Mondays are the worst, right? They just punch you in the face.
Unless you punch Monday in the face first.
(Not advocating violence per se, except that winning your heart decisively — and winning their hearts — is the key to finding joy, even on a Monday.)
Winning the battle on Monday starts with surveying the land: What. Just. Happened. (?)
As a preaching pastor, I can wake up with a “case of the Mondays.” You ever feel that way? Lethargic, not wanting to move. Tough to get motivated. In a malaise, mentally and emotionally. 1
This experience is not confined to pastors, and it’s not just a spiritual thing. Rather, the root of this Monday feeling comes from what Archibald Hart calls “Post-adrenaline depression.” He describes it this way:
“…what I was experiencing was a profound shutdown of my adrenal system, following a period of high stress or demand. It was as if my adrenal system were saying, ‘That’s enough abuse for now; let’s give it a break,’ and shut down so that I had no choice in the matter.”
While this might seem like a mini-crisis, this slow-down provides a helpful clue to something we all need: active rest. Have you noticed that when you lay in bed all day you feel achy later, while going for a brief walk actually energizes your body? Your body needs rest, but active rest is better.
“This really isn’t unique to pastors. Even if you aren’t a pastor I’m guessing that you have had times of a great spiritual high, only to find yourself the next day feeling like a total schmuck.”
I’d say if you’re never honest about when you feel like a “schmuck,” then you have other problems.
Yet we need not be surprised or sidelined about needing to work at a slower pace in our jobs. While we seem to naturally swerve between over-confidence and despair, let us find a new rhythm to combat the inevitable fatigue and mental battles.Continue reading →
Surprise: not all pastors preach regularly, and so until the last three years hit me I didn’t realize the weight of the day after Sunday. Until this new season with Renew Church I was just as much a pastor/shepherd, but I did not preach regularly so this is all new-ish to me. ↩
On the first day of Summer, which happened to be Father’s Day, I competed in a sprint triathlon here in Oregon City. Here’s a bit about how I did, and especially WHY I raced in this fundraiser for Team World Vision. Some of you gave (Thank You!), and many have asked “How did the race go?” Plus, a new and different race is just around the corner.
This was my second attempt at a triathlon, as I did this same one here in our backyard in 2014. As one who has endured some acute and chronic injuries1 since high school, I found a cross-training balance has improved my life in immeasurable ways.
One of my brothers compelled me to start training as I observed his legit endurance. He’s competed in multiple cycling races and a few years ago became a triathlete. He’s conquered every distance up through Ironman2 and this Fall we’ll be there cheering him on at Ironman Arizona. (His new goal is to go sub-ten-hours, which means he will likely pass some pros.) We train virtually together from afar; swimming-biking-running has become an enjoyable triad, a shared experience for us.
This race was about much more than a triathlon, though. “Sprinting” for an hour or so was the easy part. The real challenge is the six kilometer plus daily hike women and children in East Africa have to endure just to get water for the day. Every day, multiply times for so many, hauling many gallons and dozens of pounds at once. All for un-clean water! It’s exhausting, dangerous, and yet this problem is solvable. Through the community development efforts of World Vision, partnering with countless local and national organizations, clean water can be accessible for the poorest of the poor. Lives can be rebuilt, children have new opportunities, women can flourish as made in God’s image. Their sufferings are ours to lean into, to be part of what God can do, if we will care.
In Africa they say, “Water is Life.” About 768 million people in the world lack access to safe water.
Lack of clean water is the number one preventable cause of death in the world. Women and children often walk 6 kilometers or more each way, two to three times a day, to gather water that isn’t even safe to drink; for water that could kill them.
It was an extraordinary experience doing fundraising while training, gaining confidence each time I told others about why I wanted, scratch that, they needed to give. At first I was apologetic about it, and then I realized that no apologies are needed, and I couldn’t be ah-shucks about it: kids are dying and through us be given a whole new opportunity in life.
I trained long and hard, enjoying it all. Besides thinking about and praying for the kids who will no longer thirst, the hour or two every morning is the highlight of each day. This was my second triathlon (sprint: 800m swim » 12mi bike » 5K run) so I am still a total newbie, especially on transitions, and I usually feel like I’ll drown on the swim.
Running with Heidi
The best part is how our kids got involved, cheering me on in training. Nearly all my training times are complete before 6:45 AM every day, so they usually don’t see me out there running, biking, even swimming. (They see me spent and sweaty afterward, though.)
But Dutch and Heidi asked me about it, and ask if they could “train” with me, so we’d go out front and run some sprints, or ride bikes a few dozen times up and down the block. Then it occurred to my wife Kari and I to connect our extra giving to this vital need. We decided that if I placed third overall we would donate $500, second place would be $1,000, and first place overall would have us matching the $1,500 goal.
I was the first one to cross the finish line, by a few minutes, which made my family think I won it. (Our kids were so enthusiastic!) Alas, I knew the athlete — another pastor named Jeff as well — I passed to start the 5K run not only beat me last year by a good margin, but he started behind me in a different wave by at least 5 minutes. I kept thinking, somehow I need to gain 5 minutes in these 5 kilometers. If only I could have matched my personal best in a 5K to end the race! Fatigue set in and the mind games started. Don’t slow down!
Nothing topped this hug at the finish line …
Yet we were so stoked with the finish, and I couldn’t say ‘no’ to our kids (nor to those kids in Africa!), so we happily matched the $1,500 to make it $3,000 for clean water. That made the whole race so much more enjoyable. Announced at Renew Church that morning when I arrived late, thankfully not preaching a sermon that day. Best Father’s Day I can remember.
Afterwards a few of the sponsored triathletes I passed asked about my Team World Vision race kit and if I was “sponsored by World Vision.” Got to explain how it works the other way around (!) and share about the project.
Which brings me to another race I was just asked last week to join. This one is more ambitious, and I get to do the easy part of training and running, and you get the joy and challenge of providing life-changing water for more kids!
The New Race: On August 28-29th I’ll be running, fundraising to provide life-changing water and resources for the world’s youngest nation, South Sudan. Working with the 4 South Sudan organization (founded by US Olympian Lopez Lomong, one of South Sudan’s “Lost Boys”), Team World Vision has ten teams participating in Hood-to-Coast, the world’s largest relay running race.
How about we aim to support 200 now?! $10,000 will provide water for TWO HUNDRED children FOR LIFE!
In joining a Team World Vision running team during the Hood-to-Coast relay, a total of 120 runners on ten teams are seeking to collectively raise one million dollars. Most of my new teammates are raising $10,000 each. Since I’m new to this party, let’s try to catch up. Okay?
(p.s., Many companies have programs to provide matching gifts.)
World Vision works with communities in desperate need to help provide things like clean water, nutritious food, education, medical care, and economic opportunity.
World Vision has the largest privately funded water initiative on the continent of Africa.
Clean water is a problem for which there is a solution. World Vision is the leading organizations bringing clean/safe water to communities in Africa in a sustainable way. When a community gains access to clean water:
Child mortality rates can be cut in half
Children enrolled in school can increase by as much as 80%
Women can begin working to provide for their family
Individuals and communities are changed in almost every way
A couple challenging injuries include: a broken vertebrae at age 16 (never completely healed), and later ran over left foot in Jeep Wrangler a decade ago. ↩
An Iron-distance or official “Ironman” triathlon is 140.6 total miles in three legs: starting with a 2.4 mile swim, transitioning to a 112 mile bike ride, and then capping it off with a marathon. Yep, run 26.2 miles to finish. ↩
In recent months a few friends have asked me to help them get in shape. Mostly through “friendly” encouragement, but sometimes more directly (and firmly) as a coach would. Various requests came in the form of invitations to run together, so we formed the Arch Bridge Running Club (Tuesdays, 5:00 AM running in/between Oregon City and West Linn). 1 A couple of us are training for a triathlon. Mostly we’re just running buddies.
One friend — not a runner nor desiring to become one! — asked me earnestly one day in mid-January if I would help him get in shape. Sure!
It took 86 days for his verbal desire to become “day one” of action. This month he began the journey through physical fitness. His resolve is now taking the shape of a new habit. (Don’t give up. Habits are usually stronger than desires.)
The key for him? Probably many things, like being disillusioned with getting older and sedentary. The inspiration of others on the journey, and a commitment to eating healthier has helped. Probably, like me, saying “no” is a challenge for him, so that there’s little left for cultivating a whole life.
Yet the key factor was this: beginning a new routine alongside his wife. (Yes!) This meant saying no to the customized fitness plan I had sent him (85 days prior) in order to say yes to a better and more realistic plan. (Principle: It’s good to say no to your friends for the sake of your wife.)
Personally, I default to doing just about anythingalone. Which is precisely why I must not do so. Sure, there are times of solitude, and out of six runs in a given week, five usually are alone before the sun comes up (though with Strava you’re never really alone). Tuesday mornings are a reminder that I am both known and needed, and not just because I’m the one who usually sets the week’s running plan.
Being known is about vulnerability, where others can see you as you are: whether fit and fresh or fat and fatigued. In physical terms that means getting up early, when no one else will (especially yesterday’s you), to hit the road or gym hard. It means showing up to give your best, while not looking your best. It means turning on screens in order to get needed sleep. It means running slower on recovery days, since that’s wisdom. It means asking someone significant to check on what you’ve eaten, what you’ve spent, giving personal access to someone to see the behind-the-scenes of your life. The same holds true spiritually, relationally, emotionally. This is the pursuit of wholeness, where we see God’s love at work it us, whether fit or fatigued. Continue reading →
The Arch Bridge Running Club is open to all, though for your enjoyment some basics and baseline fitness are needed: 1) Be able to run continuously for thirty minutes, 2) sustain sub-9:00/mi for three miles, 3) a desire to be challenged. There are no dues, nor t-shirts (yet). ↩
A great feature of running is the only person you’re compete with is … yourself.
Could you run a mile? A quarter-mile? Around your block?
A runner takes about 150-250 steps per minute (the lower figure for 9:00/mile and the higher at a 6:00/mile pace). So, if you run one mile that’s about 1,200-1,500 steps +/-. You have that many steps in you, right?
As for me, I usually run early mornings 3-6 times a week, but this week I’m laying low, with a sprained right ankle, and a gimpy left one too. Something about using a stool as a ladder that I learned last week was unwise.
While that setback bummed me out, it was on the heels of the logging the most miles in consecutive months since I last weighed the same as I do now (at age 19). So, taking a long-view helps, for elite runners (or elite-anybodies) are not made overnight. It takes step after step, and mile upon mile. For example, I average more than 30-seconds-per-mile faster than I did a year ago. On top of averaging an additional three miles per run.
In 24 days I’ll run in a half-marathon. Yet, a mere three years ago it had been years since I’d been a consistent running, and thought it was just due to injury and being too busy. My foot hurt and life was packed. But honestly, my main problem was a lack of motivation.
So, let me encourage you to lace up those shoes and go for a run — no matter how long or short — and enjoy the freedom God gave you to be healthy.
Read encouraging stories of those pushing themselves beyond their comfort zone (runners’ stories here and here and here).
Download an app on your smartphone. My favorite by far is Runkeeper, which is FREE (download app), and is far more than an app. It’s a running community (for more than just running) … make that a workout community.
Here’s what the Runkeeper community collectively completed in workouts during the first quarter of 2013: