"Running the Race"

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So, run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly. I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified."

I love this scripture so much because it encompasses all that I have become as I have strengthened my walk with Christ. There was a time when I could not even walk a mile. It amazes me how much my thinking has changed since I've quit allowing myself alone to choose my path, and instead allow God's will to be done. I ran my first race in December 2013 and I was pregnant with my first son, Tucker at the time. It was called the "Bah Humbug 5k." Here's my very first race T-shirt...

I can remember being so nervous to run alongside "actual runners." At that time, I really didn't consider myself a runner. I mean, I ran 2-3 miles 4 days a week each week, but I did it with God alone. I can remember putting on my first race bib and thinking to myself how far I had come in my journey. Once I crossed the finish line, I had a flood of emotions as I was being cheered on by so many people I had never even met.

I could feel the love in the air. It was a feeling like no other and I knew from that point on, I was "hooked." I became a bonafide "runner" that day. I had tossed around the idea of running a half marathon before I had gotten pregnant, but had no concrete plans on actually following through. After I had Tucker, I started working at Mother's Day Out at my church where each class required two teachers. God placed me in a classroom with the exact person I needed in my life to give me continued hope and encouragement. Her name is Louisa. She has become so much of a positive Christian influence in my life and a motivator to run not only a half marathon, but a FULL MARATHON.

Here's a few pics of some races and runs I've done

So back to Louisa. Her and her husband had ran several full marathons together and at the time she was training to run her first Ultra Marathon of 31 miles. I was so intrigued to learn more about how to train for these long runs. Shortly after we met, I started training for my first half marathon and when I got ready, her and her husband ran it with me. Once I ran the half marathon, I felt nothing else holding me back. It was time to take on the big kahuna.

In July of 2016, I began training for a full marathon. I remember first looking at the training schedule and seeing numbers like 14, 17, and even 20 miles. I just took a huge gulp and thought to myself, "it will be a challenge, but you can do it." I began my fitness journey and my running with God alone. I wasn't part of a running group, nor did I have a group of people I trained with, I did this all on my own with God as my strength.

Three months into my training, each Friday night, I had to prepare myself for a run of 15 miles or longer. I think 14 miles didn't scare me so much because I had just ran 13.1 so I wasn't that intimidated. Once I seen 15 miles and up, my mind began playing tricks on me. I began to doubt myself. The Devil would flood my mind with all these negative thoughts. "You cant do it. Your'e going to get bored. Your battery on your phone is going to die. A bobcat is going to attack you out there by yourself."

I live in the country and all the roads are quite desolate, especially at 5am. I remember one day being so scared I was going to be attacked by an animal, but I just ran anyway. I knew my God would not fail me and I knew he intended on me running the race I had set forth to run. Somewhere during my training, God interrupted the devil's negative thoughts, and replaced them with a joy and a peace. I started looking forward to those longer runs where I would be alone with God and have the open road all to myself. I had a fancy head lamp and sported this cute reflecting vest during those early morning runs.

I became one with God, with nature, with the road, with everything. I was able to silence all the chaos and just run. I would thank God for allowing me to run. I would thank him for healing my body. I would thank him for giving me the desire to push myself so I could potentially inspire others.

I prepared myself mentally and physically to run this marathon. On November 13, 2016, I ran my first full marathon, The Cottonland Marathon sponsored by Dirty South Running. During the first half I had two awesome ladies running by my side, Katrina and Kari, and I must say, I utterly enjoyed their company. When they left me around mile 12, I quickly had to shift to autopilot. I had to get in the zone and hang in there to the finish. The hardest miles were miles 15-20.

I knew once I got to mile 20, the rest was downhill from there, and I would only have roughly another hour to run. I thought I would never see that sign marking mile 20. I kept reminding myself of the sacrifice God made for us. I thought of the sacrifice our Lord Jesus Christ made for us on that cross. I could picture Jesus holding my hand and coaching me along the way.

I could hear him telling me to keep going. He motivated me by reminding me of all the people I would inspire had they known my story and all the struggles I had overcome. I knew I had to finish. I knew I had to give it all I had. I ran this race with purpose. I ran this race, my first marathon and FINISHED!!! Shortly after I finished, I went home without seeing how I had placed. After I got out of the shower, I got on my Facebook page to see a friend had posted, "FIRST PLACE BABY!!!!"

I got first place in my age division in my first marathon. I gave all the glory to God. I couldn't have done any of this without God's grace. I couldn't have fought as hard as I did, had I not had to face defeat in my past. I learned what it felt like to truly overcome what once held me down. I am so thankful God allowed me the chance learn and to grow spiritually and physically.

My Hope now is to help someone else overcome something they too may be struggling with. I want to prove to people that they too can overcome the adversities that will come their way. I want to encourage someone to run the race. And to not only run that race, but also to run it in order to win a prize.

Dear God, thank you for giving me an able body. I pray that you stir up in me the desire to run the race. Help me to be obedient to you and to run with a purpose. Give me the endurance and motivation to have self-discipline. Lord, I want to win the prize and to give you all the glory. In Jesus' name, Amen.

You can find this devotion and many others in my devotional cookbook, "The Recipe to Faithful Fitness." My prayer is that my story and my book reaches many and blesses many lives. I pray I can encourage and inspire people all around the world with my story of what God has done for me. Nothing is too big for our God. I want to encourage you to believe in yourself. Seek God to be your strength and ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.

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