The Story of the Marathon Part 2

So, I guess I’m still at the 10K mark right? You’ll have to forgive the delay. Blame it on rodeo. Seriously. We are in the State Finals right now. Serious business. Here’s the map so you can get my drift.

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The 10K sign was welcomed, and I found myself in rhythm with the road. I was watching my running watch pretty close, and I was happy with my pace. I relaxed into the run, and I began to observe first the surroundings and the atmosphere. It was a nice view as we ran out of the downtown area and into the city. It was humid and the coolness was dissipating.

At this point I started to notice the other runners around me. There was a younger lady a little in front of me who was keeping a nice pace. There was a purple haired gal to the left of me. I saw the packages of nutrition gels on the ground in front of me. I noticed the middle aged guy who was keeping my pace with me. I smiled. We were all in this together.

Suddenly there were signs and workers pointing to the signs of the course separation between the half-marathoners and the wholes. “We are the Champions” began playing in my ear buds from my carefully crafted race list. I waved to the halves and turned right with the wholes. I felt a little pride that I was moving on from that race distance to this new goal. I felt strong as I pulled out an energy gel to take in. I was glad for the advice my new friends in the Runner’s Club had given me about nutrition. I didn’t want to become depleted of electrolytes, and gels and water seem to work well for me.

When I reached the half marathon distance, I remembered my very first Half-Marathon Race a few years ago and how accomplished I had felt when I ran the Tyler Rose Half Marathon in memory of my mom. I thought about the year I ran the half marathon in Dallas and how sick I was that day and how my ankle was badly bruised and taped up. I had a good time that day even though I had to use my inhaler to get through.

Half way there rang through my mind, and I was excited and energized by how my muscles were performing. Then I reached the 14 mile mark, and I remembered my 14 mile training run. I had started in the park and run 7 miles with the runner’s club, grateful for the conversation with new friends. The last 7 I had looped around the park and our downtown in the cold wet, and I was slow and sluggish and feeling like I didn’t fit in marathon training. And yet, somehow I had continued to train through the sluggish, through sickness, through rain and ice, through kids’ schedules, and on and on.

I heard my name, “C’mon Katie! Let’s go Katie! You’re doing great!” a crowd member cheered to me. I looked down and saw my name on my bib. I looked back up grinning like a fool and found tears coming to my eyes. Wow. Encouragement. Never underestimate the power. Or the power of the moment you need it and don’t even know.

And then I was beside them. I had seen her earlier, the runner with the jogging stroller. But, I hadn’t looked on or really seen her. And all of a sudden, we were running together. She kept one hand on the stroller and reached down to adjust the sunshade on the man in the stroller. He looked like he had maybe cerebral palsy or something similar. At this point we are at the 15 mile marker, and I marveled at her strength. He looked tired too, and he pushed his neck over to look at me. His eyes met mine, and he smiled big. It was the biggest smile I’ve ever seen and the most encouragement I’ve ever received. Tears fell down my cheeks and it took me a moment to feel them. I was overwhelmed by gratefulness. I was still running, and I said thank you to the lady pushing my new friend. She gave me a thumbs up and said, “We are all going to cross that finish line, right?” I nodded.

I flashed back at my attempt 15 years ago to run a mile with a jogging stroller with a baby in it. How weak I was. How easily I gave up. How lazy I was.

I wondered but I knew in my heart how she was doing it. Determination, commitment, discipline, love. It’s all you need.


To be continued….

She would…

 

She would have been proud of us…for growth, change, accomplishments, pain…while she also worried if we were okay.

She would smile big at that new driver’s license, Anna.

Her chin would raise in support for that first golf tournament, Maile.

Her blue eyes would sparkle at how tall you are, Lydia,and she would comment on how straight your teeth are.

Her thin hand would run over your shiny, blonde hair, Claire as she pulled you into her soft hug showing her love for you the youngest.

She would widen her eyes and open her pretty mouth in wonder at how all four of you race in on your horses and ride hard to win. 

She would be glad I’m not as thin as I used to be while she clucked her tongue at the training for the marathon….shaking her head…”too much.”

Her other thin hand would rest on your shoulder Matt and rest there in the joy and the pain of the switch in sails.

She would delight in all the new great-grands born lately.

She would laugh hard at the silly family pictures we take.

She would look around at her large family and sign happily, proudly…and hope all in one breath that we are all really okay.

Rewriting Your History (Down to Studs)

Raise your hand if you look around and find surprise in how your life looks. Not what you expected? Yeah, me too. It can be good.

See, I have fluctuated between knowing living life like Mother Theresa is the right path and simply wanting to enjoy life with new shoes and a dress. This life and place and path has shifted and weaved and moved around it can be hard to be proactive and responsive. The feelings come and we “feel” thrown around by life circumstances. Faith is hard, and life direction can be confusing. So much of our life gets shifted by emotions and feelings and perspectives.

We all have our moments where we stop and look around to try to figure out if we are where we set out to go…or are we just a long way from home. Perspective is powerful.

Our life has changed a lot in the last few months. My husband transitioned out of his position at the church, and he is onto a different adventure. My oldest child is driving a car now. I’m training for a marathon. We have two high schoolers. We are finding our way in peace. Schedules, goals, all has adjusted and we are shifting our perspectives.

The things I knew when I was young, some were true, and some were wrong. -Lumineers, “The Gun Song”

Last weekend, we took the kids to Baton Rouge and we cleaned out a few flood homes together. One house we were in had nothing by the curb, and by the end of our time there everything 4 feet down we had hauled out to that same curb. I stood in the middle of the elderly lady’s bedroom overwhelmed by the stuff ruined…so much gone of her life. But, it was all just stuff. We drove away looking at all the piles of everyone’s things on the curbs. Everyone was the same….everyone down to studs.

My kids worked so hard. I was proud of them. They saw into the experience too. No one complained or fussed about sweating or working hard. Maile looked at me and said, “I don’t have any problems,” during one of our breaks. They aren’t perfect, and the situation we put them in on purpose wasn’t perfect. We talked about what we were doing and why. And then we drove home to our dry house with all the stuff in tact.


And so today, I find myself in the middle of all these memories while I shift through all the things 4 feet and down in my house to ensure that I am taking care of the stuff in my life and letting go of all the stuff that doesn’t need to be there. Reflection, perspectives, change all around me as I sort through high school senior pictures, my baby pictures, my babies’ baby pictures.

Bill and me

I’m not just in this life. Maybe maturity and experience always lead to this place of realizing how much I don’t know. I look around me and I find nothing is what I thought it was; I’m glad, mostly, it causes wonder to continually born within.

It’s my life, and I have a responsibility to lead in it. So do you. We are rewriting our history…maybe you should too. Hear your breath for a minute.

Slow down.

Look.


But don’t just look.

See. Have faith in God. Know that faith is not always what you think it is. Too mystical for you? Knowing what you don’t know may be an area you want to explore.

Get into your life. Are you there? Don’t just make it. We are meant for more than surviving….although there are moments when its all you can do. Everyone is gutted to studs at some point. That’s a tough moment, and no one would ever wish for it. That’s never happened to me physically, like these flood victims.

But, it has happened to me internally, and somehow everything gets clear in that moment…what’s important, what’s worth keeping, why you are just thankful for your people. Survival breathes gratefulness…and that’s good too. We aren’t meant to stay in “just making it mode.”

Do what you need to do to…clean out the wet and moldy. Dry out. Get ready to rebuild. It could be better than it was or what you expected.

Time to do more than survive. If you’re tired, go rest. If you’re sad, be sad. If there are problems, address them. Don’t be afraid to dig deep, to take a risk, to sit down into your funky feelings….resolution, redemption, peace will come. Inhale, exhale. Pray. Live.

Don’t worry about doing it perfect….always simply begin. 

 

 

 

Camp on Sunday

Sunday morning we took it slow in camp. We still had a few days before the big hike down and so we just chilled, cooked a good breakfast and enjoyed a morning fire. And then, the kids planned church for us. And we had some Sabbath together. 

I’m not sure why adults think they always have to lead. You should’ve seen the kids take over when we told them they should plan church. We had an invocation, 2 songs, 4 Scripture readers, a sermonette, and a benediction. Kids are great leaders and they can plan without your help. Just let them know you’ll wait for their plan and leave them alone. Don’t underestimate them. 

After church we got ready for the day. No rushing. Just slow by the fire….

Then we made some plans…A Desert View picnic coming up…..

The Story of Place Part 2

 

The chapel was small, and there were some people in the middle aisle. We sat on the right with only two people in front of us. Sitting there quietly, I watched every person curiously. One man came was friendly and came to shake our hands, and then the service began. The pastor was an African-American woman, and she led everything. There was one pianist.

The pastor read the obituary, and then she invited friends and family to give testimony of Karen’s life. A friend went up first. She was open, smiling, sincere, and she knew a lot about this place. She met Karen through AA. They had just started volunteering at the Salvation Army together. She was sad for Karen to say goodbye. But Karen knew Jesus, her friend said, she knew Jesus, and she is with Jesus now. She smiled and returned to her seat.

The man that had greeted us went up next. He had known Karen through AA also for a long time. He said she was his friend. He said he loved her. And he said she was so frustrating at times. He knew her too well and he could always tell when she was using again. He said it was hard to be with her sometimes. He said, “But she was clean and sober the last three years. She was clean and sober when she died and that was a victory. And she loved God…like a child. And she was with God now; and her struggle is over. ” He sighed in relief and sat down.

I felt heavy. Most of the places Karen had been were places I had never been to until now. Hard places of addiction, places of sorrow, places of depression, poverty, and illness. What a gift she gave me to not be in those places with her.

A cousin went up to talk about Karen. She was trying her hardest to be positive. The strengths she found to speak of came with details behind them of how much Karen must have hurt her family…the family she came from. They all looked nice enough. It was all weighted. Every word.

My head spun around my whole life to try to see hers. She was my flesh. She is gone. I had already said goodbye to my adopted mother with the sorrow and pain of a child and I miss her so very dearly every day even now. But, now. I was saying goodbye to the one who bore me into this place.

My heart was heavy, but there on that pew, nothing was hanging out there for me anymore. I felt myself open-wide. Open. I knew it all. I knew she was too young to have me. I knew there was something broken in her life. I knew the rest of her adulthood was filled with addiction and pain with some points of light. I knew she was probably using when she was writing me letters. I knew she had somehow made peace, made friends, and made this place her church. I knew that her story and my story and our places were coming full circle in this moment to find redemption in the bigger story of God in us.

After the last prayer, the man who spoke of Karen in the service came straight to me. He knew me.  He held my hand and said, “I know it must have been a very hard decision to come here, but I’m so glad you are here today in this place.” I smiled and squeezed his hand. “Me, too.”  I was welcomed into the reception warmly. I spent the next hour meeting people who knew about me and those who didn’t. All of them were delighted to talk with me, curious, kind. It was like a big exhale for all of us. As my dad and I stood in front of my car to say goodbye, we just looked thoughtfully at each other, satisfied. “I’m so glad you came with me,” I said.

“Thank you for letting me be part of this with you,” he said, emotional. I couldn’t say much more. I needed him that day. I needed him that day in 1975 also. Thanks, Dad.

This story is one I have never told. I’m not sure why. I guess I wasn’t ready until now…until this place. I tell it to you now to remind you of all of the stories, all of the places that have never been told. I tell it to you now to remind you of all the stories, of all the places you have never been yet. I tell it to you now to remind you of our place in God’s story of redemption…..messy, circling, love, openness and sacrifice.

And so we find that God uses place to open us wide. Or we must open to the place we are in or the place God is sending us….for

St. John of Chrysostom said “It is not enough to leave Egypt. One must also enter the Promised Land.”

I’m not in the place you are in. God is. That’s what I do know. Being open to seeing value in the place you are in suddenly opens up places within you that you knew nothing about!

You might have seen hints…you might have smelled them or glimpsed them through some crack. You were searching for this place all along, praying, writing, grasping. You lit some candles. You’ve been on your knees and nothing happened. But then it did perhaps in a place you would have never imagined. Opportunity knocks right here. Light comes in, into all these places within you that you never knew and then you knew. After all, perspective is about the lighting, right?

Your places are there for the seeking. You might be surprised where you find brokenness, redemption, true love, and sacrifice. Don’t be afraid. There might be some fear, maybe the whole thing is closed up by fear. Be afraid and remember that perfect love drives out fear. You’ll be okay. Perfect love is the place, the whole story. So, crack it open, that place you’re in.

Eph. 2:22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

For this place’s sake, don’t miss it.

My Lord God, we have no idea where we are going. We do not see the road ahead of us. We cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do we really know ourselves, and the fact that we think we are following your will does not mean that we are actually doing so. But we believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And we hope we have that desire in all that we are doing. We hope that we will never do anything apart from that desire. And we know that if we do this you will lead us by the right road, though we may know nothing about it. Therefore we will trust you always though we may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. We will not fear, for you are ever with us, and you will never leave us to face my perils alone.

—Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude

The Story of Place Part 1

“By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to set out for a
place that he was to receive as an
inheritance; and he set out, not knowing where he was going
.” Hebrews 11:8 NRSV
There is a story of place within all of us, did you know? It is rich with detail. You’re thinkingyours might be boring. Maybe it is. However, in that boring story there is detail and meaningand reason and mystery…you just have to zoom in a little.
Too often we are afraid to experience a life that has an interesting story…listen to the Psalmist:
But as for me, my prayer is to you, O Lord.
At an acceptable time, O God,
in the abundance of your steadfast love, answer me.
With your faithful help
14
rescue me
from sinking in the mire;
let me be delivered from my enemies
and from the deep waters.
15
Do not let the flood sweep over me,
or the deep swallow me up,
or the Pit close its mouth over me.
16
Answer me, O Lord, for your steadfast love is good;
according to your abundant mercy, turn to me.
17
Do not hide your face from your servant,
for I am in distress
make haste to answer me. Psalm 69:13-17
We are always searching for security, safety, comfort. We must know in the deep that our
individual stories of place belong in a much bigger story.
God’s story.
It’s who we are as human beings. Did you know my story? I have written several parts
of it in a book, on a blog, and in journals. Ugh, my journals. They sound a lot like that Psalm I just read. I hate reading my journals.
But, there’s more to my story. ..more I haven’t written, or told. Just like there’s more to the Psalmist’s whining and there’s more to Abraham’s story than he hadan inheritance and he set out for some place. There’s more to the friend’s story you are
sitting by now and it is far from uninteresting.
I was born in April 1975. But there are no photos of me that day. It was three days later that
I would meet the family who raised me.I always wonder what Karen’s day was like on that day?
Karen was my birthmother. My parents were older than her.They had 5 other children.
And some kind social worker brought me to their home on that day and I was welcomed into their happy home and given my place as the youngest child. I had a happy childhood, and there were no differences between me and my siblings. I knew I was adopted, and my mom and dad would patiently answer my questions when they would come up.
I thought of Karen some growing up; did I look like her? Was she nice? Was she pretty? where was she now. My parents told me God chose me to be in their family which made me very special. When asked, they gave simple, limited information. Yes, she was very young. She wasn’t able to care for you. She had problems. They didn’t elaborate.
It was the 70’s after all, and this was a closed adoption. No one relished in dramatic details of sad stories. Our home was a very happy place with lots of love and affection and laughter.
I grew up happy in my family. A few years after getting married, Matt and I were considering starting our family. I decided to try and find out information about my health history. I was able to get some bits and pieces, but then I decided to try to connect with Karen. My folks were okay with it, but they weren’t pleased. It didn’t take long because Karen was trying to connect with me. We sent pictures and wrote letters. Real letters. Remember the 90’s when we all actually wrote letters.
She told me it had been a long hard life for her and she had been in a place of addiction for a long time. She assured me that she was clean now and steady with a job
and a church. We talked on the phone a few times. Then she became upset because I wasn’t ready to meet her in person. I felt cautious. I was a social worker now, and I wasn’t naive about this situation. Karen began to say strange and demanding things. I realized that I was bringing up things I couldn’t understanding in a place I wasn’t part of. Finally, she told me she didn’t want to have contact with me anymore unless I met her. I wasn’t ready for this especially with her strange behavior. So, that was it. We didn’t have contact anymore.
Life moved on, and we started our family with one daughter and then we had two. We movedto Indonesia to do mission work and in 2003, and in 2008 we transitioned to back to South Texas. My mother Maureen died of Leukemia in 2012, and I was glad to be with her through the very end of her life. (Btw, Mother’s Day is no picnic for those who have lost their moms.)
I did think of Karen in different moments while living and travelling in different places. I was content to pray for her from afar. I hoped she was well and still in a good place…a place of wholeness.
This past summer, I received a letter from a lady named Theresa and onthe same day a
Facebook message from a lady named Leslie. Both said the same thing. Karen was gone. She had been very sick, and she had died at home. She had gone to a better place. I was in shock. I read the letter and the message over and over again. Both people who had reached out to me were professional and courteous. Both of them knew they had to tell me. They told me of the funeral, and I held the information close for a few days.
Finally, I picked up the phone and called my dad. I told him. I also told him I wanted to go to the funeral. He was quiet; then he asked if he could come with me.I was so glad.
That Saturday morning, I woke up early and I drove 5 hours to get to the funeral and my dad was waiting for me in an old inner city church parking lot. I jumped out of my car and gave him a solid hug glad he was there with me. He held me tight. I hopped in his car, and we drove down to a Subway. It was surreal in that booth chatting with him about the girls and his morning at the car race track. All at once our food was gone, and he was asking me if I was ready. I said yes, very sure albeit nervous.
To be continued…

You’ve Got This

  You need to at some point as a mature adult (as someone who wants to reach the next level of consciousness in your life) to decide to bring a little bit more emotional peace, mindfulness, conscious will about the emotions you’re experiencing each day…

If you’re constantly finding yourself in a panic…you need to decide that you want a character that is stronger than that. To stand strong. Make it a goal to have character development.

Purposefully decide to deal with chaos from a good place. Meet the demands of the time, the moment from a place of peace and strength and joy…from a good place….from an emotional state that is going to service in the situation…that you have chosen. You get to choose the energy and joy you generate.

That old ethic that came from stoicism…you are the commander of your own attitude. You are the one that stands true and solid in the moments that matter. –Brendon Burchard

That’s right. I’m challenging us all today. To a deeper, more extraordinary life. After all, I just had a birthday, and I’m always feeling reflective around there. There is a story of place that I haven’t told on the blog that I’m thinking of sharing with you. I was able to share it with some good folks at Hendricks Avenue Baptist Church in Florida on our road trip.

But for tonight, holding some heavy things around here, I’m sensing the need for character…you know the kind…deep down stuff…digging deep. You need it too. Some emotional maturity and the fight to be objective about your own life….it’s something we are desperate for in this culture. Drama is tired.

Let us rise up together. It’s not a long life after all. Why not go for extraordinary?

“Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope. Nothing with is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore we are saved by love. No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as it is from our standpoint. Therefore we must be saved by the final form of love, which is forgiveness.” –Reinhold Niebuhr