Monday, April 10, 2017

On Being Mommy

"For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them." Psalm 139:13-16

While there are a myriad of ways to apply these verses, they became especially dear to me when we were working through the loss of several children to miscarriage. It was a comfort to know that while I did not have any way to know if a child that I was carrying would be delivered and if that child would be healthy, God did. He had already written the number of days for each of my children delivered and undelivered. In the quiet of another night, God has added to that lesson. I am often tempted to despair that the days that I have to spend with my children are fast being spent and to wonder if I have invested well in the time that I have already had with them. This is especially true when something like looking at old photographs reminds me of how quickly the days have been speeding by. Last night, God again whispered those words from Psalm 139 to my heart. Instead of despairing at the lost time, I need to rejoice in the chances that I have had to be a part of the lives of my amazing children for even a heartbeat. Each one of the little ones that I carried for only weeks, had a deep impact on my life, my faith, my understanding of the goodness of my God. How much more have the lives of my living children taught even more meaningful and delightful lessons and brought much of God's goodness and joy to my life. I have been blessed to be their mother for a few moments of their lives and mine. It is a joy that I do not deserve and that I will always treasure and thank God for, beginning today.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

"Why are you afraid?"

Not being able to sleep thinking about all I had to do the next day, I picked up my Bible to read in the gospels. Reading Matthew eight, I ran across a verse that I have often read and wondered about. Jesus and his disciples were crossing the Sea of Galilee in a boat. Jesus was sleeping. The storm rose, and the disciples were afraid for their lives. When they woke Jesus, his response was, "Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?" The text goes on to say, that he, "Rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, 'What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?'"

Again, I wondered why Jesus seemed to be rebuking the disciples for being afraid of the storm, before he calmed it. I guess it always seemed unreasonable to expect them to know what he was going to do, before he did it. But that night, as I meditated on the text, something occurred to me. Maybe, Jesus wasn't rebuking them for not knowing what he was going to do, but for not trusting in who He was. After all, they had been seeing him work all kinds of miracles. Maybe, he was rebuking their fear, because fear is the opposite of trust. If I know that a good God controls everything that touches me, then there is never cause for fear, even when the waves are crashing over the sides of the boat.

In the dark of that night, those thoughts rebuked me somewhat like Jesus' rebuke of the disciples. "Why are you afraid? Don't you know me? Don't you trust that I know what tomorrow holds, and that My strength will be enough?"

When the dark passed and the day came with all of it's work, His Spirit continued to remind me of His watch care and power. He did give strength for the day sufficient for the work of the day. And when the night came, he gave rest. Lord, please, help me to rest in Your love and power. To not borrow trouble from tomorrow, but to rest in you today.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Mantra

"God is good. He is enough." Running coaches often suggest that their runners find a mantra to chant to themselves in the difficult stretches of a race. Lately, in our life race, there have been more uphill struggling stretches than easy ones. Today, even the mantra seems worn. I am weary. I am not trusting, submitting, leaning into the suffering for the good that it will do for my soul. Instead, I am, like a toddler, shaking my fist, and screaming that I don't want this!! I want my own way. But even in the shouting, I know that my way is not His. My way is not good. My way does not bring joy and blessing and rest. And so, like a worn out child, I will choose to rest in His wisdom and strength. I will submit, yield to the One who is good and is enough even though I cannot see the way. Did I mention that He is enough; He is good?

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Running toward my desire

Saturday morning I was running before the sun rose while the thoughts that had wakened me continued to occupy my mind. As the painful push up the hill faded with the view of Christmas lights against the pink mountain miles away, I turned east toward a sky overflowing with colored clouds. Even while I marveled at the variety in front of me, my mind turned back to the major changes that are approaching our family. The list is not short. The list is very long and very scary to one who enjoys patterns, plans, and order.

I'd turned east on purpose at the top of the hill. It seemed a waste to run with my back to the light show unfolding as I ran, but eventually I came to a fork in the road. I wanted to keep going in the direction that I'd started in, but duty called back at the house, and I unwillingly turned to the west to wind my way back to the house. It was then that I saw what had been happening behind me. The sky over Pikes Peak glowed pink. What had been behind me, where I didn't want to go, took my breath away when I finally submitted to turning around. It was like God was shouting to me that when I trust Him, when I look at Him instead of the uncertainty around me that He will do something beautiful. It doesn't mean that He wrote the answers in the sky. But He brought to mind David's words in Psalm 73, "Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." He seemed to be saying, love me more, desire me more: more than order, than answers, than security. I think that the answer is in learning to know my God and being satisfied in Him no matter what deep waters He is calling me to walk through. He is asking me to keep my eyes fixed on Him and not on the waves lapping at my feet.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Run, Rabbit, Run 50 Mile Race Report

I have often remembered the whiteness of the snow flurries that filled the window the day that I pushed the button to sign up for the 50 mile Run, Rabbit, Run race. I also remember thinking that I was afraid to say, "Yes," but also a little bit curious too. Curious to see if I really could train for and run a 50 mile race. Sometimes that distance seemed so impossible, and at other times, it seemed completely possible.

When we arrived in Steamboat, I was dealing with the excitement and anticipation of the race as well as the questions that always seem to be present at the start of something big. "Am I ready? Can I do this? How will I respond when it seems impossible? Am I mentally tough enough to keep going?" I was able to put off thoughts of the race until Friday when it was time to check in and go to the pre-race briefing. The race director talked about how this wasn't a beginners race and asked for our word that we wouldn't quit. I didn't say anything. I guess that I had already determined on some level that I would finish and didn't feel like I needed to tell him that for it to be true. I say that knowing that I couldn't know what would happen the next day, but I did know that I intended to do everything possible to finish while admitting that any number of things could happen to change my plans. The other point of emphasis by the race director was that it is dangerous to blindly follow the runners ahead of you when trying to follow an ultra course. At the start of the race, that would come into play. . .

I got as much sleep as can be expected the night before attempting something doubtful. I didn't sleep well, but thankfully the morning came, and we made our way to the start where I said my goodbyes and in a rush joined the other runners who promptly missed the turn to cross the stream and like a herd of lemmings, scrambled to fix our mistake. I just happened to be the last runner across the bridge and up the ski hill. That start put me in a bit of a panic, so I pushed up the small upgrade in the dark past runners settling in for the climb and getting to know the runners around them. There was a fair amount of story swapping that gave me plenty to think about as the sun came up behind us while we made our way steadily up the service road. The lead 100 mile runners were coming in on the down hill. I caught sight of Nick Clark whom my husband and I had talked to at Fish Creek a few days before. He looked a bit dazed. I took off my gloves a few miles up; I was starting to warm up. It took us nearly two hours of hiking to make our way to the first aid station. I ate a bit and failed to take a salt tab. When I left the aid station at Mt. Werner, the trail dove sharply down. I was so excited to finally be able to run that I gave a war whoop and shot down the mountain. I soon had to stop and adjust my shoes and dig in my pack for a salt tab. Those stops meant that I was leap frogging with several runners and groups of runners. Two or three miles from the aid station, I tucked in behind two military men who were running together. The older of the two had finished multiple ultras and was running with the younger guy to pace and help him through his first 50 mile adventure. Their running pace was just what I was shooting for and the conversation helped to distract me from my slightly upset stomach and doubtful mind. I was struggling at this time with the idea of how far there still was to cover and how I was going to get back. That is always the difficulty of the out and back course. It is difficult to trick the brain when you know you just have to turn around and get back from where you run to. The terrain was not too difficult with rolling hills and challenging, but runable single track snaking through high mountain meadows and up and down ridges between the drainages. The view of Long Lake as we broke out of the forest was breathtaking. It was difficult to keep running, as the eyes were drawn to the glories of God's creation. I almost couldn't take my eyes off of the mountains around me. That aid station was busy as there were 50 mile and 100 mile runners. I ate, took salt, got rid of my trash, and headed out. I thought that I would separate from the guys I'd been tailing, but when the markers were missing blue flags for a ways, there were several of us who put our heads together to make sure we were on track and I again attached myself to their group. We ran that way to the next aid station about six miles away, and once again after moving through the aid station, I was able to tail them. My stomach was still not right, but I was able to put it out of my mind except for looking for opportunities and trees off the trail to try to settle it. I kept drinking and was well hydrated the entire race. Base camp aid station was only four miles from my crew, but I was already past the time that I'd hoped on an outside chance to be to them. During this section, we were fighting lots of mud in the low places in the meadows that looked like they were home to herds of elk on quieter days. Again, the views were picturesque. I should have stopped to relish them, but the purpose of the day was urging me forward. At the Dumont Campground, just a bit before the aid station, I left the group of runners that had grown by one and pushed ahead. I was beginning to panic that the pace that we'd been running was just under what made me comfortable about finishing. I caught sight of Joel in his blue shirt and carrying the crew box first. The crew helped me change out of my leggings and traded my pack for a hand held bottle as we'd planned. They also gave me some salt that I took on the road up the mountain. Taking off to touch the rabbit ears, I lost sight of the two men that I'd been running with, but without the opportunity to tuck in behind them for those miles, I don't think that I could have finished. I didn't have to think or mentally fight with myself to keep running for all of those 12 or 15 miles and that meant that I had enough mental strength to fight the battles that were still ahead. I did see them briefly at the turn around and after the race learned that Mark finished, but Michael who was attempting his first 50 didn't make it.

Just after leaving the crew, I turned my right ankle badly. I hobbled on and the pain shifted, but from that point on there was a constant sharp pain across the bottom of my foot with every step. Sometimes the pain also shot across the sides and top of my foot, but that pain came and went. I've never had a sprained ankle bruise before, but this one has bruised. The good news is that the hip that had been making my hamstring hurt painfully, was tight, but I was able to relax it even while running to the point that it never really ached. It just twinged now and then. Mostly when that happened, I was able to lengthen my stride and stretch out my hip. I found that it hurt mostly on the down hill sections, and if I ran faster it hurt less.

The hike up to the rabbit ears was on a rutted road that was very difficult to walk/run on. There were runners coming back from the rock constantly passing me in the opposite direction. Having to touch the rock was one of the most fun parts of the race. It made it seem like a race on the play ground when I was a kid. The hike up there was very difficult, but there were people other than the runners enjoying the hike. There were even some guys with their jeep parked on the side of the road, enjoying sandwiches as they sat looking over the valley. I headed back to my crew at Dumont where they gave me back my pack and fed me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and coke. I also reapplied some body glide and gave hugs all around. I asked Justin if I walked all the way back if I could make it. Of course, he told me that I could, but that I'd not be satisfied with that and urged me to run it in. Yeah! Run it in for 23 miles over how many mountains?! Just as he always does, he was in my head, and I couldn't not run after that. I worked hard to run anything that wasn't up hill. Despite running most of the way back by myself, I was able to run a negative split of about 17 minutes. I'd like to say that I had many deep thoughts and solved all the world problems in those six hours it took me to get down the mountain, but I didn't. I worked my way from aid station to aid station with the intention of getting down before it got dark and cold. When I got to Mt. Werner aid station, I was well ahead of the cut offs with only six or so miles to go. I had a very hard time running this steep downhill section. I ran some, but also walked parts of it. I'd been felling light headed off and on since mile 30. So on the way down, when my hand started to tingle and I got light headed again, I told the runner next to me, that I was having a hard time. He suggested that we walk down for awhile together. We did, and I began to feel better. When we got off the service road and onto the trail about a mile from the finish, he suggested that I go ahead. I was ready to run so took off. I saw my dad just a quarter of a mile from the finish, he ran with me for just a bit. I crossed the bridge with the kids all trailing behind and ran up the steps to hug the designated hugger.

That seems like such an anticlimactic ending to such a day, and yet, it was fitting. I was very thankful for those who waited around for me, but for me the day flew by. It already seems like a dream. A dream that I sometimes see very clearly when I remember that I really did cover 50 miles on my own two feet, but helped along by friends, family, and strangers. Mostly, I am very thankful for all the people who helped me in small and big ways. It was sure fun. Thanks.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

One more reason that I love running

After four days of nearly no running, I was able to run 10 miles of hill repeats in 1:43.38. Roughly 10:20 miles. I am so excited!! Mostly because I was beginning to think that I am slowing down with all the long running that I am doing and running any miles that fast is really encouraging, but mostly, and here is the reason that I love running, because I was able to do something that felt impossible at the beginning. I started out on the workout with the idea that I'd like to get 10 miles in in less than 2 hours. I ran 11 in 2 hours counting my 20 minute cooldown with the dog. Yeah! Then there were the times on the way up the hill every time, that I wanted to back off, but was able to mentally push into the small task of the next landmark where I'd been recording times each lap. I love the opportunity to set goals and see them met. I love being able to control the outcome by my hard work. I know that there are few things that are in my control, but it is rewarding to me to set goals that are determined primarily by my willingness to suffer and invest. God was so good to give me this positive run at a time when I was struggling with the idea that I could run successfully in September. It is also a blessing to be able to see and feel once again the joy of running and not just the daily grind. Running is so like being a follower of Christ. Most days the road is dusty, long, and unexciting, but there are just enough amazing views and moments of feeling like you could fly that give hope that we keep on going knowing that the reward is worth the work. Thanks God for giving encouragement on the path.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

meditations

In Hosea 9:1-4 the prophet is warning of the coming judgement that God will pour out on Israel. It has always been interesting to me the things that God sees as curses that we do not. Here the focus is the production of and enjoyment of two basic foods, wine and bread, but the text goes beyond that. The people will not have an abundance of bread and wine, but also their offerings of bread and wine will not please God. Verse four says, "They shall not pour drink offerings of wine to the LORD, and their sacrifices shall not please him. It shall be like mourners' bread to them; all who eat of it shall be defiled: For their bread shall be for their hunger only; it shall not come to the house of the LORD." It seems to me that the real curse being promised is not the lack of food, but the lack of fellowship. Their bread will satisfy their physical hunger, but it will be a defilement to them rather than a means to fellowship with God. They will not even pour out their drink offerings before God. Today, if God wills, I hope to partake of the LORD's supper with my church family. Interestingly, the elements of the LORD's supper are wine and bread, but unlike the wine and bread mentioned in the text, the LORD's supper represents a sufficient sacrifice. My drink offering, Christ's shed blood, has been poured out and accepted. The bread of his body has been offered once for all, and when I drink the cup and eat the bread, I can join with God in covenant and fellowship. The danger is that I will approach the table with the same disregard and wickedness as those Israelites that Hosea was writing to, that I will come to the table with a heart full of pride, self-sufficiency, and idolatry. May God deliver me from eating only to fill my physical hunger the thing that was meant to be the very life of my soul.