Such was the pitiful-poor progression a few years ago from running a race that, for me, was easily two miles too long. How we get ourselves into these things is beyond me. In this scenario, I s’pose peer pressure prevailed.
My husband and our oldest son, John Jr., had committed to training and running the Mini-Marathon here in Louisville. Just like the Kentucky Derby we talked about last week (see “What-Oh-What Do We Wear?”…) is the first leg of the Triple Crown of horse racing, followed by the Preakness and the Belmont, the Mini-Marathon now follows the Triple Crown of Races. It’s preceded by the Anthem 5K Fitness Classic, The Rodes City Run and the Papa John’s 10 Miler. (For you runners out there, visit www.louisvilletriplecrown.com )
No way would I commit to the Mini, however I did say “yes” to the first two races. This was before the Anthem race was offered. Comfy with a 5K distance (about three miles), friends assured me a 10K (The City Run) would be a cake walk. Training would be recommended, however, to complete the then nine mile race.
Procrastinator extraordinaire, I stuck with low mileage. The City Run was not a cake walk, but we finished. Only three weeks apart, we had to hustle to increase our mileage for the next race. Others said, “Oh, the adrenaline you’ll get during the race will compensate for your lack of training.” Hmph.
Well into the race and totally exhausted, with John Jr. way ahead of us, John and I kept on trekking. Passing the six mile mark, the seventh mile came very slowly. I was cooked. I was more than ready to walk and/or quit.
Suddenly….out of the corner of my eye, a tall guy wearing a Rambo-like bandana around his head was rapidly approaching. Amazingly, he knew John and they began to talk. (Who in the world has that much oxygen?)
All I remember was this guy said he was having so much fun. And with that, he sped on as if he were a gazelle, parting the red sea of runners, with ease and confidence.
THAT was THE turning point. I thought to myself, “If Jolly-Ole’-Rambo can do it, WE can do it.” By now we were at the eighth mile marker and Churchill Downs was within sight. John, who was having no problems, patiently stuck with me. We finished, running thru’ a tunnel with music blaring and people cheering. I admit, it was a total rush. The finish line never looked so good.
The next day our family left for vacation. I could hardly lift my legs to get into the car I was so sore. “Just take one more step…” our boys cheered. Therein lies our theme for this week.
I’m told, “you need a goal.” Champion runners begin with the end in mind. Champions take just one more step.
Please look with me at Hebrews 12:1-2. I’ve highlighted phrases to help us be Champions. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus…” (NIV)
In The Message, Eugene Peterson calls this same passage “Discipline in a Long-Distance Race” Here are my favorite “take home lessons” for us from verses 1-2: “…Never quit! Keep your eyes on Jesus. Study how he did it. He never lost sight of where he was headed—When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!” Now THERE’S the adrenaline we all need!
For the past two weeks we’ve talked about Warrior Chicks from Holly Wagner’s book, God Chicks—Living Life as a 21st Century Woman. This week we’ll learn about being a Champion Chick. Again, Holly is not using “chick” to be disrespectful, she’s just trying to get us to lighten up a bit. If you’ve missed our other fun chicks, here are the links: Just-B-U, Princess, Warrior…
Champion Chicks have three distinctive strengths:
1 – Spiritual
2 – Mental
3 – Physical
Let’s get #3, the physical strength, over with first…By now you’ve probably realized I’m not a mega fan of exercise. Au contraire. While I do walk Gracie, our pup, it’s purely because this phrase haunts me: “A bored puppy is a bad puppy.” With the best of intentions, I believe we all know we are supposed to take care of ourselves.
Another excellent motivator comes from Ken Davis’ new book, Fully Alive. (To see a review of it, click here) Like many of us who will become grandparents (Lord willing!) or who already are, we realize we need to physically be able to pick up the babies, walk with ‘em, play with ‘em, get down on the floor with ‘em. We won’t do that with ease if we don’t take care of ourselves. Sigh…
1 Corinthians 6: 18-20 reminds us, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.(NIV)
The Message adds to that thought:“… your body is a sacred place, … God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body.” I need to read that over and over and over and over….
Let’s talk about #2, Mental Strength. Holly Wagner says a Champion chick must also be “mentally strong. She manages her reactions to stressful situations. Instead of reacting, she responds appropriately.”
Holly suggests, “We must manage our emotions rather than let them manage us.” Oh boy, this isn’t getting any easier, is it?!!! Champion chicks go the distance…they just take one more step.
Learning, growing and being mentored are all ways to becoming a Champion Chick. I loved it when one of my mentors told me she was looking for FAT friends. (Hang with me a minute!). NOT “fat” as in overweight, but “FAT” as in being Faithful, Available and Teachable types.
Finally, let’s tackle #1 – Being Spiritually STRONG…This makes me think of our verses above from Hebrews 12…Finishing the race. Finishing strong.
Please allow me to introduce you to my friend Frieda McGee. Frieda just celebrated her 90th birthday! She and her husband, Cecil, have been married for sixty-four years. They are blessed with three children and a quiver full of grandchildren. They are two of the most spiritually strong people I’ve ever met.
Photo above is from the Southeast Outlook online edition.
They’re also multi-talented. They sing beautifully. Frieda plays the piano. She and Cecil go to nursing homes, toting a keyboard, and they sing for residents. They always sing songs with the theme of salvation. They talk about our Heavenly Home and try to reassure the residents of their salvation. They evangelize effortlessly wherever they go!
Our mutual friend Sherry Leavell shared with me she was able to get Frieda to come and speak to her Bible study ladies recently. Sherry said, “I’ve never met anyone so ‘others-focused’.” Frieda said she wishes she’d memorized more Scripture. Her current favorite is Psalm 103. Do you get what she’s saying? She is still memorizing Scripture at age 90!
Another friend, Christina Davis, who moved to Colorado, asked Frieda if she’d take over her group of young Moms she’d been mentoring in Louisville. Frieda agreed to do so and immediately began having these gals in her home. Like a Homemakers Club, Frieda would serve the girls demonstrating her gift of hospitality. She often would have speakers come and share how they’re doing life. Sherry, Gina Russell, and I were blessed to be part of Frieda’s gatherings.
At our Book Club a while ago, we were able to have Frieda come and share, along with a panel of women of all ages, what it looks like to “grow old in the Lord.” The book we discussed, Come Walk With Me–A Woman’s Personal Guide to Knowing God and Mentoring Others, by Carole Mayhall paralleled these girls’ advice.
Frieda is always studying God’s Word. She is always sharing God’s Word. She has the most positive attitude of anyone on the planet. She doles out grace. She serves the Lord with gladness in a myriad of ways. She and Cecil are finishing well.
Years ago John and I took a Wednesday night class at church based on a book by Bob Buford called Half Time. At the time we were in our forties and we were wondering what the next half of our lives would look like. There, on the front row, sat Cecil and Frieda McGee! Talk about Faithful, Available and Teachable! What a perfect example of taking just one more step.
The three strengths of Champion Chicks, Physical, Mental, and Spiritual add up to one thing: “Champion Chicks MUST persevere.” Here’s the kicker for you and me: “There is a generation coming up behind us that needs us to finish our part of this race.” Holly recommends we envision ourselves in a relay race. (Oh dear, more running!)
In relays, the baton exchange is key. The two groups Holly wants us to fix our eyes on are: ”the people we are handing off to and the people we are receiving from. What I learn, I should be continually passing to a younger woman. And my hand should be extended to an older one ready to receive the baton she puts in my hand. THE FOCUS IS ON TAKING THE TORCH FARTHER.” Just take one more step.
I pray we all may strengthen ourselves, this very week, physically, mentally, and spiritually to become the Champion Chicks God created in us. Let’s just take one more step. To God be the Glory.
Go the distance! May God bless you abundantly.
‘Til next time!
(This post is dedicated to two Champion Chicks: My dear sister-in-law, Marte Hoagland, who trained and persevered to run/walk the Mini Marathon this year AND FINISHED!!! And, to Sweet Frieda McGee. Thank you, Frieda, for your countless hours of faithful perseverance, trust and faith. You have blessed thousands of us and continue to do so wherever you light. You ALL are finishing well!!!)