Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Looking for beauty...

Sometimes I have to search really, really hard for beauty.  The hot weather and drought drag on and on here in the Midwest.  For a variety of reasons for the past several days I have felt as parched as my poor yard.

When difficulties buffet, I fight to focus on truth.

"Finally, brethern, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things."
Phil. 4:8

I have recently been saddened by concerns for some of our children, financial stresses, the added workload of getting our large family ready for a vacation, a new school year looming and me not feeling prepared.  In addition, we have been counseling older children as they prepare for college and careers, and I have spent what feels like an inordinate amount of time encouraging good attitudes as the children relate to each other here.

On other fronts, my beloved bike needed a new chain and, as it turns out, new rear cassette as well.  Now I actually like math, but even after reading and studying the math involved in determining what cassette would be best for me as I prepare for my  half-IM race in Branson this September, I felt like a complete idiot. This particular bike course is known to be the most difficult one on the 70.3 circuit, so I wanted to be sure to make a good choice 'cause I'll need all the help I can get climbing those Ozark mountain "hills" in Southern Missouri.

Jacob is currently working part time in a local bike store, so I took my bike in there to see if they could explain to me what would be my best option.  Now there is the possibility that I was simply having a bad day, but the explanation given to me made me feel, if possible, even more stupid than I did when I went in.  sigh.  It is at times like that that I feel like anyone who is watching me train for this triathlon is shouting "Poser!" and snickering at me for even wanting to try to accomplish this goal.  I mean, seriously, an almost 50-year-old mother of a dozen children training for a half-Ironman triathlon?!! What on earth could I possibly be thinking?

I have realized though, that I can't not do any of these things.  The homeschooling, caring for children, triathlon training, etc are not things that I do, they are who I am.  I can no more turn my back on those things than I can forego eating or breathing.  The day will come when I will be "finished" home educating our children, or when I will no longer be able to swim, bike or run, but that day has not yet arrived.  For now I am compelled to do these things~ to God's glory.

Eric Liddle, who won the gold medal in the 400 meters at the 1924 Paris Olympics said, "I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast.  And when I run I feel his pleasure."  (If you are reading this in an email, or reader, click through to my blog to see the following clip from the 1981 movie "Chariots of Fire")

To be quite clear, I am not fast, but I am persistant and I am committed to doing, with excellence, all that God calls me to do.  

"Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the price? run in such a way that you may win."
I Cor. 9:24

What things are you called to do... what things, when you do them, do you feel God's pleasure?

"Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."
I Cor. 10:31

I battle discouragement, just like everyone else, and I too must consciously choose to focus on truth.  Some of my favorite tried and true weapons in the discouragement scrimmage:

  • listening to God's Word (Daily Audio Bible)
  • listing the many ways that I am blessed (adding to my thankfulness journal)
  • taking camera in hand in search of beauty
  • playing with the children
  • laughing
  • wearing myself out with a nice long bike ride (or run or swim!)
  • singing to the (at times loud) music in our kitchen as we cook
  • working in my garden
  • taking a nap!
  • adding photos to our Project Life album~ visible proof of God's faithfulness and goodness in our family's life
How about you?  What do you do to battle discouragement and stay persistently faithful to what you are called to do?


  1. I really enjoyed reading this post and I appreciate your honesty! Thank you! You sharing in this way - it gives me a little glimpse of your heart - and you encourage me. Thank you.

    Hang in there. And Susan, run and bike and swim with all you have - to the glory of God! I have begun running in the mornings (started several months ago) and I often think of you and I think to myself, "if Susan can do it, so can I!" You are an encouragement!

    1. Jenn, Thanks, my friend! Awesome job with your running~ and with your encouragement for me as well! Thanks, my friend! {{{{hugs}}}}

  2. Thankyou so much for your post it encouraged me so much. It has been so hot and with no ac and the summer work of canning I have been lacking in the Joy and you are so right we must be praising Him always in all things to have it. I am praising Him for this post right now.
    Blessings, Christie

    1. Christie, Thanks for the encouraging comment! Honestly, I think that heat with no relief can be a huge trial~ I'm certainly empathizing with you! But you are right, praising Him is the cure, for sure. Thanks for sharing! : )

  3. Hi Susan,
    Praying for you. I so know what it's like to have so many things on the go, so many things to think about, pray about, deal with, work on and learn. I sometimes think about the fact that there are people who have so little in their lives - few family, friends, interests. Likely a lot less stress, and definitely more free time, but also less joy and fulfillment. Keep up the good fight!

  4. Dear Susan ~ I missed seeing this post when you put it up. Sorry you have been feeling a little down lately. But, remember it is not all up to you...the LORD does the families, in everything...what a blessing!! I continually have to remind myself that HE does all things for our good and for HIS glory (Romans 8:28). Hang in there. This is not a journey for the faint of heart...but, the LORD is Faithful and HE will accomplish what HE has set out to do!! Oh...Scripture is by far my most wonderful *go to* in times of trial...and good hymns...yes, good hymns. *It is Well with my Soul* and *How Firm a Foundation* are two of my favourites. What a blessing it is to belong to HIM!

    Love to you!
    Isaiah 26:3-4

    1. You are right Camille! And yes, those are two of my favorite hymns as well~ meaty lyrics there, for sure!

  5. Hello Susan, Loved this post about your life, your struggles and your desire to please the Lord. What a beautiful testimony. Thank you for sharing.

    When John was gone to Afghanistan and I would feel overwhelmed with the reality that he might not come home. Why is he even there? What if, what if, what if??? I looked back to God's truths, all of them. How he had opened the door for John to go, then closed it shut. Then opened it again. How God speaks so clearly to my handsome husband when he is soldiering and what a blessing that is. That God is in control.

    When I focused on God all my worries and fear literally went away.

    You are doing a great job focusing on Him.

    hugs~ Cinnamon

    1. Thanks Cinnamon!

      Now, having a husband overseas… *that* is a challenge! I prayed for you then and tried to imagine what you must have been experiencing…. but I really couldn't. We each have to face our own "demons," but you are right, when our focus is on the Lord, the fears and worries disappear (or at least aren't quite *so* bad! LOL!)

      Hope you are having a fabulous week!


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