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Every year on Thanksgiving my husband and I join 2400+ people and run an 8K race down the beautiful tree lined streets of our neighborhood. The course follows the street just in front of our house allowing our kids sit on the lawn with their grandparents and offer high-fives as we run by. This year the weather was perfect; the air was brisk and the sun was shining. I would love to be able to say I felt great, kept up with my husband and beat my personal record but I can’t.

I wasn’t prepared.

Flash back to this past spring, a few friends suggested I run a half-marathon with them. My immediate reaction was NO. There is no way I could ever run that far. Having much more experience than I, my friends convinced me I could do it and that I had plenty of time--nine weeks--to train.  I found a training schedule online and started to prepare. The training consumed more time than I thought and, much to my dismay, I ended up training mostly on my own. My schedule didn’t always sync up with that of the other ladies. When the workouts got tedious, I thought about backing out of the race. The boredom of long runs and the pain of pushing through yet another mile hardly seemed worth it. I had to force myself to just do it, even when I wasn’t motivated.

The hard work paid off!

I actually ran all 13.1 miles and finished with energy to spare.  As I crossed the finish line, the rush of accomplishing my goal was invigorating. People were cheering, pictures were taken, and medals were handed out.  I am glad I didn’t give up, the first, second, and third time it crossed my mind.  Never could I have imagined how wonderful it would feel to accomplish such a goal.

Consistency is the key to hard work paying off.

Fast forward six months to the Fall, and I was running once a week at best. Some weeks I didn’t even run once. New volunteer responsibilities at school, launching Circles of Faith, posting for 31 Days on Transforming Grace, preparing for and attending my first blogging conference – there was always an excuse not to run. As a result, I didn’t perform as well as I had hoped for our town’s annual Thanksgiving Day 8K.

I want to run my spiritual race with energy to spare. I want to be prepared.

I know I will experience times of discouragement or crisis that might knock me off my feet. I want to be ready to dig in my heels and put my trust in God to see me through. While I know the exact date I will run a race, in life I don’t always get a heads up as to what is coming. Sometimes I get caught unprepared.  Just like with running, I need to be in top form to run the race of life.

Here are some ways we can stay spiritually fit:

1.Spend daily time getting to know the Bible. Do a 15-minute devotional such as Our Daily Bread, journal your thoughts after reading a bible passage, or get involved in a Bible study that has homework.

2.Memorize scripture. As you read the words over and over, you will start to remember them. They’ll sink into your heart, building confidence and trust that God is on your side.

3.Pray regularly. This is simply talking to God.  Take time to tell Him what you’re thinking and feeling. Develop this habit and you won’t feel alone.

4.Attend church consistently. Hearing the Word of God taught regularly teaches us things we may not learn on our own.

5.Be a reader. Whether it is a blog, book, or magazine, reading about what others have been through and learned encourages us in our own experience. It also gives us enlarges our perspective. 

6.Listen to music. Worship music lifts our spirits, dispels discouragement, and shifts our focus off ourselves onto the One who truly deserves our attention.

7.Surround yourself with others like you. It is important to have friends to encourage you along the way and hold you accountable to in your spiritual “training.”  Develop them in person or online.

A little bit everyday goes a long way in cultivating a relationship with our Creator. Just because I ran a half-marathon well didn’t mean I could do nothing for months.  To retain the stamina and fitness level needed for my feet to pound the pavement come race day, I had to consistently train. Neither will I have the faith and courage needed when trials arise in my life if I have neglected those things that keep me connected to my Savior.

What are some of the ways you “train”? Tell us here.

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Kimberly is an enthusiastic and dedicated founding member of the Circles of Faith team. She is known for her creativity, strong faith, and commitment to living life with purpose and passion. Kimberly is a writer and community builder whose desire is for hearts to be healed, minds to be renewed and women to be connected in fellowship just as God intended.

You can follow Kimberly in her journey to discovering the Sweet Spot of God’s success for her everyday life on her blog at Living in the Sweet Spot. or on twitter @kimberlyamici.Click here for her full bio.

photo credit: Ed Yourdon via photopincc

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