Sunday, October 30, 2011

Last Week!

We are in our last week of training, we run the marathon one week from today. Jeff's taken some pictures throughout our training... it has been quite a journey. God has seen us through times of uncertainty and struggle, and through times of joy and assurance. We are so grateful to take part in this event, to see such tangible ways that God works in our lives everyday. Please prayerfully consider sponsoring a child who is need in this last week. We are six sponsorships away from our goal. While we are uncertain of how the race will go, we rest assured that God will be working in the lives of these children, in the lives of those who have sponsored children, and in our own lives.

Our hope and prayer for the race next week is for God to humble us and remind us that our running performance holds little value compared to what He has taught us over the past few months.

"For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value of all things, holding value for both the present life and the life to come." 1 Timothy 4:8

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Setback... and very good news!

The past few days have been, and I'm not being dramatic in saying this, heart wrenching. I never expected for this race to hold so much physical, but also emotional and spiritual investment.

Last Sunday, when Jeff and I were on our twenty mile run, I started experiencing pain just below my right knee cap. We stopped by mile 10 because it became very painful. I rested it, iced it, cross trained this past week and tried again yesterday. More pain. And worse pain. After 9 miles I couldn't run anymore. And I couldn't hold back my tears anymore, either. I spend the remaining two hours of what was supposed to be my run walking and told Jeff to keep going.

Over Saturday and Sunday, I had a hard time holding myself together. I feel like such a crazy person. Here I am, standing at church, explaining my injury to a concerned member of our community, and I can hardly keep my tears in check. When talking to Jeff about these emotions of disappointment, he reminded me of how much of ourselves- our time, energy, prayers, thoughts, hopes- we have put into this race over the past four months. This race is what carried me through my work visa crisis. This race is what kept me energized when I was feeling down and overwhelmed. This race is what God has used to teach me over the past four months.

So, why I am feeling so disappointed? I have become extremely emotionally and spiritually invested in this process to the point that the possibility of not being able to do this brings up immense physical pain and sadness in my very soul. To be completely honest, from the time I started feeling this pain, I've been angry with God. I know it sounds ridiculous but I can't help thinking, why me? why this? why now? God, haven't you taught me enough in the past few months?

Apparently not.

Last night, while scrubbing my apartment down in effort to find some sort of control over my circumstances, I guess, I stopped and perused facebook. A friend had posted these words from Paul in II Corinthians, "To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded for the Lord to take it away from me. He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness"... That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weakness, in insults, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

I suddenly felt convicted. Here I was, so hurt and angry because of an injured knee. Yet, just a few days, I FOUND OUT THAT MY WORK VISA WAS APPROVED! I get to go home for Thanksgiving! God has proved to me that he is faithful, time and time again. Reading these verses made me think about how, while it is hard to recognize, God works in my weaknesses. I know, for certain, that God is behind me in this race. Yes, if I have to walk, or even miss, part of this race, I will be disappointed. But I will accept the grace of those who are sponsoring me and the grace of God.

Even when we are disappointed, when we fail to accomplish all that we hope, we can rest in God's grace and provision. What is more, we can rest assured that God works through our weaknesses. I am going to see a Physical Therapist this week, I've been swimming and cross training, and I will pray fervently that this race will be a possibility. But, in the end, I know that God will be behind me, before me, and beside me. Even if I am let down and inhibited by this injury, I will do my best to finish this race, even if it means walking for 26 miles, and I know that I can count on learning something in the process.

We currently have 18 of our 26 children sponsored. Please prayerfully consider sponsoring a child in need through World Vision and help us reach our goal! Clink on the world vision link located on the top left of this page.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Desert.

We are so sore. Today, my students asked me why I was hobbling around like an 80 year old woman- but in nicer words, of course.

I informed them that yesterday, we accomplished our 18 mile run, finally, after being setback from a week of illness! I am not going to lie, for me, it was my most difficult run yet. There was one point- at around mile 13- when I was near tears and so frustrated by how I was feeling- dehydrated, uncomfortable, achy and stiff. Jeff and I quickly stopped for water, because it was so hot out, and he reminded me that we are capable of running these 18, this is what we have been training for. That although we're tired, with God's strength, we can keep going. So we did.

From miles 13-18, it felt to me as if I was in a desert that I could not get out of. The miles seemed endless and it was hard for me to picture ever being finished with this run. With perseverance, I was able to keep going, but when I was finished and sat down to write this blog, I had nothing to write. What did I learn from this run? I didn't know. I had no new revelation, just the feeling of being relieved that I had been able to finish.

Today, I started preparing my class for a celebration that we will be leading on Thursday. It's funny, this is the fifth time that I'm leading Sukkot, but today I was struck by the meaning of this celebration. Sukkot is a Jewish holiday, the word means "shelters". It refers to the temporary structures that Jews build and eat in on this holiday, it reminds us of the Israelites' travels in the deserts over forty years (it was forty years because of their lack of faith!) and how they were protected and fed by the goodness of God's gifts. These temporary structures are rather flimsy, but they remind us of the fact that our security cannot lie in the strong brick walls of our houses, but that our true security is only found by our faith in God.

I read this to my sixth graders today, "Sukkot is the holiday that remembers the place where most of us are most of the time- somewhere in the desert- in between, midway, sometimes moving, sometimes stuck, always heading- we hope- in the right direction. Sukkot reminds us that the way we get somewhere, what we do and learn along the way, where we detour and where we pause, whom we meet and whom we trabel with, are as essential to the journey as to the arrival...Sukkot reminds us that ultimate security is found not within the walls of our home, but in the presence of God and one another. Indeed, there is a midrash that says that sukkot are not buildings at all, but the glory of God. God hovers over us and is our only lasting shelter in the desert."

Yesterday, I felt like I was in the desert. It was so difficult to be in the middle of Liberty State Park, with five miles to go and no energy to keep going. As I was reading this to my sixth graders, I was overcome with the realization that God was teaching me something yesterday during that run. He was giving me a tangible example of what it means to be in the desert, with nothing to rely on but Him. My eyes filled with tears as I started thinking about these last months of my life. I have been in, and still am in a desert. I am still waiting to hear about my work visa officially and can't go home until I do. Jeff an I are still in the middle of getting this wedding planning off of the ground. I am still adjusting to having my family, particularly my older sister, so far away from here. I am still feeling as if I am in a transitional time, somewhere in between, hoping that I am heading in the right direction with my life.

Just as the 18 miles was difficult and frustrating, this time can also be. But again, today led me to realize how blessed I am to be in this journey. I am on this journey of training for a marathon, waiting for a work visa, planning a new chapter in life for a reason. And what I do with this time, where I pause, the decisions I make, the people I travel with are as essential to this journey as the arrival. I can see, that ultimately, my security must be found in Him alone. God is hovering, He is my lasting shelter, and I am grateful.