When Your Finish Line Moves

I cry for the city I love.  When we moved from the southern part of the US to Boston, over 25 years ago, I quickly felt I’d found the place I was meant to live.  There is no place I know with more charm, four season beauty, gutsiness, and sports enthusiasm. Truly, God has set my boundaries in pleasant places.  (Psalm 16:6)

Though tragedy struck here yesterday, inspiration abounds.  I’m inspired by those who ran the marathon, I’m inspired by those who supported the runners and I’m inspired by those who ran to help.

One particular younger friend of mine inspired me, who when her finish line was moved…just kept running. 150430_671996925760_1611996319_s

I’m reminded how we painstakingly prepare for the course of life we know.  We study, train, and try to equip ourselves to be successful.  However, as the scriptures state:

In his heart a man plans his course,

        but the Lord determines his steps. Proverbs 16:9

    Many are the plans in a man’s heart,

        but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21


    This is what the Lord says–

        your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:

    “I am the Lord your God,

        who teaches you what is best for you,

        who directs you in the way you should go.  Isaiah 48:17


Rachel planned for this marathon all year long.  Yet, because of someone’s senseless act of terrorism she was not able to cross the finish line for which she was headed.

What do you do, when in the middle of your race, everything changes and you don’t know where you are going?

Well, Rachel kept on running.  Some of her friends ran beside her, and her husband, along with some friends marked out a new course….complete with a finish line and tape.

I realize how often life doesn’t go quite as we plan.  Circumstances of life change, things around us and things within us change.  As Solomon states:

    I have seen something else under the sun:

     The race is not to the swift

        or the battle to the strong,

    nor does food come to the wise

        or wealth to the brilliant

        or favor to the learned;

    but time and chance happen to them all.  Ecc. 9:11


However, for a disciple of Jesus we have something (someone) to hold on to and someone who has gone ahead and marked our course.  It may be a different course than what we have planned.  In fact, it likely will be.  There is a course marked out for you and me… those who have gone before will help cheer us through to the finish line.

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. Hebrews 12:1

Thanks Rachel, for not being bummed out when your finish line changed.  I’m so grateful, as I  run the course marked out for me, that I’m surrounded by my spriritual family that cheers me on, and runs along beside me. It makes a difference.

I remember fondly, though with tears, standing by my Dad’s side as he crossed the final finish line.  Knowing he had lived his life wholeheartedly following his Lord, and loving His Word….when he breathed his last my sisters and I were able to exclaim, “You did it Dad.  You made it!!”


However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me–the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace. Acts 20:24

For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. [7] I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. [8] Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day–and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. 2 Timothy 4:6-8






Enjoy Every Moment – For real!???

My daughter and I were recently attending a baby shower together.  As often happens during the opening of gifts – advice was given to the mother-to-be. Often, it seems that advice is given to “enjoy every moment.”  My daughter and another friend of hers were quietly chuckling and saying…so are we bad moms…because we don’t enjoy every moment?  I could relate and reassured them that they were great moms…but were just keeping it real.  The truth is – I love being a mom of four and now a grandmother to 6 (almost 7) and thank God daily for these most amazing blessings in my life. I deeply love my children and grandchildren.  However, every moment was/is not “enjoyable” and smile producing. And that’s ok. All moments are certainly not “Kodak moments.” (Don’t be fooled – It often takes about 200 photo shots just to to get one with mostly everyone smiling – even when the photo subjects are adorable.)  IMG_8170

Honestly, who really enjoys staying awake at night while vomit spews in your face and you clean diarrhea off the carpet while you are achey and have fever?   Do you really thrill at the sound of whining, or leap for joy at the flailing and arching of the back out in public when your offspring chooses to have his/her first temper tantrum?   Does it warm your heart to discipline and train your child again and again, answer a gazillion questions, wipe crayon off the walls, play Candy Land or help your child do math word problems? Do you really love back to school nights, or being a passenger in the car with your teen who is acquiring driving hours in order to get their license? You get the picture…  While I wouldn’t trade parenting for anything…it’s not always filled with fun, enjoyable stuff. Sometimes it’s really hard and it  always takes lots of perseverance and prayer.

I remember well the day my firstborn came into the world (over 35 years ago..yikes.)  Moms weren’t yet allowed to have their newborns in the hospital rooms with them, so I spent almost every waking moment staring at my daughter through the glass in the nursery.  I was thrilled to bring her home.  For several weeks I looked forward to her waking every few hours in the middle of the night….just to be able to gaze into her eyes and see her adorable  little features.  Then…tiredness took over and I didn’t long for the the middle of the night feedings any more.  I wondered if I would ever sleep again.  (I’m still tired 35 years later.)  I didn’t want to get up…but I kept getting up because that’s what love does.  Fortunately for all of us, love doesn’t depend on pure enjoyment of the tasks at hand.

We can get all mixed up in our thinking if we think we must enjoy every moment.  There are so, so many memories that make me smile and feel all warm and gushy inside.  And there are others that were just plain hard.  Love goes through both of these feelings resolutely and without favoring one over the other.  It’s just part of love.

Too often, I think we try to romanticize our relationship with God as well….thinking it is something that should always make us feel like we are floating above the horizon…filled with unspeakable joy and a song in our heart.  While nothing makes me more joyful,  fulfilled and puts a song in my heart like my relationship with God…I don’t always feel the warm and fuzzy part of following Jesus.  Often it is hard work and determination.  Following Jesus takes me to and through hard places.  At times I feel like the little lamb scooped close to his heart and at other times I can feel like I am a passenger on his airplane that is flying through turbulence –  white knuckled with my seatbelt fastened tightly eager to get through to the smoother air.  Still other times I feel spent…and yet I wouldn’t have it any other way.

John 16:33
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

 1 John 3:16-18

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. [17] If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? [18] Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.

Love is a decision that supersedes circumstances.  Love involves continual self denial.  Is your love for God and others just as strong when things are difficult as when they are enjoyable?  I think that is when love most shows itself and is really felt the most….through the hard stuff.  While you may not enjoy every moment, you can always have the peace producing confidence that love surpasses everything else.

1 Cor. 13:13
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Crashing Through the Quitting Places

Often, I take the back roads near my house in order to access the main highway.  Though this path is quite curvy to navigate, the scenery is striking.  My favorite corner along this route houses a pasture where a large horse can often be seen grazing.  Two miniature horses are usually accompanying him.  These beautiful animals always bring a smile to my face.  I go a little further and approach what the townspeople  here call “death bridge”.  It is a narrow, rickety one-way bridge that spans over the railroad tracks below.

As I prepare to cross the bridge my eyes always come to rest on a landmark that has become an eyesore to me, and likely to all who pass by.   Several years ago a garden center occupied several acres in this location.  It was sold to a developer who planned to build an active retirement community.  The developer displayed his plans, and made a start….but never finished.  Years later this project consists of a few unfinished cement walls covered with graffiti and weeds.

For some reason, the builder did not finish what was started.  I don’t know what obstacles stood in the way.  Perhaps he could not get the financing or he ran into various permit restrictions.  Maybe he just changed his mind.  Whatever happened, this collection of cement, graffiti and weeds is now only a monument to what “could have been”.  I  am always reminded of the scripture on the cost of following Jesus described in Luke 14:28-30

“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? [29] For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, [30] saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’

I want my life to always reflect Jesus, instead of becoming an unfinished monument to “almost, woulda, shoulda”.

Often, we are tempted to quit before we reach breakthroughs that bring about victory or completion.  Perseverance is hard.  We don’t even ‘experience’ perseverance until we want to quit.

When are you tempted to quit?  Perhaps it is when trying overcome a character weakness or sin; or perhaps it is beginning a new, good habit.  Maybe you know you need to find God and yet find excuses that keep you from following through.  You may need to resolve a relationship that seems too hard or begin one that seems overwhelming.   Do you have a dream you want to pursue…but think of a thousand reasons why it won’t work?

Through the years I have come to trust that God is capable of empowering me to do whatever He asks of me.  Yet, there are times I tire of pushing through difficulties, or welcoming new areas where I  can grow spiritually.  Sometimes I  get weary of simple mundane tasks like dishes, laundry and flossing my teeth.  Then I think of scriptures such as Hebrews 10:35-39

So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. [36] You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. [37] For in just a very little while,

“He who is coming will come and will not delay.

[38] But my righteous one will live by faith.

And if he shrinks back,

I will not be pleased with him.”

[39] But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.

These words help me to crash through the quitting places in my life. And I still hope that one day, as I pass by the concrete slab on the way to the highway…the weeds will be gone and the foundation that was started will be a vibrant and active community, another garden center, or even a pasture where a few more horses can feed. It’s not too late.