Grace to get over myself

I haven’t made a secret of the fact that I’ve had a tough year running.  Injuries sustained long ago have come back to haunt, motivation has been low, minor illnesses that made me feel yuck stopped me.  Generally one thing after another, and, I confess, I’ve been pretty low.  On the verge of real depression, and often really feeling my age and wondering if I would ever run well again.   Not. Good.

As always happens at low points in my life, I turn inward, seeking God’s voice, willing myself to be still and listen, aching for the peace that surpasses all understanding.  And, as always, He comes through.  He has recently reminded me (gently and not so gently) of the grace He’s allowed in my life.  Of the people He’s put here to help me through, the blessings He’s provided for  me, the abilities He’s given me that He expects me to use.  And, I’ve been humbled.

Humbled by the way He answers our prayers, by the many manifestations of grace He allows us to see, and by the way He walks with us in the storms of our lives.  Just in the last couple of weeks, I’ve seen not one, but two, beautiful babies who medical science had given up on. These babies were prayed over on a global scale  and both had  miraculous healings.  I’ve read or heard of the loss of several beautiful lives, all taken too soon, and the grace their families have shown in the loss, as well as the impact these lives had on those of us left behind.  That only comes from God.  The plight of women around the world has been brought to my attention, and I’ve marveled at the strength and courage many of these women have shown each and every day of their lives.

And, I got over myself.  My problems, which seemed insurmountable and completely encompassed me, have been prioritized.

Here are some definitions of grace:

*elegance or beauty of form, manner, motion, or action (yeah, I don’t think this one applies to me)
*mercy; clemency; pardon (now we’re getting warmer)
*the free and unmerited favour of God shown towards man (Bingo!)

Free and unmerited favor. I look at my life and see so much grace. Of course, the most important grace was granted to me on becoming a Christ follower. Realizing that I am a sinner, and only through God’s perfect plan have I been granted the ability to have a relationship with Him through His son, Jesus Christ. And, because of that relationship, I am granted entry to eternity with Him, as well as many smaller manifestations of grace that permeate my life this side of heaven.

As I look at my life, I see His hand throughout. He has provided me with all the grace I need for this journey.  We’re all on that journey; realizing and appreciating the manifestations of grace throughout our lives is optional.

Of course, it’s easy to write platitudes about grace. To quote definitions and verses about grace that make you nod your head in agreement… “Yes, that’s grace all right.”

What isn’t so easy is to recognize grace in your life. To see how God uses everyday situations, people who are already in your life – your work environment, your play environment. To allow grace to seep in through the cracks and fill your life with His goodness. I’m learning to recognize those. I’m learning to be still, to be attentive to God moments, to be thankful for people He’s given me in order for me to catch a small glimpse of Him, His love, His promises, His grace, in my life. I don’t know what it looks like for you, but here is a small part of what it looks like for me.

Recently, my man and I had a very quiet beach vacation.  We used that time to gently kick start my training plan for an upcoming race, ride bikes, kayak in the bay, read, spend time with each other, listen for God’s voice.  It reminded me that the second largest manifestation of grace in my life is my man.  Don’t tell him, but I think he’s pretty awesome.  Okay, you can tell him.  I think he may already know.

Knowing that I’ve been struggling with my running program, he designed a plan for me that will hopefully get me across the finish line of my half next month upright and uninjured. Emphasis on uninjured.  A gentle mileage increase, and lots of cross training.  Not only did he design a plan for me, he’s training right along beside me. You remember my man, don’t you? The one who broke his leg last year; had not one, but three surgeries on it, and is running side by side with me as I train for a race that means a lot to me, but probably not so much to him. He may even pace the race for me, depending on how well the training goes.

That window of time that I ran faster than him? Yeah, it closed on me. He’s back and will most likely be back to fighting form by the first of the year. Oddly enough, that doesn’t make me resentful (well, mostly). It humbles me.  Another example of God’s grace for our journey.

Who needs an anchor? A photo session on our recent beach trip.

Who needs an anchor? A photo session on our recent beach trip.

I’m thankful that I’m grace filled rather than graceful.  Good thing, because I think the graceful ship has sailed.

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.  Romans 5: 3-5

Define yourself

success

I’m mostly a fan of social media. Like everything, it can be used for good or evil, so monitoring it and setting limits on myself factor highly in my accessibility. I hide those people whose posts are mostly negative, and I seek out those who motivate me.

One of the pages I look at daily offers motivational quotes for athletes, primarily runners. One recent post was by elite marathoner, Deena Kastor. She talked about how we grow as humans and athletes by training when it’s difficult, and she closed with a simple quote by her “seldom without words” coach as she headed out to run the Chicago marathon in 2005 (which she won). He simply told her, “Define yourself.”

Those words resonated with me at a time that I’m struggling. In training and in life, it’s been a dicey time for me. What’s strange about this time is that my struggles are ALL mental. There’s nothing wrong physically and my life is much the same as it always is, but still, I’m struggling. So, I took those words to heart. Who exactly am I? Where do I see the next phase of my life taking me? Deep thoughts for a nice fall afternoon.

I don’t think we ever truly know how others view us, but, unfortunately, I think we all too often decide who we are based on our perceptions of others’ opinions. So, as I define myself, I don’t want to consider who others think I am.  The only opinions that factor are mine and God’s.

Who am I?


I am a woman defined by faith.
My relationship with God trumps all the others, but not in a “so, there” kind of way. My faith defines me, it makes me look at others with compassion, understand the true meaning of love, and reach out to those who aren’t like me. I’ll always be a work in progress, but I’m humbled by the fact that God loves me, warts and all.

I am a wife. I’m so unbelievably thankful that God knew what I didn’t all those years ago when He brought me my man.  I was a really dumb kid, and God came through.  Love. That. Man.

I am a mother. My girls mean the world to me. They are strong, independent women that I take great pride in, even if I had very little to do with who they have become.

I am a runner. Running is so much a part of me that when I’m not able to train, or when my training isn’t going well (like now), my whole world seems slightly skewed, a little off color, not quite balanced.

I am an artist. Whether through the camera lens, or through my writing, art is a huge part of my definition. I’m not proclaiming greatness, photography and writing are simply the ways that I express myself. I make no apologies for my art, it may or may not be your cup of tea. What others think doesn’t matter in my definition of me, my thoughts and creative processes are my own: hop aboard and ride along, or simply turn it off, that choice is yours.

I am a woman who:

loves deeply; is a loyal friend; tells the truth easily; lies badly; likes wine a little more than I ought to; runs very, very slowly; is strong in a crises, but breaks down afterward; loves the outdoors and marvels at the creation of an all knowing God; argues passionately about those things that matter and tries not to argue about those things that don’t; loves her extended family as though she gave birth to them; sometimes worries too much about split times; cries too easily, especially during cheesy movies; sometimes wants to quit, but finds deep reserves to keep on keeping on; loves to laugh; appreciates beauty in multiple forms; often sees beauty where others don’t; sometimes shuts out the world with a good book (or reruns of Big Bang – hey, I never claimed to be perfect); falls a lot, but has learned to pick herself up and keep moving forward; often doubts her own abilities, but is learning to lean on God during those times; stands at attention, hand over heart when the National Anthem is sung, and sheds tears easily when “God Bless America” is performed at a ball game; believes in miracles and the power of prayer; understands the role doubt plays in faith; hates confrontation, but stands up for what she believes; will pray for you when you are hurting, and will listen when you need a friend; hates “selfies” and what they say about the self involvement of the next generation, but enjoys looking at images that spread joy; looks at our next generation with wonder, awe, and concern as I see the world we’re handing down to them; encourages those who need a boost, but seldom willing to let others boost her (a HUGE failing on my part); knows her failings much better than she knows her strengths.

As I seek to define myself, I know that my gaze has to be heavenward. Sometimes that’s hard for me, I have a stubborn propensity to want to do it all on my own. How goofy, yet how human. My prayer for the upcoming year (I had a birthday last week & haven’t set my yearly goals yet) is that I will turn to God more frequently in prayer, I will listen more quietly and with less petition, I will heed His word and His will for my life.

self doubt

In running, in life, in all that I do, I pray that I will reflect God’s definition of me.

Confessions

It’s been two weeks since my last confess… wait, that’s not right. Ok, My name is Jayne, and I’m a run-aholic. Hmmm… that’s not right, either.

I haven’t run in almost two weeks, and nothing feels exactly right. In that time, many things have happened. Our government has quit and is threatening to implode, Gary and I had birthdays, fall has arrived, and, apparently, Bruce and Kris Jenner have decided to call their marriage quits. All right, I’m really not sure who Kris Jenner is, but didn’t Bruce get an Olympic gold medal or something? Anyway…

I took a couple of weeks off from running. This has been a craptastic year in the life of my training, and I just ran out of steam. I had a slight head cold, so I let that be my excuse to begin with, then I just decided to sleep in on these exquisitely crisp autumn mornings, snuggled close to my man, not feeling the slightest twinge of guilt. Well, almost. There is always a residual of guilt somewhere in my psyche, I think that’s just the way I’m put together. I do have a race coming up in a few weeks. A fairly long one (a half mary). And, if I had to run it this weekend, there’s no way I would make it to the finish. But, I don’t have to run it this weekend. And, I’m starting to get my head back together.

I’ve learned a really important lesson over the last few weeks. For most of the summer, Gary and I have been fine tuning our diet, and trying to eat clean. We have been mostly successful, allowing ourselves occasional indulgences; but for the most part, eating whole foods, prepared by my loving (if not always gifted) hands, carefully balancing our intake to coordinate nicely with our output. Gary lost weight immediately (of course), and while my weight loss has been slower, it has definitely started, so I’ve been encouraged. Then our birthdays hit. We celebrate three days apart and we allowed ourselves several indulgences, including a chocolate cake. We both REALLY miss cake. We also had some cheese dip and chips, and several other indulgences that we don’t normally include in our diets. Now, first of all, let me say that I thoroughly enjoyed every single bite. My stomach, however, did not. After ridding my body of toxins so completely over the last couple of months, my tummy went into full on revolt. I won’t go into details, suffice it to say it wasn’t pretty. Lesson learned.

I’ve always said that diets never reel me in with their science. However, if a diet can become an eating plan for life, makes sense, and keeps me satisfied, I’m willing to try it. The true test is how the eating plan makes me feel. I have to say, eating whole foods with an emphasis on protein, limiting carbs, and trying to keep a watchful eye on wheat (without going overboard) has me feeling better than I have in years. We’ll see how the weight loss goes – that has more to do with how MUCH food I put in my mouth, not just the quality of that food.

I’ll be at the beach next week, and I think I’m finally ready to hit the running trails again. We’ll be riding our bikes some, as well, but some of that will be easy, fun riding. One of my many birthday surprises was the coolest bike I’ve ever had. I may even let Gary make my picture on it next week. If I do, I’ll post a pic. Here’s the bike:

Pink!  And, it has a bell and coffee cup holder!

Pink! And, it has a bell and coffee cup holder!

I have the best hubby ever. He also gave me not one, but TWO first edition books, one by my current obsession, Truman Capote, “In Cold Blood”, the other by Norman Mailer, “The Executioner’s Song”. I was absurdly excited about these. Guess that makes me a nerd? I finished “In Cold Blood” in record time, am working on the Mailer book now.

In addition to the nutrition lesson, I learned an invaluable one about training. When you’re burned out, stop for a while. It won’t hurt you in the long run, and will most likely lead to important self discoveries. I’m not an elite runner, and will never be one. I want to be the best that I can be, at this time in my life. Learning to listen to my body, and heed its warnings has been the best gift I’ve ever given myself.