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Love Wins

I’m still on an emotional ‘high’ after finishing my first marathon (Marine Corps Marathon) on Sunday, October 28, 2018. The following words from these others capture perfectly the waves of emotion I am riding to the shores since crossing that line.

“there’s something about the marathon. whether you’re running against the clock, against your previous self, in memory of someone you love, to celebrate or fight against cancer, to prove to yourself what you can do—it’s all about love.” CarlySheree 2018 NYC Marathon finisher

The day will come when, after harnessing space, winds, the tide and gravitation, we shall harness for God the energies of love. And, on that day, for the second time in the history of the world, [humanity] will have discovered fire. Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955)

Love [people] even in [their] sin, for that is the semblance of Divine Love and is the highest love on earth. Love all God’s creation, the whole and every grain of sand in it. Love every leaf, every ray of God’s light. Love the animals, love the plants, love everything. If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things. Once you have perceived it, you will begin to comprehend it better every day. And you will come at last to love the whole world with an all-embracing love.  Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

“When you don’t challenge yourself, you miss out on so much.”
Denise Sauriol ~ Chicago-based running coach (the marathon whisperer)

“People sometimes sneer at those who run every day, claiming they’ll go to any length to live longer. But don’t think that’s the reason most people run. Most runners run not because they want to live longer, but because they want to live life to the fullest. If you’re going to while away the years, it’s far better to live them with clear goals and fully alive then in a fog, and I believe running helps you to do that. Exerting yourself to the fullest within your individual limits: that’s the essence of running, and a metaphor for life — and for me, for writing as whole. I believe many runners would agree”.
Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

“What do I want my one life to really be about? What you most want is what you most love. And what you love is what you’ll ultimately have for all eternity”.  Ann Voskamp

“They say a good love is one that sits you down, gives you a drink of water, and pats you on top of the head. But I say a good love is one that casts you into the wind, sets you ablaze, makes you burn through the skies and ignite the night like a phoenix; the kind that cuts you loose like a wildfire and you can’t stop running simply because you keep on burning everything that you touch! I say that’s a good love; one that burns and flies, and you run with it!”
C. JoyBell C.

Catch me if you can…Love!
I am running, yet you pursure me..Love!
For the love of living does chase me down with relentless passion.
This one and only life I have been given, it demands to be fully liven!
So to the full I will live it, I will love it! I will run it!
And with overflowing gratitude will I give it.
I am running, consuming breath, consuming wind, yet I am renewed!
For the love of living whisks me into mystery; into possibility
;
So onward as pursued and pursurer I pleasure…Love!
And the mystery I perceive when I run?
There is no end…Love…there is no
end!
DEBreen

Above All Else – Focus

SEEK TO PLEASE ME above all else.
Let that GOAL be your FOCAL POINT as you go through this day.
Such a mind-set will protect you
from scattering your ENERGY to the winds.
Jesus Calling ~ Sarah Young

Above all else…this is a high standard! Seeking to please HIM! In EVERYTHING! This means I will think first on HIM and of HIM. I will consider my thoughts, my words, my actions..first…for His sake. This seems a most difficult, lofty task, and yet when I consider how being ‘in love’ with someone makes even hard things easy. Then after all, this does not seem such an extraordinary request…for myself or any of us others who claim to love and follow Jesus.

As I consider this appeal from the perspective of my running life, I acknowledge the value and power of keeping my focus. And as a runner, the finish line is a mighty enduring focal point. A finish line, any finish line really, provides immense purpose and drive to keep one’s momentum moving forward. And today, with this devotional reading appearing before my eyes, I am reminded again that the great I AM desires to be at the center of my focus: SEEK TO PLEASE ME ABOVE ALL ELSE!

This is an energetic goal to train towards, is it not? To give the Divine One our attention and preference? This goal alone can consume one’s entire life’s purpose. If ever I considered myself an ‘athlete’, how now would I train myself to succeed in achieving such an ambitious goal? What sort of athletic maneuvers does one perform to become strong towards this end…to seek His pleasure above all else? When I contemplate this imperative, perhaps this task is not too difficult when love is at its core.

Focus your attention on the path just ahead of you
and on the One who never leaves your side.
Jesus Calling ~ Sarah Young

To please the One who is above all and above all others simply requires my trusting focus; narrow my attention to the path just ahead. Never forget His promise, “I will be with you always”. Yes, of course, this makes perfect sense. Isn’t this what I do when I run a race or run a long distance? Isn’t this how I stay above the fray of defeating thoughts when I am weary and full of worry and feel faint. When I lose heart and breath, this is my sign to focus on the path just ahead…not a mile ahead…not 10 minutes ahead. Just focus on the present moment…just attend to the rhythm of my moving feet, beating heart, breathing lungs.

POUR ALL YOUR ENERGY into trusting Me.
It is through trust that you stay
connected to Me, aware of My Presence.
Jesus Calling ~ Sarah Young

When I consider my true reality, that I inhabit any present moment in the confines of time and eternity simultaneously, I wake up to my strength in the ETERNAL ONE, because I am body, soul, spirit. I felt that strength on Sunday last. I felt it while I was slogging through mile 13…mile 14…mile 15…the steps toward the end were painful indeed. BUT when I thought of the One who lives and moves in Me, of how time and eternity co-exist in ME, I felt energized and lifted up towards the object of my goal…the finish line. For those present moments, I was able to transcend the momentary discomforts of putting feet forward. When I focused on my present reality, my weakness became my strength because His presence gave vigor to my breath and joy to my pain.

And now you know what I know; now you know what kind of thoughts give me GO and FUEL my fire. These kinds of thoughts propel me towards a seemingly un-obtainable goal…running for 26.2 miles…in ONE DAY. These kinds of thoughts fueled me forward last Sunday; even though the thoughts sputtered and flickered off and on, in and out. These thoughts of the ONE…ABOVE ALL ELSE…nourished my flagging reserves.

To think of His Presence…in Me…beside Me…lifted me onward and upward into something like bliss. Those last miles taught me, educated me, via aches, pains and fears of every imagining, that ultimately all things are possible when a mind and heart are focused…ABOVE ALL ELSE!

Matthew 6:30-33 The Message (MSG)

30-33 “If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

On Fire!

Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.
Jennifer Lee, filmmaker

What sets my soul on fire? Wow…what a question to wake up to this morning! I found the above quote in my inbox compliments of the Runner’s World daily newsletter. Honestly, I am surprised that this quote received such a reaction from my 5am, pre-caffeinated mind. Why does a soul on fire intrigue me so? Does that intrigue you?

So intrigued, I continue to wonder…what does a life (soul) set on fire look and feel like? Have I ever experienced such a thing in my life? Have I ever pursued such a condition for myself? Does a soul on fire burn slow and steady or rage flaming? Surely a fire must be continuously stoked? How does one keep or find the combustible material(s) for said soul fire? Do I fearlessly pursue anything? So many questions…not so many answers; but it is early in the morning!

I just don’t understand people not being passionate about something. Just have passion in what you do, and do it with all your heart
Jon Sutherland ~ run streaker (17,721 days straight of running)

Okay, so with a little more caffeine in my system, I begin to see that perhaps I do have a few things I pursue with some amount of energy and frequency in my life. When I consider how I gravitate towards several activities repeatedly, on purpose, for personal satisfaction or enjoyment, and that I am not easily discouraged or distracted from engaging in said activities on a daily basis (running, writing, reading, motivating others to become more active, etc.), then I realize that I may indeed be living as one who has a fire kindled at her center…maybe not a raging conflagration, but a fire burning is a flame by definition regardless of its burning intensity.

Human beings are so made that whenever anything fires the soul, impossibilities vanish. A fire in the heart lifts everything in your life. That’s why passionate leaders are so effective. A leader with great passion and few skills always outperforms a leader with great skills and no passion.
John C Maxwell

Fully awake now, I feel the warmth from center ooze into the extremities of my mind and body. I am beginning to understand my initial attraction and resistance to this morning’s quote in my inbox.

The light switch just flipped on when I realized that I resisted the idea of passionate pursuit because it just sounds like so much hard work and effort. A fearless pursuit of anything requires dedication, determination, drive and singularity of purpose. Considered from this perspective, it sounds like another job…ugh…who needs more work? Not I!

BUT WAIT, when I go about my day engaged in those things which I’m passionate about, these things are not like work to me. HELLO! My PASSIONS = My FUN and fun is not hard! Fun is easy! I love to do my fun things! Isn’t that true for all of you too? Oh my, but I am finally, fully alert. Now I see why this morning’s quote caught my attention. Now I understand how and why I must fearlessly pursue those things which kindle my soul to fire.

Coffee anyone?

One Thing

Only one thing is needful for a happy, healthy, life…and that is Love. Love for the Divine One, Love for ourselves and Love for others. At first glance this seems like a list of 3 needful things, but in reality, love administered to any one of these three, is love administered to all. How can that be? Because when love is transmitted, from one entity to another, it flows where it goes; it cannot be controlled or directed or restrained. When love flows, it flows like water; like wisps of wind, its course cannot be shunted, dammed, directed or diverted, because Love Exists…unbidden…it simply Is.

Your beliefs and thoughts are wired into your biology. They become your cells, tissues, and organs. There’s no supplement, no diet, no medicine, and no exercise regimen that can compare with the power of your thoughts and beliefs. That’s the very first place you need to look when anything goes wrong with your body.

A physician can help you monitor symptoms of imbalances and pay attention to signs that you need to do more to enhance your health, but it’s the Creator working within you that heals. Real health comes from Divine Love and infuses your body with vitality.  Christiane Northrup, M.D.

Love is viral! When Love flows from one life to another, it cannot be contained or quarantined. Love is no respecter of person or station. Love is not dependent on our ability to understand or comprehend it. Love IS…whether we perceive it or not, Love Remains as our only true Reality. Our awareness or lack of awareness does not affect Love’s potency or its ability to heal our injuries. Love Endures all things (yes even war, hate, and fear) and is able to wash away our grief, suffering, and disappointment. Love wraps and draws all creation close to her breast; we feel the wind and are reminded that Love’s breath is our breath, our essence, our Love. We only need to awaken from our nightmare, and realize that Love Is With Us; Love Is In Us; Love Is For Us. Love never fails or disappoints. Love always wins…

 

Just Breathe

Let everything that has breath and every breath of life praise the Lord! Praise the Lord! Hallelujah! (Psalm 150:6 ~ Amplified Bible)

Sigh, without making a sound in the vocal cords, and imagine an all-compassionate presence of Yah. Imagine that each breath is itself a blessing. Yah holds and embraces us, Yah is our inner source of strength, and in each breath, we bless Yah for as long as we live, which is our “forever.”
(Ecstatic Kabbalah ~ David A Cooper)

This is the air I breathe, This is the air I breathe
Your holy presence living in me

This is my daily bread, This is my daily bread
Your very word spoken to me

And I ~ I’m desperate for you
And I ~ I’m lost without you

(Breathe ~ Lyrics: Michael W Smith)

Focus your attention on your lungs, as if only your lungs exist. Feel the pleasure when your lungs expand to fulfill the biggest need of the human body – to breathe. Take a deep breath and feel the air as it fills your lungs. Feel how the air is nothing but love. Notice the connection between the air and the lungs, a connection of love. To breathe gives us much pleasure. Just to breathe is enough for us to always be happy, to enjoy life. Just to be alive is enough. Feel the pleasure to be alive, the pleasure of the feeling of love…
(The Four Agreements ~ Don Miguel Ruiz)

Forget Me Not

It’s Mother’s Day and I’m fortunate enough to have my mom yet alive so as to celebrate this day with her. There have been times this past year when her health brought her mortality into sharp focus. While she is currently living in remission, this too is a gift because this reprieve of disease is a reminder to all of her family, that each day is a gift to be lived to the full.

But I’ve also noticed that when life settles into dull routines, minus the urgencies of life-threatening drama or stress, it is easy to get lazy about cherishing the gift of life and the gift of those precious people God has put in our midst to love.

This is why it is a special comfort and delight to know that our Maker, the Designer and Engineer of Mother-Love, has no capability or capacity for forgetfulness. The proof of His abiding love for all of us is in the indelibly engraved love note in the nail-scarred hands of Jesus.

Can a woman forget her nursing child?
Will she have no compassion on the child from her womb?
Although mothers may forget, I will not forget you.
I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.
(Isaiah 49:15-16 GOD’S WORD Copyright © 1995)

No Longer an Exile

Death is no longer banishment, it is a return from exile, a going home to the many mansions where the loved ones already dwell.
We are not far from home–a moment will bring us there.

(Morning & Evening ~ Spurgeon)

I love the image that is conjured in my mind when I consider Spurgeon’s description of death being our return from exile. I strongly identify with being in exile because that’s what I so often feel like as a resident of O town ~ exiled from the larger world, from so many friends and family. And yet, these feelings perhaps are not too far from true if I view them in perspective of eternity.

If I believe that I am a created in the image of the Living God, then while I exist in this world He created for us to inhabit, it only makes sense that I feel like I am living in it as a foreigner; this world is not my home! While I clearly delight in the natural beauty of His creation, my heart tells me that there is so much more to life than what I experience through my senses. This world is not my final destination! I was created and designed to live in the Kingdom of Heaven. This is the only possible explanation that makes sense to my heart; this can be the only explanation as to why everything here on Earth feels so other worldly. So while I live on Earth I live as one with dual citizenship. A resident of Earth, but a native of the Kingdom of Heaven. This world is not my home!

“In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.  You know the way to the place where I am going.” John 14:2-4 NIV

So as Spurgeon notes, “we are not far from home — a moment will bring us there”, my dual citizenship allows me great privilege indeed. I may access the Kingdom of Heaven while living in the Kingdom of Earth when I practice the native tongue of my homeland: LOVE. So then, I am indeed something like an Ambassador…a representative of the homeland, and as such I live closest to my homeland when I live in LOVE during my exile. And while I simultaneously straddle today and eternity, I find comfort and joy knowing that my days in exile are not so long as to make me forget from whence I came. Because, in a moment, in the not too distant future, I will close my eyes and awaken again…no longer an exile.