Love Workouts

I have signed up to do a half marathon in March.  I have done a few in the past but not for 2 or 3 years so I definitely need to train for it.

Training for a half marathon generally involves 4 types of workouts – speed, hills, long and easy.  Speed workouts are shorter and faster to increase your pace.  Hills increase your endurance and fitness.  Long slow workouts help you be ready to cover the distance of a half marathon and easy is a workout but comfortable and enjoyable.  Each training workout is designed to develop different skills and abilities. All together they make doing a challenge like a half marathon possible, not just to finish but to enjoy the journey and finish well.

Similarity in our lives if we want to develop perseverance, stamina, strength and tenacity, there are challenges that we must face to build these skills.  Just like the workouts, we need different type of experiences to develop a variety of important life skills.

We will face speed challenges, those situations that require us to react quickly and respond immediately. It might be a highly stressful situation which does not last awfully long but requires all our energy and attention at the times. 

And we will face the hills, the ups and downs of life.  Sometimes we cruise downhill and then we need to put our heads down and give it a burst of energy as we face an uphill battle.

And there will be times when we are in for the long slow challenge.  Those projects, dreams, or situations when we need to persevere and pace ourselves during periods of extended challenge or struggle.  We are in for the long stretch and slow and steady wins this race.

And then in between we will have times when it is easy. Times when life is in cruise mode, breathing space.  We can take a moment to enjoy and be grateful for all that we have.

All these different seasons and experiences we have in our live create our character and develop our resistance.  God gives us opportunities to grow and learn for our benefit, these challenges and trials might seem like a bad thing, but they are not.  They give us the ability to grow stronger and be ready for the future.  Love the workouts.

Why I never make New Year Resolutions

I am a very goal focused person and always have something I am working on or working towards, but I never make New Year Resolutions.  I have a few reasons

Studies have shown that less than 25% of people stay committed to their resolutions after just 30 days, and only 8% accomplish them.  The chances of your sticking to a New year’s resolution is very low.

New Years Resolutions tend to focus on what you want to do or not do.  They are performance-based goals.  Making goals like this when you are on holiday, sets you up for failure.  Either because you can not start until you get home, or it is easy to do on holiday but difficult to incorporate into everyday life.

It is easy to get carried away on New Years Eve and make wide, sweeping declarations which are not realistic or achievable.  I will NEVER eat chocolate again or this year I will exercise EVERYDAY. 

Instead of New Years Resolutions I like to focus on what do I want to BE or what do I want MORE of in my life.   What I want to BE is to what God created me to be.  Every year I want to be more my true self, the person God made me to be and I want MORE of God in my life.  That is all.  I want to be more me, and I want more of God each and every year.

All my goals, achievements and aspirations flow from that.  Every step I choose in the new year take me closer to God and closer to the person God created me to be, my best, authentic self.

Many years ago I listened to a great audio book called ‘My One Word – Change your life with Just one word’ by Mike Ashcraft and Rachel Olsen. I love this book and it changed the way I look at a new year.  In this book, the authors suggest finding one word to govern your year, kind of like a theme for the year.  So instead of setting resolutions use one word to direct your bible reading, your prayer life, the skills you seek and your development.  I have followed this for about 10 years, and I love the process of God revealing my word to me and watching as God breaks down and teaches me all the aspects and variations of this one word.  Words I have had in the past have been revolution, restoration, healing, freedom, soaring and surrender.  The word for 2020 was CLARITY. During the year I sort to clarify who I was, what I believe and clarifying my purpose.  Although many unexpected things happened in 2020, my word and my mission of pursuing Clarity did not change, and God revealed so much of my character, His character and our relationship in that one word. 

When considering your word for 2021, reflect on these questions…

  • What kind of person do you want to become this year?
  • What drives your desire to be this kind of person?
  • Describe the characteristics of this kind of person. Make a list of words based on this description.
  • Reduce your list to ten words or less and research those words. Use the dictionary and your Bible, perhaps a thesaurus.
  • Choose one word from your list to be your one word for this year.
  • Also choose a Bible verse that speaks to you about your chosen word and memorize it. This will provide a foundation of truth you can continually return to and will fuel your hope to change.
  • What initial expectations do you have regarding the impact of your word?

“My One Word provides us with a lens, with a new way of seeing. It’s a tool to train our eyes. It helps us frame the way we process the world around us and what happens to us.

Mike Ashcraft

A Time for Christmas reflection.

I went to see a play tonight based on the Charles Dickens classic, A Christmas Carol.  It has always been one of my favourite stories, probably in part because I was in the play when I was about 10 years old and I loved the experience.

Watching as an adult, reflecting on the message of the story is different though.  It stuck me that we can all benefit from a visit from each of the ‘spirits’ in the story.

Scrooge is visited by 4 spirits over Christmas Eve and through the process he is forced to examine the choices he has made in his life and what direction he wants to go in.

The first is his old partner who came to warn him to change.  The second is the Spirit of Christmas Past, which reminds him of what he was like when he was younger and explains how he got to be the angry, greedy man.  The third is the Spirit of Christmas Present, who shows him what his employee and his nephew are doing for Christmas, both are joyful and cheerful despite not having the wealth, that Scrooge values so highly.  The last is the Spirit of Christmas Future, who shows him the future consequences if he does not change his character.

For us now in modern times the exercise of reflecting on the past year, our present and our future is useful, especially at this time of year.

Looking back over the year, celebrating, and remembering the special moments and learning from our mistakes or struggles.  Considering if we are where we want to be right now in the present. Are we using this Christmas to celebrate Jesus by demonstrating his love to those around us and being joyful and thankful?

Pondering our future. What do we want to ‘be’ next Christmas? Where do we want to grow? What new opportunities are we going to explore in the next year? What learning and developing do we want in our character and our Christian walk? 

In the end of A Christmas Carol Scrooge does change and he becomes generous and caring. The story ends happily and hopefully.  He decides to hold on to the lessons that the Past, Present and the Future has taught him, to make him a better person all year around.  A great lesson for us all. 

Scroogle reflects with this great quote:

“I will honour Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach.” 

Charles Dickens

When you are Called

When you’re sitting in church, listening to the notices asking for volunteers for the worship team and you feel a little nudge saying, ‘You could do that’. Do you obey and sign up?

When you hear your neighbour has lost their job and you feel a wee tug in your heart saying, ‘Go and help them.’ Do you obey and help?

When you’re sitting with a friend over coffee as she tells you her marriage is struggling, and the Holy Spirit prompts you to pray with her now. Do you obey and offer to pray with her right then?

These little moments are opportunities to follow the call of God and obey. When we are faithful and obey with the little things, God will trust us with the bigger things.

I have heard it said God will call us according to our gifts and talents. God created us all with different gifts, abilities and strengths, and it is good to work within those strengths, within our passions and interests.

But don’t limit God by working only within the things you already know or are good at.

How do you know what other hidden talents or character traits could be developed if you don’t step out and try different things? God knows best what you are capable of and He will equip you for any purpose He calls you for, but you might not have everything you need at the start of the process. Obey in faith, and trust God for provision of all you need as the journey continues.

I’ve also heard people say that if a calling is a struggle or too difficult, then it must not be from God. Some people say your calling should be natural and easy for you. I disagree.

Don’t use this as an excuse to not take on something that seems like an impossible challenge, or to give up. Following God’s call may not be easy, and it might not ‘feel’ natural—especially at the start. Be wary of quitting something and classifying it as not being your calling too soon just because it feels too hard or too unfamiliar. Push through. Then the growth will come.

If you think you have been called by God to do something big, a calling that will have an impact on your life or those around you, consider it seriously. Pray about it, study the Bible, and talk with God. Pray for clarification and confirmation. Talk with people who are involved. Take advice from trusted Christian friends. Seek advice from wise and spiritual leaders around you. Be sure you have a calling from God before you follow. Then obey and trust the journey.

Be prepared to step up and step out of your comfort zone. Be prepared for surprises. God often doesn’t do things the way we expect or would prefer.

The outcome may be surprising, unexpected or even disappointing. But that is our human perspective, not God’s all-knowing eternal perspective.

Our plans can never be as well-planned or as imaginative or as intricate as the plans of God, the Creator of the Universe.

“Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try”
John F. Kennedy

(except from ‘Footfalls’ by Staci McLean www.stacimclean.co.nz)

Writer at work

I finished writing my new book today. Every book has been a journey. It is bit like having a baby. It is something you carry around with you for months, sometime even longer. Then the process of actually siting down and writing is like going into labour. It is tiring and painful in many ways and also includes many sleepless nights.

The most scary part of the process comes much later, after you have picked up the books from the printers and you send it out your readers. Because it is your baby and has been such a huge part of your life, it contains your heart and soul and often personal stories, you are intimately connected to it. You hope the readers understand your message and enjoy your work.

We all have projects that we work on that we send out into the world and risk rejection and criticism. It is not a comfortable feeling opening yourself up to that feedback. Even on this my 4th book, I still doubt myself and worry people will not like it. It is not something you get use to or that goes away, but instead you learn to ignore those doubts and refused to let them stop you.

It would be easier not to try or to risk feeling uncomfortable but if you never try, you can never succeed or grow. You might risk failing, you might be risking criticism, but you are also setting yourself on the path to success, to victory and impacting peoples lives for the better. Doesn’t that make it worth it?

“Fear and self-doubt have always been the greatest enemies of human potential.”

Brian Tracy

Are you destined to be ordinary?

Are you destined to be ordinary?  Is following goals for other people but not you?   Are you quite happy in your comfort zone and not that keen to step outside?  It is great other people do that, but it is not for me.  When friends talk about their holidays or exciting weekends do you think, that sounds amazing, but I am just not that lucky to have a life like that? 

Luck has nothing to do with and you are worthy of having a full exciting life.

I do not believe in luck. The people I know who would be considered ‘lucky’ are the people who get out there, they take risks, they work hard and create the life they want and have a desire to serve others.  Some people are born with more advantages in life or more privilege and some are born into a life with many more obstacles and disadvantages, but it does not destine you for a lifetime of being ‘unlucky’.

I did not grow up in a happy home, I was born into turmoil and dysfunction and then made bad decisions for myself and was an alcoholic at 14 years old.  I drunk myself into hopelessness and desperation until I was 24 years old and then was saved through my faith in Jesus and becoming part of a church family.  You can read more about that in my first book ‘Soaring out of the darkness’.  I know what it is like to be damaged and to struggle to just get through a day, dealing with depression, addiction, and heartache.  But that is not the end of the story and with hard work, faith and determination any life can be turned around.  I have an amazing life now and when people say ‘You are so lucky’ I just laugh as I know luck had nothing to do with it.

For a long time, though I believed I did not deserve a good life, I was broken and unworthy and wanted to be invisible.  But over time I realised that I was missing out on incredible adventures and I did not want to miss out anymore.

I am not the adventure kind of person, I do not like roller coasters, and I would never Bungy jump.  I just do not get that feeling that people report from those activities. I get my adrenaline rush from marathons, speaking on stage and travelling.  So, when a few years ago we were traveling to the Philippines with a group from Ezymovez dance fitness and I found that we could swim with Whale Sharks there. I have no idea why I thought that was a good idea.  I am not an ocean girl, I love the beach to sit and read a book, not much into the water although my husband is a surfer and spends a lot of time at the beach and I particularly do not like deep water.  But I do love to see animals in their natural environments and whale sharks are huge and it just looks so much fun.  I saw the website and I thought ‘I would love to do that.’   So we went to the place where you swim with the sharks and as I waiting to go out in the water I was struck by the ridiculous of where I was, I am just not the kind of person that swims with sharks but I had suggested it and here we were.  Often in those situations, I will stay back on the beach and watch the others go and do the cool things, firstly because I don’t want to be seen in a swimsuit but mainly because I just did not see myself as that type of person to have adventures.  But I decided I was no longer going to be the girl who sat back and watched all the fun, I was going to be part of it.  I am so glad I did, swimming with the Whale sharks was amazing, once in a lifetime experience.  I would have regretted it so much if I had not participated due to feeling like I was just not that type of person.

I am not that kind of person – to examine where this thought comes from you need to look at what you are telling yourself and why you are saying it.  Who told you what type of person you are? What types of people are there?

Many times, it comes from things people have said to us growing up.  When I was at High School, I loved English and History, I love reading and am crazy about English royal history and World War II.  But at school, I was never very good at writing essays, but I was good at maths and science. Towards the end of my schooling, a well-intended teacher advised me never to go into a job that required me to write anything because I was so bad at it but to stick to maths and science type careers.

When I decided to write a book, I kept coming back to those words of that teacher, that told me I was not a writer. To get to where I wanted to go, to write a book, I had to push past those words said to me and decide that I was not going to let that stop me. It was just one teacher’s opinion and school results that only tested one type of writing. And I hope since you are still reading, I am doing ok at writing this book.

We believe all sorts of things about ourselves that might be exaggerations or not true at all. Maybe it is ‘I can’t dance’ but who told you ‘you can’t dance’, and why. Perhaps you tried a ballet class when you were 5 years old and did not like to and forever after you told yourself I can’t dance. It does not mean it is true now.   Or maybe in your family drawing attention to yourself or doing something for yourself was considered selfish and was discouraged, so now you are the encourager of everyone else dreams but never do anything for yourself.

Take a moment and examine why do you think you are not the kind of person that has goals or dreams or has adventures or enjoys life?

You can be that type of person if you want to.  You can change this narrative of your life.  We get to choose, so choose to be someone who has joy and is kind and cares for people but also has fun and dreams for themselves.

God is calling you today!

When you’re sitting in church, listening to the notices asking for volunteers for the worship team and you feel a little nudge saying, ‘You could do that’. Do you obey and sign up?

When you hear your neighbour has lost their job and you feel a wee tug in your heart saying, ‘Go and help them.’ Do you obey and help?

When you’re sitting with a friend over coffee as she tells you her marriage is struggling, and the Holy Spirit prompts you to pray with her now. Do you obey and offer to pray with her right then?

These little moments are opportunities to follow the call of God and obey. When we are faithful and obey with the little things, God will trust us with the bigger things.

I have heard it said God will call us according to our gifts and talents. God created us all with different gifts, abilities and strengths, and it is good to work within those strengths, within our passions and interests.

But don’t limit God by working only within the things you already know or are good at.

How do you know what other hidden talents or character traits could be developed if you don’t step out and try different things? God knows best what you are capable of and He will equip you for any purpose He calls you for, but you might not have everything you need at the start of the process. Obey in faith, and trust God for provision of all you need as the journey continues.

I’ve also heard people say that if a calling is a struggle or too difficult, then it must not be from God. Some people say your calling should be natural and easy for you. I disagree.

Don’t use this as an excuse to not take on something that seems like an impossible challenge, or to give up. Following God’s call may not be easy, and it might not ‘feel’ natural—especially at the start. Be wary of quitting something and classifying it as not being your calling too soon just because it feels too hard or too unfamiliar. Push through. Then the growth will come.

If you think you have been called by God to do something big, a calling that will have an impact on your life or those around you, consider it seriously. Pray about it, study the Bible, and talk with God. Pray for clarification and confirmation. Talk with people who are involved. Take advice from trusted Christian friends. Seek advice from wise and spiritual leaders around you. Be sure you have a calling from God before you follow. Then obey and trust the journey.

Be prepared to step up and step out of your comfort zone. Be prepared for surprises. God often doesn’t do things the way we expect or would prefer.

The outcome may be surprising, unexpected or even disappointing. But that is our human perspective, not God’s all-knowing eternal perspective.

Our plans can never be as well-planned or as imaginative or as intricate as the plans of God, the Creator of the Universe.

(this blog is an extract from ‘Footfalls – Following God even when it hurts’ by Staci McLean. Purchase the book at www.stacimclean.co.nz)

“When God calls you to something, He is not always calling you to succeed, He’s calling you to obey! The success of the calling is up to Him; the obedience is up to you.”

David Wilkerson


This little piggy went to…

I kicked the door. I did not mean to, but I was rushing around, running late to an appointment and in my haste, I was not paying attention to where I was going.  I am clumsy by nature and accidents are a usual accordance for me, so it was not so surprising that I kicked the door as I rushed past. 

The only part of my foot that connected to the door was the most vulnerable and smallest part, my wee little toe.  If you have had the experience of hurting your little toe in a similar incident, you will understand the agony. 

Over the next few days, the toe swelled and turned a blue-black colour and I had trouble walking as putting my foot down was very sore.  This very small, not very important part of my body, which I never usually pay any attention to now had my full attention.  I could not walk without hurting it. I had trouble wearing shoes.  I could not do my normal fitness activities and even sleeping was uncomfortable and difficult. 

How can one small part of my body, impact my life so significantly?

In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul compares the church to the human body.  Even the smallest, seemly unimportant part of the body is absolutely vital and indispensable.  If any part of the body is hurt or damaged the whole body suffers.

My little toe was hurt and damaged, but I did not want to remove it or hide it away instead I wanted to be extra gentle and careful and give it extra attention to restore it back to health.

As the church we can at times overlook the hurt, the damaged, the people on the margins, the ones who are hiding in the shadows or do not quite fit in.  Instead we are called to bringing them in, care for them, nurture them, taking special care with them, giving them special honour as they are a vital part of the body of Christ. They are important and significant to the health of the church.

We need diversity and variety. We all have different gifts and talents, and we need each other.  A church that is made up of just legs or arms would be useless to the world.  We need little toes as much as we need the feet to carry them. 

In your rushing about do not overlook the little toes, instead protect and take care of the little toes.

‘Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it’


1 Corinthians 12:27

Under Construction

I might be a work in progress but every day, I get a little bit wiser, a little bit better, a little bit stronger.

Across the road from our house there are 3 new housing developments.  It is noisy and busy on our street, with trucks taking away dirt and contractors working on the sites.  It is interesting to me that even though the projects all started the planning stage at a similar time, the progress looks vastly different.  One site has the houses built and they are now finishing them off, one is still working on the ground preparation and third has yet to start.  So many factors affect the progress of the work because they have different budgets, specifications, planning requirements and challenges.  They have the same goal but different strategies to getting there and different time schedules.

This is true for our personal development as well.  It is easy to look at your someone you know or a close friend who is on a similar journey to you and judge your own progress against their progress.  The problem with comparison is that it does not consider those different strategies, time schedules and variable factors.

Often what we see or what is visible in our life does not reflect the progress we are making inside.  So much of the progress we make as we develop our character and learn and lean into God is under the surface.  We might spend a long time in the planning and preparation stage and be working hard on ourselves, or a project or a goal and not see any fruit YET.  It can take time to see the change. 

Sometimes that fruit can come in suddenly and it looks to those around you as it happened overnight.  Suddenly you have changed or succeed or achieved something but, that preparation work has been going on for a while. 

We are all a ‘Work in progress’.  We are an unfinished project that is still being added to or developed.  In Philippians 1:6 Paul wrote ‘I am sure that God who began the good work in you will keep on working in you until the day Jesus Christ comes again’.  Paul knew that we are a work in progress and that God would keep working on us, in us and through us.

Set your own progress schedule with God leading the way.  Focus on your own development, do not compare yourself to others, do not feel like a failure because you are not going quick enough.  Gods timing and direction will be perfect.  After all, God is the ultimate master builder. 

“You are allowed to be both a masterpiece and a work in progress, simultaneously.”

Sophia Bush

Just in case

On a recent family holiday, I realised I had over packed, once again. I had way too much stuff and way more than we could possibly need. I had clothes for winter and summer conditions and everything in between, good clothes in case we went out, work out clothes in case I went for a run (I didn’t) and spares of everything JUST IN CASE!

It made me realise how much I prepare for ‘just in case’ and the stuff that I have accumulated on my journey through life.  It is good to be prepared and sensible but often this translate into our emotional and spiritual lives well.  There are so many emotional bags I have collected and keep inside, afraid to let go because of ‘just in case’.  How much of this stuff is preventing my spiritual growth and my reliance on God?

When Jesus sent the disciples out to share the good news in Matthew 10, he sent them out in groups of two but without anything and they were instructed not to take any provisions with them.  They were sent out and told to rely on the goodness of strangers and on Gods provision.  I bet they had wanted to take a few spare pairs of shoes or some food or in least a drink bottle, just in case.  But had they done that, they would not have experienced God’s miracles of provision or learnt valuable lessons in trust.

Setting aside money or savings for a rainy day or taking a raincoat with you on a cloudy day is not being unfaithful or untrusting but in fact quite sensible.  It is not these things in themselves that are wrong, but when they become our full reliance, our trust, our security instead of God, we are missing out on the miracles and the opportunities.

In an emotional sense, my ‘just in case’ reasoning leads me to withhold just a little bit of my energy or my time or my heart from God and from following the plans God has for me with 100%.  ‘Just in case’ is protection and comes from doubt that maybe God will not come through when it matters or perhaps Gods plans will not work out the way I want them too.

When Jesus sent the disciples they were not promised everything would be rosy, in fact they were told they would be rejected, kicked out, ignored by the people, but they would also have their basic physical needs meet and would perform miracles, cast out demons and heal the sick.  When they returned, they told of all the amazing things that had happened. I would have loved to hear those stories, faith building testimonies of God’s love and faithfulness.

When you set aside your spiritual ‘just in case’ and wholeheartedly rely and trust on God to keep His promises, to care for you and know what is best for you, you will see miracles, have an impact on the world around you and collect your own stories of Gods faithfulness and love.

“Don’t worry about your future. God knows you completely, accepts you unconditionally and loves you wholeheartedly. You can trust Him”

Nicky Gumbel