)

I had an interesting conversation with my friend Ashley yesterday. I have told you all that a TON of people are questioning my weight and if there's something wrong with me in the head about it. Well, if you read the blog yesterday, you will know that I'm FULLY aware that I'm too thin, and I'm eating more to try and regain some of the healthy weight. It's not going to happen overnight, but it will balance out. I fully believe the Lord is at work and giving me great wisdom and counsel about it. I'm (again) enjoying the larger bowl of oatmeal as we speak.

But here was the question that came up in the conversation. With the amount of gossip that's gone on about me in the last few months, wouldn't it just be easier for me to e-mail blast everyone and say, "Hey, look. I recognize a problem. I'm dealing with it. You can all stop talking now." Why are we so afraid of doing that? It seems like such a simple solution.

What if we did that with all of our sins? Isn't that what God tells us to do when He says we should confess our sins to one another so that we may be healed. (That's in James 5.) Why are we so afraid of revealing our shortcomings? Are we afraid of others judging us? Don't they have issues of their own? Why do we have to be so perfect?

Listen, we ALL have our issues. We are all sinners bathing in the blood and water at the foot of the cross. What is the big deal about being open in our struggles? The light is where sin goes to die. In darkness and privacy it breeds and grows. Let's just be real! We all struggle. We all sin. We all need Jesus desperately.

I'm screwed up, and I'm seeing a HIGH Counselor about it. ;) What about you? :)


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

I Get It

What a run this morning!! :) Ten miles, 7:45 average. Great spring weather. Hallelujah!! :) Strength, energy and life! Thank You, LORD!

So, I've found a new theme song. It's "Alive Again" by Matt Maher. It's kind of been out for a long time, so I know we all know it, but today as I was running, it hit me between the eyes:

"I woke up in darkness
surrounded by silence
oh where, where have I gone?
I woke to reality
losing its grip on me
oh where, where have I gone?
Cause I can see the light
before I see the sunrise.

"You called and you shouted
broke through my deafness
now I’m breathing in
and breathing out
I’m alive again.
You shattered my darkness
washed away my blindness
now I’m breathing in
and breathing out.
I’m alive again!"

He's called and shouted at me for the past five months. And He's finally broken through my deafness. He's given me wake-up call after wake-up call, and I have ignored Him. But I finally get it. He's doing this because He loves me and because it is best.

SO many people have told me since Christmas that I'm too thin. I understood that, and I knew it, and I always figured I'd do something about it...down the road. Well, I never really got it that being too thin also means being unhealthy. I just thought it was that I looked ridiculous.

Oh, shame on me! God has given me a body, and I am supposed to take care of it! But instead of taking care of it, I've abused it and driven it into the ground. I've robbed it of vital nourishment out or fear and ignorance, and now I'm in a hole.

But praise God, I finally get it. If I want to be a runner, I have to eat like one. That's different than eating like I did before. And I can't fear it. It's good for me. It's what I'm supposed to do. And, as a woman, that's a hard pill to swallow. We all have insecurities. (Mine are deep and take a LOT longer to tell than a blog will allow.) And the idea of actually putting ON weight is pretty terrifying. But God has been patient with me long enough. It's time for me to stop ignoring His warnings and start obeying Him before He has to take drastic measures to get my attention.

Lord, I get it. Thank You for Your mercy and patience. Give me the courage to live healthfully, Lord. I trust You!

If you feel like it, pray for me today, that I'll have peace in eating the calories my body requires. :) Extra oatmeal this morning! Yum! :)

Have a great day, friends! Let's all remember Jeremiah 29:11!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Praise on the Road

Some days you just feel like going fast. :) Today was one of those days for me. From the first step of the run, I felt awesome. The body was just geared up to go! :) (Surprising, since that's not what it said when the alarm went off at 5:00. haha!)

So, what's a girl to do other than just go with it? :) I went for a fast 6.5 miles and enjoyed EVERY second of it. Especially since it was high 50s with almost zero wind. Wow. :) What a day it's been already! :) Best start to the morning. :)

In my time with the Lord before the run, I read Hebrews 13:15 -- "Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name."

What a great verse to read before a run! It gives such meaning and purpose to every step. Every move of your body becomes like an offering of praise to the Lord, who gave you the body and the strength and the endurance. Thank You, Lord, for Your life and strength and power. Thank You for giving us bodies to use for Your glory! Help us to be good stewards of them, Father. And let us offer you frequent praise today. Great things You have done!

Have a great day, all! :)

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Training Detox

As much as I have come to love the mornings on the road, I've become just as big a fan of the Sunday mornings off of it. It's my rest day. :) And I'm enjoying it. :) This morning was so beautiful that I still got to experience the outdoors, I just enjoyed it in a more idle way by grabbibg my Bible and heading for one of the benches in the apartment complex. (And grabbed the coffee cup, too. Sunday morning wouldn't be complete without it!)

I didn't write yesterday because I didn't have time between the run and our church service project. It was an awesome run, though. UNBELIEVABLE weather. No wind for once! And, I can tell that I'm coming down out of training mode. I ran it a little slower--over 8 per mile--and I totally didn't care. :)

I'm learning that it's okay to ease out of training, just as you ease into it. At least for me, it's okay. After the marathon and training so hard for so long, I would have gone CRAZY if I'd just stopped running for a while. Instead, I eased out of the training mode by gradually scaling back, and I'm getting now to the point where I'm almost ready to engage in running like a normal person again. :) Almost. I'll get there. Life circumstances will step in and make me.

One other thing I've also had to embrace over the last two weeks has been the absence of any sort of life I had while training. You wake up after the marathon and realize that you've turned down so many social opportunities over the past four months that no one even bothers asking you to do anything anymore because you'll just say no. What a lonely position to be in! But I'm working on that, too. It's just going to take some effort and humility (and maybe some bribery with homemade cookies) to beg my friends for their company. :)

So, that's the scoop. Training detox is well underway, it's just taking some time. But I'm also looking at the future race calendar and trying to decide what races to do in the fall. I'm looking at a half in September and another full in October. I'll keep you posted! :) More life lessons from the road to come! :)

Ciao, friends! Enjoy a day and be sure to position yourself to encounter Christ today! :)


Friday, April 30, 2010

Questions of Identity

I have 10 brief minutes to blog this morning before I head into the office, and I want to pose a question to you all. . . How much of your personality is who God created you to be and how much of it is our sinful, flesh nature?

I've been asking God this question for a while, and it really came up during my run this morning. (Run was AWEsome, by the way. Great weather--a few sprinkles and wind at 68 degrees. No Garmin or iPod--thus, the deep thoughts.) Especially when it comes to my being so task-driven. Man, there is nothing like going full-force after a goal. I love it! :) I'm good at it. Just putting your head down and going for something.

Now, how much of that is God-given and how much of it is just Jill being an intense, demanding control freak? :) How much of it does He use for His glory, and how much does He ask me to change? I know the sin part is obviously not up for debate, but what about personality?

My question for you--feel free to e-mail or Facebook me responses--is whether or not you've dealt with this in your own life and, if so, what did you find out?

Thanks, friends! :) Have a great Friday!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Don't Fear the Wind

haha! Well, there's proof in the power of K-LOVE. I just checked the analytics site on the blog and we had more than 100 hits on both Monday and Tuesday. Yesterday? 18. haha! :) Thanks to those of you who read this. Your loyalty just got spotlighted. :)

Had an awesome and hard run this morning. It was a "perfect" (*wink*) 65 degrees out. The only thing was the wind. Another yowza of a Midwest windstorm morning. Even now as I look out my window at the tops of the trees blowing it looks so intimidating. Thanks to God for the strength to run in that. It's such a credit to Him that the wind doesn't intimidate me a whole lot anymore. By now, after running in it so many times, I know that He'll pull me through. Eventually you get to run WITH the wind if you endure going against it. And that's the fun part. As tough as it was going out today with the 30+ mph headwind, it was that much more fun flying in the opposite direction as I headed back.

The topic of storms has come up a lot in my time with the Lord lately. Recently, as I was reading Max Lucado's "Fearless," I was posed the question of how different the situation would have been if there had been no storm the night Jesus walked on the water. Lucado asked us to think about how Peter's adventure would have turned out differently. Would he have even gotten out of the boat at all? Would he simply have applauded Jesus for His trick of walking on calm water?

I think Peter still would have gotten out of the boat. But I think it would have been a far different situation. The reason this story is so powerful is because it tells what happens when we take our eyes off Christ in the middle of trials. If the sea had been calm, I think Peter would have called to Jesus, gotten out of the boat and trotted over to him. Knowing a little about Peter's character, too, I think he would have been a little prideful about it. There would have been nothing for him to fear. And he would have likely just walked up to Jesus and said, "Hey, this is awesome! Thanks for helping ME be awesome, too!"

The reason the storm is such a key to this illustration is because Peter got out of the boat in a scary situation. Then, once he was out on a limb with Jesus, he let the storm capture his attention and take him down. Jesus, of course, was there to rescue him and tell him that he shouldn't have doubted.

Man, our fears are so powerful. They are cancerous! They will rob us of life. They will steal everything God wants for us. Like today, if I'd thought about the wind and opted not to run because I feared the tough workout, I'd have missed out on the opportunity to soar with Him and get stronger.

Whatever storm you're facing today, get out of the boat and fix your eyes on Christ. And DON'T doubt. Just realize that the fears are bluffs from the enemy and believe Christ when He tells you that there's nothing to fear. :)

Ciao, friends!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Idol-Killing Elliptical Machine

"Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me." - Isaiah 46:9

Well, it wasn't easy, but I survived an hour on the elliptical in place of a morning run. And, okay...It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I got to read some Scripture memory cards (one of which was the verse above) and listen to a nice sermon from Chip Ingram about the true person of Christ. AND I got to see the seven-day weather forecast eight different times! (Just so you know, it's going to be windy and warm tomorrow with a high of 80.) :)

But what made it more than worth it was knowing that it was what I was SUPPOSED to be doing.

I'm going to be honest with you. There are many days when I feel like running is my spiritual "dirty mistress." I feel like I'm cheating on God with it. And I KNOW that's not how it should be. For one, I know that He's given me running as a gift. He wants it to be a blessing and a way for us to connect. But when I worship the gift over the giver, it actually takes me farther away from Him.

When I feel like I HAVE to run and that nothing and no one will stop me from running, that's when I feel like running has become my "mistress." It's taken on a life that it shouldn't have and a role of importance that it doesn't deserve.

Friends, this is why the once-a-week cross-train is so important. Today, I have one more experiential truth that I won't die if I don't run. One more true experience in which I realize that the elliptical machine won't kill me and that there's always tomorrow.

You know what's even better? I bet this will make tomorrow's run even sweeter. :) My legs will feel fresher, and I'll enjoy it more after a break. And it all comes back to Romans 8:28 that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. I've been called to run, but according to His purpose. And He's got a GOOD plan in ALL things--even cross-training. :)

So, I survived. :) I don't have to do it again until next Wednesday. :) haha! Maybe between now and then I'll get even more perspective and dread it even a little less. :)

Until later...Have a great day, friends!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Fire Trucks, Idols and Ellipticals

You know what I love? When running is the one thing that will actually help you through a physical ailment. That doesn't happen very often. haha! But I'm so grateful that it's the case with me. :) I will NOT go into details about what's going on with me physically, but I just will say that it's a souvenier from Boston that I didn't intend to pick up. :) We're working through it. :)

Today's run was what running is all about. Pushing yourself just a little bit. Enjoying the great weather. Enjoying the legs that God's given you. And...getting honked at by a truckload of firemen. haha! :) Hallelujah! :) That was funny. To the group of KC, MO's finest, thanks for making my morning. :)

Anyway, my legs feel good and worked out after a tough, awesome run against a nice breeze. That will make tomorrow easier...

Tomorrow is my dreaded cross-training day. Oy. I loathe cross-training. But I've decided two things:

1. I have to cross-train one day every week in order to keep running from becoming an idol. It reminds me that running is NOT where I find my ultimate peace--Jesus alone can do that. Only by sacrificing it periodically do I consciously remain aware of that.

2. I have to cross-train in order to protect my body and be a good steward of the gift of running. God has given me a passion and a gift. I have to steward it well. When I run my body into the ground, it's not taking good care of what He's given me, it's abusing it. If I cross-train one day, it saves my joints and gives me a day to recover between tough workouts.

So...Pray for me. :) It's really hard to look forward to the elliptical machine. Especially when it will be so nice outside. But it doesn't matter. God comes first. And He will see me through it, and I'll be closer to Him as a result.

Thanks, Lord, in advance for seeing me through. Heck, maybe I'll even enjoy it just a little. :)

Ciao, friends!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Whatever you do...

Good morning, everyone! Happy Monday! :) It's going to be a great week. Why? Because the Lord is the Lord, and He loves us!

So, I got a text message from my PPB telling me that our post-race story is on K-LOVE today! Sa-weet! :) :) I'm so pumped! What God did through this whole marathon experience needs to be shared with others. Hopefully more people will be inspired to use their gifts for the Lord!

If you are reading this after visiting the K-LOVE page, I have a message for you. You can do this, too!! Maybe not run a marathon, but you can use whatever God has blessed you to enjoy and turn it into a way to further the Kingdom. That's why He gives us those desires! To return them to Him for His glory! :)

Back in December when I was getting ready to train for the Boston Marathon, I realized that it needed to have eternal impact if it was truly going to be worth it. It's a TON of work and time, and if it isn't for more than just a medal, it's not worth it. So, through prayer and connections, the Lord led me to Military Ministry and showed me that we could generate hope and healing for the troops through the marathon training. Sweet!! Who knew that the simple act of running would generate the most amazing team dynamic among a group of strangers while also raising more than $3,500 to meet the spiritual needs of the military! :) Hallelujah!! :)

It's a loooooooooooong story, so if this is your first time on this page, then I would totally encourage you to read maybe the first entry back in January or a couple of the first ones. Then read the last one from the marathon on April 19th. There's a TON in between, but hopefully this will show you what God can do when we give our gifts back to Him. Miracles!! :)

That's why we are given gifts to begin with! One of the guys in my office has a sign hanging on his door that says, "Life is God's gift to us. What we do with it is our gift back to God." It's a quote that his dad lived by, and I totally love it. We only have a few years here on this earth. If we spend all of our time using our gifts only to please ourselves, what will it matter? But, if we use the passions and abilities that we've been given as we are SUPPOSED to use them, we will make a lasting impact on this earth. My aunt recently wrote to me in a card this simple phrase: "What is done for Christ will last."

I've said it before, my Boston Marathon medal will eventually get lost. The jacket won't fit. The shirt will get coffee-stained. :) (Those who know me KNOW that's true.) But what is done for Christ will last. All the miles, all the pain, all the time...It was all worth it because of what lies on the other side. Some soldier is going to be sitting in Afghanistan, homesick and scared, and he's going to open a Rapid Deployment Kit that was funded by this race team, and he's going to realize his need for the Lord. He's going to turn to Him in prayer, maybe for the first time. That is priceless.

Whatever you are passionate about--for me it's running--whatever you are gifted to do, I want to challenge you to find a way to do it for the Lord. Colossians 3:23-24 instructs us, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving."

Go for it! You CAN make a difference! Get creative! And...if you want to run with us for Military Ministry, there's always room on the team. :) I hear that there's a group forming for the Marine Corps Marathon in October. You in? :)

Have a great day in the Lord, all! :)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Humble Pie :)

hahaha! The joke is TOTALLY on me.

I got up and went out for a great run this morning. I was TOTALLY feeling great. The legs were strong after a week of easy runs, and the weather was awesome. Every time I looked down at my watch it showed a great pace, and I couldn't help but run with a little bit of new confidence. I'd just run the stinkin' Boston Marathon with an awesome PR! :)

So, I get home and check my pace. . . 8 minutes even. WHAT? That's so slow! hahaha! :) What the? Where did I mess up on the road? How did I wind up going over 7?

Well, Jill. . . You're not quite the new stud you think you are, are you? :)

It's so funny. As I was running, I looked down at my watch at one point and saw a nice 7:30 pace. I thought to myself, "That's so cool. Mid-sevens must just be my new average pace for casual runs."

You know, I guess I was somehow figuring that my Boston success automatically meant that I'd be a fast runner from now on. Um, no. I think I'm going to have to work hard just like everyone else. I'm going to have to train for fast times just like the rest of the world. There's no coasting on past success. It's going to take work.

But don't worry. I'm not going to do that, yet. I know I need to take it easy. It's just the revelation I had this morning. :) And I am pretty sure that lesson goes with anything in life. If we want to get better, we have to work at it. Obviously, that goes for our relationship with Christ, too. Wanna stay connected to Him? You gotta pursue it. Like any relationship, it involves communication and time. You can't coast by and make that relationship prosper without putting anything into it.

Alright, I'm off to the birthday party of one of my favorite 3-year-olds in the whole world. :) Have a great day, everyone!

-Jill :)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Proverbs 10:25

In the post-marathon recovery week, I went out for another Garmin-less run this morning just to connect with the Lord and spend some time in prayer. Since the weather radar showed rain and showers all over the area, I decided against the iPod, too. No gadgets. Just me and time to talk with and listen to God.

A little under halfway through the run, I was thoroughly enjoying the time and thinking life was just about perfect at that moment when all of a sudden the skies opened up and it started pouring and blowing. Good thing I'd worn a rain hat and jacket. :) It didn't throw me too much. I've run in the rain before and have learned that it won't kill me. I'll eventually make it back to my place and just enjoy the warm shower that much more.

Funnily enough, the rain downpour only lasted for about a minute and then it was back to normal. Just a slight breeze and a few sprinkles. Nice! Thanks, God.

As I ran home, I thought about it in a spiritual sense. How many times to the storms of life catch us off guard when we're running along in life? This happened to me over and over during the last four months of training. I'd be training as normal when all of a sudden, a random injury would strike, and I'd freak out about it. Before long, though, I was better and back on the road. There had been NO reason to worry. God had it under control the whole time.

How often do we do that? We freak out about the smallest things, when all we need to do is put our heads down, focus on who God is and keep going knowing that He'll eventually lead us through. No, not every one of life's problems are trivial, but God is still the God of all of them. He sees the big picture and knows when the storm will stop. He's the One who will stop it! But only after He's taught us the valuable lessons we can only learn from the wind and rain.

One of my favorite verses is Proverbs 10:25 - "When the storm has swept by the wicked are gone, but the righteous stand firm forever."

Today, whatever storm comes up on you unexpectedly, put your head down, focus on Christ and trust Him. He will eventually lead you through it and back to a dry, warm home. You CAN trust Him.

Have a great day in Him, friends!