But I discipline my body and keep it under control.

My first 5k, 2013.

Or so I hope.

Do you know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. – 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Man, this section of Scripture screams so many different lessons to me. As a runner, I automatically think of how much running is a discipline! More often than not, it’s really hard! But I persevere because I want to get better, I want to win the race (whether that’s beating myself or anyone else), and I want to remind myself I really can do hard things.

But also, I think about my life in general. I think about how often I want to eat sugary treats when I know I shouldn’t, how often I hit snooze and miss out on what I had planned on doing before work, and how quick I am to spit fire with my tongue instead of first tasting my words.

So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air.

I don’t want to run aimlessly. So often those things I described above – speaking harsh words, sleeping too late, indulging in treats too often… it feels like I’m swaying with the wind instead of holding onto the solid rock.

I mentioned in my MMR post this weekend that Jacob and I have made some serious diet changes lately. We’re not eating sugary treats or anything with added/processed sugar. We’re avoiding bread and choosing instead greens and natural power foods. We’re attempting to be more intentional about what we eat, when we eat, and how much we eat.

But it’s hard, y’all. I love sweets – I want something sweet every day.. multiple times a day. It’s a horrible habit and I know my body won’t be able to take that for long! So this Scripture brings me back to the why we’re making these changes. Obviously we need to make changes for our health, but beyond that, we are testing and trying our discipline. We are exercising self control now because we know the rewards to come are much worth the short-term hardship.

Pushing my body to work hard and restraining my food intake are just skimming the surface of discipline. I want to learn to control my fiery tongue, my very un-blog worthy thoughts, and my heart that more often than not lacks compassion. I want to change those habits, which results from changing my heart… And no change comes without discipline first.

Friends, as silly as it is, I would appreciate your prayer in this journey in discipline! And I’d love to pray for you. How are you striving to seek Christ before all else? What hinders you? How would you like to grow in discipline?


P.S. Head on over to Rachel’s blog to see us talking about our Foodie Favorites today!

But True Wisdom is Gentle

I’ve been doing the James: Mercy Triumphsstudy by Beth Moore with a group of high school girls in the youth group and man, oh man it has been kicking my behind. Every single day that I sit down ready to study, I leave with convictions that require change. It is James, after all, and it’s pretty hard to read even one verse of that book without feeling convicted. If you’re looking for a study this summer – I would absolutely, hands down, suggest this one if you’re ready to get serious.

Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere | James 3:13-17.

Beth commented on this section pretty bluntly, “True wisdom has a gentleness about it, doesn’t it? Harsh people are never wise people. They may be smart. They may even be right. But they are not what the Bible calls wise” (p. 123 in the study).

When I think I’m right, I am a harsh person. I get my arguments lined up and I’m ready to pound them into you, so you know just how much what I think is right. But that’s not wisdom. Sure, I might be smart, and I might even be right… but I’m not being wise.

I’m not approaching that situation with a pure heart (I want you to know I’m right), gentleness, a mind that’s open to reason (I’ve already decided I’m right), full of mercy or good fruits, impartial or sincere. The sting is still pretty sharp, y’all.

She also had us list out a few people whom we considered wise, and you know what? Every single one of those people aren’t harsh. They are pure, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial, sincere, open to reason and gentle.

There have been several situations this past week I did not handle with a gentle spirit. I’m working on growing in that, but I’m very thankful for the examples of gentleness in my life.

In college, an older woman discipled me from my church. Every week she invited me into her home despite her crazy, busy life. She now has five kids (four boys and ONE girl, mind you!), her husband owns several businesses and I’m sure their lives are still as chaotic now as they were when we hung out weekly.

To say the least, I was not a calm person in college. I know I came to her with a lot of wild, passionate, crazy ideas (probably ones that I thought were “mature” at the time), but she never once said a harsh word to me. Ever. She walked beside me through mine and Jacob’s entire dating relationship and never laughed at my stupid decisions or the silly arguments we had. She patiently listened while I complained about how hard our engagement was and she nodded right along with me. She spoke a lot of truth into my life in hard situations, but she never spoke harshly.

I’m certain she is clueless to the extent of the impact she has made on me, and she probably wouldn’t believe you if you told her… that speaks to the depth of her humility, too. Sometimes I get so frustrated with myself for how much I don’t look like Christ. I see myself doing the same things over and over from a selfish heart and I want to cry out in despair. But part of learning wisdom is learning understanding… and it seems that understanding comes from experiencing. As much as I cringe sometimes when I think back to past decisions, I’ve learned leaps and bounds from them after the fact.

I don’t want to be smart or right if wisdom is at stake. So I’m praying for discernment to remember that the next time I get stirred up to be harsh.

What are your thoughts? Have you experienced the gentleness of sincere wisdom? I’d love to hear your stories.


This Week I Joined the 6am Club… and I Like It

coffee on the deck

I got up at 6am today. Believe it or not, I’ve done that every day this week, and I can (surprisingly!) tell you I’ve never felt better.

I don’t work until 8am and I have zero commuting time, since I work from home, so this 6am wake-up call has gifted me an extra 90 minutes every morning to get stuff done! This week I have pounded out some blog posts during that time, scheduled some sponsored social media posts, and checked some design projects off my to-do list. Yesterday I even went through our bills, washed dishes and cleaned the downstairs of our apartment!

Now, I have to be honest with you –  I’ve been aiming to go to bed by 10pm every night. That means I’m in bed and reading by 10 most nights, with 10:30pm being my “lights out” goal. When the alarm goes off at 6, my initial feeling is alertness, but if I choose to snooze the alarm, that’s when I start getting groggy.

I’ve wanted to get up and do things in the morning before work for a long time, but it’s never been something I was disciplined enough to do. When my alarm goes off, usually I think, “I don’t really need to get up this early,” and I proceed to hit snooze until the last minute. That leaves me groggy and unfocused while I scramble to get ready for work and sit down at my desk. It also leaves me with a long to-do list that I think about all day until 5pm, only to push it back even further after I get off work, with dinner and whatever evening commitments we have that night.

I’ve been reading a lot about time management and various business strategies lately, and so many people said you need to find the time that works for you and protect it. Then actually use it to get stuff done. I’m learning that I cherish those extra 90 minutes of quiet and coffee every morning because I can start off the day doing things I love to do – blogging, business strategizing, designing, getting organized, etc. Then, when I sit down at my desk for my “real” job at 8, I don’t feel like I’m spending my whole day doing something (I appreciate very much!!! but….) I am not passionate about… see what I mean?

For those of you in a similar boat – working your “day job,” but hoping it might turn into something else… don’t be passive about it! Get up and carve out time for your dreams. It’s so worth it!

Neighbors & Faith

Sometimes I don’t have anything particularly stunning to say, but I want to write anyway. I want to record the little moments when I’m so filled with joy and thankfulness for this place.

I love our new home. Last night I gathered with a team I serve on at church and we just laughed and laughed and worshiped together and encouraged one another. I’m absolutely head over heels for this church and I love witnessing how God is moving in this city.

My pastor is doing a series called “The Art of Neighboring.” It’s funny because he’s even said this himself – this is not the most theologically challenging sermon series he has presented. If you’re looking to hear something you’ve never heard before, this isn’t the series for you. But oh my goodness, this is by far the most challenging series I’ve ever heard. Isn’t it funny that sometimes the simplest, most blatant commands are the hardest to follow? Maybe funny isn’t the right word for that.

He’s been teaching on the command to love our neighbors. Our actual neighbors. Not the people who we go to church with… the people who literally live next door. Or in the same house, considering our apartment is one of three in one house. He’s telling us to get to know our neighbors. Yes, even the ones who I see out the window and then make judgments based on their clothing and the forty different people I’ve seen at their apartment over the last month we’ve lived here. The neighbors who intimidate me because they look different than me, they talk different than me, and their lives look different than mine. The neighbors who I pass by on the sidewalk when I take walks or runs. The neighbors who cook their food on the same patio we do.

I’ve never been so challenged. I love meeting new people, but I’m not one to go out of my way to knock on someone’s door with cookies and a smile, if you know what I mean. That’s so hard for me – but I want to do it! I want to meet our neighbors and know them. I want to show them that following Jesus is weird. Yes, it’s weird, but it’s weird because he is so full of love for all us, even before we knew him, and that is not how life tends to work in the world! He loved us so much, even before we showed him a single ounce of consideration, that he took our place. He bore the wrath of God for our sin so we can know God and love him and walk with him.

So the weirdness is so good because it’s freeing. It’s knowing that I’m free from the chains of seeking approval from others, the chains of “not being good enough,” and, yes, even the chains of “I’ve done too much.” It’s acceptance. It’s knowing that this life is a shadow of what’s to come. The joy I feel in this moment of reflection – the way my heart feels ready to burst – is a shadow of what’s to come. Man, I am excited to share that with my neighbors. The ones who live next door.


5 reasons to run when you don’t feel like it.

I’ve been in a weird funk lately when it comes to running. For quite a while, I have had no desire to run. I’m not totally surprised, as I’m learning my love for running tends to come in cycles. The past few days, however, it’s been almost all I’ve thought about. I know I should run, and part of me wants to run, but putting on my running clothes and lacing up my shoes seems to be the toughest part. So these tips are really just a shove in the right direction for me today, as well as accountability so I will actually do it – feel free to ask me tomorrow if I ran today, I could use the motivation. 😉

So here are the five reasons I’m going to run today, even though I don’t want to:

1. It’s good for me. Plain and simple, exercise is a must and running keeps me sharpened mentally, physically and spiritually.

2. It gets me outside. Now that I’m working from home, it’s too easy to spend my entire day in this one building. Granted, I’m enjoying that now because there’s so much organizing to do after our move, but a breath of fresh air would do me some good!

3. It disciplines me. A great friend of mine tells me running is a spiritual discipline, and I absolutely believe her. I’m naturally lazy. When things are hard, I want to quit. Running challenges me with every step – much like walking with Christ. It isn’t easy to turn from sin and run to Christ. It isn’t easy to go out of my comfort zone to serve people around me in obedience to him. It isn’t easy, but it’s good. Running is a small way to grow in discipline.

4. It gives me confidence. Exercise in any way, shape or form boosts my self confidence! Something about using my body the way it was designed to be used, knowing I’m working my muscles and growing stronger… I can’t help but feel good about myself!

5. Sometimes you just need to sweat it out. I’ll admit it, I’m an emotional woman. Especially, ahem, during certain times of the month. Running is a great way to get out those hormonal feelings without dragging anyone else along with me (read: Jacob). Also, I’m not sure if this is scientifically true at all or if it’s simply a mind over matter thing, but I think it helps clear out my pores! When I’m exercising often, I tend to break out less. Whether or not that’s true, I’m going with it.

So, friends, I challenge you to two things today. One, if the weather is nice, take a few moments to enjoy it. Stand on your porch, walk around the block, or go for a run like I’ll be doing! And two, exercise. Your body needs it, even though it’s hard, and discipline will get you far in life.

Happy Thursday!

January Goals

Happy New Years, friends!! Yesterday I shared that my overall theme for the year is to grow in freedom to be who God made me. You can read more about that here.
While that is my theme for the year, I still want to keep up with setting monthly goals- just a few that I can focus on each month to grow in different areas of my life where I’m slacking or stagnant.
January goals:
1. Enjoy our last few weeks in Tennessee. I want to make the most of the time we have left here. I can’t believe we are moving so soon! I hope our time here can be filled with friendship, laughter, family time and great memories. It’s going to fly by.
2. Be diligent in sitting with the Lord. When I have a million things going on at once, I’m very tempted to let my time with Lord be the first to go. And letting him go is the last thing that will help us during this busy season. 
3. Run. My half marathon is 3 months out and last month I really slacked when it came to training. I not only want to pick up on training so I can actually run the race, but because I don’t want to let laziness take over.
4. Count people before duties. In reading Scripture this week, I was struck by several places Paul writes to the churches and calls them his glory, joy, hope and letter of recommendation. He called them those things because they are the result of the works God did through him – they are his letter of recommendation written by God. They are what is worthy of recounting and worthy of glory to God. I easily get wrapped up in tasks, like cleaning, preparing for friends to come over, etc. I want to be more oriented toward people- their needs and how I can serve them better. (Check out 2 Corinthians 3:1-3 and 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20)
And here’s a report on how I did last month:
1. Complain less about the cold. I think I did pretty well here. Probably because I didn’t run very much, but I’ll take it! This will be a greater challenge once we move to New Hampshire… where it will be much colder with more snow! 
2. Grow in being a more welcoming person. I honestly didn’t focus on this one as much as I had hoped I would. I got so caught up in all the traveling, I just tried to get through the weeks with as much rest as possible! I’m sure I was pretty cranky several days last month.
3. Pray, pray, pray. This has been a goal for the past few months. During this season of my life, prayer has been a constant theme. I’m learning just how much I have to depend on the Lord.. and it is a lot.

4. Love Jacob better. I think I did make some progress in learning how to love my husband well this month. As much as the traveling was hard, we have spent some great time together this month! I’m looking forward to growing more in this area of my life this year.

What are your goals for this month (or year)??