What is hindering you?

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by Heather {Spring} Gilion

What hinders you? What trips you up, holds you back, and is a constant entanglement?

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. {Hebrews 12: 1-2}

Sometimes we are intimately aware of what hinders us and sometimes it’s not until God puts His finger on it—or someone we love points it out—that we are aware of areas in our lives that truly are keeping us from running the “race that is set before us.”

A couple days ago my hubby grabbed our boys after school and took them on an outing to the mall to pick out something special for my birthday. It was a spur of the moment outing, so Noah (7) was disappointed when he climbed in the car after school to find out he was heading to all the “boring” stores in the mall when he’d rather be getting home to play with his neighborhood friends. Dallas told me that Noah was complaining most of the 15-minute drive. Daddy took this opportunity to talk to him about selfishness and how sometimes because we love another, we put them first. Noah expressed how he didn’t want to be selfish and wished he wasn’t.

“You are never selfish, Dad.” Noah said.

“Yes, I can be selfish too.” He took some time giving Noah examples of his own selfishness and then how he talks to God about it when those times happen.

They arrived at the mall and parked the car and the three of them prayed before heading into the mall. Daddy led them in a time of talking to God about the real struggle with selfishness and asked Him to help them all be more like Jesus. Afterward, as they walked into the mall, Dallas could tell Noah was heavy-hearted about it all. He was getting a little teary and sad, but Daddy picked him up and reminded him that he and God loved him very much, and that NOTHING would or could ever make that change. After hugging it out, they set off with new zeal to find me the perfect somethings.

Upon entering American Eagle, Zach spotted something “PERFECT for mom!” “Come on follow me, I see something!” They walked all the way to the back of the store to see a pastel-themed cactus tank top. “Hmmmm…” Daddy said, “I don’t know. Let’s keep looking. We can always come back for it if we don’t find something else.” (Thank You, Lord, for giving me a good mate.)

In another store Noah found me a shirt that said, “You had me at coffee.” “Mom, would LOVE this!” He was right 😉 I’m already wearing it.

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After a cookie for the boys, Starbucks for Daddy, and a few reminders that “we don’t wrestle in the middle of the mall,” they were off to their final store. As they were walking Noah quickly put his right hand up to shield his eyes. “Oh, I shouldn’t look over there…. I need to cover my eyes.” They were passing Victoria’s Secret on their right. “Hmmmm…” Daddy thought to himself, “That’s interesting. We’ve had some basic conversations about boys and girls, modesty and respect, but this is still a little surprising for a seven-year-old. I wonder where its coming from…”

Noah kept his hand stiff so he wouldn’t and couldn’t see to his right, “I will want to go in there and I just CAN’T look over there.”

Before he could ask Noah about his reaction, he heard the squeal of his five-year-old, “Noah, there’s BUILD-A-BEAR!”

Noah quickly reprimanded Z-man, “No, Zach, put your hand like this! Don’t even look in there! We’re shopping for Mom, not us. We have to stay focused.”

EVERYTHING MADE SENSE. Dallas could stop sweating. Ohhhhh… it wasn’t the voluptuous women that tempted Noah. It was the allure of fur, stuffing, and hearts you can whisper wishes into.

Sometimes you’ve got to do “the Noah.” Hand up, eyes shielded from the hindrance. I have walked past a plate of cookies like that, “Heather, do NOT make eye contact with the snickerdoodles! Don’t do it! NOOOOO!” Or maybe it’s toxic relationships that always lead to gossip. You feel the words forming in your mouth. Man, you want to say it… you’ve just got to! You can spin it, no problem. It’s already justified in your mind! You’ve got to get it off your chest and you are sure your friends will want to “pray” about it too. But then, in the moment you don’t ignore the Voice… His Voice… and you do “the Noah” except you put your hand over your mouth. “Not today!” you declare to yourself. His Spirit and His strength is enough to walk past this temptation. Or maybe you find yourself lusting for a different life, as you pine over all the “perfect” lives on Facebook/Instagram. Or maybe you stalk your ex on social media, just “checking up” on him or her. Or perhaps you secretly find it hard to celebrate the blessings experienced by others because of your own jealousy and discontentment?

I love the imagery in the NIV, it says “let us throw off everything that hinders.” Us—me and you—we throw it off. No one else can do it for us. We’ve got to chuck the sin that ensnares us. We THROW it off! And with His strength, it can be done, even if we have to do it over and over and over and gosh dang it, over again!

So… what’s hindering you? Do you know? Are you aware of the “sin that so easily entangles” you? Or maybe you aren’t sure. Maybe you need to ask the God who loves you with an everlasting, life-giving kind of love, what has got you tied up. You don’t have to fear these revelations, because freedom is at stake. May we have ears to hear and hearts willing to throw off everything that hinders us as we RUN—turning our eyes upon Jesus. He is our prize! He is our strength in the midst of temptation. He is more than enough! He gives us strength even if we are face to face with… Build-A-Bear.

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To learn more about Heather and Holly’s ministry, you can watch their 3 minute video: go here

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What I learned running a 5K with my son

{by Heather Spring Gilion}

Noah, my seven-year-old, was eavesdropping on a conversation I was having with my hubby about an upcoming 5K. “I want to run with you, Mom.” The hubs and I looked at each other and I started coming up with all the reasons why that probably wasn’t a good idea. I mean, he’s never run that far, that I know of. He’s all boy, so he basically runs everywhere, all day, everyday, but is he ready to RUN? Is that DFS hotline material? I mean, it sounds like child abuse if I let him, right? Is he old enough to be doing that sort of thing? But every reason seemed to fall flat as we heard his pleading and true desire to mark this off his bucket list. (If 7-year-olds have those sorts of things.)

We came up with a plan: we’ll do a practice run. If he perseveres through 3 miles running with mom through boring neighborhood roads then I’ll say yes.

We laced up our tennis shoes and headed out on our “rehearsal.” Little four-year-old brother, I’ll call him “Mini Me,” was SO distraught as we were leaving that he convinced me that he was up for the challenge too! (Now you’re calling the cops aren’t you? Well, no need.) Daddy Long Legs came to keep Mini Me company if indeed his legs tuckered out.

So, you’re wondering how did it go?

Actually… It was like eating double-stuffed Oreos. It was better than I thought it would be. And I wanted more. It’s always fun when your kids get old enough to introduce them to something you enjoy. The boys and I discussed what we saw in the clouds, I heard their little feet hitting the pavement, and we laughed about seeing worms and birds and cement trucks. They did great! At one point Noah and I left Daddy Long Legs and Mini Me so they could walk a bit. But Noah and I continued our trek around the neighborhood. When he needed a break, we’d walk. I’d point towards a landmark and say, “Do you think you can make it to the trash can up there?” And then off we’d go. During the last mile, I pointed toward a mile marker to see if he could make it there before we walked and he suggested we pick one farther out. “I like to push myself, Mom.” Well, okay, then 😉

Daddy Long Legs and Mini Me were waiting in our driveway to celebrate our arrival. As we entered our street, I told Noah that I usually sprint the last little bit.

“Why, mom?”

“Well, I know I’m about to finish, so I give it all I’ve got. I push myself, knowing that the end is in reach and so I just go for it. Are you ready?”

“GO!” He said. We sprinted. As fast as we could, we ran. We gave it all we had. Daddy Long Legs and Mini Me cheered for us. We made it, laughing, high-fiving, and beaming because we did it!

We completed our 5K rehearsal!

We completed our 5K rehearsal!

A few days later as I tucked Noah in, I told him I’d be waking him up really early for our race. “I’m going to try and get good sleep tonight, Mom, but I’m just so excited, what if I can’t fall asleep?” Noah said as he yawned and drifted off to la la land.

Morning came and as I woke him, before he even had the energy to open his eyes, he grinned and said, “I’m ready for our race!”

We snacked on a banana and grabbed some toast for the road.
We drank our water, arrived on site, and checked in.
With our numbers fastened to our shirts, we stretched and then went one last time in the port-a-potty.

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Joining the other runners, we took turns grinning and nudging one another during the National Anthem because the time had come! I probably hugged him too much, but then again, probably not.

And without further ado… gunshot! The race was underway.

It’s one of those moments in time that I wish I could mentally have on video to replay anytime I wish. Our feet pounded the pavement and our smiles stretched from ear to ear. We were off. “We’re all running together,” he laughed. I laughed.

One thing that’s pretty unique when you’re running with a kid, everyone cheers when you pass by. I LOVED watching his face light up when someone called out a cheer or encouragement his way. Every time, his speed picked up and I would have to push myself to get back in rhythm with him.

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I love this picture because he’s excited that he sees a water station.

We talked. We laughed. We ran. We passed people. We were passed by people. Strangers and friends were cheering for my little athlete. He was working hard. I felt like every few minutes I’d say, “You want to walk a bit?” Most of the time he wouldn’t take me up on it. Or if he would, someone would pass us and he’d immediately want to start up again. He put me in my place quite often, “This isn’t really running, Mom. This is jogging.” Well, he was right. But we were making good time.

We drank our water and I even showed him how to wear it.

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We talked about school, summer, and what he’s learning. We talked about the horse that we jogged by and how creative God was to make all this. He again, didn’t like it when someone passed him so he would speed up as if he was saying, “Oh yeah?”

As we approached the last leg of the race, the anticipation of finishing started to set in. I was so proud of him. I told him so. As I was explaining to Noah that we were about to enter the park and that the finish line was less than a half a mile away, I started hearing more cheers. Strangers and friends were loving on my boy, encouraging his little heart and his little legs to not give up. His speed picked up. I saw him grab his side at one point, “Noah, you want to walk for a minute? Seriously, we can walk, buddy.”

“No, I’m fine.” This kid was booking it. I was almost laughing at this point and it’s hard to laugh and run at the same time, but I had to focus to keep up with him. The cheering continued and there it was… the glorious FINISH line! Mini Me was standing on the side-line waving with all his might. His brother was trucking along, and we had our sights set on the finish line.

We sprinted.
I was cheering.
Others were cheering.
And TOGETHER we crossed the finish line! Our time was 35:36!

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It was glorious. It was a celebration. My partner in crime pushed himself and completed what he set out to do. Was he tired? Yes! But it was a good tired. A happy tired. A satisfied tired as we told Daddy Long Legs and Mini Me all about our great adventure! Now where are the pancakes?

So, here’s two lessons I learned (am learning) from all of this:

1. Take a walk/run with the short people in your life. Okay, maybe your 13 year old is taller than you now, but you get what I’m saying. There’s something about physical activity that makes you feel good, plus you have a destination and a goal that you are moving toward, and you’re doing it together. The company is sweet and the distractions end up being “good” distractions. They usually lead to some real bonding moments.

2. Encouragement is fuel. Noah ran faster when people were cheering for him, to the point I struggled with keeping up, towards the end. What a picture of how we are to live this life. There will be times when you are running the “race” and at just the right time you hear it—applause, the cheers, verbal confidence that others believe in you—and it fans your flame. In that moment, stopping is not an option, even though you may be at your end, strength rises up and you push harder and dig deeper. You are not alone. As a mom, to see the impact that encouragers from the sidelines had on my sweet boy, it was priceless. They became a part of his race! And that’s how life is, isn’t it? When I look at my life and think about all the times I wanted to give up, but at just the right time, God sent someone in my life to encourage me:

When are you going to write that book?”
“You’re doing a really good job!”
“Are you weary? Can I pray for you?”
“I’ve been meaning to tell you that…”

Words can be like healing salve or gas in your tank. The Lord gave us one another to spur one another on (Hebrews 10:24). Applause should never be the reason we do what we do, but it can be just what the Lord wants to use to help you or someone else persevere.

“Just keep swimming” – Dory in Finding Nemo

This has caused me to evaluate my relationship with my kids. Am I encouraging them enough? Do they hear my cheers? Do they know I’m proud of them? How can I speak confidence into their little lives at just the right times? And then, in my relationship with my spouse and in my friendships—am I spurring them on to run with their eyes fixed on Jesus? Do they hear my cheers? Am I using my words to build up and not tear down? Do I use my opportunities enough to encourage my fellow racers? Or do I just assume they know I’m proud of them?

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith…” {Hebrews 12: 1-2}

Encourage someone today!

And go run with a short person, you won’t regret it.

{Most of the photos in this post were taken by the amazing crew from the Heavy Duty Rebuilders Duck Waddle 5K Run/Walk.}