Stronger

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Last night I had the opportunity to do something I haven’t done in many years: I played Capture the Flag (look it up, it’s a simple game). This involved a lot of running and chasing and running. And despite my hope of getting in “jail” and therefore having a time out, I guess I was a little too good at the game, because it wasn’t until about the last quarter that I actually got that break.

Today, my whole body aches. My abs, my thighs, my right heel pad, my hip flexers…I’m pretty sure the shoulders are due to a class at the gym, but they ache, too.

I’ve toyed with the idea of taking up running, but I’ve never actually done it. And based on the results of last night I am not sure I ever will.

But I will say this for myself – despite all the aches and pains today, I was able to walk for 90min with my dog and do a Combat cardio class at the gym this evening. This is a sign of progress for me. I used to think I any little hurt or discomfort as a reason not to get any exercise. The pain/discomfort I am feeling today is the kind that means you’ve worked hard, but not the kind that means you need to stop because you are doing damage to yourself. It could have been an excuse not to work hard today. I am glad that I didn’t allow it to be that. I am growing and learning in this fitness journey.

You know, I am learning a similar lesson in terms of the community of faith where I serve. Occasionally – and probably without intent – people say or do things that are hurtful to me. And it could be an excuse to pull back from that individual or from the community as a whole. Certainly, that is what I would have done in my first couple of years of ministry. But the longer I serve in this capacity, the more able I am to take a long hard look at those injuries and decide whether they are just ‘growing pains’ or something more serious that needs some attention in order to heal. More often than not, they are growing pains – things that will teach and help develop my ministry skills, but anything that should be used as an excuse.

I love knowing that God is working on me, God is making me stronger…both in body and in spirit.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
James 1:2-4 NIV

Recovered…ish.

A little over a week ago I was in Atlanta for Catalyst. It was an amazing time, and God had so much to say to me during the conference. But the reality is that for an introvert and a process-thinker like me, it takes a while to recover from an event like that. Not only was there a 16hr drive each way (I know, you think we’re crazy for driving, but man I love a good road trip!), there were also two intense days of leadership teaching from high energy speakers in the midst of a crowd of 13,000 people.

On the one hand, I love Catalyst and all it has brought into my life in the past two years. On the other hand, once it’s over I just need TIME to recover. That’s how God made me. And I am learning not to fight it, but to embrace it.

I still think the greatest thing Craig Groeschel has ever taught me is that sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is rest. So I have been allowing my brain and my body some rest in the past week. Of course, the world keeps turning, and I cannot hit a pause button on the the things happening in my life and the community of faith where I serve. Even still, I would say I am recovered from Catalyst and ready to begin writing about it.

As I sat in the last session of the conference, I made a list on my iPhone notes about blog ideas that came from all I experienced during the conference. So this is my way of telling all of you who take the time to read my blog (what a blessing you are to me!) to get ready to hear a whole lot about Catalyst and the great things I learned there. My hope is that God will use these lessons to touch your heart in beautiful ways.

And now, as I close the book on a long but wonderful day, my prayer is that you may find rest when you need it. That you may be released from the heavy burdens you carry and may truly believe what is said in the Psalms:

It is useless for you to work so hard
from early morning until late at night,
anxiously working for food to eat;
for God gives rest to his loved ones.
Palm 127:2 NLT