Are You Running Well?


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photo by Agberto Guimaraes https://unsplash.com/@agb800m

With spring we welcome baseball games and track meets in which running plays a predominant role. Even now, as athletes, our kids are preparing for the coming season with conditioning. In order to steal bases, they must run well. And no track star jumped on a track one day and broke a new record.

But whether we are true athletes or the couch variety, we all are running in a life race.

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photo by Martins Zemlickis https://unsplash.com/@mzemlickis

Our race isn’t a sprint either.

The race of life is a marathon with ups and downs, stumbles and skinned knees, exhaustion and refreshing cups of water. And in the end, we want to cross the finish feeling we’ve run the race well. I can’t wait to see Jesus, fall at his feet and hear him say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” I pray that will be the case. As followers of Christ, I think that is our goal.

Hebrews 12 gives us some helpful instruction to make sure we end in that place.

First, it says to “throw off” everything that hinders us and the sin that entangles us.

I haven’t run a marathon, but I can’t imagine that the runners carry around suitcases full of old stuff, winter coats with the idea it will protect them, or chains with iron balls dragging behind them.

That would be crazy, right?

But in life, we cling to hurts, unforgiveness, sinful actions, and addictions that hinder us.

The Bible says to throw it off. The word means a violent action. Not carefully put it down someplace close by where you can pick it up again. Not passively toss it at your feet. No, “throw off” indicates an intentional act of flinging it as far away from you as possible.

Next, this chapter encourages us to persevere.

A marathon takes time and endurance. My daughter who runs has described the physical and emotional challenge of a marathon—that tenth mile when she thinks she’ll never make it to the end.

When we decide we’re going to throw off junk and run, those old patterns may still trip us up, unhealthy relationships will attempt to pull us out of the race, and we’ll get tired on those days that seem like nothing is working and the finish line is a far off figment of our imagination.

We can’t give up, grow weary or lose heart.

Easy for me to say, right? But many other men and women of faith have gone before us, proving that God is faithful to us and his promises (Read Hebrews 11 for a faith boost.)

In order to persevere we must:

  1. Fix our eyes on Jesus. He began our faith and will perfect it. He endured the cross for us and considers US his joy. He put aside the shame of being beaten, naked and mocked so that we could be in relationship with him forever. Consider the opposition he had—even leading to his death. Most of us won’t ever have to suffer that much.
  2. Embrace trials as an opportunity. God sees everything we are going through. The world is a tough, evil place to navigate, but even out of all those terrible things, God can bring good and abundance to us. Those painful situations shape our character and give us depth. Sometimes they are discipline that God lovingly allows to train us. Like the hard training to run a long race.
  3. Remember that others are watching us. Our race is an encouragement to others. When we don’t give up, they believe they can make it too. And they will see Jesus in us as well.
  4. Not allow ourselves to be robbed. I’m not talking your purse or backpack. Bitterness towards situations or others, uncontrolled sexual desires or gluttony (over indulging in anything) can steal the best God has for us—our inheritance in Christ—the Bible calls it. We miss out on his goodness and grace when we allow these things to rule our lives. Temporary, momentary pleasure traded for beyond imagination fulfilment and joy. Not worth it.
  5. Trust that our God is a personal God. He is mighty, powerful, and consuming, but through Jesus, made a way to draw close to him. He welcomes us with open, loving arms. Don’t refuse him. Instead, worship him with confidence, awe and reverence.

How about you? Do you feel like you’re running well? Or do you need some encouragement from the sidelines?

Let me offer you a cup of water.

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How to Become a Professional Writer


“A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.”

Richard Bach

This quote caught my attention earlier this week.

My apologies to you whose blog I “stole” it from because I didn’t make a note of where I saw it when I copied it down and now, can I remember where it was?? Of course not! This is the life of reading so many words from too many places; and getting old. There’s a lesson here about citing sources, I’m sure. Thank you unnamed author. May you be justly rewarded in some fantastic way! (If you are that blogger, and read my blog as well, would you be so kind as to let me know so we can settle up?)

My response to the quote above was, “Wow! Really? Then there is hope for this amateur writer because I will not quit!”

Seriously, the quote may seem facetious, but it holds a simplistic truth. Sometimes, all it takes to succeed is us not giving up. I think of my daughter, Ashley, who recently ran a half marathon in Vancouver, Canada. It was her first, and she didn’t quit. She crossed the finish line (in a relatively decent time even) and became a marathon runner. Still, she had put in training time.

While the simple theory of the quote encouraged me, I also considered all I’ve been doing to become a professional writer. Nearly a year and a half ago, I finally decided to take writing seriously and began doing everything I was told.

Here’s my list:

  1. Take writing seriously. I know I already wrote that, but that is how important the step was for me. I had to choose to write for real. Not just say it, or dabble in it, or read a lot and dream about it.
  1. Learn to write well. In high school and college I was told I had a gift for writing. For some crazy reason, I believed that meant everything I wrote and sent out for publication would be snapped up with a grateful “Thank you for gracing us with your wonderful work.” After a dozen rejection letters, I felt crushed and indignant. Then I decided I must not be any good after all. When I humbly accepted that I had things to learn about writing, my writing improved. Imagine that! I’m still learning. We can always learn something new or perfect what we already know. Mt Hermon Christian Writer’s Conference has been invaluable.
  1. Write. Seems like a no brainer, but honestly I can spend a lot of time doing “writing” tasks without typing a word. 10,000 words or hours or something… Bottom line: we need to put in a lot of hours actually writing.
  1. Build a platform. What’s a platform?? Honestly, this has been the hardest part for me. First to understand the need, then to be genuine about it and finally to simply put in the time to learn the technology and make connections. I’m currently reading Michael Hyatt’s book Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World. I’ve already learned so much in just a few chapters! (Like now I know that I’m supposed to write a disclaimer–according to FTC rules–saying I’m not being compensated for mentioning Michael’s book or Mt. Hermon. I list them simply because I think they’re so helpful.)
  1. Learn to write fabulous book proposals. So my book is done and in the final stages of editing, but how’s someone going to hear about it unless I can pitch it well to an agent or publisher? Guess what? I’m reading a book about that too.

It seems like a lot of work because it is.

I’m fortunate to be able to work full time (ha! I use that term loosely) on my writing, but it’s still a challenge to spend so many hours doing something without being paid and think of it as a “job.” Explaining to people what I do for a “living,” that I write…for nothing, presents a challenge in my mind. But I’m trying to see it as an investment. As in a startup company. Like a professional. One day it will all pay off.

What’s your list? How have you turned pro by not giving up?