Fighting the Crazy

Will and I visited family in Knoxville for the 4th, and we went on a jog along the “crazy path”. It’s a running path that winds along the Tennessee River in a beautiful area of ball fields and rolling hills. The locals call it “crazy” because it circles a place that was once an insane asylum. It is also crazy because there is a ridiculously, steep, long, winding hill at the end of the four miles. Before you can spot the finish, you battle the crazy.

This path has its unique challenges, but all races have the same elements. The start is hopeful, the middle is steady, the finish is awesome adrenaline, but the stretch right before the end is the hardest part. It’s when endurance and perseverance are tested.

It’s the “already, but not yet”; the place right before the victory. The place of struggle right before the captive is set free, right before the addict comes clean, the stretch of night right before dawn, right before the breakthrough. It’s where doubt takes its final jab at you before it loses you forever. It’s the place of process that paints the promise. Your flesh is weak, your mind is strong, your faith is secure, the finish is absolutely guaranteed, but you’re not there yet. And in that place is the fight.

In many ways, it’s where we all are. Jesus has redeemed our souls, called us out of darkness and into his marvelous light, made us brand new, perfected our spirits and guaranteed the finish with him free from the presence of all sin and death. But, we are here living in our flesh in this broken world. We are citizens of heaven, but not there yet.

And so, when I got to this place on that insane hill, I pushed hard. I was on fire thinking of writing an inspiring blog post on endurance through hardship (because I write in my mind while I run and have crossed many finish lines lately in the Lord’s strength) and as I headed up that quarter mile of crazy, something totally surprising happened…I quit. Runners were briskly walking downhill facing me and I could see their acknowledgment of my struggle. I felt it. Pride crept in, shame crept in, my legs gave out, and I quit.

I hung my head down and walked the rest of the way up to the finish line, defeated. Was my faith not strong enough today? Why could my mind not overcome my body? I knew the truth that I was strong enough to do it, and yet I fell short. The July heat added pressure and I buckled.

And then, in that moment as I sauntered to the end of the path in self pity, I felt God gently whisper, “Lift your head up, my girl…I love you just the same. Today is a part of the journey. I will never leave you. I will make you stronger. I will finish what I’ve started. You may have quit today, but I will never quit on you. My mercies are new each morning. My grace is enough. We’ll try again. Seasons will change, this heat will lift and we’ll come back to this same place, and to all the places, victorious. You’ll see.”

And, I can see it. I believe without a doubt, we will make it up the crazy hill. In my mind it has already happened…just not yet.

“But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.”
Psalm 3:3 NIV

“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭1:6‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Freedom Writing & Rhyming

A wise friend once told me to run after God with all you have and then look at the people on your right and left; those are the people with you on your faith journey. God has led me to a group of writers at Lincoln Village Ministries called Freedom Writers. Each week, I go with three beautiful sisters to write with middle school girls. It’s a time the girls can have a safe place to share what’s on their hearts. We write together, pray together, get real and help each other experience freedom in the Lord. I learn as much from these middle school girls as they do from me. They are awesome! My friend Katie Wilson founded Freedom Writers, inspired by the movie, and you can read more about it here.

We recently took a field trip to Rhymer’s for the Lord, a ministry founded by my dear friend and fellow freedom writer, Toya Poplar, and her husband, Melvin. Melvin is a gospel rapper and lyrical genius! Rhymer’s invites kids and adults to the Inner City Learning Center to rhyme for God’s glory. It takes an art that can used to share harmful words, and transforms it into something life-giving and amazing!

Speaking on a mic in rhyme is new to me (haha!), but I love new things because they break me out of my comfort zone. The cool thing about running after God is when you look to your right and left, you won’t see people who look exactly like you. I have found in all of the places He has led me, He brings people of different color, backgrounds and age into my life. This makes HIM bigger, extends the facets of His glory, and stretches me to experience Him in different ways!  

Toya asked me to read “The Pavement” (my rhyme about running below) without my notes. That’s not my style, but I did it! At her suggestion, I dressed in my running clothes and acted it out. And isn’t that how it should be with God’s word too? We don’t just read it, but write it on our hearts, dress in it and act it out? This freedom writer experienced freedom in a new way tonight at the Inner City Learning Center!  


I wanted to share “The Pavement” with you and hope you enjoy it! And if you haven’t experienced spoken word, rhyming for the Lord or God in a new way, I highly recommend it! We have a Creative Creator who delights in bringing His people together and inviting us into His creativity.

The Pavement

Running is a gift
It’s hard but it teaches
I think the pavement listens
I also think it preaches.

I know I’m not alone
When I wrestle hopes and fears
Does the pavement see me?
Does the pavement have ears?

It calls me out to try again
To wrestle and to fight
To run my race with all I am
To battle dark with light.

My envy, fear and anger
I talk them out so freely
We work it out together
I know the pavement sees me.

And yet it never changes
Or pushes me away
My darkest thoughts are fully known
And yet I get to stay.

It reminds me to be humble
It reminds me to be brave
It reminds me that I stumble
But in failure I am safe.

It reminds me that comparison
Blinds us to our light
We choose to win or lose
By choosing who to fight

Our struggle is never against
Another runner in the hood
But powers of darkness that lie to us
And tell us we’re no good.

There is no hill too high
And I never climb alone
The pavement feels my every step
And always brings me home.

So, when I’m sad and hurting
Or feel I might explode
I go and tell the pavement
That ever-listening road.

The pavement never judges
I don’t have to show restraint
The pavement never rejects
True colors I can paint.

It shows me I’m not stuck
And that I get to keep going
It reminds me I have freedom
And a hope that’s always growing.

God, thank You for the race
For trials and triumphs true
In Christ, we have the victory
And on the pavement,

The God of Breakthrough

Have you ever experienced a breakthrough in your life?  Or are you praying for one right now?

I was running this morning for the first time in a long time, and was reminded of a big breakthrough that got me fired up. Truths discovered in running often remind me of spiritual truths, and I think that’s why there are many references to running in the Bible.

Several years ago, I was a “three miler runner.” I had about five different three-mile routes from our house, and ran in a few 5ks. As a 28-year-old who had passed her athletic “prime,” I did not think I was capable of running more than three miles any more. My husband challenged me on this.  He told me I was capable of so much more if I could just break through the “three mile wall” in my mind. He encouraged me this was a mental wall, not a present reality. It’s a wall he had broken through and he kindly offered to help me.

Rather than running one of my normal routes and adding to it, he drove me somewhere far away from our neighborhood.  He didn’t want me thinking through the route.  He didn’t want me to think about anything but finishing. When we got there, he did something really wise.  He told me I had to leave my watch in the car.  I wanted to know how fast we were going, but he told me that wasn’t necessary.  He said that pace doesn’t matter when you’re going a new distance. I thought that was a neat reminder that in order to experience breakthrough with God, we have to throw off our performance measures. Not seeing my mile time was so freeing. I didn’t have to run fast – I just had to run.

Will and I ran that afternoon, side by side, step by step for what seemed like an eternity.  I set the pace and he just was there to keep me from stopping. It’s as if there was an imaginary thread between us and he was pulling me along one step and one breath at a time for four long miles.

When the parking lot of our finish line was in close distance, I was so happy to see it that I sprinted the rest of the way toward it. I ran my heart out, freedom of breakthrough in every step.  Will let me go ahead as he cheered me on.  I did it! I broke through the three mile wall.  Three weeks later, I ran my first 10k.  And a month after that I finished my first half marathon.  Once I realized that wall was indeed a lie, I was ready to embrace the once impossible with everything I had.

Remembering this today made me reflect on spiritual breakthroughs and how they’ve looked a lot like that day with Will. Breaking through the walls built by fears, hurts, and lies has looked like:

Running together –  When we let a trusted person into the hurting and often secret places of our lives, breakthrough happens.  Sometimes they carry us through, sometimes they just run beside us.  Sharing my dark places and weakness with others is probably the scariest thing I have ever done in my life. But bringing others into my journey has led to true healing, freedom and amazing breakthrough.  It’s in those moments I’ve seen God’s light overcome darkness.  

Taking off the watch – As someone who loves to perform well, this is challenging for me.  But breakthroughs are never about what I can do well! They are only what He can do through me when I take my eyes off my abilities and put them on His promises. Also, breakthroughs often don’t happen as fast as we’d like them to.  They are not on our time; they are on His time. Taking off the watch helps us release that and not give up too soon.

Explosive Growth – Each time I have discovered that wall was not a present reality in light of God’s word and who I am in Christ, there has been explosive growth beyond what I could have asked or imagine.  Breakthroughs don’t just get us out; they send us soaring, walls in the dust. His divine power demolishes strongholds and sets us free indeed!

Seeing and being someone new – Today I am starting over in running after having a baby.  I can only go 1.2 miles and boy, does it hurt.  However, I don’t see myself as someone who can only run 1.2 miles.  I see myself as a half marathon (potentially more) runner who is a little out of shape. This is a huge difference! Once we see who we are in Christ, we can operate out of the strength and truth of our new identity.

Our God is a God who breaks through for us. He leads us to break through our fears, unbelief and the places where we feel stuck and defeated. He breaks through the walls built by hurt and the lies telling us change is not possible for us. He overcomes, He rescues and He delivers.

“The LORD did it!” David exclaimed. “He burst through my enemies like a raging flood!” So he named that place Baal-perazim (which means “the Lord who bursts through”).  2 Sam 5:20

He sees the walls in our hearts and our minds, and wants us to burst through to freedom like a raging flood!  The same God who burst through for David is for us and can burst through for you and me today. He is no different and our battles are no less important. Isn’t that awesome!?

As the New Year begins, I have been journaling the places I pray God can break through in 2016. There are specific places I am stuck and need freedom. I am so amazed at all He has done, and it gives me great hope to know He is not nearly finished with me! A friend gave me the advice to journal my prayers years ago, and I am so thankful. Writing them out is an amazing way to later look back and see how He is faithful to answer.  Our hearts are always full of prayers, and journals are a great reminder that He hears them.

What is the place that at the end of 2016 you would like to name Baal-perazim?  The place in your mind, heart, life?  The place you want to see Him burst through that doesn’t look possible right now? The relationship that’s still broken, the fear that paralyzes, the sin that still lingers, the pattern that continues, the dream that has lost its spark of hope, the unbelief that only the Holy Spirit can break through. What are the New Year’s hopes that can only be accomplished with the help a powerful God? I dare you to write them down!  

Each run begins with one new step. Each breakthrough begins with one new prayer.  Each year begins with one new day. It’s time for walls to fall. Let’s run our hearts out!

“Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way…” Hebrews 12:1-2 MSG

The Race: Overcoming the Comparison Trap


STAY IN YOUR LANE!” These passionate words from Robert Madu ( at the Catalyst Conference echo in my mind. He gave a powerful message relevant to what I think we all struggle with…the comparison trap.

He told the story of Saul and his envy of David and how it led to his eventual downfall. “They have credited David with tens of thousands,’ he thought, ‘but me with only thousands. What more can he get but the kingdom?’ And from that time on Saul kept a close eye on David.” (1 Samuel 18:8) Here Saul was a king, blessed with an entire kingdom, and yet he kept his eyes on David. He compared this to the author of Hebrews who tells us to keep our eyes on JESUS. “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, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith. (Hebrews 12:1-2)

We are in race. When we look in someone else’s lane, we will trip and fall because we will miss what’s right in front of us. Our races are different for a divine reason and we are all meant to keep our eyes on Jesus, not each other.

This week, through an unusual mix of conversations and encounters, I have been subtly reminded of who I am not. And it feels….icky. It feels icky when we look at others and then look at ourselves in comparison and feel like we come up short. Why? Because we were not meant to define our identity on a measuring stick to other people. God in His great mercy, took away that measuring stick…our distance to perfection was so very far that He came to give us HIS greatness, to give us the full measure of perfection that is only available in Christ. The Truth about us is defined by Him. He is the Potter, and we are the pots handmade uniquely to reflect His image and glory. When we look at others pondering our identity, we see who we are not. When we look at Jesus, we see who we are. And to our Creator, who we are is very special.

When I start to think about who I am not, I try to remember who I AM and what is in my lane. God has given me unique gifts. He has given me an amazing husband and made me the only person on this planet chosen to walk through life with him as one flesh. He has given me two precious children who cry out for “mama” and no one else will do. He has given me a love of writing and sharing my story. He has opened doors for me to see hurting people look to Jesus and go from dead on the inside to alive. People who the world often overlooks. Over the past four years, I have grabbed hold of where I feel God is calling me, and as a result, I have let go of some things. My lane is much less successful by worldly standards. Sometimes, when I look at others, I long to be approved by the world around me. When I look at what I don’t have, it blinds me to what is right in front of me and to HIS goodness, which is more than enough! I have been rescued from an ordinary life into an extraordinary life of unseen realities, “for the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18) I am reminded that He is preparing for us “an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” (2nd Corinthians 4:17) When I let go of my desire for approval by the world’s standards, I can make room for His perfect love and become who I am meant to be.

I can look in others’ lanes and stumble and fall, often in a pivotal part of my race. The comparison trap comes from all angles. Sometimes I see people running their race beautifully in something God has called them to do, and wonder if I should be doing that too. Robert Madu calls this the “but me” glasses. When we look through the “but me” glasses, evaluating things through the lens of where we fit in, we are paralyzed from genuinely celebrating Kingdom wins and giving others much needed encouragement. By looking through the lens of Christ, we can see others and their accomplishments, not in relation to us, but how He sees them. Let’s encourage someone who is running beautifully today!

I think the comparison trap happens because when we think of races, we often think of competition. I think of the Olympics where there is only one gold medalist. But God’s race is not like that. In His race, we are NOT running against each other. We are running TO Jesus. We are running AGAINST spiritual powers of darkness. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12) We have a real enemy and that enemy is always spiritual. It is not someone in another lane. Not ever. They are most often the ones on our team who we should celebrate and encourage. We are running against doubt, fear, insecurities, and lies. Any long distance runner knows that the biggest obstacles in the race are in their mind.

We are called to throw off the sin that so easily entangles us. I think of Forrest Gump running for the first time and the braces falling off his legs. I love the expression on his face as he realizes he is not handicapped and discovers that within him is actually something amazing. As we throw off our sin, we become like Jesus, “for those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.” (Romans 8:29) “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory.” (2nd Corinthians 3:18) There are powers of darkness that are terrified to see this happen and want us to keep our eyes fixed anywhere but Jesus. But there’s a cloud of witnesses of those who have gone before who are surrounding us and cheering us on. Because our race matters.

There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1) Do you ever hear chatter inside your head that is downright ugly? Thoughts about yourself? I do. We have to remember that those thoughts have no place. We wouldn’t talk to others like that. Why in the world do we allow thoughts like that in about ourselves? Those thoughts are the voice of the enemy who wants to blind us to our Loving Father, to Christ who lives in us, and to the Truth about who we are. So what are we to do? Take them captive. Renew our minds to the Truth. Fix our eyes on Jesus. And run. Run this race that has a finish line in eternity with no more death or crying or pain. It has a finish line in a Kingdom where “anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” (Mark 9:35)

I want to look back and see a race well run with Him and for Him. I want to see a LOT of love and not a lot of fear. I want to see that I said YES to the things that matter to Him and no to the things that don’t. I want to see grace received and extended in abundance. I want to see that I grabbed hold of the life that is truly life, and let go of the things that so often distract me from His purpose and call. I want to be remembered by the light of Christ He so graciously put in me to shine. I want to have an eternal impact during my time here. I want to say, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race. I have kept the faith.” (2nd Timothy 4:7) But I can’t do that if my eyes are fixed on someone else’s lane.

I am the only person in this world like me and you are the only person in this world like you. Let’s boldly celebrate how our Creator made us! You be the best you, I’ll be the best me. We were not meant to hide our gifts. He has given us permission to shine because when we do, He does! As said by Marianne Williamson, “we were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same.”

We are distracted by design because we were made made by design…we were created in a unique way for a unique purpose that if fully stepped into, would terrify the powers of darkness. As Christ followers, if God uses us to share the Gospel with one person whose life is transformed by Jesus, it will change eternity and possibly the course of generations forever.  We have an enemy who wants to blind us to this truth by keeping our eyes on things of this world, other people and who we are not. 

So, who ARE you? What’s in your lane? What are your special gifts? What’s your unique purpose? What’s in front of you right now? Who’s in front of you? Who are you racing? What do you see as your destination? And what does finishing well look like?

Paul says, “my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” (Acts 20:24) What task has He given you? Life here is so very short. Too short for comparison and condemnation. In Christ, we can throw off the shackles that hinder us and break free to run lightly as as we were divinely designed.“Those who hope in the Lord…will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary.” (Isaiah 40:31) Lord, give us grace to run our race and remember that He who is in us and greater than He who is in the world.

You and I were knit together for a divine purpose that has its start and end in Him. Jesus is with us in every moment, and we will see Him face-to-face at the finish line. Jesus, the One who, while we were still sinners did not hold one thing back from us. So let’s look up, fix our eyes on Him…and run our hearts out, “pressing on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” (Philippians 3:14)