Running the Race

Cowtown 2012

Finisher's Medal

Sometimes in the course of life, you will encounter obstacles.  These obstacles can come in many forms, and present different challenges.  My most recent obstacle was during my last training cycle for the Cowtown Half-Marathon.  I ran my first half marathon in 2009.  That also was the year that the Cowtown started a new “medal” series.  If you collect all 5 medla in the series, they will create a “Lone Star”.  After last years race, I really tried to maintain my endurance and training, even though it was the hottest summer on record in Texas.  Once the temperature began to drop in the fall, I really ratcheted up my mileage.  I was doing very well until just after Christmas.  I tweaked my back and had to take off several weeks of training.  Actually, it was 5 weeks of training.  I wasn’t able to return to any type of consistent running or distance runs until one week before the race.  My hopes of breaking my PR (Personal Record) was far out of reach.  I had decided I was simply going to attempt to finish the race before the course was closed.  In my own mind, my new goal was 2 hours and 36 minutes. That is a 12 minute mile pace.  I figured it would be difficult, but possible.  I based this on my last long run and two “easy runs” during the week, in which I was able to maintain this pace.

I had reached out to my church running group, family, friends and co-workers to pray for me on Sunday morning.  First that my back, hip, and leg would remain in place and secondly that I could finish the race.  I skipped my typical pre-race meal and ate and drank the opposite of what I should have had, but did get ample sleep.  Come race morning, I just wasn’t feeling it.  It was perfect weather, I was dressed appropriately, but still felt fairly lethargic.  Once my corral got to the start line, I really began to question if I had it in me to go all 13.1 miles.  I got the first mile under my belt and maintained my goal pace.  As each mile passed, I noticed that my heart rate and energy level felt fine.  I remembered my last long run from the week before, and I did well on it until mile 8.  I had to stop at mile 9.  Unfortunately, between mile 8 and 9 in the Cowtown is a fairly long and relatively steep hill.  Last year, I had to walk half of the hill (and I felt that I was in much better shape.).  When I got to the start of the hill at 8.74 miles, I had made up my mind that if I had to walk, I would not do so until I reached the top.  I was NOT going to let this hill beat me this year.  As I was going up the hill, I felt a peace come over me, my feet felt lighter, and that I was gliding up the hill.  I knew then, that it was not my own power that was propelling me forward.  I knew I was being lifted up in prayer and that those prayers were being heard.  There were some very funny signs held by spectators, but there were also some signs that encouraging.  These signs contained various scriptures that helped to remind me, that no matter the circumstances in life, I have access to a power that is inexplicably divine and limitless in power.

My encouragement to you is to let you know that no matter what challenges are presented in your life, Jesus has been there.  He has set an example for us to follow.  In Hebrews 12:1-2, we read the following:

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, theauthor and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Himendured the cross,despising the shame, and has  sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

We see in this that though we are sometimes consumed by our problems, that we need only to push that aside, focus on Jesus, let Him sustain us, and know that He is sufficient and able to meet our needs.

I did finish the race which turned out to be 13.33 miles.  I did stop my watch at the 13.1 mark to bounce that against my previous times.  When I compared the 13.1 miles to my previous 13.1 mile personal best, I beat my own PR (unofficially) by 11 seconds.  My official time was 2:25:28.  That is not fast by most folks standards, but the races I run are not against other people, it’s about how I push myself.  I know I will be able to draw upon this experience for the remainder of my days as a reminder in the power of prayer and the power of my God, to lift carry His people through difficult times.

A New Years Resolution

I generally try not to make resolutions, but I really want to make some changes in the upcoming year. I will make all of my resolutions public thereby providing some accountability and a mechanism to provide me some motivation to keep them.

My primary focus will be first to focus on my relationship with Jesus. If I am able to do the things that bring me closer with God, my other resolutions will be taken care of in the process. So, in short, I have one primary resolution: Get closer to Jesus. So what is “my plan” to accomplish this?

First, I recognize that my own flesh will work against this desire.

As Paul stated in Romans:

For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.- Romans 7:14-20 (NASB)

What does this mean?  It basically means that I do the things that I don’t want to, and don’t do the things that I do want to.  My own flesh desires to do the things that are in direct opposition to God and His desires for my life.  I can combat this through service and discipleship.  I will continue to serve where God has asked and to serve/give sacrificially.  I will also devote more time in prayer and study of God’s Word.

 I know that if I can continue to develop a deeper relationship with Jesus that my other relationships in life will grow better and deeper.  I will become a better husband, father, brother, employee, and friend. 

 I am also resolving to write music and continue to grown Convicted this year.  I don’t want to set any deadlines as to when we could actually perform, because I trust that it will all happen in God’s time and not mine.

 We are not alone in our struggles and face all of the same trials.  We have God of course to help us, but He has also provided us with one another to help out.  My prayer for you all is that you will continue to walk in the light and also develop that deeper relationship with God through Jesus and with the help of the Holy Spirit.   

Here’s to a great 2012! Convicted, but not condemned!

Cleaning House

During the month of August, work really ramped up as did my side business.  I have been putting in a ton of hours and I had to do some evaluation of my priorities.  I had been playing an online social media game (Mafia Wars) and was spending a minimum of 1 hour per day playing the game.  On top of that, I have been wanting to write more music to help get the Convicted ministry off of the ground, get my prayer life back on track, and keep a more consistent quiet time.  There have been some really great message series at church that left me convicted about how I was using my time.

I decided that I would fast from Mafia Wars for 30 days.  It was a difficult first three day, but I was determined to stick to my decision. During that 30 day period, my prayer time increased in time and frequency.  My quiet time, though not consistent, became more prolific.  My work took up much more time than I would have liked, at the cost of family time, but overall I found myself with much more time to do other things that play a game. 

At the end of my 30 days, I made the decision to quit playing the online game.  I spent 2 years getting my bad boy mafia character built up, but as with a lot of things in my life, I realized that time here on earth is too short.  There are too many hurting folks searching for something I have been blessed to have already found.  The decision was relatively easy.  When I have the opportunity to share the Good News (actually GREAT news), or encourage or comfort someone, participate in the praise band, or help someone in need, I know that this expenditure of the time I have been given, will not only pay dividends here on earth, but also eternally and that God is given the glory He deserves.  

“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.Ephesians 5:15-17

I hope that I will be able to get back to blogging much more often.  If you have any suggestions or stories to share, just hit me up.