I signed up for a half marathon, just like I had many times before.

A couple months before the race, I felt the Lord saying “you’re going to do the full.” I didn’t know why, and I didn’t want to run another full without a purpose. So I prayed each morning for clarity and direction.

One day while praying about the race, I heard “PRAYLIST.” Okay… what does that look like? The Lord said that instead of creating a playlist for running, make a praylist.

He started placing people on my heart to pray for and gave me a vision of an arm band, like you’d use to hold your phone while running. I wrote down names as He gave them to me. As the race drew near, I still didn’t know if I should do the full or not.

I had around 16 things/people He had put on my heart. I continued to pray for direction here – was I supposed to do 16 miles? I asked God (or maybe told Him…), “Show me the number. If you want me to do 26 miles, give me 26 prayers. If not 26, then show me how many.” I knew God is faithful and He would show me what to do.

As the days leading up to the race passed, I kept hearing the word “hidden” in my heart.

Most of my life had been a continuous pattern of restricting and binging. I did it with alcohol, cigarettes, exercise, food… but I found freedom when I surrendered these former strongholds over to God. The previous three years had been full of life-giving freedom as I watched God put a stop to those destructive patterns.

During my training for this race, I participated in the Revelation Wellness   “Month of Original Design,” and felt a specific prompting about another pattern it was time to let go of – my ADHD meds.

Even though I’d known God wanted me to give them up, I kept coming back to them because they brought comfort.

My mind is like a spider web – I have visions and dreams that make rest so hard without medication. My mind won’t stop. However, when I’m on the medicine, my mind is quiet. I have less feeling, I get everything done on my to do list, I’m content, and I have no appetite.

But there was that prompting that I couldn’t ignore. I put down the ADHD meds a few weeks before the race. It wasn’t easy, but it was so worth it.

I shared more of my testimony on our Lifepoint Fitness Facebook page a few days before the race, and told the LPFit members that I would be praying for their freedom while I ran. I also told them to send me prayer requests if they wanted me to specifically pray for them.

My longest training run had been a 14 mile trail run, which was about 3 hours. I knew I could finish a full marathon, but wasn’t actually training for it. I still didn’t have 26 prayer requests, so I waited on God to see how far I was going to be running.

The day before the race, I had 23 people and things to pray for.

At 9pm the night before the race, I received 2 more prayer requests.

1 hour before the start of the race, I got the 26th prayer request. God has such a sense of humor! My Praylist was full, so I was doing the full 26 mile marathon.

Over each mile, I gave thanks and prayed for one person or thing that was on the Praylist, and I had opportunities to pray for others who were running the race, too.

I was able to pray over a woman for clear lungs and strength, and then I got to watch her finish the race in front of me! Praise God. I prayed when I was in pain, and that pain went away. I prayed when I was out of gas and He filled my tank. I prayed “Lord, be my feet” many times, and he continued to lighten the load.

I was weary at mile 23 or 24, so I put on a Rev the Word podcast and held my phone. A girl behind me was listening to it too, and when she came up beside me, she said that podcast was exactly the encouragement she needed right then. I told her God always knew exactly what we need, as it says in Psalm 23. Brittany hung by me with a smile and finished strong.

This was BY FAR the most amazing race I have ever run because of how God had it planned from the very beginning.

He created me in His image and He made me in my original design, with beauty and messiness and everything in between, for a reason – for His unwavering purpose.

I hear God better when I’m off the meds and feeling things that I need to be feeling, despite being uncomfortable with it and having to rely on His strength. Which is exactly how it should be!

This life of surrendering to God’s purpose is where I’ve found freedom and true joy. I love how it’s not about striving for perfection, but it’s how we grow closer to Jesus in the process.

I continue to press into Him, because there are struggles every day of this journey. My newfound strength is in Jesus and I know that this life is not my own, it’s a gift from God. I want more people to know Jesus through my story. True joy only comes through Him.


-Kristen Gartland


Kristen is participating in an event titled Rim to Him. It is a one-of-a-kind, co-ed, adventure/fundraising hike, through the grand canyon, where you will come to know more deeply that with God, all things are possible. For more info go to:


Peace Be Still

i hear the rain pitter patter on the roof on my soul

i am sitting in the house i built inside myself
listening to music that makes it hard for me to breathe
and then You knock
and i know it’s You
but i’m still scared to open the door
i know that when i open the door i will be treated to Your goodness
trust in you will blow my mind in a way i alone cannot comprehend
i scream through the door
in that moment You take control of my music
and once again You play just the right song
and i’m taken back to the last time it hurt
i’m taken back to all the glorious things i experienced
b e c a u s e
of the pain
i’m taken back to the times You held my heart in Your hands
i remember the feeling of Your arms wrapped around me
and i finally open the door
You wrap Yourself around me
as i start to cry You say
“Peace be still”
and the rain stops
i start to explain myself to You
but You already know that i break myself in pieces
because i need you to remind me that You can and will
put me back together again
i wipe my tears and excuse myself
when i come back i place my fears at Your feet and say
“here am i, send me.”
-Tori Albertson

Doing good because of the Gospel

Yesterday I rented a tiller. My wife and I are owners of a small homestead of about .33 acres. On said homestead we harvest goodtimes, smiles, friendships, and every summer garden tomatoes. So, I rented a tiller to break the ground and do some planting. My neighbors also asked me if I could do some tilling in their yard to level out a hump. I said, yes. I said I would do the work for multiple reasons.
1. Because of Jesus in my place.
2. They are elderly.
3. The man is a retired, disabled American veteran. Therefore, I should be asking them if there’s anything I can do.
After I tilled my garden, I walked the tiller over.
About half way through tilling the hump in their lawn I grew tired. Exhausted. Physically, I was tired. I was tired of all my fat jiggling around for the world to see. Tired of the hard ground. I was tired of working for cheap or free all of the time. Tired of saying yes to everything. Then, all these thoughts about ME came into my mind.
What about MY time? MY money? MY energy? MY house?
Then suddenly Jesus put a verse into my cold, hardened, locked heart:
Galatians 6
…For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load. Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches. Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
When it comes down to it, it’s not my time, my money, my energy, my house. Jesus has gifted me all of these things. Because of that I want to make a difference for the Gospel. Jesus did not leave his Kingdom, come to this place, die on a cross for my sins so that I could build my own kingdom. Jesus gave everything therefore, so should we…even our mad-crazy tilling skills.
Through the Gospel I start to find strength to keep going. Through the Gospel I start to find hope. Hope that Jesus will continue to do a good work and more people will come to him. And I find my purpose. God has preordained good works for me to do. Even tilling.
There’s a reason a farmer plows the ground before planting seeds. So that the seeds grow roots that will easily soak up moisture and nutrients from the ground. Gospel roots are the same way. God will often break the ground of our hearts so that the Gospel can take root.
-John Lewis

The Essentials

St. Charles County is lucky to have one of the best library systems in the country. Most of you have a library card. Some of you have used that card recently. Others aren’t even sure where their library card is. Having a library card opens up a lot more opportunities than just having the opportunity to borrow books for two weeks. You can also borrow CD’s, movies, games, even cake pans if you can believe that. This is just the icing on the cake.

Need to have a meeting, but have no place to go. You can reserve a meeting room. Walk in the door of the Middendorf-Kredell branch and immediately you can pick up a free publication by the doorway like my favorite, Gateway Gardener. Teach piano, have puppies to get rid of? There is a bulletin board that you can put information on or take off. Go through the next doors and you can use a restroom, get a snack or drink, get a local paper with all those coupons in it. In fact, most of the branches have a coupon box where you can drop off the coupons you don’t need and pick up ones you can use.

Baby sign language, Time for Twos, story hour, Lego club, book clubs, Meet the Author, Tween crafts, chess club, genealogy lab and many more classes and groups are available for you to take. Bored in the summer, how about a summer reading program, or better yet you can take your kids to see a magician, a storyteller, or pet some reptiles. I have just scratched the surface of what is available to St. Charles County residents. Some of us are using every bit of the property taxes we are paying for all of this and some of us are just missing out.

What does all of this have to do with being a Christian? Pretty much the same thing. Some of us are getting every bit of what we can out of the payment Jesus made with his blood and others of us nothing more than salvation if even that. We may be just walking in the door of the library and just looking around because we never bothered to get a library card.

When Pastor Eric preaches each Sunday, words appear up on the screen. They come from this book called The Bible. Every Sunday, we are told that if we need a Bible that there are free ones in the back we can take home. Maybe instead you have a nice leather one with your name inscribed on it. Just like that library card, if we don’t open that book daily we’re missing out on God speaking to us. Psalm 119:22 tells us to hide God’s Word in our hearts, so we do not sin against him. Later in verse 105, the Bible tells us that God’s Word is a lamp to our feet and a light for our path.

Prayer should be used continuously throughout our day according to 1 Thess. 5:16. Jesus also taught us to be persistent in our asking, by telling us a story of a wicked judge and a persistent widow. He gives us the opportunity to let him know our heart’s desire, but Jesus also showed us by His example that we should ask for God’s will over our own.

Grace is probably my favorite opportunity in the Christian walk. Most of us know how amazing it is when it saves a wretch like us, but we short-change grace when we think of it only in the salvation process. Paul reprimanded the Galatians that putting grace aside and trying to be made righteous through the law meant that Jesus died for nothing.

Fellowship is the time of meeting together and Hebrews tells us that we should not give it up because with coming together, we can have people there encouraging us.

The Holy Spirit is our counselor, he is a seal for the day of redemption, speaks through us, is an advocate to help us and be with us forever, a Spirit of truth that guides us into all the truth, is life because of righteousness, helps us in our weakness, intercedes for us and many, many more things.

Are you allowing Him to do these things for you?

What about forgiveness, both the giving and receiving? Are you forgiving those that hurt you, so that the Father can forgive you?

Do you have that joy, joy, joy down in your heart? Peace that passes all understanding? Have you sown bountifully so you can reap bountifully? Laid up treasures in heaven? I could go on and on, but I think you get the point. Jesus died on the cross and rose again so that we could have life and have it abundantly. It is time for us to make the most of every opportunity because the days are evil, and each of us was created for this time at this place to bring Him glory.

Our libraries are not free. We pay for them through our taxes. Jesus paid the price for our abundant life. Make His blood more worthy by getting everything you can from His sacrifice.

-Mary MCclaskey