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.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Running Steps of 2015

As soon as my watch hit 9.77 miles, I stop my run and give myself a high five.  It's possible - just ask the 2 sheriffs sitting in their parked cars watching this anomaly happen.  Normally I would not stop a run this short of a gloriously round number like 10 (I may have OCD tendencies) yet I do today.  9.77 miles pushed me to 1,420 miles for the year.

1,420 healing and life giving miles.  This number I celebrate.  Today's run - the last one in 2015 - was a reflective one.  Each one of those miles taught me about myself.

Today the sun shines bright in the cold December sky.  The northerly wind puts the air at a brisk 28°; all reminiscent of the start of the year.  Those were some incredibly difficult miles.  Losing both my parents within a year of each other and both at Christmas brought a darkness and a sadness I have never known.  January and February's running steps held many, many tears, brokenness, peace and comfort.  

Running steps didn't happen much in those first months.  Some days it was a good day by getting out of bed.  Some days it was a really good day by getting out of bed and getting pants on.  The rest of the world appreciated that too.

March came ushering in spring.  Sunnier days with birds singing and warmer temps made running steps easier.  My running friends always making it a point to push me forward.  We got a summer marathon on the calendar and with it came a training plan.  On the days when I felt I had no energy to tie my shoes, I did.  After all, my friends were waiting.  

Those running steps brought me strength.

The trees around me clear and I am passing a farmer's field.  Mount Baker stands regal in it's beauty.  Psalm 46 comes to mind, "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.  Therefore I will not fear, though the earth should change and the mountains slip into the heart of the sea."  I wonder what it would take to make something as strong and sturdy as Mount Baker slip into the heart of the sea. 

I think about God as my strength.  I think about who He surrounded me with during this difficult year.  Many people come to mind, and I am overwhelmed when I think of each of them.  One of those strengths He gave me is a fabulous woman who is the most outgoing introvert you will ever meet.  And she gets me.  Oh, does she get me.  

As a fellow  introvert she wasn't afraid when I would retreat away from the world.  She let me be in the scary lonely places in my heart, but would always be there with a nudge when she thought it best for me to come back out into the world.

"Let's meet for dinner after church." 

"It's time to plan a date night, what night works best?"  
"How 'bout we eat some Russian perogies Saturday night?"

She prayed with me in the ICU when my dad was given a 10% chance to live.  She prayed for me more times than I will ever know.  She also makes me laugh until I snort.  Countless times while I ran I thanked God for putting her in my life.

Those running steps taught me gratitude.

The summer marathon came.  So did the hot summer sun.  I do not run well in the heat.  This marathon crumbled beneath me and I let it.  At times I was dizzy on the course, and I knew full well what that meant, but knowing the fight both my parents showed in their last days I would not quit.  With 2 friends at my side, we walked and ran and talked about many things.  The emotional highs and lows of the previous months had taken it's toll on me physically.  Everyone (but me) could recognize that; I finally accepted it.

Those running steps taught me the importance of health.

A runner passes me on a quiet country road.  Where did he come from?  He startled me and I karate chopped him.  Or maybe I screamed and said, "You scared me!"

The months of 2015 began peeling away.  Focusing on my emotional and physical health, I gave myself permission to "just run".  I signed up for a fall marathon and the entire goal was to enjoy every single step.  My BRSs (Best Running Sisters) signed up with me and each week's long run we worked on falling in love with running again.  No speed work, no tempo runs, no "have-to-do-this".  We simply ran.

It worked.  This marathon we laughed and took our time.  If we felt like walking we did, if we wanted to run, we did.  We enjoyed every single step.  We ran by multi-million dollar homes in Seattle and made up stories about the people who owned them.  

The finisher medals double as beer bottle openers (score!) and the race director made sure there was plenty of hot soup waiting as it was a cold 32° when we finished. 

Those running steps taught me that to love running is a choice.

I'm closing in on the 9.77 miles.  Once again Mount Baker comes into view and this time faint oranges and yellows kiss the snow.  The sun will set soon on this last day of 2015. 

1,420 miles and I close out my running year.    There have been higher mileage years, faster mileage years but none near as important.   I'm hard pressed to recount a running year that has meant more to me than this one.  

This running year showed me that my running friends are not people I'm just sharing Saturday morning runs with; they are family.  They uphold me, cry with me, laugh with  me, and push me out the door to run.  They make me a better me.

I look forward to sharing many miles with them in 2016.

Happiest of New Years my friends.

Friday, December 4, 2015

A Feast of Joy

Winter rains are approaching.  Canadian geese flying south look stark white against the dark storm clouds.  From the comfort of my chair, I sip my coffee and watch the world outside my window.  I reach for my book.

My  mom loved daily devotionals.  Often she would gift us girls her latest treasured find.  Max Lucado was always one of our favorites.   While going through my parent's things, we would find Mom's devotionals tucked away into different spaces; lending proof Mom always had one of her books close at hand.

It's hard to recall exactly where I found it, but somewhere in their home I stumbled upon Safe In The Shepherd's Arms.  As it was written by Max, I pick it up.  It is a small little book not much bigger than my hand.  The subtitle reads "Hope & Encouragement from Psalm 23"; Max has written short sections on each one of the Psalm's 6 verses.  My siblings gave me their approval and I took the book home.

With Christmas time approaching, I decide it would be a good time for some Hope & Encouragement.  Every day before work, as I eat my breakfast, I open the book and read one of the sections.  Today I do the same.

I have the day off work and everyone has left for the day.  Our home is quiet sans the soft tick tock coming from the clock my dad made.   The rains have begun to fall.  I open the book and begin to read.

I am at the book's last chapter focusing on verse 6.  "I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever".  

My parents are in God's house now, I thought.

Max writes reminding us our home is not here.  Life is hard, sickness comes, death happens, there are lasting hurts from deep pain.  He finishes by saying:

"Remember this: God never said that the journey would be easy, but He did say that the arrival would be worthwhile.  He may not do what you want, but He will do what is right...and best.  He's the Father of forward motion.  Trust Him.  He will get you home.  And the trials of the trip will be lost in the joys of the feast."

My hand reaches to turn the page and I discover Mom's bookmark.  My eyes well with tears at the thought of Mom's last words read from this book pointedly acknowledge her difficult battle and promise a great reward.

Then God nudged me and said, "Read that last line again."

And the trials of the trip will be lost in the joys of the feast.

The words were no longer about Mom, the words were about me.  God reminded me the difficult journey the last two years would be lost in the joy of the feast.  From the comforts of my chair, it is hard to imagine joy so great it can erase pain this deep.  

Yet, I will believe it. God is known to do great things.

May we all find some joy in the feast this Christmas.