Category Archives: Spiritual

Doggy Discipleship: Love Does

Today is National Puppy Day and the perfect opportunity to tell you

(1) There is a God

and

(2) He loves you

I swore I would never own a dog. I have a million reasons why I do not want animals that cannot be confined to bowls or small cages roaming my house, the least of which is the potential for clutter, stench and dander. I mean, why don’t we just get a panda bear or a lion while we are at it?

Don’t get me wrong. I love nature.I love adventure. I love being outside. However, I like my domain.

My selfish reasoning was all very noble of course.

My husband deals with allergies and has PTSD about dogs due to a family member being bit by a dog with rabies that altered his childhood, and I just can’t comprehend wanting an animal in your home who poops, pees, eats, costs as much money as a human kid, and takes precious time out of your day.

In addition, I appreciate cleanliness and maintaining the value of the material objects in my home.

My children, however, were insistent for years in their plea before the proverbial “throne”of mom and dad’s mercy for a dog. A pet. A best friend for the little men to call their own.

I watched their love and care for my mom’s dog and saw the deep desires of their heart. The passion was so deep and intense that my oldest son told me numerous times that his dream in life is to have 5 dogs and no wife. I told him that if he truly gets 5 dogs, he will never get a wife. He can declare a mission accomplished.

My heart started to soften to their requests. I do not know what happened to me except that I told them it had to be divine intervention, and to this, they both agree.

I started researching dogs and breeders and pet stores and pounds. From this, I discovered I wanted to rescue a dog if this pet reality was going to happen.

After some searching, even my husband came around. He discovered that Yorkie’s don’t bother his type of allergies too much, but we knew our boys were set on a dachshund. I definitely wasn’t going to get a dog they weren’t even into. What would be the point? This was all about them, but for Jonathan’s sake I continued to research Yorkies on petfinder.com and just wasn’t at all impressed.

Then one day, in a split second, I saw Chip. He was a DORKIE.He was the fur and face of a yorkie, which was good for the allergies, but the build and body of a dachshund. It was like God created him specifically for my boys.

His little picture pierced Jonathan and I’s heart and literally in the span of an hour, we had the ball rolling to get this dog. Just like God, we didn’t move quickly (boys had been pleading for years), but when the time was right, we moved suddenly. We picked them up from a birthday party and told them what had transpired and they went into fits of ecstatic hysteria. Tears, cheers, disbelief, and celebration filled our car.

I hopped on amazon and ordered a bazillion dollars worth of dog paraphernalia, loaded up on food and supplies at Costco and Target, and made plans for us to drive 2 hours to pick Chip up from his foster mom. He was 10 months old and a nervous wreck when we brought him home.

Between adoption costs (they have a pay it forward system), grooming costs and vet visits, supplies, food, and household puppy destruction, Chip has fulfilled all the terrible prophecies I imagined.

Several pairs of shoes: Destroyed

Rugs: Gone

Carpets: Torn Thread Bare

Multiple types Dog Beds: Ripped to shreds

Blankets: Half Eaten

Leather furniture: Scratched

Piles of poop in the house: Numerous

Time spent training and cleaning up and restructuring the whole house to try to salvage things and keep him from “burning” the place down: way more than I even want to think about

Yorkie separation anxiety and Dachshund Hound induced barking: never ending

Boys in love, learning responsibility, taking charge, and growing in maturity:2

Adults suckered into petting, walking, rubbing, caressing, nurturing, and snuggling:2

Reminders through Chip daily how Christ “adopted” and redeemed us even while we were yet sinners (and still are while wearing these suits of flesh): Constant

You see, we are both the dog and the children in this story. We are God’s children and He wants good things for us. Our pleading to him does get to his heart. He answers our prayers.

But, we are also the dog. We live messy and carefree lives with no thought to the house of God or the plans of God and yet he is still faithful.

PSA: A cat will never happen. If you hear I got a cat, immediately call 911 and have them put me on psychiatric lock down. It means everything I’ve ever stood for has crumbled and I need protected from myself. Not even God would require such levels of “death to self” from me.

 

 

It’s worth it

Most people have experienced betrayal at some point in their lives. Betrayal can blind side you, or you can see it coming from a mile away. It takes on many forms and blows in multiple directions, but the effects remain the same. Disappointment, hurt, bitterness, questioning, analyzing, denying, and anger are just a few of the emotions that betrayal can gift us with. 

Even the most gifted, disciplined athletes and staunch followers of nutritional guidelines will discover that at some point, the body will betray you.

Even the most loyal friend will discover that not everyone puts the same premium on loyalty and honor.

Even the most diligent of employees will eventually run across a self centered, self promoting co-worker, stealing credit for work you performed.

Even the most loving parent will encounter a grumpy teenager, an incorrigible child, or possibly a wayward prodigal.

The point is, if we live, if we love, if we work, if we are in community, if we try to do anything or be anything, we will be hurt. 

Anticipating this will help you to: 

1) Realize you are not alone 2) There is nothing inherently wrong or unloveable about you 3) Have perspective 4) Accept that to truly live involves risk and living is a risk worth taking

A family member recently told me to quit running so much. “Don’t you realize that even if you run all these marathons you will still eventually get old, sick, and/or die?”. 

What this person was saying is, your body will betray you. Your days on this planet are limited so why try? You can’t control every health and wellness scenario, so give up.

That is the equivalent of saying you should retreat in seclusion if you have ever been lied to, gossiped about, maligned or misunderstood. We all have a choice in life to merely exist, or to truly live. 

Perhaps I should never have a friend or reach out to another human being again, because God knows, I’ve been gossiped about, maligned, misrepresented, and abandoned by some of the very people I have invested in and loved the most on multiple occasions. 

True, if you’re attempting to be someone, do something, love someone, or go somewhere:

You will do work you never get credit for.

You will exercise your buns off, just to gain a little weight from age related metabolic slow down anyway.

You might have a heart attack running a marathon, while an obese sedentary person may never have one.

You will be gossiped about, perhaps even lied about.

You will love and lose.

You will encounter betrayal.

However,

You will experience abundance, chance encounters, adventure, and deep relationships.

To truly live, tough calls have to be made, but the choice of life is worth the rough patches.

Be loyal. Outdo your friends, family, and co-workers in displaying and showing honor. Work your body in life giving ways until you discover its limits. Never say never. Live open. 

Invite the inevitable betrayals that may happen on the journey because when you can accept that every blessing has a burden, you can also know every burden has a blessing.

Cupid Q & A

February is typically known as “Love Month”. Of course this celebration of love and romance hits its peak on February 14, Valentine’s Day, the day you are supposed to feel all the feelings, gift all the gifts, and eat yourself into a state of bliss and oblivion, which, if not done correctly, could destroy a night of good romance.

Jessica’s PRO TIP  for “Love Month” and any other ecstasy filled holidays: Even if it’s a supposed aphrodisiac (IE chocolate), especially if you’re in a long term relationship where all guards and barriers surrounding your holiday eating habits have long since been removed,  kiss all your kisses and get cozy before you eat so you can embrace the comforts of long term love and sweat pants for the rest of the day/evening without fear of physical side effects.

In honor of this love holiday, I want to tell you a little about my relationship in case you were curious. If you are not curious, that is OK. At least this post will jog my memory when I’m 118 and I forget details about the man laying next to me.

  1. Who’s oldest?Me by 18 months. I was a cougar before I knew what one was.
  2. How did you meet? We met in college when Jonathan was on a spring break drama tour for his college that came through my town for a performance. His thespian skills riveted me and I’ve been in his audience ever since.
  3. Who was interested first?Technically he was putting the moves on me first the night we met and was chatting me up, however, I was the first to AOL Instant Message him a day or 2 later.  It was the infancy of such technology and my dial up didn’t know what was about to hit it.
  4. Same high school? I’m a public school casualty and he was a homeschooling hermit on the other side of the world.
  5. Most sensitive? This is difficult. Depends on how you define sensitive. While Jonathan is very empathetic, I would say that I tend to get emotionally involved in things at a greater rate than he does.
  6. Worst temper? Unfortunately, me. I have grown enormously in this area though and the fruits of the spirit are ripening. If Jonathan is having an impatient day or moment though, he can get highly annoyed very quickly and be sure to let those closest to him aware of his annoyances.
  7. More social? I am definitely more classically social. I don’t know a stranger and I love to network. I’m a sucker for gabbing. We both have very social occupations and callings though, so you will find us with people and groups all the time. In our personal and friendship lives,  we enjoy spending time with the right people.
  8. Hardest working?Again, another tough one. I would like to say that we both bat 1,000 in this area. We are both highly driven and goal oriented in our professional world, marathon runners as a hobby, and extremely present, hands on parents.
  9. More sarcastic?Definitely me. I’m the joker with a sassy comeback for most anything.
  10. Who makes the most mess? Jonathan It’s not like he “makes a mess”, but I’m definitely the one always picking things up and putting them back where they belong. I don’t have too many complaints in this area though as he is way more cognizant of the trails he leaves behind than 99.9% of men.
  11. Wakes up first?Me most mornings, but only by necessity. I have to get up at Dark O’ Clock to get in my workouts before the day begins. He is, however, the naturally inclined morning person of the two of us and wakes up early even if it’s a day off and even if we are on a vacation. Therefore, I am a hostage to mornings. Even if I want to sleep in, either my schedule won’t let me or I’m awakened inadvertently, or sometimes overtly, by Jonathan.
  12. Bigger family?We both have exactly 1 brother and both of them have 1 wife and 2 sons. We are tied. However, my father is already deceased, so he has one living father up on me.
  13. Who cooks the most? No meals would occur without my planning, shopping, prep, and litany of instructions. He does do spaghetti and eggs, as well as put meat on the grill in the summer if I’ve prepped it all and planned in advance for it. He forgets the planning, shopping, and shelf stocking part and I hate to send him to the store anyway as he always pays way more for everything than needed. My brain is a calculator at the store after years of practice.
  14. Who cries the most?Neither of us. We both are dry as a bone most of the time. I think we need to work through our issues so we can stinking cry.
  15. Better singer?While he can harmonize and sing on key, I’m the singer of the pair.
  16. Hogs the remote?Our kids.
  17. Better driver? He’d say it’s him.

Most patient? We are both tied as works in progress on this, although, he is a faithful, diligent plodder and extremely sweet, kind and caring to me and our sons so I really have no complaints. We are pretty patient with people and circumstances. We have experienced a lot of life, both really good and tragically bad, so the patience virtue has been slammed into us and I’m thankful for it.

Life is a journey and people are work’s in progress. The sooner those tenants are embraced, the happier your life will be.

So that’s that for now. Happy Valentine’s Week all!

funny-akron-marathon-2016This is a tragically bad and yet terrifically accurate photo of our marriage. I look like I’ve gone to the nut farm. Here  I am, tired, sweaty, worn out, and yet still crazy , acting funny, and ready to party. Jonathan, looking ever so neat and polished like a politician, by my side, ignoring my insanity, intensely focused, and keeping his eye on the goal. This was captured at the Akron Marathon September 2016 at the finish line.

It’s your job

“Once we believe in ourselves we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.” –e. e. cummings

Last April, on my 36th birthday, I was approached at an event and asked if I was the mother of one of the young ladies that had just presented on the stage.  Because I was well acquainted with the young lady in question, I stood back flabbergasted. Most likely unbeknownst to the interrogator, I had just been questioned as to whether I birthed and raised a 21 year old.

In that moment I was faced with a few choices:

  • I could be extremely offended that this person thought I was old enough to have a 21 year old daughter.
  • I could assume they knew I was only in my 30’s and were wowed and awed by the prowess I displayed as a pubescent mother.
  • I could be insecure about every line and wrinkle on my face. I could hone in on the dark circles under my eyes. I could become self conscious about my appearance. I could accept that I must look solidly middle aged.
  • I could be completely flattered because this young woman was stunning in both her internal and external beauty and characteristics and this person assumed she was with me, thereby making me also stunning.
  • I could know that, in fact, this person saw we both had blonde hair, had been seen in conversation, and did what everyone else on the planet does, lump all blondes together. Aren’t all Caucasian blondes related?  Although, if I had chosen this option as my reaction, couldn’t they have asked if we were sisters? Why jump to the conclusion that I was mom?

To make matters worse, it wasn’t but just a couple of months before this incident that someone approached me and asked if I was pregnant. I’m the thinnest I’ve been ever in my adult life,and this person also knew I was in the middle of training for a marathon. The two components of thinness and fitness rarely a pregnant female make. Flabbergast was the only appropriate response here.

Short story long, I chose to let the comments go. With the simple extension of a hearty laugh and a knowing smile of forgiveness in both scenarios, the slate was wiped clean. We have all put our foot in our mouth at some point and have probably been the one eating crow. Why then, one year later, do these two conversations still stand out to me with such clarity?

What woman doesn’t worry about maintaining her youthful glow and appearance? What woman doesn’t want to present herself as chic and in control? Perhaps these females exist, but I haven’t met any of them yet. Even the most confident of XX chromosome owners have moments of mirror shaming, photo comparing, and skin, hair, clothing, body envy.

While chicks around the world may have some raw nerves and universally agreed upon taboo points of discussion (i.e. never ask a woman her age, her weight, her income, or if she’s pregnant), the job is up to us to do the hard work of knowing ourselves and our true, inherent worth as a human being. Never leave the job up to anyone to tell you who you are or what you look like. External validation and motivation can disappear as quickly as it appears. It is fickle. It is finite. It is based in fashion and fads. However, a true, deep down, internalized system of validation and motivation will keep your head held high and your confidence soaring whether you’re rocking Jimmy Choo’s or slippers.

We, as women, can be our own best asset or our own worst enemy. Do not hand the job of self validation over to anyone else in your life. Your parents, your significant other, your children, your co-workers, your boss, your personal trainer, or the random person you met online in a chat room cannot and should not be expected to butter you up, prop you up, and fill you up. My value and my worth will not be held hostage to opinions, criticisms, the social media commentary, postings, and activities of others, Hollywood, Washington DC, trends, styles,the cultural zeitgeist, or the random woman in a tweety bird t-shirt and leggings at the gas station.

Take the time to get to know yourself. Learn what it is you like about yourself and what areas you need and want to improve in. Take action everyday towards the person that you are becoming and desire to be. No one else can cheer for you or take that action for you.

The journey is your work to do. Be your own kind of beautiful!

Monday Musings: Do streaking and productivity hacking have validity?

“Rule of thumb: The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.”

Steven Pressfield

Today, January 30, 2017, I kick off a writing streak. Notice, I said writing, not necessarily posting. You may or may not be privy to the musings of my mind during the next 30 days as I attempt to improve upon, and even solidify, my calling as a writer. It is possible that what I put on paper will not be fit for human consumption, and that is ok. Not every basket that Lebron gloriously puts in is seen.

They, the powers that be, say that in order to be an author, blogger, or writer (individual that puts words on paper), you must actually be engaged in the practice of regularly writing. This sounds like common sense, except that it is not entirely true. I have long been a self-proclaimed wordsmith and dabbler into all mediums communication related, except that my writing has yet to be read by many people. Sure, I’ve actually been published on a few websites and in a smattering of periodicals. I’m also positive my Master’s thesis was perused by at least 4 people, of whom I have no doubts lined up with eager anticipation to devour it. (We will pretend that payment to do so did not effect their decision to read my work.)

However, to be a writer, in my opinion, you actually need more than words on paper, but an audience with which to share, mothers and spouses not included.

This is where the 21st century has been simultaneously kind and cruel. The kind part is that the internet, blogs, and social media has given everyone the opportunity for an audience. The cruel part is just a repeat of the kind part.

I do not know what it is that holds me back from doing some of the very things that:

  1. I feel called to
  2. People tell me I’m good at
  3. I actually enjoy once I get started

Steven Pressfield, author of many international bestsellers, would say that I’m just a victim of the “resistance”. Resistance is the unseen powerful force that holds us back and tells us lies. Steven may have popularized the concept of “resistance” in his completely life changing and worthwhile read “The War of Art”, but the apostle Paul seems to be the OG because he so eloquently stated in the bible that he was battling it every day.

15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. …..19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.

.Romans 7:15 and 19 New International Version (NIV)

 Alas, here is where the Monday Musings come into play:

  1. When I don’t do something I’m compelled and called to do is it a sin even if the very act itself is not a sin? (IE: I love to write. Feel called to write. Entertain and inform people when I write but, outside of work, past academic achievements, leadership responsibilities, friendly communications, and public speech development, I rarely write).

    Wow! I’d just rather not think about it.  Or, better yet, is the very thing I so expertly push aside the exact thing God is wanting me to think about in 2017?

  2.  Do I have things to say that people actually care about? Well, I guess that remains to be seen. I know one thing, I’m going to try my best not to let imposter syndrome or fixating on “results” hold me back. What good is chasing results if you’re not even putting in the work worthy of a result?
  3. So called experts tell you to have a specific audience in mind and narrow the interest window of those you’re writing to achieve maximum success, but I want to write about all the things that currently are the sum of my life. The good news is that other experts say to write about what you know about and that real life stories and experiences are the most fascinating things one can share. I guess I’ll figure out which expert is correct, the one who tells me to exclusively focus on food, fitness, leadership, theology, women’s issues, family issues, or any topic I chose so long as I choose just one of the above topics, or the expert that says to write about what you know about and love?I can’t let my “fear” of covering the various topics that fuel me hold me back. At some juncture I will maybe settle into a cohesive pattern and rhythm of what is the best for me to share and say, however, until then, the resistance can keep lying, but I’m not listening.
  4.  I will test the “productivity” hack who shared with me that streaking is the best way to start and solidify a habit. The truth is a “productivity” hack is kind of an oxy-moron. Sure you can hack your brain and your life systems some, but at the end of the day success, productivity, time management, financial success, a hot body, and emotional wellness can only be “hacked” if you regularly use 4 letter words, well, at least one 4 letter word WORK.

What, if any, topics would you like my rabbit chasing brain to cover on this blog?

As a prequel, be prepared to hear about my marathon training, what I’m eating (or not eating), coffee, books I’m reading and reviewing, my family, my friends, my public speaking and communication endeavors, my church, leadership, and anything else I’m compelled to share.

Do not worry, I am confident that by February 28, the final day of my streak, daily writing will be such a habit for me that you will have me around for a very long time, thus, will have ample occasion to hear/read it all.

Step by Step

Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit. (3 John 1:2 NLT)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA picture I stumbled across yesterday of myself with my cousin Paul 2 weeks before I started my mind, body, spirit transformational journey.
 

iPhone Fall 2012 to Fall 2013 Jess 607

Versus a picture of me this past summer (2013) with my beautiful aunt (You caught me looking at family photos yesterday!)

Today I had a reminder of how powerful habit is in our life. Besides celebrating Day 807 of my runstreak (which means for that length of time I’ve run everyday with no breaks), I had an interesting conversation with my husband. I don’t like to talk about our fasting a lot on the blog because I feel like that is a personal decision that we make to honor God in our lives, however, I feel that in the interest of exposing how I achieve my mind, body, spirit balance and how I am going about my “one word” for 2014, alignment, I thought I could let you in a little bit.

We begin each year with a 21 day Daniel Fast. I have spoken about it before in previous blogs, but you can also google it if you are unfamiliar with what it entails. We also fast at least one day a week, and in addition, kick off each month by fasting 3 days at the start of said month. The purpose of our fast is multi faceted, but one of the benefits of it is increased health and vitality.  It is not a magical spiritual, mental, or physical bullet, but step by step you grow in every area of your life and start to see God’s blessing increase with each new season of fasting and prayer.

Physically, there is no doubt that when you eliminate grains and animal products, your body isn’t using as much energy in the food/digestion area which releases it to execute more exciting uses of energy. I will be dabbling more into different food choices and detox strategies later this year that I will write about and keep you informed on, but for now, I just want to encourage you on the power of habit. The Daniel Fast is much more spiritual for us than it is physical, but you can’t separate the two. Some of my food detox journeys and research undertakings have little spiritual focus. They are just me pursuing the best physical and mental me I can be, but without a doubt, every time I’m my best physically and mentally, I’m also my best spiritually. It is a circle.

We ended our 21 days at the end of last week, and yet when faced with what to eat for lunch today, my mind only gave me the options that were “Daniel” approved. It was like I had forgotten that my typical egg sandwich was even an option or that pretzels weren’t “forbidden” foods. Am I cured from my cravings? I doubt it. When my mileage amps up the closer to the marathon we get, you better believe I’ll be elbow deep in all natural ice cream and other treats, but for now my new and reset habit system will allow me to further my health goals with little to no effort on my part.

Because I’ve been making good choices, good choices have become automatic. One decision for a cheeseburger won’t derail my life, because my habits are set. One busy day will not keep me from a life of bible reading and devotions because my  habits are set. There will be occasional steps out of the healthy habit train and that is fine with me. I’m in this for life. I’m not an ethical vegan or vegetarian and I have no known food allergies, therefore I have no real deep and meaningful reason to “deprive” myself.

The cool thing about habits is that once the correct ones are cemented, you don’t feel deprived, ever. Habit makes the automatic wise choice for you 96% of the time and that makes it possible to be “bad” the other times. See, there is no black and white. Gray is where the party is at, but your brain and body won’t let you “party” too much because it will desire to return to its setpoint or habit structure.

God created us for far more than we give ourselves credit for. We are generally so busy fighting our human nature with its impulses and temptations that we forget to lean into the momentum that God has stored up for us. God created our brains and bodies to embrace habit and instead of utilizing this amazing computer program he downloaded into us, we are constantly trying to uninstall the very thing that could take us to the next level.  We stop celebrating how far we’ve come and start seeing how far we have to go.

We label segments of our life into categories:

  • Black and white. Good and bad. Wrong and right. Cold and hot. Pessimism and optimism.

Could it be that many things we weigh ourselves down with mentally, physically, and spiritually were never meant to be categorized? Could it be that we have never embraced gray areas?

We stunt ourselves by not embracing the gray areas. There really is no good or bad. Something is better than nothing. Take it step by step. The reason this lifestyle change has stuck is because I approached it with the lens of legacy and the long journey.

Never stop celebrating how far you’ve come. Always build an altar of memories poised for praise (photos in this blog are to jog my memory and celebrate the journey). Sure there is still a long way to go. Sure there are still mental, emotional, spiritual and physical demons to slay, but what if instead of worrying about the unseen, we just baby step our way to the legacy we want to leave.

One day at a time your habits will change to match your dreams and decisions that once stressed you out will become automatic no brain choices. How would it feel to  use your willpower for greater things than survival mode? What if instead of fighting food cravings and a lack of desire to exercise you could use your energy and will power to fight for social justice? Seem like a leap? It isn’t. You can do it. I did it.

My brain and my body were created for more than considering what to eat and what to wear. God put greatness in me and I’m going to live a long healthy life pursuing his promises, living out my purpose, and declaring hope.

When negative thoughts bombard your mind, say, “I am strong. I am well able. I have what it takes. I can do this.”-Joel Osteen

Endurance: A 4 letter word.

Through endurance ……. we might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another… that together you may with one voice glorify ……Jesus Christ.  (Romans 15:4-7 ESV)

Endurance is a dirty word. Endurance conjures up images that we don’t want to see and emotions that we would rather not feel. We get images, or perhaps flashbacks of personal experiences and traumatic events. Pictures of the sweat soaked, dehydrated athlete, the parents of a newborn child who enjoys frequent 2 AM parties, the years of loneliness and betrayal at the hands of an abuser, or the sleepless nights finishing up a PhD dissertation fill our mind when that cursed word is uttered.  Everyone wants a gold medal, but few want it bad enough to sell out for it.

This week we paused to remember and honor the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I have had the privilege and simultaneous horror to visit many stops in Alabama that played an epic role in the civil rights struggle of this nation. The truth is, anything worth fighting for is going to leave with it a long trail of tears. Whether the tears are  temper tantrums (because we don’t want to push ourselves, make difficult choices, and get our hands dirty) or legitimate gut wrenching productions doesn’t matter. Ultimately the key to enduring anything is to exercise your “No” muscle (self-denial) and to experience frequent paradigm shifts (perception and thoughts). Dr. King’s dream fueled his passion and was greater to him than momentary discomfort.His bend was to focus on the greater long-term cause than the immediate injustices.

Most people who achieve greatness have done so not in spite of adversity, but because of it. Take the marathon for example. Perhaps if you were in great shape, ate totally clean, had all the stars aligned for you, and were 21 years old you could wake up one day and decide to run a marathon and finish it. You, in fact, would not be able to move the next day, but it would be possible to finish under such circumstances, especially if you didn’t care how long it took you. For the rest of us though, it is the daily discipline of fighting through struggle that prepares us mentally and physically to get the starting line and then subsequently to finish strong.

This is why I love running. It is the ultimate metaphor for life. As a student of the Holy Bible I find so many spiritual and philosophical parallels to life on this earth and physical fitness. Building physical endurance makes mental, emotional, and spiritual endurance easier.

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If I can run 9 miles in -4 degrees outside (which I did yesterday), then certainly I can let someones snide comments roll off my back. Running helps teach you when and how to react. Your stride matters.

I love how the Bible links endurance and encouragement. The fact of the matter is that if you learn to stretch yourself and push beyond, the encouragement that fills you will be overwhelming and it doesn’t require anybody else. I encourage myself. If you congratulate and encourage me, great and awesome and I love you and I need it. However, if you don’t, it doesn’t ultimately matter because I have proven to myself that I can do anything if I learn to endure.

Perhaps it seems simplistic to link running with the civil rights movement or to great spiritual accomplishments, but the physiology and the psychology are the same.  Endurance brings success which brings encouragement which builds more endurance and that generous helping of encouragement and endurance fuel hope. It’s hard to feel hopeless or stay down for the count when you know that greatness lies within you and the only way to be assured of greatness is to have proven to yourself that you CAN and you WILL. I’ve changed my mind. Endurance is not a dirty word, but it is in fact a 4 letter word: HOPE.

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