Sometimes when life feels circular, I can reason with myself. I think of the Israelites wandering the desert for 40 years and know God used their circles to establish Himself as their God, to prove His faithfulness amidst their unfaithfulness, and to set them apart as His. Sometimes I reach faith-filled conclusions that spur me on when the scenery is the same and my feet have blisters.
Sometimes my head is fuzzy and my reasonings are inconclusive. Then I have a few family members and friends that tell me how to put one foot in front of another. They distract me from the blisters so I can take on another mile. They speak their own faith over my lack.
My cousin and sister have literally been pushing me to the next mile. Between the three of us we are immersed in raising 13 children. We decided together to push for our own health- spiritually, emotionally and physically. It isn't easy to carve out time for any of these things, but it is easier when you get a 6:30am text saying, "Just got best time yet for 3 miles!" When you know the other two have been up early for quiet time and workouts, you can't justify the snooze button or second cup of coffee before doing the same.
One of the tiring challenges many of our family members face is rheumatoid arthritis. We decided our winter goal would be running a 5k for arthritis research in December. (It's possible it was also an excuse to get our cousin up from Portland.) We had a fool proof plan that Sommer and her youngest would come up a day early for time with us before the race. We planned out our productive, refreshing weekend in detail.
Turns out fool proof is a joke. The week of the race brought nasty wind storms through Washington and the power was knocked out at Jasmine and Sommer's houses. The stoplights were out in Portland and there was no way to get the rental car. Meanwhile, Everett started throwing up. Between us, we had three kids sick at home. I cringed wondering how many would be down by race day. One thing after another stacked against us. We frantically texted back and forth, "What should we do?"
It was fitting. When we first challenged ourselves to the run, I knew I could run but it would be slow. I've never been a great runner and even worse if I run with someone (a mental block developed as the last middle schooler to finish the mile on more than one occasion). My sister challenged me to better my time by almost a minute per mile. It sounded like a good challenge in the moment. Then I had a series of blocks I had no desire or energy to push through (ahem... such as blog writing). This is why I have a sister to say, "We'll do a road run together- you'll do better than you think." This is why I have a cousin to answer my dramatic texts of, "My life is like this treadmill! I'm working my ass off and going nowhere!" with gentle encouragement, prayers, and God's promises in response to my swearing and angry emojis.
Now, finally ready for the 5k with some faster runs under my belt, everything was unraveling and fatigue formed another block. Often the beauty of having people to fight through life with is to come up to these moments together and say, "I don't care if I puke the whole way- I'm running this thing and I'm going to have fun doing it!"
"Yes! We're doing it!"
"Traffic is slow but I'm coming. We're doing this!"
"My white couch is covered in puke... BLACK puke because Everett had black licorice ice cream hours before coming down with the flu! But we're doing this."
"I still have no power to run the wash. I don't know if the guest bed will be ready in time. I'm tracking down the generator because I need my coffee pot! We're doing this."
So it went.
Sommer arrived a day late but the power returned. There was quiet respite and for a short while the kids seemed nearly healthy. The wind stopped and gave way to a cool but calm day to run.
We ran. Without stopping. My time had improved by a minute each mile, accomplishing what I had hoped. No one threw up (and I was relieved... although that always makes for a good story). We cooled down and grabbed coffees to take back to the now warm, powered house. Jasmine pulled out her foils and we caught up over hair color and kids.
I was very much like my empty-on-fuel suburban when I start pumping gas into it and hear it gurgle it's way to the bottom of the tank. Filling... filling... Telling stories, laughing, asking hard questions, wrestling through beliefs, gaining insight into parenting. Filling...filling... for the next leg of the journey.
We went out that night after kids were in bed, determined to soak up every moment of our one day blitz. We drained out the day. I crawled in bed after midnight, realizing I had pushed through emotional, spiritual, and physical blocks throughout the day, none of which I could have done solo.
Two hours later Haley tapped on my face, waking me. "Mom? I think I hafta throw up."
For twelve consecutive hours.
I hung over the toilet with her, still somewhat filled for the next leg of the journey.
I took a break from running the first half of this week.
Then I got a text, "I ran 3 miles."
Then the next, "I think it's blog time."
They don't give me much rest.
Just throwing myself out there a bit...