She Smiled

She was born into a home that didn’t want her. She was neglected and mistreated. She was told she wasn’t good enough. She wasn’t wanted. One day they proved that to be true and they  gave her away. Through it all she smiled.

She was adopted a short time later by parents that wanted her. Parents that loved her. She had nightmares. She was comforted by her new parents. She was told how much she was loved. She was taught about God. She was told how much she was wanted. Through it all she  smiled.

As she continued to grow and get older people would ask what is wrong with her. How can she always be smiling?  She must be hiding something. She would tell them all is good, nothing to hide. She just loves life and is so happy to be here. They would tease her but through it all she smiled.

She met a guy. She fell head over heels. Everything in her life was perfect. Until it wasn’t. He started to yell at her all the time. He started to abuse her. She tried to leave but he would convince her to stay. She would believe him when he said he would change. Slowly her smile started to fade.

She became pregnant. He didn’t change. She knew she had to leave him, not only for her but for the baby. She could remember how her biological parents treated her. She didn’t want her baby growing up the same. She moved back to her adopted parents, her real parents. Slowly her smile came back.

She read her bible and raised her little girl on her own. She knew who she was and why she was here. She taught her little girl about God. She was told she was loved and wanted. She told her about her dad and about her Father in Heaven. It wasn’t always easy but through  it all, they smiled.

On her last day here she thanked God for everything in her life. The good and the bad. She thanked Him for giving her a thankful heart. For giving her a smile through everything attitude. For giving her life lessons to teach her daughter. For giving her parents that didn’t want her, and for giving her parents that did. For giving her  a home to grow up in that taught her about Him.  She thanked Him for helping her forgive, her parents and her ex- husband. She took her last few breaths and as she left this world she smiled.

Think of these songs as a soundtrack to the reading.

Alyssa Lies by Jason Michael Carroll – 

When Love Takes You In by Steven Curtis Chapman – 

Orphan by John Waller – 

Everything To Me by Mark Schultz – 

You’re Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile by Sia – 

Smile by Nat King Cole- 

Bubbly by Colbie Caillat – 

Face Down by Red Jumpsuit Apparatus – 

That Don’t Sound Like You by Lee Brice – 

I Smile by Kirk Franklin –  

Like My Mother Does by Lauren Alaina –  

There Will Be A Day by Jeremy Camp- 

I Can Only Imagine by MercyMe – 

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Steps of Faith

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Run For God- preparing people to be better witnesses for Christ physically, mentally and spiritually. Physically by creating a healthier you and make it possible to reach a new demographic of non-believers-potential believers. Mentally by learning the discipline and endurance it takes to run the race set before us. Spiritually by learning always to give God the glory for all that we accomplish.

Yesterday we finished our 12 weeks of running for God. My wife led her first Run For God class at our church. She stepped out of her box and did a wonderful job. I helped out with the children. I tried to teach them a lesson each week on preparing for the race and endurance of being a Christian. In the end I think they just ran around playing hide and seek in the life center more than anything.

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12 weeks of studying what it takes to run the race as Christians. 12 weeks of building endurance to run the race. 12 weeks of getting to know other members and become friends with them. 12 weeks of having struggles, doubts and fear. 12 weeks of overcoming every obstacle in the way and achieving more than we ever thought we could.

Almost all the members of the class were newbies to actually running. Some ran years ago but had given up. Some had never ran at all. The first week we started off by jogging 60 seconds and then walk for 90 seconds and repeat for 20 minutes. The homework was to do this 2 more times during the week. We slowly increased this week to week where week two was 90 seconds jog, 120 seconds run for 20 minutes to the last class where we jogged for 30 minutes straight. It is always amazing to see the people that struggled in week 1 to jog 60 seconds actually jog for 30 minutes and how much confidence they have gained in themselves through this process.

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Throughout the weeks we learned about different types of running gear, shoes – not one size fits all, stretching the proper way, injuries and injury prevention. We learned about nutrition, proper ways to lose weight, staying motivated, running your race and what to expect during the race.

We watched videos and read inspriring stories from the Hoyt family, Ryan Hall, Edwin Moses, Gary Basher and many others. These stories told us about overcoming obstacles, fears, and doubts.

We read about how Jesus is the one who enables us to run at all. The race of faith takes us to eternal life through God’s wondrous hand. Stick to God’s plan and let God keep you on the path that leads to life. We learned that to be a runner, and a Christian, you have to have the right equipment, be determined, diligent, and focused. The Bible makes an incredible number of references to the sport of running, paralleling it to the lives of believers and the journeys of exhaustion, pain, and dedication that all Christ-followers must experience.

Instead of always asking God for what you want, try asking for a better understanding of what He wants. Sometimes we get so busy doing what we think God wants us to do that we totally miss God. Make time every day for the Lord even if it means sacrificing something else that you love- it will be well worth the sacrifice. Don’t lose focus of your goal, whether it is physical, mental, or spiritual. Keep your eye on the goal and don’t complain about the obstacles you have to go through to achieve your goal.

Our 12 week ministry ended with the Steps Of Faith 5k run/walk that our friend, Ben Reed, started 4 years ago. All race proceeds will support The Heinzerling Foundation and Bradley’s House of Hope, two organizations (one local & one global) working to engage & develop individuals with disabilities in a loving & nurturing environment.  We had the largest turnout ever with over 400 people registering, I believe 8 different churches came together to run and share God together.

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Run For God does not end with the class. Many participants realize they can run and keep on going. Run For God is also a community outreach. I know several times have worn their Run For God shirts when running or shopping or … and people always are asking “what’s this Run For God thing?”.  We also volunteer at water stations for other races such as Cap City, Emerald City, Nationwide Children’s 1/2 and marathon, Ohio State 4 miler,  and many others.

Look for a church near you to join the next class. Can’t find one, start one. You will be amazed.

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God gave us a beautiful day and an amazing race. I can’t tell you enough how amazing it is to see people cross the finish line who, 12 weeks earlier, were struggling to run for 60 seconds. The smiles at the finish line from everyone were truly inspiring. Several people asked, “What’s next? Can we keep meeting to run?”

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Know that what you choose to believe is what will remain until we change our mind. If you believe that you are defeated then you are. While you are focused on tomorrow know that God is already there working it out for you, so live in the present. Live each day believing you are victorious in every area of your life. Run for God. Live it. Love it. Teach it.

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Thanks Ben Reed, thanks Mitchell Hollis for starting Run For God and,  most of all, thanks to God. With Him, anything is possible.

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*some excerpts from Run For God by Mitchell Hollis

Ben Reed, Just Say Yes     

Run For God, What’s It All About – 

Run For God, 5k Challenge – 

Run For God by Miriam and Sarah Burnette – Steps of Faith 5K Westerville Christian Church edition – 

Kings and Queens by Audio Adrenaline – 

Team Hoyt – 

Ryan Hall, How Does Running Glorify God? – 

Run For God Church of Messiah (where Ben Reed started it and where we learned about it) –