I came home from my morning run and felt that I needed to go straight to my computer and record the Word and image that God gave me this morning on my morning jog.

Running is envogue in 2012. It seems that half of my Facebook friends have run their first 5K in the past two years. I can be a little sarcastic at times about it. Sometimes I am looking at their race pictures or their Nike mileage/time tracker that they upload to Facebook and snicker as I am comfortably sprawled out on my couch perusing the internet and social media on a lazy Saturday.

Don’t get me wrong. I love that my generation of 30 and 40 somethings feel the urge to slap their bodies into submission. But I can’t help but think about how many Gen Xers will have knee replacements or be forced to use walkers by age 65 because of all the pounding that running does on the body.

I can laugh because I started running in the 80s…long before everyone was doing it. In elementary school I would wake up early in the mornings to run a couple of miles with my mom. I have sweet childhood memories of running laps around Circle Drive in my hometown.

My mom was one of only a couple of females in the local “Road Runners” club. When it came time to set up the local Fun Run, the men only wanted to set up a 1 mile, 5K and 10K for the women’s division, because they didn’t figure there would be any women who would sign up to run the 15K. Oh….they should have known better than to challenge my mom.

I have memories of her waking up in the crazy early hours of the morning to train. When race day finally arrived, she indeed ran the 15K. I can remember watching her cross the finish line (wearing jean shorts…because that’s what people did back then when they ran in small towns) and being so proud that she had done what she set out to do…prove those men wrong.

One of my favorite pictures of my mom is of her coming towards the finish line of that race. The picture was taken by our friend who happened to be the owner of the local newspaper. I was so proud to pick up the newspaper the next week and see my mom’s picture.

I am one of those crazy people who has always loved to run. I ran track all through school. Though I was never the fastest runner, I was competitive and would train harder than anyone else so that I could make it to the final races at track meets.

In college, my small liberal arts school was forced to offer another woman’s sport. They chose cross country and so for the first couple of years the coach recruited athletes from other sports teams at the school to be a part of the cross country team. The coach talked me into running one season for her. I absolutely loved it. However, I was committed to the basketball team and found that I did not have time to do both.

As I have seen so many friends becoming runners, I sometimes long to have the ‘fresh knees and hips’ that they have. 25 plus years of pounding my body playing basketball and running thousands of miles has taken its toll.

So, when I refer to my ‘morning jog.’ That is exactly what it is. Gone are the days in my early twenties when it was a bad running day if my 5K was over 23 minutes. These days I am simply grateful that my hips and knees still have enough cartilage and movement to be able to allow me to jog three miles in thirty minutes a couple of times a week. The competitive side of my brain still tries to convince me that I could train and win some of the hundreds of races in Tulsa…the realistic side of my brain tells me that I prefer to not be using a walker by age 50.

Back to this morning’s jog. Joe has recently started wanting to jog with me. He hates running. I think that the only time he likes it is about an hour after it is over. He pretended to want to start running when he met me because he knew that I ran several miles each day around our seminary campus. In those courting months….he did a good job of making me think I would have a life long jogging buddy.

Over our 13 years of marriage, Joe has on occasion gone through periods where he gets up and joins me on my jogs. For the past few weeks I have loved Joe rolling out of bed to jog with me.

As we walked out the door, Joe turned around to go back and grab our sunglasses. For the past several weeks, the June sun has beaten us up on our way back home. We have been in a heat wave here in Tulsa this spring and summer and leaving the house at 6 am is not early enough to escape the grueling brightness and heat of the sun while we run…I mean jog.

I strapped on my IPod with my mornings playlist ready to go. I love to pick songs that will prepare my mind for my day and songs that I know will speak to me according to whatever is going on in my life.

Yesterday I had been struggling with some things about our family’s future. I chose songs this morning that would encourage me and remind me of all that the Lord has done in our lives.

Don’t laugh but here is the playlist. Most of which are totally old school. I am unashamedly old school.

Change The World by The Imperials

Come Just as You are by Crystal Lewis

Be Thou My Vision by 4Him

The Message by 4Him

Amazing Grace by Chris Tomlin

And there was one more song but I will save it until the end.

As Joe and I jogged we listened to these amazing songs. We made the turn to head back on the trail towards our house. About 5 minutes into the jog back home, I realized that my sunglasses were still on top of my head. I had never even put them on.

I looked up into the sky, and I saw something that I had not seen in months on my morning jog…clouds. Without even thinking, I said, “Man, what a difference clouds make.”

As soon as the words rolled off my tongue, my mind raced back to the lesson that God had taught me yesterday. I did something that I never like to do on my runs. I stopped. Joe turned and gave me a weird look because remember he hates running and does his best just to survive a jog and can’t imagine wanted to memorialize something so excruciating.

I grabbed my IPod off of my arm and took this picture.

Not sure if Joe is ducking his head to try to be out of the picture, or if he is really in that much pain.

I looked back up at the clouds and imagined that cloud of witnesses surrounding Joe and me. In those clouds I actually saw faces of influential people in our lives and it was if they were cheering us on not only on this morning’s jog, but in the race of life that is mentioned in Hebrews 12.

Then as if God were the DJ the song Don’t Get Comfortable by Brandon Heath started blaring out of the IPod.

This song is dear to my heart because it is the song that played on the radio in my car four years ago as I drove into Tulsa about to start on our ‘2 year stay’ in Tulsa. Go listen to the words to the song on the link above and you will understand the significance.

Mornings like these are why I love to jog. There is something magically about soaking in the beauty of God’s creation in the early morning hours. So I will continue to watch all my friends get their medals for all the races they run and be content with my morning jogs.

Indeed clouds make all the difference as we run this race of life.

I always see girls posting pictures of their feet in running shoes after a race. I tried it after my morning jog this morning. For some reason, there is not a camera angle that can make a size 11/12 running shoe look cute…