Beauty for ashes….my story!

An open love letter to you all…The events of the last week have shaken us. Yet, they have shown the good in people. The great in people. The amazing in people. The heroes in people. The patriotism in people. The faith in people and in our God!

These selfless acts from family, friends and strangers have moved me. Mike and I have been overwhelmed with the outpouring of true love and concern for our safety and our well-being during this time. There will never be enough words to say THANK YOU! But, THANK YOU!!!!

We are home now. We are safe. We are surrounded by loved ones and glad to be in good ole Tennessee. Hugs are sweeter. Words are richer.

As we ride this roller coaster God put us on we are truly amazed by the people along the way. God has orchestrated a path of healing unlike any other. Healing will take time. The April 15, 2013 Boston Marathon and the town of Boston will forever be etched on my heart. God has given me a story. This is where I begin to tell it.

Today, I ran again. Today I laced up my shoes and got back on the road. It was a therapeutic run for me. It was a start to a new day. A start to a road full of recovery and rejoicing!

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I never dreamed I would have the emotions I have had over the last 5 days. I know it is part of the process but you really never dream you will be part of something so crazy. Something that captivates the nation and the world. Why me? Why? Because I know have a story to tell of God’s grace. God’s sovereignty. God’s love. God’s hope. God’s salvation! He is good ALL the time.

So let me share one story where God’s beauty came from the ashes on Monday. Most of you know my story on qualifying for Boston two years ago. (go to archives if you don’t…) Though I qualified I didn’t get in because of the new performance standards…so, God provided me with the best team ever – Team Hoyt. The last two years I have run Boston as a charity runner for this dynamic group. My goal this year was to run Boston and qualify for next year while running Boston. So, I set out to run a 3:45:00 on race day.

My training went very well. I was ready! Race day came and because of reasons I won’t go into today, I did not get a 3:45:00 but a 3:52:26. I ran well. I ran hard. I just didn’t bring it all in throughout the entire 26.2. I was okay with that…especially considering what happened on Monday. I finished when many did not get to. I was pleased to have been able to cross the finish line and finish well. So many had that dream and it was taken from them on Monday. I could not and would not complain. I also felt like I didn’t want a qualifying time on this day…because it would be hard to celebrate. That’s okay! Little did I know that God was getting ready to show me beauty in the ashes of this roller coaster of a week.

Earlier in the week I found out that the local race was giving comp entries to those of us who ran on Monday. What a way to rejoice and recover! I jumped on it. I wasn’t sure my legs were ready but my heart was. As I laid my head down Friday night, I had a brief, random thought rush through my mind – I will be 45 next year when Boston rolls around. Why is this important? Well, when you get older they give you more time within your qualifying times. So to qualify as a 45-year-old I would have to run a 3:55:00….not a 3:45:00. Wow! So, does that mean I actually qualified on Monday…then zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz! Off to sleep I fell. Remember it has been a WILD week. I fell sound asleep quickly!

Fast forward to the next morning. We are driving to the race and I say “Oh!” My friends say, “what?” This is when I tell them the story. At this point I am awake and want to know. I email my Team Hoyt coach to ask her. Hoping to hear from her soon! Then I google it on my phone. I found it, I thought. But, I was being cautiously confident until I could get home and look at the Boston Athletic Association’s website. Now, this didn’t stop me from asking several people at the race what they thought. We all were cautiously confident. 🙂

Water stop – Race details. I ran easy. I ran with my wing women and man – my running angels. We enjoyed the beautiful Chickamauga Battlefield on a cool, crisp Saturday morning. I cried as we listened to the National Anthem. I cried, more like boo wooed, when I crossed the finish line. My running angels were there to catch me. My emotions were raw. I was back! I was doing what I loved and doing it for HIM, for His grace and His glory. Boy, I needed that! I was able to visit with at least 5 new friends who ran along side me on the streets of Boston. We had an instant connection even though we had just met. We were sad and happy together. Happy the guys responsible had been caught. Happy life could start to get back to normal for all of us. I also reconnected with old friends who were as happy to see me as I was them. Hugs are so good! Great day! God is good…all the time.

Back to story – I went to the computer as soon as I got home. I needed to know now. 🙂 This is what I found…this exact question by a male…coincidence, I think not! Remember, I am 44 now and will be 45 when I run.

Q: I will be 44 when I run my qualifying race, but will be 45 when I run the Boston Marathon. What is my qualifying time?

A: Your qualifying time is based on your age on the day of the Boston Marathon, thus your qualifying time will be 3hrs 25(55 for women)min – and you can be 44 when you run your qualifying race.

So, I qualified for the 2014 Boston Marathon on Monday. Am I excited? Yes. It is my beauty from the ashes story….as the scripture and song below so beautifully say:

Isaiah 61.1-3

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.

CRYSTAL LEWIS – BEAUTY FOR ASHES LYRICS

He gives beauty for ashes
Strength for fear
Gladness for mourning
Peace for despair

When sorrow seems to surround you
When suffering hangs heavy oer your head
Know that tomorrow brings
Wholeness and healing
God knows your need
Just believe what He said

He gives beauty for ashes
Strength for fear

Gladness for mourning
Peace for despair

When what you’ve done keeps you from moving on
When fear wants to make itself at home in your heart
Know that forgiveness brings
Wholeness and healing
God knows your need
Just believe what He said

He gives beauty for ashes
Strength for fear

Gladness for mourning
Peace for despair

I once was lost but God has found me
Though I was bound I’ve been set free
I’ve been made righteous in His sight
A display of His splendor all can see

He gives beauty for ashes
Strength for fear

Gladness for mourning
Peace for despair!

Am I still going to try to run a 3:45:00 before the deadline in September? No, I am going to go for a 3:40:00. I can and will do it! With the peace of mind that I have already done it and can do it again! God’s grace! God’s love! God’s sovereignty! He knew I wouldn’t be ready to handle this information until today after my recovery and rejoicing run! Remember, God is good…all the time!

Romans 8.28 – And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God,

to them who are the called according to his purpose.

This post is full of joy! Full of love for each one of you and your friends who prayed for us,reached out to us and loved us during this time! We love you!!!

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Beauty for ashes….my story!

  1. Cindy Cunnyngham

    I’m so glad you and Mike are home safe and sound! I prayed for you the morning of the race, asking God to keep you safe and protect you from injury. I was thinking of a twisted ankle or a fall… little did I know!!

  2. Tami downs

    I am from Bayside, I saw you at the Chickamauga Chase run and wanted to let you know that I was praying for you at Boston. So good to hear your story. Tami

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