Monday, January 21, 2013

Tuning in and tuning out...

I admit it. I cannot run without music. I know....some say that means I am not a real runner. Whatever. I just know that without it all I can focus on is how hard I'm breathing, and how I evidently have a slight limp in one leg...going from my cadence.

For example, on New Year's Day I did a 12K and things were going fine until my music quit on me. I was using the "cloud" and since it was such a cloudy day, evidently my "cloud" couldn't make it through the atmosphere's clouds. Neither could pandora or iheart. I only had my thoughts of quitting and my pained breathing to listen to. Oh, and that uneven gait I mentioned. My focus was on me. So yuck.

Yesterday I decided to go for a 45 minute run, something my coach friend suggested to me years ago. I wasn't focused on pace per mile, just on running continuously for 45 minutes. I definitely made sure I had music this time - my trusty old ipod thingy. (It's not a real ipod. It's old and it plays music and that's all I cared about.)

At first it was painful. In the middle it was painful. Let's be honest. It stayed pretty much 'mind over matter' the whole way. You know that runner's high they talk about. Never did find it. But still I ran. One foot in front of the other. Step by step with the music helping me along. (By the way, this past week I participated in an experiment for a science fair project as to whether what you listen to matters when it comes to your speed in running. I discovered that I ran faster when I had at least something to listen to besides my own breathing and a good 15 seconds faster per quarter mile when I listened to music with an upbeat tempo.)

Don't ever let anyone tell you that what is playing in your mind doesn't make a difference. It does! While my music was simply "background," it helped me focus on something other than "me." 

At one point in the run, I noticed a twinge in my knee. Nothing painful, just aware that the muscle seemed to be tightening. Note to self: Check on that. Do some strength training exercises for that muscle group and check shoes. Perhaps they are worn past their running days. But since I had my music to help me along, my thoughts did not stay there on that 'twinge'.

Mostly I prayed and "talked to God" about some things I am dealing with and an upcoming missions trip to Cambodia. The thing is, while I was out there just pounding the pavement, I was tuning in. I could feel that "twinge" or nudge in my heart leading me to answers. All the while, my background music played and helped keep me moving forward.

I have to wonder, what if the music that was playing in the background had been something other than music that glorified God? Would my thoughts have been able to break through the noise. Would they focused more on the problem than the One who is the solution? I don't know - but to be honest I'm not willing to test the theory. My runs have become a time when I can sort out my thoughts and really examine what I am thinking....and to turn them over to my Heavenly Father.

So what is the point of this post?  I guess it's simply to remind myself to check out what my "background" music is. Am I listening to others talk about the problems or am I making sure that I fill your life with the sounds of those who focus on the solution? Some days, I do a little of both. Some days I can't get my mind off the labored sound of my own breathing and my slightly off-tempo spiritual gait. In other words - I can't seem to get my focus off me. Other days I manage to drown out the sounds of myself and am able to focus on something a lot higher.

I've got a long way to go to make sure I stay tuned in to the right things. I fail a lot, just ask those around me. But I am trying...honest I am. I may not have a choice as to what is going on in the world, but I can choose whose report I listen to. I choose to listen to and believe the report that "Greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world." 

Today in a devotional blog I subscribe to, Girlfriends in God, I saw a wonderful idea for helping keep my thoughts in check. "Put a rubber band on your wrist and wear it like a bracelet. Every time you complain, grumble, or simply talk negatively about anything and anyone, pop the rubber band. That's right, pull it out and let it pop your wrist.

If you really want to see how much you grumble, get a girlfriend or family member to do it with you. Agree to tell each other, "Girlfriend, you need to pop that wrist." Sometimes we all need a little help from our friends."
I think I may add that when I find myself THINKING negative thoughts, I will give a little "pop" as well. Let's just hope I don't lose my wrist before lunch!

By the way. To find out more about my upcoming trip to Cambodia, you can check out my link at To Cambodia and Back. I will be going to work with the Hard Places ministry there as they reach out to the children. I don't pretend to know all that God has planned, but I know He has laid it on my heart to go into a very dark place and simply shine the light He has placed in me. And let me just say, your donations and PRAYERS ARE APPRECIATED!!!

1 John 4: 4-6
4-6 My dear children, you come from God and belong to God. You have already won a big victory over those false teachers, for the Spirit in you is far stronger than anything in the world. These people belong to the Christ-denying world. They talk the world’s language and the world eats it up. But we come from God and belong to God. Anyone who knows God understands us and listens. The person who has nothing to do with God will, of course, not listen to us. This is another test for telling the Spirit of Truth from the spirit of deception.

Romans 8:31-39

31-39 So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture:
They kill us in cold blood because they hate you.
We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one.
None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us. (Notice it doesn't say it won't be tough...just that no matter what we have the assurance that God will not leave us to fight alone!)

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