Tag Archives: God

Conversations around the dinner table…

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11

Forty years ago God planted a seed around the dinner table when I was eight years old.  This was when my mom was appointed as the principal of a K-3 school in my hometown of Arkadelphia, Arkansas and the dinner table conversations started.  During mom’s principalship, my dad started his doctorate in education as well.  He was working on the collegiate level but wanted to move to the K-12 ranks.  After he completed his doctorate we had two principals in the family.

Throughout my elementary, middle, and high school days I had a front row seat to the the highs and lows of an elementary school, a junior high, a high school, and an alternative high school.  I remember asking my parents repeatedly to not talk shop at the dinner table.  But, these conversations prepped my heart and brain so long ago.  At this time a seed was planted, unbeknownst to me.

This is where my training began so very long ago…Training for what? — to be a school teacher, a school counselor, and now a school principal!

As of June 26, 2017 the seed God planted forty years ago is now going to have the chance to bloom. He has been feeding and fertilizing it for a very long time.  I have tried to kill it more than once.  I am a runner…literally…but figuratively I have tried to run from the principalship for many years.  It finally caught up with me and I am so glad it did!

Train up a child in the way he should go,
And when he is old he will not depart from it.

Proverbs 22.6

Mom and dad led by example all of those years.  I followed their footsteps into education as a teacher.  Once I received my masters in school counseling I decided to keep going and get my administrative certification.  Then I remembered all of those conversations…and I said never mind.  That was over 15 years ago.

Fast forward to the 2007-2008 school year and my move to Dayton, Tennessee.  For those of you who do not know — I moved to Tennessee without a job.  I had NO doubt that God was leading me here to be closer to Mike.  (This is another God story….)  But God had a job waiting on me at Dayton City School.  He literally put it in my lap at a luncheon a month after I moved to Tennessee.  (I can see I will have to write a prequel to finish this story.)  The 2016-2017 school year completed my tenth year at Dayton City School — the job He had waiting on me.

Throughout my tenure are Dayton City School God has been preparing me for this new position. Over the last ten years I have been able to work as the school counselor and physical education teacher. Each of these roles has allowed me to get to know the entire faculty and staff.  What a blessing this journey has turned out to be…

Over the last couple of years I have had a couple of angels. Friends who saw the potential God put in me to be a leader.  They continue to urge me to pursue my administration certificate. Remember — I am a runner. At first I said NO! 🙂  Then I thought more about it and with a little more prompting decided to go for it.  At this point I interviewed with a graduate program in a different county.  Needless to say, it was not the right one. I left the interview feeling very discouraged.  This is when my running instincts kicked in and I said to myself — “I told you so! I am not going to be a principal.”  God had other plans.

The next school year God really started to nudge me again.  The tapping was harder this time.  The godincidences continued to pop up when people would say things to me at different times without knowing others had said it.  Then the tapping became a knock I could not ignore.

He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”

Luke 11.28

This time I had to listen and I should have listened before but it was not the right time — God’s time.  My next step was to contact the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in the Fall of 2015.  The interview was a breath of fresh air and I knew that UTC was where I need to be and where God wanted me. I started school in January 2016.  The seed was growing.

In April 2016 our school was looking for a new principal due to the fact our current one was retiring.  I interviewed hoping to take the assistant job if it came open. This did not happen.  It was not time. Our school hired two great principals and we started the 2016-2017 school year with new leadership.  During this time, I worked hard and earned my post masters certificate in school leadership in May of 2017.  My schooling provided me with some amazing opportunities to feel God’s hand and know I was on the right track — His track for my life.

Not knowing what God had in store I chose to be still and wait.  During this time I had a conversation with a colleague that I will never forget. This colleague approached me and asked me to make sure I stayed at Dayton City School once I finished my certificate.  I responded with “I don’t want to go anywhere and I know God is the god of the impossible but I don’t see either principal leaving — this is both of their first years.”  Little did I know that our PreK-3rd grade principal would resign on June 5.  (Though she wasn’t with us long — she will be missed.  She decided she wanted to teach again.)  The door that had been closed was now reopening.  God’s perfect timing!

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Romans 8.28 

To sum it all up — the seed God planted forty years ago is now about to bloom.  I interviewed and accepted the job on Monday.  I started working immediately.  God is so very good.  He knew I need extra time and extra work to be ready for this position to which He has called me.  All of the pruning along the way will make me a better leader. There is NO doubt in my mind that God orchestrated this long ago.  He was waiting on His timing….perfect timing to bring this journey, traced by His mighty hand into bloom.

I am beyond excited to continue what He has started and let Him be my strength.  God is good all the time and all the time God is good.  He gave me the best mentors a principal could have in the form of my mom and dad forty-eight years ago.  The training they started in the form of dinner table conversations will now take root in a different form — I will put it into action with God’s power and strength.

And how could I fail to mention the amazing support of my amazing husband who is the main reason I moved here??? Tomorrow we will have been married nine years and he has been right next to me through the home stretch. He supported me through the hard days/nights of graduate school. I am blessed beyond measure to have him support all I do 100%.  We are a great team!

“The LORD is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation; This is my God, and I will praise Him; My father’s God, and I will extol Him.”

Exodus 15.2

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The Return…

This past weekend marked the return.  The return to what? Well, a couple of things…a return to where my running days started many moons ago and the return to where running helped heal my soul.  Though, to be honest – the return to my running roots was not the first thing on my mind – it was the return to reclaim the trails that healed my heart that surfaced first.

It all started several months ago when my running angels decided to run a half marathon in Missouri.  Why Missouri? One of them has a sister who was running her first half marathon and she wanted to be there to support and encourage her.

Proverbs 27.17

As iron sharpens iron,so a friend sharpens a friend.

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A girl’s trip was in order.  We were all excited. Then, I checked my graduate school calendar and realized I couldn’t go…I had class.  Bummer! Needing the accountability, I knew I still wanted to train with them so I looked for a half marathon on another weekend.  The Fayetteville Hero Half Marathon(FHHM) in Fayetteville, Arkansas fit the bill. It was the weekend after my friends’ half AND it was over my fall break.  This meant traveling to my parents and enjoying quality time with them along with the run. Yay!  I registered and started training.

The FHHM is a run to honor the fallen heroes of 9/11 and the local heroes that are our first responders today.  Throughout the weeks and months before the FHHM would post inspirational messages on their Instagram and Facebook pages.   One day they posted a message asking who our hero was and why.  They were going to draw from those who posted and give away one free entry. Well, I won. 🙂 This made the run even sweeter.  Here was my entry:

As you can read, my hero is my mom.  Life changed for all of us that year in 2013.  We learned how to run new roads and tackle new challenges.  As one of her caregivers for 2 1/2 months, I needed respite. I took to the roads of Northwest Arkansas to scream, pray, cry and recover from the emotional roller coaster ride I was on watching my mom, my hero, struggle so.  These roads were my caregivers and I was coming back to reclaim them and thank them.  That was my goal.

Mom made it through 2013 like the hero she is. She hasn’t stopped since. God blessed our family by allowing mom to keep on keeping on. What a true blessing!!!

The day before the race, dad, Mike, and I went to pick up my race packet in Fayetteville. This weekend just happened to be the Arkansas Razorback’s SEC home opener against Alabama.  (I have to admit this was an incentive to come to Arkansas over fall break as well.)  We decided to head to Fayetteville and do a little reminiscing along the way.  Dad wanted me to drive by the house we lived in for a short time while I was 14-15 years old.  We lived in Fayetteville during my freshman year in high school.  Daddy was finishing his doctorate in Education at the University of Arkansas during this time.

As we drove the roads to the house, images came to my head of that first running day! I can see it like it was yesterday.  I am not sure how many of us can remember the first day we stepped out on the roads…but I am so thankful I can.  It hadn’t hit me until this drive. This is where God started my running journey.  This is where He started writing the story that would include – Wheel of Fortune…Boston Qualifying attempts, failures and successes…Run for God Bible studies…Running Angels…Finding out who I am with and without Him…Respite runs…and I could go on and on!  We were RETURNing to where it all started.

God does have a masterplan. He knows what He is doing even when we don’t see it.

Isaiah 46.10

I make known the end from the beginning,
    from ancient times, what is still to come.
I say, ‘My purpose will stand,
    and I will do all that I please.’

He knew that over 32 years later I would be running the FHHM, reclaiming the roads by winning my age group…setting a half marathon PR…coming in as 7th overall woman – and that I would look back at where I started…at this mailbox!  img_3999

(This is the where the Mailbox Story/Poem originated…and where the name for my blog came from.)

The Mailbox Story

“Just make it to the next mailbox,” a mom and dad would say

As they and their daughter were out running one day.

Both, knowing another mailbox lay ahead,

as she was ready to call it quits,

would push her to persevere instead.

With every mailbox successfully passed

She made the victory lap to home at last.

To this day the message is still very clear…

Struggles will come and go, as the mailboxes came and went

But in the end, the prize will be held dear for the endurance that was spent.

“Just make it to the next mailbox,” they would say.
What is your mailbox today?

Jeremiah 29.11-13

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.

God story started an amazing story at this mailbox on this day so many years ago. He sees our potential before we do and uses His children to carry out His plan for His glory.  He continues to show me through the ups and the downs of life He is God and He is the God of the impossible!

Ephesians 3.20

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us…

God blessed me with incredible parents – the best anyone could ask for…in my opinion! We continued our trip down memory lane once I picked up my race packet.  We headed to the U of A to find daddy’s name in the sidewalk.  The U of A has a unique tradition called the Senior Walk.  Each graduating class since 1905 has had their names engraved in the sidewalks that stretch across the campus.  It is a sight to see.  We were off to find dad’s name and we did. We were returning once again…

The picture on the bottom right was Mike’s idea. It represents so much.  I am in my dad’s shadow – he has cast a large one for us to follow.  He has taught us(along with mom), the importance of loving the Lord first.  They have paved the path for us in regards to education as well. They both are the reason I am continuing my education – which will wrap up on May 5, 2017…my wonderful husband’s birthday! I could probably write a whole blog using these photos…;)

The return to Northwest Arkansas has brought me full circle in several ways.  God continues to go before and plan the way.  He is out there with us every single day.  Through the mountains and the valleys….like on the FHHM course….we will struggle but there will be a highlight along the way!  The struggles will make us stronger.  The highs will make us want to come back for more!

The journey through the half marathon race allowed me to reclaim the trails and renew the love for running that started so many years ago.  It also allowed me to rejoice over those God has given me to be by my side through this journey.  My pick-me-up during a tough or 3 tough spots on the race course was my dear husband who runs marathons of his own to find me as I run the races.  He pushes me and encourages me with his presence and his words.  This weekend of returning helped me see how precious he is to me and how he fits in my story so well – only God could do that!  God knew I would need him in my life to keep on keeping on! 😉

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Deuteronomy 31.8

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

God will never leave us and He goes before us. This weekend of returns will forever be etched in my heart. It is a story of God’s faithfulness to one of His own who in no way deserves the mercy and grace He has given.  God is so very good.  He is helping us write our story before we ever get to the next mailbox.  He wants us to continue to persevere and make it through to the other side – He is waiting – His glory and story to be displayed.

Hebrews 12.1-3

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross,scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

RACE PHOTOS

1:46:19 ~ 1st in age group ~ 7th overall woman

 

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Divine Detours…

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This photo was taken 5 years ago yesterday – June 5, 2011  – at the San Diego Marathon. This is where I attempted to qualify for the Boston for the first time.  Seeing this photo come up on the ‘On this Day’ feature of Facebook brought back so many memories and emotions.  Ones I will not detail today!  It appeared in my newsfeed after I had been to church in Destin, Florida and heard an amazing sermon by none other than former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee.

The night before we were looking for churches close to the condo due to the fact we had planned on walking to the service because we were without a car.  Destiny Worship Center popped up with the banner – Guest Speaker, Governor Mike Huckabee.  This is where I wanted to go – so we did. 🙂  And, I am so glad we did.  I have heard him preach before but that was in college – a long time ago! 😉

He spoke about detours.  How we all have them…How we don’t like them…How we don’t plan them and we don’t want them.  He asked the question – “What if your detour is your destination?”  He gave examples from the Bible which included –

  • Joseph – being sold into slavery
  • Jonah – being swallowed by a fish
  • Jesus – who was betrayed and paid the ultimate sacrifice – death on a cross

As we all know – we all have detours! He went on to say that God’s priorities may be different from ours.  We have to have spiritual maturity and totally trust God’s best for us. The detour will take us down a path where we will learn things we would have never learned on the main road.  The purpose is to help us reflect the character of Jesus Christ and the product will be something bigger than we could have ever imagined!

What are the benefits of these detours?

  • We will see things we wouldn’t have seen normally.
  • We will go places you wouldn’t have gone.
  • We will go slower than you intended to go – so we can hear Him!

He closed with Romans 8.28 – And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  As many of you may already know – this is the verse my family calls our family verse.  It is one dear to my heart and one the girls and I had been discussing while at the beach this past week.

As he dissected this verse, he pointed out what many miss – it doesn’t say that all things are good – it says all things work together for good AND it is for those who are called according to His purpose – or who KNOW Him and call him Savior.

The detours in life are working together for good for all of us who love and know Him. NO – it is not all good but in the bigger picture – bringing glory to Him – it does work out for good! And – we may never understand or see it on this side of heaven.

Wow! What a powerful message! I needed to hear that in regards to detours I have had recently – so thankful He has the big picture and I only have a small piece of it.

Now, back to the above photo.  As I stated, the photo came up on my Facebook page as a memory.   That day God had planned a detour – a major one in my mind.  I missed qualifying for the Boston Marathon by 53 seconds(around 2 seconds per mile).  I was CRUSHED! But, I didn’t have the whole picture.  Oh, and how thankful I am!!!

Due to that detour – I met Team Hoyt.  I had the amazing privilege of running the Boston Marathon not once but three times! I was able to qualify two times after this race and one of my qualifying runs was while running the Boston Marathon itself.  Running solo became running with a team – a team who makes a difference.  (And guess where a lot of the team members live – San Diego. I was surrounded by them that day and didn’t even know it!)

I could go on and on about how this one detour in San Diego truly changed the trajectory of my running and my life but I won’t.  Though yesterday after Governor Mike Huckabee’s sermon I knew I had to write the story down.  The story about how attending a different church service than planned – because we didn’t have a car was a divine detour.  A divine detour that enlightened me in so many ways!

God is good all the time and all the time God is good!

Ephesians 3.20 – Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us…

Sidenote:  Governor Mike Huckabee was one of my dearest friend’s pastors in Arkansas. He performed her and her husband’s wedding ceremony.  I will never forget he had them face the congregation during the ceremony because he said everyone had come to see them not him. So true! Due to this fact – Mike and I did the same thing in our wedding. 🙂 Another divine detour….

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They say running is a lonely sport…

I disagree!

They say feeling down and out is a lonely place!

I disagree!

After my last blog post this past week, I have heard from some amazing people. Though we may feel alone in the dark times, we are not.  I learned last week that there are a lot of us feeling down out there.  BUT, we aren’t aware of it because we typically don’t share it.  God prompted me to be transparent and now I know why!

Galatians 6.2

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

Gathering sympathy, empathy, etc. was not the goal.  Therapy was!  Running and working out is the way I work out my stress. My therapy. I turned to writing last week due to the fact I have not been out pounding the pavement.  Writing allowed me to get ‘it’ all out!  It also opened the door to many of you who are in the same shoes.  We are not in this alone.  It is only lonely when we choose to stay there…alone.

God provided a door for me to step through and talk with several people I hadn’t talked to in a while as well as others I know will always be there.  God gave us one another to help carry the burden and make us better!

Proverbs 27.17

As iron sharpens iron,so a friend sharpens a friend.

Another God wink came yesterday while I was watching the Olympic Marathon trials.  As I stated at the beginning; they say running is a lonely sport.  I disagree.

Shalane Flanagan and Amy Cragg were running 1st and 2nd with around 3 miles left in the marathon.  You could tell Shalane was struggling.  Amy, her teammate and good friend, wouldn’t leave her.  She started talking to her and encouraging her along the way.  Amy did not leave her until the very end when she saw the 3rd place runner approaching from behind.  Amy went on to win the marathon and Shalane finished 3rd.  Both of them will represent the USA in the Olympic Marathon! Teammates and friends, who ran together and took turns encouraging one another through each one of their rough patches along the 26.2 mile course. Amy stated later she had a rough patch earlier in the race.

Once Amy finished she didn’t go far.  She stood at the finish line and congratulated the 2nd place finisher and then waited patiently…which wasn’t long…for Shalane – her teammate and friend.  As she locked eyes on Shalane you heard her screaming words of encouragement. She was gesturing with all she had trying to encourage her teammate and friend across the finish line.  Shalane crossed the line and Amy caught her in her arms. Shalane had given all she had on the road to making it on the USA Olympic team.

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As I watched this amazing friendship/teammate story unfold, all I could think about were my amazing friends and family who encourage me every step of the way. It literally brought tears of joy to my eyes. It also brought to mind all of my training miles with my friends by my side pushing me to keep moving on. Regardless of whether I am on a rough road physically or mentally – this story translates to life!  Shalane said minutes after the race – “Football players have the locker room but we have the road and the track.”  She was referring to our camaraderie that keeps us going!  God designed us this way!

1 Thessalonians 5.11

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

God has truly blessed me with people who are not afraid to tell me like it is and hold me accountable. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that when I am honest with myself and reach out to others, I will be lifted up.  God is so good!

Thanks to all of you for reading my stories and sending your loving words whether it be through a comment, a text or a phone call.  We are here to help one another! Don’t be afraid to open up – you never know who will need to read and know others are right there with you!  God is good all the time and all the time God is good!

Here is a great follow-up on the Olympic Trials:

http://womensrunning.competitor.com/2016/02/news/what-the-heck-happened-at-olympic-trials-marathon_54290

Also, for my medical friends and others who might be medically minded – my medical tests are looking for a vitamin deficiency – nothing else that I am aware of. 😉  I was told by a dear friend in the medical field I might want to clear this up. 😉 (Love you Karen!)

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Blessings in disguise….God blowing our mind once again!

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Romans 8.28 says  “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” This has been and will continue to be our family verse.  When we experience difficulties we use the word ALL to bring us back to God.  We truly believe with our hearts and beings that God is in control…of ALL things.

As many of you know, this past Friday night, Mike was involved in an accident that resulted in my car being totaled.  I was not with him and he was not at fault.  It was the Friday of our last day of school before Christmas break.  It had been a long week and  I was feeling lazy. I did not want to cook dinner…so I said, “I will pay you to go get us pizza. My purse is in my car so just take it.”  And, he did.  As it turned out, that trip turned out to be a huge blessing in disguise.

How can I say that a trip that totaled my car is a blessing?  Well, let me tell you. 🙂  First, let me say I LOVE or LOVED my car.  Secondly, I love my husband even more.  Cars can be and have been replaced.  Mike cannot.  God was in the process of completely blowing our mind…yet again!

On Friday night, Mike was sitting still waiting to turn and enter the on-ramp to highway 27 to return home.  There was a car in front of him waiting as well.  A lady came up from behind and hit him without applying the brakes.  She says she spilled her drink and looked down. It was at this point she rear-ended Mike in my car.  Mike was pushed into the car in front of him and an additional 30 feet.  By the Lord’s amazing grace Mike walked away. He had one very small nick on his hand.  He was sore in the days to follow but thankfully that didn’t last long either.  God had His angels protecting Mike. So very thankful and blessed!!

We were praising God and thanking Him for keeping Mike safe.  The car did its job.  It collapsed and protected Mike.  As a consumer we do our research before buying cars.  Research on safety, gas mileage, etc.  We did that with this Passat.  But most of the time you don’t get to test the safety piece out and see if it works…needless to say we now know the reviews were right for sure! Again, I loved my car. 🙂 It protected what I love most – Mike.

Now to the rest of the story.   I have only had this car since April.  I didn’t want to car shop again BUT I didn’t want this one fixed.  It looked bad to me and I didn’t want to drive it fixed.  It is just not the same.  Our first prayer was that the car would be totaled.  And, it was. God answered.

This is a huge blessing because of the VW diesel debacle.  My car was a diesel and we were waiting in limbo for VW to come up with a fix.  Now, that is no longer a concern – WOW!!! God works in mysterious ways.  VW did offer a Goodwill Package to all diesel owners.  We received it about 2 weeks prior to the accident.  And 4 hours before the accident we used part of it to have the 40.000 mile diesel service done on the Passat.  I also had just filled the fuel tank.  All for nothing….  But, not really….all for many blessings!

The second prayer was that we would receive a fair settlement for the car – this one is still pending but we have faith the right thing will happen. Mike was not at fault and we are dealing with two insurance companies.  Up until this point, they have acted swiftly…even during the Christmas season.

Finally, the third prayer was to find a new/used car.  I really didn’t want to look because as I have said – I loved my car! I was torn on what to do.  I didn’t want to get in a rush.  We wanted to do the right thing.  I asked my family and friends to pray we got this settled easily and quickly.  At one point I received a text back from my mom – “Praying!”  It was then I realized I truly needed to let go and let God have it.  I needed to direct my request to him – so I did.  In my bedroom I looked up and said – “Lord, this is yours.  Forgive me for trying to do it on my own and trying to ask others to pray – here I am – you take it.”  And – HE did!

That night Mike and I both started looking online for SUVs and other VWs.  I had taken a break from looking when Mike found one for me to check out.  It was in Knoxville at a Cadillac dealership. It has been on the lot for a long time AND they had just reduced the price $8000. It gets better – it was my car! It was the same color….the same everything EXCEPT it was one year NEWER and it was GAS! Wow!!! Oh, and even better – it had 40,000 LESS miles on it! Wow, wow, wow!!! Is this real???  I am thinking – “God, I know you are good – but WOW!”

Needless to say – this car was meant to be mine.  ALL!  All things….  The car was originally traded into the Cadillac dealership in April.  It was washed and prepped for the lot the same day I drove my old car off the lot in Chattanooga.  The car was originally sold in Chattanooga and has had only one owner.  The car didn’t sell for what reason? Who goes to a Cadillac dealership looking for a VW? 😉  Or I believe it is because it was mine all along. 🙂

As of this afternoon – 4 days after the accident that totaled my diesel VW – I am now the very proud owner of a new to me 2014 gas VW Passat – a car I LOVE – without the diesel debacle.  I have 40,000 fewer miles and a pin stripe to boot.  God is so good.  As our sales guy said – “I believe it was divine intervention if I have ever seen it.  This car was meant for you!”

Ecclesiastes 3.1 – For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…

As Mike and I drove to ‘look’ at the car I told him I had joyful tears in my eyes because God was showing us how big He really is…He truly cares about the little details in life and the big ones.  Has God blown you away lately?  Are you looking for it? Let Him!

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Cheerful Endurance…

 

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Mile 26.1 – The face of CHEERFUL ENDURANCE!

Run until the race is won! God works in mysterious ways. I believe He speaks to us in our ‘love’ language.  Mine is through running! Many people call me crazy…and sometimes I agree…especially on mile 18 of marathon.

Since the Chicago Marathon I have been inside my head…crazy. Agreed!  I was after a certain time and didn’t get it.  I was bummed.  After the race I examined the run and figured out what went wrong.  I knew what to change.  I approached NYC 3 weeks later with the option of trying again.  But, due to it being 3 weeks later, as I blogged earlier – I just enjoyed running NYC and took it all in with no pressure.

In fact, King & Country have penned my exact feelings in the following song:

It’s Not Over Yet:

They are inside your head
You got a voice that says
You won’t get past this one
You won’t win your freedom

It’s like a constant war
And you want to settle that score
But you’re bruised and beaten
And you feel defeated

This goes out to the heaviest heart

[Chorus:]
Oh, to everyone who’s hit their limit
It’s not over yet
It’s not over ye-et
And even when you think you’re finished
It’s not over yet
It’s not over ye-et

Keep on fighting
Out of the dark
Into the light
It’s not over
Hope is rising
Never give in
Never give up
It’s not over

Yea-et-et, woah
Yea-et-et, woah

Oh, game set match
It’s time to put it in your past, oh
Feel the winter leavin’
It’s redemption season
Long live the young at heart (Here we are)
Cheers to a brand new start (Here we are)
We’re revived and breathing
To live a life of freedom

Life is a race we run
So run till the race is won
Don’t you ever give up (Here we are)
Oh no never give up (Here we are)
Life is a race we run
So run till the race is won
Don’t you ever give up (Here we are)
We will never give up (Here we are)

Knowing life is a race we run and I was going to run until the race was won or for me my goal time or PR(personal record) was achieved – I wanted to keep on going.  So upon my return from NYC – my CRAZY marathon mind started going again and saying – I know I can do my time. I know I can.  And like the CRAZY marathoner I am…I looked for yet another run.  And lo and behold, I found one.  AND it was only two hours from home! Count me in!  Rocket City Marathon – here I come.  PR – here I come.  But, God had a different kind of PR in mind.  His work continues….

Once I decided to run this marathon God started really speaking to me.  He spoke in so many ways….I am glad I was listening.

It all started, or so I thought, with a sermon preached by a guest speaker at our church.  (I will tell where it really started later.)  The pastor preached on Romans 5.3-5.

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

He used the term CHEERFUL ENDURANCE.  At that moment I knew I needed cheerful endurance as I ran.  Perseverance and struggle are a part of 26.2 miles as they are a part of life.  I knew I wanted to be cheerful while on this part of the journey.  The seed had been planted.

He preached again the following Wednesday and used another scripture from Romans.  Romans 15.4.

 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.

Here it was again….learning from the past.  The past is to teach us!  And through (cheerful) endurance taught in Scriptures – we can be encouraged and have hope!!!

These scriptures became my training scriptures for the RCM.  I had hope that ‘the time’ I was working for was going to happen.  My PR!  But, as I said earlier, God had a different plan.  I was still in my mind and He wanted me in HIS!

2 Corinthians 2.14 was His goal – He wanted me to spread HIS aroma everywhere. 🙂

But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere.

In a marathon His aroma is much better than all of ours – for sure!  This scripture was given by another guest speaker at our church. 🙂  I was starting to piece it all together.  As the lyrics in Casting Crown’s JUST BE HELD say:

So when you’re on your knees and answers seem so far away
You’re not alone, stop holding on and just be held
Your worlds not falling apart, its falling into place
I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held

He was piecing it together when I thought I was falling off pace and my training was falling apart.

Since July I have worked hard for that time.  I was doing what the tagline for Believe In It apparel says – back that up with hard work, anything in life is possible.  I knew I could and I believed in it.  My ‘it’ was my time.  But, God’s ‘it’ was His peace.

I won’t say I left Him out of the process the first go around.  He is the reason I make it through every day. I don’t know what I would do without my relationship with Jesus.  He is my rock and my shelter. He is the constant in my life through everything.  I say this because I truly experience Him daily and know beyond a shadow of a doubt I could not and would not want to live without Him.

My desires in life come from Him. My talents come from Him.  My goal is to use those for Him.  I kind of left him out of the time goal first time around.  As I stated earlier, I let myself get in my head.  I didn’t allow the peace that surpasses all understanding get in my head. Philippians 4.7 states:

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

I had allowed my mind to take over and not His.  The journey from Chicago to NYC and Huntsville revealed this to me and concluded with a mental PR on December 12, 2015.

Now to the rest of the story – (Confession – this race was for God and me. That being said – I told only a handful of people.  My mom and dad didn’t even know I was running it.  I wanted to do this one with no strings attached.  There was tracking for the runners – but I didn’t share.  God was tracking me and that was enough.)

God winked at me over and over again during the 5 weeks between NYC and Huntsville.  He was preparing me for His peace through what would be my Cheerful Endurance run. He set the stage for the most mentally strong race I have ever had.   A mental PR was set on December 12, 2015 and I will forever remember this run as a spiritual retreat from the pressure filled mind of hitting that time – my time – not his.

Some may think – well this is just a way for you to write off not getting the time once again.  If they do – so be it.  I know how I felt crossing that finish line.  I know the last half mile I have NEVER felt stronger running.  I knew I was doing it. I was pose running at it’s best – falling, pulling and moving strong. Many commented on my strong appearance in that last half mile – that was confirmation I had done this in HIS strength! I was able to dig deep and finish smiling! Cheerful ENDuRANce.

Going into race day I felt great. I had had good training runs.  I slept better the night before the race than I had in days.  The pressure was gone and the race was on.  Originally, I had planned on going alone.  Mike is on a hunting trip or he would have been with me. 🙂  I did have a couple of friends who knew I was running offer to go.  I was totally okay with doing this one solo.  I wasn’t alone…God was with me.  In the end, one of my running angels did come and keep me in line. 🙂  She prayed with me, prayed for me, kept Mike informed, tracked me(she was the only one because she was there), chauffeured me home and cheered me on.   Iron Sharpens Iron – i2!

Proverbs 27.17 

 Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.

The race was in Alabama – Roll Tide country.  This Arkansas fan heard those words often over the two days I was there – starting with the check-in at the hotel.  My hair was a little crazy from the Friday fun day at school.  I decided to put my ball cap on before we went into the hotel.  Of course my hat is a Razorback hat.  I guess this was too much for the guy waiting on me at the hotel.  As we were about to finish up he said, “Roll Tide. You can’t be coming in here with that hat on and not expect me to say something.”  I was kind and talked about the SEC being the best and walked on saying nothing else. Later I had my opportunity to give it back to him and he chuckled.

As I ran the race I had some awesome God winks.  The first dealt with Arkansas once again.  Throughout the race many locals yelled ‘Roll Tide’ to the runners. This gave me an opportunity to yell ‘Woo Pig Sooie’ back to them.  A couple of runners from England were a bit shocked and asked what in the world I had just muttered.  It was fun answering them and hearing their English accents.  Another runner gave me a fist bump and congratulated the Hogs for beating Ole Miss. The same guys saw me once the race was over and said, “are you ‘Woo Pig Sooie’?” and gave me another fist bump. Don’t you love SEC football? 🙂

Here is a sampling of the other fun stories along my CHEERFUL ENDURANCE run – in attempt to shorten this post I will put them in bullet form. 😉

  • The run started at the Von Braun Center where Shannon, Deirdre and I saw a Priscilla Shirer LIVE event in April.  This is where God started this peace journey.

Priscilla talked about the Armor of God.  We have access to this armor because we are a child of His.  Ephesians 6.10-18

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God,so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

Little did I know in April of this year God was laying the foundation for my runs in October, November and December.  He knew I would allow the devil to try to take away my joy when I failed to reach my goal in October. He knew that I would get inside my head and not let God in for a while. Guess what? I didn’t forget who ultimately wins…it did take me 8 weeks and 3 marathons to figure out this message.  I never said I wasn’t hard-headed. 🙂  As she said during her message “The victory is irrevocable! The devil has already been defeated and we aren’t fighting for victory – we are fighting FROM victory!” AMEN!

She talked about girding up our feelings and thoughts with HIS truth!

The Voice of Truth – this song by Casting Crowns came on at the right time yesterday during my run.

“the voice of truth tells me a different story – do not be afraid…this is for My glory…I will soar with the wings of eagles…When I stop and listen to the sound of Jesus…Singing over me.”

As did several other amazing songs –

Overcomer by Madisa

You’re an overcomer
Stay in the fight ‘til the final round
You’re not going under
‘Cause God is holding you right now
You might be down for a moment
Feeling like it’s hopeless
That’s when He reminds You
That you’re an overcomer
You’re an overcomer

So don’t quit, don’t give in, you’re an overcomer
Don’t quit, don’t give in, you’re an overcomer
Don’t quit, don’t give in, you’re an overcomer
You’re an overcomer

Redeemed by Big Daddy Weave

Seems like all I could see was the struggle
Haunted by ghosts that lived in my past
Bound up in shackles of all my failures
Wondering how long is this gonna last
Then You look at this prisoner and say to me “son
Stop fighting a fight it’s already been won”

I am redeemed, You set me free
So I’ll shake off these heavy chains
Wipe away every stain, now I’m not who I used to be
I am redeemed, I’m redeemed

You Deliver Me by Selah –

 Deep as the ocean, bright as rain
This powerful emotion lifts me up above the plain
It’s taking me to places I never thought I’d go
Showing me a grace I never thought I’d know

When I feel like I can’t go on
You deliver me.

He definitely delivered me and gave me a promise He sent to me in NYC – The best day ever!

The Best Day Ever  by American Authors –

I had a dream so big and loud
I jumped so high I touched the clouds
Wo-o-o-o-o-oh
I stretched my hands out to the sky
We danced with monsters through the night
Wo-o-o-o-o-oh

I’m never gonna look back
Whoa, I’m never gonna give it up
No, please don’t wake me now

Oo-o-o-o-oo
This is gonna be the best day of my life
My li-i-i-ife
Oo-o-o-o-oo
This is gonna be the best day of my life

The Rocket City Marathon is a small marathon with a HUGE heart.  There were around 1500 marathoners.  Many of these runners had a following – family and friends who found them all over the course.  These people also encouraged strangers along the way.

  • A group of 3 who lifted my spirits every time I saw them by saying “Hey there’s that pretty lady again!”  When I realized they were talking to me I am sure I blushed a little beneath the sweat. 🙂  I passed them again and they shouted “There’s the cute girl – your hair looks great, it hasn’t changed!”  I ran past them with a huge smile.
  • A father with a megaphone encouraging us individually by calling out our numbers.  The second time I saw him I told him I loved that he was out there.  His daughter lovingly said, “Don’t encourage my dad!”  I told her we needed more of him.  I saw him as I finished and I shouted – “I love that you are here!”  He smiled.
  • Crazy man – He started by yelling at us and telling us we were crazy but awesome. The second time I saw him I told him I agreed we were crazy. He disagreed and said we were great.  The last time I saw him I told him I had a new word for him – stupid.  I had just passed a runner who said to me “this is stupid.”  I agreed and said I had done enough of them to know better.  The crazy guy said “No, you are not stupid – you are awesome.” Smiling again!
  • A cop came strolling by in his cop car. I asked if I could have a ride to the finish.  His answer – “Only in handcuffs!” I replied, “It would make a great story.” Smiling!
  • There was one couple I saw at least 5 times. I asked them for a ride to the finish as well.  I told them they would definitely beat me there.
  • I heard Shannon yell “go Trish” at mile 1.  She met me again and encouraged me at the halfway point. It was great seeing her smiling face! At the finish she captured the joy on my face rounding the last curve to the finish line! Once I had crossed the finish line she took photos and yelled my name many times before my tired brain heard her. Thankful for my awesome God-given friends who understand my craziness!
  • Several signs were on the course that made me smile –

  • Press on to the finish! 

  • ENDurance!

  • Chafe now, BRAG later! Toenails are overrated!

  • Gym teacher sign – As I took this photo a lady laughed and said that is great! I replied, “I am the gym teacher.” This picture is for my 4th grader Bradley.  He is always asking if I have another run. He asked me Friday and “I said yes, tomorrow. Pray for me.”  He smiled!IMG_5979

  • I ran past one guy who was walking. I encouraged him, as I tried to do with everyone I passed, and he started running with me.  He said, “No PR today.” I replied “We toed the line and we will finish. That is a PR in itself.  He replied, “yes, I need to find something to focus on.” I told him I would stay with him but then he cramped and had to pull back.  I did see him finish and he finished well!
  • Mike would be proud because I yelled “Go Vols!” to a gentleman with a Vol hat on. 🙂
  • The Spirit Teams along the way lifted our spirits as well. There were high school bands, drum lines, an orchestra in front of a coffee shop, cheerleaders, FCA group and many others!
  • Peanut Butter Jelly Time playing over speakers during one water stop…and the PBJ I was able to eat at the finish thanks to the volunteers who were making them.  That was probably the best PBJ and chocolate milk I have ever had.
  • Shaking hands with the race director upon my finish.  Class act! RCM was awesome!

All of the spectators were amazing…there were not as many as in Chicago and NYC but they were full of southern hospitality….you just can’t beat that! It was truly an awesome experience! During the fleeting moments I wanted to quit or find a ride, someone would lift me up.  I tried to make a point to do the same.  I thanked the MANY police officers and volunteers! They not only made it a safe race they made sure to make a fun one.

The spectators, runners, volunteers, scenery and music all made the day amazing. When I hit the half, I knew I was going to battle physically during the second half.  My goal to keep cheerful endurance was tested. But with God’s help we won out.  He showed me His strength.  He gave me Words. He supplied His messengers.  He carried me through to the very end.  The hope I had for a PR was rewarded with the most peaceful 26.2 miles I have ever had.  Physically I hurt…but who wouldn’t after 3 marathons in 8 weeks…but mentally I was on top of the world.  God showed up and so did I!

Hebrews 12.1-3

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

I was able to run with CHEERFUL ENDURANCE and find the peace in the hope of Him showing up as He promised He would.  He gave me the strength to push through marathon number 3 in 8 weeks – wow! He did it! All glory goes to HIM! He had a journey set before me that started in Huntsville in April and He concluded it yesterday.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Ephesians 6.10 

I was strong in HIM! He gave me His mighty power. I was able to endure the runs He sat before me. Over the last 5 weeks,  I was able to hear Him speak and learn that perfection(or a time) was not the goal – His glory was…and the peace that comes with it!

Being that I was in Roll Tide country for the race, it is quite fitting that I stumbled upon Derrick Henry’s Heisman Trophy acceptance speech while I was writing this blog.  His words were powerful and truthful.  He sums up words I would love to impart with my running and blog:

“Always keep God first. Always pray. Don’t be afraid to pray. He always hears your cry. If you have dreams, go chase them. If you believe it, you can achieve it. And God will be there every step of the way. I am a living testament, man. Growing up, having this dream, I am so nervous. I never thought I would be up here. But God is good. And I get on my knees every night and thank him for everything. So keep God first. Always pray. And always chase your dream.”  Derrick Henry

God is good all the time! God will give you dreams. Chase them! Keep God first in all things! Always pray! Chase your dreams and find God in them. He will be there every step of the way! Believe in it but believe in HIM first!

Running blessed but now taking a rest….Trish Newsom

 

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On our knees…that is where we find the answers.

IMG_7115

9/11

New York.2001

trisheffieltower

Paris.2004

My first firsthand experience with fear.

london

7/7

London.2005

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photo-39

4/15

Boston.2013

 

IMG_3924

7/16

Chattanooga.2015

 

eiffeltower

11/13

Paris.2015

All of these places above have special significance in my life for one reason or another.  Some much more personal than others.

The New York Twin Tower Memorial reminds us of the day that life changed as we knew it.  This is the first day fear of the world we live in crept in for me.  As we all watched we were in a state of confusion, denial and fear.  This day led so many to their knees.  Our knees was the only place we could find comfort because we couldn’t find answers.  The irony is that He is truly the only answer and we do find Him on our knees.

When I lived in the UK I visited Paris.  It was an amazing trip.  Paris was full of beauty and life….full of love!  Though in Paris is when I experienced my first personal encounter with fear of the evil present in world we live in.  The above night picture was taken in 2004 of the Eiffel Tower AFTER we had been evacuated from the 3rd level.  I was working overseas teaching school on an American Air Force base.  One thing they drilled in our heads was safety protocol when traveling abroad. (I lived there post 9/11.)  As we received word to evacuate panic set in.  Crowds were moving quickly.  No one knew why we just knew to get down.  Thoughts of 9/11 filled my head and I wanted on the ground.  The elevators were full and lines were long.  We opted for the stairs.  Thankfully, the crowds moved quickly and cautiously. We made it down without chaos.  Once we got down we, moved far away and rested.  We were tired and worn out from the adrenaline that moved us to safety. The precautionary evacuation was ordered because someone had entered a restricted area and had taken a weapon from an officer when confronted.  It was small incident compared to where my thoughts led me while on top.  I was thankful to be on the ground and thankful to be alive.  I know that my thoughts wondered at this time to ‘Why?’ As my thoughts again wonder – ‘Why?’  It sent me to my knees looking to Him for answers.

2005 was the year of the London attacks.  I was in the States for the summer but was to return to my home in England a few short weeks after these attacks.  I returned with fear and apprehension once again.  The unrest in the world was a small part of my decision to move home in 2006.  I knew God was in control but I also knew I wanted to be close to family knowing life is short…  We were seeing and are still seeing this played out in our world.  The only place to be is on our knees!

Coming home did not keep me from the evil of this world.  Media continues to make sure we see it day in and day out.  Then, in April of 2013, I was in Boston. The picture above was taken at the finish line of the Boston Marathon 12 minutes before the bombs went off.  Evil had struck again and this time it was too close for comfort. Scared and fearful once again, but I knew Who was in control and Who I belonged to – God.  This day forever changed me and became part of my story because it is part of me.  God’s faithfulness and God’s hand can be traced through the whole journey.  They can be read here: https://thenextmailboxboston.com/2013/04/

July 7, 2015 – Chattanooga, Tennessee – My home. My running stomping grounds.  Another day of evil etched yet again the minds of Americans. Our world was getting smaller.  This was home.  We had run the area where five service members lost there lives.  My Run with Trish 5k for Team Hoyt was run next to the U. S. Naval Reserve center.  This was once again too close for comfort. Down on my knees again….

Fast forward to yesterday and to Paris.  11/13/2015.  A date that will be engraved in the minds of so many forever. A day like so many since 9/11 that have changed so many lives – and the world we live in as a whole.  Evil is present in this world…but so is God.  We find Him on our knees.

As we search for answers, the world won’t have them. There are two things that are VERY real – Evil and Good! Evil is present! But, Good is here – all around. We hear of amazing stories of kindness and goodwill after every tragic event.  These tragedies are becoming so common in our world. 9/11 was when we woke up to the possibility and now it has become our reality.

What is the answer? I don’t know why;  but I do know that my comfort and joy in these evil days comes when I am connected to the source of life – Jesus Christ.  I can only tell you from my experience and my journey – He is real to me and in the deep dark times – mine and the world’s – He is the light and hope that gets me through.  It is my relationship with Christ that make each day good even if it is filled with evil.  I know this is not my home because He has saved me by grace – even when I didn’t deserve it.  As a friend of mine from France said today when I messaged her to see if she was okay – “Very scary reminder to remember Love and how precious gift is Life.”  Here is a small excerpt from my Boston Bombing post to wrap it up:

Hug your family, your friends, your kids.  Tell them you love them! You truly never know when you many not be able to.  And if you don’t know our Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior – don’t wait! He is the comforter, the counselor, the father and the SAVIOR!

John 3.16

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,

that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Romans 10.9-10

Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

On my knees….Trish

p.s.

As I was trying to eloquently state what I know the truth to be,  I searched out the expert of our day – Billy Graham.  Here are his words that cover the topics so well:

http://billygraham.org/answer/if-god-is-in-control-of-everything-why-do-bad-things-happen-to-us-id-like-to-believe-in-god-but-i-just-cant-understand-this/

ExcerptThird, the Bible tells us that in the meantime, God can give us victory over evil. This doesn’t mean bad things will never happen to us—but even when they do, we can know God is with us, and He will give us strength to stand against them. Isn’t it better to face life’s problems with God rather than without Him? No, we may not understand everything that happens to us—but when we know Christ, we know we are on the winning side. Why not commit your life to Him today?

http://billygraham.org/story/do-all-things-work-together-for-good/

Excerpt:  All things are not good. It would be mockery to say that they are. The death of a child is not good. Cancer is not good, drug addiction is not good, war is not good, blasphemy is not good.

But the Bible says, “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”(1) In the chemistry of the cross God takes things that, in and of themselves, are bad, and He puts them together, much as a chemist might take chemicals that, in and of themselves, may be deleterious and mixes them to make a medicine that brings healing.

Many of us have some salt with our meals. Table salt is made up of both sodium and chloride. By itself, sodium is a deadly poison, and so is chloride. Put them together, and you have table salt. Salt flavors food, and a certain amount of salt is necessary for health and life. We cannot live without some salt in our systems.

God can take things that are bad and put them in the crucible of His wisdom and love. He works all things together for good, and He gives us the glorious, wonderful promise that He will do so.

We know that we have victory over sin and over Satan, but this verse in Romans teaches us that we also have victory over our circumstances. It says that all things work together for good.

http://billygraham.org/story/suffering-why-does-god-allow-it/

Excerpt: In suffering there is also, I believe, a message of warning. Are you prepared to meet God? What do you have to do to be ready? God took the initiative in giving His Son, Jesus Christ. God says, “I love you. I want to forgive you. I want you to go to heaven.” But you must respond to Him. Find hope, peace, and security today.

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A marathon post about the Marathon of a lifetime…beware – reading this could take 26.2 miles!

We are home! We did it! We survived a month of whirlwind travel which included 2 major marathons – Chicago and New York and a trip to Arkansas.  What a month October was for me! It was a month of reflection and a month of thankfulness.  It all started with an amazing trip to Chicago with my running angels.  Chicago – Major #3 for me is in the books.  See previous blog for race report.  I will say one thing – I was running for time at Chicago – didn’t get it but learned A LOT.  The learning did not stop but continued in New York with a stopover in-between in Arkansas.

Why Arkansas? Well, let me first say the seed to run was planted many years ago when I watched my mom and dad run races.  I didn’t really start running until I was 30 but watching them in those early years made an impression.  Now back to the question – Why Arkansas?  My dad was inducted into the Ouachita Baptist University Athletic Hall of Fame.  Dad was the golf coach at OBU for many years and helped the program grow and win!  Dad was a difference maker.  His work ethic and care for his players was contagious.  He is a life changer.  His love for athletics of all kinds filtered down to all of us.

This was a perfect stopover between Chicago and New York.  It helped me remember where I started and helped me focus on what is really important in the game of life – relationships!  Running has helped me develop many relationships I would NEVER have had without it!  Thanks mom and dad for planting the seed that has forever changed my life for the better!

Proverbs 22.6 ~ Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.

 

New York, New York – Frank Sinatra

Start spreadin’ the news, I’m leavin’ today
I want to be a part of it
New York, New York
These vagabond shoes, are longing to stray
Right through the very heart of it
New York, New York

I have so much in my head about this trip – a trip of a lifetime –  and don’t want to lose any of it or bore anyone. 🙂 So a photo journey it will be!  I will start from the beginning.

Day 1:

We are on our way! NYC we have arrived!!!  Welcome to New York!IMG_5130

The Expo – it is getting real!!!  I have never seen so many people in one place.  It was absolutely crazy.  The line to purchase official gear snaked around forever.  I know we had to have walked close to a half of a mile just in line to pay.  It was a mad house! We met a mother and daughter while making our way to the checkout line.  This would be the daughter’s second NYC Marathon.  She was local.  She gave me a great piece of advice – take cardboard to the starting village to sit on.  The cardboard kept me from sitting on wet ground or pavement! I was so thankful for this awesome advice.  🙂  Once we made it through the check out line we explored the expo itself.  This is always fun.  Once this very important step was over – we headed out to the streets of NY!

First stop – Empire State Building!  It was breathtaking to see NY from the top of the Empire State Building.  Mike and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the 360 degree views from what seemed to be the top of the world.  Mike chatted with a worker while I hit the restroom. Hydrating for a marathon was not fun in NY where there are NO public restrooms unless you pay for services.  Crazy! She told her story of working on 9/11 and how it affected her.  Story-telling at its best!

Second stop and third stop – Rockefeller Center and Times Square

Night was coming and so was the chill.  Perfect for watching the ice skaters in Rockefeller Center.  Times Square was nuts.  We were there about 10 minutes and were ready to move on.  We are glad we saw it but – WOW – sensory overload.  I know all of this was preparing me for the run of lifetime – the largest marathon in the world – 50,000 runner and over 1 million spectators – talk about sensory overload!

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Not only was New York hosting the largest marathon in the world but they were also hosting games 3, 4 and 5 of the World Series! We got to enjoy the hoopla around this as well because we had to get off the train at Mets-Willets Point…the train stop for Citi Field – Home of the Mets.  This was fun all three nights.  We took in the sights and the crowds before heading back to our hotel.  We even picked up a free towel and sign that said BELIEVE! This was my first sign for the marathon – Believe!

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Day 2 – Subway rides, fall foliage, Brooklyn Bridge, Statue of Liberty, One World Trade Center, 9/11 Memorial – What a day! We packed it all in. We rode the subway, the bus, the ferry and a taxi.  We walked as well – across the Brooklyn Bridge and beyond.  The love locks on the Brooklyn Bridge were fun to see with the one I love! I am so thankful to be experiencing this city with him!  The One World Trade Center was very emotional for both of us.  It is hard to put into words the feelings that arose when looking at the memorial where the towers once stood.  There was a sense of sadness in the air and respect given by those visiting.  Then we went to the top of One World Trade Center.  This was one of the highlights of the trip.  New York has definitely done it right when it comes to remembering the victims, survivors and families of 9/11.  We were honored and humbled to be there reflecting on the loss of our nation.  We are proud to be Americans! This city is a melting pot. We heard so many languages spoken.  We saw so many nationalities.  While visiting these two sites we were reminded why we love our country so and the freedoms we have just by living here.

Now, to the TCS New York Marathon! Wow is really all I can say! What a day.  A day to let time goals go and enjoy being a part of the largest marathon in the world.  God had a plan for this day.  He knew I would struggle letting my time goal go, so He placed people along the way to remind me to let go and let HIM!  There is so much to this part of the story.  It started long before we hit the ground running in New York.

Proverbs 27.17 ~ As iron sharpens iron,
    so a friend sharpens a friend.

God has blessed me with many close friends who know me well.  I had more than one remind me to relax and run on November 1.  They knew I had a battle going on inside because I didn’t meet my time goal in Chicago.  The battle was real and raging until Sunday morning at the starting village.  Though these friends continued to remind me of the real reason I was there….I kept wanting that Garmin time of 3:45.  But God placed two people in my life after arriving at the start village on marathon day that helped change that!

First, I had to load the bus by 5:30 a.m. to get to the starting village for a 10:40 start.  That’s 5 hours to kill – wow!  As you can see in several of the photos, I dressed warm for this occasion and it worked out well.  I took my cardboard from my Domino’s Pizza  pre-race dinner to sit on.  I found a spot next to a light pole and made myself comfortable.  I wrapped up in an old thermal blanket from a race I ran in Louisville last October and settled in.  As I was sitting and taking it all in I received several texts.  One was from a dear friend.  It was a prayer for the day.  I so needed it…it was the first of amazing encounters all day.  I thought of this prayer often as I ran that day.  The struggle was real and He is what got me through.

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After corresponding back and forth I just sat there and looked around at the people.  Two girls next to me were from another country. They spoke no English.  This is one of the things I loved the most.  There were so many nationalities running this race.  We were all there together to achieve one goal and that was to finish the world’s largest marathon.  Prejudice and hostilities pushed aside all working together toward a common end. Too bad we can’t get along like this everywhere and all the time!

As I was listening to the sounds around me I heard the word ‘y’all’ come from behind me.  I turned around and asked him where he was from.  Are you ready for this?  He was from Arkansas AND he runs with and does running groups with a friend of mine from college.  Can you believe that? YES! Because God is that good!!!  Out of 50,000 runners hanging out in the starting villages, I was able to run into someone from Arkansas – not only from my home state but someone who knows a friend of mine AND loves the Lord.  Can I say it again – God is that good!

Romans 8.28 ~ And we know that God causes everything to work together

for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

I call it a Godincidence – divine intervention by God! He was talking to another guy from Kentucky that is going to Arkadelphia, Arkansas(where I was born and spent the previous weekend with my family!) in a couple of weeks to do a race.  Small world! We discussed everything from running to our jobs and to our spouses jobs.  We talked about how running has been a great way for us to share our testimonies.  What a way to start my day! One of my friends who encouraged me to relax and have fun also said she knew the 5 hours of wait time would be special.  She was right!  Boy, was she right!

At 8:15 I was supposed to meet up with two of my Team Hoyt buddies.  We were all blessed to be in the blue corral.  There were three corrals – Blue, Green and Orange.  God is good yet again.  🙂  On the way to the meeting place – Blue Corral letter D – I passed the Interfaith Religious Service tent.  They were playing praise music.  I had time to kill so I sat down and let the words cover me.  They announced the service would start at 8:00.  I decided to stay for about 10 minutes and I am so glad I did.  We sang a praise song about God being our strength.  One paster prayed over the race and runners.  Then another pastor gave a short sermon.  He started with the words – ‘Let Go and Let God’.  I told my mom on Thursday before we left that I was changing my mantra for the race from ‘Let Go and Let God’ to ‘Let God and Go Have Fun!’  This was another way of God tell me to run and enjoy every step of the way.  Again, God is so good.  Next the pastor gave us three scripture references in a certain order – Psalm 22, 24 and 23.  He said for the OCD runners that order would drive them crazy but there was a purpose in the order.  It too gave me strength for the day.

Here is the short of it:  In Psalm 22 Jesus feels abandoned. He says,  “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?”  Then in Psalm 24 we see is not forsaken but He is lifted up to Heaven and seated on God’s throne.

Lift up your heads, O you gates!

And be lifted up, you everlasting doors!

And the King of glory shall come in.

Who is this King of glory?

The Lord strong and mighty,

The Lord mighty in battle.

Then back to Psalm 23. We see “ he represents Christians receiving the benefit of all the care and tenderness of that great and good shepherd.” The pastor was saying we could fill abandoned on this course of 26.2 miles but He is with us. He will carry us through and we will finish well for HIM!  Let Go and Let God! Oh, how I needed yet another confirmation.  I slipped out of the service as they were still sharing to meet 2 friends/family amongst the 50,000.

A Team Hoyt reunion was about to happen.  I found Wes first and shortly thereafter we met up with Dana.  We had a group hug and wished Wes well.  He was in the first wave because he is the fast one.   It would also be an understatement to say how grateful I am for Team Hoyt.  Team Hoyt is the reason the three of us from very different parts of the world could meet up, hug and share encouragement.  Wes is Canadian.  Dana lives in New York. And I am from Soddy Daisy, TN!  Again, how good is God???  Team Hoyt is my forever family that God introduced me to on my road to Boston several years ago.  They have been and will continue to be a blessing!

So off Wes went and off we went to gather our Dunkin Donuts coffee and beanie hats. 🙂 I can’t put into words how awesome it was to spend the rest of my morning and the start with Dana. Her spirit is contagious.  I really don’t think she has ever met a stranger. We lined up to get in our corral and watched Wave 2 move to the start line.  Then it was our turn! We moved in and finally moved up.  As we towed the start line I removed my warm clothing and deposited it for Goodwill of New York.  It felt so good to let go of one piece of clothing that represented part of the past for Mike and me.

“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift of God, which is why we call it the present.”
― Bil Keane

As we waited for the canons to go off and Frank Sinatra to sing we met Hugo.  Hugo was starting and hoping to finish his 100th marathon.  100! Wow! I can’t imagine 100 marathons!!! It was a true honor to meet him. (and he did finish!) Yay HUGO!  Then what we were all waiting for…the canons and the serenade!  As we started running the excitement was electrifying.  The announcer yelled my name and go Team Hoyt. Dana and I were happy! I took one last selfie with Dana and off I went…to run my race. 🙂

I figured out early on I was really going to enjoy the race and take it all in.  It was freeing.  I stopped looking at my watch and started looking around. My Garmin was not going to control the run. I was going to Let God and Go Have Fun!  I ran on feel and for the first half did pretty well. The sights were amazing.  At times I was thinking – am I really doing this? Is this real?  And, of course it was.

Mike had a plan to meet me and encourage me on the course.  His first stop was the 5k.  He met me there joyfully with a kiss. I was feeling great here! Mike was and always is an uplifting sight! So very thankful for him and his never-ending support!!!  He was able to meet me two more times on the course. He walked a marathon of his own.  I am one blessed wife! 🙂

In days leading to the race I read a story about the Quinn brothers from Ireland.  35 years ago they ran the NYC Marathon together and they returned to do it again in 2015.  I ran up on two of them early on.  Frank and I had a great conversation and took a selfie.  🙂 Then further down the course I met another gentleman.  He tried to take a photo of me running but to no avail. So, we took a selfie.  He encouraged me to keep moving! And I did!

I felt pretty good until around mile 15 as we approached the Queensboro Bridge.  It is about 1.5 miles with a steady incline.  There were a lot of walkers and I joined in because the pain started here. I knew I was in to finish so this is when the camera really started to come out…hence the windy selfie on the bridge. 🙂  Upon leaving the bridge the crowds were deafening! It was so encouraging!!! It gave me a little pep in my step.  But, I was hurting.  Though, I knew at this point Mike would be a mile 19.  I kept pushing through knowing I would see him there and he would lift my spirits.

As I approached mile 19 I was looking for my tall handsome husband with the Tennessee hat on.  I found him and the tears started flowing.  He reached out and embraced me with a hug and a kiss.  I was honest with him and told him I was struggling…I was hurting.  He said you can do this! You have this! He knew I could dig deep even though at that point I didn’t believe it.  He gave me the lift I needed. I told him I would probably walk a lot the last 10k.  Thankfully, I had the strength to keep running.  Though it was slow – it was not a walk unless I was getting water at a water station.  I am so glad because Mike surprised me again at mile 22.  I knew then I would make it…running…to the end! And I did!

Mile 24, 25, and 26 couldn’t have come any sooner.  The finish line was magical.  I did it! I was a New York Marathon Finisher! I had just finished my 4th world major.  Wow! Can I say again, GOD is so good!

God provided so many people and things along the way…

  • The gospel choir serenading us on the course.
  • The smells of great food.
  • The cheers of random strangers yelling ‘Go Trish!’ or Go RUN..because of the big RUN on my tank.
  • Encouraging words like “You’ve got a good pace!”
  • Another runner saying “Hey, Trish…how are ya?”
  • Congratulations from all the volunteers.
  • The friendly NYC Police and Fire personnel.
  • The amazing crowds….over 1 million of them….truly electrifying!
  • The helpful strangers!!!!
  • The prayers felt when the struggle got real – I felt every one of them.

Philippians 4.13

 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

 

 

As the Taylor family verse states: IMG_3049This is the card dad pulled out while doing our family devotion the morning we were all in Arkansas.  It has long been the verse we live by.  For dad to pull it out of the daily bread box that day was as mom likes to call it ‘a God wink.’  God was with us that day in Arkansas as He was with me on Marathon Day.  I am so very thankful, blessed, humbled and undeserving of and for His love and mercy.  God has been good to our family and He has been good to Mike and me.  He has been to me with running and He has given me a testimony for Him – saying God is so good all the time and all the time God is good.  God allowed me to run my race – which was His race on November 1, 2015!

Thanks for making it to the end of what was supposed to be a short post! I had too many God winks and just had to share.  😉

Running blessed!

4 World Majors down…2 to go! Tokyo and Berlin…here we come!

Oh, and I made the New York Times….

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Your story matters…

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Looking through the eyes of a child…when do we look in awe and wonder anymore? On April 5,  I turned 46.  Wow! 46 years old! I still feel like a child so often, but I am obviously NOT.   Currently, I am sitting  on an airplane behind a 6-year-old flying for the first time.  As we took off, her eyes were full of awe and wonder.  She didn’t have one ounce of fear in her gaze.  She trusted the process…her mom bringing aboard, the plane itself and the pilots guiding us to our destination.  She was fully engaged in the wonder of it all!

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As I watched her, it got me thinking…we too should approach life with a sense of awe and wonder.  We should trust the process…our heavenly Father who gave us life, the body he gave us to live out this life and the fact that He guides us daily.  He wants us to give our life to Him every day and take off for Him!

My morning started early today.  I am flying to California to see friends and family.  I had to catch a shuttle in Chattanooga to the Nashville Airport due to unforeseen car issues.  To ensure I made it on time for my 7:45 a.m. flight, I had to take the first shuttle available – 3:30 a.m.  Now to most of you that know me know that isn’t too bad. I am used to getting up to workout at 5:00 a.m.  My day always starts early.

Over the past 8 months I have come to truly appreciate the early morning time.  It has become me time.  Time for me to work the body God gave me to the best of its ability.  I have learned a new appreciation for this amazing temple He provided each of us to travel on the journey He is providing.  This is a story of the awe and wonder He is giving me daily when I listen to Him en route to His daily plan and the journey of my life.  I hope to continue to find the awe and wonder daily!

Fitness is nothing new to me.  I have my degree in physical education and have been teaching spinning classes as well as group exercise classes for the last 10 years.  I know how the body works.  I know all this! But, it was just recently I got it! God revealed to me how my body is not my body but His temple.  His! What I do to it and for it affects Him greatly!

Walking and running have been important to me for over 20 years.  Moving comes naturally.  Eating does too…but my eating is where I neglected the temple.  My relationship with food started a very long time ago.  I will never forget the day in 5th grade, when still young, a classmate grabbed my backside.  From that time on I had a complex about my ‘big butt.’  This is when food and I started a roller coaster ride.  I would go up and then come back down, literally and figuratively.  I have been on the spectrum from the overweight side and then would make a swing to the anorexic side and back.  Thankfully, after the anorexic symptoms in my early 20s I didn’t visit that loop again.  So to help me fight the battle, I received a degree in home economics along with my physical education degree.  I figured this would help me get off the ride and stay level, I was wrong.  It has not until recently, that as I said before, I got it!

Fast forward to June 2015 – after a few crazy years of severe ups and downs in life – Boston Bombings, Mom’s subdural hematoma and Mike’s broken shoulder – I was moving my body but I was not taking care of the inside of His temple.  I had added extra padding to the temple cushions.  It made moving harder. It  also took a toll on my mental state.  I knew I was moving and exercising but I wasn’t fueling properly or taking care of me properly!

In June 2015, I started CrossFit.  There are a lot of opinions out there about CrossFit, all I can say is, it is the best thing I have done for me or His temple – ever.  It has shown me what this amazing temple is capable of – NO MATTER what age or size you are. CrossFit has helped me make my body – CrossFit! Fit for life never fit for what He did for us on the cross…Fit for bringing Him glory daily.

Lamentations 3.19 – 28

19 I remember my affliction and my wandering,
    the bitterness and the gall.
20 I well remember them,
    and my soul is downcast within me.
21 Yet this I call to mind
    and therefore I have hope:

22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
    therefore I will wait for him.”

25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
    to the one who seeks him;
26 it is good to wait quietly
    for the salvation of the Lord.
27 It is good for a man to bear the yoke
    while he is young.

28 Let him sit alone in silence,
    for the Lord has laid it on him.

He has shown me the true beauty He created.  How if we fuel it properly, we will truly move like a well-oiled machine.  He is the creator of the universe.  He knows how all of the intricate parts of it work together.  He was the first machinist.  He knows how we are woven together and how we are supposed to move seamlessly.  He also created fuel for us to be able to move efficiently and effectively.  Between learning how to properly eat and drink His fuel – I feel better and younger than ever.  What prompted this story telling? First, I am stuck on a plane for 4 hours. Second, everyone has a story.  Our stories are our testimonies for Him.  He continues to write my story, page by page and day by day.  Hopefully, someone will resonate with it.  This journey started ages ago and is still unfolding.

 

 

I am just a normal person with normal goals.  I had to work to overcome and I am still working to overcome the food issues in my life.  My journey changes daily.  I have to get up daily with awe and wonder at His creation to make it work.

This year I am not going to Boston.  That has been my story the last three years.  I will miss it this year. I will miss the team.  But, my story has taken a different turn this year.  The next mailbox is not Boston but Chicago.  Now that I am moving better and fueling better I have high expectations for this great run.   Along with CrossFit, endurance running and proper nutrition I plan to glorify Him with every amazing step.  I’m excited God has brought me to this place of sharing.  I have tried so many things to get right with food and all of them sent me up and down.  I am hoping by sharing and by recognizing this is His story too that this time I will be successful in keeping His temple clean.

 

1 Corinthians 6.19

19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? 20 For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.

Will you join me?

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Coming full circle on a point to point course…

The first starting point – the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon.  The day that changed my life and the lives of many others forever.  That is the point where the circle started.

Where did the circle end? The finish line of the 2014 Boston Marathon with 20+ Team Hoyt members following their inspirations Dick and Rick Hoyt across the historic line in the ultimate TEAM finish.  This day will forever be branded in all of our hearts and minds!  This is the story of how we, as a team, reclaimed the Boston Marathon Finish Line for all who were a part of 2013’s marathon and America.

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Isaiah 41.10 

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 45.2-3  

I will go before you  and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron. I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places,
so that you may know that I am the Lordthe God of Israel, who summons you by name.

Judges 6.23-24

But the Lord said to him, “Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die.” 24 So Gideon built an altar to the Lord there and called it The Lord Is Peace. To this day it stands in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.

As I got closer to marathon weekend I could sense an overwhelming peace blanketing me.  Many people asked in the days leading to April 21 how I felt about going back.  I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt it was part of my journey and part of my story.  God started the big circle years ago.  He knew I would miss qualifying for Boston on my first try.  He knew I would run a qualifying run on my second try but fail to get in due to stricter performance standards.  He knew I will find the BEST team in the world – Team Hoyt…A team that truly represents HIS unfailing and unconditional love for us  – by giving us an earthly example of that love through Dick’s love for his son Rick.  He knew He would place me on that team for a reason…to experience the historic marathon in a way unlike any other – with an extended family!

He knew 2012 would be a great run – a hot one, but one that allowed me to slow down and enjoy the music.  The music of cheering crowds and clapping hands the entire 26.2 miles from Hopkinton to Boston.  He knew my mind would be focused on the experience because it was too hot to race!  What a phenomenal day it was!

Then came 2013 – this was my year to run as a Team Hoyt charity runner with no pressure.  I was in and my goal was to qualify on Boston’s course. I was on target…but fell short by 7 minutes or I thought I had.  🙂 Again, God knew.  He had other plans.  He allowed me to finish that race 11-12 minutes before the devastation hit. He put a hedge of protection around me and around Mike.  He gave us 12 short minutes to find one another…though it felt like an eternity.  He protected our team.  He knew we all would be forever changed! He knew we would want to come back and see this thing through again in memory and in honor of those affected.  We had to do it! Yes, we did!  He also knew I would be returning as  qualified runner in 2014.

My beauty from the ashes was that 16 days before the 2014 Boston Marathon I turned 45.  That meant I moved up an age division and gained 10 extra minutes on my qualifying goal time for Boston.  So, on April 15, 2013 I qualified to run the 2o14 Boston Marathon and I was accepted to run it as a qualified runner in September.  Once again I would run the streets between Hopkinton and Boston as a Team Hoyt member…but as a qualified runner who gained my own entry.

Running Boston as a qualified runner was a dream or a seed that God planted over 14 years ago.  God is faithful.  God has been sowing this seed for a long time.  I obviously wasn’t ready when I wanted it…I was ready when He did.  And He did in grand fashion!  He knew the circumstances that would get me to 2014 and allow me to once again experience a life-changing event! He is so good! I am so very humbled to have been chosen to represent His feet during this monumental run.

Romans 8.28

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Boston 2014

This year I was not only able to experience the weekend with Mike and Team Hoyt, I was also able to take it all in with Yoli and her husband Tim.  Yoli is my training buddy.  Her friendship is priceless! I am a better person because of her – in all areas.  Running with Yoli is the reason I qualified in the first place…she is my rabbit. 🙂  This made Boston 2014 even more special.  We didn’t get to run together or really hang out on race day but we got to take in Boston and the expo together.  Special memories were made!

Proverbs 27.17

As iron sharpens iron,
    so one person sharpens another.

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Another first time experience was being able to participate in the Boston 5k with 10,000 other runners on Saturday.  It was a beautiful day for a run! We lined up and took off. It was pretty much survival of the fittest as people jockeyed for position the entire 3.1 miles.  I just tried to stay on my feet because I knew I needed them come Monday morning.  The course brought us over the finish line of the marathon. I got to cross it twice.  The Saturday run prepped me for Monday.  It was a prayerful 5k.  I was able to soak in the surroundings and be thankful for the journey to run the historic roads once again.  It was a blessed run.

After the 5k, Mike and I got ready for a day filled with Team Hoyt fun.  We had the traditional meet and greet where we got to meet all the new Team Hoyt members and reunite ourselves with the alumni.  What a great time! Our team is beyond phenomenal.  Not only are we led by two amazing men, Dick and Rick Hoyt, but we are made up of quality people from all walks of life.  All who have one goal as the run – to show everyone Yes, You Can! no matter what you are going through.  You can get out there and take that first step no matter what! One team member was told he would never walk again after he hit a moose with his car…he is now an Ironman! Another was diagnosed with a form of cerebral palsy at birth and his parents were told he would suffer with life long disabilities .  He was hoping to run a 2:40 on race day but an injury slowed him down.  Another team member was hit by a car during her training last year.  She saw the blessing in it when she realized if she had run the race she trained for she would have been crossing the finish lines when the bombs went off.  Story after story after story was told during the meet and greet.  Team Hoyt is a dream team.  A team of 53 caring individuals running for a purpose as one!

As a team we then went to listen to our inspirations share their story at the Boston Marathon Expo.  Inspiring…once again. It never gets old listening to Dick and Rick share the reasons why they run! Yes, You Can!  The evening finished with the Team Hoyt Pasta dinner.  As a team we heard inspiring words from our two coaches, Uta Pippig -3x Boston Marathon winner and Varinka Ensminger – Army National Guard Marathon Team.  It is such an honor to call them friends and coaches! They are both a wealth of knowledge and such inspirations!!!  We had an amazing musical surprise…check this out: http://youtu.be/PzHTir1PNmo

We closed the evening with fun photos of the team.  We were ready to bring our team together on Marathon Monday and reclaim the finish line for Boston as a team.  We were and are TEAM HOYT! As one of the runner’s daughter’s posters said…”How do you spell HERO – H.O.Y.T. – TEAM HOYT!” We were inspired and ready to do this!

Sunday was Easter…the day we celebrate our Lord and Savior’s RESURRECTION! We attend Park Street Church right on the border of Boston Commons.  This is the park where the 5k started on Saturday and where the runners would be picked up on Monday morning and taken to the start line.  It is a beautiful park….full of life! Life is what this day was all about. We enjoyed the traditional Easter service in a church away from home. We missed our home church but were thankful to be surrounded by others singing praises and thanksgiving to our Lord for sending His Son to die for our sins! He defeated death and gave us eternal life! This was a very special part of our journey.

After church, we explored Boston.  The past two-years we wanted to take a trolley tour and it never worked out.  This day was the day.  We enjoyed a trolley tour, lunch at the Chart House – in the old Gardiner Building – the restored 18th-century offices of American Patriot John Hancock, and a harbor cruise.  It was a grand day.  God is so good. He gave us great weather and a wonderful day to soak in HIS goodness.  We finished our evening up with Yoli and Tim at the infamous Cheesecake Factory.  We carb loaded and added some extra fat in the form of cheesecake…Godiva Cheesecake…just in case we needed extra fuel on Marathon Monday. It was a fabulous ending to a blessed day!

Throughout these two days, no fear was present.  We felt the comforting hand of our Lord around us sent by so many prayers.  We were surrounded by love from afar and it made all the difference in the world. We knew He had come before us and was with us every step of the way! Next up was marathon day!

Isaiah 41.10 

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

No fear was present only peace. Peace from above! HE ordained the perfect day with His many angels from all over the world praying for us! The day was almost indescribable.  It has taken me almost a week to sit down and attempt to pen it.  I will not and cannot do it justice.  It was surreal.

The day started early.  5:00 a.m. to be exact.  We had a bus to catch…a team bus.  This year we were still able to roll to the start line as a team but we were unable to go to our Team Hoyt house.  Our home was the charter bus we rode on…not too bad considering all the other athletes had to ride school buses, get off and sit in the grass with 30,000+ other runners.  We had our own reclining seats, our own bathroom and are own area to just chill for the 6+ hours some of us had to wait. 🙂   Before loading the bus we took the race day morning photos…bright eyed and bushy-tailed for sure! Then we were off….

As we arrived at the school where we were to hang out until 11:00 or 11:30 a.m., we noticed the police presence. They were everywhere. We parked next to a Vermont Bomb Squad vehicle.  Looking around you were able to see armed officers everywhere.  We were definitely protected.

The 6+ hours of waiting were fun times with our teammates. We chatted…we laughed….we went to the bathroom…some slept…we took photos…we made race day plans…we ate…we went to the bathroom…we waited….we went to the bathroom….we waited…

Before we were off…

Slowly our runners would leave based on their wave. There were four waves this year in order to accommodate the 9,000 extra participants.  I was in wave 3 along with my friend Joann.  We didn’t start until 11:00 a.m.  It was a cool morning. Perfect running weather or so we thought. 🙂 Our race day plan was to keep it at around a 9:00-9:30 mile and catch up with Dick and Rick.  My plan was to finish with them.  Joann was going to see how she felt and then decide.  The day started to warm up and by the time we made it to the start line we had shed all of our warm clothing, donating it to the shelters in Boston.   As we made our way to the start we were corralled through security. No bags, nothing extra at all! We were wanded from head to toe and sent on our way.  They were not taking any chances.  Hats off to all of the officers present to keep us safe.  WE felt it!

As we towed the start line we were ready.  Joann said this is our day! We were smiling and joy overcame us! This was a day to reclaim what they tried to take away last year.  Joann didn’t get to finish. She was stopped shy of the finish line.  I had finished but felt something was ripped away.  We were ready to get it back! Let’s do it!

Off we went! The first couple of miles flew by.  We were having to watch our pace and back off because we were getting caught up with the excitement.  People were cheering us on by clapping, yelling, holding signs.  Several told us thanks for coming back.  There were so many spectators.  The towns were electric.  We had kids and adults giving high fives.  We had people holding signs that said “go random stranger go!” Love it! It was magical the entire way…or so we thought!  We hadn’t even experienced half of it yet. The best was yet to come!

As we approached mile 8 we knew Joann had friends waiting.  This was where one of our team members family hangs out.  They have cheered Team Hoyt on for their 32 years running the Boston Marathon.  They can spot them from way off.  Joann’s friends teamed up with them and we had a grand welcome to mile 8.4.  It was truly awesome.  We received hugs, water and encouragement.  Just what we needed to keep on going!

Then as we rolled up on mile 10 I thought I heard someone calling my name…TRISH, TRISH! I did! Emily from Alabama (originally from Massachusetts) was standing off to the left-hand side with a sign that said GO TRISH.  IMG_7520

What a nice surprise! How in the world she spotted us and I heard her…I know how…God put her there for us! It was awesome!  I just met her at my Run with Trish 5k for Team Hoyt in Chattanooga.  She read about it and came out to support us.  Being from Massachusetts she was familiar with Team Hoyt and wanted to supported them and our run.  Then she did it again at the Marathon…how cool is that???

After this point I was energized but my legs were heavy.  It was getting warmer.  We were running a marathon…it is not always easy. 🙂  Joann encouraged me to keep on keeping on…as we both did.  I thought about our team and what it stood for…yes, you can!  Another time I was feeling heavy we came across a young man running the marathon on crutches.  Boy, I knew I could do it if he could.  One step at a time.  Joann pulled me through.  Our goal was to make it to Dick and Rick we could do this! Yes, we could!

As we ran my eyes continually glanced ahead of us looking for red jerseys.  I knew we should find the team soon.  One lady told us that they had been there recently and were walking.  We weren’t far behind. Yay!  Then we saw them…or should I say heard the roar.  Check out the videos:

http://youtu.be/ODlQBOJrsoU

http://youtu.be/Q1mIZtWXKxQ

http://youtu.be/pyU9BAd3GT0

http://youtu.be/V8nkMPblKoI

http://youtu.be/s52-DVrJlTE

These just give you a small taste of what it was like…truly amazing! Indescribable!!!! Once we caught up with this dynamic duo we walked the last nine miles with them and just took it all in.  I really can’t put it into words. There were several very special moments along the course.  Two different times Dick and Rick pulled over to speak with a young girl and young boy in wheelchairs.  The parents were so very honored that they took the time to stop.  It was so moving…this is what they are all about….inclusion! Yes, You CAN!

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Photos taken by a team member – Dave – thanks for capturing  these priceless moments DAVE!

Then at the top of HeartBreak Hill, where we are all tired no matter what, we found MIKE! I was overjoyed.  He is as much part of our team as I am. They were all so glad to see him.  This was the encouragement and boost we needed to make the last 5.2 miles.  They all hugged him then it was my turn.  I got a hug and a kiss. 🙂  IMG_7533

What a day it was turning out to be!!! We had the best waiting on us.  The last mile from the Citgo sign on to Boylston Street! We were ready to reclaim that finish line together….Team Hoyt STRONG and Boston Strong! Joann went on and attacked Heartbreak Hill.  She did great!

Around mile 24 we picked up our three-time Boston Marathon winner coach – Uta Pippig.  Joann was waiting with her to finish with all of us.  She was so very excited to see Dick and Rick and the whole team. We were now ready to finish strong.

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Off we went! We rounded the corner next to the Fire Station who lost a member of their unit not too long ago…he was supposed to be running the race.  It was moving in itself to see the signs for him and hear the cheers.  Then the final turn toward the finish line.  It was remarkable! It was beautiful! It was magnificent! It was surreal! Team Hoyt’s leaders – Dick and Rick Hoyt led the charge for the finish line. This would be the last time Dick and Rick Hoyt would cross the finish line together.  This was their chance to reclaim what was taken from them last year. The roars continued to erupt along the course as the team got closer.  It was unreal!!  You could sense the respect the crowd have for these two who we call Team HOYT! Their 32nd and final Boston Marathon finish. This was it.  The crowd was gong to make sure they had a proper farewell.  And that, they did!!!

http://youtu.be/kBfrEKij3zs 

The crowd said thank you.  They showed Dick and Rick that they were as much as a part of the marathon as the marathon itself.  Dick and Rick showed the nation that they were Boston Strong and Team Hoyt Strong and no one was going to keep them from doing what they set out to do last year…finish their 32nd Boston Marathon! They did it with many of their team members by their side and others there in spirit.  Team Hoyt will continue with another team member pushing Rick along the streets in the future.  The Yes, You Can spirit will live on!

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It was a day for the record books.  It was a day forever etched in my heart and in my mind.   God knew what He was doing so many years ago.  He knew He was giving me a story to tell.  A story of His love and grace.  A story that shows good triumphing over evil.  A story that will forever show HIS true spirit of unconditional love through two amazing men – Dick and Rick Hoyt.  Dick has given Rick the opportunity to live life to the fullest through different sporting events.  He loves his son so much he is his legs.  They say Dick is the arms and legs and Rick is the heart.  This is a real-life love story of a father and son that is hard to top.

We have a heavenly Father that wants to do the same for us!  He can give us life that we can live to the fullest as well….He can push us through our journey and carry us through the tough times.  The finish line is eternal life with HIM as long as we believe.  He is there waiting!

Romans 10.9-10

That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.

 

I am truly honored and humbled to be given this story. God has been so very good. He has blessed me beyond what I deserve.  He has been with me every step of the way even when I have stumbled…when I have fallen…when I am not worthy…which all of these happen daily! He has given me a story! An amazing story! I want to shout it from the mountain tops…that is why it has taken me over 3500 words to get it out.  The event I thought was indescribable was far from it…I could keep on going but I won’t!

Last words – I am just so very thankful for the Lord allowing me to come full circle…full circle from the time I stated I wanted to run the Boston Marathon so many years ago AND most importantly coming full circle from last year’s horrific events to this year’s joyful and peaceful events.

God is good all the time and all the time God is good!

Thanks to all of you for your prayers, your support and your love! This journey is as much about you as it is me.  We have to live life to the fullest and help others along the way!

This post, about this remarkable day, is dedicated to my amazing husband who follows along on my many running journeys – He supports me no matter what and loves me all the way to the finish line.  I would never want to do this without him.  He makes it worth it all….IMG_7593

 

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