Sunday, December 22, 2013

O come let us adore Him

Every year the Christmas story is the same- a young virgin, confused husband and a tiny little baby born in a manger- no room in the inn.  This year my bible study mentor/teacher asked us to take a fresh look at the story about the birth of Jesus.  As we sung the contemporary Christmas hymns at church this morning, the lyrics to "Joy to the World" spoke deep to my heart. 

O come let us adore Him- this was the invitation extended to the shepherds that first Christmas night when the army of angels came to announce to these humble men that the Savior was born in the city of Bethlehem.  These men did not delay
but at once gathered their belongings and headed to see and adore this little baby called Christ the Lord. 

 

This same invitation is extended to us today- God wants us to come and adore His Son, Jesus Christ.

To adore means
  1. to worship or honor as a deity or as divine
  2. to regard with loving admiration and devotion 
  3. to be very fond of
God wants us to worship Him- the Ten Commandments clearly state that God wants us to worship Him and Him alone.  But I would like to suggest that God desires us to come to Him in loving admiration and devotion- I believed this is the type of adoration that the hymnist speaks of in the classic song "Joy to the World".  By approaching the wonder of Christmas with admiration and devotion, this might cause one to hear the good news the angels shared with the shepherds with fresh ears and a new heart.  This might cause one to hear and accept the good news of the gospel like the first time they ever heard the Christmas story.
 
  • What type of Christmas are you looking for? 
  • One filled with wonder, admiration, devotion? 
  • Do you long to come to God with the desire to adore Him? 
Take my bible study class challenge and ask God to give you fresh perspective on the birth of Christ- come like the shepherds came, anxious to see the newborn King.
 
 
 
 

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Dear God: All I Want for Christmas is...

This is the first year that my boys have questioned the validity of Santa Claus.  Matt (10) and Jake (8) started questioning the truth behind the big fat man in the red suit last weekend.  Matt said, "If I could just get him on video, then I can believe."  So I asked him, "You believe in God, right?  You can't see him."  Matt responded, "Of course, God is real."

Matt & Jake- Christmas 2008
But how many of us have uttered the same thing about God that Matt questioned about Santa-
  • If I could just see God, then I would believe.
  • If I could just hear God, then I would pray.
  • If I could just feel God, then I would have no doubts.
The disciples walked day by day for three years with Jesus and still had their doubts.  One of my favorite verses as a kid was John 20:29 "Then Jesus told him (Thomas), “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”  Hebrews 11:1 says "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, being convinced of what we do not see."  Webster's Dictionary defines faith as "complete trust or confidence in someone or something."

This Christmas I am challenging myself to send God my Christmas list but this list won't consist of toys, gadgets and clothes.  This list doesn't have to be sent once a year in hopes that a few fun things are left under the tree on Christmas morning.  This list is not a wish list but a belief list- belief that I can ask in faith things of God.  That I can ask expecting God to hear and answer my prayers. 

I am writing an Ephesians 3:20 Belief List-  I have 3 big worries on my heart that I am giving to God this Christmas, letting Him carry them for me while believing that He is "able, through his mighty power at work within me, to accomplish infinitely more than I might ask or think." (Eph. 3:20)  These prayers are Big Hairy Audacious Prayers- prayers that need to be prayed in faith because everything around you tells you that there is no hope, no way, no answer. 

But with God, "nothing is impossible". (Luke 1:37)

Can I pray these prayers expectantly?  Can I believe without a doubt that God hears me when I call and wants to give me the desires of my heart?  But just like my boys' Christmas list which is long and expensive- leading to wishes not answered, you will not always get want you want.  Our lives are being used by God to draw others to Him so an unanswered prayer in my life might just be what draws someone into a relationship with God.  The ultimate gift- a relationship with Jesus!

What's on your Ephesians 3:20 Belief List this year?



 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

God is faithful!

Psalm 100:5-  "For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations."

Sometimes I can hear God clearly- other times I am wondering where He is.  Recently I have felt like I am on hold- not sure what He wants me to do or where He wants me to go.  Last night, I started reading 1 Corinthians and a verse just jumped off the page- it spoke about God's faithfulness.  Then this morning, two specific verses spoke again of God's faithfulness.  Ok- I'm listening....

So here are the words I felt God lay on my heart- hope they touch yours as well.

       God is good- He is faithful- these things are true.  Even when it is hard to see evidence of that, I need to hold on to this belief for dear life because the enemy wants me to believe otherwise.  God's faithfulness will continue forever.  He was faithful, He is faithful and He will be faithful- this is not something He chooses to be when He feels like it, it is part of His being- His character.

       God's love endures forever- enduring love has no end, enduring love is strong and steadfast.  It is the type of love that picks up you when you get knocked down- the type of love that never leaves you nor forsakes you.  It is a love based on God and not us- we can't earn or lose this love.  It is lavished on us by God through the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus. 

       God is good- life isn't always good, people aren't always good, circumstances can look bad but God is good.  Every good and perfect gift comes from above. Some of our hardest times are when we see God's goodness shine the brightest- might not be when we are in the thick of it but if we step back and look, we see glimpses of God's good Hand leading us through the circumstances He has allowed.

      1 Corinthians 1:9 says "God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus our Lord, is faithful".  God has called us into a relationship with Jesus who is our Lord.  God is faithful- whatever is happening in your life right now- remember that God is faithful.

Trust in Him with all your heart
Lean not on your own understanding
Acknowledge Him in all your ways
and He will make your path straight.
(Proverbs 3:5-6)

      God is able- God is faithful

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Appreciating the Long Run

Every marathoner has a love/hate relationship with the long run.  The long run is essential to your marathon training but can be the most dreaded workout of the week.  The long run can build your confidence or break your spirit. 

With school starting, I had to shift my long run to Mondays.  Since Glenn and I are both training for the NYC marathon in November, it is too much on the family schedule for both of us to do the long run on the weekend.  I am still at home with the boys so I have a lot more flexibility in my schedule.  So every Monday after dropping the boys off at school, I will be heading out for my long run.

Last week I went for a 14 mile run.  Here are a few key components to long run training:
  • First, your goal is to run each mile about 60-90 seconds slower than marathon pace.  The thought is that you are building your body to be able to withstand hours of running without pushing it too hard. 
  • Second, this is a great time to work on your nutrition for the marathon.  During a long run, your body burns lots of calories.  Replenishing your body with calories is essential to healthy training & successful race.  You can do this through water, gel/gummies and energy drinks. 
  • Lastly, the long run trains your brain to continue pushing even when you want to quit. 
Marathon running is both a physical and mental work-out. 

As I was running my 14 miles, I began to think about how the trials and struggles that we face in life are similar to the marathon "long" run.  Everyone of us faces trials whether small or large- our lives are not easy, breezy strolls through a beautiful serene meadow.  Most of the time it is a slow grinding pace that leaves us feeling like we want to quit and give up our race.  But that is when we need to remember the goal of the long run. 
  • First, stay slow and steady-  most of life is not a 100 yard dash.  When things are weighing you down and life is tripping you up, keep a slow but steady pace.  Just keep moving forward. 
  • Second, work on your life nutrition.  Hydrate and nourish your spirit in the Word of God daily.  His truth will give you the extra energy boost you need to make it through a day.  Keep coming back daily though- each day has its own set of troubles and challenges.  Come to God daily for your manna. 
  • Lastly, use God's Word to train your brain to keep pushing even when it's hard and you want to throw it the towel.  Turn your worry into worship by recalling scripture or singing a praise song or recalling God's goodness.  Don't be overcome with your circumstances- let God overcome your circumstances with His presence.  Life is hard but we can be "more than conquerors" through God's presence and power in our lives. 

So here's to you, Long Run...  thank you for
  • showing me that I can be strong even when it's hard,
  • reminding me that it is important to keep looking forward (I will trip & fall if I run backwards),
  • and teaching me that "I can do ALL things through Christ that gives me strength". (Ph. 4:13)



  • What your favorite thing about training for a marathon?
  • What is your favorite mantra that keeps you going even when you want to quit?
Jenny

Monday, July 15, 2013

Summer Busyness

We have been on the go since my last post.  Usually I am counting the days for school to start but this year I am enjoying the time I get to spend with my boys.  We didn't over commit on camps or sports this summer- we are really just spending time at home- sometimes just not doing much at all.

This has been a nice break from the craziness of school- the kids had challenging years in 2nd & 4th grade.  Homework and testing seemed to cause more stress which led to interesting afternoons before heading off to baseball, soccer, etc.  It seems like the more we push our kids, the less time we have to connect with our kids.  I have a bunch of friends who are taking the homeschooling plunge which seems like it could alleviate the amount of stress & activity.  But I wonder if we are just becoming "wired to do" that we don't know how to not schedule activities, play dates & camps to our lives.  What example are we setting to our kids if we never allow them to just be kids- playing, inventing, creating & relaxing- before they have to head off to a world of 24/7 emails, texts, and calls.  One that rarely sleeps and doesn't expect you to as well!

Enough about that...  here are some pictures of some fun things we have done in July.  We have had good times with friends and looking forward to spending time with family in the next few weeks.  August is just around the corner so watch out- summer will be gone before you know it.



4th of July 5K race


Waiting for the awards after the race
On July 4th we ran the 5K in Lutz.  Matt ran the 5K in 27:40 which was about 3 minutes faster than his time last year.  I ran it is 22:55 which gave me 2nd place in my age group.  Jake ran the 1 mile race with his friend, Will.  After the race, Jake got his picture taken on a tractor by a local newspaper.  His picture ran in the Lutz News the following week!


Fishing with Friends
A few days later we took 3 friends (all brothers) out fishing near Honeymoon Island.  We met up with 2 other boats off of 3 Rooker Island and spent the day swimming.  Great day to live in Florida.


Matt & Jake's first swim meet
Matt & Jake competed in their first swim meet this past weekend.  It was a mini-meet so the competition was at their level and everyone received a ribbon for participation.  This was their first meet and they did great- mostly they had lots of fun!  Glenn was fishing in a tournament in Stuart, FL with his dad and uncle.  They received 3rd place in the snapper division.  We got fresh cobia and snapper for dinner this week- YEAH!


Matt at Top 10 Camp
Matt is at our church's overnight camp for 4th-6th graders called Top 10 Camp.  It is a 3 day/2 night camp that runs at the church and the kids have a ton of fun. 


Hebrews 4:12
Lastly I had a great opportunity to speak about something near and dear to my heart, the Bible.  Our church (Van Dyke Church) has been in summer school this summer- a series called God 101.  Each week Pastor Matthew teaches on a different aspect of the Christian faith- this week's message was "What is the Bible? How Does it Reveal God?".  To go along with each weekly message, there is Extra Credit available online at www.vandyke.org.  Each week there is a video that discuss the message's question and a study guide to go deeper with the topic.  I was asked to participate in the video for this week's message.  So if you would like to see my video discussion on the Bible, just go to www.vandyke.org and you will see me with my friend/mentor, Lynne.  Click on the video to watch the clip. 

Marathon training is going well- it's hot & humid. 

Jenny
My new weapon- cute shoes!


Monday, July 1, 2013

Here we go.....

So, today it starts- that's right- training for the New York City Marathon.  Wait, didn't I already do that?  Yes I did but unfortunately we did not get to run it.  There were great issues at hand like Hurricane Sandy and all the damage & destruction she bought to town. 

Recap: 
  • April 2012- My husband and I were both accepted into the New York City marathon by the lottery system.  I believe it is a 1/9 chance of being picked so it was awesome that we both were selected the same year.
  • July to October 2012- We trained to run and finish the marathon with a respectable time but ultimately the goal was to finish and have fun.
  • November 2012- Hurricane Sandy hits the east coast causing havoc to the Northeast and canceling the NYC marathon.  It was the right decision- just made too late by Mayor Bloomberg and crew. 
  • After the first of the year, we find out that we can re-enter the marathon in either 2013, 2014 or 2015.  You can also take your money & run.  If it wasn't New York, if we hadn't both got in & if we weren't CRAZY then we would have shouted REFUND.  But we decided to go for it & use our entry for this year- we are officially running the 2013 NYC marathon.

 
 
Fast forward to today- July 1st, 2013.  We have officially started our training.  For the past few months we have just maintained and strengthened our existing running bases plus adopting some cross training.  Our goal for this year's marathon has also changed as well- I say this just as my husband says "This would be a nice little marathon if we weren't trying to run a sub 4 marathon."

That's our goal- to run a sub 4 hour marathon.  Our plan is to train efficiently and eat nutritionally plus mix in cross training like swimming, biking & yoga to ward off injuries.

 
Today's run was an easy 5 mile run which we were able to do together.  Since the boys are getting a little bit older, we might be able to run together close to home.  I am thankful that we can enjoy running together as a couple- it has been a way to stay connected outside the daily grind of household roles- husband/wife, mommy/daddy, housekeeper/bread-winner. 

So stay tuned- I am sure there will be much more to come. 
Long runs = Long talks with God
(gives me something to blog about)
 
 
Meanwhile, pray for us to be of strong body & mind and to run our race that has been marked out for us!

 
 
Jenny


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Dunedin Triathlon- Part 2

Well, I did it!  Dunedin Triathlon 2013 was a success and lots of fun.  Of course, God showed up as a key player in this story.

On Saturday night I went to church with my son, Jake.  Matt was already at a friend's house for the evening and Jake was spending the night with another family.  I was dropping him off after church.  The music was great- very inspiring.  As the announcements were being made, I was flipping through my bulletin, catching up on the news of the church.  Then I saw it- a verse at the bottom of the page called "What's Happening".  The verse said...

Message in the bulletin


What??  I KNOW you can do anything and no one can stop You.  Just what I needed to hear going into Sunday's triathlon especially the swim portion.  I read it a few times, closed my bulletin- started to focus on the sermon but I just kept flipping back to reread the verse.  Never before have I seen a verse in the bulletin.  To verify this I found 2 older bulletins in my bible- yep, no verse.  I wanted to grab the girl's bulletin next to me and look to see if she had the verse as well.  It felt like a message from God- don't worry, You Got It!

The next morning after not much sleep, we left the house at 5 am to pick up my friend Susie.  We arrived at Honeymoon Island with plenty of time to check into transition.  I wrote Job 42:2 and Philippians 4:13 on hands as reminders of God's presence. 

Found on Missional Women Facebook page


After getting set up in transition, we headed to the beach to check out the water conditions.  It was low tide- a very low tide- so low that athletes were able to stand in the deepest part of the course.  It seemed to be chest high on even the smallest people- I am short at 5'2".  So this would not be a challenging swim at all- I don't think you could even call it a swim.  Oh, well- it would be a nice way to ease myself back into open water swimming, right?

My wave was wave 5, Glenn was wave 6 and Susie was wave 7.  I told Glenn to catch up to me and I could just grab on and ride in with him.  My husband is a strong swimmer- he thinks it is funny how stressed I get about the swim. 

So my wave went off at about 7:50 am and it was an interesting swim.  I walked to the first buoy and decide to swim across the course then walk out of the water.  Because of the swallow conditions, it became much easier to swim a little then dolphin dive then swim a little more.  By doing this I was passing a lot of swimmers.  I continued to dolphin my way to shore, standing up to run only when it made sense.  The run from water to transition was a little long but on nice hard sand. 

I left the transition area with my bike to ride a 12 mile course.  The course was two 6 mile loops so when I entered the course the elite athletes were starting their 2nd loop.  It was a little dicey at times with people passing quickly on my left.  I was able to get a good pace going and began feeling confident to pass people as well.  I stuck with a group of women for the first loop and was able to increase my pace, leaving them behind during the 2nd loop.  Glenn passed me during the second loop which I figured would eventually happen.  I was very happy with my biking- I didn't get passed as much by other women as I have in the past.  I don't have a pedometer on my bike yet so I wasn't able to know my average pace.

With the bike portion over, I racked my bike and laced up my running shoes.  I left transition feeling like I had enough left to run a good pace.  After finding my running legs, I settled into a decent pace- spotting other women in my age range (in triathlons they mark the back of your leg with your age)- I set out to pass as much as I could.  I kept looking for Glenn because I knew he was somewhere ahead of me.  Unfortunately the course wasn't marked so I wasn't sure when to pick up my pace- at the last water station I decided to pick it up.  I crossed the finish line, completing the last time I race in my thirties (I am turning 40 this July).  After crossing the line, Glenn comes up behind me and taps me on the shoulder.  He was behind me the whole time- even though he finished the bike ahead of me- I left transition before he did.  We joke about how he takes a long time in transition- at his St Anthony's Race, he took 5 minutes in transition from bike to run because he was looking for his gum.  After finishing the tri, we went to cheer on other competitors and look for Susie. 

Glenn (finish time)- 1:07, Jenny (finish time)- 1:10

So can I get over my love/hate relationship with triathlons? 
  • I LOVE the opportunity to challenge myself to work hard at 3 different sports but be disciplined enough to compete well at each one. 
  • I LOVE the run and bike- I think I could tolerate the swim with more training and less anxiety.
  • I LIKE the atmosphere of the triathlons- you see all types of people who are challenging themselves to complete a race that requires discipline and technique. 
  • My husband told me to stop my complaining and suck it up. 
So Yes, I will compete again- I have another triathlon scheduled for August with a couple of friends.  It is another sprint which is manageable training especially since my husband and I are starting our marathon training in July for the NYC marathon. 

Susie and I are ready to our next tri!

But as Pastor Matthew reminded me on Saturday night that "for physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for ALL things, holding promises for both the present life and the life to come" (1 Timothy 4:7-9)  So though God has blessed me with the body to run, bike and swim (slowly), I need to remember that the most important way to spend my time is on my spiritual training.  This training leads to love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control which can be beneficial to those around me.

Jenny