I recently finished Closer than Close: Awakening to the Freedom of Your Union with Christ by Dave Hickman and recommend it to anyone!
I’ve known Dave for more than 5 years through Charlotte/ONE and he is funny and real, so I was excited to hear about his new book. I started reading and laughed out loud at times, and felt challenged most of the time. He includes discussion questions, which you can obviously use as a discussion in small groups, or even just to think on for yourself. I find myself reading to find quotes that I love, I blame the Twitter/microwave mentality of today, but Hickman’s questions helped me keep focus on the bigger picture of each chapter.
Hickman shares how your presence in life, rather than your performance is pleasing to God. My favorite chapter was on spiritual disciplines. Hickman provides thoughts on doing nothing, praying simply, staying attentive and being led to abide in Christ. He says, “human logic says that you are loved because you are valuable…But God’s love is illogical…God’s love declares us valuable because we are loved.”
I finished the Charlotte [1/2] Marathon on November 14!
It was my 6th half-marathon, but it may have been the most challenging run for me. The first 6 miles came pretty easily to me, but the last 7 miles were difficult. I was incredibly thankful for our cheerleaders on the course at mile 6.5 with cowbells, signs and cheers, they kept my spirits up. Running uphill towards Levine Children’s Hospital was hard at mile 8, I seemed to hit the mental wall. I couldn’t get out of my head space, but I texted with a friend briefly and she encouraged me to kick butt. I started to trot again. I used an app where friends could record 30 second cheers for me, and by mile 9 I was doubting if the app worked, feeling sorry for myself. Then, at mile 10, I heard 6 cheers, back-to-back. I teared up as I heard fellow teammates and friends encouragement. Erin Santos, Isabella’s mommy, had recorded Ibby singing a song for me to hear. It gave me a push and mental shift that I needed.
As I was approaching the finish line, I saw so many of my teammates, yelling my name, and even the race director cheered me on (helps that I know him…) and as I crossed the finish, I was so excited and proud to do it for Isabella.
Afterward, I celebrated with a big brunch with friends.
Thank you! Thank you for every encouraging card, text, prayer and conversation. Thank you for every financial donation to The Isabella Santos Foundation. Thank you for the celebratory meals and cheerleaders along the course. I could not have finished the Charlotte Half Marathon without it. #isabellasdreamteam
While I don’t have another race on my calendar, I make no promises. We’ll see what 2017 has in store for me!
This weekend I had the opportunity to attend the Belong Tour, featuring Patsy Clairmont, Jen Hatmaker, Angela Davis, Sharon Irving, Shauna Niequist, and Nichole Nordeman.
Friday night started with a song medley and then each speaker shared some of her story. That night, I went home and felt content, but I read some comments on the event Facebook page and one person brought up some concerns about the conference and it made me realize how important the words you say, the expectations you set and the power of a positive mental attitude. The next day, I couldn’t brush off those concerns/negative thoughts of this other attendee, so I did not enjoy Saturday as much as I could have.
- light reveals truth, truth sets us free, so the longer we keep a secret in the dark, the more powerful a stronghold it is in our life, but Jesus sets us free.
- We can give power to God or to struggle, but not both.
- Do it afraid!
- When God has called you – that doesn’t mean it will be easy, there are no guarantees. Say yes and move.
Another early Saturday morning run. This time my alarm went off at 5:30am and I rolled over. Convinced that I could skip the group run and run on my own after I sleep….just a little longer.
About 1 minute later, I sat up. I needed this team, more than they may need me. I got out of bed and headed to Freedom Park. We gather around the parking lot donning our purple dream team shirts, water bottles and sleepy-eyed smiles. Someone asks for a marker, which may seem random, but we know what it is for. We’ve been putting our mark for the number of days since Isabella passed away — today is number 1508.
We take off on Little Sugar Creek Greenway and I was grinding out 5 miles. Looking into a see of purple overwhelming the path, I notice Levine Children’s Hospital, where Isabella spent many days and night for treatment. My heart breaks thinking of the children and families inside those walls right now going through chemotherapy, radiation, experimental procedures, fighting for their lives.
Some can’t. Others won’t. I will fight to end cancer. Will you?
This morning as I set out to run, I realize it was laundry day because all I had left was a black shirt to run in. Ugh. It is already sweltering hot and this black shirt will not help my case. Oh well. I put it on and head outside.
As I continue to train for the Novant Health Charlotte [1/2] Marathon, I wanted to share some of my running advice. Please note: I am not a trained professional, so follow at your own risk.
- Don’t wear black when running outside. Especially in the summer because it’s hot and especially at night since then no one can see you (be safe people).
- Schedule your runs. Write in your calendar, commit a time to do it the night before or else you may not get it done or make excuses.
- With that said, give yourself grace. Life happens and sometimes the run doesn’t make it. Don’t beat yourself up over it. Do get back on schedule as soon as possible though. Don’t let 1 day mess-up become 3 days of not doing what you need to.
- Strength Train/cross train. It is so important to work out your muscles differently than simply running over and over again.
- Stretch/do yoga. As a former dancer and gymnast, flexibility comes easily to me, but I have noticed how my hips are really tight as I run, so I try to do yoga once a week and always stretch after any work out.
- Rest. Give your body a break. You are working hard and you need to allow your body to recover.
- Watch what you eat. If you are new to training for a race, or new to running, I highly recommend keeping a food journal to help you figure out what bests fuels your body. I figured out that me and tomato pasta sauce don’t mix when running is part of the equation.
I’ve been selected as one of four bloggers for #isabellasdreamteam so I will be posting roughly once a month on the official Isabella Santos Foundation blog. Check out my first post here.
This week is the first week of official training for my half-marathon in November. In seasons past, I’ve been good about starting my base training a few months early, getting into the routine of running a couple times a week and building my strength. This year, however, was not the case. I ran once a week, sometimes twice in a week, but have generally been slacking. I have been struggling with loving my body. I am sure it hasn’t helped that I’ve been watching gymnastics Olympic Trials and seeing these incredible athletes with incredible muscles and dedication….I admire these athletes for their passion and dedication and drive to be the very best. I can only hope to have an ounce of that in my training.
I watched Shawn Johnson’s I Am Second testimony and it’s incredible.She shares about fear and failure with hope and honesty.
This morning as our team in purple started our first long run from Isabella’s memorial site – I felt a weight lift off my shoulders. We are a team of all races, genders, ages, body types, athletic backgrounds and none of that matters. How fast or slow you run doesn’t matter. Our purpose for running is so much more than just to get in shape, or an excuse to eat a lot.
It’s about the 43 children that will be diagnosed with cancer TODAY.
As we took off and our sea of purple streamed down the road, it was a powerful reminder to me that we are running for something bigger than myself. I am running as part of a community that is working to end childhood cancer.
Step up. Take part. Crush cancer with me at https://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/juliaesmith15/2016-isabellas-dream-team