As parents, we will do anything for our children. Not all of us are going to train to do an Ironman carrying our grown child the entire way like Dick Hoyt does (see 10/4/11 blog post), but we make sacrifices everyday for our children. Big or small, it doesn't matter. As mothers, we all have those things we go all out for. Some delve into scrapbooking, others volunteer endless hours at the school, and some spend every cent they have (and some they don't) on doctor's appointments and therapy to make their child well. For me, it's birthday parties and Halloween costumes. All our birthday parties have a theme, and I search the internet endlessly for ideas. My children's friends can't wait for our birthday parties. We always have our parties at our houseand make it fun for everyone. I just really like to make not only the birthday child special, but every child who comes to the party should also feel special. We don't invite a huge crowd, only their closest friends. This is my philosophy on birthday parties, and I always feel I am blessing each child that walks through the door. It is not about looking good for other people. It is for my children.
Our Halloween costumes are usually pretty unique, and they are homemade, of course. Last year, I made a dragonfly, turtle, and bat costume (photo above). I also made my husband and daughter the tortoise and the hare for the Capitol 10,000 race in March of this year. Making a tortoise costume than one can run in is not an easy feat!!! So, Halloween is upon us, and I'm to make a jellyfish costume (that glows), a shark costume, and an owl costume. My kids and I try to spend as little money as possible by using things we have around the house. It's a challenge for us. It is really fun and gets them thinking about conservation. Sometimes, it doesn't work, but we try. This year, I've already spent hours looking for ideas on the internet. I'll spend more time trying to find the materials needed to make these costumes and yet more time actually making the costumes. Why do I do this? It makes my kids happy. Of course, the whole neighborhood waits to see what our costumes will be each year. I love to make every neighbor smile when they open that door. I loved that the people running that race would smile or laugh when they got passed by a tortoise (my husband and my daughter are fast runners). It isn't about pride. I don't do it so everyone will think I'm the best mom in the world (well, I want my kids to think that). I do it only for my children. For their happiness. And even when I've gotten 3 hours of sleep 3 nights in a row (as I did for the Harry Potter birthday party), I still do it joyfully.
So why is it so hard to do things joyfully for God?
I can't say that everything I do is not about me and all about blessing others. Far from it! I really like instant gratification. So, when I do something for God to make Him happy, it is hard for me to see the result sometimes, especially if it doesn't benefit me in some way. I have to ask myself why I am doing something to be sure it is not just for me. Recently, in our Rector's Sunday School class, he has been talking about a study done on the perception of Christians by 18-29 year olds. This study was done just a few years ago. They asked them what they desired most in life. The top two answers were wealth and fame. Wow. Fame? I honestly would have never given that answer, even in my 20s. That was the exact word they used. Fame. I thought the American Dream was to get married and have kids and work hard so you can have a happy life and retire comfortably. Apparently, not anymore. Now, it's to be on American Idol or to get rich and famous without doing much of anything. Times have certainly changed. So, I say I would have never given the answer fame, but I do think we all desire to be well-liked by our peers. So, it isn't hard to do something that makes us look good. It is hard to do something that makes God look good, but does nothing for our self-image in the eyes of man. There are times when we do things for our own glory and not God's.
So, about a year ago, I completed my second Half-Ironman. After that race I swore I was not doing another one for a long time, and I had even pushed out the possibility of doing an Ironman. Completing an Ironman has been a dream of mine for some time. After that race, though, I felt defeated. Even though I improved my time, it wasn't good enough for me. It was a hard race. I wasn't prepared for all those hills on the run. Well, I've been thinking about that race and about my future as a triathlon coach, and I think I'm supposed to do that race again next October and then go on to complete an Ironman in May 2013. My training partner, Brian, has pushed me toward this decision a bit. He completed his first Ironman this year (that's him finishing in the photo above). When he told me, "It was easier than the Half-Ironman," I laughed. Then I heard that same thing from someone else. Then, I knew that Brian was planning to do it again in 2013 and "needed a training partner." I know the training will be hard and take up lots of my time, but I know I can do it and complete one of the hardest races in the world. The reason I didn't want to do it before is because I felt I was only doing it to say I've done an Ironman and get the tattoo. I was doing it for me. I wanted the recognition and the pat on the back, so to speak. I have a different purpose now. I need to do it so that I will have the experience and knowledge to share with my future clients. I need to do it to show them that they too can complete an Ironman. I need to do it to show them that even when you have a bad race, you can learn from it and go back and do better next time. I need to do it so they can see that I didn't give up on my dream. I know this time God wants me to just go for it. So, when my friend Jen asked me, "Do you REALLY want to do a race that long?" I said yes. Honestly, it scares me a little bit. I don't know if I REALLY want to do a race that long, but I feel like it's something God is asking me to do. The race itself doesn't scare me because I know if I train I'll do fine (I always do). All the training I'm going to have to do scares me. I'm worried about burning out and not seeing my family as much. I just have to have faith that He'll bring me through.
"Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9