The Race.

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to see a new part of New Zealand as I joined a team of ladies taking part in an adventure race.  And by join, I mean  I went along for the ride and no part of my contribution included white water rafting, cycling or hiking. I will add that I did try to sign up for the race when I first heard about it and I will also admit that I was secretly happy that it was already booked out by this stage. Phew!

The race was up at the top of the South Island, at an area called Golden Bay. Here are some photos from some of the free time that we had.


What beauty! While in Golden Bay, I had some time to think and of course, between the transition periods of the race, I could not help but think about THE RACE. I was very fortunate to be part of such a fun support team where myself and two other family members of the ladies, had many laughs over coffees and treats. It was relaxing and comfortable inside from the rain. We were sheltered, full and did not have to break one single sweat as we thought of those outside -embracing their environment and challenging their minds and bodies. Although, it was lovely to be in the cosy environment that I first mentioned, I couldn’t help but think about being in the other.

I am reminded of how we each take part in the race that is life. Paul speaks about this in both Philippians and 1 Corinthians. He urges us to ‘run that you may obtain the prize‘, to ‘press on toward the goal’ and to ‘run with endurance the race that is set before us.’! I remember when I trained for a marathon a few years ago and pondering these words in my head as I ran pathways throughout Limerick city. There is great application for our lives in these. The call to strive in the things set before us- in our homes, schools, work place, churches, relationships and ultimately in our relationship with Christ. The language used strips out any thoughts of complacency or halfhearted. Just like in training, you pursue and intentionally spend your time preparing for the challenges of the race, and to ultimately reach a finish line. Many of us don’t simply sign up for such a race and then due to lack of motivation or effort, decide that the training is irrelevant. We want our mind and bodies to indeed be prepared for those moments that are steep and muddy and just plain scary! And it is so tough! It can be the most physically and mentally difficult thing you might ever take part in! But you know what, it is better than sitting in that warm, cosy cafe engaging in the comfortable and pleasurable! How is that possible? Because the reward is so much better! At the end of the finish line, no matter the pain endured, the obstacles tackled and moments of frustration, you have finished well. You ran the race.

We can all probably admit to wanting a comfy life whether its in the material, the status or the relationships that surround us. No one really wants to jump up at the first sign of pain, and say ‘yes! it is here, I can face this now and perhaps learn something through it!’. If anything, we do all that we can to avoid trials of any sort. We don’t want our warm, comfortable environment to be disrupted….well, at least I don’t. But God knows that we will face hardships in life at some stage or another. He says to ‘consider it pure joy, whenever you face trials…’ (James 1.2-4). He doesn’t say ‘if’, He says ‘whenever’. What is our response to this? Do we decide to be persistent in our training and continue to take part in the race? Do we sit back and just see how it all works out, without even breaking a sweat or lifting a finger?

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As the saying goes, you must be in it to win it! Are we even in the race? Are we striving and pursuing a relationship with God that allows us to think of Him and others more than our own comforts? Are we training for those challenging obstacles along our path by putting into practice the things that we might hear on a Sunday morning? Are we enjoying those moments of satisfaction and fulfilment when we reach a summit that gives us a breathtaking view and outlook to our surroundings? Are we motivated to take part and are we willing to start running ?

The reward is greater than the comforts. The pain is worth the sacrifice of some pleasures. God is worthy to run towards every single day of our lives -the summits and the valleys. He calls us to run, not walk. He calls us towards Him, and not ‘aimlessly’ (1 Corinthains 9). So run the race!

Here is a photo of these three ladies at the end of their finish line!

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What an inspiration!
May I simply note here that although I talk about it being better to take part in the race, I do not want reminders of this blog post this time next year, when I’m planning all the cafes to visit during the race. Vive la “support team!”

The Black Widow.


Perhaps this post isn’t exactly what you imagined it to be about from when you first read the title. So please allow me to explain.

I would like to simply share a few words on friendship today. I’ve titled this blog after a nickname that was given to my friend, Aoife and I; after we were always seen dressed in black at any nice occassion. And it is quite a true description of us, if I must admit. I would like to express gratitude for friendships, such as with the Black Widow, as well as with the many others who surround my life too.

I recently read an article that listed the somewhat dangers there are to referring to your other half as your ‘significant other’. The post stressed that we should be embracing and celebrating many different types of relationships that are in our lives, that are equally significant in the part that they play. And ultimately, instead of striving for a human relationship to fulfill you or give you worth, to look to a God who engages in that kind of relationship; as He meets all your needs and you serve Him for ‘being enough’.

I’ve always thought highly of having friendships and considered myself a loyal friend. When going through a ‘weird’ patch in college, where I realized that I had hurt people in my friendships and had hit a little “who am I?” phase. One of the things I carried from that and for some time, was that I could never be a good friend again and to some degree I was afraid to get real close to some people. But God forgives and He restores and one of the friendships that impacted me the most right after that was from the Black Widow.

I had just returned from the States after living there for a year and was apprehensive about returning to Limerick and seeking deep relationships. The Black Widow and I were more acquaintances as well as housemates at this stage, but within that year, the Black Widow began to teach me more about unconditional friendship. I could say or do things and not feel that I would be judged or face repercussions of being somewhat ostracized, ‘because I had crossed a line and there was no going back’. There were no pedastools, just real authencity. I think that is what I would most advise looking for when considering the role your relationships play. Is there an honesty and an authencity present that humanises two individuals and allows one another to make mistakes and display a Christ-like love? Being real causes real changes and as the Bible puts it: As Iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Prov 27.17.

This acceptance and few months of my life allowed me to shift my thinking again to restore more healthy relationships with those around me. And little by little, I either made new friendships, such as when my sister in law moved into my life, as well as remembering others from over the years where you could pick up from where you last left off. May I note here that those friendships are so wonderful too because although months could pass from one conversation to the next, it is as if time has not lapsed and you flow unawkwardly onto the topic of the day.

I suppose it is also important to be fluid in how relationships can change and won’t always be the same. You learn to give and take and to go with those changes. Sometimes, we don’t stay as close and sometimes we don’t talk as much. I remember before I moved to NZ, texting an old friend from overseas. We hadn’t spoken in ages and proceeded to have a twenty minute conversation where she shared her life with me, which was great. But at the end of the conversation she never even asked me a simple ‘how are you?’ and I realised how much that friendship had changed and perhaps felt a little one sided. Other times we find it difficult to accept those shifts and confusing for some time afterwards to get comfortable in a new routine of spending time with people.

All that being said, I’m grateful for each friendhsip that I have in my life and the various forms it takes place- whether it’s a random message once a year or a daily text or coffee date. I do deem them significant and want to thank each one for showing me many good and challenging things! I cannot believe that I have some travelling across the world to visit me ( although perhaps it is for The Lord of the Rings opportunities… haha just kidding!) and for the simple text/message/facetime/card/like that I have received while here too. I look forward to a good catch up in February!

So till then,

Much love,

Erin