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.
As iron sharpens iron,so a friend sharpens a friend.
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.
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!
(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?
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!
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! 😉
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.
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, 2 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.3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
1:46:19 ~ 1st in age group ~ 7th overall woman