You need pushers [community].

The other day, I went for a very difficult bike ride with a group of people much more advanced than myself. The first hour was fine, steep hills and all. But on the return ride, I got very tired.

I mean, like, can I just put my bike in the trail car (Side note: trail cars are awesome! They follow you on the rode so other cars don’t accidentally hit you. I’m sure there’s some metaphor there too) and ride the rest of the way home? No, but seriously, can I?

The leader of the ride is this man who races often and has been a professional cyclist prior to owning this cycling studio I attend. He is pro. He exudes pro. He was giving me all kinds of great tips the whole ride, and for the most part I appreciated them.

And then… we hit mile 22ish. I was just done and I started to get frustrated with him telling me to push harder or go faster or catch up to the group. Have you ever been there? Someone telling you something you know you need to hear but just not wanting to hear it in that moment? Have you ever wanted to tell someone to go away, to stop talking, and to stop pushing you? I sure have, and not just in this cycling adventure. I do, however, notice this most when I’m working out. I need someone to yell at me and to make me keep going or I WILL stop, because I’m just so tired. But at the same time, it gets really annoying to have someone who is not struggling telling you to push harder. “Easy for you to say,” I always think (along with some words I maybe shouldn’t think, but don’t say out loud).

As I was riding and fighting all these inappropriate and negative thoughts towards my “coach” God began speaking truth into my heart (because God knows I learn so well through metaphors!). We need people like this. We need people who are willing to push us, to tell us the hard things, to not let us give up. If we didn’t have these people, how often would we stop and never make it to where God is calling us?

Then, something really cool happened. He came up right next to me and put his hand on my bike, all while we were both riding our bikes. He told me he was going to do what was called a “pro push” and he had me start pedaling the same speed he was going (which was too dang fast for me to do on my own). We did this for about 30 seconds and then he simply pushed me forward, giving me the momentum I needed to reach the rest of the group.

Do I even need to explain that metaphor?

I needed that push. Yes, I was frustrated with him for telling me to keep going and to go faster, and to work harder. But he wasn’t just speaking those things to me – he came along side me and gave me the push I needed to DO those things.

Oh, friends. How we need people like this in our lives! I am reminded of a time I had unplanned surgery. Everything just felt so confusing. I didn’t understand what had happened and why I found myself sick in the hospital. I didn’t understand why I felt so terrible and didn’t seem to be improving once I was home and resting. I gave up on God a bit. I told Him I couldn’t keep praying because I didn’t know what to pray for and I didn’t even know what was going on. Shortly after I received cards and calls and messages from people telling me they were praying for me.

This is what community is all about. We cannot do it alone – we cannot do anything alone. We NEED people pushing us, intervening for us, and carrying the burden for a bit for us.

I’m not saying just let other people fight all your battles, but don’t do it alone. Find a friend, find someone to pray with you, to go with you, to stay with you.

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be strong and courageous [community].

A week ago, I finally completed what could have been the hardest physical feat I’ve had to date.

I did my first half-ironman distance triathlon.

70.3Throughout the training, I wanted to give up many times. I hated swimming, I never felt like I was improving, and the whole process took so much time. Throughout the race I continually asked myself what was wrong with me for thinking this was a good idea. It was long. it was slow. It was hot.

But you know what, I had to keep going – in training and during the race – because I knew there were people waiting for me. People cheering me on. There were people on the sidelines fighting the good fight with me.

And, like so many times in my life, I learned from this metaphor. I am unable to do anything on my own. I need Jesus, first, but I also need those He has placed in my life to push me. I need them to challenge me and pick me up when I am struggling. I need their words of encouragement. I simply need their presence to know I am not alone, even in the loneliest times (and believe me, when you’re traversing 70.3 miles, you sure are alone a lot).

Are you engaging in community? I heard part of a sermon today where the preacher talked about getting out and engaging with people, loving on people, learning from people, serving people – and this, this is where you find the gifts the Holy Spirit has given you.

To be strong and courageous, we need the Lord’s power. And sometimes He shows that power through those He has placed in our lives. Don’t miss it.

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your body.

“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own.” 

That scripture from 1 Corinthians 6:19 is one that has been spoken to me numerous times. As a child I think people would use it to talk to me about how to dress at church, as a teenager it was used to teach me about the dangers of drugs, alcohol, and premarital sex. As an adult I have had it read to me in regards to my struggles with food and body image.

But today, today it took on a a completely different meaning. I was reading a devotional on #SheReadsTruth and as I was reading the scriptures about the temple, I began applying what was being said about the physical temple in the Bible and applied it to the truth of my body being the temple of the Holy Spirit.

Let’s take a look at the scripture referenced regarding the temple:

Isaiah 56:7-8

“These I will bring to my holy mountain,
    and make them joyful in my house of prayer;
their burnt offerings and their sacrifices
    will be accepted on my altar;
for my house shall be called a house of prayer
    for all peoples.”
The Lord God,
    who gathers the outcasts of Israel, declares,
“I will gather yet others to him
    besides those already gathered.”

Jeremiah 7:8-11

“Behold, you trust in deceptive words to no avail. Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, make offerings to Baal, and go after other gods that you have not known, and then come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, ‘We are delivered!’—only to go on doing all these abominations? Has this house,which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, I myself have seen it, declares the Lord.”

Matthew 21:10-17

And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons.He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant, and they said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read,“‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise’?”And leaving them, he went out of the city to Bethany and lodged there.

Luke 19:45-48

And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold, saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers.”And he was teaching daily in the temple. The chief priests and the scribes and the principal men of the people were seeking to destroy him, but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were hanging on his words.

Jesus gets furious with the people for how they were treating the temple.

I don’t want to say much more; I want you to read those scriptures and ask God how he wants you to change the way you treat your temple.

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Take this seriously, friends.

Rest is not laziness

I don’t know how to give you a list of things I love most in any particular order. It is hard for me to rank them. Of course I’d like to say God is always number one, but in my most vulnerable honesty, I know there are times when I put other things before Him.

Anyway, the point of that is to say that one of my most favorite things to do is spend time working my body, hard, at the gym or on the open road and trail. I love riding my bike, running, lifting, spinning, boxing, hot yoga – you name it, I like to at least give it a try. Notice I didn’t list swimming there… Even after almost a year of working it in the pool I have yet to actually enjoy it more than a handful of times.  One of the hardest things I have found for myself over the past 10 years is taking a whole day of rest. Yesterday, I skipped the workout I had planned for the morning to get a little extra snooze-time. So, I thought that I would make this my day of rest for the week (I try to force myself at least one). But in my head, I kept coming up with ideas of little workouts I could throw in between clients today. Well that didn’t work out between clients so I left feeling slightly guilty but trying to remind myself that my body needs rest.

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Thnking about this time of rest led me to think about life in general. I believe we need to take days (in the workplace often known as mental health days) where we relax, catch up on things needing to be done, and give ourselves a little TLC.

Let me make something clear – I am great at being lazy, terrible at taking a rest day. I can sit around and do nothing for hours if I had the opportunity. I like to combine my physical rest days with my mental rest days, but the problem arises that I end up being lazy instead of resting.

There is a difference.

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God calls us to cast our cares upon Him, to rest in His care. I think this means that we are called to give Him our burdens, to take a break from all of life’s demands. I DO NOT believe that means we are to be lazy, not working towards the goal. You can be lazy and not do anything, to assume God will take control and you sit back and relax. That is not what I believe we are called to do when we give over our burdens. 1 Corinthians 16:13 says,

Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.

I like the way The Message version states 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 states it:

Keep your eyes open, hold tight to your convictions, give it all you’ve got, be resolute, and love without stopping.

We keep working, we keep striving towards the goal, we keep up the good fight. The Message version of 1 Timothy 6:12 states,

…Run for your life from all this. Pursue a righteous life—a life of wonder, faith, love, steadiness, courtesy. Run hard and fast in the faith. Seize the eternal life, the life you were called to, the life you so fervently embraced in the presence of so many witnesses.

Even in physical rest days some experts suggest light exercise, they don’t say sit on your butt, eat crap, and forget all you trained for. No, you give your body time to heal and prepare for the goal set before you. In the like, a “life rest day” doesn’t mean you just stop and give up, you take time to focus on the goal, collect yourself and arm yourself for the battle.

Keep it up. Take the time you need to give yourself some rest – wear your sweats all day and watch the olympics; take a day off work and run all the errands that have been piling up; watch that show on netflix you are behind on; take a friend out for lunch and talk for hours without an agenda. Take your rest and prepare for the battle that lies before you.

Rest is key.

And so is laughter:

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