The Long Walk Up

Originally posted December 14, 2014… Pray you’re encouraged today…

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425 Steps…Four Hundred. Twenty-Five. That’s a lot of steps…

Walking up those stairs, I realized how out of shape I am! I kept pushing forward, never relenting, but I recognized that I could have been much better prepared than I was. I also recognized I could’ve quit. I could’ve chose not to finish. I could’ve decided to turn around. If I had, I would’ve missed out on the prize: to finish!

Isn’t that how life is sometimes? We just keep going on, through our days, staying busy, fulfilling our agendas and our ambitions for each given day. Then, unexpectantly, something changes. Something presents itself as a challenge. Something proves to be a worthy opponent in this battle of life. So, we face the obstacle(s) which lies ahead, and we press on toward the mark, toward our goal, toward the finish line. If we’re going to win, we must fight.

If we’re going to succeed, we must never give up. We must keep going, even when it hurts. We must press on, even when our knees shake with fear. We must never give up, no matter who is screaming at us, no matter how much we believe we’ve lost and no matter what “they” say, we must keep pushing forward.

Success doesn’t come by giving up. Achievements don’t arrive by quitting. Nothing is ever gained by stopping in the middle or right before the finish line. To win, sometimes, we must give “till it hurts.” To obtain the victory, often times, we shed some “blood, sweat and tears.”

Oh, but when we’ve crossed that finish line, just like the day I climbed to the top of those stairs…my muscles were burning, and my knees were screaming, but when I reached the top, I stood a little taller. I breathed a little deeper, and I smiled a little bigger. I did it. I had made it. I had won. I had achieved the reward of success. Now, that’s a great feeling!

Don’t give up in the middle of the race! Keep pressing in! You can do this! You can make it! You Can WIN!! 🙂

“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14

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The Tree Grew ‘Round

So sorry for the delay in posting today! Thanks for your patience. I posted this a while back; however, I shared it with our church family yesterday, and it seemed to resonate with so many. So, I thought I would repost it for those who would like to read it…  

There are times in life when you’re just going to find yourself caught between a “rock and a hard place.” The rock won’t move, and the hard place won’t remove itself. Maybe, it’s the day you woke up late for your new job, and your nine month old baby woke up with a stomach virus, or maybe you were laid off right after buying that brand new car. Maybe, your mom has been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, and your dad began showing signs of dementia last month. 

Maybe your oldest son has been struggling with a hidden drug addiction, trying to sneak around, stealing money from your nightstand, and your youngest daughter has been bullied at the new school. Maybe, your husband seems to be distant, and you just can’t seem to find enjoyment in any of the past delights you two once had. Maybe, you had to say goodbye to a loved one, and you just weren’t ready for that yet. There are times in life when you wish it could be different. You wonder what you’re going to do, how you’re ever going to make it. 

Sometimes, life is hard. It is what it is. There’s really no changing the way the earth spins on its axis or in altering the way the clouds gather in the sky. You’re going to face hard times. I don’t care who you are, how much money you have, or how many people love you, you’re going to have disappointments in this life. You’re going to encounter obstacles in the road. It’s just the way it is, and if you haven’t had any troubles as of yet, well, just keep on living, because every elderly person on the planet can attest to this truth: Life is not always easy, and sometimes, we just have to “weather through the storm.” 

The question is not, “Will trials ever come?” The better question is, “What will I do when the rains come?” If you can ever answer that question before the storms come, you will be much better suited to survive. In that moment, you have a choice to make. You can choose to stop, to hesitate, to allow the circumstances, those hard things, to stunt your growth and keep you from reaching your destiny. You can let that rock hinder you from reaching your dreams. You can even “fold over” on top of yourself and never move beyond where you were in that moment of crisis.  

Or, you can choose to press forward. Paul said, “Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14) You can choose to be like the tree in this picture that refused to be dwarfed by the rock in the path. You can choose to allow those tough spots to make you stronger, more resilient to the pain. You can choose to find joy in the little things, blessings in those people who surround you in that moment of heartache, and even, just peace in the gentle breeze that blows or warmth in the sun that shines.  

We all have choices which can hold us back from our destiny or propel us toward our dreams. It’s up to us to choose, and when we make that choice of forward determination, our lives will be better for it. Let’s choose to grow ’round that rock that crept into our path on our way to greatness. Let’s be those whose “life tree” may have twists and turns, bends and curves, but whose branches still reach around those hard places up toward the sky. 

Press on Through

(Sorry, these pics are only of the backs of the shirts to protect the camp name and location. 😉 )

This week, I was at Youth Camp with 400+ 3rd-5th graders. It was hot. It was loud and crazy, and I had to do tie-dye, outside, at 2:30 in the afternoon for 3 days! On Tuesday, I mixed up some yellow dye, and apparently, I had an allergic reaction to whatever I breathed in, because by the time we finished the craft session, I had totally lost my voice and felt like I’d been hit by a Mack truck.

By the end of the night Tuesday, I really felt awful, and this feeling kind of came and went the rest of the week, mostly coming. Yet, I just made a decision early Wednesday morning that this wasn’t about me, and how I didn’t feel good, how I’d really just like to stay in bed, or how hot it was outside, and how crazy, labor intensive this job was. I decided this was for the kids. Their little faces just beamed when they saw their tie dye shirts with the camp logo on them!

They were so excited to have a “real souvenir” that they made themselves, and even more than just their reaction to the shirts, their reactions in the altars each night. The way they hungered to worship God and to know Him more.

Then, I remembered the way JMan fell in love with the horses the day before; he stayed and rode ALL of them and wanted to ride them everyday for the rest of camp! Then, I thought of how JGrizz had been so responsible, working with the canteen team, as if he was already grown…These were the things that made me remember the reason I was there. They were the reason I decided to press on through, because they’re worth it. More importantly, HE is worth it, and their encounters with Him are worth it!

 

‘Cuz, sometimes in this Christian walk, that’s just how it’s going to be. The road is going to be wearisome. The future isn’t going to look so bright, and you’re just not going to feel like your younger, “conquer all self” in that moment. You’re gonna wanna just lay down and quit! You’re going to want to back up and question, “How in the world did I get myself into this mess? Why am I doing this? Is it even worth it?”

But can I tell you? It’s gonna be worth it!! God’s got great plans ahead for all of us! He’s got great plans for those coming behind us! We can’t quit now!! No matter what this world looks like. No matter what decisions are being made in Washington. No matter what friends and family members say against us.

This is a battle for the next generation. If we don’t reach them; if we quit now; who will? The enemy will. That’s who! These children are counting on us to win! They ate desperate for us to win!

So, your question now may be, “How?” How in the world can we win when we seem to be so out numbered, so overwhelmed, so discouraged? How can we possibly win when those who have even been on our side seem to be walking away? We look to Him! We look to the Author and Finisher of our faith. We look to our predecessors. Hebrews 12:1-3 says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” We look to Him, and we press on toward the mark, and we pray! 2 Chronicles 7:14 tells us, “…if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” It says if MY people, not sinners, not government, not politicians, not foreigners, but if MY people will pray…

If we will spend more time pressing beyond our circumstance, beyond our petty arguments, beyond what we’re hearing in the news and in social media, and we’ll press into prayer and relationship with Almighty God, we can watch Him move mountains!! We will see Him transform lives, and then we will realize that it’s truly worth it!! 🙂

Step on Through

”Sometimes, you don’t know when you’re taking the first step through a door until you’re already inside.”- One thousand Gifts, Ann Voskamp

“Well said, Ann.” Sometimes, when you’re just walking along, just doing what you’re supposed to be doing, doing what comes next and doing it well, you don’t really know you’re going through an open door to find a precious treasure inside, until, you’ve already arrived inside. You don’t realize the threshold under your feet until a third party walks up and says, “Great job today!” 🙂 In that moment, you come to realize the blessings to which you have been bestowed. You think, “Oh, wow, I actually ended up where I wanted to go.”

It takes obedience in the step, tenacity in the mundane and consistency in the trials to arrive at the goal. Sometimes, during a marathon, you can’t see anything but the next step. You can’t see the finish line that’s around the next bend, you can only see the tag number of the person running in front of you; yet, you press on. You persevere, and in the end, you reach your goal.

That’s how we must be in this life. We may go through trials. We may meet obstacles along the way, but if we’ll just keep striving, just keep going, we will reach those dreams that, so often, try to allude us. Keep pressing forward.

Whatever you do, don’t turn around! Don’t quit! You can do this! You can make it. You’ll never get inside until you step through the doorway, and you’ll never step through, if you don’t keep following the path to the door. So, keep putting one foot in front of the other; keep stepping on through, my friend. Sometimes, it takes the baby steps to get to the giant leaps and bounds. Keep going. You will “be inside” before you know it!