My Body is a Temple: Running Through Lent

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The other day I was running in the treadmill at the YMCA. And I looked down at the clock. And I was filled with awe. I had been running for fifteen minutes without even really thinking about it. Sure, I was distracted by something trashy on daytime TV. But when I started the c25k program in January even those baby steps seemed tough. Running a whole minute was a challenge. And now three? And then five? Then eight? The first time it jumped to ten I thought I’d die.

Even a few days before, during my first run back from vacation, I had trouble finishing the whole 20 minutes. I walked for a bit in the middle. And here I’d run 15 like it was nothing.

I spent a good part of that run thinking about the phrase “Fearfully and wonderfully made.” My run became a prayer of thanks. Thanks for my body, and its design. A body that is so adaptive we can do things one day we thought impossible the day before.

I wasn’t raised in the tradition of giving things up for Lent. I was always under the assumption that it was just for Catholics. And we weren’t Catholic. My friends at school always seemed to forget anyway. Or they would give up something unimportant to them. Or they would just skate by using the letter of the law. “I mean, these are sugar free, so it’s not REALLY candy, right?”

As an adult, though, I have some to understand Lent as a period of preparation. A time when we make a sacrifice as thanks for the ultimate sacrifice. A time of reflection and thanksgiving. I’ve realized we don’t actually have to give things up. We can add to our lives. Last year during the Lent season I finished my memoir “Hope Springs.” This year by Easter I want to have sent it to as many agents as I have information for. I’m about halfway through the list and have gotten stuck. Easter gives me a deadline.

But there’s something else I want to do this year. I want to run. Because I can. Because God gave me a body that can run a little further every day. And I’m thankful for that. After finishing my first 5k a few weeks ago, I’m now going to continue my training with the 10k program.

Of course during Lent we all want to read our Bibles more. (And by more, I mean at all for a lot of us.) So during my runs I’ll be listening to an audio version of the Old Testament. I have one with music and a cast of stars and sound effects that occasionally make it sound like Lost.

I’ve already taken a few runs this way and learned a few things. First, the “begats” are not helpful for running uphill. I can’t imagine this making it into my training playlist at any point. Second, the story of Abraham and Sarah is no less painful for me hearing it compared to reading it. And I always get a little worried I’m gonna get pregnant at 90. Let’s all agree together that won’t happen. In Jesus’ name Amen. Finally, running and listening gives me an interesting opportunity to listen. And question. And wonder.

I’ll keep you updated. Anyone have any Lent projects they want to share?

Miracles CAN Happen

(Originally posted on my husband’s blog on May 17, 2011)

I believe that God allows us make mistakes. He uses them to teach us. They build our character. They make us stronger. Hopefully we learn from them. Every once in a while the mistake is just too big. He needs to intervene in order for his plan to work. Mindy and I had such an intervention. It still shakes me to the bone when I think about how close we were to making the biggest mistake of our lives. I am sharing it because it is an important story. I am sharing to remind myself to listen when the man upstairs has something to say. I hope it reminds you too!

Two years ago today, a little girl was born. Her mother was a cocaine addict and “used” throughout the pregnancy. The little girl arrived weighing just over 4 pounds, and was struggling to stay alive. The hospital knew the young mom didn’t have the resources to care for this child. They suggested she take part in selecting adoptive parents through an agency, rather than having social services remove the child and put her in the hands of the government. The young woman agreed.

Two days later, a married couple in queens got a call from their adoption agency. The agency said a child was born, and she fit the criteria the couple had listed on their application…almost perfectly. Based on what the birth mother was looking for, it would likely be a viable match. There was one problem. The child was born addicted to cocaine. The couple stated in their application, that they did not want to adopt a child with a drug addiction. The couple said “Thank-you. We will think about it and let you know”. The agency said “If you do not call back, we will assume your answer is no”.

The couple thought about it. The husband’s job was on shaky ground. The wife was very busy doing a show. They did not have a nursery ready. They did not have the $18,000 adoption fee. They did not have a single article of clothing. They knew this was not the right time for a baby. They did not call the agency back. Their answer was “no”.

The phone rang again the very next day. It was the adoption agency. They had made an error and the couple’s profile was shown to the birth mother by mistake. It was shown with the profile of 5 other couples. The mother was instructed to pick her top 2 or 3. She picked only one couple. She refused to choose a back up. She ONLY wanted the couple that was “accidentally” shown.

“Will you reconsider?” the couple was asked by the agency.

The couple realized that this was something bigger than a mistake at the adoption agency. They realized that there were powers greater than themselves in this world. They realized that they were supposed to say “yes” and God was letting them know they that they answered wrong the first time. They were getting a do-over, and this time, they answered correctly. Yes. Yes we will take this child.

The child was named “Lillian Savannah” and she is an absolute miracle in our lives, and the lives of everyone she meets. Today is her birthday, and to celebrate and honor her, I am sharing this story. It scares me to death to think about the mistake we almost made, and I hope this story will inspire you to listen when God is trying to tell you something. It is a story that restores my faith when I am going through struggles, and it is 100% true.

Happy Birthday baby girl. You are my miracle from heaven.

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