Monday, February 27, 2017

Drinking In and Pouring out

Although this post is based on biblical teaching, the truth is universal, whether you're a Jesus follower or not. We all need a mentor, and we all need to be a mentor... not just professionally, but to make it through this life.

Who is that person who is pouring into you? Who is the person that you’re pouring into?

Every year I come back from the Bahamas trip with a souvenir. But it’s not quite what you might think—it’s a little trinket of wisdom that someone has spoken, that the Holy Spirit uses to have an impact. This year, it was just a casual conversation some of us leaders were having as we watched the students and student leaders share God's love outside the straw market. We were talking about the power of mentoring, the importance of leading. I’m sure that my colleague stated it better, but the power of those two questions struck me: Who is mentoring you, and who are you mentoring?

Most Christians have heard it before—everyone needs both a Paul and a Timothy. The problem I find that I have is that I’m sitting around waiting for my Paul to show up. And frankly, I don’t put enough effort into being intentional with a Timothy. Sometimes those relationships happen naturally, but more often we need to be intentional about seeking out those relationships.

Matthew 28:19-20—the “missionary passage“ tells us that we need to “Go and make disciples.” Somehow for many years I missed it—I read it as go and make converts. Go and preach the gospel, evangelize. But the Word says that we should be intentionally making disciples. We should be looking for specific people we can share life wisdom with. 

Making disciples seems to carry a lot of pressure. But God perfectly prepares us for it. All of those struggles and challenges and temptations we face are real life training for discipleship making. The hard things we face are the hard things that someone else will face. 

In 2 Corinthians 1:3-5, Paul praises God for the comfort God has given to him. He states that during our times of deepest pain, God brings us comfort. We then are able to take those lessons we learn in the storm to comfort someone He will place in our path. The beauty that comes from our ashes is not just our victory—it’s the glory of our being able to pour comfort and healing and hope into the lives of the people who struggle in similar ways.

Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 3:1-3 that we are letters of recommendation for those people who have spent time mentoring us. We are letters, written by the Holy Spirit, telling everyone about His glory alive in us. We are walking testimonies of God’s redemption and grace poured into us by those who have gone before us. 

Finally, in 2 Timothy 3:10-17, Paul is reminding Timothy (and describing for us) that Timothy has followed Paul in his teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance and persecution. Paul didn’t just do a weekly Bible study or pray with Timothy. Paul did life with Timothy. God created us for community—to intentionally share our God journey with someone younger who can thrive from the wisdom we have gained. The life experience we've gained, we were meant to use to encourage and teach someone else. 

So, here’s your homework:

1.     Write a physical letter, a note of thanks to the person who has mentored and influenced your life.
2.     Write a note of encouragement to the person who you are mentoring and influencing.

And if you don’t have a mentor and someone you're mentoring…  well then, it’s time to get busy finding them.  

Monday, February 20, 2017

Doing Something Different

Every once in awhile, I think it's mandatory to do something different. This may sound odd to you, if you're not a Planner, like me. I'm the polar opposite of Spontaneous, so every now and again I have to plan something Spontaneous. (I know.)

More rarely, I actually do something spontaneously. I'm trying to get better at this. Because my husband is kind of Captain Spontaneous. So, lately I am trying very hard to not insist on knowing which restaurant we're going to, what's on the menu, and what I'm going to order. 

My Spontaneous Thing for January was to join an ultramarathon relay team less than a week before the event. And 2 weeks before running the Miami Marathon. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience! 

I had seen the Vista View 360 Ultramarathon advertised for months before the race. I wanted to do it solo, but figured doing my first ultra as marathon training, 2 weeks before the actual marathon would be a bad plan. So, I needed to skip it. But I still had a bad case of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). And to make matters worse, they kept sending out those "YOU MUST register for this amazing event!" emails to remind me of what I was going to miss. So. Much. FOMO. Until... Cindy, my BRF (Best Running Friend-- also it's probably a better description to say BPD or Best Partner in Discomfort) came to my rescue:

Wednesday night before the Sunday ultra, she sends me a text-- "Any chance you'd be interested in joining us on Sunday for the Vista View 360 relay?" A teammate was injured and had to sit out. They needed a 4th runner. I needed an excuse to DO THIS.

I was in. In for one of the best race experiences ever. It was like a short Ragnar, minus the van and the long miles of scenery. We had a hill, a 1.2 mile lap and a tent. And a fabulous team.

We all took turns running a lap and then commiserating about and celebrating the challenge of the race and the heaviness of the legs (1.2 miles of fast hills, then 25 minutes or so of rest makes for some interesting conversations).

It was fun, exhausting, and very different. 

Friday, February 3, 2017

How to Run a Marathon

On January 29, 2017, I once again did something that I thought was impossible. 

I. ran. a. marathon.

The Miami Marathon, to be exact. And it was my SIXth. (I still can't believe it.) As I approached the finish line this time, I found myself beyond excited again... I'm actually going to do it. I'm actually going to FINISH a MARATHON. (In case you're not quite sure a marathon is 26.2 miles. All marathons are 26.2 miles. A half marathon, then, is 13.1.)

I'm being completely honest here when I say it: If I can run a marathon, anyone can run a marathon. 


Here's how:
  1. Decide on a race. This one is HUGE. Look around. Do some research. Read some race reports. Check out those top 5 (fill-in-the-blank) lists. Do you want to stay local? (easier logistically and financially) Or do you want to make it a destination event? (way more fun and expensive) Pay attention: some races are "hilly" (and if you live in a flat as a pancake place, this could mean mountainous), some "flat and fast," trail races vs. road races, early-early morning vs. later, colder vs. warmer races, great big giant city races vs. smaller races... marathons come in all shapes and sizes (except they are all 26.2 miles long). And then of course, you should for sure check out what kind of swag you get-- giant medal? hot chocolate or arroz con pollo at the end? tech shirt or long sleeve? I would recommend choosing a race close to your training conditions. 
  2. Commit to a training plan. Training plans can be about as varied as the marathons themselves. Do you want to run-walk (these will have you alternating running and walking the whole race) or run the entire time? How many times a week can you faithfully run? Do you like to run by time or by distance? How new to running are you? Most marathon plans will have you begin about 16 weeks before the race. Some are specifically designed for beginners and just include the basics-- running. Some are for more experienced and include hill and speed work. All plans will have you building milage slowly and safely so that you get to race day uninjured and completely competent to go the distance. 
  3. Involve friends. Maybe your friends will commit to training and running the race with you. Maybe they will cheer you on from the sidelines. Regardless, they will ask you how your training is going and how you're feeling as race day approaches. Warning: do not talk about running all the time. Ok, that's impossible. So, I highly recommend that you find some running friends. Check your local running store for groups that meet-up and run together. If you don't have a local running store, join a running Facebook group. We're everywhere. When it comes time for race day, if you're not running with a friends or a group, join a pace group. Most large marathons offer free pace groups-- find them at the expo. There's no commitment, if you change your mind you can leave the pace group. But they will help you stay on track on race day by reminding you to drink water, take in fuel, and encourage you in the later miles. 
  4. Enjoy the journey. And it is a journey. You might begin a little unsure (or a lot unsure). And as you cover the miles, when you do that first 16 miler (and you don't die), you'll realize that you're so much stronger than you ever thought. You'll know that if your legs can carry your body 16 miles, it can go 26(.2). You have some exceptional runs. And you crash and burn on some. You'll learn that you really do need to eat something during a long run. And you'll learn that you really don't need a whole buffet during a long run. You'll know where every hill, water stop and restroom is in a 6 mile radius of your house. You'll think, dream, cry, pray, and listen more than you've ever done in your life. 
  5. Believe in yourself. You can do this. Follow the plan. Trust your training.