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Fresh mercies and hope to you, friends, as we start this new week ~
Before anything else, if you live in the path of Hurricane Ian, I have been carrying you around in my heart continually. We are all holding the heavy images, and I can only imagine how it feels for those who lived these pictures. We always belong to one another, and disasters bring that truth to the front seat it should always have. More on that below, including some places I personally donate.
I’ve been reflecting a lot lately on the threads tying us together— the lasting impact we can make, even when a relationship or connection is a short season.
This coming Sunday, October 9, I’ll be running the Chicago Marathon for the Alzheimer’s Association in honor of my mom, along with my brother and sister-in-law. It’s a surreal and sacred time as the culmination of a year’s training and injury rehabilitation is now just days away.
I’ve shared in earlier posts how this marathon encompasses a myriad of meaningful layers. My last marathon was Boston of 2013 when bombs detonated and road races changed forever. There have been devastating deaths and babies born and diagnoses and moves since I last laced up shoes for a marathon. My life is different. I am different.
The winds of loving support from those around me have been literal wings to my (many days feeling like cement blocks) legs. I’ve been humbled to receive generous donations and vulnerable stories from many of you who have loved ones living with Alzheimer’s. Your support has been truly incredible. I’ve carried a list of names with me on nearly every run.
It was a dark morning a couple weeks ago when I was finishing up a speed workout at our local high school track. The wind whirled with that freshly fall bite, I could see light over the tree line edging out the layers of clouds, and I was alone on the lanes. I pressed my watch and settled into my cadence. And as I came around the curve, I had flash backs in my ears, my eyes, my memory.
I pictured my very first run in sixth-grade wearing an oversized cotton t-shirt, following my dad on his run and turning to walk back home after half a mile.
I heard again my high school track coach, standing on the field grass with a stop watch. I thought of my cross-country teammates and the energy we shared with one another simply through running side by side.
I thought of my physical therapist who helped me heal from a hamstring injury earlier this year. My husband who managed a literal circus every morning so I could run early. The local pool supervisor who let me get in the diving well to aqua jog when my legs couldn’t take the pounding. My three kids who took turns on bikes or the running stroller to keep me company, all while listening to my marathon playlist (an eclectic mix of everything from Encanto and the Jackson 5 to Coldplay and Lady Gaga).
I thought of the many beautiful people who helped me get here.
And not just marathon-here, but life-here.
It is a true miracle, isn’t it? A marvel when we reflect on how we are who we are and are where we are because of the generosity—intentional or unknown—from those along the way?
When I left for Taiwan after college, my home church in South Dakota sent me with a prayer quilt. Amid the patches of purple daisies and yellow swirl drops were countless knots of thin white yarn, each knot tied by the hands of a faith family member. Each knot tied with a prayer.
I slept under that quilt those nine months in Taiwan, and I keep that quilt out now, draping it over my legs and placing my hands on the tassels.
“We are moulded and remoulded,” writes Francois Mauriac, “by those who have loved us, and though their love may pass, we are nevertheless their work.”
I offer this invitation for you to consider your own moulding, and the moulder you are alongside the Great Moulder.
All those years. All those holy hands…including yours.
Again, it’s a miracle….
Thank you, dear friends, for your support and love. See you after the finish line.
When I need to remember I’m an overcomer
Strong and Loving God,
because of you,
I am an overcomer.
Thank you for helping me trust amid setbacks…
for training me to see how progress
isn’t a straight line, but a squiggly one
marked by moments I put my hands on
my knees and gasp for breath.
I keep my eyes forward
that I might see the
promise before me.
Through my sweat today,
I’m building new strength
and skill for tomorrow.
The simple choice to try again,
to show up and do the work,
is victory in your book.
Help me find a goal that’s attainable for now,
and tomorrow, one a little further down the road.
I will be less overwhelmed that way…
And that’s how you do it –
sneaking me into believing
I can do this thing.
Yours is the coaching
voice I need most,
speaking directly in
my ear as you run alongside,
stride for stride.
I believe in you.
I am with you.
We will overcome
Psalm 121 * 2 Timothy 4:7-8 * Hebrews 12:1-2
“Let us run with perseverance the
race that is set before us, looking
to Jesus…” – Hebrews 12:1-2
Something that nourished me recently…
For the first time in six years, my writing group gathered with our incredible coach, Marge Barrett, at her river home in Marine on St. Croix. The time, people, and place formed such a haven for my soul and body. I didn’t do too much writing, but I did talk and eat and savor the company of women I respect so much. And I did run. William O’Brien park provided actual fields of gold.
I wrote some weeks ago about how threshold crossings abound right now, and a seemingly small, yet significant, one for me was the recent passing of my old lap top. This was my companion when I first met my writing group. What I typed my first book on. And so much more. Time for a new season.
Ash & Starlight, plus other good things….
* Find Ash and Starlight here.
* Thank you, thank you, thank you again to all who have supported the Alzheimer’s Association and my training. We have raised over $6,500! My fundraising page is here. Also, a bonus challenge—if you should find yourself in Chicago on Sunday morning and play a song from my playlist when I run by, I may have a prize for you.
* There are so many beautiful people doing beautiful work to help our siblings in need after Hurricane Ian. I personally appreciate and support PDA (Presbyterian Disaster Assistance) and Together Rising.
* More money for more important causes—a local mom in my area began March Fourth as a response to the shooting in Highland Park this summer. If you are local and want a yard sign, let me know! Learn more about this amazing advocacy group working to ban assault weapons here.
* This book by MaryAnn McKibben Dana. It is manna, my friends. I’ll be sharing more about it in the weeks to come.
Giving thanks for your mouldedness and the ways you mould, and cheering you on in your own race…
Love and Light,