Visiting Lalibela

Visiting Lalibela

Friday, September 7, 2012

To Run

Isaiah 40:31- "But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength.  They will soar high on wings like eagles.  They will run and not grow weary.  They will walk and not grow faint."

For as long as I can remember, I have loved to run.  In high school, running became my "thing."  Other people knew me as a runner and I found success (worldly success) in my racing.  Running also became an avenue for better health, both mentally and physically.  I'll never forget seeing my Mom hand Mike my running shoes on our wedding day.  She told him, "Don't be afraid to tell her she needs to take a run." Ha- she was sharing a now well known fact, on the days Stacy or Mom runs, the days go a little smoother, there is a little more patience and more grace extended.  There have been times when he has asked me, "Did you run today?" and I instantly knew that I wasn't being the wife I should be.  Boy, do I love my husband.

Then, my Mom's health deteriorated and I realized that running could also mean a better quality of life for me.  She had pulmonary fibrosis and I was just sure that if I kept running, my lungs would stay just that much stronger.  When Mike would travel, my run times also became my time alone with God, talking to him about everything.  The more I got into this habit, the longer the runs became, until last year. Two things happened around that time: 1.  Williston became an unsafe place to run.  2.  My own struggles with an autoimmune disorder didn't allow my body to run like I desired.  Now, as I run, I praise God that I still can.  I'm not running from Sjogren's, I am running towards a goal, trusting in the LORD to find new strength each day.

 About the same time, my running completely slowed down (I'm sure there are days when people drive by me and comment on the lady who thinks she's running but could really be accomplishing the same thing by walking-) my kids started developing a love of running too- and are beginning to find that same worldly success in it.  They each have their own stories on why it is such an amazing accomplishment to run.

Just over two years ago, we brought Micah, Gabe, Leah and Hallie home from Ethiopia. During the three years prior to them becoming Sweeneys, they lived in an orphanage.  The amount of daily activity was horrible.  I believe the only running they did, was to escape a nanny's reach with a stick.  Running for them was always running from something, never running towards a goal.  As Micah won the JV cross country race last week, he yelled to me, "Mom, I feel so good!"  You see, he was now running towards a goal- running FOR something instead of FROM something.

For my child with reactive attachment disorder, running first thing in the morning allows this child to focus more and keep her emotions in much better check.  It brings a smile to her and those around her.  (To my new neighbors- You may see one of our children running and screaming at the same time. It is OK.  For one of our kids, a bit of running from the past is still occurring and sometimes it is painful.  We look forward to the day when she reaches the finish line of healing and runs into our arms).

Gavin just happens to be the most beautiful runner I've ever seen.  He takes great JOY in running and it shows.  Three years ago, we would have never imagined, this scared, completely malnourished young boy would be transformed into an 8 year old who begs to run every day, just because he can.

When LB was a baby, she was incredibly delayed in all of her motor skills.  As she began to walk, then run, she carried one side as if she had had a stroke.  Within the last year, all evidence of those early delays have disappeared and she runs with a HUGE smile on her face..God has done what no doctor ever imagined..and she RUNS.

Elli uses her position on the cross country team to encourage some kids around her who have really needed that encouragement.  With every step she runs, her singing voice becomes stronger and her songs fill the house each morning and night. I'm so proud of her for tackling something that really isn't her first love but using the time to lift up those around her.

From Janika and Kael, I have seen this verse lived out in their running.

Hebrews 12:1  "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up.  And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us."

Last week, Janika finished the JV race in 2nd place, but ended up being the first Sheridan  runner by time to finish.  During her second and third miles, she looked focused, and quite intense but there was something missing.  As she finished and ripped of her shoes, I saw her feet- they were completely ripped open along the bottoms and heels.  How she finished that race, when she ran the last two miles with those sores, I don't honestly know, except that her favorite verse is: "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength."

This week, I witnessed one of the hardest things ever, as a Mom.  Kael's cardiologist told him, "I'm sorry, Kael, you can't race."  If a lifetime was a race, Kael is definitely an endurance athlete.  Kael was born with a coarctation of his aorta, which means his aorta is too narrow and thus doesn't provide his legs with enough blood flow when his heart gets really pumping.  He has had 6 procedures on it over his lifetime to correct the coarc, but with his rapid growth this year, it became evident that it needs repair again. BUT KAEL LOVES TO RACE.  In fact, if you watched him run, you would never know that he had ever had any health issues.  He works hard all of the time, pushes himself and has been running some pretty darn fast times. I'll bet there's never been a time when a coach had to ask him to push himself more. Now, he has yet another race before him and one that instead of cheering from the sidelines he needs the prayers of his supporters to see him through. ( We covet your prayers as we wait to head back to Boston for another procedure).

I now understand why God uses so many references to running in HIS WORD.  Sometimes running hurts, sometimes it's just plain hard, just like living a life of Faith, but the rewards are great.  If we train hard (grow in our walk each day), God promises us great things.  Today, I choose to run the good race.

1 Corinthians 9:24- "Don't you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize?  So run to win!"