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.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Nookachamps Half Marathon

"The wind will be a head wind the entire race." Terry told us. 

It was mile 3 when Karen, Diana and I realized he wasn't kidding.  The winds were sustained at 25 mph, gusting up to 50.  More than once, if we were caught mid-stride, the wind almost knocked us over.

"This is almost as bad as CIM," Karen recalled. 

"Just not as wet," I interject.  And as if on cue, the rain starts; feeling like little razors against any exposed skin.

We pass the 10k turn off and I silently wonder if it wouldn't be smarter to make the turn and call it good at 10k versus a half marathon.  We continue on.

Diana had run a 100 mile race just 11 days prior and Karen and I passed the time by asking her questions.  We both can not wrap our minds around running a distance of 100 miles and Diana is extremely humble in her accomplishment.

We decide if we ever accomplished a 100 mile race, we would find it difficult not to mention this at every presented chance.

"Yes, can I have a nonfat latte please?  Because I just ran a hundred-miler."

"I'm going to swing by the store on the way home to pick up milk because I just ran a hundred-miler."

"Hello?  Yes, hi. I need to bring my car in for an oil change because I just ran a hundred-miler."

Ok, maybe Karen and I aren't as humble as Diana.

The road we are following turns into the blink-and-you'll-miss-it town of Clear Lake. The rain has let up but not enough to bring on spectators. 
There are no town folk walking the streets and cheering us on today.   

We leave the main street and find ourselves face to face with a decent sized hill.  And a head wind.  Sigh.  Karen has grown quiet and after running together for 4 years, I know she is trying to tap into that inner strength.  A mole hill can look like a mountain on any given race day.  To hear me above the wind I have to yell, "Shorten the stride, pump your arms!"  She nods.  We slow our pace knowing we are not racing this half marathon and our pace is irrelevant.

Diana power walks up the hill and keeps pace with us.  This makes Karen and I laugh as we realize we definitely are not running a race pace.

At the top of the hill we welcome a slight downhill leading us to the edge of Mud Lake. The next couple of miles we enjoy the flattest part of the course.   Farm lands of pastures, horses and cows pepper the route.  

We have reached the out and back section and begin scanning the faces for people we know.   Our friend Steve is braving the elements with his daughter's cross country team and manning an aid station.  We give him a high five.  The rain has started again and stings our skin.

The rolling hills hit us in the last 3 miles of the course.  An eagle screeches and we find it soaring above Barney Lake.  A sight so beautiful it takes our breath away.  Or maybe it was the 40 mph gust of wind that took our breath away.  Yet there it was soaring on the wind that fought against us; spectacular.

The last mile is upon us and we try and pick up the pace so we can finish.  We are exhausted from the windy fight and Diana tells us her legs are tired.
...You know, cuz I just ran a hundred-miler.

Finally we are rounding the last corner turning into the parking lot of the Skagit Valley College.  The last hill awaits spitting us out onto the oval track and into the finisher's chute. 

Each of us is surprised to see the clock read 2:01:35 as we were certain the pace we had been keeping against the wind would have brought us in around 2:10.  A volunteer hands us our medals and we head straight to the gym to try and warm up.  Diana leaves for home.

Hot chili awaits and although we've never eaten chili after a race before, we decide it is exactly what we need to try and warm up.  It works.   We begin feeling our fingers again.

We make our way back to the car and decide it's time to go.  Karen confesses miles 10,11 and 12 were very difficult for her.  She told me she gave herself a pep talk and asked my Mom to help her finish.  Tears brim my eyes.  

I carried my mom with me every step of this race; each step celebrating the life and legacy she left us.  She taught us how to persevere and today -despite the elements thrown at us- we persevered.

Thanks Mom.


Thursday, January 9, 2014


The calendar reads Tuesday and it's my first run since Mom died. The dark winter morning hides me in it's quiet.  There is no rain and I realize I have no idea what the weather has been like for the last 5 days.

The day after Christmas our bedside vigils began; a Thursday.  The four of us children and my brother in law were there each day and rotating the nights.  Dad never left her side.   Aunt Mari and her daughter, our cousin, Vicki completed the circle around Mom.

My mind wanders in this pre-dawn darkness as I run the route I've run hundreds of times before. I reflect on Psalm 23.

Yea though I walk through the
valley of the shadow of death
I fear no evil for You are with me.

Mom walked in that valley for 6 months.  In July after receiving the news the cancer had metastasized, she never once complained. With the shadow of death looming, she knew a shadow is not cast without Light; the darker the shadow the brighter the Light ahead.

And that valley was dark.  For all of us.

Sunday afternoon we were finally able to reach Pastor Henry Numan.  For 17 years he walked with my parents on their journeys through cancer.  Somewhere in that walk he stopped being a pastor and became a friend.  A friend Mom talked to often in her last months.  She never left his conversations without feeling encouraged and given a dose of God's great comfort.

Henry called after receiving our messages and had cleared his calendar to be there first thing Monday morning.  15 minutes later he called back asking if he could come now.  "Please", we responded.  He made the 45 minute commute - through the Canadian border - quickly.

The last few days of Mom's life I had witnessed some very loving moments, ones that will stay with me forever.  Watching Henry with Mom will be one of those forever moments.  Despite Mom no longer being responsive, he leaned over her and quietly repeated her favorite Bible verses.  He gave her words of comfort reminding her of the greatness of heaven that awaited her.

My Dad, brothers, sisters, aunt, cousin and I sat in a circle around her bed; where we had been for the last 40 hours.  After talking to Mom, Henry sat down in the chair near the foot of her bed.  He asked if we could pray.  We bowed our heads where each of us were sitting, I on the floor at the foot of my Dad's chair.

As he said "Amen", we all saw Mom had become pale; only two earthly breaths remained.  Sunday night, December 29 she walked out from the shadow of death and into the Light.  Mom was Home.

Sometime later that evening, Pastor Numan and I had a few quiet moments together.  I told him Matthew 18:20 had come to my mind,
For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them.  

"Pastor Numan, I can't help but reflect on while we prayed together, Jesus was here.  He tells us this very clearly in Matthew.  And as you said amen, I can only imagine Jesus looking at Mom and saying, 'Come on Kathy, you're coming with Me.' and He took her home."  We smile through our tears at such the thought.

I turn into the neighborhood in which I live.  My body exhausted from the last several emotional days, but renewed by running a few miles alone.  A light goes on in my neighbor's kitchen, the light spilling out into the darkness outside.  I wipe a tear from my eye.  My run is almost over as I turn left onto my street and I head toward home; just like Mom.

September 6, 1942 - December 29, 2013
Katherine Miedema
September 6, 1942 - December 29, 2013

 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing. 2 Timothy 4:7-8