The marathoner’s psalm

I was out doing a really tough run this morning, not tough because it was the longest run I’ve ever done (that was last week), but because of the warm, humid conditions. While I was running, I kept thinking of something my husband said to me this past weekend. He advised me in his ever-so-gentle-way to find ways to think more positively as I run.

He’s right. Negative thoughts don’t usually creep in during my training runs, although there are hard runs where I don’t feel especially happy afterward. But in tough races, for reasons I don’t understand, a negativity sets up shop in my mind.

Then the grumpiness pours out along with the sweat. And who gets the brunt of that ill temper? My husband. And I’m usually at my grumpiest right when he sweetly comes back from his finish to run back in with me and cheer me to a strong finish. Not at all what he deserves.

So this morning, I tried to use the especially soggy conditions to force myself to think of positives. I found myself grateful for many things along the run: the ability to run at all, the time to run, a shaded path and much more.

Then – because I had a long time still to run – I started thinking of Psalm 23 and ways that it applied to my life as a runner. I started adding new words, and the result became my prayer of gratitude for the morning, a psalm for marathoners that I hope you’ll enjoy reading, whether you run at all or consider yourself an unrepentant couch potato. Maybe it’ll encourage you to take a challenge or negative mindset you’re dealing with and turn it into a psalm of praise: Continue reading

A psalm to light dark days

Since Monday, I’ve had three friends tell me they’re battling the blues, despite the joy they’re *supposed* to feel during this holiday season.

This can be a tough season. Tomorrow is the shortest day of the year (and by that, I mean the number of hours of sunlight, though for those of you with Christmas errands left to run, it may feel like a day with fewer than our usual 24 hours, too). For many of us, the lack of sunlight creeps into our bones and seeps into our hearts and our minds, and the dark tries to set up shop for the winter. Christmas is also a difficult time for those who have lost a loved one or become estranged from a family member or a close friend. For those sitting next to a hospital bed, or otherwise waiting with an ill loved one, the merriment and twinkling lights of the season can seem empty and even annoying.

If you find yourself sitting in a dark place, might I offer you a psalm of light and hope? It’s a psalm a pastor friend of mine, Matt Ashburn, preached about a couple of weeks ago in a sermon titled “Needing Sonshine.” This psalm is not one you normally think of as a Christmas psalm. But I think it’s perfect for those struggling with the dark, perfect for looking toward the Light promised at Christmas.  Continue reading

The Christmas tree psalm

^
< * >
v
The
LORD is
my shepherd,
I shall not want.
He makes me lie down
in green pastures; He leads
me beside still waters. He restores
my soul; He guides me in the paths
of righteousness for His name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of
the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for
You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they
comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the
presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head
with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy
will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the
house
of the
LORD
forever.
Psalm 23

‘Tis the season to feel stressed out, to feel that Time cares little whether we have crossed off our to-do items for the day and definitely won’t slow down to let us catch up. We can’t tackle Time and make him give us more hours in each day. So instead, what if we focus on what we can change: our mindset.  Continue reading

Dancing on the inside

My husband I spent the weekend at MerleFest, an awesome music festival in the North Carolina foothills with a wide range of music: bluegrass, blues, rock, country, folk, gospel. My back has let me know that it’s not as young as it used to be, and toting around a backpack for four days and sitting on a blanket to listen to music isn’t as acceptable to it as it used to be. Though I still feel quite young, my back is telling me that I can’t sit in front of a computer long today. But I’m so excited about the music I got to hear over the weekend that I have to share it with you.

Music has so many different powers and can evoke such a wide range of emotions. Here are just a few of the ways that music moves me (emotionally and/or physically):  Continue reading

Standing still

I haven’t had much time lately to be still, which may be why I am really loving yoga lately. It’s a time to be still (more or less) and stretch and breathe deeply. As a runner, I’ve found yoga to be an indispensable way to keep my muscles flexible. As a Christian, I’ve found it to be a time that I can spend in prayer with God.

I took a yoga class a few years ago at my church, and the instructor (a Christian friend of mine) always closed our sessions with the first part of this verse:

“‘Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.'” – Psalm 46:10 (NIV)

I love the way she broke it down:  Continue reading