Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Redesigning My Journey: The New Christ Walk homepage

Teams!  Friends!  Colleagues!  Followers!  Family!

Check out the hot new "Christ Walk" blog page.  We've completely redesigned the look and feel of Christ Walk and each day we will work to make it more user friendly for you and your churches.

Drop me a note and let me know what you think of the look and feel of the page!  Is there something special you or your church would like to see on the page?  Just let me know so that I can make these improvements work for you.  Drop me a note at christwalk@courie.com.

In other exciting news, "Christ Walk" has been picked up for professional publication with Church Publishing Incorporated.  I am thrilled that I have an editor to polish the rough diamond of "Christ Walk" and a company that will help me reach more churches in my mission to build Fit Christians: body, mind and soul. The second edition of "Christ Walk" will become available December 2014/January 2015 if the timeline goes well!  I am thrilled about this new journey and partnership and I cannot wait to show you the completely redesigned look of the "Christ Walk Program!"

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Are you Ready? #EasterIsComing

I did not plan it this way, but as I went out for the longest run of my running career today on Holy Saturday, I was struck by the appropriateness of the Journey and the day. 

Jesus is hard at work saving souls today. He is gathering around those that have died, but want a place in heaven. Those that were in hell have an opportunity for redemption and life everlasting. Historically,  more people are being baptized this weekend, because they too, want to be a part of this holy communion.  People are realizing, this is THE wedding feast and they are wondering if they will be invited. Jesus has torn down the temple. Rendered the garment that separates the rabbis from the people. The holy places of God are now available to all and not a select few. Tomorrow, the temple will be rebuilt and Jesus will rise again with the promise of life everlasting. People are starting to realize that,  "this #%^* just got real."  I imagine they are worried, anxious, hopeful, scared, and awestruck by the unfolding events. 

As I stepped out this morning, with my thoughts on Easter, I can relate. As I headed out for my 14 mile run this morning, the longest of my life, the questions that faced me in preparation for the run, are the same as the questions that face me as Easter looms:

Am I ready?
Am I prepared?
Am I dressed right?
Do I have the right food?
Will I need more water?
Am I ready for the journey?
Will anyone see me if I fall?
Will Jesus raise Me up if I fail?
Will I get an invitation to the feast at the end of this journey?

The only thing I could do was go. You don't know if you are ready until you try. I've done everything I could at this point.  I have trained,  I have studied. I have prepared myself mind, body and spirit.  I try to follow the plan. I make allowances for life, but I believe in this path I have chosen. I do the best job on my journey that I can do. My heart is in the right place. 

The running journey and salvation journey are similar:

Some days the route is harder than others. 
Some days the route is longer than others. 
There will be days that the uphill never seems to end. 
There will be days were the downhill slope feels awesome. 
There will be joy. 
There will be tears. 
There will be pain. 
There will be blood shed. 
There will be exhaustion. 
And there will be fist pumps and dances of joy. 
There will be exhilaration. 
And some days there will be defeat. 
Some things will be torn down, before they can be built up. 
Some things you have to wait for, and some things you have to get ready for. 

With any run, walk, journey or path to Christianity, it starts with one step in the right direction. 

I saw three crosses on my run today. One for Christ, one for the murderer, and one for the man that believed. 

Happy Easter. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Hypocrisy of Palm Sunday

Today is Palm Sunday and I am grumpy about going to church. I don't really like, nor have ever enjoyed, the Palm Sunday liturgy. It smacks of the greatest hypocrisy to celebrate a feast that was in some cases the ultimate act of betrayal. 

From a purely theological point of view, I understand that without Palm Sunday, we cannot have the feast of our Lord's resurrection. However, from an emotional point of view, it fills me with sadness and disappointment.  

I. Don't. Like. It. One. Bit. 

Here we are (and yes, it's a "we"), lauding our Lord, showering him with psalms, and palms and gifts and song. We have greeted our king of salvation. 

And we know, that gruesome death and suffering await.   Jesus knows that gruesome suffering and death await. And he goes. With a smile on his face.   And we are complicit in the parade that we re-enact each year on Palm Sunday.  I don't like it. I like to think that I would not be one of the throng that calls for Jesus' death. The truth of the matter is I probably betray Jesus daily. 

Each year, we need Palm Sunday as a reminder that we too could have been the one's to yell, "crucify him!"  We could be the ones to deny Jesus three times. We could be the ones to kiss Jesus on the cheek even as we lead the authorities to his door. Each day we fail to follow Christ, we are complicit in the Passion of our Lord. 

It's a difficult reminder that no matter how hard we try, we are still sinners. Without God's grace and gift of crucifixion, we have no hope. While I will never be comfortable with the pomp and circumstance and celebration of the Palm Sunday liturgy, I know in my heart I need this reminder that Jesus went willingly to his call. It is a reminder that we all have a call we need to answer as a result of this amazing gift. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

My wicked, amazing walk

Well, it wasn't a walk, it was a run, but this is "Christ WALK" not "Christ RUN."  However, it was still wicked and awesome and I am very proud of my run today. Let me tell you why. Apologies in advance for letting you in to the crazy workings of my mind on a long run. 

When I run, especially distance, I have a tendency to compose Facebook status updates along the way. It sounds hokey, but it keeps me going and usually amuses me. It often lets me sort through thoughts and expend some creative energy, while also exercising. I ran 12 miles today. One of my last four training runs for a half marathon. Twelve miles is a LONG time to be alone with your thoughts. Here's a play by play of my thoughts and "status updates" along my journey:

Mile 0: For those of you that have read my book, "Christ Walk: A 40-day Spiritual Fitness Program," you know that I wear hearing aids after I lost my hearing at the age of 12. These suckers get wrapped in Saran Wrap to help keep the sweat out of my microphones. These are some of the disadvantages of being the bionic woman. I've got my water, my "Honey Stinger" energy pellets and I procrastinate thinking about writing a blog on natural fuel sources for long runs (publication TBD). With a little pep in my step, I hit the road with my country music playlist annnnndddddd had to stop since my water bottles were leaking all over my shorts! Mechanical failure!  These things happen. Don't let them stop you. Off I go again:

Mile 1:  I'm feeling strong, I'm wondering what Christ Walk folks want to hear about. I'm wondering what God will say to me. I'm wondering if I could have picked a more perfect day for this. I'm thinking 12 miles is nothing. 

Mile 2:  Hitting the ridge hill. You've got this. I put my hills in first thing in my run to get them out of the way. I'm a little anxious. I remind myself to calm down and breath whether it takes me 2 hours or 3, I am going to knock this run out and anxiety just makes it harder. I remind myself that anxiety diverts the oxygen from my legs. I need to calm down, breath and go with the flow.  I breathe in deeply and I imagine all those oxygen molecules getting pumped to the muscles in my legs. This is my form of visualizing what I want to happen. And it works!

Mile 3:  Hill is done!  This is awesome. I am pumped. I hit cruising speed. The researchers say it takes a mile to get in to your zen mode of running. I say they are full of crap. It takes me three miles to find my pace. And then I feel a little guilty for thinking someone is full of crap.   Oh well. 

Mile 3.5:  Fellow runners!  They smile and wave!  Evidently I don't look like I'm dying!

Mile 4:  If I get shot by a hunter with a shotgun or arrow (I run through a hunting access road), will I be able to call 911?  Will they find me?  I better not get shot,  I'm a runner for Pete's sake. That would annoy me to no end to get shot on a run. If they can't see my bright blue shirt, they have problems. No shooting allowed till I'm done. 

Mile 4.5:  I just called myself a runner. Ahahhaha. Oh look!  There's a police car!  And the speed limit is 30. I better slow down before he gives me a ticket. I am soooo funny. 

Mile 4.75:  I pass the prison cemetery. I pray for the souls I pass. I think of the amazing grace God has for all sorts of sinners. There is a place in God's kingdom for all sorts. 

Mile 5:  oh look, it's the airfield. Treb said to take the airfield to add four miles to my route. Let's do this. 

Mile 5.5-8: WHAT was my husband thinking?  This is awful. I hate gravel. I'm going to break an ankle. Dear God, please don't let me break anything, I am so close to my race!  Mile 6:  yes!  Half way!  I'm going to kill my husband. This is awful. Four miles of this?  Forget my ankles, I'm going to break my knee.  He has totally screwed my run time with this detour. He's going to get an earful. This is terrible. I'm going to kick him.  Did I say how much I hate this gravel?  I don't have shoes for this!  Ow!  Crap!  Damnit!  Oh, sorry. How much would it cost for me to offer to pave this?  I'mmmmmm gonna dieeeeeeeee!!!!! (I will never run the airfield again).

Mile 8.5:  Oh thank God. Asphalt. Will someone laugh if I kiss it?  Holy crap, there's the river. It's beautiful, how did I not notice that beautiful river before this?  Oh yeah, that's cause I was trying not to die out there. Oh shoot, here's the airfield hill everyone complains about. This sucks. Who told me running was good?  Where did the breeze go?  God, please bring back the breeze. Oh there it is!  It's behind me!  God I feel you pushing me up this hill!  Thank you!

Mile 9:  3 to go. Nothing to it. I've got this.  Jesus, perseverance is an amazing thing. I admire perseverance. I admire the runners and walkers of the "Wear Blue" organization. I run for those that cannot. For Han, John, CSM Griffin, Jaimie, Cam. I admire those that have overcome odds. I admire my friend running her first marathon this weekend. I admire people who go the distance and travel the road before them no matter how much it sucks. I admire those that see the blooming flowers in spite of it all. I smile as I think these things. I am blessed by amazing people in my life. 

Mile 9.5: look at that beautiful tree blooming. OMG. It stinks. Lol. Literally, I laughed out loud. Ok, 2.5 to go. I'm not sure my route is long enough. I'll double back if I didn't calculate right, but let's see this through.  Why on earth does the inside of my nose sweat. Jeez.  The body is bizarre. 

Mile 10: two to go!  Pace is great. I fist pump the air!  I hold up two fingers at a passing car. I'm sure they think I'm nuts. Who cares?  I'm running freaking 12 miles. They can kiss my running shoes if they think I'm weird. I chear out loud and start singing. Apologies to those around me. 

Mile 10.5:  dear Jesus, my feet hurt. Ok, this isn't fun. I hurt. I'm just gonna breath for a bit. Why on earth does the song "Done" come on my playlist at these times?  You don't think Kimberly Perry that I know that all I want to be is done?

Mile 11:  YGTBKM. One more mile?  10, 11, 12 minutes?  There's no way. Not happening. And there's the hill to my neighborhood. Why do I always live at the top of a hill?  Why am I doing this again?  Christiane!  Where are you???  Someone come save me!

Mile 11.5:  I've pretty much quit talking to myself at this point. I'm just breathing in and out. It's one step at a time at this point. One foot in front of the other. Take one step and then take another. Im singing George Strait. I'm so close. I can taste it. 

Mile 12:  Done!  I did it!  I cry!  (Seriously, I sob). That wasn't so bad. 14 next week will be a breeze. Time for chocolate milk, Epsom salt bath and lots of fluid. I'm ready for this race. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

My Journey to Forgiveness--My Messy Beautiful

ß You know there are people in the world that make you a little crazy.  They make your hair stand on end, your eyes cross, and fire seep from your nose, ears and eyes.  They simply drive you NUTS. Sometimes, this person is you, or me since I’m writing about my own version of being in the wrong.  If you had someone take a picture of you when you are most inflamed by these individuals, it’s probably not a very pretty picture.  I’ve often thought if I gave my family a camera to snap a shot of me when I was at my most upset, it might be a good behavior modification intervention because, let’s face it, no one looks very nice when they are their own form of crazy.  But the truth of the matter is that there are people who make us crazy.  They make us mad and we might not be our most stellar selves when we are confronted with difficult individuals.  Faced with our most difficult people, it’s often difficult to remember “soft over comes hard."

In my mind, when dealing with difficult people I look like thisà
I think first, talk second and always consider the other person in my conversations.  The reality is very different.

Depending on the person, the emotion invovled, and the situation, sometimes we need someone else to pray for us.  [See my previous blog, “Sometimes you need someone else to do the praying” (http://christwalk40day.blogspot.com/2014/02/sometimes-you-need-someone-else-to-do.html).]
Sometimes, however, we are the crazy person and we need to find a path to forgiveness.
My daddy always told me it takes two to tango.  That means in the road to forgiveness, there are two people involved.  When it’s you, the first step is recognizing you did something wrong.  There have been three incidents in my life that haunted me as an individual where I desperately need reconciliation.  I did three different things to three different people that sat on the back of my soul as things I needed to make right.  I realized that I needed forgiveness for being a crazy person.
The first individual, I’m actually not sure what I did wrong.  I still don’t, but I know I lost a beautiful friendship along the way.  Many years after the friendship dissolved, I tried to reach out to this individual and said, “Hey, I’m sorry.  I don’t know what I did, but I’m sorry.  I miss your friendship.”  I got crickets.
The second person I wronged, I said some really horrible things.  If there was a defensible moment, I said these things when I was a hurting, sick, and lonely teenager, but I said them to a friend.  These words dissolved a friendship.  Again, many years later, this wrong sat on my heart.  I reconnected with this individual and said, “Hey, I’m sorry I was such a jerk.  I know I was speaking out of my illness, but I had no right to take it out on you.”  She’s gone on to be a good friend.  She forgave me and stood up as a bridesmaid in my wedding.  I am blessed by her friendship and her forgiveness.
The third person I wronged, I spoke in haste.  I said some words that weren’t intended to be hurtful but was not kind.  I felt shame, not only because what I said wasn’t supposed to be overheard by the individual, but I shouldn’t have said what I said to begin with.  I made an assumption about someone, made remarks along those lines and this individual heard me speak.  I should have listened to my momma who taught me that, “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”  I wrote this individual a letter and apologized in person.  I owed her that.  She’s a kind person, and I was truly in the wrong.  While she said she forgave me, in truth, the damage was done.  I lost a beautiful person in my life because I spoke without thinking.
We all have these moments.  None of us are angels no matter what we might think in our head.  There isn’t a person out there that doesn’t need to look at something they did and just say, “I’m sorry.”  In all three of these instances, even where I did not get a response, my road to forgiveness started with me.  I had to first ask for forgiveness, then forgive myself and allow that person to either be forgiving, or let it go.  I did what I needed to do, and the burden off my shoulders was amazing. 
Asking forgiveness didn’t cost me a thing; maybe my pride, but that’s not worth much to begin with.  What I gained out of the process of forgiveness was invaluable.  I gained joy, peace and love.  That’s far more valuable  to me than anything.