Tag Archives: faith

The Dimensions of Kira Through the NYC Marathon Experience

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Just .2 to go…

Sustained Runner
At 10:40 a.m. EST on Sunday, November 1st, she crosses the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, excited, eager and relaxed, her sister by her side, as they join close to 50,000 runners for the New York City Marathon. They are overjoyed to be on his journey together. They have trained together, planned together, traveled together. They’re doing this together. A light, comfortable breeze greets them on the bridge. It is a bit surreal—after months of envisioning and talking about— it’s finally here. They feel ready for what the day has in store.

As they head into Brooklyn, people line the streets clapping, cheering, waving, holding signs. It’s a sight to behold. The crowd gives off an exuberant energy. The enthusiasm is contagious—runners feed off the upbeat, positive vibe. Spectators see her sister’s Every Mother Counts singlet and respond, their personalities coming across with their changing inflections: “Every mom DOES count, Every Mother COUNTS, Go Moms!!!” The bystanders also provide comic relief by turning her tank top expression into a cheer, which —covered by the race bib— simply reads “She Will” (Endure All Things), happily shouting “Go She Will!” and “She Will…and She Does!”

Up and down the sidewalks, the mood is celebratory, party-like. Music blares from speakers, everything from Stayin’ Alive to Pour Some Sugar on Me to Another One Bites the Dust (which they feel is a questionable choice). Numerous bands rock out. A mini Donald Trump punching bag dangles in front of passersby. People dole out Halloween candy, oranges, pretzels. Kids stand with hands reaching out, ready to high-five anyone. Soaking in the festivities and the camaraderie, she and her sister do what they’ve come to do: run. As they take in their surroundings, they marvel at the people gathered to cheer. The feeling is almost blissful, like a wedding day you don’t want to come to an end. Mile by mile, crowds applaud strangers. It is said that one million spectators come out for this event. One MILLION.

At about mile 14 or 15 she feels something in her legs. A tightness, cramping. “What is this?” she wonders – it’s a discomfort she hasn’t felt before on a run. She keeps going. She guzzles Gatorade and tears into salt packets. It continues. Bible verses make their way into her head, almost random at first. She pieces them together, stringing the words together over and over, changing the pronouns. Focusing. Repeating. A mantra. A giant run-on sentence. A prayer. “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak…She Will run and not grow weary, She Will walk and not be faint. Her quads continue to seize up. At about 18, she accepts “This is not going away.” Her legs feel awkward, unfamiliar, clunky, contorted. They’re not the legs that have carried her on miles of training runs. They have become like angry rebels, to be fought, conquered. She wonders for a moment if she’ll have to visit the Medical tent for the first time on the streets of New York City. She walks a few steps to gather her thoughts. Tears threaten, but only for a moment. They’re not welcome here. Tight hamstrings, sore glutes, lower back pain, funky big toe soreness, she would have expected any of the things she’d encountered while training. Not this. This is not how I was expecting my legs to feel. But she continues. She makes her legs run.

She spots a woman standing on a street corner holding a poster board sign. She makes a beeline for her, abandoning all running etiquette as she darts across the street, cutting in front of other runners to this woman. The woman’s sign, held high, reads, “He will run and not grow weary…” She grabs hold of the woman’s hand and squeezes it. She looks in the woman’s eyes and with all the gratitude she can muster says: “Thank you.” “God bless,” the woman answers.

And so she runs, a new resolve, increased power, an answered prayer. Off to find her Pennsylvanian Steelers fan cousin—who she has not seen for twelve years—holding a 12th Man flag somewhere along the street.

Grateful Heart
She and her sister are a few blocks from where they’ll turn into Central Park to finish. She looks up at the tall buildings, some of the statuesque ones that define the city. With blue sky as the backdrop, the late-afternoon sun glistens, bathing the buildings in a golden light. It suddenly hits her, like a bolt, all the emotion of the experience. The magnitude of it overwhelms her. She is in NEW YORK. She is running the Marathon. No hurricane. No cancellation. No Medical tent. She is here, running the New York City Marathon, with her sister.

With her sister.

With her mom and aunt waiting for them in the Grandstands. Tears come, and this time, they are welcome. They’re ones of joy and gratitude. Her sister sees the emotion, and they grasp each other’s hands.

They’re here.

Almost to the Finish Line.

Ready to finish it.

Together.

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A few hours later she steps out of the elevator back at the hotel and rounds the corner to their room. As her family sits in the lobby with other hotel guests —ones who have roared and hollered when she and her sister returned from the race in their blue ponchos—she’s in awe at how it’s all come to be.

She feels deep gratitude for what the entire experience has held. A city that has welcomed, opened its arms and offered well wishes—everyone from the security guards at Jimmy Fallon to the sales associates in the stores to passengers on the subway and walkers on the streets to NYPD officers along the course. Strangers have become friends, newfound ones who will forever hold a special place in her memories of this trip: the Australian runners on the train ride, the trainer and his candy-eating girlfriend who talked last-minute details the night before, the Halloween partiers with their boisterous, good-natured laughter.

There’s also her family and friends: her cousin who drove from Pennsylvania with his daughter; the friends at home and beyond who have tracked them, sent text messages, commented on Facebook, and been so present across the miles; her husband who has stayed home with her boys this weekend —and for countless long runs — to make all this possible; her mother-in-law who will care for her boys as they return to school; her mom and aunt at the Finish Line.

All the people who’ve taken this dream and embraced it, who’ve shared in the excitement. All the strangers who looked her in the eye as she ran by, giving her strength, saying things like, “You can do it, looking strong, you’ve got this.” Who believed that for her. Who not only cheered for their friends and family, but her, too.

Kira.

She Will.

Again, she is overcome; emotion washes over her. It’s almost a physical reaction, the warmth she feels in her spirit. It’s complete and sheer joy. In that moment, she cannot seem to recall a time when she’s felt so grateful, so honored, so humbled, so utterly steeped in love — so small in its bigness. “That’s grace,” says a whisper in her ear.

And with that, she hurries to the room so she can get back to the celebration—including a Seahawks victory— downstairs.

Competitive Spirit
She expects that it will be her last run through the five boroughs. That it will have the feel of a “Farewell Tour,” a saying goodbye to the New York City Marathon, a thanks for all the memories. Having run it in 1992 with college friends, to running in Central Park after the 2012 cancellation and finally, finishing it in 2015 with her sister.

But it doesn’t.

It doesn’t bring the closure she’d imagined. It doesn’t feel like goodbye. In fact, she feels spurred on. You see, she and her sister had a time goal. Maybe a loose one. But a goal nonetheless. The leg cramps messed with that. “I’m not sure I can live with that time,” she admits the day after the marathon.

Maybe one more shot at it, she thinks.

Maybe just one more.

New York City, and the Marathon, thank you for all the memories.

Perhaps She Will see you again.

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The River & The Great Divide

This one I was going to hide. Ignore. Sweep under the rug. In fact, I was so intent on not sharing (admitting?) it, I didn’t even tell my mom or sister. Unheard of. That should’ve been my first clue.

I’m doing my first online Bible Study of the book Am I Messing Up My Kids? by Lysa TerKeurst. I have my morning quiet time, read a chapter, and study things like working on turning my emotions over to the Lord, praising God and making choices that honor Him. It sets a wonderful tone for my day and fills me with hope and affirmation for the mom I am now, and the one I hope to become.

So this time, I figured I’d just keep the incident to myself. You know, pray about it, journal about it, work through it myself.

Just keep it between me and God.

Monday we returned from our family vacation to Whistler. It’s a place we’ve all come to love, majestic in its beauty, a place where I powerfully—and without a doubt— feel the closeness of God. In the shimmering of the trembling aspens. The heights of the snow-capped mountains. The crisp clearness of the lakes. One of our favorite things to do is stand on the wooden bridge over the Fitzsimmons Creek, admiring the water below us. The strength of the current. The booming of the water. It’s more than a meandering creek, it’s a rushing river. My boys also love to throw rocks from the river beds. We wonder about how strong it is. What would happen if we fell in? Could we walk across? Would we even be able to stand? Would it carry us away to the ocean?

Yesterday started out pleasantly enough. My 11-year-old wanted to use a gift card and some of his birthday money to buy some more storage space for his Xbox 360. He was thinking about forty bucks. We drove to the video game store and, to our dismay, learned that a 250 mb refurbished hard drive was $99. We decided to contemplate our options and left. He started to weigh if it was worth that kind of money. Would he just wait til Christmas? How could he download the game he wanted to play with his friends? What to do? Over and over he pondered the questions, and then decided to delete everything on his hard drive to make room for this one game. He sat in the Xbox room, deleting games, as I googled Xbox storage.

And this is where I got swept up in the current of his crisis.

I am determined to find an answer. Solve. Fix. Figure out. Is there another way besides spending $99?

I call the store to find out about using a flash drive as storage. Yes, it can be done! We simply need to format it. It’s brilliant! We have one! Problem solved! I’ve done it.

It’s like I am being pulled along, unable to stop, flailing. I’ve lost my balance. I am swirling in this fierce river.

I reach down to look for the USB drive on the Xbox. I thought my son was still deleting games. No. He’s playing one. His favorite. I jar the box. The disc starts making a terrible sound. Spinning. Crunching almost.

My son ejects the disc, which is covered with scratch after scratch. Rings of them.

“You ruined my favorite game,” he cries. To make matters worse, his friend is there.

I am under water now. I can’t get my footing. I rush away downstream. Help….

I ask him to come into our bedroom.

I quietly try to explain that I was just trying to help. I am seething with anger.

It’s ruined. It’s ruined.

I grab the disc and, like a child throwing a temper tantrum who seems to say, “You want to see ruined?” I bend it in half and throw it across the room.

He collapses against the wall, crumples really, whimpering with tears.

He is on one side of the bed, I am on the other.

Opposite banks.

I am now on one side of the raging river, and he’s on the other.

The water is too deep. Too strong. Too powerful.

I can’t reach him.

I literally feel sick. What have I done?

He returns to his friend. I soon hear them laughing and having fun.

Not me. I’m still sickened.

I look in the mirror and finally—finally—I do pray.

It was one of my lowest-feeling points as a mom.

Which, I realize, is exactly the reason I can’t hide it, just letting it wash away downstream.

As I’m learning through this study, it is through the sharing and talking about—through community—that the ugly loses its hold.

Because just like that river that can pull you under and whisk you away, that’s not what I remember it for.

I remember it for it’s awe-inspiring beauty as we admire and enjoy it as a family.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oops, He Did It Again…

The broken arm I got.

The chipped tooth? Almost comical.

Now a broken thumb.

I’m stumped.

In a season that has been fraught with physical challenges—that have also turned into mental ones—I am left scratching my head over my 10-year-old’s latest injury: a broken thumb as he played catcher Wednesday night.

It feels like I’ve used up—and even overused—all words of encouragement, positive feedback and optimistic support. What do I have left to say to a boy who simply wants to play ball?

I sent an email to his coach yesterday—before we knew it was broken— to fill him in on the injury and let him know Rass would miss practice. I also said that prayers would be appreciated. In that moment, as I typed the note on my phone, I was grateful for the simplicity of that.

That I could ask his coach to pray.

And that I knew that he would.

It’s been a different season than we thought it’d be.

But in the midst of my befuddlement and head scratching, there’s one thing I’m certain of: I’m thankful that I could ask his coach to pray.

And that I knew that he would.

 

 

These Are The Breaks – Mom’s Lessons Halfway In

Four weeks ago, my ten-year-old broke his radius and ulna—snapped ’em like twigs, as my husband likes to say. He’s fresh out of his long, heavy, burdensome plaster cast and into a shorter, below-the-elbow fiberglass one. In two weeks, he’ll be in a brace. As we’ve journeyed through this first broken bone experience, I’ve been reminded of things—some life lessons, some mom lessons. And I’ve also gleaned some new ones, too.

1. Don’t ask if you don’t want to know. As we waited at Urgent Care the night he broke his arm, I immediately made up my mind that I wouldn’t get overly caught up in doctor’s timelines. Four to six weeks, six to eight weeks, yada yada. “I am just gonna trust God for Rassy’s healing,” I said to myself. The next day, after he got out of surgery to manipulate the bones back into place—feeling hungry and exhausted—I blurted out, “So baseball….about how long?” “Oh, months!” the surgeon declared dramatically. It wasn’t what I wanted to hear. So much for trusting in the healing process. I wanted to kick myself. I remember a fine man once saying “Doctors have the diagnosis, but God has the prognosis.” And He’s got Rassy’s healing under control—including the timing of it. I try to remind myself of that often. To my credit, since that day, I have not Googled “Colles’ fracture,” “plaster vs. fiberglass casts,” “broken bone healing times” or anything of the sort. Maybe I am learning to trust in the healing process. A little.

2. Mental health counts, too. I am a rule follower. When a doctor tells me not to do anything, I don’t do anything. In fact, I’d like to think I would welcome an opportunity to do nothing. To just sit on the couch with a book. Or watch a Lifetime movie on t.v. Or stare blankly at the ceiling. But doing nothing is an entirely different story for a ten-year-old boy. I’ve come to learn that it’s nearly impossible. A couple days after he broke his arm, I suggested to Rassy that he just walk around the cul-de-sac slowly for some fresh air, to burn off some steam. He obliged—grabbing a basketball to dribble along the way. Eleven days in, he started throwing a baseball with his good arm. I realize that he would be like a caged animal if he did absolutely nothing. So I’ve learned a bit about balance, and that his mental outlook and spirit are just as important as his physical health, too.

3. Boys will be boys. As we were wrapping up his appointment two weeks ago, and saw that the X-rays were looking good, Rass chatted with the doctor. He suddenly felt the need to reveal his goings-on at school the day before. “I stuck a bead down my cast. Down by the thumb.” I felt my face fall, contort even, and perhaps turn a weird color. I may have attempted a smile. The doctor slowly rolled over to him on her stool. Rass then went on to add “I tried to get it out with a pencil, but it didn’t work.” Full-on embarrassment set in. I felt like my head would pop off. She gently reminded him that you never stick anything down your cast. Ever. What if the pencil had broken off? What if the bead caused a pressure sore? It never would’ve occurred to me to tell him not to do something like that. Who would stick anything down their cast anyways? Not a rule follower. I guess a fourth grade boy, looking for a few laughs.

4. Don’t underestimate the power of the one-armed bandit. He can still play a mean game of foosball. He’s doing his writing assignments with his right hand (not his favored one). He can zing a baseball into my mitt, causing my hand to sting. He’s doing a bit of strength and conditioning and running. He maintains an upbeat, positive attitude. But when the time comes at practice and he says “Can we go now?” I have to remember that simply watching from the bench, without being able to play the game, can also be trying to a ten-year-old who just wants to be out on the field. Instead of insisting that he stick it out to the end, I say “Sure,” and we head home a little early. Healing comes in many forms, and I know that he also probably needs some on the inside, too, as he misses playing the game he loves so much.

5. Ten-year-old boys leave a weird, grimy film on a bathtub. To which my sister can attest. I can see why they graduate to showers. And I look forward to the return of them in two short weeks.

The First Broken Bone(s) Experience

It was a sunny, springlike, 55+ degree afternoon—balmy, really—Washingtonians were gleeful. We played outside with friends and neighbors, talking about cruises and summertime adventures. Fresh off the Super Bowl victory, my 10-year-old son leapt high for a Percy Harvin-inspired catch—from a long Russell Wilson-inspired pass from his dad.

And landed on his wrist.

I sprinted to him. It was obviously broken; his left wrist (not his pitching hand, but his writing one) looked like a child’s bendy straw, reminiscent of the break my sister had when we were kids. And that’s when the wheels seemed to be set in motion—in those amplified moments of overdrive—when you start to marvel at and feel grateful for how life unfolds.

My friend starts picking up toys, cups, Cheez-Its. I holler to my 5-year-old inside that brother’s arm is broken. My friend retrieves his booster seat and offers to take him to her house, stepping in and whisking him away for some fun. My husband Mo picks up our 96-pound heap of son and carries him to the car. My sister sends a text that she’s just said a prayer, which thankfully reminds me, so I grab Rassy’s hand and pray out loud as we drive to Urgent Care. Which is where the doctor who happens to see him is the amazing woman who helped him years ago through a nasty, ugly cough episode one cold Sunday morning. It’s where Mo, who’s ever the calm, cool, collected one, can read the X-ray and sees that the radius and ulna are broken, and speaks intelligently and coherently to the doctor about seeing an Orthopedic Surgeon the next day. It’s where the nurse talks to my son about various seasons of Survivor, turning his mind to upbeat things instead of broken bones.

After he was wrapped up in a splint, we made our way to pick up little brother, who got to eat at McDonald’s and enjoy play land—on a school night!—with his friend. My friend then took me to pick up the prescription for pain medicine, while the neighbor boy who was part of the earlier Seahawks game, delivered two bags of Skittles and a homemade card to Rassy.

When we were all home and settled, I headed upstairs to gather pillows and prepare a comfortable sleeping spot.

“I can’t believe I made that catch,” my 10-year-old with the broken arm said from the couch, a touch of wonder and awe in his voice.

I admired his spirit.

And that’s when I was reminded: it’s when those amplified moments of overdrive unfold—when you’re surrounded by just the people you need, just when you need them—that God reminds us that He really is there, lending a hand through the hands of others.

And that despite broken bones, Rassy’s spirit remains intact.

From Snow To Sawdust: Where Angels Trod

The official Snow Day notification came at 5:56 a.m. Friday via a school district phone call. A couple inches had fallen in the early morning hours, kicking off Winter Break one day early. While I’m not one to venture out for a run in slick, slippery conditions, it promised to be an action-packed day, so I decided to try and get it done early. As I headed out in my oversized, Rocky-inspired sweats, I was immediately struck by the quiet, peaceful conditions. I was the only one out on the roads, my footprints leaving the first marks on the snow-covered sidewalks. It was not slick or slippery, in fact, it was powdery, light and delicate. I continued past houses with Christmas lights still on, in the morning darkness they cast a beautiful glow across the peaceful surroundings. I kept running, slowly, almost mesmerized by the beauty. I was thankful for the serenity and the solitude; it was quite different from some of the chaos I’d created for myself in prior days. Like desperately ordering a Seahawks jersey online — quite possibly from overseas, I’m still not sure — and wondering not only if it would arrive for Christmas, but if at all. But that snowy, quiet morning I was able to let go of all of that. That slow, steady run through the stillness helped me to focus on the simplicity of Christmas that had somewhat fallen by the wayside.

That evening, our church opened the doors to the Bethlehem village we’d created. Through building, painting, sewing, creating, and a variety of talents and resources, we worked together to help bring the birthplace of Jesus to life Friday through Monday nights and for a large part of the day Christmas Eve. Families don robes and costumes to tend blacksmith, pottery, jewelry shops and more. Roman soldiers saunter. Animals bellow. Visitors roam the sawdusty streets and are taken back to a long-ago time.

My family and I worked there last night in the stone-cutting shop, where folks decorate their own stone with an inspirational word, name or picture. An older gentleman hung back a bit as kids worked on their designs. He then moved to the front and carefully took his time selecting a stone from our wooden bowl. He didn’t want to design it, he simply wanted to take it with him. We chatted briefly and then he stepped away, toward the temple and live nativity. I wondered, Was he alone? With family? Was he missing someone? As he left, I thought I noticed a far-off look in his eyes. Maybe even a few tears. “This is quite a celebration,” he said.

From that quiet, snowy run to the sawdust-covered streets of Bethlehem and the simple words of a stranger, I was reminded this weekend that, as we get ready for Christmas, Angels still do tread here. Heaven often meets earth — when we just take the time to look around, we can see it, and we can feel it.

This IS quite a celebration.

Merry Christmas.

The Christmas (Tree) Miracle

Hope

Two weeks ago, on the first Sunday of Advent, my mom, along with my husband Mo, the boys and I visited a Christmas tree farm about six miles away. The mood was jovial and light; we perused trees and searched leisurely. There was none of the animosity that sometimes accompanied trips in the past, like “That one’s too fat. That’s too tall. I don’t like that one. We need a fatter one. We need a taller one” and so on. We soon reached a unanimous agreement, began to cut and yelled “timber.” We were extra-pleased because it had a long trunk, which would make for easy placement in the stand. My 10-year-old grabbed one end, with Mo carrying the other, and we made our way to the check-out area to have it shaken and wrapped. Mo went to fetch the car and returned moments later.

“My ring is gone,” he said.

Somewhere along the way, during the trek back with the tree, it appeared that his wedding band had slipped off.

“It’s because I’m so skinny,” he commented (which, I mentioned, is not something a mid-forty-year-old female necessarily wants to hear after a long weekend of eating Thanksgiving leftovers.)

We returned to our tree’s stump and retraced our steps. Several times. We looked and we looked. We couldn’t find it.

A strange feeling settled over me.

“After sixteen years….” Mo said.

I left my name and number with the lady who worked there, but felt disappointed and dejected.

The engraved ring that was blessed on our wedding day, was gone.

Upon returning home, we looked online for some replacements. Mo was excited about some of the modern choices and styles to choose from. We checked out titanium and tungsten. I even suggested that he get my name tattooed on his finger, so as not to have the same problem in the future. But we didn’t order one, and Mo returned to work the next day without a wedding band.

After the tree was decorated and trimmed that week my 10-year-old declared,
“It’s the most beautiful tree we’ve ever had.”

Again, the feeling was unanimous.

However, a few nights ago, my mom pointed out a dark spot somewhere in the middle of the tree. Upon further inspection, I discovered that a whole string of lights was out, so I bought some new ones over the weekend.

Joy

Last night, the third Sunday of Advent, as Mo prepared lasagna, my five-year-old built a “bouncy house” out of every cushion and pillow imaginable, and my mom observed from her perch on the couch, I finally set about the task of replacing the lights. I carefully removed about fifteen ornaments and gently placed them on the leather loveseat for safekeeping, and removed the entire dead string from the middle of the tree. Slowly, I replaced it with a new set, plugging each end into the ones that already hung on the tree. Never before had I replaced an entire string. After mom’s helpful direction from the comfort of the couch, “You’ve got a dark spot there….” I was done.

I went to the loveseat to retrieve Nutcrackers, glass balls, Santa and bulb-shaped ornaments and began hanging them in the bare areas. With a few more to go, something caught my eye in the loveseat, below the ornaments. It was small and round. It almost looked like it glowed from the lights of the tree.

I could not believe my eyes.

“Mo…” I hollered.

“What?” he called from his lasagna-making duties.

“Mo!!!!” I said, a bit more emphatically.

I ran to the kitchen, clutching his gold wedding band.

“Look!!!”

We both stared in disbelief.

“Will you marry me?” I asked, as I slipped it on his finger (and suggested getting it sized since he’s so skinny.)

He, my mom and I laughed, marveled and shook our heads.

Somehow, the gold band had slipped off at the tree farm, gotten nestled into the eight-foot tree, withstood being shaken by a machine and then survived the six-mile drive home atop the car. Somehow, after removing a whole string of dead lights and over a dozen ornaments, it made its way to the loveseat, just waiting to be discovered.

The simple, gold engraved band, that was blessed on our wedding day, has returned to its rightful home.

“It’s the most beautiful tree we’ve ever had.”

I couldn’t agree more.