Joy
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I went for a run this morning, but God gave me a walk.
It seems that after 40 one has many more muscle problems than before and they can come from nowhere (but that is a whole other post). It came at a frustrating time. There were many other things going wrong and I am in a major transition year in my life, wondering what God is doing with me and why. So on this run I had decided to listen to a worship mix and started out great, feeling good with great inspiration. Then at about 1.5mi I got a major calf cramp, I tried to stretch it out and run through it. But then it cramped up so bad I wasn’t sure I was going to be able walk. So I sat, stretched, waited and talked with God.

The playlist I was listening to was put together by my daughter and the songs which played spoke of God’s strong love, no matter what happens, he loves us fiercely. Then I began hearing songs about joy, that He is our joy, that no matter what we can have joy. But I have really been struggling with this recently. It seems that my joy is very circumstantial, that if I am showing joy, I need to have some reason when people ask, “what are you so joyful about?” That’s what always happens when I express joy, people ask why (maybe this means I don’t express joy often?).

Then God convicted me that I have a mentality of earning my joy, that I wrongly think that I have to achieve something that gives me the right to be joyful. And that if things aren’t going well, I can’t express joy because I need to be sorrowful or disappointed. (by this point I had been able to stretch out my calf enough that I could begin limping the 1.5 miles home and continue this conversation with God)

2014-08-22 12.05.29Then I wrestled with God about showing joy when my circumstances are contrary to that which should bring joy and that this is only manufactured joy or fake joy. You know, we often “put on” a face of joy when its not there as a bit of protection from others seeing what’s going on inside (or maybe that’s just me). I really don’t like manufacturing something which is not really there so I was resisting God telling me to be joyful when I haven’t earned it or my circumstances don’t warrant joy. But He came in stronger with his message that HE IS MY JOY. Honestly I answered back that this was still manufactured because when someone asks me why are you so joyful, I don’t have a circumstance or situation to answer why, besides, a bunch of other things aren’t going well or remain unanswered, how can I be joyful. Even stronger God reinforced that HE IS MY JOY. That HE doesn’t change, that my circumstances are only temporary, that HIS love runs deep and is eternal, that no matter what HE continues to care for, make a way for, and lead me. Then the convincing message was given…if anything else is the SOURCE for my joy, it is only circumstantial and manufactured…it is ONLY authentic joy if GOD is the SOURCE and SUBSTANCE of my joy. God has given me the right to be joyful at all times no matter what. God has given me the hope of the future which allows me to be joyful now!

Today, is your JOY circumstantial?
is your JOY manufactured?
is your JOY rooted in the SOURCE of GOD?

“You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13

Athens Classic Marathon Completed!
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We are finishers! :) Brian and I completed the Athens Classic Marathon!

Brian and I returned home from our amazing anniversary vacation in November.   It will truly go down as some of the best experiences of our lives!

One of the highlights was running the Athens Classic Marathon while praying for 28 couples.  We had committed to pray for 28 couples while we ran, see previous post, and this turned out to be so much more meaningful than we ever could have imagined!  I wrote the couple names on our bibs, upside down, so that we could read them while running.  As each mile began we would look to see whose mile it was and then spend several minutes praying for this couple out loud while we ran.

As we prayed, these marriages and families would flash before our minds.  The Lord would bring thoughts to our minds of things we knew were in their lives that needed prayer: job pressures, heart connections with their kids, finances, good in-law relations, having date nights, recent car theft, being in ministry together and so much more.  If we did not know the couple as well we knew things to pray for all marriages!  There started to be repeated themes that we would pray for each couple: unconditional love, purposeful pursuit, faithfulness and deep heart connections between the couple and between them and their children.  We were both surprised how this activity brought us to tears repeatedly!  It was a holy moment that we were honored to have, and greatly inspiring to us!

As far as the actual run, well it was slow and it was painful but this run was not about reaching a personal record or impressing anyone with our time!  It was about being together, running together in prayer and finishing together!

I love running marathons!  This is our third and with each one the Lord has taught me something new.  Athens was no different!

Moments after completing the marathon we recorded this video to say thanks to our 28 couples:

 

 

 

 

Marriage Marathon (Celebrating 20 years!)

San Antonio Rock n Roll Marathon

One week from today Brian and I will be headed to Greece!  On November 10th we will be running the Athens Classic Marathon!

This summer we celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary.  We are blessed beyond words by the Lord’s gift of marriage and we like to celebrate that :)  Fifteen years ago we started a tradition to take an anniversary trip every five years.  We have celebrated our “fives” in Colorado, Alaska and St Thomas.  Three years ago we started the adventure of long distance running.  Since that time we have run two half marathons and two full marathons (San Antonio & Pittsburgh pictured here).  We thought it would be awesome to combine these two things and run a marathon during our 20th anniversary celebration.  We chose Athens, Greece and the site of the first original marathon!

We would like to invite other married couples to “join” us on our run and celebration.  While running on Nov 10th we plan to pray for a different married couple each mile.  That would be 26 couples!  We desire to pray the Lord’s blessing on these couples and give thanks for the blessing He has given to us.  Would you and your spouse like to be one of our 26?  We would love to have you join us in this way!

Here is what to do:

1. Send us word “Add us to your marathon prayer list!”  You can do so through a comment on the blog, on FaceBook, on twitter or on Instagram.

2. If you have a special mile number you would like us to pray for you and your spouse on, be sure to include that info.  Maybe your anniversary is on the 10th so you would like us to pray for you on mile 10…  We will try to honor your mile request!

3. On November 10th post a picture of your wedding day on Facebook, twitter or Instagram and tell one thing you love about marriage.  Be sure to tag us in someway so we can see your post.

May the Lord bless marriage and keep those anniversary celebrations coming! :)
Pittsburg Marathon

A New York Lesson
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Our family returned home on Saturday from a six day trip to New York City.  Since moving to Pennsylvania we have taken yearly trips to New York to do outreach in the parks and on the streets of New York.  It has become a constant in our summer schedule, and we love it.  I was thinking this week, that when I think of NY I think of the parks and the people.  Both are so numerous in the city, and both I love spending time with when there!

Brian and I both had the opportunity to teach to a group of high school students and their leaders who were in NY for a missions trip.  Brian shared with the students the gospel is for all people, using Matthew 9:35-38 as his main text.  I shared the gospel for life, using II Timothy.  We both enjoyed our time with this group and were thankful to have opportunities to share truth from God’s Word with them.

Every time I go to NY I am struck by hospitality!  That might surprise you, but it is ingrained in the people of NY!  Everywhere I go I hear “Welcome to New York!  Where are you from?  What are you going to do while you are here?”  New Yorkers have this deep desire that you love your time in their city, because they love their city!  Our hosts the Sotelo’s are always striving to make our time there enjoyable.

Situation A: My oldest daughter had hurt her ankle and was hobbling around.  We wanted to go to a museum but were concerned about the walking.  Without being prompted the Sotelo’s researched and discovered that the museum had wheelchairs to use.  “You can not come to New York and let a hurt ankle be in the way.”

Situation B: While in China town my youngest daughter decided she was upset with her souvenir choice and wanted something different.  She started to cry over this problem while we were in a new store.  The store owner was so concerned, “You can not cry while you are visiting New York!  What does she want, I will get it.  Oh, we do not have Barbies so you can not cry.”

Hospitality, kindness, love our city because we do…is seen all over New York!

It gives me a picture of what hospitality can look like.  As the host of my home, my city and my church I want to help people love their stay.

 

Nehemiah Prayers
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“Then the king said to me, “What are you requesting?”  SO I PRAYED TO THE GOD OF HEAVEN.  And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor…”

Nehemiah stood before the king and was given a moment, a brief quick moment, when the King lent him his ear and asked his desire.  I love the truth tucked right between Nehemiah 2:4a and 2:5, you know the part I capitalized up there!  Why do I love it so?  I love it because in a brief moment, the blink of an eye, right where he was, right as he continued on, Nehemiah cried out to the Lord in his heart and asked for the Lord’s help before he opened his mouth to answer the king!

The gift of prayer is beyond words and beyond comprehension!  I am thankful to have grown up in a church where prayer was foundational.  I went to college where prayer was foundational.  In my family prayer is foundational.  I feel I have been blessed with the rich soil of a comfortableness with prayer.  I am not an expert, by no means!!  I have a lot to learn!  I would not even say praying is something I do well.  I would say prayer is something I am thankful for, something I love, something I am willing to do for myself and for others, something I will do out loud with others or alone in my heart.  Prayers, long or short, are a treasured gift!  The Lord says talk to me, seek me, come to me, and I will listen!

Nehemiah did not have time to form a wordy elaborate prayer.  He must have taken a deep breath and in that moment cast himself before the Lord asking for help.  How very beautiful!

I am looking for Nehemiah prayer moments this week, times when I need to take a deep breath, cast myself before the Lord to ask for help and then answer.

 

The Prison of Comparison
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Today I was asked “What is the devastating effect of comparison in a woman’s life?”  Here is my answer:

“I know I am not alone in this nagging sense of failing to measure up, a feeling of not being good enough as a woman. Every woman I’ve ever met feels it – something deeper than just the sense of failing at what she does. An underlying, gut feeling of failing at who she is. I am not enough, and, I am too much at the same time. Not pretty enough, not thin enough, not kind enough, not gracious enough, not disciplined enough. But too emotional, too needy, too sensitive, too strong, too opinionated, too messy. The result is Shame, the universal companion of women. ” John and Stasi Eldridge Captivating
I read these words in 2005 and thought how is it possible for someone to write the exact things I think! This is spot on in my opinion. I am too much and not enough at the same time! And the kicker is that when living in the prison of comparison I assume and declare that every other woman in my life is a PERFECT balance of all those things that seem out of reach for me.  I am left discouraged and with a deep need to make something of myself.  Soon a pursuit of self promotion and improvement follows.  This pursuit left unchecked takes my time, my energy and my emotions.   Time, energy and emotions that could be used to bless His kingdom instead of building my own.
To me the devastating effect of the prison of comparison is that it steals my joy and sidelines me in the work of the Lord.

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