Chasing God's glory through all circumstances

prayer

Running for His glory: 4 ways a half marathon transformed my prayer life

Posted by | death, Guest blogger, prayer, running, Stories, Uncategorized | No Comments

This essay is part of our summer series called “Running for His glory,” focusing on the intersection between running and faith. Heather is a new friend I met through the Hopewriters online writing community. Heather shares how running has transformed her prayer life and gives some practical ideas on how we can incorporate prayer and scripture in our runs as well. 

 

By Heather Lobe

I laced up my sneakers and packed all of the essentials for my longest training run yet – 11 miles. Breathing in deep through my nose, I pushed off against the greenway path and steadied my pace. Mile by mile, I prayed for the individuals whose names were in my pocket on a 3×5 note card.

With the rhythm of my feet on the pavement, and the sound of the rushing water with the river next to me, I entered into a time of communion with God. The rest of my week was packed full and overflowing, loud and chaotic, but in those long runs it was just the Lord and me. This was a chance to clear my mind and embrace the beauty of the open sky above.

When my lungs or legs grew tired, I flipped my index card over to remind myself of that day’s meditation. For that run, I prayed through Isaiah 40:30-31:

“Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

I wasn’t always a runner. In fact, there are distinct memories burned into my mind of timed tests during physical education classes in school. We were supposed to run laps on the track, and I just remember feeling so bored from the repetition of the flat red track. I had trouble running a full lap without stopping, so I often just used my long legs to power-walk as fast as I could around the track. Whenever I passed the gym teacher, I worked my way up to a jog for as long as I could endure.

In 2014, I entered a season that opened up time and space for me to address some areas that I had been neglecting for years. As I took stock of my mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical health, I realized that I needed to do a better job of taking care of myself. I entered into a time of counseling, joined a support group, and decided to nourish my body with healthier eating and exercise.

In that period of finding myself again, I decided to become a runner.

When I first started out, I was discouraged that I couldn’t even finish a mile. I pushed too hard. I tried to run too fast. It was too much too soon.

I learned to embrace the process and just start small. Run 3 minutes, walk 2. Run 4 minutes, walk 1. Run 5… see if you can keep going. It took a month, but I finally was able to run a mile without stopping. It seems like such a small accomplishment, but it represented the beginning of a journey for me.

Eventually, I signed up for 5k races and regularly ran 3 miles at a time. In 2016, I signed up to run a half marathon in the mountainous college town where I work. During that training time, I decided to press in to the quiet. I started to pray as I ran. This opened up a completely new way of approaching those training runs and the long stretches of time dedicated to race preparation.

God revealed some amazing lessons about communicating with Him through my half marathon training:

Prayer is not a stagnant thing. I am missing out if I believe prayer requires me to kneel beside my bed or talk to God when I am in the pew at church. God invites us into regular conversation with Him and wants to be part of every ounce of our day. He invites us to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). We can pray while we drive, walk, parent our children, sit at our desks, cook dinner, or sit with hurting friends. We can offer up our requests and listen for His voice even in the busyness of our weekly routine or in the rhythm of a training run.

Scripture is a powerful prayer tool. Over the course of my training, I wrote various words from Scripture onto a 3×5 notecard that I could carry in my pocket. Some were verses that gave me strength or courage to keep pressing into my run, and others were calming truths I needed during that hard season. When I don’t have the words, I can use words that God gave us to return to Him as a plea, a meditation, or an offering.

We are called to pray for others. For most of my life, I think my prayers sounded more like, “Dear Heavenly Father, Gimme, gimme, gimme.” During my long runs, a friend suggested that I pray for a different person each mile. On the back of the notecard with my verse for the day, I also wrote a name next to each mile I was planning to run.

Something transformative happens in our hearts when we repeatedly pray for others in our lives. It takes our eyes off our own problems, and joins us as partners in prayer with others who also have needs. My notecard even contained a few names of people I really didn’t want to pray for who caused hurt or who I was having a hard time forgiving. I focused on asking God to bless those people and to soften my heart towards them. He was and is faithful in answering those prayers.

Take it one step at a time. Training to run a half marathon (13.1 miles) happens one step at a time. I cannot jump past all of the hard stuff in my life to get to the finish line. As I worked through sore muscles, shin splints, tired lungs, and adjustments to my protein and caloric intake, I grew in my capacity to listen to my body and learned how to move forward in my training – one run at a time.

That same season was filled with many questions about the future and how to move forward, but God taught me to trust Him to lead, one step at a time. I prayed for His wisdom to show me the next right thing, and He used my training to remind me to slow down my tendency to run ahead and just listen to Him.

 

Heather Lobe is a grateful believer in Jesus Christ who has seen firsthand how God redeems broken lives and heals our deepest wounds. Heather is a writer, speaker, and worship leader with a heart for others to know Jesus. Active in her local community and the Celebrate Recovery ministry, Heather’s heart is for women to know that they are known, loved, and healed in relationship with Christ. She delights in making gratitude lists, finding good local coffee, and running and hiking the mountains of Roanoke, Virginia where she lives with her husband and son. You can find more of Heather’s writing at www.heatherlobe.com, and she’d love to connect with you on Instagram.

*Are you a runner or enthusiastic walker? Dorina and her husband Shawn recently started the Glory Chasers running group on Facebook. They offer up courage, coaching, and community for Christian runners. If you’re a runner or know one, join us!

Read more articles in the “Running for His glory” series:

-In “When God brings you full circle,” Dorina describes how sometimes we have to return to particular places, relationships or memories in order to measure just how far we’ve come. She learned this on a trail race she ran a few times in different seasons of life.

-In “How running found me,” Danielle E. Morgan shares her story about how running found her as a young adult and has shaped her health, her mothering, and who she is in Christ today.

-In “Battling negative self-talk,” Kristy Wallace runs us through how she reframes her internal dialogue using scripture. She runs and meditates on specific passages throughout the week.

-In “How running provided healing during mental illness,” Abigail Alleman shares her personal story of how running provided an avenue for her to continue healing during dark seasons.

-In “Discovering running as soul care,” Erin Reibel talks about how she grew into loving running as a busy mama. She consider it an important soul care practice.

-In “How I started running for all the wrong reasons,” Gloryanna Boge shares about how she started out running for all the wrong reasons, but God redeemed it for her.

-In “Run the hill,” Mark W. Jackson unfolds how running hills has helped him learn perseverance through life’s trials.

-In “Finding God’s sanctuary on the trail,” Allison Tucker shares about how God meets her on the trail. I love that she is a grandma who still ventures out into God’s sanctuary in Creation!

-In “Learning to breathe at higher altitudes,” Dorina Gilmore talks about how God breathes life into us, and we live on borrowed breaths as we run life’s path today.

-In “How one mother trusts God’s timing,” Lindsey Zarob shares about how pregnancies took a toll on her body. She had to press the pause button on running for a season, but God brought it back around for her in a new place and new way.

-In “When you feel like running away,” Shannon Rattai writes about how running has become a kind of therapy for her where she can release her burdens and anxiety to God.

-In “How running taught me to stay,”  Jennie G. Scott writes about how running has helped her to stay the course God has set out for her in this life.

 

Main photo by William Farlow on Unsplash

Running for His glory: Discovering running as soul care

Posted by | community, Guest blogger, prayer, running, self-care, Stories, transitions | No Comments

This essay is part of our summer series called “Running for His glory,” focusing on the intersection between running and faith. I met Erin through an online writers community called Hope*writers. Her story talks about how she grew into loving running as a practice of soul care as a busy mama.

 

By Erin Reibel

I ran track for one year in 8th grade.  I was horrible – like came in lasted, hated every practice, went to the bathroom to avoid the drills, horrible.

After that, I avoided running like the plague.  I did other things; I played basketball. I swam on the swim team. I rode my bike, so it is not like I wasn’t active.  I just never really embraced running.

Picking up running seemed like the least likely option when I was trying to get in shape in my early 30’s after giving birth to my fourth and last child.  I wanted to lose those last few pounds of baby weight, and I needed a goal to work toward. I signed up for a 10k, downloaded a coaching app, and recruited a friend to train with me.

I think what initially drew me to running was that it was easy.  I could just lace up my shoes and head out the front down. No packing the kids in the car and driving to the gym. No swimsuit. I did not need to find teammates and coordinate another schedule, when I had the time I could just go.

But that still didn’t mean that I liked it.  As a matter of fact, I still hated every sweaty, out-of-breath moment of it.  It took running consistently for almost one year – that’s right one whole year – before I could identify the real benefits for me. And even then, I could only identify the benefits in the absence of running.

As a busy mom, I have a hard time slowing down.  When I sit down to pray, I find myself either creating my grocery lists or falling asleep.  Early in my prayer life, I was exposed to the idea of coloring your prayers. It is sort of like doodling while listening to a lecture. By having my hands busy, I was able to focus my mind on my prayers.  Running offers me a similar experience, except engaging my whole body.

Moving my legs and getting my heart rate up forces my entire body to work. This leaves less room for my mind to wander.  When I run, it takes about a mile for me to get over that inner dialogue that tells me “Everything is sore,” “I want to go back home,” and “Why do I do this to myself?”

Then something inside me switches. My mind turns away from those superficial concerns and dives into what I really need to speak with God about that day.  After about a mile of me talking, my mind finally releases all that it can. I fall silent, and I listen for God to speak to me.

And God speaks.

God answers my prayers. God gives me peace. God provides me with direction.  When I am stumped with a message or having problems negotiating a tricky personal situation, I find that I can feel God’s presence more tangibly while running.

Oftentimes, I will stop and voice message myself, the turning point in my next message, or send an email because I finally have the right words to say. or note who the Holy Spirit was prompting me to check on once I got back home.

For me, running is no longer just exercise for my body; it is an exercise for my soul.

Here are a few ways I incorporate the practice of prayerful running in my life:

  • At least once a week, I go on one 4-6 mile run with the focus of prayer.
  • When life is really overwhelming, I increase my running, working in two or three 4-6 mile runs that are focused on prayer (i.e., I am not listening to music or podcasts)
  • When I have trouble focusing, I will often say a favorite verse of scripture over and over again, to the pace of my run. This would be a type of contemplative running.
  • One of the busiest times of the year is the holiday season from Thanksgiving to New Year’s day. During that time, I go on a running streak (trying) to run at least 1 mile every day.  This makes sure that I am taking at least 10 minutes a day to take care of my soul and reconnect with God.

When my life is at its most stressful, when I have more things on my list than I can possibly accomplish, those are the days that I need to run even more.

Psalm 62:5 says, “Oh, I must find rest in God only, because my hope comes from him (CEB version)!”  Running fuels my body and provides my soul with the rest in God that it so desperately needs.

 

With almost two decades of experience, Erin Reibel has led children, youth, and adults to think about church and community engagement differently.  She received her Bachelor of Arts from the College of William and Mary in 2001, her Master of Divinity and Master of Christian Education from Union Presbyterian Seminary in 2009 and her Doctor of Ministry from Wesley Theological Seminary in 2018, where she focused on the challenges and opportunities women face in leadership. She is the founder of Hometable Community, a place where people can find instruction, encouragement, and accountability for their spiritual journey. Follow her on Instagram at @reibelreads and Twitter as @erinreibel.

 

*Read the other articles in the “Running for His glory” series:
-In “When God brings you full circle,” Dorina describes how sometimes we have to return to particular places, relationships or memories in order to measure just how far we’ve come. She learned this on a trail race she ran a few times in different seasons of life.

 

-In “How running found me,” Danielle E. Morgan shares her story about how running found her as a young adult and has shaped her health, her mothering, and who she is in Christ today.

 

-In “Battling negative self-talk,” Kristy Wallace runs us through how she reframes her internal dialogue using scripture. She runs and meditates on specific passages throughout the week.

 

-In “How running provided healing during mental illness,” Abigail Alleman shares her personal story of how running provided an avenue for her to continue healing during dark seasons.

 

*Dorina and her husband Shawn recently started the Glory Chasers running group on Facebook. They offer up courage, coaching, and community for Christian runners. If you’re a runner or know one, pass it on.

10 inspiring books I read in 2018

Posted by | book reviews, courage, fear, flourishing, grief, hope, identity, inspirational, parenting, passion, prayer, rest, sharing faith, Stories, struggle, transitions, wonder | No Comments

10 Inspiring Books I Read in 2018 - Books always usher me through new seasons, transitions and trials

Books have always been companions to me. When I was a little girl, I used to find a corner near the lamp in our living room on the red shag carpet and read for hours. My mom knew where to find me. I discovered myself in the pages of books. Books took me on grand adventures to imaginary places I couldn’t go in real life.

As I went off to college and became an English Literature major, my reading was out of necessity for my schoolwork. That said, I discovered dozens of books I loved that I never would have chosen for myself. (I also had to read several that did not speak specifically to me.)

When my daughters were babies, I found little time for reading adult books. It felt like a luxury to sit for 20 or 30 minutes and read something that wasn’t a board or picture book. More often, I digested quick blog posts and magazine articles that took less time to read.

In this season of life, with school-aged children, I have realized that I have to be intentional to carve out time for reading because it’s something I love. I have to keep my goals realistic, but I have to pursue reading like I would invite a friend to coffee.

These last few years, I’ve put together a stack of books I hope to read in a year. My grace-filled goal is to read at least one per month and then to choose my top 10 most meaningful books for the year.

This list includes non-fiction books that have ministered to me, inspired me, and shaped me in 2018. Of course, as a children’s book writer and mama, I’ve also read fiction and picture books, but I’ll save those for a different time and separate list. I hope these books will connect with your heart in this season and make for good companions.

  1. Wonderstruck by Margaret Feinberg

Subtitle: Awaken to the Nearness of God

Genre: Christian Living

Quotable: “God delights for us to cup our hands in prayer and scrunch our faces against the vault of heaven in holy expectation that he will meet us in beautiful, mysterious ways. The Creator desires to captivate us not just with his handiwork but with himself.”

My review: I started off the year by diving into Margaret Feinberg’s book. She invites readers to chase wonder through their everyday lives. She helps us to wake up to wonder in a variety of ways, including the wonder of God’s presence, creation, rest, prayer, restoration, friendship, forgiveness, gratitude and abundant life. She so beautifully articulates what I have been learning over the last several years. Each day – no matter how ordinary or extraordinary – is an opportunity to chase God’s glory.

For the full book review, click here.

  1. Breaking the Fear Cycle by Maria Furlough

Subtitle: How to Find Peace for Your Anxious Thoughts

Genre: Christian Living

Quotable: “Once we gaze upon our fears with honest indignation, we can see that, yes, God is bigger than even the worst thing we can imagine.”

My review: What I love about Maria’s book is that it is a mix of honest storytelling and Biblical truth. She lived through her worst fear and provides raw, beautiful tools to help the rest of us navigate our journeys with faith. She taught me how to find peace in trusting God.

For the full book review, click here.

 

  1. Rooted by Banning Liebscher

Subtitle: The Hidden Places Where God Develops You

Genre: Spiritual Growth

Quotable: “When we come through that valley of the shadow of death, when we emerge out of the deep end, then what? We have an awareness of God’s abiding presence that forever changes the way we see impossible situations… Our roots are firmly established in the revelation of a Father who never leaves us.”

My review: In Rooted, Banning takes us through the life of David to show how God expands our root system underground in order to later make an impact above ground. Banning illuminates the way God prepared David for the crown.  He develops an intimate relationship with God in private that fuels and guides his actions in public. Banning’s premise: before we can develop our vision for life and ministry, we must let God develop us.

For the full book review, click here.

  1. Grace Like Scarlett by Adriel Booker

Subtitle: Grieving With Hope After Miscarriage and Loss

Genre: Self-Help, Death & Grief

Quotable: “We had to resist the impulse to deflect our grief or fight our brokenness. We had to reject the compulsion to figure out how this could be rewritten into a success story. We had to enter in as is.”

My review: The book is a moving, personal narrative about how one family endured pregnancy loss and navigated grief. Adriel invites readers to wrestle, to wonder and discover redemption in the wild waves of grief with her.  Her passion is to walk alongside women who endure the “secret grief” of miscarriage. You know a book has touched your soul deeply when you simply can’t put it down.

For the full book review, click here.

 

  1. Holy Hustle by Crystal Stine

Subtitle: Embracing a Word-Hard, Rest-Well Life

Genre: Christian Living, Women’s Issues

Quotable: “We need to slow down, spend time in the Word, and be quiet enough to hear God’s voice so we are better equipped to do the work He’s calling us to do… God worked and called it good, and He rested and called it holy.”

My review: Crystal presents a challenging and refreshing examination of the roles of work and rest in our lives. Her central message is that we should “work without shame and rest without guilt” for the glory of God. I love the way Crystal holds both of these ideas in tandem. Crystal encourages women to pursue “holy hustle,” a word-hard, rest-well lifestyle that chases faith instead of fame.

For the full book review, click here.

 

  1. Whispers of Rest by Bonnie Gray

Subtitle: 40 Days of God’s love to Revitalize Your Soul

Genre: Christian Living, Devotionals

Quotable: “We often burn ourselves out trying to serve God, rather than taking care of ourselves – the way God would want, if He were here in person today. Somehow, we’ve learned we don’t deserve rest – until we’ve solved our problems or we’re no longer struggling. It’s the opposite.”

My review: Whispers of Rest helped call me back to intentional rest during this season – a rest that starts in the arms of my loving Father basking in His truth. The book includes some unique elements. In addition to the scripture, devotional, prayer and reflection questions, Bonnie includes a section called Soul Care Trail Notes. This is one of my favorite parts of the book. She includes practical tips and interesting studies to reduce stress and give yourself creative outlets from the everyday busy.

For the full book review, click here.

 

  1. A Grace Disguised by Jerry Sittser

Subtitle: How the Soul Grows Through Loss

Genre: Christian Living, Death & Grief

Quotable: “We do not always have the freedom to choose the roles we must play in this life, but we can choose how we are going to play the roles we have been given.”

My review: This book is a moving meditation on the losses we all suffer and the grace that can transform us. This is not just a book about one man’s sorrow. Jerry bravely and poignantly leads readers into a conversation about what we can learn from suffering. The premise of the book is that it’s not the circumstances that are important, but it’s more important what we do with those circumstances.

For the full book review, click here.

 

  1. Unexpected by Christine Caine

Subtitle: Leave Fear Behind, Move Forward in Faith, Embrace the Adventure

Genre: Christian Living, Personal Growth

Quotable: “Holding to our faith–even in the face of deep disappointments–is critical.. Making God’s promises bigger than our disappointments is essential.

My review: Christine Caine’s new book reaches out to people in all seasons of life who are faced with the unexpected like I was. Through compelling stories and practical strategies, this book helps readers anticipate the unexpected and to live with true joy trusting God in all things.

For the full book review, click here.

  1. It’s All Under Control by Jennifer Dukes Lee

Subtitle: A Journey of Letting Go, Hanging On, and Finding Peace You Almost Forgot was Possible

Genre: Christian Living, Women’s Issues

Quotable: “We ask for a map, but instead Jesus gives us a compass and says, ‘Follow me.’”

My review: Jennifer Dukes Lee drew me in with her on-point storytelling and her tell-it-to-you-straight girl humor. I felt like she was mentoring me about how let go of this need for control and how to embrace true peace in trusting God with all the details of my everyday life.

For the full book review, click here.

 

  1. Rhythms of Rest by Shelly Miller

Subtitle: Finding the Spirit of Sabbath in a Busy World

Genre: Spiritual Growth, Ritual

Quotable: “Preparation in rest precedes the miracle. When we run errands early in the week, clean up the house, prepare food for the weekend, these are acts of love at the root. Preparing for Sabbath communicates to Jesus, ‘You matter most. I want to spend time with you.’”

My review: Shelly offers up this book as a gift for the weary soul who longs for rest but doesn’t know how to make it reality. This isn’t about following certain rules or being religious. This is about making space for God. I love the way Shelly uses her own struggles and grappling with the concept of rest to gracefully invite her readers into this conversation about Sabbath in a busy world. She models for us how to create Sabbath in personal and practical ways.

For the full book review, click here.

 

BONUS: I love devotionals and here’s fave from 2018:

Gracelaced by Ruth Chou Simons

Subtitle: Discovering Timeless Truths Through Seasons of the Heart

Genre: Devotional, Christian Living

Quotable: “Just because God does not remove the thorn doesn’t’ mean He’s not using it for our good and for His glory.”

My review: Ruth Chou Simons encourages readers in any circumstance to become deeply rooted in God’s faithful promises. She uses hand-painted scriptures coupled with honest and inspiring devotionals to point women to God’s Word. I love how Ruth takes us on a journey through the seasons to rest, rehearse, respond and remember His provision in our lives. This devotional also offers space to journal and passages for further study on each theme.

Join me for a fun giveaway this week! For anyone who signs up for my Glory Chasers tribe before January 28, 2019, you will have a chance to win a gorgeous leather (in)courage devotional Bible. Simply subscribe for my weekly Glorygram here, and you will be entered! Please feel free to share this post with friends too! You can also join the FREE Women of Courage Bible study starting February 1.

 

 

*Disclaimer: DorinaGilmore.com uses affiliate links for things Dorina has bought and/or used personally. If you click through her referral link, at no additional cost to you, she earns a commission if you make a purchase. Thank you for supporting the blog in this way!

If God wills: How to pray when healing doesn’t come

Posted by | brave, community, compassion, death, grief, hope, prayer, Stories, struggle | No Comments

On the day my husband received a stage four cancer diagnosis, a group of our closest friends and family gathered at our house to pray. They all crowded in our bedroom and circled around my husband, our three daughters, and me. On one of the scariest days of my life, I was strengthened by the fervent prayers of those in our community.

We cried out to God together for his healing. I knelt on the carpeted floor and with hot tears spilled my worst fears to God in the presence of my friends and family. That time of corporate prayer was powerful and important for all our hearts.

But after my husband’s death in 2014, I wrestled with God. Hundreds of people across the globe had prayed for months for my husband’s healing, and it hadn’t come.

Why continue to pray when our prayers weren’t answered?

As a new widow, I struggled to know how to pray and how to proceed. My faith was strong, but my heart felt fragile. My prayers escaped as desperate whispers on the darkest nights of grief.

But God was patient with me. If He could handle the bold prayers of Paul, the emotional prayers of David, and the heart cries of Job, then He could handle my doubting, imperfect, raw prayers.

Over time, I was reminded that just because we pray doesn’t mean we get our way. We don’t put in a certain amount of time on the prayer time clock to gain a certain outcome. In fact, the purpose of prayer is not to persuade God to do things our way; it’s to draw close to the Heavenly Father and sit in His presence.

Jesus models this for us when He prayed at the Mount of Olives before His betrayal.

And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed,
saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me.
Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”
Luke 22:41-42 (ESV)

In this honest prayer, Jesus shows us how to express our hearts to God and how to pray with trust for His will to be done. In the verses that follow, an angel appears to Jesus. He is strengthened by the angel even in His deep anguish.

My heart shifted over time as I realized the purpose of prayer is to connect more intimately with the Father and trust His sovereignty. In my grief, He was close to me. He wept with me. He offered comfort when the ache was heavy and the future seemed hopeless. Now I embrace the sweetness of knowing I can surrender the outcome of every single prayer to a capable and all-knowing God.

I still believe God answers prayers. I believe miracle healings are possible, but I pray differently now. I pray boldly that “if God wills” He would heal my friend, my child, and my neighbor. I preach hope to the wife whose husband battles cancer, to the friend who wonders if his marriage will ever be repaired, to the mother who struggles with her rebellious child. I’ve been in the trenches praying with my people, and I’ve seen God answer prayers quickly, slowly, and in the most unexpected ways.

I also pray that God will give courage, grace, and strength to those who are suffering and enduring pain. My prayers are no longer based on fear and disappointment because He has proved Himself faithful time and again.

Four years after my husband’s death, I am grateful. I am not grateful for his death or our suffering, but I am grateful for the ways God has transformed our grief for His glory. I am grateful God did not reveal the outcomes to me all at once but instead guided me step by step, day by day, prayer by prayer, back into His arms.

{The original version of this post was published at www.incourage.me. Please leave a comment about your own experiences with prayer. I love hearing from readers!}

{Featured photo by Avi Richards on Unsplash}