10 months ago i met some dear friends, the kind i can laugh with. the kind i can cry with. they have 2 little girls. one gravitated toward suzanne, the other toward me. we spent a LOT of time with this family. they became family. we have made quite a bit of effort to stay in touch after we moved to france.
this week we have been able to spend time together again. i couldn’t wait to see the dad. he has been the big brother i’ve never had, the one i never knew i wanted.
i hadn’t realized how much i wanted to see the girls again. the one that was closer to suzanne recognized us right away. but the younger was very hesitant. i called out her name as soon as i saw her. she looked with confusion. i was silently crushed inside. i had such joy, so much anticipation and she just turned away.
today, she sat with me after lunch. we played and laughed together. she remembered my name. she giggled till she couldn’t talk. she giggled till i couldn’t stop laughing. she giggled till she cried. then, tired, she turned and buried her face in my chest.
everything was right. the relationship was restored.
how long will i not remember God’s voice? how long will i not recognize him when he is near?
God, please. let’s play. let’s giggle. let’s cry. please, hold me once again. i am tired.
so, i’m on delta flight 1689 headed from richmond,va to atlanta, ga. i’m a little peeved that i have to make this trip and that the trip has me stopping in atlanta.
it starts as most of my flights do. i get to the airport go through the ropes course of checking in, getting through security, walking to the furthest gate…and waiting. i’m ok with this. i don’t gripe. i just do my part and expect everyone to do theirs.
we board the plane and make it to our seats. this is a pretty empty flight i think. maybe i’ll have some room to spread out. in front of me is a small family. a dad, mom and kid. i hear the mom telling the kid something about praying. not really paying attention to anything outside of myself, i get out my book to begin reading as all the rigamarole begins. the flight attendant begins speaking and i keep reading. i hear the kids voice but i’m not really processing what’s going on. the dad kinda pops up and turns around smiling and pointing like he just found the BIG easter egg. he sits down and the huddle up and whisper excitedly. what was that about? i gather the flight attendant had just told us to look for the nearest emergency exit and that it may be behind us. i kinda chuckle to myself and try to read between the kid’s excitement that his seat cushion can be a “life raft” (as he says) and his discovery that the seatbelt is “easier to use than the one in the car.”
as we begin to taxi, the kid is smashed up against window. kinda like how i did growing up when my grandparents were coming to visit. as we pick up speed and lift off, the son and dad are laughing and talking very excitedly and quickly getting as close to the window as humanly possible. the mom is saying, “oh my!” and pushing herself as far back into her chair as she can. her eyes are tightly shut as she faces the aisle waving her hands back at the window like a toddler who doesn’t want any more unidentified cafeteria mush.
at this point i let some laughter escape. i’m no frequent flier but i’m feeling pretty good about myself at this point.
then a song pops into my head. it’s mac powell singing “restore to me.”
the main part of the chorus is:
restore to me the joy of your salvation
restore to me the wonders of your love
the excitement of this family really hit me. the joy of the flight. this new wonderful experience. nothing else mattered in the world to them. i saw this family on a level that was far above my own…because i was familiar with it.
it’s been so long. what did it look like?
Lord, restore to me the joy of your salvation. restore to me the wonders of your love.
As we begin our descent the kid (i learn is 4) says, “oh snap!” as we take a small drop. i laugh. A couple seconds later, we take another drop. my stomach lunges into my chest and the mom semi-yells “shi..” she stops there and continues, “i almost said a bad word!” everyone laughs. the flight attendant comes by and others become interested and engaged. I sit back and enjoy landing for the first time all over again.
saturday suzanne began her 2nd marathon.
6 months or so she trained. running 4 days a week. biking 1-2 days a week. swimming 1 day a week. friday she would rest. saturday she’d get up at 5am for her double digit runs. i had weeks of waking up without her, worrying and praying for her health and safe return.
a few months in she started having foot and knee trouble. it killed me anytime she was in pain. but she stayed with her training. she pushed on.
this summer she ran a half marathon in dallas. she finished and looked horrible (a detail i decided to keep to myself). in october she ran in the chicago marathon, but got pulled off by medical. she was at mile 18 and they stopped her. i was proud of her for attempting something “bigger than her” but knew she needed to slay her dragon.
after chicago she could hardly walk. she decided to try again while we were in va. she continued training as best she could between days of pain.
the week before marathon 2, someone accidentally ran a table into suzanne. she had trouble walking or bending her knee. this was hard. i wanted her to throw in the towel. i tried to give her alternate options, but knew how stubborn committed she was. friday we went to pick up her registration packet, bib, and chip. that night we got everything together and tried to sleep.
saturday arrived…very wet, very early. i packed my bag and suzanne got her breakfast ready to eat on the ride. we arrived in richmond found her group and she realized nature was calling. so we set off to find anywhere that was open in the early hours of the morning. luckily we found a hospital with a mcdonalds for the cafeteria (did you catch the irony). so we took care of business, completed the paperwork, and walked the couple blocks back to the start. I prayed, gave her a kiss and headed for my first post.
mile 2 – i watched. i kept watching…she didn’t show. then the back of the pack was coming. i had missed her. she was running faster than her previous pace. i rushed to my next post.
mile 13 – i cheered for the other runners while waiting for my runner. then i saw her. she was smiling and looked great. this was huge for me. mile 13 was the big wall while she was training. i could see the confidence and strength. this is when i knew she would finish. i went with her for a bit and checked on her. then kissed her again and went to my next post.
mile 18 – i make it to my post. this is the point where she was pulled my medical in chicago. i wait and cheer on the other runners. slowly the runners thin out. i begin to worry. i think maybe i missd her…but know i didn’t. i begin to walk to my next post. i see suzanne eating oranges at a water station. she’s ready to keep going. so i help her up and off we go. i stay beside her amazed by her commitment.
mile 20, she decides bringing the knee brace was a good idea. i pull it out of my handy-dandy pack. she put it on and headed off once more.
mile 26 – suzanne rounds the last corner. it is now a downhill straight-away. she picks up her pace. she is now running at full cantor. as she approaches the finish line, i hear her name over the loud speaker and the crowd is cheering. i can see the passion and life again. there is no pain at this point. only celebration as she begins her rocky pose. as she crosses the barrier, i feel the first of the tears on my cheek.
i can’t explain what i was thinking or feeling at this moment. I had watched her pour herself into this race. i had seen her excited and passionate. I had seen her struggle with illness and pain. I had seen her down and defeated. all these moments and emotions raced through my memory. she had made it. she set a goal beyond her imagination – and she won. her dragon was slain. her race was run.
that night trying to process the day and the race i realize how God must feel about my life as i run my race. i have to take breaks. i fall down. i get off my pace. i feel pain. i want to give up. Jesus is always at his post waiting, ready whenever i need him.
he is longing to see me round that last corner. i can imagine the crowd of heaven watching…waiting…cheering.
then after my long run, as the excitement and exhaustion peak i’ll cross the barrier. i’ll look up as a tear rolls down the cheek of Jesus.
tuesday we arrived in VA. to my great delight there was a group paying ultimate frisbee (this shall be called ultimate from now on due to the fact that “frisbee” is a name brand distributed by wham-o! and i prefer to use discraft). so being a good baptist, i decided not to procrastinate and do my first assignments. Being proud of myself to overcoming this temptation, i went to bed.
my kitchen window has a great view of the rec fields so i daily watched longingly for the next game. i awoke on saturday to a very nice drizzle. this was the perfect day.
i saw people on the battleground.
i grabbed my cleats and disc.
i headed out.
when i arrived, they were playing flag football. i decided going back to my quad would be kinda childish and decided to stay. so i stayed and had a lot of fun and got the usual response “hey, you’re a lot faster than you look.”
BUT… i grabbed a flag along with a teammate, and POP.
what was that noise i thought
what is this pain i thought.
then, i realized my pinky was roughly at a right angle. i tried to straighten it. it didn’t move. i tried harder. POP! it then was almost straight. and very tender. it turns out i dislocated it and now have to keep it taped.
so, to all those who think ultimate is dangerous for me…take that.
every year a get a very nice supply of chapped lip remedy in my stocking at Christmas. every year i think, “wow this is a lot of lips stuff for a dude.” and for most of the year it is a lot. then slowly as cooler weather creeps back in, i increase my usage and my supply quickly vanishes. 2 weeks ago my lips were soft and healthy. yesterday they were cracked and started to have that red “i’m about to bleed” thing goin on. I didn’t even notice till the pain. then as i tried to catch up, suzanne said, “yuck, your lips are all chapped.”
what changed? we flew up north. the cool/cold and sometimes windy weather hit suddenly. not gradual like my previous experiences. i did not have time to adjust and train myself to use “proper cold weather lip care.”
i was no longer in the habit or practice. I had let my guard down and the enemy (jack frost) attacked.
a similar process has been forming spiritually.
For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.
today i heard this read and realized this is where i am or where i am headed. the hunger isn’t there. the want for the hunger is usually there…if i stop and think about it. so how did i get to the state of not being hungry?
once again, i was no longer in the habit or practice. I had let my guard down. This time i wised up before the enemy fronted a major assault. Matthew says, “…they can barely hear,..” not they can’t hear. Praise God.
so as you go along look for the signs of chapping. wouldn’t it be better to notice and get back on the right path before the pain and humiliation? also, be aware of others around you. check their lips…save them the pain. share the ointment.
We are in VA. We got in yesterday and promptly were ushered into lines to fill out paperwork and sign up for “opportunities.” then finished the first of our assignments and went to dinner.
it is now 7:30 here…and all is shutting down. we are encouraged to “go to sleep at a decent hour” (at this moment we are the night owls).
I must have prayed too hard against the “i’m a homeschooler and just started playing this guitar. let’s sing kumbaya” guy. I got the homeschooling moms instead. Today, the my group leader tried to get me to lead the worship. He thought i looked like i played guitar. It appears God found a loop hole in my prayer…next time i must communicate more clearly.
I have seen only 2 instances of socks and sandals and have decided the new wave of christian footwear is socks and crocs. tall socks, short socks, even khaki dress socks. so next time you are headed out for church camp, remember to ponder, “what would Jesus do?” as you prepare to shod those beautiful feet that bring the good news.
on to a more serious matter. the food. they do something to it. i mean i have a pretty regulated digestive system, but last time we were here i noticed a distinct change. it has been confirmed.
ingest, digest, make haste, make waste.
lather, rinse, repeat 3 times daily.