The World Through My Shoes is my look at living this incredible gift God has given us. As a busy wife, mother and daughter I relish the alone time I receive on my early morning runs. It is in the stillness of those predawn mornings where I often am inspired. Thank you for taking the time to read my words.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

But Peter Ran

This past week we celebrated Easter.  As so, I spent my mornings reading from Luke specifically chapters 22, 23 and 24.  My entire faith hinges on the events of those chapters.

Faith isn't always easy.  Sometimes it's downright hard.  It's dry, it's dusty and it does nothing to quench a thirst or breathe new life into a soul.  It's how I've felt lately anyway.

I become intentional in my reading and I focus on Luke.  Luke is a doctor, and writes as such.  As I read I try and do so with the eyes of a doctor. 

After witnessing the beating and crucifixion of Jesus, I am certain Luke could see the effects of trauma on the others; even himself.  Each of them trying to make sense of what they saw.  

He had his eye on Peter.  Oh dear friend Peter.  At dinner Peter told Jesus he would die for Him.  Jesus told Peter he would deny Him 3 times before the rooster crows.  And he does.  Once the night turns violent and he witnesses the brutality inflicted on his great Teacher, he denies knowing Him.  He denies Him to three separate people including a servant girl - a child really.  What harm could a young girl bring to a grown man?  Yet, he denies knowing Jesus first to her.  Upon the third denial, a rooster crows and Jesus looks at Peter.

But Peter said, "Man, I do not know what you are talking about."  Immediately, while he was still speaking, a rooster crowed.

"The Lord turned and looked at Peter  And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had told him, "Before a rooster crows today you will deny Me three times."

And Peter went out and wept bitterly.

~Luke 22:60-62

Wept bitterly.  His body shook, his soul blackened with shame.  His words had stung with betrayal the One he loved the most.  The thoughts he must've struggled with - did he wonder if he was any better than Judas?  Judas had betrayed Jesus for money, Peter's words betrayed Jesus to save only himself.  

Who he thought he had become under the teachings of Jesus is certainly not who stood in Caiaphas's courtyard that night.  How do you begin to show your deep regret and ask forgiveness of the one you hurt when He has been executed?  

Peter felt hopeless.

Luke saw this.  Luke, the doctor, watched Peter closely.  He was deeply concerned for his friend.  How do we know this? 

The women had gone to the tomb to give Jesus the burial He deserved.  His death was that of a criminal, but His burial would be one of honor, of this they would make certain.  At the tomb they found His body gone.  An angel tells them He isn't there.  He is risen just as He told them He would be.

They remembered Jesus saying this.  They enter where the 11 apostles are together and tell them what they saw.  An angel?  Risen?  He was dead ladies, this can not be.

But these words appeared to them as nonsense, and they would not believe them.  But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping in and looking in, he saw the linen wrappings only; and he went away to his home, marveling at what had happened.
~Luke 24:11-12

But Peter ran.  Luke doesn't mention John outrunning Peter to the tomb as written in the other book, Luke only mentions Peter.  I imagine Luke saw a spark of hope in Peter's eyes that day.  Luke, the doctor, knows the good hope can bring to a body.  Seeing the empty tomb, Peter knew those bitter, bitter tears could be wiped away by the only One who could forgive him.  The sting of betrayal could disappear.  

Jesus being alive brought hope to Peter.  Jesus being alive brings hope to all of us.  The hinge of my faith; our faith.

But Peter ran.  I've thought a lot about those words lately.  The spark of hope I find in those words brought some much needed water to this runner's desert.

May you find it too.




Saturday, March 18, 2017

Small Town

There is not one ounce of me wanting to get out of the car.  Rain bounces off my windshield and I have 10 miles to run.

I open the door.

Deciding the 41
° didn't warrant my gloves, I tossed them aside and step out of the haven of my car.  I hit "start" on my Garmin and I am on my way to run the streets of the small town where I grew up.

My route begins on Front Street; the iconic street in town.  Original homes boast well manicured lawns with massive oak trees flanking each side of the road.  Their incredible branches canopy the road.  The harshness of the winter has caused these trees to loose many pieces of themselves.  I watch my step as I navigate through.

The rain is still strong.

The church my parents attended - as were my grandparents founding members - is on my left, my parents' lawyer in which closed out their estate is  on the next block and the financial advisor I now use is kitty-corner from him.  Only in a small town can so much of your life be wrapped up into 3 small blocks near each other.

Main Street is ahead and I run by the middle school which suffered a tremendous loss this week.  This small town made the news and not the way you would hope for your community.  The death of a student shattered people's lives and put an ultra-bright spotlight on difficult conversations.  My heart breaks for all affected. #voiceforvylit

The corner farm and garden store where my youngest got his first pair of cowboy boots is open.  I make note to be sure to stop and see what new gardening treasures are in for this year.  The local transportation company is buzzing with activity.  I wonder if my cousin is working.

On a whim, I turn into the city park.  A handful of years ago now, the community decided to revamp the park.  A massive play structure was designed and created.  The company I work for donated not only materials but man hours and machinery.  Community helping community.  I love that.

I take the trail which loops me behind the YMCA and spits me out next to the creek.  My siblings and I spent countless hours with our cousins playing in that creek.  Today, the rains melting the record snowfall has caused the creek to spill it's banks.  It swirls with activity.

Leaving the park I run by the first house my sister and her husband owned.  The rose bushes still line the white picket fence.

Further down the road I am greeted with the sign of the first major housing development the town experienced.  Financial shenanigans brought federal indictments and destroyed numerous peoples' bank accounts and retirements.

I turn toward the lush, green golf course.  More trees grace this curvy road.  A teenager driving a brand new SUV decides her need to turn into a parking lot outweighs my life in the cross walk.  I screech to a halt and yell "THANKS" in my mama bear voice.  She doesn't even tap the breaks.

The road curves toward empty soccer fields.  The Rest Home is ahead.  After daddy died, my siblings and I donated to them all of his medical supplies.  Lord, there were so many.  Before mom passed, she wanted to make sure Dad wouldn't have to worry about it and stocked the home full.  FULL.  Daddy would have wanted us to lessen the burden of another and so we gave them all away.

My girlfriend's green truck is parked in the driveway.  Lori isn't home.  She has left to take another group on a tour of Israel to walk where Jesus did and pray where Jesus prayed.

Our favorite ice cream store lies ahead.  It's too early for them to be open now.  When they do open, they will be busy.  They are always busy.  It happens when you make the best ice cream on the face of the planet.

Two SUVs pull up next to each other in front of the store. They are parallel with the store and both facing the same direction.  I watch a man jump out of one vehicle and lean into the passenger side window of the other.  He takes something and quickly puts it in his front pocket.  A drug deal or someone handing him a stack of bible verses for the kids in his Sunday School class to memorize tomorrow?  Both are entirely possible.

The road takes me by my high school.  Despite being a Saturday morning, there are a few cars in the parking lot.  I wind pass the elementary school and the original middle school.  Long gone are the giant semi truck tires half submerged in the gravel that we would play on at recess.  

Middle school; such tough and stretching years.  I remember hiding in those big tires and crying more days than not my entire 5th grade year.  One, because my mom gave me an "adorable" Dorthy Hamill haircut and everyone thought I was a boy.  And two, because I lost my first grandparent that year.  My grandfather was a tough old Dutchman who was not real affectionate.  Loving in his own way I suppose.  The next year I lost my Dad's mom who I most fondly remember giving us the biggest bowls of ice cream we'd ever laid eyes on.

As I have made my way through these streets I am struck by the sandy gravel covering the sidewalks every few feet.  Where has this come from?  It is all over town.  My guess is the massive snow and ice storm that hammered the town was fought valiantly with plowing and sanding the streets.  In the true fashion of the town, the streets are incredibly clean. Oddly, the sidewalks are not.  This is remarkably unlike the town.  Then again, we have yet to see any sunshine for people to get out and tend to their yards.

My route has taken me into the neighborhood my best friend from school once lived.  The hours I spent there flood my mind.  Amazing how different the place looks now - some due to changes and some due to seeing them through the eyes of an adult.

I stand at the intersection waiting for the only light I've encountered to change.  Across from me I see the corner my friends stood and watched Dad's funeral procession.  After working 25 years for the school district in the bus garage, they honored him by giving a bus procession to his final resting place.

The light turns and I run down the hill and behind the store my sister in law has worked for 20 years.  A discarded vodka pint lays in the bushes.  Local kids or trash blown from the last wind storm?  Not really sure.

The clanking of a horse's tack gear spills from the open horse arena at the fair grounds.  The roads are getting busier now.  

I'm in my last mile.  Still more gravel.  I turn back onto Front Street.  The rain has let up considerably.  There is no wind.  My car comes into sight.  My run through my small town complete.

I peel off my soaking coat and throw it into my trunk.  I put on a warm sweatshirt and head for home.

The weather man says tomorrow and the next day we can expect sunshine.  What I do know for certain is that small town will be out with brooms sweeping off the sidewalks and freeing it of winter's gravel.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Learning Tree

The sky a blanket of grey; the rain misty.  The air is cool on my face.  After sleeping in a bit and enjoying a morning with my boys, I left for my run a bit later than I typically do on a Saturday morning.  Ankle recovery isn't all bad.

The neighborhood begins to hum.  Saturday plans begin to unfold in each home. My pace is easy. I round a corner and The Learning Tree comes into view.  A massive oak tree with branches straight up to heaven. 

Years ago I nick named this oak The Learning Tree. Each year as spring begins to kiss winter away, parent eagles will use this tree to teach their young to hunt.  A young eagle will be found in its branches while the parents swoop down on rabbits and squirrels and critters in the surrounding field.  An impressive sight that never tires.

No eagles teaching this morning.

My hope is to run 7 miles, the longest since twisting my bad ankle (again).  The weather is world's apart from last week and the excitement shows in my step.  I am happy to be out running with no snow, no ice, no wind.  I make my way to my favorite country road.  A road with beautiful views and rolling hills.  This will be a good test of my ankle.

I've gone a quarter of a mile and another runner pops out from a long driveway.  She waves and turns away from me.  A runner with beautiful form and impressive speed.  I watch as she turns down a private road. 

A mother-daughter duo emerge walking from their property and onto the road.  It isn't long before I catch up to them.  I do my best not to startle them and we wish each other a beautiful morning.  The birds sing, we all smile.  A beautiful morning indeed.

Looking ahead I see people gathered at a mailbox.  Neighbors being neighborly.  As I approach I hear "CHERIIIIII!!!" and the older gentlemen holds out his to give me a high five.  I give him a high five.

"Steve!  I wondered if I'd see you today!"

"CHERI!!!" a familiar voice calls.

I turn to see the people Steve talking with and discover my cousin Ted and his daughter Olivia.  They live up the road and were out talking a walk.   We laugh at the realization we all know each other.

Steve, being retired, has more free time now to do things he likes to do and that includes running.   The first time I ran with Steve was on that country road.  Two runners sharing the same road and a bond cements.  We chat for a bit before he says he needs to go so his wife doesn't worry.  Ted, Olivia and I carry on and it isn't long and we all part ways.

Unexpected encounters interject fun into my run.  I am smiling.  The highest hill of the road is fast approaching.  The house half way up the hill is still not finished.  How long has it been?  2 years?  3 years?  There is always progress, yet it remains incomplete.  I've decided the owner is building it and doing it with his own funds.  What I do know for certain is the house will be a stunning work of art.  The new wrap around porch makes me long for summer days.  The views they will have will be amazing.

3 1/2 miles in I turn around and head back toward home.  As I crest the hill again, I look toward my favorite vista to see the low hanging grey clouds have concealed it's beauty.  It's ok, I'm out here.  And running.  I am happy.

The fields are a yellow-green brought on by winter.  Soon it will give way to the lush green of spring.  Water is running in the ditches and through the culverts.  It's melody of a creek.  I see where the land gave way sliding into the ditch; another reminder of the harshness of last week.

Branches are strewn everywhere.  The Great Silver Thaw, Snowmageddon and wind storms snapped branches off the grandest of trees.  Tall evergreens stand like wounded warriors.  Their massive branches broken and lying on the ground.  The sight makes me awestruck with the power of last week's storm.

The Learning Tree comes back into view and with it the unmistaken sound of eagle chatter.  A young eagle is perched atop of the mighty oak.  Although I can not find them, the parent eagles are close by watching from a row of evergreen trees.  Their instruction was clear and the eagle dives toward the field.  Breakfast is served.

My run complete, I open the door to the smell of eggs and toast.  I smile.