Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The one i've been putting off...

I have had this blog in my mind for days. But I've really been procrastinating posting it. It's somewhat of a raw one, with raw emotions. And sometimes it's hard for me to write these things because, well, sharing to the depths of the heart is revealing and can be scary. But why stop now? So, let me tell you what I've been putting off.
 I have decided not to run the full marathon in September. I have decided to knock down to the half. It has been an agonizing decision for me. I wanted the full so badly. For so many reasons. It was to prove things to myself. To prove things to others. It was like carrying out a conversation with my mom still, since it originated with her. So, the decision has not been an easy one for me. It's made me feel quite humbled for saying to everyone....don't tell me I can't....and statements of the such. The entire process has been one of growth and learning.
 Last Saturday I went out and "ran" 15 miles. I'd been having some nagging doubts about it, but I set out pretty determined. By mile 12 I was in tears. Not because of be quite honest my muscles were really not bad. But it was because I knew what my decision needed to be. I'd never make the 6 hour cutoff time that this marathon has. Based on my times that day, I knew it. So i cried. Really I wept. Seems silly probably to you. But it is hard to give up a goal, even if the decision is made in wisdom. I shouldn't say "give up" the goal. To be honest, I was mad. I didn't want to quit on this goal. But I was reminded that I"m not quitting it...I'm postponing it. I'll set out to do one in the spring. I still want to do one. I just really wanted this one because it's what mom and I talked about together in her last months. But I've been humbled and have to admit that it's just not going to happen. I"m tired. My body is tired. I've faced a lot of exhausting events in 6 months time. So, my body is telling me to wait. And slowly, I'm beginning to accept that. I will still do the half. And I am hoping by that time, I will be in full acceptance of this, and really enjoy the race. Enjoy the moments I have with Michael in those couple days. I'll keep telling you about it. It's hard to admit this. I think there will be some who say "I told you so." Or some who make comments such as..."well, you could still...why are you giving up?" And I'll just have to take the comments with humility. (Easier said than done.) I want to finish well. Not just finish. Sometimes the goal is just to finish. But in this case, I want to do it well. So I'll keep training. I was also reminded through this last week and this decision, that maybe I lost sight of the real prize...and what i'm really trying to attain...which is in my heavenly destination as Paul talks of in several different passages of scripture. Goal are fine and good even, but when they becoming consuming, well, it's not a God-driven goal. So one step at a time, I accept this. I am humbled. And so in a sense, starting over in some ways. Remembering what my goal is and working towards that...both heavenly and here on earth. And that my goal is not just to finish in this life , but to finish well. I want to hear Him say to me one day, "well done." Right now, I'm not there. And that's raw honesty.
 LIfe is like that...the process of working through grief is like that. It's a cycle . Reminders. Training. Learning. Growing. Feeling pain. Feeling humbled. My running journey often parallels my life journey. At the same time I learn a new aspect of training in distance, I'm usually learning spiritually. And when I am knocked down physically and taken down a notch in my marathon journey, typically God is teaching me something spiritually. it's crazy how they really go hand in hand for me. I wanted to quit for a little while-I won't lie. But i know what running does for me, and that would be crazy. It was the discouragement speaking. Happens that way for me in other ways. They just kind of parallel each other. And I'm sure that God didn't do that by mistake.
  Grief hits at strange times and in strange ways. In some ways , for me, letting go of this particular marathon, is letting go of my mom a little more. I don't think that anyone really understands that, but it's how it is for me. I'm still accepting that. Oh, I know mom is better off. And I know that I wouldn't wish her back here because she is perfect and not sick in heaven. And I was ready to say goodbye as much as I possibly could. But when I say letting go, I mean learning to live without her. She is always a part of me. But well, just letting go of this race at that distance is letting go a little more. And accepting a little more. Please don't tell me to move on. Or let go. Or be done with my grief. It takes time. And this is another step for me. I've shared that I have been diagnosed with depression. Well, people with depression often feel to deeper level  and take more time to process through things like grief. I just thought I'd share that with those who don't know that. For those who think I cry too much or feel too much. It just is who I am. And I am ok with that. Oh, I hate it sometimes. It's my "thorn" . But one day, I think somehow it will be used. And someday maybe I won't have to take medication for depression. And if not, I'll just have to keep accepting my "thorn".
  I often work through things through music as much as through my running. I love music. Steven Curtis Chapman has some really amazing songs that have touched me deeply through this whole process. I read a book by his wife while my mom was in her last months. It was called Choosing to SEE . Anyway, they lost a daughter suddenly when she was run over by a car. This book touched me, as I could really relate to some of the things she shared. And Steven Curtis Chapman wrote a CD from this time in their life, titled Beauty Will Rise. I am closing this blog by sharing one of the many songs on that CD that I have played over and over and over. I hope the words strike you, too. I am continuing on, even in my running, one day at a time.....

I am broken, I am bleeding, I am scared and I'm confused,
 but You are faithful. Yes, YOu are faithful
I am weary , unbelieving,
God help my unbelief.
 You are faithful

I will proclaim it to the world, I will declare it to my heart
I"ll sing it when the sun is shining
I'll scream it in the dark.

YOu are faithful. You are faithful.
When you give and when you take away
Even then still your name is faithful.
You are faithful
 And with everything inside of me
I am choosing to believe You are faithful.

I am waiting for the rescue I know is sure to come
 cuz You are faithful.
I've dropped anchor in your promises and I am holding on,
cuz You are faithful.

Though I cannot have the answer I am wanting to demand,
I'll remember you are God and everything is in your hand.
In your hands You hold the sun and moon, the stars up in the sky
For the sake of love, You hung your own son on the die.

YOu are faithful, yes, You are faithful
When you give and when you take away,
Even then, great is your faithfulness! Great is your faithfulness!

And with everything inside of me...I am choosing to believe...You are faithful.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

40 years

Today would be mom and dad's 40 year anniversary. Cancer took that from them. But I'm still celebrating 40 years. Today is not a day that I feel the sadness so much (like my birthday or specific holidays), but I feel the sadness for my dad, because even if he doesn't say it, I'm sure this day is a hard one for him to get through.
 40 years!! Wow! what an accomplishment! And my mom loved dad, and dad loved mom unendlessly. They set a beautiful example for me. Mom's parents were married 72 years before my grandpa passed away. I can't remember how many dad's parents were married, but I know it was at least 60 before his dad passed away. I saw a lot of good marriages. And now that I'm married, I realize just how good those marriages were because of all the hard times they made it through. I think growing up, I had a beautiful example of marriage ,that I really had no idea how much work and how hard it would be as I entered into it at the age of 19. But I'll come back to that.
  Mom taught me how to love. Literally. She taught me what it meant to love someone when you don't want to. She taught me to love the unlovable. i watched her love my dad every day. sometimes in the simple ways. Sometimes in larger ways. I watched her also love people who no one else would spend time with. She was amazing in that way. Growing up of course, mom never really talked about problems her and dad were having, which is the way it should be, me being her child. As I got older, and I'd sometimes share a frustratation,   then she would tell me about how to get through it.  I never saw her and dad really fight. They had their frustrations, but they also had great communication and work through things together. This was evident-their working as a team. Dad provided in amazing ways, allowing mom to fulfill her dream of being a stay at home mom her whole life. In mom's later days, I watched dad take care of her in new ways. Mom had always been the caretaker. It was her "job", even when she was sick, to take care of everyone else. She always did, too, no matter what. But when mom took a bad turn, I watched dad in new ways love mom. He would lift her, shift her, feed her, walk behind her, give her her meds, make decisions with the doctors and nurses-it was a new role for him, but he did it well.  When mom died, dad was the one at her side. (We were in the kitchen-it was dad's turn in the room with her.)That was appropriate. At mom's funeral, the pastor said that Roger and Linda were like one word. You always said it together..."where's roger and linda?" or statements of the such. yes, they had their separate interests, but they were one as a couple should be. It was a beautiful picture of marriage.
 I realize that times have changed a lot since 40 years ago when mom and dad were married. Today the economy is really tough so that many couples are "forced" to be both working. That would describe us. Also, marriage statistics are crazy these days and very few people last 40 years like mom and dad did. And thus, we have to work even harder at our relationship. I do not blog about my marriage much. But when mom died, I thought so much about my marriage, and what would be said of me as a wife if I passed away today or thoughts like that. Mom set such an example of how to love, of how to laugh, and really how to live....even how to die, as a wife and a mom and the lady of the house. I pondered that and thought on what i wanted to change. MIchael and I are going to celebrate 10 years in December. And as mom passed away, and as today it would be 40 years, I have thought a lot about our marriage. I miss having mom to talk to about things. But I remember her example. The times are different, as I said, so responses are different and well...our marriage is different than theirs. But mom could always laugh at dad's silly statements ...I don't always do this too well; I often take things way too seriously. There is a balance, but laughing is definitely something I want to do more. Mom and dad made it through some very tough times together. Michael and I have faced some pretty enormous difficult circumstance in  4 years-it's different for every marriage, but we've made it though some tough moments and we are stronger for it today. He is my best friend, my support. But it takes work for that to be the case sometimes. Mom showed me how worth it sticking out the hard times were. And now I see it myself.  I have God ultimately to thank-He gets all the credit for getting us through things like a move, several job changes, financial crisis, emotional crisis, changes all over the place.... But I'd be remiss to not mention mom. Not only did mom set the example for me, she also was there for me to encourage me through those difficult times.
 Anyway, today is 40 years for mom and dad. I am so thankful for the beautiful years they had together. I am thankful for the example they set. I am thankful for mom teaching me to love like she loved. She loved with all she had...literally one of the reasons I believe she held on for so long was because she worried about dad after her being gone. She did all the cooking and shopping and cleaning...and she didn't want to leave dad. But we know one day they will be reunited. She was a definition of love in so many ways.So-


Saturday, August 6, 2011

Pressing On

Paul said in Philippians 3:12-14 "Not that I have already attained or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended;but one thing i do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call o fGod in Christ Jesus."

On an earthly level, I will tell you that pressing on was very hard for me today. I hit the alarm at 5:30 on a Saturday morning so I could go out and train on a long run. I sighed, but knew I would be glad at the end of the day (which I very much am, but I'll come back to that.) today I'd scheduled myself for a 14 mile run. My race is in about 6 weeks. LIke I've said in the past, I do not follow typical training methods. My life just doesn't totally allow for it. But I'm doing my best to make it work, determined to keep pressing on and finishing a full marathon-for me, for my mom, and for many other reasons. Anyhow, back to my run. I was  very energized the first 7 miles. In fact, I felt great. I kept my normal pace, and was feeling like I could totally do this! I did a small walking stint at 10 miles. At about 12 I hit a terrible wall. I wanted to quit. I was doubting myself with every step of not only finishing today's run out, but a full marathon! I kept asking myself "what was I thinking??" I was never so glad to see my car at the end of the bike path. I felt tired and I felt queasy. I'd hydrated the entire run, so I really didn't think that was my issue. I took some sips of gatorade, stretched out well and went home. Not long after I got home, that gatorade didn't stay down. I wasn't going to sit and admit this, but I decideed to. My brother tells me it's just a matter of me pushing my body to new limits and I will feel much better next time. We'll see. I wanted so badly to quit. I wanted so badly to say I'll never be able to finish a full. But then my determination kicked in. I reminded myself why I'm doing this full marathon. And if I've come through all the yuckiness that I have in the last year, then I most certainly can finish. And guess's 10:15 pm, I haven't crashed back asleep yet, and I feel fine. I feel ready to go out for my next long run (in a week of course!) But I will not be giving up. Press on is a phrase that sticks in my mind.  It is so very hard to press on some moments.
 On a different level of things, pressing on for me toward my ultimate goal has gotten lost some days. I've been reminded why pressing on is such a neat thing. and such an important thing. I have been reflecting on the last year a lot lately. Press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call......what is my upward call? sometimes you have to distance yourself from something in order to see it clearly. I mean you have to step back and try to look through a different lens. Back in October I'd actually been trying to find a new job. I actually went through interviewing process at one particular place. I was bummed when it didn't work out. But you know what? i am so glad now that it didn't. That next month mom got really bad and I would not have been able to really be with her as I was able to if I'd been at a new job. Plus, I kept pressing on through some hard times at the job I had and God has rewarded that by giving me such an amazing job at this point! It's making such a huge difference in my life. Mom pressed on til her very last day. And I have no doubt that she is seeing her rewards now. Paul also said forgetting the things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead. that is also sometimes hard to do. We are human. We don't ever really forget. But sometimes those things hinder us. And even if we can never actually forget, we are supposed to move on. Press On. Move forward. I'm trying. And God is doing it slowly in me, one day at a time. And on those days that I want to give up the towel and just go back to bed, I remember those days that are actually behind me, and I remember all He's brought me through and it helps me to press on. He's carried me a long way. He'll continue to.

 Pressing on....
 I am organizing a 5k in mom's name. Cedarville University had a small scholarship started in mom's name, designated to go to a student studying to be a nurse in oncology. On October 8th, I will be hosting a 5K in her name to raise more funds for that scholarship. I am excited about this. It helps me through my grief process, helps me move on a little bit, while still keeping mom's memory very much alive. It's a large endeavor, but I am very excited about it.

We'll be approaching some more "firsts" this month. Tomorrow will be my daughter's 9th birthday. Mom will be missed. Then there will be mom and dad's anniversary coming up. There is always a first to walk through in this first year. And while it is so hard to figure out things and get through each of those moments, God is my strength, and He is helping me to press on.

I believe that at my marathon, I will have a phrase written on my arm or somewhere that says press on. So when i hit these walls, I'll remember all I've come through and so I can keep going.
So I'm not giving up on my training. Quite contrary-I'll be training just as hard!

In the meantime, when it comes to training, working through life without mom, marriage, being a mom , and the many other things, I will keep taking it all one day at a time.