Tag: perseverance (page 1 of 2)

One (Boring) Word

Have you guys chosen One Word this year?  I know it’s halfway through January and I’m late to the party, but give me a break…It’s been, well…complicated.

First, I asked my family members what word they would choose for me. Big mistake. I asked so I needed to listen, but not only did I get a bit of variety, but they weren’t words like “joy” or “adventure” – you know, the kind I wanted to hear. Ahem.  My daughters gave me “perseverance”, and “patience”. REALLY?? That’s the last time I play THIS game!

Next, I prayed and reflected, but the word the Lord seemed to impress on me was also not one I was crazy about.

BO-RING! Right?

It made sense because I’ve been working hard on some different things and I need to not lose sight of the eternal purpose of each, but I thought (again), “REALLY? Blah.” So I tried to think of more exciting alternatives that wouldn’t violate the intent, but I came up empty.

And then the Lord did that thing where He kind of freaks me out. I could almost see Him rolling His eyes, saying “This daughter of mine is a little slow. I’d better connect the dots for her.”

Here are a few of the verses He put in front of me to stumble over…

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruitfruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. John 15:16

 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge;  and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness;  and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 2 Peter 1:5-7

Maybe part of the fruit He wants to produce in me is patience and perseverance?

But there’s more.

My husband, John,  (before I ever landed on “fruit”) said, “I’m not sure which one word it would be, but I want you to be able to celebrate the fruit God is already producing through you and enjoy it.”

Soooo maybe God uses a village? If you’ve chosen One Word for the year, what is it and what led you to choose it? If you’re commenting for the first time, don’t freak when it doesn’t show up immediately (it will, soon)

If you don’t have One Word yet, consider praying and asking your family.

P.S. This isn’t about working harder…not about doing more. It’s about paying attention and cooperating with the work God desires to do in your life to make you more like Him.

 

 

 

When You Need Encouragement For Your Race

Yesterday was the Twin Cities Marathon. This time I was on the sideline cheering for friends and relatives running, scuffling, wheel-chairing, limping, charging to their finish line.

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I’ve run (read: scuffled) races myself, and other times like yesterday, I’ve cheered and prayed like crazy, feeling like part of a team with all humankind who are doing the best they can to run a good race.

When daughter Katy ran the Marine Corps Marathon a couple years ago I had the opportunity to be a cheerer.

I anxiously kept scanning the crowds of runners and praying for Katy, like the father of the prodigal son, willing him to come into view from afar off.

And when she came into sight I went crazy: IMG_8597

Is this a tiny bit of what our Heavenly Father feels as He watches us running our race of faith?  Is He picking us out of the crowd, fully aware of the miles when it’s going to be harder to keep putting one foot in front of another?  

Sometimes proudly pointing, like “That’s my boy!  That’s my girl!”, and other times yelling, “You’ve got this because you’ve got Me!!  You’re not alone!”

We are all runners.  We are all cheerers.

We all have hard races to run and we need each other.

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As cheerers we get to be the megaphone of God for a world full of weary marathoners.

I knew that miles 19-22 would be the hardest for Katy and so I got to jump on the course and run with her for that stretch.  Just like the year when she ran alongside me, and John cheered, and friends prayed and supported.

Two years ago in D.C. when Katy came up that last tough hill into sight, approaching the Iwo Jima Memorial at the finish line I had no shame.  I went crazy jumping, screaming, crying, waving.

And somehow above the voices of thousands of others, she heard, she turned, and found me.  She smiled and waved and as she passed me and ran to the finish line there was this picture – the bright turquoise runner in the middle of the frame – tiny in the grand scheme of things, but unmistakeable to her earthly parents and her Heavenly Father.

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And this is you too. Know that you have a heavenly Father who is crazy about you, cheering you on today.

We Need More of This

The other day, John and I walked into the Apple store right at opening.  This is what greeted us.

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It’s not a great picture, but all the staff (all 30 or whatever of them) lined up and CHEERED us in, clapping and woohooing!

Now cynics may be mumbling “Bah humbug! Marketing…” but not me.  It didn’t matter that the employees who were cheering  didn’t know us.  To me they were saying we’re in this together and we’ve made it through another day and night and we’re still here. We all deserve a cheer.

We need more parades, more “atta boy’s” and “atta girl’s”.

As I write these posts I try to think of you who are reading on the other side of the screen… Continue reading

One Reason You Shouldn’t Memorize Scripture

So, the other day I posted on Longings, Set-backs, and 3 Keys to Small Victories.  It was about goals and next steps and cheerleaders, but mostly it was about perseverance.

Perseverance is an ugly word in my vocabulary because it involves another “p word” I hate – patience.  Perseverance and patience are both “growing edges” in my life.  That’s the nice way of saying I stink at both, and God has His work cut out for Him.

This is where Scripture comes in. I’ve been trying to memorize a passage on patience and perseverance.

I think I’ve mentioned Scripture Typer before.  It’s a great Scripture memory app.  Lately I’ve been using it to help me memorize James 1:1-5.  Actually “lately” might be stretching it.  I’ve been working on it lately, but also for a looooong time.  Don’t mock, you mockers.

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In case you haven’t memorized this one, here it is:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

Anyway, I’ve really been getting in the groove…my little fingers scurrying across the keys, typing THE WORDS, faster, faster, faster.

So today I’m blitzing along, trying to check “MEMORIZE SCRIPTURE” off my To-do list so I can get back to all the maddening REAL stuff I’m trying to persevere and power through.

Then Bam!  The Holy Spirit clonks me on the head. Continue reading

Longings, Set-backs, and 3 Keys to Small Victories

When you wake up each morning, what is it that you long for?  After getting your teeth brushed and perhaps a lunch or two packed, and checking your to-do list, what do you want?  REALLY?

You might answer that a lot of different ways, but I’m betting on one thing.  You long to know that you’re achieving something significant.  I’m with you.

Maybe there’s a goal you’ve gone public with, or one that you’re afraid to say out loud.  It may be big and long-term (like starting your own business with kingdom values, or becoming a lawyer who will help advocate for the least and the left-behind, or raising godly kids.)  Or it may be smaller, but still valuable and significant to you (like losing weight or hitting a certain score on the GRE)

Big or small, overtly spiritual or not, our goals and longings can be used by God in eternal ways.  Our dreams are tools He can use to form our character.

Most of you remember that I had a goal last year to run a half marathon with Team World Vision in order to draw attention to the need for clean water around the world and raise money to dig a well in Zambia.  I’m so grateful that I was able to accomplish this (praise Jesus!).

But in the process I got injured and have been dealing with various forms of tendonitis ever since.  SOOOOO FRUSTRATING!!  What about all the “next things”?? The “GREATER THINGS”?

Have you ever had a set-back in a goal or something you’re longing for?  And you want to say,  “JESUS!!! Come ON!!

Well, running is just a tiny example in my life.  As hard as it was, it gave me great joy.  It helped me achieve something for a greater good (clean water).  It gave me a sense of accomplishment.  And the experience taught me a lot about spiritual formation.

So this year-long set-back has been maddening. I’ve worked hard.  I’ve been to the dr. and physical therapist a bazilliionty times.  I’ve had some false starts as impatience got the best of me, but my goal was to begin again September 1st.

September dawned beautiful, dry, and 75 degrees.  I had no excuses, but I confess,  I was scared.  I was back at square one. Have you been there?photo-167

The “what if’s” plagued me, not just about this little run, but about All Of The Things.

What if I’m just not good enough, healthy enough, strong enough, determined enough to achieve __________________?(fill in your own dream)

Well, it was ugly and painful, short and slow, but I finished and I cried with joy and texted my wonderful running partner (daughter Katy) as I stumbled home.

Confession:  I wanted to quit after ONE BLOCK.  How the heck did I go from running 13.1 miles a year ago to wanting to stop after one block?!!

My little starting-over run doesn’t matter so much but I share it because of how God used it to remind me of some stuff when it comes to our dreams and discouragement.  I’m “preaching” to myself here!  There are other goals I have right now where I’m super discouraged and it’s hard to stay motivated, so here are three things I’m trying to do:

1.  Set new goals. Sometimes you have to adjust your expectations.  Sometimes God is doing a different work in you than you want.  I hated continually adapting and down-sizing my goals as I tried to heal, but even that was formative.  Now my goal is just to run a 5 mile Turkey Trot at Thanksgiving.  That’s MY goal, but I need to keep being open to God’s refinement. What new goals might you set? Which ones might need to prayerfully be tweaked?

2.  Do the next thing.  The finish line isn’t the victory, the next thing is.  What’s the one next thing that you can do?  That’s a victory to celebrate today.  What’s that one next thing you can do?

3.  Your playlist matters.  Honestly, I think we underestimate the power of what plays in our head.  At the end of a recent run I was totally ready to throw in the towel, but then I put on my running playlist and “Can you Do This?” and “Roar” propelled me forward.  Do you have a theme song for your dream?

Beyond the music that motivates you, think of the voices that keep you putting one foot in front of another.  Who’s a partner in your dream who you can count on to encourage you?  This response from Katy will keep me going for awhile.  Find someone to cheer you on.

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What’s one longing or goal you want to pursue?  How can you apply one of the 3 things above to get on track?  Let’s encourage each other! 

 

 

What to do When You’re Stuck, part 2

Tuesday (yes, I’m a little off schedule with the holiday weekend) I wrote about the universal experience of feeling stuck from time to time.  For a week, or a month, or maybe you feel like you’re living a “stuck” life.

I shared some things I’ve been learning and trying to apply from Nehemiah who never acted without praying, and never prayed without acting.  Like peanut butter and jelly, prayer and action were inseparable in Nehemiah’s life as he got the Israelites unstuck and lead them in re-building the walls around Jerusalem.

But it turns out there was more.  Instead of pb & j, it was more like a BLT.  There was a third distinguishing characteristic in Nehemiah’s life – praise.

Over and over again he acknowledges dependence on God’s character – His power, His help, His care.  Nehemiah doesn’t lose sight of who’s God and who’s NOT.  He prays on behalf of the people “whom You redeemed by YOUR great strength and YOUR mighty hand.”

He reminds others “our God will fight for us” and says “Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome…”  He tells others about “the gracious hand of God” repeatedly, and acknowledges the work is done “with the help of our God.”

So…PRAY, ACT, PRAISE, REPEAT.  But what if this “magic” formula doesn’t work in 52 days like it did for Nehemiah?

Sometimes I believe we stay stuck because God is at work “unsticking” other stuff in us that we’re not aware needs unsticking.  Character stuff that may not be our priority, but is His.  Like the stubborn leftover egg in a frying pan, He scrapes away.Unknown

What if our prayers in these seasons included, “Lord, help me not just to obsess on getting unstuck, but for as long as I’m here, show me what You want to form in me.  Help me to be present to You in each moment.”

Our friend, Steve Hayner, is “stuck” in a season of scary, debilitating cancer.  He is beautifully living out a life with similar character qualities to Nehemiah.  The other day he wrote this:

 In J.B. Phillips’ translation of the New Testament, he renders Romans 5:1-5 this way: 

1-2 Since then it is by faith that we are justified, let us grasp the fact that we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through [Christ] we have confidently entered into this new relationship of grace, and here we take our stand, in happy certainty of the glorious things he has for us in the future.

3-5 This doesn’t mean, of course, that we have only a hope of future joys—we can be full of joy here and now even in our trials and troubles. Taken in the right spirit these very things will give us patient endurance; this in turn will develop a mature character, and a character of this sort produces a steady hope, a hope that will never disappoint us. Already we have some experience of the love of God flooding through our hearts by the Holy Spirit given to us.

 

These were great verses to wake up to this morning.  Life is lived in the grace of Jesus through and through–whether the grace is obvious in our immediate circumstances or not. With Jesus at work in our lives, God’s “good” is always being done and we always continue to grow and to be transformed.
Have you been in a situation of feeling “stuck” over a long season?  What do you feel like God was forming in you?

Maybe We Can

I imagine that each of you reading this post today has a story to tell of something you’re doing (or enduring) that’s A HARD THING.

Really hard.  Physically, emotionally, spiritually…

It may be a challenge to get out of bed in the morning, knowing the REALLY HARD THING will still be there, lurking like a terrorist, or enveloping you like humidity.

A friend of mine wrote a song with the lyrics: “Somedays faith means just tying your shoes.”

Ahhh, yeah.

This is a guy I see every day when I run a certain route.

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I’m out of breath and I’m sweating like a horse and my feet and hips ache and I want sooo bad to stop.  I keep trying to keep in mind WHY I’m doing this HARD THING. (cleanwaterforAfricacleanwaterforAfricacleanwaterforAfrica…)

Then I see this guy who must be so much more determined and braver than I am.

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Persevering through Partway to Somewhere

This is not a post about running.  Not exactly.

But it starts there, so bear with me.

The hardest point in my runs (read: slow slog) these days is between mile 2.5 and 3.  After the newness of the run has worn off and before I’m in any kind of comfortable (read: muscle numbing) rhythm.  Way before the end is in sight.  And let’s not even talk about the possibility of the “runner’s high”.  That’s a cruel myth perpetuated by sadistic marathoners to make the rest of us feel like failures.

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This is the point that is the most uncomfortable.  When I most want to stop.  When the voices taunting “This is STUPID!” are the loudest.

Instead of “I-think-I-can-I-think-I-can” on repeat in my brain it’s “I’m-gonna-die-I’m-gonna-die”.

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Prayer Failure “So that…”

I understand prayer about as well as I understand car repair.  That is to say I might recognize some of the bigger parts, like the engine, say.  But how the whole thing works?  It’s totally beyond me.

Still, I pray.  The illustration that has been most helpful to me in framing my prayer life is that of a small boat on a lake, tethered by a rope to the shore.  We, in the boat, would be crazy to try to make the shore move to us.  Instead, our job is to pull ourselves to the shore.  In other words, align ourselves with God’s will and pray that way.

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I’ve written before about a question that helps.  In 2 Kings 19 Hezekiah prays:

“Now, Lord our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You alone, Lord, are God.”

I was moved by Bill Hybel’s challenge to ask ourselves, “What is the ‘so that’ of our prayers?” 

It would seem like praying things “so that” God would be glorified and His kingdom would be furthered on earth would be a sure thing.  God’s will, right?  Well, apparently God and I aren’t on the same page on this one because He has been totally unpredictable in this department lately.

A few years ago I was moved by the need for clean water in the world.  I started praying about raising money for a well.

We had just bought our first stock.  Ever.

In a passionate moment of prayer I committed every penny we would earn from that stock to go towards a well so that kids in Africa could have clean water and God would be glorified.  Doesn’t that seem like a prayer God would want to answer in the affirmative?

Our stock was BP.  The oil spill happened a couple of weeks later.  We still haven’t recovered our losses.

Still, I prayed and was committed to raising money for water.  Some friends and I did a fund-raiser.

The first time I prayed and we had moderate success, but certainly not the dramatic answer I thought would honor God.  Why didn’t He want to show off?

The second time, I prayed more.  A lot.  I did prayer walks around the place where we were going to hold the event, repeatedly asking for God’s favor so that kids could have clean water.

We had about 12 people show up and we raised $135.

“LORD!” I yelled!  “What’s up with that?”

Still, I prayed.  But with a lot less gusto.

Then last Sunday, after more prayer and preparation, we did a fund-raising brunch at a nearby restaurant.  We raised more than $8000 and then had someone offer to give $15,000 more!  Two wells, not one!  Over and above.  Abundance beyond my prayer.

Why?  What was God’s “so that” in all this?

Isaiah 65:24 says “Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.”

Did He delay so that He could form something in me or others in this drawn out process?

So that He could teach us to trust Him more?

So that He could teach us perseverance?

I don’t know.  Prayer is still about as foreign as car repair to me, but I’m thinking maybe God’s “so that” is more important than mine.

Do you have any experience with prayer like this?

Three words from the heart of God

I love biking and walking the paths we have in abundance here in Minnesota.  While I prefer the 5 months of the year when we get beauty and color and warmth, and have been begging the trees to hold onto their leaves, I’ll walk in basically any weather conditions.  As I walk or ride around our lakes, I notice that there are always stretches that are my favorite – the lush, wooded shady parts.

But there are also barren stretches that I’d really rather skip.  Very much like the seasons of my life I’d rather fast-forward through.  Thistly and ugly.

The other day I was riding my bike and there was such a stiff headwind that it was really difficult to move forward.  Struggling against brisk gales, I rode along a stretch where I had never been before.  A dead and ugly stretch.  But then

I noticed something odd and seemingly out of place in the dull brown grasses.  It was a bench with “Come to me and I will give you rest” etched on it.  And next to it, someone had left a pair of sneakers.

An old friend of mine, Billy Sprague once wrote a song called Press On.  Part of the lyrics go like this:                                              I was down in the valley of the shadow of death,                                                                    Where the passion for life drained like blood from my chest,                                               And it took more than my will just to take a step and the compass of hope was gone…   Some days I found faith meant just tying my shoes and it was all I could do to press on.

It made me think about the invitation to rest, and the words “I will give.” spoken by God

I will give you a new heart, I will give you the bread of life.  I will give you a new name. I will give you words and wisdom.  I will give you abundant life.  I will give you a place.

I will give my life for you.

The other day I rode by again.  The bench was there.  The shoes were gone.  I like to think that someone leaned into what Jesus had to give and found there the strength to tie their shoes and press on once again.

What do you need most for God to give you today?  What words do you most need to hear?

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