Hurdles

Many moons ago, I was trained by a well meaning coach to run in a few races on a track team in Junior High. For some reason, my coach thought I could run fast. So I was told to run sprints. Lots of sprints which of course resulted in shin splints (whatever those are). During this season of my life, my prayer life grew. Every day during the spring, I would pray for rain so we would not have to practice or go to track meets.

Hurdle History

I clearly remember one spring day when my coach informed me that I would be running the 300 meter hurdles at the track meet on Saturday. Out of pure respect and no knowledge of the race, I agreed. Big mistake.

Saturday morning came and I dutifully walked to the starting line for the 300 meter hurdles. I tightened my cleats and settled my feet into the starting blocks. Feeling like I actually had a chance to win a race, I took off running when the gun fired. There are 8 hurdles in this race. During my race, I jumped the first few hurdles. But then, I just got tired. The rest of the hurdles were kicked over by me and I just focused on the running portion of the race. I did my job, I ran my race, and I went back to praying for rain.

Sometimes life has hurdles (especially when we get tired). Even after all our Lenten work, we experience hurdles during our daily faith race. But with the cross behind us and the power of the Holy Spirit within us, there are many ways to overcome these hurdles. From someone with experience getting over hurdles, you have permission to be creative with the hurdles in your life. We can jump over, kick, crawl under, run around or even pick them up and throw them to the side.

Hurdle Handling Tips:
  • When the day begins, put your feet on the floor by your bed and put your agenda down. Ask God for God’s agenda. This will help you prepare for and quickly see any hurdles that may come up during your day.
  • When the starting gun goes off, run towards your goal like you will win and succeed. Kick that first hurdle of doubt to the side. Keep running.
  • When you begin to encounter negative people who like to invite you to their misery party, stare that invitation right in the eyes and decline the invitation. Smile if it makes you feel better. No one has time for negativity or gossip when living for a higher purpose. Focus on the blessings around you instead. That will make you genuinely smile with joy.
  • When you begin to get tired of running and jumping all day, sit down for fifteen minutes every two hours and do nothing (set a timer if you have to). Don’t worry, you will still get everything done that you need to do, but you will stay centered and aware of God’s presence while doing it.
  • When the wind begins to blow you backwards, call that person that lifts you up! Tell them that you are feeling weak and invite them to run along beside you for a while. If your hurdle is really stubborn, call your pastor or counselor. Make an appointment and take care of that hurdle together.
  • When you are ready to quit, remember that you are not alone. A great cloud of witnesses surround you and are cheering for you from the bleachers. There is a little bit of all of them in you.
  • When you see the finish line, lean into those last few strides. All of your dedication, patience, faith, hard work, and prayers will carry you over that line and into the arms of your Coach who knew you could do it all along!

Let the award ceremony begin!

Tent Time:

This week, take some time to ask the people you love in your tent about the hurdles they are facing. What is their hurdle? How are they handling it? How can your tent be supportive? Where is God at work in the situation?

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

From Our Happy Hurdle Jumping Tent to Yours,

Meredith Bell

Pep Rally Week

Back in the day, my favorite week in school was pep rally week.  Pep rally week was a signal to me that the work was done and the celebration began.  Before pep rally week, my friends and I worked all summer.

We gathered over the summer at various houses and painted vertical pep rally signs, on hot driveways. Some signs were made to hang from the gym ceiling and HUGE run-through signs were made to hold while the football team enter the football field on Friday nights.  We spent one week during the summer learning new chants and cheers to teach our hometown.  We practiced building human pyramids on our shoulders in the city pool during the afternoons.  We fell in the water again and again.

When the summer came to a close and school began, it was time for the first pep rally.  At the pep rally, we gave it our best.  We yelled.  We jumped.  We nailed our human pyramid.  We smiled.  The spirit of the school and the town grew week after week.  The football players felt like heroes and we were all ready for the competition.

Holy Week is like a pep rally week for Christians.  For the past forty days, we have prepared.  We looked for signs of selfishness, sin, and doubt.  We discovered our deep need for forgiveness and grace.  We unplugged, fasted, prayed, discerned and listened.  We remembered the final act of death on a cross so that we can find hope in our darkness.  We patiently waited.

When the sun comes up on Sunday, let us cheer.  Hallelujah!  Let us lift up the Spirit.  Our helper.  Our advocate.  Let us paint signs all around us for others to see. Signs of love, hope and peace.  Let us see Jesus in unexpected places.  Testimony. Sunrise. Stillness.  When the sun comes up on Sunday (and every day), Jesus is our hero and we are ready for the competition.

Go Jesus!

Now when the centurion and those with him, who were keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were terrified and said, “Truly this man was God’s Son!”  Matthew 27:54

From our Happy Easter Tent to Yours,

Meredith Bell

Follow Your Energy

You never know when you will hear something that makes your heart smile.  I was sitting in an emergency room with a college student and visiting with the doctor.  The three of us were enjoying a conversation and then the doctor smiled and said, “Follow your energy…right?” My heart skipped a beat and I know it would have registered on an EKG machine if I was the patient.  My heart simply smiled…following your energy just makes sense.

Think about children for a minute, they simply follow their energy.  I clearly remember one Easter season when my toddler demanded that I buy some Easter candy as we were checking out of the store.  She won.  I lost.  As I was unpacking the groceries at home, she strolled into the kitchen with her Halloween basket full of Easter candy. (She still makes my heart smile.)  Before I knew it, we were going door to door and giving our neighbors chocolate Easter bunnies and saying happy Easter.  They were as surprised as I was when they opened their front doors.  She followed her energy.  All our hearts smiled.

Think about young adults (and I guess all adults for that matter) for a minute.  They seem to have more questions than answers about what major to declare, what job to pursue, who to date or what choice to make.  I clearly remember surprising my friend (who became my husband) with a cup of coffee at work one night when we were in college.  Our conversation began with a recap of our day and we shared the highlights with each other.  By the time our rather short visit ended, we had decided to get married!  Our hearts smiled!  Follow your energy!

Think about Jesus for a minute.  Remember the story of the brave woman who simply reached out and touched Jesus’ robe as he passed by and she was healed? She followed her energy and it led her to Jesus. At that very moment, Jesus recognized that power had gone out from him.  Their energy collided and a miracle happened.  Follow your energy…a miracle might be waiting!

When we are honest with ourselves, we can identify that “thing” that gives us energy in life.  That project.  That person.  That dream.  That idea.  That place.  Maybe it is time to simply follow your energy to where it leads you.  It may not make perfect sense right now, but you know you are on the right path when your heart smiles.

Now we see a reflection in a mirror; then we will see face-to-face. Now I know partially, but then I will know completely in the same way that I have been completely known.  1 Corinthians 13:12

From our Happy Tent to yours,

Meredith Bell

 

Doing Some Good

Happy Easter Eve! A day filled with mystery in the tomb and excitement in our hearts.  We know something is coming and we are anxious to roll back that huge stone.  There is a lot of energy in our home this weekend and some extra time to be home.  We are simply waiting for Easter morning.

But how do we wait? By doing some good!

In our tent, we have been exploring ways to do some good.  Here is our list.  We hope it inspires you to do some good.  We thought of ways we might make Jesus smile.

Families Doing Some Good List

  • Make This Weekend About Family

We had to work at it, but we stepped out of all our extracurricular activities this weekend.  Does it make us less committed or passionate about our activities…NO. It simply says, “During this Christian Super Bowl weekend…the game above all games, the win over all wins…we are going to celebrate God’s team, together!  We will catch back up with the other teams and groups after the RESURRECTION!”

We just signed up for this cool idea.  Check it out!  SoCe Life is a non-profit organization that researches, practices and teaches about good neighboring.  They have so many great ideas about neighboring.  We are excited to get started.

  • Make Something Sweet

We are soooo excited to end our Lenten fast from SUGAR. And so we are diving into sweetness this weekend.  One of our favorite sweets to make on Easter Eve is Easter Story Cookies.  Ingredients are simple. Spiritual lesson is powerful.  The cookies on Easter morning are magical.

  • Spread Some Joy

We got dirty today planting flowers in little clay pots.  It was a lot of fun.  Then we took these little pots around town and delivered them to un-expecting friends and neighbors.  We spread some joy and we experienced some joy.  While you are waiting around on Easter Eve…think of ways you can spread joy.

  • Get Outside, Together

Bikes, scooters, roller blades, tennis rackets, fishing poles, Kubb (our all time favorite family game), camping gear and so much more live in our garage.  We walk past it most days…but why not get outside this weekend together and make some memories.  Be spontaneous and adventurous.

At the center of the Christian life stands Jesus.  Jesus who teaches, guides, strengthens and inspires us to be who God created us to be as individuals and as families.  During this Easter weekend, let’s love on each other and others a little extra by doing some good.  It will make this weekend a little sweeter and happier.

For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. Galatians 5:13

Happy Easter from our Happy Tent to yours,

Meredith Bell

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