Thursday, November 24, 2011

Good and Perfect Gifts...

As I take a moment to stop and reflect on this day.....this day of thankfulness.....I begin to wonder what I have been thankful for in years past. It seems that each year brings with it a new set of joys, adventures, and even challenges. This particular season of life has left me more in a place of seeking, asking, questioning rather than thanking. A dear friend called me about a month ago and prefaced the conversation with, "I know this may feel a little uncomfortable, but I was just wondering if you would allow me to come to your home and pray for you tonight." What a sweet, sweet blessing this was to me. As we sat together that night I began talking....as I so easily do....about life, pondering the thought of my own direction. Had I made my own choices in this life, had I gotten myself to the point I am now, or has God really directed each step and intricately chosen each road for me to travel down? As tears fell from my eyes, she looked at me and reminded me of this very simple, yet so easily neglected, truth......EVERY GOOD AND PERFECT GIFT COMES FROM THE LORD! So as I think about today, and the many things I can consider blessings in my life, I focus more on that truth...the people, things, and moments that I know without question God had his hand in.

*My husband...for loving me more than I could even imagine, for seeing me in ways I still don't know how to see myself, for teaching me what true grace, faith, and hope look like.

*My boys...for their wonderfully wild personalities, their intoxicating laughs, their loving hearts.

*My mom...for always being my support, my teacher, and my friend. My desire for a little girl stems from the fact that I love her so much that I can't imagine not having "this" with my own daughter someday.

*My family...all of them!!!!

*My friends....oh my friends! I would not be who I am today without them....you know who you are!!!

*My 30th birthday...getting hurt so I could lay in bed all weekend and simply do nothing!!! God knew what I needed more than snowboarding! =)

*Haiti...God teaching me humility, how to love others better, and showing me that He has ALWAYS been there.

*My bible study girls! We've been a strong unit for 6 years now...and I can't imagine walking through this life without them.

*My CG....for the laughs, the tears, the "community," the love that I have for such special friends. Another group now 6 years strong!!!

*My beautiful new home.

*Ragnar....RUNS WITH A VAN....God teaching me so much about my own heart, my own limited strength, and faith.

*Sand angels, dance parties to Carter's Chord, movies under the stars, spontaneous trips to Chattanooga, cardboard box sledding, bread basket, sledding with my boys, The Brow, the boathouse, a river...

GOOD!

PERFECT!

THANKFUL!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Journey of 196 Miles....

....begins with a prayer. Last year my husband took part in a 12 man relay race from Chattanooga to Nashville. He enjoyed it so much that in January of this year he "somehow" compelled me to be a part of this madness. At that time my thought was centered around the fact that I had ten months to train. Over time, the months began slipping by with no progress in sight. Sure, I could fill you with plenty of excuses, but I won't do that (4 months of strep throat, 2 children's tonsillectomies, went to New York, Destin, and Haiti, had three months of severe back problems...to name a few)! Needless to say....I wasn't ready.

Overconfident and Undertrained!

This was the name of a fellow team and I immediately loved it! I should have written it on my shirt as it was probably more fitting for me than it was them. I didn't have a lot going for me in the running department, but what I was completely aware of is that I would not get anything done by my own strength alone. Regardless the excuses I had, the one thing I knew for sure is that God brought me to this moment and so my prayer slowly turned from "please Lord help me get through this" to "please Lord allow my heart and mind to be open to everything you wanted me to get from this experience."

I was definitely the grandma of the team....for sure not in spirit, just in running. But what I loved about our team, is that it didn't matter. We were a "team" in every sense of the word. It didn't matter how we did, just that we did our best. My first leg, the last leg of the girl van before the guys took over, was my favorite by far. They guys had come out to cheer me on. So about every mile of my 4.5 run I was met by either the guys or the girls cheering me on. A friend, James, even ran me in the last few steps to hand off to the guys! My second leg was only 1.6 miles. I was looking forward to this one from the beginning of the race because it was so short. I wasn't prepared for the dark, loneliness, chilling cold, and gradual uphill the entire way. It was however my best time. And then there was leg 3....another 4.5 miles. I can honestly say that I was done. My first leg was fueled by the cheering of my team. The second was driven by sheer determination. The third was where I was reminded of why I was running this race to begin with. So I began to pray....

"Lord God, we've made it through much tougher things this year than a measly little 4.5 miles. I'm here. You brought me here. This is all about you. Anything I have accomplished or will accomplish is by your strength. Let's do this...together!"

I set my music to "my" song, let the words soak in....."You lift me up, when I am weak, your arms wrap around me, your love carries me so I'm letting go...", and started running. I probably looked silly at times running with my eyes closed and arms lifted to the sky....but this run was never about me. This race was never about me. It allowing God to work something good within my own heart and life in this moment! It was about Him reminding me that He is always right there with me and that with Him, I can get through anything!

The third leg of the girls van was spent running in the early morning hours among the cold, darkness, and fog. Although when it was time for me to run....the sun came out, the heat started pushing through (causing me to strip off layers on the side of the road), and I was not only given a burst of energy, but also joy in this journey. I can definitely say without a doubt that the Lord was with me. I finished.....finally.....with a sigh of relief, a huge smile, and.....just for style.....a little bit of dancin'!!!!!!