I’ve been wanting to post a blog about this trip, but I’ve struggled to find the words to describe what’s been going on. And some of it, I just can’t describe. I’ve never had a tour go off so unsmoothly. Yes, last year the Russian Embassy didn’t release my passport in time so I had to follow the team the following day. But that was one day and that was just me. This year…

A phrase we’ve said a few times is, “If it’s not one thing, it’s another.” We had issues getting Derick’s poles over here. Because of that, I had to change my flight and again, was going to arrive a day later than the rest of the team. Yet a storm came to Newark and the team’s flight was canceled. They all were rerouted the next day, but not all on the same flight. The majority of the team was rerouted through Manchester, with a 3 hour layover and two were rerouted through Scotland with a 6 hour layover. I had a direct flight to Brussels. My flight was supposed to go out first. The weather had been sunny skies and beautiful all day, but close to our flight departures, storms came rolling in again. All flights were delayed. When I took off, I wasn’t sure the others would get out and if they did, if they would both make their connections.

Both flights got out, but one missed their connection, so they were rerouted through Frankfort and then Brussels. We all eventually arrived into Leuven. You’d think that since we all finally arrived things would be smooth sailing. But then there’s the good ole logistics. Two of our girls were in the after program for one of the meets and because their race was so late, they would miss the train. I arranged a ride back for them from two of my friends, but felt extremely horrible when we found out their race was supposed to go off at midnight. Ugh! Bless my friends, they stayed and gave us all a ride home.

Then the meet yesterday, two of my girls, again, were in the after program and would miss the train. We looked into taxis and hotels as back ups but had planned to just make some new friends in hopes to get a ride back (because that’s the advice we were given by some of our new Belgian friends). But my friend, who’s dad is the meet director, was able to squeeze them into the main program so we could make the train in time.

This morning I was thinking about Moses and the Israelites as they wandered through the wilderness. God led them by a pillar of cloud by day and pillar of fire by night. So many things on this tour I wasn’t sure how things were going to work out. But one way or another, they worked out. There’s a line in a song by Cloverton I just love. “Make this chaos a chorus.” That’s what God’s been doing. With all the chaos of traveling, a beautiful melody is being played. The team has been extremely flexible and just rolling with what comes our way. We’ve been meeting new friends – Americans, Belgians, Italians… Dinners have been full. We had to ask some of our friends to bring their own silverware to dinner one night to make sure we had enough at the hostel (they pulled them out of their pockets when they got in line for food!)

And we’re not done yet. Still another week and two days together, three meets and lots of logistics. Lots of opportunities for the little minions to meddle and lots of opportunities for God to come through and prove His sovereignty. I will continue to be like Moses – keep my focus on God and keep walking forward.

I will be sharing at our local church next Sunday. Please be in prayer as I prepare for that talk.

Also check out our team blog: athetesinaction.org/teamblogs Our blogs are under track-Belgium. The athletes have been blogging as they days have gone by. It’s fun to read about the experiences through their eyes – most seeing much of this stuff for the first time.

Red Flags

Filed Under Life

I’m not sure if the term “red flags” in the context of dating is just a Christian thing or not, but I’d never really heard of it before following Christ. Yes, there were things I knew I didn’t want in a guy, but I never knew there was a term for these things.

In my house church, we have something called the Queens List (our house church name is Queens). It’s a list of questions we put together to ask one of the women about the guy she’s started to date. We care deeply for one another and want to make sure we date godly men. One of the questions is “Are there any red flags?” This means “Is there anything that isn’t necessarily a problem at the moment, but could be down the road?” Things like he doesn’t have a community or he currently doesn’t have a job. They’re not the non-negotiables, but little warning flags.

But I had a thought the other day, hence this blog post. Do we have a list for ourselves? Do guys gather with each other when one of their own starts dating someone and pull out a list of questions to be answered? When a guy starts to date me, how would I measure up? What kind of questions would be on that list? Knowing the godly brothers in my life, I would imagine the questions to be like, “Does she have community?” or “Does she have accountability?” Maybe things like “Is she a servant?” (not in the sense that she’ll wait on him hand and foot, but in the context that she is selfless and thinks of others first).

How about we peruse Proverbs 31 for a list of qualities we should strive to have in our lives: trustworthy, encouraging, willing to work hard, calculating big decisions (not impulsive), strong (not necessarily physically, but personally), confident in her work, selfless, compassionate, takes care of those in her care, joyful, wise, kind and a woman who fears the Lord.

In times of singleness, the time should be used to look inward and develop the characteristics of Christ so when a guy does come into our lives, there will be no red flags on our end.

Unanswered Prayers

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A month ago, I saw a guy who reminded me of a guy I really wanted to date in college. It never happened and I always wondered why. (I mean I’m a pretty sweet chica, let’s be honest here). That lead me to think about all the things in my life I wanted to happen that never did. I thought about how I envisioned my life to be. The things I wanted to see, the places I wanted to go, the people I wanted in my life. Many of those things never happened.

I was sad.

For about half a minute. Then I remembered the goodness of God and was hit with this huge thought: “How much did God keep from me?” I wasn’t thinking of good things, like God was holding out on me. I was thinking of painful things, things I never knew about that could have affected me in so many horrible ways. (True, not every unanswered prayer saved us from some horrific event. Sometimes it’s just the sheer fact that God had something better in mind). By keeping me from certain relationships (what I thought was clearly perfect) or certain situations (which I thought were so amazing), what were some of the things God protected me from?

At church this past weekend, my pastor said something that blew my mind. He said our salvation is possible because of an unanswered prayer. Matthew 26:39, Jesus is in the garden of Gethsemane and he asked God to take his cup from him. His prayer was unanswered, because his cup was not taken from him. He went up on Golgotha, was crucified and then rose again.

The last part of his prayer is key, “Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

When we get upset that God doesn’t answer our prayers, we forget that God writes the script of our lives and He sees the bigger picture. He holds the puzzle box. He knows what is good for us and what will hurt us. And ultimately, He knows what will bring Him glory and benefit His kingdom. What if instead of thinking of them as “unanswered prayers,” we think of them as “things God didn’t intend for that moment.”

And what if we thought of the things that unexpectedly happened in our lives as “things we would have prayed for if we knew what God knew”? Yes there are times we are supposed to be persistent with our prayer life. I’ve heard of prayers being answered after 35 years of continuous prayer, but I’m not talking about those prayers. I’m talking about the things that we think will make our life better, will make our life perfect. The prayers that are usually all about us.

I can look at my unanswered prayers in one of three ways:

1) They are still yet to be answered (keep praying)
2) God has something better in mind (change my prayer)
3) God has something else in mind that will bring more glory to him (change my heart)

As I look back on some of the things I prayed for over the years, I can’t help but to think, in the words of Garth Brooks, “I thank God for unanswered prayers.”

 

Today is day 2 of the Seven Sacred Pauses (7SP). I finished reading a book titled: “7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess” by Jen Hatmaker (highly recommend it). In a nutshell – she fasts from seven different categories, one each month. I decided to try the last chapter – fasting from stress. She was introduced to the Seven Sacred Pauses and seven times a day, she stopped what she was doing to pray. Each hour has a specific focus and 3 Psalms to emphasize that focus.

Actually, I’m almost doing all of it. I’m doing six of the pauses for a month with the goal to hit the seventh 1-2 times a week. The seventh pause is midnight and I like my sleep. But here’s my human logic: Thursday night, Scandal is on. Perfect timing…the show just happens to come on the week I decided to start this fast. It comes on at 10pm. I figure I’ll watch the show (it’s an hour long show), kill an hour reading and then pray and go to bed. Brilliant plan. In theory.

Thursday night is also house church night (there’s gotta be some irony with me attending house church and then rushing home to watch an immoral show called Scandal!) I forget that we love to talk when we get together. And talk. And talk. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just what we do. So I’m in the middle of sharing with the women what I’m doing and my alarm goes off. It’s time to pray. So we stop and we pray together. How awesome it is to have women with you who not only don’t think it’s odd you have your alarm set 6 different times a day to pray, but they join you in that prayer time.

But then the real test came. It was 10 to 10. There was no way I was going to make it home for the start of the show. So I figured I’ll watch it online another day and wo hoo, I don’t have to stay up late. Really, Jodi? Really? So the only reason I would stay up to pray is because I was up anyway to watch some show? A line from Jen’s book said this: “If a fast doesn’t include any sacrifices, then it’s not a fast. The discomfort is where the magic happens.”

Was I really only willing to “sacrifice” because it wasn’t that uncomfortable? Wow!

This is only day 2 folks. There are 28 more days ahead.

I need to begin this post by stating some facts about me: I was a pole vaulter in college. Other events included triple jump, sprints, relays, shot put (one year in high school, haha!). No where in any of those events include long miles. Perhaps a “long” run of 30 min once a week.

Yet ever since 2006, God has been placing distance runners in my life. And these have not become mere acquaintances. Some have become my closest and dearest friends. When you become friends with people, parts of their world merge into yours and vice versa.  Sometimes those commonalities are what brought you together in the first place, but as you live life together, you notice things about their life. You think to yourself, “Hey, that looks neat. I think I’ll give it a try.”

That’s what’s happened to me with running. It’s been a slow process. I’ve fought it for so long. I ignored small whispers. I shook the feeling in my legs that told me they needed to go. But I finally gave in last fall. I downloaded an app on my phone that tracks my miles and lets me know my pace. I downloaded another app that does the same thing, but it talks to you while you run (apparently one app isn’t good enough). But then my knee started bothering me and I had to wean off the running. But that didn’t stop my thinking about it (dare I say ‘obsess’ about it?) I got a new pair of running shoes. Then I discovered the cause of my knee issues. My dang IT bands are too tight. Then I discovered the foam roller. My new love (his name is Sam. Yes, I named my foam roller. Who doesn’t? I’ve also named my stretch rope – Jax – and my baseball I use to roll out smaller areas – Todd). Roll out and stretch every day…the knee has been doing well and I’ve hit the trails (or road, or track) again.

But now I’m more equipped. Remember those distance runner friends? Well some are coaches. I figured they write training programs all the time, what’s one more? One of my dear friends agreed to write me a program and I’ve been on this plan for two weeks now. I mostly stuck with it. (I had an impromptu 5k come up on Friday. It was to support Oasis House, a ministry that offers hope to women in the sex industry. A quick text to my Coach and we made some adjustments to the plan.)

Today I caught myself researching a running club/organization in the Dayton area to see if I want to become a member. What?!?! What is happening to this pole vaulter?

Confession: I. Enjoy. Running.

There, I said it.

There’s just something about you and your thoughts and God. It can be a time of sweet prayer or just a time to get away from all the stressors of life. It has become a part of my life.

And now I must go. Sam and I have plans.

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