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!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Day 1...Kind of. :)

I think I'm going to keep blogging about the running. :) It's such a fun way to process what God speaks during the times spent on the road. And I fully believe that He's given me running as a way to both create intimacy between Himself and me, and also for me to share what He teaches me. Win-win. Right? Or, as Michael Scott would say, win-win-win! :) haha!

The hardest part of a marathon is often not the training or the race itself, but the post-race week. You're sore and recovering and tired and hungry, and all you want to do is run really fast because you just had an awesome experience on the race course! But...Your body says, "No!" haha! :)

I took the day after the marathon off from running and did a ton of walking to get my legs stretched out and moving. It was a great opportunity for Mom and me to explore the Freedom Trail in Boston. Then, I did an easy run yesterday morning along the Charles river and up around Harvard. Now THAT was just picturesque. It was exactly like what you see in all the movies. Running by the river with the rowing teams out practicing, all the Harvard students out for their morning runs, too. :) It was awesome! And Harvard Square was super cool.

Then, today, I returned home. Back to real life.

One thing I'd been praying about was how to re-enter the world of non-training. After being in training for four months, it's so hard to return to balanced everyday life. Especially when it comes to running. You're so used to having a daily schedule and pace goals, but all of a sudden you're left with complete and total freedom. For me, it's always a good time to evaluate how long I should take it easy and when I will do my next race. I'm formulating that plan right now, but I KNOW that I will not be training until at least June. So, I need to be strategic in resting and recovering and letting my body heal.

It's so hard mentally, folks. I'm really fast right now! And I do NOT like the idea of losing all that speed. But I know that if I don't, I'll do more damage to my body than good. My little frame needs some time to recharge. Trouble is, I absolutely loathe cross-training. haha! :)

So, here's the scoop. I learned this weekend that running is a gift from God. "Didn't she know that already?" you may ask. Well, I kind of did, but I kind of didn't. I think I'm realizing it now. Not everyone is called to do this. Not everyone is gifted to be able to run that far or fast. God has given running to me as a HUGE gift. I want to start being more grateful for it. And, I want to start being a better steward of it. If that means that I cross-train once a week in order to keep it strong, then so be it. I have to be a good steward of the gifts He's given me, just like everything else He entrusts to me.

Today, I took a baby step in the right direction. I took off my Garmin. :) haha! Baby step, yes, but a big one. With the Garmin watch, I automatically go into training mode. I check my pace and miles and find it nearly impossible to run slowly or easily. I will constantly be trying to get a better time. Today, I left the house for my normal loop, and was completely free of any pressure. I have no idea what my pace was. I'm sure it was slow. But I know that I was more fully engaged with God on the road than I had been in a while. Yes, the training runs were very spiritual, but this one was more intimate. I had nothing to distract me from prayer and communion with Him.

So, that's going to be my "goal" for the non-training period. My goal is to not have a goal. haha! My goal will be to enjoy the running for what it is: a time to get myself in touch with my Father and hear from Him. A time to let my body recover and enjoy the running again. A time to pray for my friends and family and to intercede before the days begin. And, I have no doubt that it will be a sweet time. :) Then, when training rolls around again, I'll be ready to go.

Until then, it's all about enjoying the road. :)

Ciao, friends! :)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Day 109...

"But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." - Isaiah 40:31

I don't even know where to begin. WE DID IT!! :) :) In strength not our own. So much has happened in the last two days. So much God. So much.

The basics are these: I blew a hole in my goal time by a full 6 minutes today! 3:24:19. Wow. God, how on earth?? :) It was an amazing, amazing day.

It started at 5:00 a.m. when I got up and did a little packing, eating and stretching. Momsy and I prayed, and I left the hotel at 6:00. Travel to Boston Common was an easy train ride, and I got there in time to load the buses to Hopkington. What was REALLY cool was that my friend Quinn (who did her first 22-miler with me and Jackie earlier) saw me and flagged me down. Hallelujah for a familiar face to ride the bus with! :) We took in the experience and got there in plenty of time to set up camp in Athletes' Village. We connected with Jackie and another buddy, Mark, for a while before they (fast runners that they are) had to leave for the start of Wave 1.

I waited for a while by myself until it was time for Wave 2, but just before I was putting my phone in my bag, I got a call from Brenda at Military Ministry. What a blessing!! :) She connected with me for a while and then she put General Dees on the phone. WOW! Talk about an unexpected blessing!! :) That was amazing. And it totally gave me the best reminder of why I was running. God bless our military! :)

The start of the race was awesome. As expected, I had to rein myself in to make sure I kept it slow for the first 5 miles. That was hard because I was getting passed left and right. But I managed to keep it slow by telling myself that they were all the people I'd be passing at miles 22-26. :) haha! (So true, by the way.)

The weather was unreal. Absolutely perfect. Slight wind. Cool temps. Absolutely tailor-made for a marathon. The uniform was perfect and the arm-warmers were key. :)

Boston is the most amazing marathon. They have water stops, like, every mile. I never worried about being hydrated! Though, I almost got a side cramp at mile 9, which really kind of made me nervous. I've never dealt with those before, but I know they're not good. My friend Carl (who placed 5th in the Master's division!) got a bad one at mile 15 and got a dose of pain management today. :)

But the race, for me, was just unreal. There was only one really tough mile mentally, and that was mile 10. It was just a few minutes when I realized how far we had left to go, and I really don't think I'd found my stride, yet. But that's when Isaiah 40:31 came alive. I repeated it to myself a few times, and really meditated on the truth of it. I WOULD soar on wings like eagles. I would run and not grow weary. Before I knew it, the Holy Spirit had lifted me out of the funk, and we were running again with confidence and peace.

One thing the Lord really used to keep me engaged today was the abundance of soldiers lining the course. I made it my personal goal to thank every one of them for what they did. :) And, wouldn't you know it, whenever I'd feel like the race was getting hard, a soldier would appear in the crowd, and I'd connect with him or her and forget my own pain. It was so humbling knowing that I was able to thank so many of them today just because I was running a marathon. And their encouragement back to me fueled me more than I can tell you.

The Boston course is pretty gritty. There's no flat. You're either going up or going down. And what is surprising is that, by the end, the coming down is more painful than the going up.

They don't lie. The hills of Newton are tough. Heartbreak isnt' so much the hardest hill as it is simply the last one in a long line of them, which makes it tough. But once you're up, you're set. A lot of people say that the miles after Heartbreak (21-26.2) are the hardest, but I think I'd heard that so many times that I was prepared for it. Therefore, they were the BEST for me! :) After the hills, I expected the downhill to hurt, so I wasn't thrown off when it did. I just gutted through it. By the time I reached Boston for the last three miles, the crowd was so intense that I couldn't help by lay it all on the line and push it to the limit! :) "I don't want anything left," I kept saying in my head. So, for the last three miles, I practically sprinted. (As much as you can after running that far.) I think my miles were under 7 minutes for the last two. Praise God. Run and not grow weary. Soar on wings like eagles.

I wanted to blog about this many times, but it never seemed right until now. There's a song that the Lord gave me when I started training that has been my theme song all the way through. And it VERY much was today as I ran. It's called "Carry Me Through" by Dave Barnes.

In this song, he talks about a mountain, a river and a city that he has to climb/cross/reach in strength not his own. This fit everything about Boston.

The mountain: Heartbreak Hill
The river: the Charles
The city: Boston

The verse about the mountain was something that I sang to myself through the tough points today, as well. These mean so much to me now.

"There's a mountain
here before me.
And I'm gonna climb it
with strength not my own.
He's gonna meet me
where the mountain beats me.
And carry me through,
carry me through."

Praise God. He carried me through. He met me at every point where the mountain was about to beat me today and He carried me through.

Friends, your support has meant so much to me during this process. Your prayers have carried me more than any of us will ever know this side of Heaven. Your encouragement has lifted me. Your belief and faith have inspired me.

As I did my post-race interview with K-LOVE today, I was reminded of what one of my friends told me before this race began: "What is done for Christ will last." This medal will eventually be packed away. This jacket will eventually not fit (or get coffee stained). :) The injuries will heal (I hurt!). But what has been done for Christ will last. We rallied for our troops. We raised enough to send out more than 3,000 RDKs!! We fueled chaplains. We provided combat trauma materials. Thank You, Lord, for letting us bring You glory through this! I pray that you all are encouraged to know that you were a part of something much bigger than a one-day race. You were a part of eternity. God bless you all. :)


P.S. I've had so much fun blogging throughout this whole thing! I'm SO not going to stop. I think I'll keep the blog open and start making a running diary of sorts and record what God does through it in the future. I'll keep you posted! :)Until then...Ciao! :)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Day 108...

Happy Marathon Eve!!! :) Momsy and I are safely in Boston and enjoying a nice morning in Brookline. So far, the weather is cold and rainy, but that just means that it's going to be warm and sunny tomorrow. (hahaha! And that would be prayer request #1.) :)

Boston rocks. EVERYbody runs here. I don't care where you are! They run along the Charles. They run down Beacon Street. They just run! I don't know how many of them are out-of-towners who are just in for the marathon tomorrow, but so far, we've seen more people running than walking! :)

I've only been to this town once and that was for less than a day to do a quick interview at Fenway, thus, we have a lot of exploring to do! I'm such a history freak, I can't wait to see some of the Revolutionary War stuff. But...That will have to wait until Tuesday. Because today = Marathon Expo and FCA Chapel. Tomorrow = RACE!! Game face needs to remain ON for now.

I tell you what, guys. The Lord really moved in me this morning. This whole time of training, I've felt like Peter. "Lord, I'll never deny You! Never!" And then we all know what happened. I've felt like that a lot. That I started out with such a pure heart in wanting to serve Him and bless our troops, but I've allowed pride and fear to squelch it out. I've denied Him more than once. But, get this...In John, we read that even though Peter denied Christ, he was still able to be used of the Lord. Jesus reinstated him and told him to go feed His sheep.

That is amazing to me. Praise God. That means that, no matter where my heart has been over these last four months, He can still use me to feed His sheep in this race. He's still going to allow me to be His vessel. I don't deserve His grace or mercy or love, but I receive it.

"Lord, thank You for Your mercy and grace. Thank You that You are still able to use a sinful woman to feed Your sheep. Help me to bring Your light and love to this race. I know that's why You've brought me here. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen."

Well, friends, by the time I write to you all again, it will all be over! I can't believe it's here. What a journey! Let's wrap it up well. :) I can't wait to see the story I get to post tomorrow!! :)

Prayer Requests:
-For rest today and ordered steps.
-For the time at the expo and chapel to be blessed.
-For me to feed myself adequately and fuel properly for tomorrow.
-For travel from the hotel to the marathon shuttles.
-For the chance to be a light for Christ on the course.
-For a chance to connect people to Military Ministry and/or FCA.
-For the race itself!!! :) Pray for me from 9:30 a.m. Central until 1:30 p.m. May I run HIS race!

Love you all!!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Day 107...

There you have it! The running is complete. :) Last one is in the books. It's game time! :) Went out for an easy run this morning before Ashley picks me up for the airport. I can't say that it was a peaceful or fun run--I've got a lot to think about, and my thoughts are going nuts!--but it is done! And now, it's time to race! :) I'm so excited to get to Boston! Bean Town, here we come! :)

Yesterday was pretty emotional. As I get ready to do this, I'm getting so much encouragement that is just blessing my socks off. My co-workers put up signs for me in my office yesterday and let me run through a mock finish banner. :) Then, Ashley put together a surprise "Book of Encouragement" for me, complete with notes from my friends and family. (THANK YOU ALL if you wrote one!) I started to read it last night, got through the first one, which is from my sister, and started bawling. :) I put it away and decided to read more later. :) That will make for some amazing reading throughout the weekend. To everyone who contributed to that: THANK YOU.

Another emotional experience? I started writing the names of soldiers on my jersey last night. Wow. Some of them I know, some of them I don't. But I'm so humbled by what they do. The fact that I can carry them with me on the race...What a blessing. It's so humbling to be running on their behalf. It is their service and sacrifice that started this whole thing. The Holy Spirit has moved in me, and in all of us I think, to consider what they do and how we can serve them. And to think that running can do that is just amazing to me.

Friends, as I head off to Boston, would you be in prayer very intentionally this weekend? There are two things at which I fall very short: peace and physical rest. Please pray that the Lord would overcome my anxious thoughts and give me the peace that passes all understanding. And please pray for sleep. It's a thorn in my side, and I will need it. Thank you all so much. We're almost there!! :)

Other prayer requests (beware...there's a lot):
-For traveling mercies for me and Mom.
-For the aforementioned peace and sleep.
-For my left knee. Of all days, of course, it chose to flare up yesterday. Sharp pains. Pray for healing!
-For physical protection on the rest of the body and for proper pre-race fueling.
-For my ability to love those around me this weekend.
-For the mental preparation for the race.
-For the weather on race day. Doesn't look so good at the moment!
-For an understanding of the Boston public transportation system.
-For a quiet hotel room.
-For OUR TROOPS. That they would be blessed by the resources we've funded!
-For Military Ministry. That they would be highlighted through this and God would raise up new supporters of the ministry.

Okay...That's about it. haha! I'm off to the airport! :) Talk to you from Boston tomorrow! :)

Thank you all so much for humbling me with your teamwork and encouragement. I love you guys!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Day 106...

The reunion with the road was so sweet this morning. I hadn't run in a pleasant rain in a while. It was coming down softly and really making the run pleasant. I did, however, hit a stretch of 1.5 miles of a 20-mph headwind, which did NOT warn me about (haha!), but it was alright. The fact that I was out there and feeling good was good enough for me! :)

As much as I don't like to do it, I really think I need to add in a mandatory day of cross training to my schedule. It does many great things to keep my body healthy and balanced, but it does one important thing spiritually. It keeps running in perspective.

I was journaling last night about Merle's sermon on Sunday and how we all tend to put "second-place" things in first place. When I run EVERY day, I begin to feel somewhat like I need it. Like I find my identity and security in running. While running is a gift from God, it also can become a god in itself. Just like anything, I suppose. I'm learning that idols are whatever we attach ourselves to that is NOT God. I think running will always tempt me in that way until I learn how to balance it. And, like I said, by cross-training once a week, I am reminded that I don't HAVE to run. It's not my security. God is.

Okay...All that being said...THREE DAYS!!!!!! :) :) :) We're down to three days!! :) :) Can you believe it? All this way, and we're rounding the home stretch! My tendon feels really good today (so far) after a day of cross-training yesterday, and the run went well today. I have a short run tomorrow morning, a day off on Sunday and then a race! (Yes, I switched running days from Saturday to Sunday to alleviate one item of stress and running in a city.)

If you haven't signed up to track me during the race, you can still do that online at And there's still time to give to the cause, too! Like I mentioned yesterday, we're up to $3,245, and I received several donations this week still. Praise God! :) Great is His faithfulness. He is using this to bring Christ to those who need it. Thank You, Lord!

Prayer Requess:
-For physical healing on my legs and feet, and for physical protection on the last run tomorrow.
-For the packing and wisdom in what to bring to Boston.
-For recovery from this run.
-For our military and the specific soldiers and families God will reach through these donations.
-For Military Ministry to be equipped to meet all the needs that are presented to them.
-For rest and sleep for me leading up to the race!
-For traveling mercies for me and my Momsy! :)

Thanks so much team!! :) Much love!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Day 105...

Well, we're in the depths of the infamous taper week. And I'm proud to say that I survived something more difficult than an 8-mile run today: an hour on the elliptical. haha! :) I was scheduled to get 8 in today, but yesterday the anterior tibial tendon on my left foot started to ache. It was still there this morning after icing it yesterday, so I went to the cross-trainer.

Now, on a typical week of training, I would have powered through it by finding a flat place to run. (This ache is caused by hills.) But this is not a typical week. It's marathon week! :) There's no point in powering through and arriving to the starting line wounded. So, if you would pray for this "snag" and for my peace of mind, I would appreciate it so much!

I got a CLEAR reminder of why we're doing what we're doing the other day. A friend of mine sent me a message about a military couple she knows who is struggling badly right now. He just returned from deployment and is in a tough battle with PTSD. As a result, his marriage is crumbling. Both he and his wife are at the end of their rope. My friend contacted me to see if Military Ministry could help. YES!!! They can! We were able to connect on how Military Ministry offers a call center and the services of a military chaplain, who is also a certified counselor. Praise God!! Plus, they have free Rapid Deployment Kits and Psalm 91 books for soldiers, and they also supply combat trauma healing manuals free to unit chaplains. I was able to relay all of this to my buddy, who, in turn, is relaying it to her friends and putting them in touch with the counselor at Military Ministry.

PRAISE GOD!!! :) :) :) Faith to the foxhole...Hope on the homefront. That's why we've been doing what we're doing! And I got word yesterday that we've now raised more than $3,200 for the spiritual needs of the troops!!!!!!!!!!!! Can you belive it?? Hallelujah!! :) :) God is so good. Thank You, Lord! May there be great healing as a result of this and of the generosity of the folks who have given.

Prayer Requests:
-For healing on the left anterior tibial tendon.
-For physical protection over the rest of the body, especially both hamstrings and my right foot and left knee.
-For this specific soldier and his family to receive the healing touch of Jesus, and for their marriage to be restored.
-For the run tomorrow to be pain-free and joyful!
-For peace of mind through all the plans and preparations of the trip.

Thanks so much, team! Much love! :)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Day 104...

Praise God for the newest member of the race team! :) Little Chase was born last night to the most outstanding set of parents. :) Congratulations, guys!! YAY for a new life brought into the world who will be brought up to glorify the Lord! :)

With only three REAL days of running left, I decided to use today's as a rehersal for two things:

1. Running with arm-warmers. Yessssssssss!!! :) HOLY cow! These puppies are AWESOME! :) Ashley, thank you SO much! They're basically just sleeves that you put on your arms so that you don't have to wear a long-sleeved jersey and can take them off when you get hot. All the elite runners wear them in races, and they make you look like a running stud. NOT good for a girl who battles pride. hahaha! I felt like Ryan Hall! :) But these are going to be a vital and awesome part of the race-day jersey. I'll be able to run in the tank without freezing to death. Thanks, Ash! :)

2. Practicing the warm-up pace. I've been so blessed by training ground that mimics the Boston course's rolling hills. I feel really good about being able to tackle the course that apparently "chews up" runners. But there's one thing I haven't practiced: running slow. My body is pretty good at running my race pace, but I know that at the beginning of the marathon, I'm going to need to run about 8:20 miles for the first five. The most challenging part is that I'll be going downhill the whole way. How do people do that?? It's SO hard not to just run-and-gun on the downhills! I found that out this morning. I really had to focus in order to keep my pace slow after the first mile (which I always take easy). My body wouldn't settle at an 8:20 pace. It would either dip to sub-8 or go to 8:45. haha! :) Be praying about that for me, if you can. It's a REALLY important part of the race strategy.

Feeling good, team. Feeling good! Feeling very blessed and ready! :) Making plans for Boston with my momsy and getting ready for this beast! :) Your prayers and encouragement are SO appreciated as this week hits the midway point. Especially for the pending travel and peace of mind.

I gotta scoot. Gotta get to work so I can get everything done and go see my new nephew! :) Get ready, Chase! Aunt Jill is coming to shower you with kisses! :) haha! Poor kid. :)

Prayer Requests:
-For a specific soldier and his wife I learned about yesterday who are battling hard-core with PTSD. Pray that he will receive counseling help and that their marriage will be restored!
-For healing on my hamstrings and feet and protection over the knees.
-For the glycogen stores in my muscles to start getting refueled. (Carbo load begins today!)
-For Military Ministry and the last week of our fundraising. (Still time to donate! Click the link under my picture.)
-For the 8-miler tomorrow!
-For our Boston travel.

Thanks so much, all! :) Much love!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Day 103...

How was today's run, you ask? Perfect, of course! haha! :) Last double-digit run of the training is in the books! :) A GREAT 10-miler with perfect weather and a beautiful 7:43 pace. The physical part of this is certainly ready to rock. I can feel it all over when I go out for runs in the morning, now. I'm like a race horse in the gate. I'm just ready to race!! :) But God has a plan for each of these last few training runs. I will just try to enjoy and be patient. :)

You know, through this whole thing, I've really seen some interesting things come out in my friendships. When you take on something big like this, you never know which of your friends are going to embrace it and which ones are going to let you do your thing. I have got to tell you, I have been pretty surprised by some of the friendships that have come out of this. I've learned so much about the killer support of my family and close circle. I've seen the unbelievable encouragement of my small group at church. I've seen my running-savvy friends rise to pray, advise and cheer. I've seen some new relationships blossom with folks at Military Ministry. I've felt the prayers of my wiser friends and mentors and listened to (or at least tried to) their advice and counsel through pain. (Thanks, Janice.) :) It's been enlightening and truly humbling.

True, there have been a few friends who have been completely hands-off with this, and that has been disappointing. But the good far outweighs the bad. And it's really made me question what kind of friend I would be in the same situation. What kind of friend am I now in the situations my own friends are going through? One of my best friends is about to have her second child. One of my friends is about to run her first sub-8 half-marathon. One is about to finalize an important adoption. One is entering a battle with depression. One learning how to be mom to two high-energy boys while training for her first half marathon. One is doing some military training away from her normal base. One is walking with her child through post-traumatic stress disorder. One has a big site visit at work in a week. One is getting ready to get married. One just lost her job and is struggling to make ends meet. One just finished his own half marathon. One is planning a national conference for college athletes. One is going through the most "Job-like" situation I can possibly imagine.

It goes on and on. If I took stock of all my friends' big issues, I could pray for hours. And shouldn't I? I've learned so much through this about the importance of relationships and encouragement. God gives us teammates in our big challenges because He knows we will need them. He knows the importance of an encouraging word. He knows the power of prayer.

So...For all my amazing teammates out there, I want you to know today how much I appreciate you all. You guys are my God-given rocks. He has blessed me with so much strength through you. I pray that I can learn how to be a better friend to you in return. And I pray that I can make you all proud on Monday for what you've invested.

Prayer Requests:
- For physical protection and healing on my feet, knees and hamstrings.
- For rest as taper week continues.
- For our troops, who need our support and prayers DAILY.
- For Military Ministry's continued outreach and ability to bring faith to the foxhole and hope to the homefront.
- For the recovery run tomorrow! :)

Love you all!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Day 102...

Runners are liars. :) We don't do it on purpose, of course, we just get carried away. For instance, ask us how the run was on a beautiful 50-degree morning. "Perfect! Perfect weather!" we'll exclaim. Ask us again after a 70-degree afternoon run. "Perfect! Perfect weather!" we'll say again. We don't know. hahaha! There's a range of about 25 degrees that we love to run in, and we'll tell you every last one of them is perfect. :)

So, how was today's run for me? PERFECT! :) :) hahaha! :) Great 6-miler. Great pace. PERFECT 55-degree weather with an even more perfect (actually, more perfect isn't possible) no wind. :) Had an absolute blast! :) It was a great way to kick off the LAST WEEK OF TRAINING! One week from today! :)

There's one more thing that most runners will lie about. And that is about idolatry. "Do you hold running in a misplaced perspective in your life? Have you ever idolized a race or your pace?" "No, not me." Liar. :) haha! Let me explain...

First, thanks for letting me be really honest yesterday morning in the blog. It really helped me understand where I was mentally with this whole thing. God's been doing a lot in me over the last week, and I'm thankful that He has. I would never want to steal Boston or any part of it from Him, and I think that's where I was heading.

After yesterday's blog, I went to church, and our pastor gave an AWESOME sermon on the prodigal son and the idolatry of his heart. He talked about putting second-place things in first place (where God belongs). As I sat there listening, I realized that's what had happened...again. As much as I am called to this race, I know that I started to hold on to it too tightly for ME. You heard me say yesterday that I still wanted this race for myself on a certain level. Yep! There it is. Right there. My heart still idolizing the Boston Marathon.

At the end of the sermon, our pastor gave an invitation for anyone who needed to confess an idol to come down to the front and pray with one of the counselors about it. "Don't hesitate!" he said. Well, I'm sure I freaked out both of my small group leaders as I bolted down toward the front. haha! :) I got a few looks from some of my friends. "Is she getting saved?" :) I laughed to myself all the way down to the front. :)

When I got down there, I told a nice lady about how I was harboring an idol that needed to take a back seat to Jesus. I told her that it was the marathon. She prayed the most amazingly spot-on prayer. :) Thank you Miss Counselor, whoever you are! :) Then, I went back to my seat. And I tell you what...You want to talk about peace. :) That felt awesome to lay it back down at His feet. I know that's where it was when we started, but I'd picked it back up again. I was a prodigal son returning home. :)

So, how does that affect this week and the marathon? It means that the pressure is off!! :) This really is about the Lord, after all! :) I've been so protective of it this whole time because it was an idol. Now, I'm running with a renewed sense of peace that He really IS in control. And that HIS will is going to be done. I'm still going to pray for a great finish and success, but I know that God is good no matter what. :) He's the kind of loving Father who welcomes prodigals back with open arms. I know that He's the kind of Father who will love me whether or not I ever cross another finish line again. :) Thank You, Lord!

Prayer Requests:
-For peace of mind during taper week! :)
-For healing on the right foot.
-For protection over the left knee and both hamstrings and left blisters.
-For the tempo run tomorrow! :)
-For our troops and for Military Ministry. I love you all and am excited to race on your behalf! :)
-For the details of the weekend to come together.

Love you all!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Day 101...

Hello, fabulous Sunday. Thank you for being on time, as you are every week. :) Off day!! :) My quads are actually a little sore from yesterday, which is weird because I'm never sore. But maybe the wind and the pace just took a toll on them. Either way, it feels good to chill this morning. :) Good coffee, good oatmeal, GREAT quiet time with the Lord this morning.

So, I've mentioned that my small group is doing the Max Lucado study "Fearless." Wow. I gotta tell you, if you battle fear at ALL, you should read this book. It's amazing. I had a breakdown/breakthrough this week. I hadn't been ready to share it on the blog yet, but I will today. Let me take one more bite of oatmeal first.


I remember having a conversation with Janice about running a while back and telling her that on some level I couldn't help but feel like I was fighting God in this training. I knew that He was the one carrying me through, but there were points where I felt like I was fighting Him to keep going. It was the weirdest tension. And I had no idea how to explain it. But, after reading this week's study, I get it now.

If you've read my story, you know that last year was supposed to be the year I ran Boston. I qualified in 2008, and was going to run with the rest of my friends in 2009. BUT, two weeks before we started training, I got IT Band Syndrome. I worked and worked and cross-trained and rehabbed and did everything I could, but I never got better. (It took me 8 months to run again.) I missed Boston and lost out on a dream.

Through losing out on the marathon last year, I realized how much of an idol it had been in my life. The Lord gave me great perspective on running and on the Boston Marathon. Coming into this training, it was in proper position in my life and, therefore, we've been able to make it about the Lord's purpose and His desire to heal our troops.

Let's dig a little deeper, though. Gut-level honesty: Boston is STILL a dream of mine. It's the Boston Marathon! I still really want to run it! Not to say pridefully that I've run it anymore, but because of what it is. I really want to experience it. While this isn't about me and there's so much more to it, there is still an internal, personal desire to run this marathon because I really want to do it.

Now for the point: Because God allowed it to be taken away last year, I realized this week that I've felt, at times, that I have to protect it from Him. I have feared that He will take it away again. As much as I know I would survive, it was a horribly painful and emotional experience last year when it happened, and I don't want to go through it again. So, when this training has been in jeopardy with injuries, I suddenly fear that God is going to take it away again and I get super anxious. Not because I don't trust Him, but because I fear that His greater glory will AGAIN be through a dashed dream. So, I get into this weird mode of fighting God and running from Him because I'm afraid of His will...YET, all the while TRYING to run toward Him because I know that He's the only One who can deliver me and carry me through.

That's hard to explain. Does it make sense? I'm terrified to trust Him because I am scared He'll take it, but I desperately want to run to Him because He's who I need.

(Welcome to my world. haha!)

Anyway, that's what I learned this week. I wound up bawling on the phone with my PPB on Thursday night and talking it out. And here's the thing. At the end of the day, I am fearfully and wonderfully made by God. Ephesians 2:10 is the bottom line: "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."

God LOVES me! He loves us all!! Boston Marathon or not, He LOVES me! His ways are higher. His plans are better. Any God who would go to a cross to die for me is worthy of my unquestioning trust. While that is SO hard, it is the truth. He is GOOD. He is FAITHFUL. He is LOVING. Does He always make sense to us? No. But does He have to? No. Any God who loves us that much...I don't know about you, but I think He's worthy of just trusting wholeheartedly.

I admit that I still fear His plan to a certain degree. I do. But I'm praying through it, and He is releasing me from it. I'm memorizing Scripture so that when those fears surface, I can think TRUTH instead. Ephesians 2:10 is posted on my mirror now, along with Psalm 139:13-14: "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well."

There you have it. A little glimpse into Jill's psyche. :) But I pray that we all would understand our fears and how unwarranted they are in light of our FAITHFUL Creator and Father.

Prayer Requests:
-For courage and peace for me.
-For healing on my right foot and hamstring.
-For protection over the left knee and blisters.
-For additional funds to be raised in the last week so that we can supply our troops with God's Truth! (If anyone has to wrestle with fear, it has GOT to be them.)
-For Military Ministry and their outreach.
-For the 6-miler tomorrow morning. :) Can't wait! :)

Thanks team. Y'all rock!

P.S. I'm e-mailing out the prayer miles today. If you signed up for one, THANK YOU!! :) If you still want to pray over a mile, let me know! It's never too late to call on the Lord, that's for sure! :)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Day 100...

Day 100! haha! That's even more awesome than day 99! :) And...So was today's run! (*sigh*) How many words for "wonderful" are there in the English language? :) I'd use every last one of them to describe this morning's 14-mile run. It was marvelous, fantastic, phenomenal, amazing, beautiful, stellar, terrific, sensational! :) Totally not exaggerating.

Why was this run so amazing? Because ALL of the factors were just there!

1. No physical pain. Anywhere.
2. PERFECT temperature. (upper 50s-low 60s)
3. Not a cloud in the sky.
4. Late-morning (i.e. Jill was well-slept.)
5. 14 miles is nothing for a long run compared to the 18, 22, 18 of the last three weeks.
6. I knew that it was the last long run before the marathon.
7. I got to run in my race-day clothes and they worked great!

Today was just one of those days when you feel more blessed than you could imagine. Days like today make all the tough runs more than worth it. So that when you get a day like today, it's one of the most awesome experiences you will ever have. And you better believe I'm going to enjoy today, because after today is over, the taper begins. And, friends, let me tell you...Taper week is TOUGH. You're not running as much, so you've got tons of energy building up. You're getting anxious for the race and you aren't able to run it out. It's SO hard! Please pray for my sanity and peace. :)

After today's run, I did something I'd never done before. I took an ice bath. Well, it wasn't exactly an ice bath, but a really-cold-water bath. My legs were so warm all over that instead of trying to cover them ice bags in every place I needed to, I just loaded the tub with cold water and jumped in. YEEEEEEOWZA! hahaha! That was SO cold! I called my friend Amy, and she talked me through it. :) haha! She had 14 miles to run this morning, too, and cranked out an AMAZING pace! So, we swapped awesome stories and laughed and cheered together. Before I knew it, 15 minutes had passed and I was able to get out of the cold prison. :) See what friends can do? :) Thanks, Amy. :) SO proud of you!

Okay...I gotta scoot. Got a hot "date" with another buddy down on the Plaza today. Can't wait to experience more of this day! :) It's off to a great start!

OH! And a HUGE shout out to my racing buddies today! Turk, I just got your message. WHAT THE??? Your pace and time were killer!! :) SO proud of you! Way to go!! And, here's to Steve, Sean and Ryan, who took on the Olathe Marathon this morning. Can't wait to hear how you did!

Let me just finish by saying thanks to the Lord. Today was just outstanding. Thank You, Lord. :) Every good and perfect thing comes from above. (James 1:17)

Prayer Requests:
1. For recovery from today's great run.
2. For physical protection and healing on my legs (feet, hamstrings, blisters and knees).
3. For the taper week mentality and peace.
4. For our military--that God would give them with unexpected blessings today.
5. For Military Ministry and their continued ability to resource and equip our chaplains and troops.
6. For great rest tonight and tomorrow!

Love you all!

P.S. I still need a few prayer warriors to take on the task of praying for a specific mile of the race. Would you be one? Send me a Facebook message or e-mail or text and let me know! Thanks so much, team!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Day 99...

Day 99. That has a nice ring to it, doesn't it? 99 days we've been at this. 99 days of hard-fought training. 99 days of putting motion to a cause that is dear to us all. 99 days of praying for strength, healing and endurance. 99 days. Awesome. :) Praise God.

The run today was fantastic. Chilly out, no wind. I was SUPER tired when I woke up this morning, which is pretty typical for a Friday, but God gave me strength to get out the door and even enjoy the 6.3 miles. There aren't many of these left, so I'm soaking up each one!

Side note: I ran to some new music today, including Krystal Meyers' "Make Some Noise" CD and a few songs from Matt Maher: "Christ is Risen" and "Alive Again." AWESOME stuff. Krystal Meyers is a total rock chick. Loved it! Matt Maher you've probably heard on K-LOVE, but I'd not heard "Christ is Risen" until our magazine designer told me about it. Awesome song.

By now you might have gotten an e-mail from me or seen the Facebook note about all the race day information. If you haven't, go to my Facebook page and check it out. It's got all the information you need for the day of the race. Though, I did forget to tell my bib number in it. That is 14349. :)

In the note, you'll see that I'm trying to gather two things: names and pray-ers.

First, as I mentioned before, I'm running with the names of specific soldiers on my race jersey. If you have a name you'd like me to include, send it my way! I will carry his or her name down the streets of Boston with pride! :)

Second, I'm hoping to cover each mile of the marathon with prayer and am looking for volunteers to pray over one specific mile of the race. If you would be willing to take a mile and pray over it for me, would you message me and let me know that, as well? Either comment on this note, e-mail or Facebook me. Then, I'll let you know your mile this weekend!

We're almost there, guys! Thanks SO much for all your encouragement and prayers. Praying you all have an outstanding Friday! :) Don't forget that Jesus loves you today!

Prayer Requests:
-For enough names of soldiers to fill up the jersey.
-For healing on the right hammy and foot.
-For physical protection and endurance.
-For the coming taper week. (Peace of mind.)
-For our troops, who are models of endurance and strength for us all.
-For Military Ministry and additional funding to come in for the cause.
-For the last long run of the training period tomorrow!! :)

Thanks so much, friends! Much love!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Day 98...

Gorgeous run today! The last of the 12-mile tempo runs is in the books at a 7:41 average. Not too bad! And the split was way negative with the last three being in the 7:20s. A really good time! And the weather was unreal. SO beautiful. About 38 degrees, NO wind, and a gorgeous sunrise. :)

Friends, today I'm going to be honest with you all again. I'm LONELY! haha! I laugh, but only because it sounds funny when I say it in my head. :)

I mentioned a long time ago that I wanted to apologize up-front to my friends if I went absent for the next few weeks as training progressed. Well, in order to stay healthy and do this well, that's what I did. I've tried to be diligent in putting myself in bed on time in order to wake up early to run and still have energy to work during the day. I've tried to be diligent with my diet and put healthful and nourishing foods in my body, which has involved eating at home most nights so I can cook for myself.

All of those have been GOOD for marathon training, and have produced amazing physical results with awesome times and endurance! And, that lifestyle is pretty typical for folks in marathon training. BUT, many marathon trainers have families at home. As a single girl, that's put me at home in an empty apartment many nights. Again, I don't regret it, but I do have to admit that it's been difficult on my psyche. I am really looking forward to just going out to dinner and a movie with friends without having to be home by 8:30.

The good news is that the Lord has been teaching me a LOT about the benefits of solitude. I mentioned it yesterday in the blog, and this morning's quiet time verse was about Jesus retreating into solitude to communicate with the Father. So, for the last few days that I'm in training, I am going to focus on the GOOD part of all this time alone. God is always with me, and He has a purpose for solitude. May I grow closer to Him and be brave enough and disciplined enough to pursue Him with the time.

That being said, here's one more apology to my circle of friends: Please don't hate me if I overwhelm you with communication when I get back from Boston and ask you to hang out every five minutes. :) haha! Just look at it as flattery in that I've missed you! Who knows? Maybe I'll finally host that party at my apartment to celebrate my move...that happened back in January. :) If so, you're all invited! I'll keep you posted.

Prayer Requests:
-For healing on the right hamstring and right foot.
-For protection over the left knee and left hamstring.
-For recovery from this awesome run.
-For our troops! God bless you all who miss YOUR friends when you're deployed.
-For Military Ministry and their continued provision.
-For the recovery run tomorrow.

Love you all! Have an awesome day! :)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Day 97...

There are several marathoners in my office, and whenever we pass each other in the halls, it's not rare for us to drop 15 minutes talking about paces, races and strategies. Yesterday, though, one of my buddies and I talked about the deeper side of running--the God side. He described running as "sacred," which I think is the most perfect description of it for those of us who love the Lord and the road.

I think one of the reasons running becomes sacred to us is because of the solitude it offers. Solitude is a lost art. Even if we're alone, we always have a cell phone or iPod or computer. We are always plugged in and connected. But when we run, we are alone with God. (Or at least, we CAN be. The pavement doesn't require an iPod.) This morning, after my talk with Steve, I took the opportunity to ditch the music and just be with the Lord. What a sweet time it was. He guided my thoughts and prayers and revealed several things that I wouldn't have learned without getting away to listen to Him. Thank You, Lord, for 6.3 miles of communion with You. :)

Great news for the race team! My mom called yesterday that one of the local unions in McPherson is giving $250!!! :) :) :) HALLELUJAH!! That's 25 combat trauma manuals or 76 Rapid Deployment Kits!!! :) :) :) Thank you union workers!! :) I will have to get the official union name and publicly thank them.

God is providing. Little by little! He's bringing in the funds to bless our troops. He's bringing light to the issues they face. He's bringing prayer warriors on board to cover them. All through a simple little marathon! What an amazing God we serve that He would take the act of running and use it to save souls and heal wounds. He is amazing. :)

Regarding the funding, there's still quite a bit to be raised. I would appreciate your prayers for that. AND if you have any creative ideas for fundraising, send 'em my way!

OH! One more thing...I'm getting ready to make my race jersey. (YAY!) One thing I want to do is to write the names of specific soldiers on the jersey. I want this race to be an act of prayer to the Lord on behalf of those who are closest to our hearts. So...Please e-mail/Facebook me the name of a soldier and I'll write his or her name on my jersey. Let's lift them up in prayer!!

Speaking of prayer...

Prayer Requests:
-For healing on the right hamstring and right foot.
-For protection over the left knee and hamstring.
-For the 12-mile tempo run tomorrow.
-For our wounded warriors--that they would be healed spiritually and physically.
-For Military Ministry and their funding. They have a lot of requests for waterproof Bibles lately. Pray for that specifically!
-For race day! It's fast approaching!! :)

Thank you all so much! Love you!
-Jill :)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Day 96...

YEOWZA! Talk about a workout this morning! :) It was funny. As I was running, I was literally thinking, "How am I going to explain this accurately on my blog?" haha! Well, let me see. . . Today's run was like...

A) Running with a parasail attached to my back.
B) Trying to push a brick wall up a hill.
C) Getting a lesson in what it feels like to be a tumbleweed.
D) Attaching bungee cords to a light post, strapping them to my ankles and then trying to run up a hill.

haha! Seriously. The WIND was nuts! There was literally one point when I got blown BACK a step! :) It was hilarious. Not at the time, but looking back, I can laugh at it. Either way, it all evened out. For as much struggle as it was against the wind, it was a lesson in flying going with it. Now that's fun! Your legs literally can't keep up with how fast the wind wants to take you! At the end of the run, I'd logged 10 miles at 7:44. Not too bad. Not great, but not bad. I'm cool with it!

Wanna hear the absolute coolest thing? My small group is starting a study on Max Lucado's book Fearless. (SO appropriate and timely for me! Thank YOU, Lord!) Well, I started reading it last night and it talked about Matthew 8:23-24: "Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping."

He made several points to go along with it:
1. Jesus led the way.
2. The disciples followed Him.
3. A storm came up right after they followed Him.
4. Jesus wasn't phased.

Bullets 3 & 4 really made an impact on me. Everyone expects Christians to have this amazing, blessed, happy life, but look what happened immediately after the disciples followed Christ where He was going: a crazy storm came up.

For me, that totally fits this whole training/marathon/fundraising thing. I believe I was called to do this by the Lord. Somewhere in the back of my head, I kind of expected it to be smooth sailing. But, as we all know, it's been anything BUT. And that's ok!! If I'd been paying attention, I would have known to expect it. Following Christ involves going through storms with Him. But that involves trusting Him through those storms. And that brings us to bullet 4: Jesus was sleeping.

In John 16:33, Jesus says, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

I thought about that as I ran against the wind this morning. "Jesus would SO be sleeping right now." :) You know what? That brought me so much peace and joy as I ran today. Just knowing that my Lord had ordained that run and that He wasn't phased by the wind, but that He was providing the strength for me to face it...That really fired me up. In fact, it put a smile on my face as I pulled my parasail up the hill. :)

"Father, thank You for Your peace through all of life's storms. Help us all to face them with the understanding that You are sleeping in the back of the boat today, unphased by the trials we face. Help us to take on Your peace and walk with joy. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen."

Prayer Requests:
-For continued healing on the hamstring and foot.
-For strength for the left knee and ankle.
-For our troops. God bless you all as you serve and protect us!
-For Military Ministry, specifically that they would be funded to meet the resource needs of the chaplains.
-For recovery from today's great run and strength for tomorrow's 6-miler.

Thanks, team! Love you all!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Day 95...

Perfect, perfect, perfect run this morning. Days like today make me forget about all the bad ones and remember the reasons why running is awesome. Perfect temperature (around 50), little wind, light traffic, rested legs, and a great revelation from the Lord. :) 6.3 miles of joy. :)

So, my revelation...I think the Lord has revealed a major lie I've been believing. If you've been following the blog throughout this process, you have seen about a BILLION injuries come up. There has been a pulled adductor, plantar fascitis, knee issues, blisters, ligament strains and hamstring problems. While none of them has sidelined me from physical training, they've all produced their own mental "training," if you will.

But here's the thing. Somehow, whenever I get hurt, I always think that God is punishing me for running. I think it stems from several sources that I won't get into, but I am starting to see how the enemy pits me against God when I start to think this way. I still need to run, so I pull back from God because I think He's mad at me for running and trying to punish me by injuring me. Because running has been an idol of mine in the past, I've always been a little anxious that God will take it away from me like He did last year.

Does that make sense? Because of the idolatry in the past, I'm always worried that it will be taken away again to keep it from becoming a "god" in my life. And that's where the enemy starts to play tricks on my mind when it comes to injuries. Here's what I hear: "Jill, you're cheating on God by running. He doesn't want you to run. He's trying to take this from you."

So, what do I do? I become like Adam and Eve and try to hide from God. "Don't look, God. I'm running, and I don't think You want me to."

Liar! I call it out, now! :)

What if each of these injuries has been an opportunity, instead, for God to demonstrate His healing power? What if they are a way to help me rely on Him instead of myself? What if, though each of these obstacles, God is demonstrating His faithfulness and love? What if He really will keep His promises to see this through to completion? I believe those now. I see it now. I see it through the fact that He planned my off day for the day when my hamstring would need a day to heal. I see it in the fact that my adductor strain healed up without any significant time off. I see it in the fact that He rescued me with my orthodics several weeks back, which has helped the pain in the right ligament. I see it in the way He provided flat training ground when I couldn't take hills. I see it in the way He put my athletic trainer friend in my path when I was convinced I had a stress fracture. HE IS FAITHFUL!!! :)

Instead of hiding from God when I'm hurt, I need to run toward Him! He's the One who has held me together. He is carrying me through! Without Him, I really can't run a single step! God, forgive me for believing such a lie. Help me to see You for who You are--a God who is all-powerful and all-loving. The God who heals me. :) Thank You, Jesus. Please keep Your hand on me, Lord. I trust You to see this through to completion, obstacles and all. I give them all to You! :) In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen. :)

Prayer Requests:
-For healing on the right hamstring, right foot and left blisters.
-For protection over the left knee.
-For our troops, especially for those who are experiencing marriage problems as a result of war.
-For Military Ministry and their continued provision.
-For the 10-miles of speed work tomorrow.
-For sleep tonight.

Thanks so much, team!! :) Love y'all!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Day 94...

Happy Easter!! :) :) What a day. What a day! This is the day we celebrate the single most important event in history: the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Our Lord. Our Savior. Our Hero!! :) MY Hero! :) The Man who was God, who came to earth to live an example of love and then pay the price for our sins. AND to show Satan who was boss by rising from the grave. Thank You, Lord!

While we're on the subject, if you have any questions about Christ, TOTALLY check out this site: . I'm sure we've all heard of Lee Strobel's book The Case for Christ. It helped me understand why I believe what I believe, and if you've never read it, consider picking it up. It's one of the most impacting books I've ever read. Anyway, that's Lee's web site, and it's got some amazing information on it regarding the reasons why we're completely SANE for believing in Christ.

Training-wise, it's a day off. Praise God! :) I do love Sundays. :) My body and my mind need a break. It was nice to wake up and just relax and have coffee with my folks before church. Got in a few good laughs over the editorial page (what my PPB calls the comics) and caught up on what I missed by going to bed before the Duke/WV game was over last night.

Injury-wise, it's time to move up the prayers for the hamstring. The day after the run, and it's a little more finicky than I'd like. Noticeably tight and tender. Two weeks left, and we gotta cover this last push in prayer! The healing hand of God has been over me in such a powerful way so far, I know that He is more than able to heal this, too. Just gotta ask and trust! :) I won't forget Philippians 1:6 -- "being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."

Time to finish this strong in the power of the Lord! Without Him, I can't run a step. With Him, I can run 26.2 miles!

Prayer Requests:
-For healing on the right hamstring.
-For healing on the right foot.
-For healing on the blisters on the left foot.
-For protection over the left knee.
-For our troops! May we not forget that we are running with the purpose of bringing Christ to them. I pray that those who are spending Easter away from their families will be comforted by the love of Christ no matter where they are.
-For Military Ministry and their continued provision.
-For the week of training ahead, including tomorrow's 6 miles.

Thanks so much, team. Happy Easter!! :)

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Day 93...

Oy. Be glad that you weren't out on the road with me today. I was sure cranky! It was one of those days when I was pretty much ready to be done with the run before I started. In fact, I don't remember much from the road other than trying to focus on not being peeved that I was out there at all. I was acting like such a baby! (Thank You, Lord, that I was alone today. haha!) There were a few shining moments when I was able to praise Him and be thankful that I was out there and living my dream, but those were definitely shining moments and not the majority of the thoughts.

Still, the pace went great! 18 miles at a 7:52 pace. That's pretty much where I want the marathon pace to be, and I felt pretty good physically at the end of it. I could have gone another 8 miles if I'd had to. And I was able to rehearse the race-day fueling process. I'm going with the two-Sport-Beans-every-two-miles routine. Oh, how I do love Sport Beans--the sweet/salty electrolyte-infused jelly beans for runners. Today's flavor was orange. I'm really fond of the multi-flavor packs they have now, though. I think I'll take those to Boston and stash two packs in my running shorts so I can pop 'em in as I float down the road from Hopkington to Boston. :)

Well, team, there we have it! The last long run of the marathon training season is in the books! And, I think that's one of the reasons I was so mentally toasted today. I'm ready for this race to be here! I'm mentally pretty much done with the training. I'm ready to race!

Several of my best friends have kids, and we've had fun discussions about how marathons and marathon training are so similar to pregnancy. Those nine months get loooooong for moms, just like the training periods do for runners. Toward the middle, you have a hump to make it over, and once you get close to the end, you are just ready for it to be over. It's hard to rein yourself in mentally so that you can make it through the last few days/weeks without getting super cranky and impatient.

That's going to be one of my biggest challenges in the next two weeks and two days: staying relaxed mentally. My mind is ready to race. The hard training is over, and the taper is starting, but I still have two weeks left. I'm really going to have to pray that the Lord gives me patience and peace. That way, I'll be able to survive the end of this without going crazy. haha! :)

In fact...Let's pray! :)

"Lord, I thank You for the run today. I confess a wrong attitude and ask Your forgiveness. I choose to praise You now and thank You for the ability to run. Thank You for keeping me safe and healthy. Thank You for the sunshine and the pace. Thank You for my sister's drive-by water run. Thank You for the dirt roads of Central Kansas. Thank You for my race team now as they read this! Thank You for all You have done to bring us to this point. Father, please bring this to a close with Your excellence and grace. I ask that You would give me Your peace and patience for the taper period. Help me to focus on why I'm doing this at all: to bring You glory and to bless our military with Your love. Thank You for purpose. Thank You for grace and mercy and divine duct tape. :) We love you, Lord. And we pray in the name of Jesus. Amen."

Ongoing requests:
-For healing on the right foot and right hamstring.
-For protection over the left knee and left foot (new blister).
-For recovery from the run today.
-For peace and patience.
-For our troops and that every dollar we've raised to be used to bring Christ to them.
-For Military Ministry and their continued outreach.
-For rest tomorrow and that we would all encounter Christ on the day we celebrate His resurrection!! :)

Happy, happy, happy Easter, everyone! :) Jesus is risen! We are free from sin and death! HALLELUJAH! :)


Friday, April 2, 2010

Day 92...

What a gorgeous day! The forecasted thunderstorms didn't manifest themselves as predicted down here in Central KS, and that left me with the most ideal and amazing running weather this morning. It was about 55 degrees with very little wind and a whole lot of sunshine! :) Plus, I got to enjoy the flat, soft roads and peaceful quiet of the country. Bliss. :) Seven miles with a casual 8-minute pace, and the wisdom of Chip Ingram playing in my ears.

The Lord is really working a theme in my life: TRUTH. The verse that has come up twice in two days for me has been from John 14 where Jesus says, "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but through me."

The part that I've never really pursued on a deeper level is the part about His being the TRUTH and what that really means. Since I returned from Ohio with a set of personal core values--one of them being truth--I am excited that the Lord is working into me what that means. Especially considering all the mental battles that I've encountered throughout this process. Bring it on, Lord! Show me TRUTH! :)

Tomorrow is the last major long run before the marathon. YEE HAW!! :) 18 tomorrow, 13 the weekend after and then 26.2! :) I'm starting to get really fired up. Momsy and I sat down this morning and plotted out some of the Boston adventures we're going to take. Harvard, here we come! haha! I've always wanted to feel like a smart kid. :)

Friends, I want to say one more time how much I appreciate your prayers. :) There's no way that I would be able to run a single step without the divine power that is generated from the prayers of the saints (you all). I am humbled by your support and really appreciate your continued prayers as we enter the last couple of weeks. Please keep them going! We're almost there! :)

As today is Good Friday, I want to offer you all my most sincere prayers in return, that you would know the Truth for yourself. The truth that Jesus Christ went to a cross for us 2,000 years ago and paid for our sins so that we could be reconciled to the Father. Thank You, Lord. May we live a life that brings You the glory You deserve.

Prayer Requests:
-For the 18 miles tomorrow.
-For our military and their families--that they would know the Truth!
-For Military Ministry--that they would continue to be equipped to deliver that truth.
-For all of us to experience Christ this Easter.
-For continued healing on my right foot and protection over my right hamstring and left knee.

Love you all! :)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Day 91...

"...being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." - Philippians 1:6

I don't even know how to start this blog this morning. There's a lot to tell, not much time to tell it, and to be honest, I'm not sure I even understand it all yet.

First, I have a confession. . . Yesterday morning when I woke up, I really think I should have gone to the elliptical. It was the first direction in my head when I woke up. But it was so warm outside that I rationalized and rationalized that it was just my voice of fear. Maybe it was. I still don't know for sure. (By my voice of fear, I mean that voice inside me that tells me God is a mean bully in the sky trying to take away everything I want to do, like run. It's weird, I know. And NOT rational or true.)

Anyway, I prayed for a while and took the chance that it was the voice of fear and not the Holy Spirit. The run was fine, as you read yesterday, but all day I wrestled with whether or not I had disobeyed God. And, if I had, did my disobedience carry big consequences. If God knows the best way, then maybe He knew I should cross-train to avoid injury. What if I'd run when I shouldn't have and screwed up my ligament even more? What if my choice caused irreperable damage that God had been trying to save me from?

I asked my sister what she thought, and she calmed me down a little. My heart hadn't been to willfully disobey Him in my decision. I honestly didn't know, so I made a choice. She said that He was a wise enough God to know when I would be confused, and that I should just tell Him that. Tell Him my honest feelings.

(I do have a point...Bear with me.)

Well, last night, I was praying and I kept asking Him to help me get to the bottom of what I was feeling. Why was I so worried that I'd messed up? Why did I fear the consquences? With that, I was having trouble facing Him anyway because I was scared to talk to Him because I felt like a prodigal. A little like a dog with my tail between its legs.

In times like these, it really helps me to journal. God's Spirit usually helps me sort things out as I write them down. And it's a great way for me to pray when I'm feeling that way. I just write it out and God meets me there on paper.

Well, as I was journaling, I just started saying NO to the negative thoughts and lies and fears. "I don't believe that. I believe ____. I believe ___." Whatever it was. I don't even remember, but it was one of the first times that I just started calling out the lies of fears and anxiety from the enemy. And as I wrote, I felt so much peace and strength. Truth was returning to me! Hallelujah!! :) I wrote Scripture and specific verses came to my mind that helped me see God's truth. One of them was Philippians 1:6. I just wrote on paper, "I believe that He who began a good work in me will see it through to completion." I didn't know it was Philippians 1:6, I just remembered the verse. That was the Holy Spirit.

I went to bed full of more peace than I'd felt in a VERY long time. Thank You, Lord.

This morning when I got up to do my pre-run quiet time, I openend my book and dove in. Every day it takes you through one specific verse and has you meditate on it. Today's verse was Philippians 1:6. :) I had no idea what it was until I looked it up. When I read it, I just laughed such tears of joy. :) God is faithful.

Friends, I confess that I sometimes forget that this venture is HIS. It's not mine. It's not ours. It's His. He's the one who will see this through to completion. He's the one who will get the glory. He's the one who will use our funds to bring Christ to our troops. We are just His messengers. As Jesus said in John 13:16, " servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him."

This isn't about me. I'm just the messenger. The One who sent me is greater. And HE will see it through...for HIS glory.

OH! And the run today was AMAZING!!! :) :) :) 12-mile tempo run at a 7:29 pace even with 20-mph winds in my face for 6 of them. Hallelujah! :) :) Great temperature and great day!! :) Only 5 more double-digit runs until the marathon! :)

Prayer Requests:
-For healing on my right foot, and for healing on my right hamstring, which got a little twingy toward the end of the run today. Pray that doesn't develop into anything.
-For our troops, who are the recipients of our message! :)
-For Military Ministry, who are fellow message-bearers!
-For recovery from today's run.
-For us all to have a blessed and amazing Easter and remember what Jesus did on the cross for us all! :)
-For the recovery run tomorrow.

Love you all!