No One Left Behind

In the last posting of GreenPreacher (Running and Dancing for Life)  we met Kelly Pheulpin.  We learned about her journey to lose over 100 lbs and eventually become a Zumba instructor.  In today’s guest blog, Kelly shares her story as the leader of the ‘Slowest Runners’ and her commitment to help others  become healthier too.

In our highly individualistic and competitive culture, Kelly and friends are committed to a counter-cultural journey where the slowest runner sets the pace, where no one is left behind and everyone wins. Imagine.

                                                       No One Left Behind

2012 brought me a year of firsts.  I taught my first solo Zumba class, I joined a running club, and I tried a distance longer than a 5K. I decided to join the Wicked Running Club because I wanted to find a running partner to help me become faster and more consistent with my running. What I found was a family.

Our color is red and when you put on that red shirt for the first time you right away feel like part of the club, and you usually meet a few members at a race. In reality, what joining Wicked has done is opened the door for everyone in the club to offer encouragement on this journey. There is no better feeling in the world than coming around the bend to a sea of red screaming and cheering you in. You feel unstoppable. Having a running community at your fingertips allows you to meet up with training buddies with the same pace or goals. 

The running community welcomed me with open arms and I have been a permanent fixture ever since.  I now lead a training group through Wicked called “The Slowest Runner Sets The Pace”. We meet several times a week and I will happily run with whoever my slowest runner is. It is empowering to help someone else accomplish their running goals. I have been lovingly named the “Queen of the Slowest Runners”, which is a title I take very seriously. I believe that any runner, no matter their pace, is destined for their own greatness whatever that may be.

photo-wicked-runners-club

Through my work with the Slowest Runners I accomplished things this year (2016) I never thought I could: I trained and ran my first ultra marathon of 30 miles. When I received a race entry into Ghost train an ultra-marathon I said, “Thank you, but I can’t run this. I have never run more than a ½ marathon.” However, I’m not a quitter and I love challenges so I decided (after a time) to think about it. As I thought about it, I realized that I COULD do this. Next, came finding other crazy runners willing to join me in this quest. I found an amazing training partner, Sandy, which helped me achieve my goal.

Sandy and I started our training 8 months before the big day. We ran through most of the North Shore and sometimes in New Hampshire as well. We even went on vacation together to stay on track. (When race day came we found we had something else in common; we over pack! Good thing our husbands love us and were willing to be our race support.)

As we stepped up to the start line we were so excited and nervous at the same time. The race started and we were on our way. Just as in our training we decided to document the miles with selfies. We found out fast that we didn’t have enough fingers to correspond with the miles completed and take the photos but we were laughing and enjoying the adventure. We had two fifteen mile loops to complete our goal of 30 miles. When we came in from our first 15 miles we were wet from rain but in good spirits. Our friend and fellow runner, Patty, ran us in for the last quarter-mile. She gave us just the right amount of motivation to keep us going. Our husbands gave us big hugs and kisses and wished us luck on our next loop.

We were still having fun and laughs as the miles kept adding up. As we were heading towards the final miles and dusk was setting in my Aunt Ann was heading back out for her third loop. She provided words of encouragement and told us how proud she was of us for completing this race. We now had the end in sight and our pace was speeding up. We saw our husbands and I started to get so excited and emotional we had finished! Together Sandy and I had tackled Ghost Train, which meant that we can now call ourselves Ultra-Marathoners. Our husbands wrapped us in their arms and told us how proud they were. To this day this remains my favorite race and I can’t wait to try it again next year.

photo-kelly-and-team
Kelly and her team of Slowest Runners

Running and Zumba have become integral parts of my journey to healthier living. What’s important is finding the regimen that works for you and sticking to it. For some, like me, the social aspect is key. But for others, it’s getting into the routine. For everyone, though, this is about making a commitment to yourself and going on a journey to find what works. It wasn’t easy getting here… but it’s what gets me up in the morning, literally!’

Thanks to Kelly for sharing her story. As her friend and one of her pastors at First Baptist in Beverly, I am inspired by her commitment to serving others.  This is a message that is needed now more than ever.

I invite you to read and be inspired to be ‘your best self’ in this New Year.  Kelly and company will be happy to provide support.  To learn more about Wicked Running Club go to: http://www.wickedrunningclub.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Domesticating Jesus

Here’s a provocative quote by the Franciscan monk, Richard Rohr:

photo Rohr quote

Rohr challenges the tendency of the Christian church to domesticate the story and witness of Jesus. Some would say its been all downhill since 300 AD when Emperor Constantine had his battlefield conversion to Christ. With that conversion he merged the trappings of empire with the Christian story. Thus began a cyclical process of each generation coopting the way of Jesus to meet their own needs.

We see this with today’s Prosperity Gospel movement which teaches that God desires to bless us with material wealth and happiness. Joel Osteen the pastor of a mega church in Texas, marries this promise of personal wealth, health and happiness with the veneer of being a Christ follower.

In this presidential primary we see politician’s using their faith to support a political agenda. We have so called Christians calling for the mass deportation of 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States and ‘carpet bombing’ entire cities in Syria to root out terrorists.

Reading the story and teachings of Jesus in the Gospels, we see that his words stand in stark contrast to this tendency to domesticate. And of course, for people like me, who pastor churches it is also clear that I/we too contribute to this process of domestication. More times than I care to think about, I/we too have pulled away from the radical nature of Jesus’ teachings.

‘To walk in the way of Jesus’ says Richard Rohr, ‘is to enter upon a journey of transformation’. Transformation not only of me as a person but a call for the church to be a vehicle for transforming society.

This path of transformation as lived and taught by Jesus is a journey of servant-hood towards those on the margins, forgotten, oppressed. It’s about giving up control and allowing the way of Jesus to guide our path regardless of the costly places it takes us. The way of Jesus is the antithesis of the ‘prosperity gospel’ and politicians who would condemn or cast out. The antithesis of liberals who want to pick and choose when and where to get involved.

Says Rohr: ‘We made Jesus into a mere Religion instead of a journey toward union with God and everything else.’ It isn’t rocket science to understand the way of Jesus…but it also isn’t easy. Pope Francis understands this temptation to domesticate. On his recent trip to Mexico he challenged bishops and politicians to repent from their worship of power and privilege. He calls each of us to recommit to this paradoxical journey, ‘where the last will be first’ and ‘the humble servant becomes great’.

Imagine.