Finish The Race

Michael Randolph, NAMI 5k run, winners circle

It was a bitter 38 degrees and though this was a 5k run we were about to tackle, runners were bundled up like we were about to build a snowman. With the wind and moisture, thermometers told us the ‘real feel’ was 29.

We were here to celebrate physical wellness and mental wellness and I brought 167 of my friends to run with me; there was no way I could back out.

Some didn’t show up to brave the chilly temps and others wrestled with their decision to even be at the start line. As the vicious air took a bite at my cheeks, I felt their pain. We were dressed in layers, including gloves, and the wind wasn’t letting up. Cold blasts clawed at the back of my throat and deflated the lungs more than anything. Tennessee’s pollen had noses all stuffed up. The odds were not favorable for a finish.

In the midst of the suffering pain, there was an unending persistence in my mind to get out of the ‘giving up’ head space and refocus on how my legs run without the resistance.

When that didn’t work… I started a conversation with Jesus about strength and encouragement to press through. He played back the words I told my teammates at the start line, “just focus on finishing. Walk it. Jog it. Run it. Whatever you need to do to finish. Not for a medal, but for you.”

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 pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3)strength, you are strong to show up, you are fearless to finish, finish the race,

Friend, you came to finish this race. That’s the goal. Don’t think about who’s way out in front or focus on the pain too long. This is between you today and you yesterday.

Fix your eyes on Jesus. 

Be kind to your soul. We can be our greatest enemy or our most encouraging friend.

When you catch your breath after digging into that finish line, you’ll probably be surprised by the stats at how well you actually did in this race. ‪#‎lifelesson‬

You’re doing better than you think. This physical endurance is building a mental perseverance. Keep going.

With each steady step, the end is one day closer. You’re almost there, Friend. Keep your head up, chest out and your shoulders pulled back.

In your faith. And fitness. With your family. As well as friends. At your job. And in the places that keep you leaning on Jesus.

You are strong to show up. You are fearless to finish.

Embracing The Season

pumpkin spice sprinkles, season of Fall, embracing pumpkin spice, embracing FallIt was 34 degrees last night. Grrr… and Brrr! Winter is trying to get an edge on Fall already. I head straight to the kitchen. ‘How can I get more pumpkin in me before this glorious season ends?’ Eyeing a jar of pumpkin spice on the shelf, a crispy slice of cinnamon raisin bread springs from the toaster. Well, that sounds like a start. Mixing up some pumpkin spice sprinkles, I decide to lace every meal in it. A dash here, a pinch there, heck, lets do a dusting in my drink as well.

Fall is a Neverland. People regain a childlike exuberance for life here. It’s a place that doesn’t make sense really. Though ‘life’, the trees and flowers, are dying around us, in this same moment, we come alive.

Nevertheless, this is my toast… to surrendering in the season, snuggling up to the hand life has given, and stretching to hold on to the joy right here.

Winter will come. It is a season of life. And when it does, though the welcome mat won’t be on my doorstep to greet this guest, may I remain ready with an open heart because the power in my pulse comes from Everlasting Joy. Cheers!

Pleasure Isn’t Worth Regret

As we near the end of the year, I’m exploring old adventures, sharing some smiles and shedding a few tears that I’ve written in these journals throughout 2015. There’s no label I can slap on the cover of this one, but I’m looking for lessons to learn as I head into the next.
There were a few mountaintop experiences, but one recurring valley and it dug it’s ugly head into different areas of my life; relationships, food, sleep. choices to stay out longer and be up later instead of resting. it was fun to do, but I never felt great afterward.
In the middle of sifting through warped pages, the takeaway was boldly obvious: A moment of pleasure isn’t worth a day of regret. This is a good filter for my decisions in the future, I thoughtregret, pleasure, no regret,
Living a life that seeks pleasure over wisdom isn’t worth any kind of regret. It drains the capacity to be our best.
Later in the day I read, ‘psychologists say a sign of good mental health is the ability to delay gratification.’
Without stepping into the next invitation of momentary pleasure, how can we prepare now? I made a list of what my best life looks like. Now it’s up to me to guard this with my choices.
For me, having a peaceful moment with God is crucial for me to lead a life of love and grace. Scheduling this at the first part of my day before the world wakes (and wants to take that time away) is important. My day has this 5 a.m. foundation. And in order to wake up and feel refreshed, alert and ready to listen at this hour, my body tells me I must get eight to nine hours of rest. So I shut the lights off at 8 p.m. and I let the Lord wake me when He’s ready.
The best life for me also includes physical exercise. Whether that’s a decent 5-mile walk in the park or inside the gym lifting weights. My muscles and joints just don’t feel their best without it. Sunday night I look at the calendar for the week and block out my time to workout each day of the week.
Nutrition helps my body have the energy to keep up with the calendar. Since I have little self control when it comes to portions or saying ‘no’, it’s important for me to assemble every meal ahead of time, starting Sunday night. The crockpot makes this easier. Breakfast, lunch and dinner for the week are waiting in line on the shelves of my fridge so I can ‘grab and go’ and I don’t have to second guess if it’s well-balanced.

I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Romans 12:1 (NIV)


The bible reminds us that this body we live in houses the holy spirit and it was bought for a price. It’s not meant for the physical and mental damage that comes with sexual immorality or gluttony. Taking care of the body we’ve been given demonstrates respect for what God created.


There are other parts to life that make us our best, like having community and conversations and quality time face to face with friends, but those come after this responsibility to our personal health. We are not much good to a group if we can’t protect our personal best. These three areas, rest, exercise and nutrition are a starting place.

What does being your best look like for you?


The Uphill Climb

Our minds are tempted to stop the struggle on an uphill stretch. It’s okay to take it slow, just don’t stop now. Shift your eyes off the end and refocus your attention inward, on strength and the supply. Draw in those deep breaths and relax in the pace. This is what’s going to propel you forward in the climb. That’s how you finish a race.

Don’t get caught up in the climb. You got this!

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; 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

And in the end we will say,

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7

Breaking through and not breaking down

When God has a breakthrough for us, the devil brings a breakdown. The more faith you live with, the more fear the enemy stirs up.

Essentially, the enemy releases resistance to hold you back, but God uses that resistance to strengthen the heart muscle for an increase. When you are met with push back, this is the time to push through the burn and work that faith muscle to exhaustion.

Hold out your hope! Rest is around the corner.

‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’ Jeremiah 29:11 NLT

Exercise doesn’t evoke excitement from many people. But we push through to build endurance. We burn out muscles til tiny tears break into the deeper fibers of our strength, and repair themselves when we rest. This is what produces results! Here’s where we see the increase.

Here’s another truth about breakthroughs: You can’t live out today on yesterday’s faith.

As your strength increases, so must the weight of resistance and level of endurance. As you stretch those muscles to reach new goals today, it will require heavier lifting and longer distances to see the benefit and growth tomorrow.

Yesterday’s routines won’t work on what’s required of you today.

You may need the edge of additional experience or education. Perhaps it’s an increase in peace or  prayer. Maybe it’s more like-minded relationships or intentional living.

If you’re ready for the rise, it’s time to press into the pain and prepare for a gain.

Here’s a final story I want to share with you.

Last week, I woke up the morning of an important meeting that would circle the completion of a book I’m writing. Locking up my house before dawn even broke the horizon, I stood stunned in shock. It appeared as if a violent storm took place within the confines of my car. invitationsOpening the driver side door, I noticed a mess in my passenger seat; a scattering of invitations to church that once sat neatly in the console.

Is it strange my heart smiled with compassion at this?

It reminded me that God meets us all no matter where we’re at or how deep we’re in it. We could be making a mess of a situation and He’s there in it, reaching out to invite us back to Him.

Naturally, my hope is that one of these invitations to church made it into the burglar’s bag of my belongings and in this moment is nudging him/her from a nightstand. Not because I care about getting my stuff back (although the RayBans would be nice), but moreso that a hurting heart who felt there was nowhere else to turn that night would find Jesus is all he/she ever needed.

Maybe your heart is breaking over a lost dream or relationship… God is meeting you there. Maybe you are breaking through… He is on the other side waiting on you.

Lean into the resistance to see results. Whatever you’re facing, just remember a showdown with the devil is God’s opportunity to show off; He is the one and only, great I AM.

Backpacking My Burden

I’ve been home for a week from my Italy excursion during the month of May. My brain has since been ruminating about the journey and I have found more reflections than I have time to write about. Even as I type, I am juggling several tasks between typing the title and actually transcribing my thoughts in this post.Several friends have asked, so here’s a quick take:

Favorite parts: I loved Florence the most. It had charm, rich history, a kaleidoscope of colors, rolling landscapes, a vibrant culture, and a taste of everything that makes Italy so appealing (my opinion). But really, I enjoyed each area for different reasons. Tuscany was simply stunning during every hour of the day. Cinque Terre and the Amalfi Coast were lined with trails that weaved along the water.

As a ‘foodie’, I plotted my pilgrimage according to every ‘must try’ by the culinary circles. I’m not even going to start on all the pasta, pizza, pastries and gelato or we’ll be here forever. Italy has cultivated the fine art of anything that comes in a cup. Simply put, the country is king of the kitchen!

So the worst part? Moving around so often. Before I left the states, I planned my priorities like most people; ‘I need to see it all’. As soon as my feet hit foreign ground, I realized it was goinBackpackingg to be a lot more work and less of a vacation. I left my suitcase at home and opted for a backpack to prevent being preyed upon by pick-pocketers. This would have been a wise idea if I hadn’t packed 25 pounds worth of “necessities”.

It seemed like I barely had time to get acquainted with the street grid of a new city before I was packing up and catching the next train out. With each stop, my bag became harder to zip up, which meant heavier to hold. I quickly realized how I underestimated the burden of lugging dead weight on my back in and out of trains and bus stops.

Then it hit me. This is what I do in my personal journey through life. I try to pack in as many activities or friends in a short amount of time so that I can ‘do it all’. In the end, I wind up stressing over all the busyiness instead of being grateful for these moments. I want to absorb the leisure of one or two places and enjoy the depth of relationships with a few people instead of living with regret that I only brushed the surface of it all.

So my recommendations. Don’t go alone. There’s too much beauty to see and share with someone and two pairs of eyes are better than one when you’re navigating from the ground in a new city. Second tip. Tell yourself you CAN come back. That you don’t have to be everywhere and do everything. And in the end, your trip will feel more fulfilling with fewer stops. Lastly. Remember, there are no calories in anything when you’re on vacation, so enjoy it all. Just make sure to get to the gym when you get home 🙂