“Father, make of me a crisis man. Bring those I contact to decision. Let me not be a milepost on a single road;
make me a fork
, that men must turn one way or another on facing Christ in me.” - Jim Elliot

Monday, September 30, 2013

Thoughts about Cowbells and Finishing the Race

It's almost here.  This Sunday.  I'll be walking my 2nd Portland Half-Marathon.  (My 3rd Half-Marathon ever since I did the Portland Rock and Roll earlier this year.) 

Thought I would reminisce from last year's race... when I could've used a little more cowbell.  And thinking maybe I'll carry my own cowbell this year...

I'll be honest... I could've used a little more cowbell.
October 10, 2012

 The Finishers
Portland Marathon and Half-Marathon 2012

I did it!  I finished the Portland Half-Marathon on Sunday.   It was a beautifully warm day.  Memorable.  Ahhhh.... the sense of accomplishment!  I finished in 3 hours and 15 minutes.  That's about 15 minute miles (or 4 miles per hour).   I actually finished in a shorter amount of time than my Marathon running husband who finished in 3 hours and 16 minutes.  Okay... okay... he did the full 26.2 miles and I did the half which is 13.1 miles, but he said it was okay if I said that.  And I have to say that he was just about more excited that I participated in the half-marathon than the fact that he had another PR shaving off 5 minutes of his time.  Yup, he was super proud of me.

 Portland Half-Marathon 2012

But... I'll be honest... I could've used a little more cowbell.

I didn't realize how lonely it would be.  I mean, I was surrounded by runners and walkers.  But very much alone.  TobyMac blaring in my ears.  But there were times I was just plain alone.

I had this image in my mind that the whole course would be filled with spectators cheering me on.  Whenever we would cheer Anthony on at his races there were always a ton of spectators.  I just hadn't realized that spectators all hang out in the same places.  And either it is feast or pretty much famine.

And so it gives you time to think, right?  About being in the race.  About finishing the race.  About how sometimes you just have to go through things alone.  That there are times when there will be people cheering you on.  Shouting... or holding a sign... or ringing a cowbell.  And there will be times that people will handing you a cup of water (or Ultima... or gummy bears).  And there will be times when people are even walking alongside you.  But there are times and a lot of times that you will just have to go through it alone.

By yourself.
You and God.
On the course.
Heading for the finish that you can't see and seems miles away.

Fortunately, I had trained.  I knew that it was going to take time to get to my goal.  That it might feel monotonous, but that I would finish.  That there truly was a finish.  That I would finish the race and be told, "Well done."  That people were waiting for me.  At the finish line.

I wonder what it would be like not to train.  Not to know that there truly is a finish.  Not to know where all the water stops would be... or that there even would be water stops.  Not to know if anyone would be at the finish.  Not to know if anyone would care that you finished or had even been in the race.

That's life sometimes, isn't it?
No end in sight.
Going through this trial.
Wondering if anyone cares.
Wanting someone to finish the race for you,
but realizing that you have to walk your own race.

I loved it, really.  The pirates, the drummers, the cheer squads, the signs... especially the FINISH sign.  But most of all?  The people.  Those people.  Those special people who were looking for me and cheered me on.  And they knew I needed cheering.  And cheering.  Yes, they pushed me across that finish line in their minds.  And it felt great.  Being on the other side of the fence.  Being the one cheered to the finish.

But it was lonely.  And the next half-marathon (yes, I already signed up for the next one at the expo two nights before the race), I want to walk with friends.  And chat a little... and encourage one another along the way... and finish together... and be distracted.

Because let's face it...
I'll be honest...
I could've used a little more cowbell.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Persevere = Through Severe

Persevere.  I've been thinking a lot about this word lately. Watching those around me persevere... and doing a little persevering myself.

Monterey Coast, California
photography by Anthony Kaetzel 

Perseverance is often relegated to the phrases "suck it up" or "get over it" or "move on." 

Origin of the word "Persevere" from Merriam-Webster:  Middle English, from Anglo-French parseverer, from Latin perseverare, from per- through + severus severe.

Persevere = through severe.

Through it.  Not over it.  Not around it.  Or pretend it isn't happening.  Through it.
In the book of James, we come across the beatitude-like verse:

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, 
because when he has stood the test,
he will receive the crown of life 
that God has promised to those who love him.
James 1:12

From the beatitudes found in Matthew 5:1-12, our pastor taught us that
Blessed" comes from the Greek word “makarios.”
Makarios is more than happiness; it is joy. It finds its source from within itself.
Makarios is self-contained, self-generating, and independent of all the chances and circumstances of life.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, 
whenever you face trials of many kinds, 
because you know that the testing of your faith 
develops perseverance. 
James 1:2-3

Seriously?  Joy and perseverance?  Blessed and perseverance?  How is it possible to have joy and be blessed when we have to persevere?  Perseverance = through severe.  But how do we do that?

Read the Bible


…You do not have because you do not ask God. James 4:2

Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray… James 5:13

I think the first step to perseverance is to pray.  You may not like "the severe" you are going through… and you can feel free to tell Him that!  If you are in the middle of your "severe" you can ask for a miracle or relief or strength.  We don't have because we don't ask!


If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, 
who gives generously to all without finding fault, 
and it will be given to him. James 1:5

When we are in the midst of the situation, it is easy to get overwhelmed by it.  By gaining knowledge about our "severe" we can take away some of its power over us.  The more I know about the scientific biological side of depression the more I am able to make adjustments in my own behaviors.  Including medications, light therapy, journaling and rest.

When I get overwhelmed with my lack of parenting skills, I take time to educate myself.  Same with being married. What if your spouse suffers with alcoholism?  Or you are in debt?  Or your child has a diagnosis that overwhelms you?  Ask God to give you wisdom.

Read The Bible

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. 
Do what it says. James 1:22

But the man who looks intently into the perfect law 
that gives freedom, and continues to do this, 
not forgetting what he has heard, 
but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does. James 1:25

I think being a marginal Christian is hell on earth.  If you are familiar with just parts of Bible verses, you may be under the impression that Christianity is like living a fairy tale.  When you read the Bible, you need to read the verses that are in context to your favorite one.  God is consistently taking His children through the "severe."  Through the Red Sea.  Through the fiery furnace.  Through the stormy sea. He takes us through it.  He is with us in the "through" it.  Our blessing comes from knowing He is with us.


Therefore confess your sins to each other and 
pray for each other so that you may be healed. 
The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. 
James 5:16

We need each other.  We need to share our "severe."  Sometimes we need a different perspective.  This is what I love about mentoring.  Asking someone in your life to hold you accountable to the reality of your "severe."  To remind you that God is with you.  That God has a hope and future for you.  Someone who will show you compassion and not just commiserate.


But he gives us more grace…. James 4:6

Come near to God and he will come near to you… James 4:8

We need to know that God is for us and near us.  That we are not persevering on our own. We often envision a bleak future about our "severe" but we forget to envision that God will give us more grace to get through it.


Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, 
because when he has stood the test,
he will receive the crown of life 
that God has promised to those who love him.
James 1:12

What will it look like on the other side of your "severe"?  Ask God to give you His vision instead of relying upon your own.  If I look back on my life... and think if I hadn't persevered...
I would be divorced.  (Due to my own immaturity.)
I would be childless.  Or worse yet I would be an abusive parent. (I thought being abusive was hereditary.)
I would not have my church family or many of my friendships.  (Due to my own insecurity.)
Thank you, God!  For bringing me through my "severes" with grace!  For giving me a hope and future that is more abundant than I ever could have imagined.


Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. 
See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop 
and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains.
You too, be patient and stand firm, 
because the Lord’s coming is near. James 5:7-8

Sometimes, it is about the waiting.  And waiting can be tough.  And we can have real emotions that overwhelm us, but are unproductive.  When I begin to obsess about a "severe" I am going through, I use rubber band psychology.  Recently, I was in a situation where I felt totally misunderstood.  I wanted to fix it, but I needed to give the other person time.  However, the emotions kept gnawing at me.  I truly did want to get past those self-defeating emotions.  So, I put a slim rubber band on my wrist.  Whenever I had the urge to have negative self-talk, I pulled the rubber band and let it slap my wrist.  After a couple times... I got the hint and was able to not get caught up in the emotion... and get on with the getting through it! 


Every good and perfect gift is from above, 
coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, 
who does not change like shifting shadows. 
James 1:17

Sometimes, we need a perspective shift.  We need to remember that God is for us.  We need to look at where we've been and thank God for what He has already brought us through. One of the best ways to do this can be with a grateful journal.  At the end of each day, write down five things you are thankful for... and before you realize it, you will thanking God all day long for His many blessings.


Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, 
take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 
As you know we consider blessed those who have persevered. 
You have heard of Job’s perseverance and 
have seen what the Lord finally brought about. 
The Lord is full of compassion and mercy. James 5:10-11

And this is what I am all about... encouraging others.  Comforting others with the comfort that I have received from the Lord.  Sharing the truth of His goodness and faithfulness.

Did you know that this same word phrase "we consider blessed" or "pronounce blessed" is only used one other time?  In Luke 1:48.

And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord
 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
   of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
 for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
   holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him,
   from generation to generation. 
Luke 1:46-50

When Mary rejoices what God has done for her.  We know that ultimately she is blessed, but she was mindful of it even then.  And what a blessing.  Jesus Christ, our Lord.


Perseverance must finish its work so that 
you may be mature and complete,
not lacking anything. James 1:4

Okay, so it isn't just P.E.R.S.E.V.E.R.E.  We need to add the "R" on the end because we truly are P.E.R.S.E.V.E.R.E.R.s!  Each time we go through a "severe" we learn something.  That we can trust God and He will see us through.  The next "severe" will continue to mature us... until we are complete, not lacking anything.

I think of my husband pursuing his goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon.  With each attempt to qualify he learned more about his ability to complete a marathon in the required time.  Throughout the pursuit he continued to educate himself and added a coach and he met his goal!  

 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. 

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, 
the author and perfecter of our faith, 
who for the joy set before him 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 sinful men, 
so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. 
Hebrews 12:1-3 

Persevere.  Through severe.  Blessed and joyful.  May I encourage you to not grow weary and lose heart... knowing that you will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

God bless you!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

After Years Of Wrapping The Tentacles Around Myself...

I was reading Titus 2 this morning and it reminded me of a post I wrote about some green bean seeds...

those seeds should have known that they needed a pole...

Thursday, June 11, 2009


Been out in the garden. We're growing pole beans this year. Never done it before. Now that the plant starts are maturing... they are sending out their tentacles to hook on to something... whatever they can find... even themselves. What they really need are poles... to grasp on to, so that the beans are able to grow off the ground. That's where I come in... I'm their trainer.

Each morning as I walk about my garden, I stop by and visit the pole beans. If I find a new growth of tentacle, I gently lead it over to the pole... sometimes gently wrapping it around the pole. Next time I visit, it normally has gotten the idea... and it does the wrapping itself. And then I won't even need to help it... but for now I do... and I visit daily... and I train. Gently. Enjoying their growth... and soon I won't be as necessary... until they bear their fruit... and then I get to share in their harvest.

No one faults the beans for needing a little extra help. Actually, the seeds came in a package with directions that I would need to provide for their growth if I expected them to produce as shown in their picture on the front of the package. I don't mind helping them. I actually enjoy it.

So when the plant is starting to send out its shoots, I don't think to myself... those seeds should have known that they needed a pole... why didn't they plant themselves by a pole? They were made to be dependent. Now, I can't make the seed grow into the plant... it does it by itself... God has created it that way. But coming alongside... offering what I can... a pole, water... and then it is ready to do the rest.

And so, we are encouraged... or even more so... given the charge... of training the "younger" women. There is a world out there that thinks that loving a husband or children, being self-controlled, pure, busy at home, kind, and subject to a husband... well, it should just come naturally. Innate. Or perhaps we think... that was someone else's job... their mother's job. She was to train up the daughters. Well, sometimes... things just don't work out that way...

Is there a young tender flower near you? Perhaps you didn't plant her, but you could give a little guidance? A gentle nudging? Just until she grasps hold? Maybe you need to direct her to the Word of God? Fellowship with other women? Be a listening ear?

For me... this is a compulsion. I am compelled to do so... because, I know what it is like to not have a gentle gardener direct me towards the right direction. By the grace of God, I happened upon it... after years of wrapping the tentacles around myself... and often wonder what it would have been like if only someone would have taken the time to...

...train the younger women

love their husbands
and children,
to be
to be
busy at home,
to be
and to be
subject to their husbands,
so that no one will malign the word of God.

Titus 2:4-5 NIV84


Wednesday, September 4, 2013


It's funny how quickly the tide can change.   And how quiet the house suddenly is.  I've been in contact with a couple sisters who have been struggling.  Thought I'd share a post I wrote a couple years ago.  You're not alone.  And there is HOPE in Jesus Christ.


She caught up to me today.
I was in the bread aisle.
She asked if we could visit for a while.
I didn't pay attention at first.

She said she hadn't seen me lately.
She just wanted to catch up.
She noticed I had been a little tired lately.
A little weary.
I told her not to bother me.

She persisted.
She would take care of it.
Just a little visit.
Just a little visit.
See, it would be okay.

And I was lulled.
Yes, she was right.
Just a little visit.
A little despondency.
I mean... what would it hurt?

And then I recognized her.
Yes, I had seen her before.
I knew her well.

And there she was.
Revealed for who she really is.

And I ran... as fast as I could.
Knowing that I didn't want to see her.
I wanted nothing to do with her.

Knowing that she'll come back, again.
But knowing that each time she does.
I'll run. Quicker. Harder. Faster.

Right into my Father's arms.
Safe into my Father's arms.