Dear Pastor Rick,

My husband and I have been members of Saddleback Church for about eight years. We have two sons, Connor (12) and Cole (10). Thank you for all you do to bring the love of Christ into people’s lives. You are truly a blessing.

I know the Daniel Plan is drastically changing thousands of lives, not only in our congregation but throughout the community and beyond. It is very exciting to see the transformation of so many lives! You look great by the way—keep up the good work!

I am very active and have always been somewhat of a healthy eater (although who can resist a good In-N-Out burger now and again)! When you first presented the Daniel Plan at the first rally, I prayed and assessed what I could do that would really challenge me. You said to set a goal that would require total reliance on God to see you through and something that you could not do on your own.

Because I did not have any weight to lose, I decided to make a fitness goal, along with being more conscientious about what I was eating and regularly taking my supplements. I am not a runner—have never run in my life expect when doing P.E. in school or being chased by my kids! So, I decided that my fitness goal would be to run a half marathon before my next birthday. I began training in January in preparation to run in the OC Marathon this past Sunday (May 1, 2011).

There were many times when I didn’t think I could do it. Satan was playing with my head and putting negative thoughts in my head. I kept praying and training and I have a great family support and also the support of my two amazing Small Groups, who were also praying for me! I was excited at how far I had come and was very excited to finally be so close to running the race for which I had worked so hard to prepare.

However, two weeks before the run, I developed horrible tendonitis in my right ankle. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to run the 13.1 miles. I didn’t run the last two weeks prior to the race and went to physical therapy to work on my ankle. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to run and I was worried that if I did run, my ankle would not hold up. However, I was determined to run since I had put so much time and effort toward this lofty goal.

Well, I not only completed the half marathon, but I ran it in my estimated finish time. I felt the Lord was truly with me during the run and the most amazing part is that my ankle did not hurt one bit! The Lord totally ran along side me and protected me from pain and further injury. My 47th birthday is this Sunday, May 8th (Mother’s Day) so I can say that I met my goal to run the half marathon before my birthday! I have attached a photo of me and my boys (don’t laugh—I had just run 13.1 miles)!

I’m not writing this to boast about my accomplishment but rather to let you know how grateful I am for the Daniel Plan and to you as my pastor. Never in a million years would I have set a goal like this for myself if it wasn’t for you stretching my faith to do something that only God could give me the strength to do. It was the greatest feeling of accomplishment and I give all the glory to God.

One final thought. A few days before my run, I opened up my email and read the following devotional from Max Lucado. I was so floored—it was as if the Lord sent it directly to me! I just had to share it with you.

Posted: 28 Apr 2011 11:01 PM PDT
“God is the strength of my heart.” Psalm 73:26, NKJV

“God is for you. Turn to the sidelines; that’s God cheering your run. Look past the finish line; that’s God applauding your steps. Listen for Him in the bleachers, shouting your name. Too tired to continue? He’ll carry you. Too discouraged to fight? He’s picking you up. God is for you.”

Best wishes as you continue on your weight loss and fitness goal.

Sarah Lowey