Move On Faith

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

"I want a new testimony," I whispered to God. Then I suddenly realized that perhaps I don't have a new testimony because I haven't shared my "old" testimony enough.

When my husband and I moved to Birmingham, Alabama in 2009 it was so I could take a teaching job at my alma mater. My husband journeyed to the my hometown with me even though he didn't have a new job waiting for him. We were taking a leap of faith. Little did we know, God would soon ask us to leap again.

Because my husband didn't have a new job, we moved in with my parents when we relocated to Birmingham. The plan was that we'd get our own place once hubster got a new gig. But a month passed and despite my husband's relentless search for employment nothing worked out. Meanwhile, living in my parents' home became more and more challenging.

Then one day my husband and I went to a church service in Montgomery while visiting my cousin. The co-pastor gave a message about miracles. She talked about her mission trips to developing nations. She'd met children born with a missing arm or leg and seen those missing limbs restored through prayers of healing! I got goosebumps listening to her stories.

She said she believed that we hear more stories of miracles in developing nations than in countries like America because believers in developing nations have no Plan B. They truly and fully rely on God. She urged those of us listening to let go of our Plan B and to stop relying on our own wisdom, resources, or strength.  She urged us all to "Move on faith." She kept saying those words over and over again. "Move on faith!" she said. "Move on faith!"

While driving back to Birmingham from Montgomery I turned to my husband and said, "I think God wants us to move on faith -- literally. I think God wants us to move out of my parents' house." My husband confessed that he'd received the same message from the sermon.

We needed to move on faith; we needed to move into our own place before my husband found a new job to show that we really trusted God as much as we said we did.

And so the apartment hunting began. We found a new place and on October 15, 2009 we moved in. And on that day as we were carrying boxes into our new apartment my husband's cell phone kept ringing. Once we were all moved in my husband checked his voicemail: He had three job offers.

We looked at each other, smiled, and simply said: "Move on faith!"

Right now I'm praying prayers that are big and bold. I'm asking God for quite a lot. I'm asking God for a miracle. I'm asking for miraculous growth in my business and so much more. But lately I've been getting a bit discouraged. I've been doubting that I can actually make my dreams come true. And you know what I've realized? I can't make my dreams come true! At least not within my own wisdom, resources, or strength. It's time I stop worrying about Plan B. It's time for me to fully rely on God.

For a while I thought that maybe my dreams were too big, but then a friend of mine reminded me of something my pastor once said: "Let's live our lives so big that it couldn't possibly happen unless God shows up."

What testimony do you need to share?

Slow and Steady Wins More Than the Race

Monday, March 9, 2015

When Resolute Running clients achieve their personal best time during a big race they pin their bibs to this wall at the fitness center. This year I'm determined to see my name on the PR wall!

Yesterday I ran 9 miles and afterward actually didn't feel as if I'd been hit by a car. And I really do know how that feels, but that's another story for another day. For a little over a month I've been following a training plan developed by Coach Ann Thomas of Resolute Running Center. Yesterday's run was a strong indication that Coach Ann's plan is actually working. 

Sure, I've run more than 9 miles before. I've completed two half marathons. But each time I pounded the pavement for those 13.1 miles I felt terrible by the time I crossed the finish line.

My hope is that after my next big race I'll be able to enjoy a celebratory brunch with my hubby (who's always waiting for me at the finish line) instead of just collapsing in his car.  

When Coach Ann gave me my first running plan I was confused. You see when it comes to running I am definitely the tortoise, not the hare. I'm so slow that sometimes I feel like I shouldn't even call what I do running; it's more like jogging or better yet slogging. 

So imagine my surprise when Coach Ann told me she wanted me to run slower! In fact, she wanted me to run at a pace that's even slower than my walking pace! 

We need your body to make certain physiological changes that only occur when you are running at about 65-79% of max heart rate," Coach Ann said when I asked her why she wants me to run slower even though I'm already slow as molasses. "Running slower (sometimes, substantially slower) than race pace elicits this response.  Muscle cells increase in number, size, and distribution of mitochondria.   Your body also builds more capillaries in the exercising muscles which distribute more blood, meaning more oxygen.  Both of these changes enable the muscle to fire efficiently, so you can run farther and faster with less effort." 

Coach Ann constantly says to me and other clients that she's not just training us so we can run a race this year. She's training us so that we will be able to continue to run 10, 20, even 30 years from now. 

"Runners often think that if 5 miles is good, then 10 is better, and that if running at a 9min pace is good, than 8min pace is better; this is not necessarily true," Coach Ann said. "Increasing mileage too quickly greatly increases the risk of injury.  High mileage can yield great results, but the increase needs to be done slowly and with care.  Running all of your runs at race pace just burns out your legs.  For best results, you need a variety of paces, including slow runs to achieve the cellular adaptations and speedwork to increase VO2 max (a measure of the maximum volume of oxygen that an athlete can use)."

If you're a runner in the Birmingham area looking for a coach to help you train for next big race (and a running lifestyle), visit to find the right trainer for you. 

How to Move a Mountain

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Anyone who knows me well knows I love TED Talks. I show TED Talks to my students at the Alabama School of Fine Arts. When I'm in a long line at the pharmacy I open up the TED app on my phone to see what new talks have been posted online. And last year when I had the opportunity to attend TEDxBirmingham 2014 I was as giddy as a kid on Christmas Day. I literally skipped from the car to the front door of the Alys Stephens Center where the event was held. It would be my first time attending a live TED event. The theme was "Rediscover the Magic "and that I did. I left inspired with a new love for my city, a renewed determination to make it better, and an even greater passion for TED.

Things were different this year. TEDxBirmingham 2015 was just as fantastic, perhaps even better. But this year I felt the giddy girl of last year's event being asked to grow up. She was being asked to move a mountain.

"Move Mountains" -- that was this year's theme and it was quite apropos. The topics broached this year were as heavy as looming rust-stained rock of iron ore that we in Birmingham call Red Mountain. Human trafficking, our country's broken health care system, and environmental degradation are just a few of the issues this year's 12 speakers forced us to face.

When Sunny Slaughter's 7-year-old daughter was raped years ago by her own husband, Slaughter was filled with a rage that no one would have blamed her for acting on. But she used that fire to fuel the work she does today working as an activist working to end human trafficking. Slaughter hit us with the statistics of the the number of girls sold not just in other countries, but also in America and even Alabama.

In closing, she said, "I'm not trying to shock you. I'm trying to scare the hell out of you."

But how are we to move a mountain when the sight of it shakes us to our core?

The speakers covered that, too.

"Fear is great soil for growth," Tracey Abbott said during her talk. "The purpose of life is not to be comfortable but to grow."And despite her fear, Abbott recently quit her corporate job to found Culture Relay, a social enterprise dedicated to empowering high school girls through cross-cultural exchanges.

So feel the fear and face that mountain anyway. And here's how you can move it:

Shift the way you see that mountain. Be willing to look at everything in a new way. You make think that our country's obsession with sports will lead to its demise. But Andy Billings, professor of sports media at the University of Alabama, is using sports to delve into issues of race, gender, and more. Yes, it's true that very few Olympic swimmers are black, but why is that? Are black people just not good at swimming or could it be that blacks once had little to no access to public swimming pools and thus black parents were hesitant to encourage their children to learn to swim knowing they couldn't help them do so? And what kind of important conversations about gender can we have simply by looking at how women are portrayed on the covers of Sports Illustrated magazine?

Be willing to be radical. When Venkata Macha was only a sophomore in high school he asked a radical question: "Why isn't there a urine test to help detect cancer?" Then he did something even more outrageous -- he emailed renowned researchers all over the country asking them the same question. The result: he spent the summer before his junior year working in a lab of a Harvard University professor doing research to develop a bioelectronic chip for immediate, non-evasive cancer detection. "Radical approaches could have extraordinary results," Vekata said.

Your radical idea may be to tunnel through your mountain. If so, just dig and keep digging. While chipping your way through you will be discouraged. But so many speakers urged attendees to see failure only as a detour, not a dead end.

Or maybe you'll decide that moving the mountain isn't the best way to get to the other side.

"Sometimes it's more efficient to climb the mountain than to move it," civil rights activist and advertising executive Shelley Stewart said during his talk.

Strap on your boots and let's do this.

Kent Stewart is climbing mountains literally. He is on a quest to hike the Seven Summits -- the highest peaks on each of the world's continents. He only has one, Mount Everest, left to summit.

"What's your Everest?" he asked the crowd.

To become the first woman to qualify for the finals of American Ninja Warrior Kacy Catanzaro didn't have to climb an actual mountain, but she did have to scale a 14-foot warped wall and she had to ignore all the voices that said she couldn't do it.

Remember that moving this mountain isn't all about you. Kent Stewart can't climb Mt. Everest without a team of people supporting him. You need a team to climb your mountain, too.

And ask yourself why you want to get to the other side of your mountain in the first place. Shelley Stewart urged us to be mindful of our reasons, relationships, and reputation.

"What's the reason you really want to overcome this obstacle?" he asked. "If your motive is right your goal is more likely to be accomplished. Relationships are important, he said, because "you can't effect change by yourself."

And you shouldn't do it simply for yourself.

You have the power to change someone's life simply by clearing the mountain in your path -- whether you climb it, tunnel through it, or blast it to bits, you will change the life of another person.