Life Is A Race

Life is a race. Not a competitive race. Everyone's life is just a different race.

Our race may change course, there may be obstacles we must overcome, but if we keep our eyes on the Lord, we will reach our finish line and receive our prize. It is not always about the finish line, though. The journey is just as important. We need to make sure we don't miss something along the way while keeping our eyes on the prize.

Because I am a Christian and an athlete, this analogy is easy for me to see. Why do I race? Not to win (otherwise I would have given up long ago), but because it is a personal challenge. I'm a woman wearing so many hats -- wife, mother, Sunday School teacher, school volunteer, soccer mom -- juggling life's joys and frustrations. Talk about personal challenges! I hope to use this blog as an outlet for my frustrations and a proclamation of my joys as I tackle all the challenges I face in life.

One of my favorite Bible verses that helps me get through the hard times and relates to racing is also imprinted on my Road ID:

But those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
Isaiah 40:31

Sunday, August 1, 2010

At His Feet For 8.3 Miles

It's amazing what can happen on a long run....besides running. I should really start at the beginning, though...

The past couple weeks have just been stressful and frustrating for me. I couldn't pinpoint a particular reason why, though. My kids were (and still are) at each other's throats, ready for school to start. They weren't listening and definitely weren't doing anything the first time I told them. Camille & Julia continue to aggravate Carter then pretend they don't know why he's upset. None of my kids seem to appreciate anything I do. Carter will cry when he doesn't get his way. I end up responding by yelling at them, and the girls just talk back. I'm about to pull my hair out after 2 weeks of this! How many more days until school starts? Then, to top it all off, Clark comes home on Monday and gripes me out for no reason because I told him I was having a mom's night out on Thursday with a friend that I've been planning for a while and that I desperately need. Then, he gives me a hard time again a few days later about something else stupid. He was not talking nicely to me at all and really hurt my feelings to the point I cried. Not a good week. But why?

I realized later that Clark is probably just stressed about starting his class this week on top of training for a marathon and meeting deadlines at work. It still didn't make me feel better.

Things were so great up until July. I was the Director of our VBS, and things went so well. I couldn't have asked for a better week. The weeks leading up to that were exhausting but well worth it. I received so many thank you notes, even some I never expected. I was seeing so many blessings!

What changed? I have more time to spend with my kids now. Why has it not been enjoyable?

Last weekend, I traveled to Waco for my first triathlon of the season. My friend, Tara, was coming with me to also race the Olympic distance triathlon. We were staying with my college roommate, Beverly, and her husband, John, who would be completing his first triathlon by doing the sprint. I didn't feel as prepared as I have in the past, but I knew I was ready. When we went out to dinner, though, I had a weird cramp in my diaphragm area when I sat down in the van. It was tight and painful. It went away when I got out. Then, it came back even worse when I got back in the van to go back to their house, and it took a while to go away. I didn't think much of it, but I was feeling a little anxious, which isn't like me before a race that I'm ready for. Why am I stressed about this race?

So, on Sunday I raced my triathlon, but I got a flat tire right out of transition. It was a bummer, and I realized I should have paid more attention when my tire was low a few days before. I should have changed that tube. The same thing happened to me last year at The Austin Tri. I should have learned the first time. The run ended up being crazy hilly, and the last 2 miles were really hot, so I doubt I would have had a record-breaking time anyway. I still had fun. Tara completed her first Olympic distance tri and John completed his first tri with an excellent time. Even with the flat, I came in 7th in my age group, which isn't too bad. It was a really fun time, but I was a bit disappointed.

What's going on? Just bad luck?

Then, I went for a run early Thursday morning. These are usually my best runs because it is cool and quiet and I can relax and have quiet time to myself. Sometimes I don't even take my ipod. On Thursday, my legs felt great, but my breathing was labored. I felt like I couldn't get enough air and my chest was tight. My heart rate was low, though. Weird. It took at least 3 miles before my chest relaxed a bit. It was similar to the feeling I had in the van on Saturday night, but not painful.

Why am I so stressed? It's summer. What is going on with me?

This all led up to today. Today is when I had an epiphany, if you want to call it that. It was more like a kick in the rear or a "Duh" moment.

I finally made it to church after a few weeks because of my race and vacation. Our Rector is on vacation, and we have a new curate, Christine Falstich. I hadn't heard her preach yet. I had only just met her during VBS, which were her first couple days at St. Matt's. Her sermon was short, but WOW.

I really like her.

So, it was Jesus's parable about the man who is rich and has many crops but finds himself with a surplus and wonders what to do with them. He decides to tear down his barn and build a bigger one so that he can store it all up and eat, drink, and be merry. Christine pointed out that it is not hard to see the parallels between the society of 2000 years ago and our society today in this story. The one thing she thought was different and kind of odd was the fact that the man would eat, drink, and be merry because he had saved enough. In our society, we never seem to have enough. Then, God asks what the man is going to do with all those crops if he is to die tomorrow. Instead of focusing on the obvious -- what God says we should do with our money -- she said it really focuses on what we are living for. We tend to focus our lives on certain accomplishments for our own society, but what are we really living for?

Why am I here? Why do I do what I do?

This hit me hard. I started thinking about that. I started to ask God for forgiveness for the past few weeks. I realized that I had not talked to God much at all over the past few weeks. Where have you been? I began asking Him to forgive me for not talking to him and for thinking too much about how we are going to pay for things. With our recent renovation, things have been tight. Why are you worrying? Trust in me. I have been thinking of what type of job I should get within the next year. I will take care of you. I realized how selfish I have been lately. Get yourself out of the way so I can work through you. I've focused on training and racing. Who are you doing this for and why are you trying to do it alone?

The tears started welling as the sermon was coming to an end. Later, I prayed more during Prayers of the People, and the tears came welling up again. It was coming out. Now I understand, Lord. I'm so sorry we haven't talked. I need you. Help me to do better. Help me be a better mother. Help me make time to talk to you. We'll talk more later. I promise.

I already felt better. We had a wonderful afternoon. We went to HEB and had a great lunch followed by quiet time reading and relaxing. I finished putting my clarinet back together so I can sell it. Later, we all played fooseball together after dinner and dessert. Then, I headed out for a long run while Clark watched a movie with the kids. It was 8:00, which is exactly when I had planned to leave.

My plan was to run 8 miles. I hadn't run that far since February, so I wasn't expecting much. I put Gatorade out on the porch and planned to run my 5 mile loop back to the house to get some Gatorade, then my 3.25 mile loop once it was dark. I could ditch the ipod at that point too since I don't run with it after dark.

I started out and felt a little sluggish, but it was hot -- 90 degrees. I knew I'd warm up and get in a rhythm. I had an easy pace in mind, but not too easy. I started talking to God while running, even with my ipod on. I talked to him about everything going on. I asked Him for help. I asked Him for forgiveness. I praised Him.

I was At His Feet for 8.3 miles.

I decided to keep the ipod once I got back to the house because some good music was on at the time, and I was inspired to talk to God. When I neared 7 miles, my legs were getting tired. I hadn't run that far since my marathon in February. At that point, my run of Christian songs came on my ipod. First, Natalie Grant's Anything: I may never be a star, but I close my eyes and there You are. You simply say to me that I can do, I can do anything! I may never walk the ocean blue, but I know that I can talk to You. I believe that with my trust in You, I can do anything! That one gets me going every time, then the one that really grabbed me was Everlasting God by Lincoln Brewster. The lyrics contain the Bible verse that I love and have quoted at the top of this blog. The child at the end of that song gets me every time. My pace had slowed down a bit, and I didn't think I'd be able to speed it back up. When I heard that song, I started running at a faster pace. The wind was in my face, and I just ran...and ran...and ran. When I reached the bottom of the biggest hill on my run, another inspiring song came on, so I just kept running all the way up that hill. I ran all the way home, running strong. He gave me strength and I was soaring on wings like eagles! My pace dropped 7 seconds per mile over that last mile. I felt great!

When I reached home, I grabbed my Gatorade and drank the rest as I did my cool down walk. While walking, I put my cool down music on, which was the song I Can Only Imagine. Again, tears. Tears of joy and praise! I looked up and saw the Big Dipper and a shooting star. God's wonderful creation.

Now I know why my summer has been stressful. I've been trying to tackle my jobs of mother and wife by myself. I've been trying to train for triathlons on top of that....alone. I cannot rely on anyone but Him to raise me up and give me strength. I know this, yet I have failed God. But He forgives.

At His feet is where I will be.


  1. Oh yay, Kelli! What a wonderful transformation of self -- all by the hands of our most awesome God. SO glad you shared this!

  2. You are an inspiration! Wonderful post with such honesty and love for God. You are a poet!