Aaron and I hit the streets this morning, 7 am to be exact! We headed over to Dublin’s Emerald City half-marathon in the dark, our neighbor Erin driving, and a newbie Melanie joined us for her first race in several years. We reminisced about past races, we took a longer ride than anticipated, we got delayed in a bit of traffic, yet we arrived just in time to be greeted by another fellow friend and her son, Deanna and Alex. Perfect timing!
As with any race, it’s always fun to anticipate what could possibly happen, because one truly never knows! Aaron had decided just two days prior, that he was going to give it a go. I’m so proud of him for running. He was running for a different reason today, and it wasn’t for a personal best time. I admire his tenacity. I’ve learned to appreciate his stubbornness.
Well, through my training as of May, I’ve learned one major lesson. That lesson is simply to listen to my body. I’ve learned to go with the pace it’s comfortable with until it lets me know it can handle more. Sounds a bit strange, but true to form, my hamstring injury, literally right at mile 2, loosened up and then I could stride out farther, felt stronger. The sun felt great, the park sites were beautiful, I was feeling good, bring it on!
Around mile 4, I noticed that a runner was keeping the exact same pace that I was keeping at the moment. It always strikes me as strange as many people both pass and fall behind throughout the entire race. To have someone stride for stride with you is a true rarity. I’ll admit, it was a bit awkward at first. I had two choices, either speed up, or make the best of it. My body scoffed at the thought of speeding up, so instead, I decided to strike up a conversation.
That conversation lasted on and off the entire rest of the race as we finished at exactly the same time! Truly remarkable. We had a chance to learn a bit about one another, family, work, and other such things. We shared about our running journeys, kids, past adventures, but most importantly we shared about our beliefs. He used words such as karma, I used words such as God and faith. It was such a natural conversation, almost as natural as breathing… though it was a hard, aerobic breathing.
At one point, I mentioned that Aaron and I were headed into a new chapter of our lives as we look at unemployment and future possibilities. Without hesitating, he says, “Have him send me his resume. Good things happen to good people.” And I smiled.
Only God can orchestrate moments like this. Moments that happen simply because one steps into an opportunity of obedience (ie running), and God gets to gift, almost even show off!
Will something come from this? Only God knows. But this I do know. God provided again. He provided a companion to literally run alongside me for this leg of the journey. Not only did it provide a welcome distraction amongst bodily pain, He provided an opportunity for a chance to share about my Jesus. He used the avenue of a common interest in running to open a connection either for the moment and/or for the future. God never wastes anything!
The other impact of this race was a concept I’ve been chewing on since returning from Honduras – the sweet sound of my name. Truly, not to sound self-centered, but I rarely, and I do mean rarely, hear the name “Heather” uttered. I’m called Mom, hon, hey, Austin’s mom, Emma’s mom, Brynn’s mom, often, but very rarely Heather. I don’t mind, really I don’t. In previous years, I worked at a deaf school and was “called” a variety of utterance even, but it wasn’t until meeting people in Honduras, did I hear the sweet sound of the rolled “r” in Heather…. and parts of me woke up. Really. A part of me had forgotten about things I used to love doing. And then I did them, and this indescribable joy welled up inside.
While running today, I heard “Heather” at least 30 times, no exaggeration. Our bib numbers also included our names, so as we passed, the volunteers graciously handing out water, or those who simply came to cheer, called out my name… and it blessed me. It lifted me. It was God bringing back to remembrance the sweet sound of an individual name. And I thought of the sweet sound of another name. And as I worshiped today, emotions welled up…. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus.
Lord, thank you for a very special day today. I thank you for reaching out to me in such a personal way. I thank you for providing friends along this journey, those who have traveled the streets with me for a while, and those just joining in today. Thank you for the gift of my husband. I have so much love for this man. Thank you for our children. We had the privilege of watching one child reach a milestone today. Yesterday, she was baiting a hook so bravely, today she simply decided it was time to take off the training wheels, and off she rode. Thank you for such a sweet time of worship and a perfectly designed message. Thank you for a great night of family time. As I glimpse to tomorrow, I have an appointment on the calendar. I will be meeting with my past principal as to inquire about a job back in teaching again. Lord, you knew about this meeting, and I’m leaving it in your hands. I trust you with my future. I trust you with my family. I trust in your provisions. Lord I believe, help my unbelief. Amen.