I’ve been thinking of Mary all autumn, and particularly now as we approach the Advent season. I recently read her story in Luke 1, and it kind of blew my mind a little bit. Many of you know the story, after all, almost every North American knows the gist of the Christmas story. But have you ever really thought about it? According to scholars, Mary was probably somewhere between 12...
On Saturday, I ran my first 10K race.
For anyone who follows me on social media, that would likely be all that they saw, just photos of the race day. What you didn’t know is that I’ve been “training” for about 6 months, three times a week. You didn’t see that I used to run, but that I quit running when I found out I was pregnant with Eleanor. The first summer after she was born, I tried to start running again. I did it for a while, then I quit. The next summer, I tried again, and I quit again. You didn’t see that internal battle. How hard it was to start again, knowing how long and how fast I used to be able to run, and then being in so much pain when running even a short distance. You didn’t see me forcing myself to hit the pavement, to keep putting one foot in front of the other, running then walking, and slowly building up my endurance until I could run longer and longer distances. Getting up at 6AM to get a run in. Or the times I pushed a stroller with a sizeable toddler in it, which by the way, doesn’t make running easier in any way. I tried to avoid having to do that as much as possible.
You didn’t hear my internal dialogue, wanting to give up, wanting to quit. Not wanting to run, not wanting to leave the couch and get out there.
But with discipline, and determination, I did it. I finally worked my way all the way up to running 10 kilometers in a row without stopping. I ran with my cousin, and let me tell you, there is just something about running with someone. It encourages you. It inspires you. Actually, the only reason I started running again last spring was because another friend kept posting about her runs, how she’d squeeze them in during her lunch hour even, if she needed to. And I thought, “yeah! I should start running again too!” so I did. And we messaged each other when we ran and we encouraged each other to get out there when we didn’t feel like it. And we never regretted a single run, no matter how badly we wanted to put it off.
I’d never run a 10K until this day. The furthest I ever got was 8K, so I was pretty nervous, but there were just so many other people out there running too, and I had my cousin by my side. We were going to do this! At every distance marker, we raised our arms in celebration. We did it! We made it another kilometer! I kept my mind on the finish line. There was a good chunk of time where I didn’t even know when I’d see the finish line. Honestly, there was a good chunk of time where I kept wondering “WHERE IS THE HALFWAY MARK?”. I can tell you I smiled so big when I saw that finish line, and knew I was going to make it.
So much of running is a mental game. My brain wants me to quit. I tell myself I can’t do it. I’m tired. I’ve never done this before. People are passing me, people are better at this than me, why am I even doing this? When I’m alone, it’s really easy to give in to those thoughts. When I am running with a friend, it’s a lot easier to keep going, because she is, and she’s saying nice things like “We got this! Keep smiling! We’re killin’ it!” and I say similar things back.
I can’t help but see the parallel. I’ve always thought about this, how life is a big course that I am running. And sometimes it gets so hard, I feel like I’m going to die if I don’t stop right now. I’m in pain, or I tell myself others are doing it better, or that I’m not good enough. And if I run alone, I might just quit right then and there. But life is better when I live it in community, and I have friends to keep me going, to encourage me, to inspire me, to hold me accountable to my goals, or to simply just walk with me if I need to walk.
People pass me all the time on this life-race I’m on, and I often feel like I’m in dead-last. But I can’t focus on that. There’s so much they haven’t seen. They haven’t seen what I’ve struggled with, what I’ve endured to get to where I am now. The things I’ve had to carry while running. And I haven’t seen theirs. I have to focus on my own running, on what I need to do to keep putting one foot in front of the other. I need to keep my eyes on the finish line, not my pace, because everyone runs at a different pace. And that’s okay.
At the end of our run, we stood on a podium in front of a sign that said “FINISHER”. And I think that’s what I’m going to keep focusing on, being a finisher. I’m will throw off everything and every thought that keeps me from going where I’m going. I will celebrate every kilometer I complete, and I’m not going to give up. I’m going to be a finisher.
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. – Hebrews 12:13
Life is weird.
Profound statement, I know.
Sometimes, I just don’t get us humans. We know what is good for us, but we don’t do it. We know what needs to be done, but we do everything else but that thing.
I know that not everyone is like this, but surely, it can’t be just me.
I’ve had a busy few days and all I’ve wanted to once I got free time today was spend time in the pages of the bible, soaking in His word, and spend time catching up on writing.
So, of course right after church I spent hours on various social media apps, looking for something to fill me up, and I’m still looking.
Interestingly, enough, I did find something on Pinterest that inspired me, and then I laughed at myself because didn’t I just recently write about going directly to God and not getting to him through someone else? And about having whitespace for God, making sure to not fill up all our margins with other things, so we still have the ability to hear Him?
I don’t really feel bad about this, or guilty, or whatever, I just noticed it and find it somewhat amusing.
I find myself reading about other people’s relationships with God and experiences with God and thinking “oh I want that so much” and then I just keep scrolling onto the next thing, twiddling my life away with useless things wondering why I am not having that kind of experience.
I’ve been learning a lot lately, especially since returning to writing on my blog. I don’t even know how many people actually read this thing. It’s not like I’m some well-known blogger or something. But things have changed since when I used to write, back before Facebook when everyone had blogs to keep each other updated. I wrote freely and comfortably, because I knew it was my friends and family reading. And it probably still just is mostly friends and family, but things have changed in the internet world and blogging is a legit thing now and it seems everyone is an expert on something.
It can be tempting for me to write like I know something, and then turn and say “this is what you should be doing”. And I have done that. But in the last week or so, the idea of staying in my own lane has really clicked for me, that what I really want to do is just share my own stories, my own experiences, just as that. Just as mine. Not as a “this is what happened for me and now that means it’s true for all of you as well.” Because maybe it is but maybe it isn’t. And I’m sorry if it ever came across that way. So I’m just going to do my best to share my stories and pray like Paul did for the Colossians, that God will “fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might that you may have great endurance and patience, giving joyful thanks to the Father who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people and in the kingdom of light.”
I trust the Holy Spirit to guide me, and to guide you too.
Things I’m thankful for this week:
- I was able to share my testimony on Sunday at our church
- this was very freeing in general, but I am so thankful that I am finally at a place where I can look back on the past couple of years and feel set free from the stronghold I was in (grief was not the stronghold, I will always grieve my loss, but my heart was hard and bitter and dark for so long, and now I finally have hope again)
- My good friend, Dayna, recently moved back from full time mission work in Estonia and I was finally able to connect with her (and her dog, Evie) this week!
- for a friend who knew we weren’t having a Thanksgiving feast, that I was alone on Monday with 3 kids and not feeling the greatest — and she surprised me by bringing a roast chicken, dressing, mashed potatoes, pumpkin cupcakes and a notebook that was very Chelsey-esque
- baking Snickerdoodle Blondies with Eleanor (I’ve been making these for yearrrrs and they are a favorite of almost everyone who tastes them!)
- for a photoshoot with a family who supported our Haiti trip, especially when they said it was the most fun they’d had doing a photoshoot :)
- watching Ezra at two of his hockey practices this past weekend, he has improved so much and really loves it!
- tonight I found an “emo” playlist with songs I listened to when I was in high school (back before “emo” was considered an insult). Many memoriesssss flooding back! The songs are so good… and so bad… haha
- watching my kids spend time drawing and writing books together this past week — and their awesomely hilarious stories and drawings
- food, water, shelter — seems like a given, but there have been many times this week I have really taken notice of our pantry, or just appreciated my house, or that I can turn on a tap and have water.
- Peter and Eleanor singing “Jesus Loves Me” together
- I am thankful for God’s promises – today on Instastories I asked people to send me a message telling me what promises they hold on to, it was so powerful and encouraging to go through all the verses sent to me and look them up and read promise after promise after promise. I will share them sometime :)
- thankful for the deer that Peter and Eva got while bow-hunting on Monday, thank you Deer for giving your life for us. We are totally out of meat. Thankful for the time Peter and Eva shared together.
- Eleanor falling asleep in the van after dropping Ezra off at a birthday party, then staying asleep and snuggling with me on the couch — she NEVER naps anymore
- for my health, my family’s health. This Saturday I will run a 10K (I’m declaring it), and I am thankful that I have a body that can do that.
While I’m sure there is much more, it is late now and my brain is slowly going to sleeeeeeep.
Thanks for following along, my friends!
This post is Day 12 of a 31 day writing challenge. Read my other posts here:
Have you heard that old saying, “A day hemmed in prayer seldom unravels?”
You might’ve seen it on a pillow.
It basically means to surround your day in prayer, and it will go better.
Which, I think is true.
But since I like to sew, I thought I’d make one little suggestion.
Hemming your day in prayer is just fine, yes. I absolutely recommend it.
But you see, the hem is just the outer edge of the fabric. I suggest also quilting your day in prayer, because quilting twists and turns and goes every which way, until there are little stitches throughout the entire piece. And the hem really finishes it off.
So pray in the morning when you rise. Pray in the shower. Pray during breakfast. During dishes. Pray on your commute. Pray when something is going wrong in your day. Pray when something is going right. Pray when you feel like you’re going to scream at someone. Pray when you didn’t give into that temptation. Pray when you did give into that temptation. Pray when you’re holding your children on your lap. Pray when you’re changing a diaper. Pray when you’re unsure. Pray when you are sure. Use all the colors of thread, tell Him honestly how you feel. There is no wrong way to do it. Pray. Pray. Pray. Practice His presence. Quilt and hem that day in prayer.
So, I realize saying “A day hemmed and quilted in prayer seldom unravels” doesn’t sound quite as nice or look as good on a pillow.
But it’s something to consider.
This past Sunday I shared my testimony at our church. And apparently… now I’m sharing it here for the internet.
There is a word that kept coming up over the past year, maybe two. And I don’t know how I felt about it. I think I mostly felt lost about it.
I kept noticing it, like a little note from Heaven sent down for me. God calling me, trying to get me to just sit with Him, but I was honestly just so mad and so broken-hearted, and my trust was totally gone.
I thought God only wanted me to abide in Him so that He could get me to do stuff for Him.
And I was pretty much done with doing stuff for Him because church planting was the hardest thing I’d ever done and I pushed myself hard to drag 4 kids to everything, or come to church right after having babies, or go to retreats at 37 weeks gestation, or serve and serve and serve and feel like no one appreciates it. And at that time my whole family of origin seemed to be falling apart, alcoholism rearing its ugly head and wreaking havoc in so many areas on the one side, and on the other side, my dad died and grief was affecting each family member close to him in different ways (which, let me just say, for some of us, that’s a realllllllly nice way to put it). So yeah, you know what, God? I kinda just want to sit here and do what I want for now, thanks though.
Oh, but our God. Man, I’m lucky he’s such a loving and patient God who could see my pain, and waited like the most loving parent for me. He heard me think such adolescent thoughts about him, equivalent to slamming the door and screaming I hate you! like some teenager on an hormonal rampage. But He is all wisdom, and He is all love, and He waited patiently, lovingly, for me to be able to see. I don’t even know yet all the things he has done to carry me through this pain, while I beat my fist on his chest pushing Him away and blaming Him.
Through all of this, He continued to pursue me: abide in me. And I continued to wonder, “How? I’ve been continuing to go to church. I’ve continued to go to small group. I’ve tried to mentor people and help people. I help out with kid’s classes. Sometimes I pray. Sometimes I read my bible. Sometimes I get up early to do it, and I listen to worship music, and I’m showing UP, God, but where are you? Why won’t you come to me?”
And then one day, I was laying on my bed, praying. And I felt that I should get down on my knees, and I was like nope. I don’t have to get on my knees to pray, laying here on the bed is just fine. There’s no rules about this, people can pray however they want. But it became very clear to me that God wanted me to get on my knees, not because he was commanding my obedience, but because he wanted me to trust Him. (I figured that part out later.)
He made it clear, because though I intended to continue praying on my bed, I soon found that I couldn’t continue praying. No more words were coming, the only thing I could think of was I have to get on my knees. Begrudgingly, awkwardly, uncomfortably, I got on my knees and soon discovered that I was able to pour my heart out again.
And so, I finally asked. “Why can’t I abide in you, God? What does it even mean? I don’t get it.”
And I didn’t hear a voice or anything but I felt it, very deep in my spirit, “You don’t abide in me because you are afraid to abide in me. You are afraid to trust me. You are scared of what abiding in me may cost you. And, you feel like abiding in me is something you should do, so that you will be able to produce fruit for me. But I don’t need you to produce for me. I can do all of that on my own. The only thing I want is your heart. I want you to abide in me simply to be with me. And once you do that, you will be able to produce fruit, but not because you have to. Because you get to.”
Well. Let me tell you. I came downstairs from that prayer time a little wide-eyed and stunned. As someone who feels valued only by what I am able to contribute, as someone who is a people-pleaser, being asked not to focus on producing, not to want to be with God just so I can pour Him out again, this was going to be a challenge! But also, a sweet, sweet relief. God does not want, nor does He need, me to do anything. He’s got that all covered. But He does want me. My heart. My love. My friendship.
Ok, God. I think I can do that. You, do the rest.
(I had this bracelet made as a reminder to abide for the sake of abiding. Check out Impress Me Much Jewelry to have your own piece made. Not sponsored.)
This post is Day 7 in a 31 day writing challenge. You can read the other posts here:
I had so much to do, so many places to stop, so many errands to run. And only so much time. I heard that familiar *DING* from the dashboard of my
mom-mobile mini-van, and it was no surprise to see that I needed fuel.
But I don’t want to stop, I thought, I have so many errands to run, so much to do, and stopping for fuel is going to take up so much time. It’s going to stop me from getting all those other things done as quickly.
It was then that I suddenly saw myself stuck on the side of the road, out of gas, cars whipping by me on Stoney Trail, my babies crying in the backseat because they wanted to go home, they were hungry, but we were stuck, waiting for someone to come fill us up with fuel, so we could continue on. And being stuck on the side of the road, out of fuel, waiting for a fill up — that, my friends, was going to make the rest of my tasks take way longer than if I just stopped now and did what I needed to do so I could keep going.
That just sounds ridiculous, to read it now. Of course, if you need fuel, you pull off at the very next gas station and fill up your tank. Of course, you don’t keep going until you are damagingly empty on the side of the road, calling for help.
But do you think I take this advice very seriously when it comes to my actual daily life?
There was recently a time where both my husband and I pushed and pushed and pushed. Must-do-all-the-things. And the funny thing is, it was joyful at first. Neither of us even seen it coming. But slowly, over time, all-the-things started to wear on us, because we weren’t taking the time to fill ourselves up again. Our lamps can only stay full of oil for so long, before there is no oil left to burn. And that’s when you’re in trouble. That’s when you’re trying to serve on empty.
Jesus said that the second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself — and you know what? I always, always, always read that with the presupposition that I already love myself a lot and that loving myself is a bad, selfish thing. But sometime in the last year, I began to see that verse in a totally new light: we need to love ourselves, we need to take care of ourselves, or we can’t really love our neighbor well. Because if I don’t love myself well, should I really love my neighbor that way?
It’s a fine line, really, and one that each individual person needs to sort out with the Holy Spirit, but we really need to take time to fill up the oil in our lamps, to take care of ourselves, to do little things that bring us joy, to rest, to commune with the Lord — we really can’t love others well unless we love ourselves well first, and serve from the overflow.
This post is Day 6 in a 31 Day Writing challenge – read more here:
Today I am thankful for…
- the thoughtful prayers of the children at the kids’ school Thanksgiving Liturgy
- crisp, autumn days
- walking through Nose Hill Park
- getting to be a mentor to a new believer
- free latte reward from Starbucks
- how excited Eleanor was to get her first cake pop
- beautiful autumn colours
- two of my children singing in the choir today
- the evening light
- impromptu family night
- kids playing in the leaves
- the big 3 playing Sorry on the deck
- food on my table
- gooooood friends moving back to my city
- being able to text with gooooooood friends who don’t live in my city
- AUTUMN – have I said that yet? it’s the best.
- knowing I’m in “the good ole days” when I’m actually in them (reference from The Office)
This post is Day 5 in my 31 Day writing challenge… read more here:
It can be hard to hear Him, sometimes.
We are so busy.
But the truth is.
We all have the same amount of time each day.
We all make 1440 choices a day, of how to spend each minute.
Even if it doesn’t feel like it.
I think that’s something we just tell ourselves.
That our lives, our busy-ness, is happening to us.
But I can tell you this from experience…
It’s mighty hard to hear from the Lord if you don’t make time to listen.
If every spare moment you have is full.
I have five minutes, I’ll browse Facebook.
I have the night off, time to binge-watch Netflix.
Reading novel after novel after novel.
Imagine with me.
What could happen if we took time to talk to God,
and to listen for God,
while we did the dishes?
While we waited for the bus?
While we waited for sleep to come?
While we ________________________?
What if we had eyes to see that we need whitespace for God in our day?
Would we have eyes to see, ears to hear and a heart to understand?