Never too late!

Ever feel like you missed your big opportunities or lost dreams somewhere along the way?  Does it seem like everyone ELSE is in the race, on course, and you haven’t even made it to START?  I know how you feel!!

I ran a race several years back that changed my perspective on “late starts”.

Every Thanksgiving, the YMCA of Dallas puts on an annual Turkey Trot in the heart of downtown.  It’s 35,000 participants includes runners, walkers and dogs.

Turkey_Trot_logo

I trained to run the Turkey Trot with a best ever race pace.  For months, I worked harder than I had yet, preparing to take my minutes per mile to a new level.

Thanksgiving day came, and I was ready!  However, somehow both Brad and I had miscalculated by half an hour.  We arrived after everyone had started.  I mean everyone; 8 mile runners, 3 mile runners, 3 mile walkers and 3 mile walkers with short legged wienie dogs.

I couldn’t believe it.  This was MY RACE, and I missed the start.  Perplexed, I looked at my husband.  There was no way I was going home without a race.  I secured the timing chip on my shoe, kissed him and took off; the very last.  I weaved and sidestepped, careful not to step on any pooches (or their poop!).  The back of the race was so s – l – o – w.  It was such a picture of life and our dreams!

That day it didn’t matter that I was at the back.  In fact, it ended up being THE most inspiring race I ever ran.  There was no one faster than me that had not already started way ahead of me.  No one passed me, and I continously passed others the entire race.  I wouldn’t recommend running a race that way. But, despite the poop and side step delays, I kicked some serious asphalt that day (and ran my best race pace ever).  runningshoes

Likewise, when you are called to a specific dream, don’t let time or setbacks keep you from going for it.  The course and the obstacles you encounter may be different than you expect, but obstacles are there anyway, so just determine to run the race you are called to and don’t hold anything back!

I’m 46 and only beginning to recognize my unique calling.  It’s not easy, but I’m having an absolute blast!   Like my race, it’s not about when you start or what others are doing in their race.  Just get in yours!  Then, go full throttle, using all that life has trained you with, and go for it.

It’s never too late.  The truth is, your race starts long before you even get to the start line.  Sometimes, that which sets you back, may just be what gives you the edge you didn’t even expect you needed.

 

 

Giving Changes Perspective

You know those days when everything seems to be working against you?  I was having one the other day.  I was entertaining the thought of purchasing tickets for our family to fly to Jamaica so we could “disappear” for a month.

As I daydreamed, a new friend came into my line of vision.  Yoko is from Japan.  She speaks no English, and we’ve only shared bows back and forth with smiles and hugs.  She’d recently started attending our church with her daughter and son in law.

I approached her with a hug and she extended a small decorative bag.  Her daughter Jinko, told me to open it, it was a gift for me.  I opened the bag to find a beautiful hand crafted paper box.  I thought the box was the gift itself until Jinko instructed me to open it.   

Inside, were delicate earrings and a matching necklace.  I could tell she’d taken special care to select the color of blue that matched my eyes.  This was personal; a gift of kindness given out of the goodness of Yoko’s heart.  yoko2

She really didn’t know me, and yet she had taken the time to skillfully design a personal gift for a new friend.

This gracious act brought thoughts that washed over my frustrated frame of mind. What prompted this?  When had I given to anyone so unselfishly?  Had I ever?   What is this woman’s story?  How can I be more like her?  What can I do to thank her in return?

It’s amazing the affect that giving has on our thinking.  It can completely turns our thought patterns from negative and self serving to optimistic with a focus on others.

I’m excited about the gift, but even more so about the new friendships.  I’d love to hear your ideas on how best to let Yoko and her family know how much this impacted me!

Write a comment and share your thoughts!

 

Why I Love to Run

I love to run. I fell in love with running in the 4th grade, at a time when my self esteem had shattered.

I was “slow” in school.  I was slow to read and comprehension was a challenge.  New math concepts perplexed me.  I had to go to summer school and was frustrated when everyone else “got it” and I didn’t.  But I was the apple of my daddy’s eye, and having a strong family compensated for my “slowness”.  Dad had a way of making me feel strong and smart.

Things changed the day mom told me she and dad were getting a divorce.

Divorce inflicts far more damage than most realize. It’s not only a separation of a man and woman, but the heart and identity of the children as well, maybe even more so.  My value as a worthwhile part of a bigger whole vanished.

When my self-esteem shrank, so did my handwriting. It was so small my teacher couldn’t read my work.  Dad wasn’t there to help me with school work, and I gave up trying.

I remember my teacher, Mr. Cusson, trying to convince me that I would be better off if I would “apply” myself. For what? For who?  And HOW?!

Mr. Cusson eventually resorted to restricting me from recess every day. For months, after lunch when all the other kids darted out the door to play, I was left to sit and stare at the chalkboard, pretending to be invisible.  I hated it when the other kids came back to see me still at my desk. I wanted to hide.

When Mr. Cusson had enough eye strain from my feeble attempts at schoolwork, he gave me a new seat assignment; a desk, wedged between a piano and the blackboard at the front of the class. Isolated and exposed as a failure, I wished I could disappear entirely.

Then, one spring day we had “Field Day”. There were potato sack races, egg tosses, and tug of war. The event that I remember best was the race around our little gravel field. I was outside and I was free!  I put all my loneliness and frustration into that race.

Mr. Cusson finally had something to praise me for. I can still hear him yell, “Go Shelly! Go!”.  Suddenly I felt alive. I pumped my awkward, skinny legs just as fast as I could.

Those simple words from Mr. Cusson changed my life.  I fumbled thru school work so I could go to recess and RUN. I worked hard to I could play kick ball just to RUN. I looked for reasons to run, because it made me feel alive!

I didn’t come to know Jesus personally until years later. When I embraced Him, it was with the same sense of freedom and life that I first got a taste for with running.

I know what it is to train long and hard (mentally and physically!). There’s a thrill that rushes thru your limbs when you cross a finish line.

But really, it’s not about speed or distance or even the finish line. It’s about the path you’re on and people you encounter. When I run, I feel Christ’s presence.  It’s life pumping through me, knowing I’m IN THE RACE.

And really, life is a marathon!

Dads & Daughters

Dad & ShellyThe other day I called my Dad to wish him a Happy Birthday.  It was the perfect opportunity to tell him what had been burning in my chest for a while.

I shared with my Dad about the time long ago when he and mom had were working out the details of their divorce.  I was 8, the oldest of the 3 kids.  Mom would take custody of my little brother and sister, but I was given the option of picking which parent I would live with.

I had been torn about the decision.  I loved both parents, but wanted to live with my dad.   I knew mom would need my help caring for my brother and sister.  It was hard enough that our parents were splitting.  It would have been too much to break up the siblings on top of that.  In addition, how could I “pick” one parent over another without hurting one?

I decided to go with mom, choosing unity over personal desire.  It seemed unfair that I had to make the kind of decision my parents were unwilling to make themselves.

Though I really wanted to be with my dad, there was no point in voicing it.  I knew it would only hurt my mom, and further break my dad’s already bruised heart.

The longing to stay with my dad didn’t change over the years.

Decades later, as an adult with kids of my own, I see things clearer.  Enough time and healing have passed that I could safely talk about it with Dad.

Sharing this with my Dad turned out to be more for me.  He told me he had sought legal advice to get custody of us.  Having met with one lawyer after another, he found what we all know; that unless the mother is found to be incapable, the court would always defer custody to the mother.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved my mom.  Still, I wanted to be with Dad.

Dad had not wanted to put us thru more drama.  He said it really wouldn’t have worked for me to go with him anyways.  Ultimately, us children needed to be together, to preserve as much “family” as possible.

For decades, I had perceived that my Dad gave up too easily on me.  Then, in one conversation, I realized he did what he believed we needed most at that time

There’s two things I took from this.

1.  A reminder that divorce is far more costly than most will count the price of.

Parents, before entertaining thoughts of divorce, consider the long lasting affects it would have on your children. 

2.  Share what is in your heart as soon as it’s a proper time.  You never know how much life you’ll bring to the person you share it with!

 

On Moms

Mother’s day I reflected back to an especially dark season of my life over 20 years ago.  Mother’s day came and went several times without sending so much as a card or making a call to my mom.

Having grown up like many others, with messed up families, I wanted nothing to do with my past or the people I perceived responsible for much of the darkness.  I severed ties with my mom, cutting off all communication with her.
Breaking ties doesn’t necessarily fix problems.  My husband and I exhausted one attempt after another in trying to fix ourselves.  Whatever we tried, we always came up short.
We got to a point of desperation and decided to give God a try as a last resort.
Bit by bit our lives began to change.  Our perspective became God and others focused.   We went from hating and accusing to caring and forgiving.
Anger and disappoint gave way to hope.
Life change didn’t happen overnight.  Often it was humbling and difficult.  Over the course of several years, my relationship with my mom was restored and took on a new identity of health and goodness.
Not only did we get beyond the pain of the past, but today, we enjoy the present together with my mom.  She is single and she lives with us; not because she has too, but because we’ve welcomed her into our family.
You may not want to have your mom live in the same house with you, but check your heart and ask yourself; is there a welcome place for your mother in your life?
What’s your relationship like?  She won’t always be there.
People never regret saying things that are kind and full of grace, but we all regret if there comes a day and it’s too late.
You know the best way to reach out to your mom.  Take the time to think about it.  It doesn’t have to be costly or complicated.   When it’s from your heart, she’ll know it.
“Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise —  
“so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” 
                                                                                                   Ephesians 6:2-3 (NIV)