4 Running/Life Seasonal Questions

I’ve lived in Florida for 30 years, but I’ve only been a runner 9 of those years.  In the fall of 2007, I graduated from an occasional jogger to an intentional runner.  When the summer of 2008 came around, I encountered for the first time what it means to have to change gears because of the rise in humidity and heat.

A friend (occasional runner) brought this up today-how he’s challenged to run over a mile right now, having trouble breathing, etc.  Breaking News: Running in December is not the same as running in July!  After that conversation, it crossed my mind how the adjustments runners must make based on seasons is very applicable to seasons of life in general.  

  • Season of raising a young family
  • Season of transition (job changing, moving, retiring, empty nesting)
  • Season of busyness (school starting/ending, holidays, kid’s recreational activities)
  • Season of recovery (from surgery, from loss, from the other seasons)

With that in mind, here are some questions from a runner’s perspective that might help you get through your season of life. 

1.  How long might this season be?

This might sound trivial, possibly unnecessary. Think about it though. A woman knows roughly how long her pregnancy will be.  We all know how long winter lasts.  That knowledge, in some sense, gets us through that period of time.  So, to the best of your knowledge, determine how long your season might be.  Do some research on empty nesters.  Read about how long to expect your family to acclimate to a new city.  Step one, know the length of your season.

2.  What adjustments do you need on make?

One adjustment I’ve made in the past for the summer is to move indoors, train on the treadmill.  Another is to change my weekly routine-how many days I run and how long each run will be.  And every year it may look different.  Your adjustments might be changing your bedtime or when the alarm goes off.  Maybe using social media more or less.  Your whole routine of life may need assessing.  Not a problem.  If you’ll embrace it, you may find some exciting changes that you’ll wish you’d made long ago.

3.  What should your pace be?

Summer running pace is much slower.  You find that out the easy way or the hard way.  Making adjustments can also be easy or hard.  So pace yourself.  Don’t put too much pressure on finding your new norm too quickly.  Be gracious to yourself.  It’s a new season.  

4.  What are your short term goals?

Summer is not racing season.  Much like baseball players in the winter or football players in the spring, you should set some short term goals that keep you in shape for the “show.”  If survival is all you can manage, then shoot for it.  Most likely, you can do more than survive.  You might actually consider hiring a life coach to walk you through this season.  If you are pretty good at goal setting, then determine what you hope to achieve by the end of this season.

God brought you to this season.  You don’t have to dehydrate, heatstroke, or find yourself on the side of the road asking yourself how did you get there.  Stop right now and make yourself answer these questions.  This season will pass.  Get the most out of it.  Determine the length, make adjustments, set your pace, and reach for your goals.


4 Good Don’ts

“Trust GOD from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for GOD ’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to GOD! Run from evil! Your body will glow with health, your very bones will vibrate with life! Honor GOD with everything you own; give him the first and the best. Your barns will burst, your wine vats will brim over. But don’t, dear friend, resent GOD ’s discipline; don’t sulk under his loving correction. It’s the child he loves that GOD corrects; a father’s delight is behind all this.”‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭3:5-12‬ ‭MSG‬‬

Reading this passage this morning from the Message, I see some good don’ts that I can always use to have in the memory bank.

  • Don’t try to figure everything out on your own – the opposite issues from arrogance and pride
  • Don’t assume that you know it all – the opposite fosters independence that leaves God out of the story
  • Don’t resent God’s discipline – the opposite undermines His authority and character of compassion
  • Don’t sulk under his loving correction – the opposite reveals immaturity and selfishness

To keep these dont’s in check, do trust, do listen, do honor, do give the best and the first, and do run to God.

The Listening Life (Book Review)

I’ve taken a month to read this book. No, it wasn’t laboriously or begrudgingly. I’m a “read-every-word” kind of reader, and this book demands that every word be chewed on and not just skimmed. If that already turns your head, then you probably don’t need to rush to buy it. On the other hand, maybe you do.

Why? Read the subtitle. See why now?

If you agree attentiveness is hard work these days because of our ever increasing distracting world, then Adam McHugh is talking your language.

“…the fact that we pay millions of dollars annually for people to listen to us indicates our poverty in this arena.”

 “The voices we want to hear are not always the same as the voices we need to hear.” (Chapter 1)

McHugh does an excellent in the first five chapters establishing that this attentive life is grounded in our relationship with God, his Word, and Creation.

“God has absolutely no obligation to pay attention to anyone or anything…The Lord astonishes us and completely flips power on its ear by entering into listening relationships with people.”

“It seems that God’s ear is inclined toward those who themselves are listeners.”

“The Bible should never close us to hearing God’s voice in other venues; rather it ought to open us to recognize it wherever we hear it.”

In the final four chapters McHugh addresses the listening life between humans, those in pain, and listening to your life.

“Trying to fix, judge, rescue or change others are all subtle ways of exerting power over other people.”

“Good listening starts with the scandalous premise that this conversation is not about you.”

“How many conflicts and disagreements start because we think we already understand each other?”

“Listening experts say that only 7% of a person’s meaning is conveyed in the actual words they speak.”

“AHEN: Anger comes from a Hurt, which comes from an Expectation, which comes from a Need”

As a person who has been told many times over the years that I listen well, this book revealed many areas where I need growth. If you know you do also, take the time to read every word in this book. You and everyone in your life will thank you. I’m guessing even God will thank you. Well, most likely you’ll thank him. 

Enjoy your growth.

A Letter to the Couple in the Movie Theater 

To the couple who sat by me yesterday to watch the new Star Trek movie,

You had no idea how your arriving 20 minutes after the 4:20 start time put you in a certain category in my structured world. You also had no idea that I watched you ascend the steps toward me in the top row, corner seat, somehow knowing this wasn’t going to go in my favor. And then you had popcorn. You really had no idea.

The theater wasn’t even half full. But yet you somehow determined that walking up to the furtherest corner was the best move. It took me a while, but I finally figured it out. You, ma’am, had some sort of wrap on your lower leg. That drove you to my corner. You were looking for the best seat in order for you to prop your foot somehow. You had no idea that my plan was to raise the armrest when the movie started in order for me to prop whatever healthy part of me I wanted on the seat next to me.

Sir, I’m sure you had no idea when you sat down next to me that I seriously considered moving down to one of those dozens of seats you passed to get to one next to me that I also considered mine. And, I hope you had no idea that for about the first ten minutes of the movie God and I were talking a lot about you and your wife.

Actually, God was talking, and I was doing a whole bunch of listening; and you and your wife wasn’t what he talked about much to me at all. Although he did point out that you paid for one seat, actually two, just like I did. And the seats at Royal Palm are certainly not reserved, so you had every right to pick a seat wherever you liked or your wife needed. He also reminded me that some people enjoy the whole movie experience (refreshments, getting up to go the bathroom) unlike I do, and that is also perfectly normal, even acceptable.

After God pretty much told me to get over my introverted self, you had no idea that I started watching both of you. Yes, the distraction of your hands going in and out of the popcorn bag initially annoyed me, but I chose to appreciate that you graciously shared the popcorn between you. Ma’am, I watched you adjust yourself as quietly as you could throughout the movie to ease the pressure on your foot. And when you openly engaged with the movie by laughing and commenting, I moved from wanting to relocate to actually enjoying your company.

So, by the end of the movie, which I recommend seeing, you had no idea the lessons I had learned that had nothing to do with the content of the movie. It had to do with you, with how to enjoy any movie experience, and with accepting people for who they are, especially when they aren’t like you. Couple, thank you for coming to the movie and choosing to sit next to me. You had no idea.

Decide Yes Now

“God speaks to people who decide they’re going to do what he tells them to do, even before he tells them.” @RickWarren

I read this quote earlier this week. Rings true to me.

If you put this to the test in the context of a coaching setting, a coach is drawn to those team players he knows are ready to follow his directions rather than those who think they know it all or can rest on their talents alone for success.

If you put this to the test in the context of a parenting situation, a dad is drawn to allow his high school son to start dating when he believes his son has decided to follow his dad’s instructions on how to treat a woman including keeping his sex drive in check.

If you put this to the test in the context of a business decision, an employer is drawn to offer a promotion to her employee who is all in on the business plan rather than one who is constantly challenging and questioning her direction.

If you are having a hard time hearing from God, maybe these questions might uncover the road block:

  • Are you ready to say yes to whatever He says?
  • Have you shown Him that your desire equals whatever He has for you?

Hate Rising

Tonight a report on CBS documented how several social media hate groups can be linked to the killers in Dallas, Charleston, and San Bernardino. This piece made me wonder what is the cause in the apparent rise in hate. Could it be in these thoughts/beliefs/messages:

  • “You are the center of your universe”
  • “Your wants trump other’s”
  • “Your rights trump other’s”
  • “Your thoughts/opinions/beliefs trump other’s”
  • “Your wounds trump other’s”
  • “Empathy only matters when you need it”

Are these messages directly stated by most of us? No. Are they often supported by our actions? Yes.

The main concern in each of these messages is the focus on you. What about God? What about fellow humans?

Is it possible the rise in hate is equal to the rise in thinking too much about ourselves? God warns us of the dangers of thinking too highly of ourselves (Romans 12).

Suggestion: the next time you sense hate rising in you, ask yourself what is the root of the emotion. You might find it in an unexpected place. And you might find it has an easier fix than you thought. 

Down to the Rise!

4 Lessons from “The Loving Father” Parable (also called “The Prodigal Son” parable)

The parable found in Luke 15 focuses mostly on the actions of the younger son.  Yet, when you consider the dad’s reactions, there are several relationship lessons to glean.  Here are four of them:

  • Cold, Reckless Behavior Hurts but Doesn’t Change Unconditional Love

The son’s request was premature. His message might as well have been, “I wish you were dead.” The only recorded reaction from the father is his granting the request. Hurtful words and actions may challenge but will not alter unconditional love.

  • Be Ready to Forgive

Forgiveness can be immediate when requested if the heart has been prepared to give it.  The sooner the preparation begins the sooner the loving reaction will be available.  The opportunity may be a long time coming; love is patient and can stay ready to forgive.

  • Initiate Restoration

Forgiveness can lead to full restoration.  The fullness degree can be greatly impacted if the forgiving party initiates the restoration.  The time needed to complete the restoration can be shortened when the forgiver initiates its beginning.

  • Never Stop Loving Rebels, Hostile or Hidden

Not all rebels are cold and reckless.  The rebellion style may alter the method of forgiveness and restoration, yet the character of love can remain.  Love endures.

Faith Things

Read one of the most quoted verses in Hebrews this morning:

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Hebrews‬ ‭11:1‬ ‭ESV‬‬

These questions came to mind: what are some examples of these “things”?  What things, by faith, do we hope for?  What things, by faith, are we convicted of?  Is there a difference?  How might it help our faith to determine these things?

The difference is pretty clear by the definitions.  Hoping for something and being convicted of something are based on different levels of certainty.  You can hope for good weather on your wedding day, but you can be convinced that regardless of the weather nothing will stop you from walking that aisle.

Convictions are what we build our lives upon, what we build our faith on. For example, verse three of chapter 11 states the conviction of faith that God created the world.  That is a conviction of faith, of something unseen.  As believers, we have many of these.  We are convinced of eternal life.  We are convinced in the trustworthiness of God’s Word.  We are convinced the kingdom of God is inhabited by serving citizens.  We are even convicted to tithe by faith.

CHALLENGE: Write a list of your faith things you are convicted of, that you have no doubt about and determine your worldview and how you live.

Things hoped for are then the things that play out in our lives based on the faith things we are convicted of.  Parents hope, by faith, that how they have raised their children will bring the desired results.  So they parent assuredly in the things they hope for.  Employers hope, by faith, that their hiring processes result in building the right team.  So they offer the job assuredly in the things they hope for.  These faith things of conviction and hope work together.

CHALLENGE: Write a list of your faith things you are hoping for, keeping in mind they aren’t a random wishlist but stem from and should partner with your conviction things.

May your faith be commended along with those people listed in the rest of Hebrews 11.  Your lists may set you on the path to being commended by God because of your faith things.

Sometimes You Have to Drive the Bus

If you haven’t read Jim Collins’ article “Good to Great,” follow this link before continuing this read.

Get the right people on the bus, then get them in the right seat. That’s what he says to the bus driver. Get the who before the what.

No argument from me. But here’s a question. What does a bus rider do when the driver’s seat is empty, figuratively or literally. Ever happened to you?

Sometimes, whether you want to or not, you are the teamplayer that must get in the driver’s seat. How or why this happens isn’t the point of this entry. But if you find yourself unexpectedly having to drive the bus for a while, here are five thoughts of what to do.

  1. Talk with everyone else on the bus…isolation leads to poor driving
  2. Clarify why you’re driving and for how long…fuzziness leads to poor driving
  3. Resist any urge to reroute the bus…hijacking leads to poor driving
  4. Don’t get comfortable in that seat. In fact, work at getting at ease being uncomfortable…aggressiveness leads to poor driving
  5. Remember your seat on the bus…confusion leads to poor driving

If you don’t care about the bus, be honest and do the right thing…get off the bus. If you care about the bus, take the seat and drive well. 

You NEED a Snickers

Those snicker commercials…”you’re not you when you’re hungry”…excellent. I use that line often. “You need a snickers.”

Recently I discovered I hadn’t been me. And I didn’t even realize it. 

Sometimes, for various reasons, we can let life get us away from what makes us us. Or what keeps us healthy, alert, moving forward.

For example, reading is something I NEED. Earlier this year I realized that I hadn’t been doing it at the level at which I need. In a sense, I was starving myself. When I realized it, the first thing I did was ask the why question. Answered that, then determined to get back to doing what I need. And I feel more like me. Hunger satisfied.

That’s one of a few things I need to be me. There are certainly universal things we all need. But there are needs/things that are unique to us individually. Do you know your things that make you you? God designed you to need those things. How do you make sure you get them? You’re more you when you have them. 

Self-starvation is just crazy. Know your needs. Be aggressive in getting them so you can be you.