Why I Run and Why You Need Freedom, Too

The sun was in my face, good music was in my ears, and my feet hit the pavement. As my feet hit the ground with Why I runeach strike, I was careful to land just right.  After months of being injured, having knee surgery, and currently undertaking physical therapy, I was aware that one wrong side motion could wipe me out again.   But six weeks of PT was working and I was able to jog several yards before slowing down to a walking pace.  I did this over and over again as I reveled in the freedom I had.

Freedom to run.  

Freedom of spirit.

Freedom of mind.

Over the last several months, I’ve realized why I run. I began running ten years ago.  At the time, it was my source of stress management. As a mom of four kids and working-full with teenagers, running was the only 30 minutes where my mind was my own, where no one could touch me or ask anything of me.

portrait of a mid adult woman jogging in a parkAs time has become more limited with the demands of parenting and life, running is sporadic, but a priority.  During the winter months, I’m dormant because of daylight savings and weather.  But running periodically in the winter is a release for me when stress or seasonal depression gets the best of me.   It gives me a boost, clears my mind, and brings balance to my body and spirit.

What do you do that gives you a clear mind and brings balance to your body and spirit?

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Living without the option to run poses a problem for me.  

I’ve realized if I don’t have healthy options to release stress, I’m tempted to turn to unhealthy options.

Confessions of a woman trying to live addiction-free for a lifetime.

I wish I could say food is never an issue for me, but I can’t.

Do you have something you run to when you’re stressed? What do you self-medicate with?  Technology? Shopping? Sports? Sleep? Alcohol? Medication?  Sex? Or do you, too, run to food?

I come from a family where comfort food is normal.

I grew up pushing against it and developed anorexia.  Then I became bulimic.  My development and identity as a teen and young adult revolved around food, though it was hidden.  There are reasons why people turn to food or other substances for self-medication.  There are payoffs.  It comforts. It nurtures.  You’re in control of your body, your mind and emotions for a few minutes as you feed your senses with momentarily pleasures.  To overcome an addiction, the payoff of overcoming it with healthy behavior has to be more enticing than what the addiction does for you.

Woman Standing on ScaleI can’t diet. I have to have freedom to choose what I eat. If I don’t messes with my mind.

I’ve learned if I don’t have the option to run, it messes with my mind.

There’s something spiritual about both of them being in balance.

It deals with freedom.

The freedom of your body, soul and spirit to experience joy and peace….like adrenalin that runs through your body when you run.

A rush of contentment, happiness, and top-of-the-world feeling.

What does that for you?  What gives you that rush? Is it healthy?  Or do you run to things that dull your senses?  Do you seek things that bring balance and freedom or things that bind you and bring destruction?

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I’ve done both.

I’ve fought hard to remain healthy and have balance in my life physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.

I’ve decided if I can only run one-hundred yards at a time, I’ll take it.

I need it. 

I don’t ever want to go back to being bound. 

So I fight to remain free.

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I don’t do this alone. 

My battle to remain free from the hold of food, self-harm, and addiction has been a journey between me and God.

He walks with me every step.

He fills me with peace and joy.

But I have to stay vigilant to keep Him in that place.

How do you fight for God to stay the center of your life?

Being Free
Being Free

What do you do to fight things off that are more enticing than the presence of God?

Living healthy is hard work.

Living balanced is hard work.

Living in the fullness of God requires action.

Draw near to God and He will draw near you.” James 4:8 (NIV)

Like running brings freedom to me, so does having the fullness of God in your life.

I’ve learned it’s worth pursuing both of them with vigilance.

Freedom of mind, body, and spirit is a glimpse of eternity where there will be “no death, or mourning or crying or pain.” (Revelation 21:4.)

Addictions only relieve this temporarily.

Healthy balance and the presence of God relieves this for a lifetime.

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Where do you need to experience freedom in healthy ways?

Where do you need to place God as the center of you life?

Where do you need to be balanced?

Ask the Lord of all goodness to empower you to make the changes needed to bring balance.  If you need a prayer partner, email me  at yoderbl@gmail.com.  It would be my honor to pray with you as you work to bring balance, center, and freedom to your life.

Holy Father, draw each of us to the healthy life you desire for us.  Give us grace to admit the things that are out of balance in our lives, and give us a glimpse of the goodness you have for us that is greater than any pay off our out-of-balance choices give us.  Equip us to do the hard work to live healthy.  Prompt us to make the first step in drawing nearer to you.  Thank you that You never fail.  Amen.

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Steps to Health and Healing – Pushing Through Fear

“Ouch, that hurts,” I told the physical therapist working on my knee.  He was trying to figure out what was stable and what needed to be stretched after last week’s surgery.

“We’re going to get you walking,” he said, in a thick Polish accent.  “That pain? It’s from muscles you haven’t used since you’ve been hurt.  Now, get up and walk.

I looked at him with fear in my eyes.   I hadn’t put full weight on my right leg for two and a half months.  I started walking, but with a limp.

Get rid of the limp.  You don’t need to do that anymore.  You’re afraid to walk because of the pain you had in the past.  There is no pain anymore other than from the muscles you haven’t used.  You can do this.  Walk.”

I took steps, one after another, swinging my hip just like he said.

With courage I was capable to do what I was afraid of.

Do you have moments like that?

MP900341649Moments where the pain of the past grips you? Where you change your emotional, spiritual or behavioral posture because something hurts and the only way you know to go on is to limp along.  The limp becomes the new normal, overcompensating for the pain that’s afflicting you.  A pain that won’t go away unless you’re intentional about fixing it so it can heal.

While the surgery fixed the torn meniscus in my knee, my PT was pushing me to work through the pain from unused muscles I no longer used right because the stiff limp I was accustomed to became normal.

Are you walking in pain that has become normal for you?  Have you become dull to the pain, allowing spiritual or emotional muscles to weaken because you’re haven’t been using them?  When you attempt to use them in the right way, do you shrink back because the weakened ones cause new pain?  Are you afraid to go through the pain to be healed and healthy?

Physical therapy has done great things in just one week.  My knee’s been pushed, pulled, challenged, and stretched.  After each session, it’s stronger.   In order to heal, I have to persevere and work through the pain.

Healing from emotional pain is similar.  I often tell counseling clients that things will feel worse before they feel better because therapy brings up painful things needing to be addressed and healed.  It’s like surgery.  In order to heal, you have to open up and repair what’s damaged in the mind, soul, and spirit.  Learning to walk an emotionally healthy road requires using emotional and behavioral muscles that have been weakened.  It’s painful.  You’re pushed, pulled, challenged and stretched.  But after persevering, you’re stronger.

Just like my knee.   If I wouldn’t have sought treatment, I would have walked in pain with my “new normal” limp.  I probably would have gotten along okay until something would make it hurt worse.  Emotional pain can be carried the same way.  Pain and injury becomes an accepted way of life.  It’s not healthy.  Not at all.

I’ve learned my fear of walking “the right way” was real.  The physical therapist saw right through it.  He knew my muscles were strong enough to walk again.  He wouldn’t accept my fear of the past experience to be my present reality.  When he said, “You can do this” it gave me confidence to walk the right way.  “Swing your hip,” he said.  “No limp no more.”Man Walking Along Line in Road

 I needed to do this. In fact, my future health depended on it.

What fears grip you because of pain from your past?  What fears are keeping you from walking forward?

As I continue to get stronger and work at strengthening the weakened muscles, I’m reminded that healthy physical, emotional and spiritual lives requires hard work.  It requires addressing our past, our pain, our fears.  It requires being stretched, pulled, pushed and challenged.  But in the end, we can walk with strength.

With a swing in our hip and confidence in our heart.

We know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint us because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit who He has given us. Romans 5:3

My love to you,

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A Place to Belong

Today, I have a devotional on being Rootbound featured at Circle of Friend’s ministry page. Please visit it, read it and share it if it ministers to you.

Also, to introduce you to the purpose and heart of Circle of Friends Ministry, I am offering my first giveaway. It is the book A Place to Belong by Lisa Troyer, President of Circle of Friends ministry.

The mission of Circle of Friends is to honor Jesus Christ through meeting the needs of women in our local, national and international communities.

Does the title of the book speak to you? Have you ever needed a place to belong? A place of acceptance, authenticity, affirmation, accountability, and action with other women?

A safe place to be?

I have. When I met members of the Circle of Friends ministry team at Carol Kent’s conference this summer, my internal thoughts were

Where have you been my whole life?

How many times have I needed a safe place to be with other women, especially when walking through the most vulnerable and difficult times of life?

Not only am I privileged to partner with them in ministry as one of their devotional writers, but I want to share their ministry with others, and share safe places through A Place To Belong.  Author Lisa Troyer authentically shares about depression and other personal struggles she has encountered. She shares the life-giving hope honest relationships with other women provide.  A Place to Belong can also be used for a bible study or resource for starting a Circle of Friends group.

Won’t you join me in entering the world of authentic, safe relationships?

This is my first giveaway. I may not do this right, but here’s my attempt. 

I don’t receive any compensation from giveaways I may have.  Beyond the Picket Fence is a ministry, and it’s my commitment to readers to share things that will minister the hope and grace of Jesus Christ. A Place to Belong does that and I would like to share it with my readers.

To enter the giveaway once, please email me at yoderbl@gmail.com with your name, email address, and physical address so I can mail it to you if your name is drawn! If you enter more than once, also indicate in the email which of the options below you have completed.

To enter 2, 3 or 4 times, I would love for you to share the ministry of both Circle of Friends and Life Beyond the Picket Fence by either  subscribing to Life Beyond the Picket Fence via email (right side bar), joining the  ministry Facebook page (right side bar), or joining the ministry on Twitter (right side bar).  You can find all of these tools on the right side bar.  Please email me if you have questions are problems.  Once connected on Facebook or Twitter, please share the link to Circle of Friends Ministry page, the Root-bound devotional, or this post!

When you connect in the ways above,  you’ll be entered for  each time you’ve partnered with us!  I will keep the entry open until Sunday, October 7.

There is an average of over 100 readers per post at Life Beyond the Picket Fence.  It would be my privilege to get to know more about you – to interact personally with you.  It’s also an encouragement to me when others connect with the ministry through social media because it means you’ve been encouraged by being here, for His honor and glory.

Please share the news about the giveaway – A Place to Belong is a must read for women.

Love to you in His Name,
Brenda

My Other Love

Lots of things on my list today.                                                                                        

I need to….. do the laundry, unload the dishwasher, and send emails to people at work.

I should….. exercise, renew my teaching license, and do things I’m putting off.

but more than anything, I want to spend time with God.

Over the years,
I’ve developed a love affair
with the Word of God.

It started at fifteen when I read a translation of scripture that made God personal to me when an eating disorder consumed my mind, body, and spirit.

At seventeen, His word became alive to me when victory overcome temptation for the first time in that compulsive, addictive behavior. God provided a way out for me just like He promised (1Corinthians 10:13).

As a college student, His Word convicted me that while everything was permissible, not everything was beneficial, and I chose to give up sin I was living in (1 Corinthians 10:23).

As a young mom struggling with post-pardom depression, I learned God cared about my struggle to just get through the day (Psalm 142).

When depression was compounded with grief, I learned God saw my tears, recording each one of them (Psalm 56:8)

When fearful of leaving my children when going back to work, His Word assured me He would supply all of our needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus (Phil 4:19).

As a parent struggling with anger, frustration, and a rebellious child, God promised me over and over again He would repay the years the locusts have eaten (Joel 2:25).

When sitting with a colleague dying of a brain tumor, His word became a balm to her dying body, as she accepted Christ as her Savior in the bed of a nursing home.

I can list other times when His word has been living and active, sharper than a double-edged sword, laying bare all things before the eyes of Him to whom we must give an account (Hebrews 4:12). I’ve been laid bare more times than I care to remember.

At this point in my life,
I’ve learned nothing satisfies
like the Word of the Living God.

In times of peace,
it nourishes and strengthens.

In times of pain,
it heals and gives hope.

In times of drought,
it brings life.

In the days and weeks to come,
I encourage you spend time,
any time,
in the life-giving Word of God.

Don’t set yourself up for the ideal
because you’ll get frustrated and quit.
Find the time that works for you.

On the treadmill while exercising
On your smartphone while
waiting for a ball game or meeting
On your Ipad in a place
where you are alone
On a CD or Ipod while in the car
With the real deal
At your desk ten minutes before
the kids come in the classroom
or the store is about to open

For me in this season,
it’s with a cup of coffee
on the mornings I’m not at school.

For you, it’ll look different.

I challenge you to fast from other books right now, going straight to the Author who knows what you need more than anyone else.

Time with Him is unlike any other.

Lord, Jesus, help us to run to you and your Word, seeking your life-giving truth that leaves us hungering for more. As a deer pants for water, cause our souls to thirst for you. Amen.