Monday, June 6, 2016

For the Long Run

Running has become routine again this year. I like both the challenge and the reward. It's a discipline that comes with benefits, and I think both are equally good. Reward without challenge isn't very valuable; challenge without reward is disheartening.

I think much of life is the same. If you want the reward, you have to put in the effort.

Running always seems analogous to other aspects of life for me... the hills, the runs when every aspect seems extra difficult, the last two miles when I'm tempted to give up... or running slow but steady... or running free and feeling good with the ocean breeze and a full moon. I often equate difficulties in life with the harder runs, and the discipline of pushing myself in the midst of it seems to be practice for determination and perseverance in trial. On the other hand, a good run brings thankfulness for the ability to do so, for my health, and for my surroundings.

I've also learned that my feelings are not a very reliable gauge. I might be feeling really good, only to find out that I ran a given set of miles slowly, or I might feel like I'm dragging, only to discover I shaved significant time off my minutes per mile. Such is life. We can't evaluate our progress based on our feelings, and sometimes we can only know how well we've done in retrospect. 

I pray a lot when I run, mainly for Jon and our kids, but also for extended family and the church. I've learned that sometimes the best way to pray is to simply repeat to God what He has revealed about Himself, and to ask Him to fulfill His promises. He is unchanging and His promises are true. I am learning that herein is rest and assurance, not in my fictional imaginings or in the what-ifs. He tells us that He is a God who loves to save sinners, so I acknowledge it and ask Him to save. He tells us He is merciful and compassionate, so I pray for mercy and compassion. He tells us He will give wisdom to those who ask, so I ask in faith.

Sometimes I just tell Him I'm struggling. It seems almost silly at times because it's just so obvious. But I'm committed to praying honestly because God already sees through me anyway. Sometimes I tell him that the (literal) hill I'm running is killing me and I ask Him to teach me perseverance. I also tell Him about the other "hills" I'm facing, asking for wisdom, strength, and perseverance. He calls me into relationship with Him; when I'm facing something difficult, it is simply relational to come out and say it.

Recently I have been thinking about how to extend grace. For several weeks now, my running seems to be getting more difficult. The same distance is more difficult, and I'm not seeing the progress I was once experiencing. The same hills have been defeating me. Finally it dawned on me one day that it would be OK to walk that one hill that goes nearly straight up. I know- wow!-- what a revelation! I can be an extreme in-the-box-thinker sometimes! But seriously, it hit me that I need to give myself permission to do less. Less is still good, it's still movement toward progress. It makes me think about my kids, or others I interact with... and how I need to cultivate an attitude of giving grace. Our lives and situations are often more complicated than they appear. Let's just rejoice in progress (sanctification), instead of being critical of the pace of progress.

Incidentally, I found out that I'm past due for another iron infusion to treat my anemia. It turns out that I was supposed to go in back in December, but somehow the doctor's orders were lost in communication at the clinic. Some of my levels are at 5-6% capacity in comparison to the norm. So yes, giving myself permission to take it easier was good after all.


Memorial weekend was wonderful. Each of my kids were invited to spend the long weekend with good family friends on a camping trip. (Many families from our church have an annual tradition of camping together.) They all had an exceptional time.

Thursday prior was spent gathering essentials and packing. I wasn't nervous about letting them go, but of course there were many things to review and discuss: 

have an attitude of gratitude towards each of your host families (which is reflected in obedience and respect)
stay in a group at all times
check for ticks
don't make jokes at the expense of others
say please and thank you
treat each other (siblings) as the dearest of friends
try to pitch in and help
include the kids that may be difficult to include
don't be alone with someone of the opposite sex
don't put your wet, dirty clothes back into your duffle bag with your clean clothes
beware of gossip
brush your teeth
look out for each other
receive correction humbly (even from each other)

...and so forth. It's a lot to remember and much more to practice. Some kids are good at following instruction, some just seem to forget. We all need to be reminded of the wisdom behind sound advice, and good habits that flow from a truly humble, obedient heart takes time and determination to develop.

I think we are easily tempted to desire behavior from our children that will make us look good as parents, or at least not cause us embarrassment. I'm sure this is a temptation for most parents, but I'd venture to say it's a particular temptation for ministry families. We do face extra scrutiny from some! Regularly, I have to consciously turn away from the desire to have perfect acting kiddos. It's a proud desire to gain the admiration and approval of others. And it's wrongly imposes burdens that neither we nor our children were meant to carry.

I'm not looking for perfect children. Failure and embarrassment often do us good. In fact, without the awareness and pain of sin and failure, we cannot see our need for Christ. He wants to forgive and empower those who humble themselves before Him. 

Our kids' behavior might cause us to cringe sometime, and we might be disappointed or embarrassed, or even heart broken. But parenting is a long run endeavor. Our kids won't get it all right, and that's OK! It is opportunity to point to the Savior. It's an opportunity to lean into our heavenly Father for all that we need.

My kids each had a fun and memorable time away. Some were placed in situations that stretched their character. Michael carried an injured friend on his back for a reported 2 miles (though he says it was much less). He even tied his sock around her foot to compress the bleeding wound!

And there was another situation where there was a more serious accident (that certainly could have been much worse), and the group of bigger kids had to make critical decisions on their won. It's been cool to hear of their thought processes, and how they contributed each in their own way.

Through it all, we are thankful for God's protection and for sweet friends who partner with us in life!

One of the most wonderful things about the long weekend was that Jon and I got so spend it together!! It didn't really hit us that we would be home alone for nearly four days until our kids were actually gone. We got a chance to see what empty nesting will be like! 

Frankly, at first it was kind of awkward. We could just say what we wanted to say-- no interruption, no background chaos, no half-way communication because of listening ears. And then that was it. Crickets came out... 

But it wasn't too long and the potential for the weekend began to be evident. Just us! We are far too aware of the fact that many marriages dissolve when kids leave home. Early on in marriage we recognized the fact that we'd have to spend the rest of our lives fighting hard for each other, for our marriage, for us. We have done that at varying degrees of success over the years, but the fight for a rock-solid marriage continues.

Life gets full and it's easy to slip into the rut of a functional marriage. Of course this is not the goal, and it is not the rich blessing God intended for marriage. Over the years we have found ourselves in need of renewed pursuit for each other. I suppose it's normal to wonder how solid we really are, and how we will be with each other when the distraction of raising kids is ended.

Well, we got a little glimpse last weekend. We were both encouraged to discover that we still work well together, we still find each other very interesting, and we are still very much physically attracted to each other! A whole lot! 

I am reminded here tonight that marriage is also for the long run. We have to keep at it relentlessly. Our effort today will determine our marital health in the future. There will be times of discouragement and failure, but we get up and go again. 

By the grace of God. 
And for His glory.


School is nearly out. Olivia is entering her week of exams, and she is fighting her first virus of the year (head cold). She has to give it one last push... the finish line is in sight!

My kids have all done an amazing job this year. I am so proud of them! They have all made great strides academically, and they have matured in various ways. I'm thankful for the experiences that have moved us along the road of maturity!
(The pictures in this post were from earlier in the spring. When I came across them recently, they made me smile all over again... )

A snap shot with her not-so-little brother! (above)

Hand-made earrings, and her home life surrounded by boys. 

Special times with special people



  1. Love your honesty, Katherine! I found this very encouraging 😊.

  2. Love your honesty, Katherine! I found this very encouraging 😊.

  3. I am always encouraged by your thoughtful and generous Spiritual insights. I am inspired at each reading to share with others so they too can receieve encouragement from your honest and humble reflections. Grateful for your family and theur willingness to be open, even if just a little, to encourage us all in this race of life! xo

    1. I am always humbled to know that the Lord uses my simple journal to encourage others. Thank you for your kind words!

  4. I am always encouraged by your thoughtful and generous Spiritual insights. I am inspired at each reading to share with others so they too can receieve encouragement from your honest and humble reflections. Grateful for your family and theur willingness to be open, even if just a little, to encourage us all in this race of life! xo

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  6. Katherine,
    I appreciate your insight so much! You have a beautiful way of admonishing and encouraging with the gentlest of spirits. :-)

    Your photographs of Olivia at the beach are beautiful.

    1. Thank you, Carol! It is hardly my intent to use this blog to admonish others, but I am blessed to know it points others to Christ. I always appreciate your words.

      On a side note, I'm sure you noticed the double comments coming in. Has that ever happened to you, and do you know what to do about it? Some of my emails (Gmail) are duplicates as well, which makes me wonder if it's a glitch with google.

    2. I'm not really sure what causes that. It has happened to me as a comment-leaver, and I'm never quite sure if I did something wrong or if Goggle was buggy. me admonishing is teaching and guiding - not scolding so maybe I didn't choose the right word. I'm often at a loss for how to say what's on my heart in just the right way. But, all that to say I LOVE your blog and all that you share. :-)

    3. You are sweet. Yes, I suppose that word can have various implications! Thank you for always being such an encouragement to me!


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