Thursday, July 30, 2015

Mud Ninja Part 2; How do you eat an elephant?


            “How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time,” is an old proverb.   I am NOT talking about physically eating an elephant. I’ve often quoted it in regards to writing a book.  Many people ask me how one writes a manuscript, and I tell them its one bite at a time.  It is one word written at a time and one chapter at a time.  Most people see the whole project as something so big that it overwhelms them and they never write it.  Their sheer size of the project weighs on them.  They mentally talk themselves out of the process because they are looking so much at the whole picture. 
            One of the life lessons I was reminded up while on my Mud Ninja journey that I had forgotten to mention in my last blog was connected to this.  I mentioned the obstacle the “Widow Maker” before, but it was here I was reminded yet again how important it is not to get overwhelmed by the vastness of what is before us.  This obstacle I would say was a 1-1.5 story incline where they did leave the runners a rope to help their assent.  The problem is that rope and the incline were so muddy getting any kind of traction seemed impossible. One wrong step and you were eating dirt, literally.  The more I looked up at this incline with a knee that was throbbing, the more I did not think I could make it.  The thought of quitting was looking very good, however it was so back into the woods that even if I would have chosen to quit I don’t think I could have gotten out of the course.  The cliff loomed above me.  On the top it appeared that there was some kind of plateau because I could hear the band playing.  I felt truly overwhelmed by the circumstances, hearing the band begin to play “Eye of the Tiger”, the 80’s Rocky generation flashbacks began.  One step at a time, I stopped looking upwards to see how far ahead it was, but focused on one step at a time.  Crying, gasping, and clawing my way to the top as if it was by my fingernails I eventually got there.  Throughout the journey I would face more inclines that seemed impossible, but my lesson had been learned.  I kept my head down, and took one step at a time.
            May we all remember this as we face whatever is before us today.  Fix your eyes upon Jesus, and not the obstacle.  One step at a time races are finished.  One page at a time books are completed, and one day at a time life is lived.  The Bible reiterates a very similar statement.

Matt 6:34 34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

Philippians 3:14 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Quite simply take it one day at a time, one step at a time.  Commit your ways to God and He will take care of you.  He didn’t call you to do something to watch you fail.  He has empowered you.  Push forward!
God has awesome plans for your life.  Get excited!


***BTW thank you for your prayers.  My knee is getting better.  I’m using the cane less and less.  I’m definitely on the mend.

Monday, July 27, 2015

I Am Officially A Ninja


            Sometime in May I discovered the Mud Ninja 5k www.mudninja.com.  Given I just released my devotional Confessions of a Ninja Mom; it seemed like a perfect fit.  My husband and I thought it would be a great thing for us to do with our oldest daughter who is now 14.  She’s into that kind of thing.  So thinking this was a normal 5k (yes, it clearly isn’t on the website, however in our excited naiveté we didn’t realize how intense it is) our idea was to train by run/walk.  Dan and my daughter started running outside, and me on the treadmill.  Together we did some upper body but not consistently.  We knew there would be a couple obstacles.
            Saturday was the day.  Perhaps the moment we realized how intense this race really was going to be was when we saw crowds of people duct taping their shoes to their feet.  We soon understood the wisdom of this.
            The MC’s voice boomed over the speaker, “This is a group race and if you don’t have people with you then now is the time to find them.  This race is designed to not be able to finish on your own.”  There were people everywhere that had binge drank on too much RedBull, and caffeine funnels.
            As I stood in line to start our journey there was no way I could have known the intensity that lie before me.   The thought of a 5k should be used loosely here.  I would have welcomed a nice jog on some pavement.  But this was not that.  This can best be described as the show “American Ninja Warrior” with lots of mud and up and down mountains.  Early on I got separated from Dan and my daughter. 
            Less than a mile into this race I found myself in front of an obstacle called the “Gorilla Bars”.  They were kind of like monkey bars that moved above my head with a pit of mud on the ground.  I figured I might as well try to do them because if I fell I’d just fall in the mud.  While that thought seemed wise what happened was far from that.  When I fell into the mud my body went one direction and my feet when another.  As my feet sunk into the mud I heard my knee “pop”, and a voice screamed in the air over all the chaos.  I realized it was my screams.  As the volunteers pulled me out of the pit, I wanted to just lie in the mud and cry.  After all we had trained for this, I didn’t want to have to quit.  I wanted to finish what I had started.  The people were calling for a medic.  Part of me knew that they were trying to pull me justifiably for this injury, but I couldn’t let them.  Struggling like a new born deer, I pulled myself off and forced myself to walk.  I knew this knee injury.  It was the same thing I had done in college while skiing and had been healed from.  I also knew that while painful, it wasn’t surgery worthy, and I couldn’t stop. My dad who was a grunt solder in Vietnam and has survived an amazing amount in his life has always said to me, “You have two choices in life; you can lie down and die or get up and keep fighting.”   
            Adrenaline can be a drill sergeant and the words of my father seemed to echo in my ears.  My knee would pop out of place two more times during my course, but no matter how hard they kept trying to pull me out of the race, I wouldn’t let them.  I pushed my way through.  I found myself limping my way through what was longer than a 5K. I heard someone say it was over 4 miles.  At one part we had to go down three stories on the side of a mountain, climbing up a nasty incline they named a “Widow Maker.”  When I needed to stop on the side, I did.  About a mile later I found Dan and my daughter who had been worried about me.  Together we climbed down two other mountains and back up, we crawled through 100ft of mud in a tunnel ‘Shawshank Style’ (Oh yes, I am so writing that in a book), Dan pulled me up a mountain that I would have never made it without him, and out of the 25 obstacles I made my way through about 17 of them.  Dan and My daughter braved 20 of them. I limped my way through it but, together we finished. 
            I joked my way through the event that this had been the hardest physical thing I’d done since childbirth and at least at the end of childbirth I got a kid.  In the picture is the medal they donned on me.  I am officially a ninja. 
            During our journey, I learned some great life lessons that I’d love to share:

         *This adventure was a lot like life.  So many times things happen, we get hurt, and we find ourselves trying to figure out how we got in this situation in the first place.  Quitting may seem like an easier option, but it’s not.  Yeah I got hurt, I wasn’t around my family, and I wanted to cry. In fact I’m pretty sure I did a few times, but I am so glad I didn’t quit.  You have to persevere and endure (Matt 24:13).  You have to push forward farther than you think humanly possible.  Dan laughed at me because at one point I was speaking in tongues praying rather loud on the trail.  At that point I didn’t care who heard me.  I needed divine help. 

      * I witnessed the best comradery I have ever experienced.  Maybe it was because all the runners were in pain and united in the same goals.  It didn’t matter who we were or if we’d ever met.  Complete strangers were helping people out and cheering each other on.  I had one woman I’ll call my “Water Angel” come back down a mountain to give me water. I had been resting on the side of the mountain, alone and doing my best to keep going.  She blessed me.  We talked later, I gave her a book.  I wish I could tell you I’ve seen the same unity in the church as a whole but I haven’t.  I wrote a book some years ago called Cursing the Church or Helping it?  It reminded me a lot of this.  It was a great reminder to me how much we need to act like this in the church.  We are a team.  There were so many times someone encouraged me and kept me going.  I wouldn’t have finished without that.  So often we try to be our own islands but in truth God has created us to be a team.  May we all remember that and be that for each other.

       *My husband so promptly pointed out that the event was also a good reminder of how important it is to truly prepare for what is before us in life.  We all agree that our idea of training for this race was not enough.  I spoke to one woman on the trial who told me she did this race every year, and all year she trains.  She does a full cross country, upper body, hiking, and aerobic regime.  My husband’s point was if you look at this, how important is it to follow God’s leading when God wants us to train for things that we don’t see a point in doing. While we finished our race we weren’t able to complete all obstacles in the way.  Meaning, if we don’t train doing the things God has us do maybe there are some things in life we aren’t able to do because we didn’t prepare.  Attempting the obstacle where people jumped across a mud pit from by using a gymnastic spring board to land onto a cargo net and climb up it may NOT have been one I would have tried with more preparation, however I still could have been more prepared for others.

         *So many times we go through our daily lives and we don’t really live.  We get caught up in a monotonous rut.  Sometimes we need to go completely outside of our comfort zone to wake up and live.  God wants us to enjoy our lives.  This was one of these wake up moments in my world.  As hard as it was, it is a memory that will stay with me.  As I stood in a line of complete strangers to take an outdoor fully clothed shower.  There was mud that covered us all from head to toe, and looked at my daughter and said, “This is living.”  I meant those words.  This is was so outside of my normal box.  I’m not saying everyone needs to run some 5K on steroids to live, but I am saying step outside of your box.  Refuse to live life through the motions.

            The Ninja Mud Run was life changing.  As crazy as it was, I am glad we did it.  My daughter already wants to do it again next year.  I’m not sure I’ll be joining, but I’ll defiantly go to cheer them on.
            God has awesome plans for your life.  Engage in the living! Get excited!


***As a side note when I finally stopped that day my knee swelled up pretty nasty.  I did make it to greet at church yesterday while walking on a cane.  But the good news is I am on the mend.  Jesus is my healer.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Get Ready for Your Finest Hour


            It’s been a challenging season for many in this time, me included.  The more people I’ve talked to the more people I see that have been going through stuff.   Many seem as if they have been worn down with opposition. There has been such major shifting and moving in the body that it has been a challenge.  In my own walk, my family and I have faced relocating across the country, new church, new job, new circumstances, somethings have gone the way I planned and some have not. 
            Last night I as I was getting ready to go to bed I heard the Lord say, “Many believers are being poised and positioned for their finest hour.”  As I thought about this, I sat back and realized that if God is preparing us for our finest hour on the earth, then He is about to show up and show off in many situations.  God loves to show up and show off.  It makes Him giddy and excited!
            It can be easy to be discouraged if you look at the circumstances.  Bills can yell loud, our masses turning from God can seem to screech into your ears,  and if you dwell on it those aches and pains in your body and in your mind can keep you up at night.  But God has a better way.  He has a bigger plan. 
            If you will just take a moment to look past the noise, you will see that God is up to something.  He is poising His church for their and His finest hour.  He is readying His people to Shine for His glory.  As hard and challenging as it is to walk through what may feel as darkness, let your light shine for Him.  He has set His way before you.  Walk in It!  Trust Him.  Don’t quit.  Don’t fear!  But keep your lamp trimmed and burning, for your finest hour is near. 
Galatians 6:9 “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”

            God has awesome plans for your life.  Get excited!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Grumpy Old Faith


Jesus did not die on the cross so that we could stay comfortably grumpy in our old time religion.  The world has had enough of a room full of curmudgeons, who argue over who gets to carry the post-it notes at the next service meeting.  They don’t want to go into rooms and see smiles painted onto people who spent the night in a local bar.  They’re tired of narcissistic hypocrisy with cold wooden pews and hymnals with layers of dust.  No longer is this a culture where Leave It To Beaver smiles can reign supreme, as silently the members are counting the moments until the sermon draws to a close.  Religion is like concrete that has weighted down the church, leaving it to feel its carrying a 10 pound noose in its teeth.  Jesus did not die on the cross so that churches could become social clubs. 
I once heard a story about a man who purposely dyed his hair green and walked into a church just to see their reaction.  Maybe his motive was a little for attention, but he got the reaction he thought he’d get.  He got a bunch of people who avoided him, yet preached on love.  Jesus didn’t die on the cross for just chosen, but he died for everyone. 
It’s time for the church to wake up!  Waking up the church doesn’t mean we need to develop another 12-step program.  To be relevant we don’t need to water down the gospel.  The world simply needs to see real people serving a real living God.  They need to see a church shining for Jesus.  Jesus is no longer in the grave so why do we as the Church act like He is?
Maybe I’m just too young to fit in the older generation, yet just too old to fit in with the next.  I believe the Church is about to break out of the molds of yesteryear like the earth has never seen.  I believe the earth is yearning and waiting for the sons and daughters of God to take their place (Romans 8:19).   I believe we as the body of Christ are facing a choice.  Will we unite as His bride and arise or will we continue to try to keep the walls of spiritual apartheid as a block from seeing God’s will be manifest? 
I do not pretend to have all the answers.  I am just one voice.  However, I know who does have all the answers.  Dear Church and world, may I reintroduce you to Jesus Christ.  He wasn’t fake.   He loves to laugh.  He is just as relevant now as He was 2000 years ago.  He was not a grumpy old man. Despite late nights on BBC’s interpretation, while he was on the earth He didn’t speak with a British accent.  He loves everyone, and He’s tired of people who claim to love Him taking His name in vain.  He wasn’t religious.  He had a relationship with His Daddy in Heaven and so can we.

Dear Church, Jesus isn’t dead!  Up from the grave He arose.  Let us start living like we believe that.  Let us be revived and shake the world for His glory.  Our lives here on this earth are so short, and our eternities are eternal.  Let us not forget why we are here.  May we rise up, and shine for Jesus.
God has awesome plans for your life.  Get excited!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

International Podcast

Hey all,

Super excited about this international podcast. 

It was a nice interview and hope it blesses y'all!

 www.TodaysLeadingWomen.com/anna-aquino

“Success is living a life you're destined to live." -Anna M. Aquino

Be super blessed.  God has awesome plans for your life.  Get excited!