Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened,
and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you . . .
For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30
Whether you know me in real life, from the internet or we have never met in any sense of the word, this story will touch the very heart of your soul. This verse has meant so much to me in the past, but on Sunday, November 17th, it took on a new meaning all of its own; one very personal. I know I am a few races behind on my blogging (four if you are counting, but really now!), but I know that I need to get this story out there. Not just for myself, but for those who need to hear it. Whether you are a runner, a Christian, a mom or a dad, a daughter or a son, you will find something amazing about this story. You may not believe, but I know that this truly happened and there are so many assets of this story that have continued to unfold; it seems unbelievable to me, and yet, I know my God is with me! So, here it goes.
First, koala had this race kind of sneak up on her! I had Big Sur Half Marathon on my calendar for November 24th! A friend of mine pointed out that the race was on the 17th and I had to double check. When the Final Race Instructions came on the Friday afternoon, I freaked out! You may be thinking, big deal; it’s koala’s 13th race of 2013, but still, there was fretting. I continued to prepare and train as usual and of course came down with a head cold the weekend before! I taught all day on Saturday and so my mind was distracted with the questions of parents to be. When I got home Saturday, I fretted over what to wear. Koala is constantly having race wear drama! I decided on a new striped New Balance shirt, my daisy Sweaty Band, Lululemon Run Pacesetter black skirt, and aqua RunLove compression socks. The weather was set to be a cool 53 at race finish, but sunny. I took two sleeping pills and the Bar (say bear, my husband, Barrie) set the alarm for 4:15 am. Yikes, it was going to be an early one! Race start would be 7 am and I was driving my two neighbors, Diana and Laura.
When the alarm went off, I quickly got out of bed, turned on the coffee pot and got dressed. I wore a sweatshirt and sweatpants over my outfit, because it was cold! Remember, koala is a warm weather loving gal! I made sure to roll since my IT bands had been giving me a little strife since Morgan Hill Half. Went down to cook my Trader Joe’s oatmeal and start on my first cup of coffee, check e-mail and FB. By the way, I put my oatmeal in a coffee travel mug with a little extra almond milk and honey so that I could drink it while driving and it worked like a charm! As I opened my e-mail to read the verse of the day, this is what I read:
The LORD your God is with you,
he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you,
he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.
The thoughts on the verse went on to say how God is with us; mighty to save, stills the storms of our hearts, sings us lullabies, and longs to be close to us! What an amazing verse prior to running this race. I was thankful, grateful and in awe. Then, I opened my FB. As I read the post of a friend with a very sick little boy, Logan, who had been hospitalized on Friday, my heart sank. Immediately and without control, I started to sob for this family; Logan had been sick with a very high fever for over two weeks and in the hospital since Friday. The family had no answers as to Logan’s diagnosis or outcome, and Logan was one sick, miserable little guy. Now, I have never met Logan before and have not known this friend for very long or on a very intimate level. I immediately messaged her and said I would be praying for Logan. The Lord then laid on my heart that I would be running for Logan, and I again messaged her. I quickly tried to pull myself together after posting the verse, devotional, and sadness in my heart as my status, and headed out the door. The drive went quickly with good conversation and company of two fellow runners. We were so distracted that we missed our exit, first to Monterey Peninsula, and then to Del Monte shopping center! It was weird, because the koala is an excellent driver who rarely is unprepared or gets lost! It ended up all working out; we parked in a residential neighborhood along the race course which ended up being less than a mile from the start and finish areas! It could not have worked out better if I had planned it that way (gave new meaning to “Jesus take the wheel”). We gathered our stuff and headed to the start area. It was very organized. We got our bibs, put our sweats in the bags at the sweat check, used the port-a-potty and headed into my corral E.
A gentleman sung the National Anthem, and soon the Elite runners were headed out. The weather was cool and foggy with very little wind and the sun was starting to come out. It was going to be a gorgeous, blessed race; I could feel it deep down in my soul. I said good-bye to the girls, and it was our turn to take off. I started out quick (I will post my splits in a minute), and the first mile through Downtown seemed to fly past with lots of people on course cheering us runners on. Soon we hit the one mile marker and then were off towards the tunnel and Cannery Row. As we came through the tunnel, there was a gentleman playing the bagpipes; how amazing and beautiful the sound! I stopped for a minute at this point to shut off my runKeeper lady who was shouting loudly my progress. As I started back up again, the verse, Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest; the Lord immediately reminded me that I had made a promise, I would run for little Logan. Yes, Lord, I quickly remembered and started to pray for Logan and his family. I prayed that I would carry his burden for the next 13.1 miles. All of a sudden my body felt as if it was being weighed down. This was not any feeling I had experienced before during a race; I’ve had concrete blocks for legs, lack of electrolyte zapped muscle legs, and painful, hurting, injury laden legs. This was not like any of that. At this point, I felt like I would need to lay down and get picked up by medical. There was no way that I could go on the way that I was feeling. I started to pray that Jesus would carry me; I cried out to the heart of my soul, please carry me Lord. Carry us (koala and Logan), because I cannot do this alone. Immediately, the weighted down feeling was lifted and my feet felt like they were flying again. Soon, the feeling returned and this continued to happen throughout the race as I was praying for Logan and carrying his burden. I kept praying for the Lord to carry me and two other verses came to mind which I continuously recited: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me Philippians 4:13, and 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. I was having a wonderful race, but continued to feel the weight and burden of this little boy who was so, so ill. Having had a very sick child before, I knew what my friend was going through. During a time when Delainey, our third daughter, was very sick with a kidney infection (when we looked back on that time and realized how we had truly almost lost her), the Lord would frequently remind me that it was her trial and that He loved her more than I could ever imagine. Now, Delainey survived and is a thriving young lady with a faith that is unwavering since she saw her prayers answered as well as a miraculous healing! In carrying Logan’s burden for those two hours, I was hoping that somehow he had felt some relief from his pain and suffering and through that could see the love of God.
When I reached the turnaround point at mile 7.7, I felt wonderfully loved and fully carried. I still had moments of feeling that burdening weight, but as I faithfully prayed and cried out, God was with me. Around the 10 mile water station, a young man said, “We are almost there!” It was so encouraging; we were! I just love it when my faith and strength is renewed by a total stranger who is in it, too! As we approached the 12 mile marker, there was a couple near me. I heard her husband encourage her that she was doing a great job. She replied that she needed to walk and for him to continue on to the finish. He in reply said no way, I’m with you all the way. What an amazing moment to witness and at the same time God was reminding me that He was with me, all the way to the very end! Here are my splits:
Mile 1 8:58
Mile 2 9:09
Mile 3 9:17
Mile 4 9:53
Mile 5 9:15
Mile 6 9:51
Mile 7 9:25
Mile 8 10:11
Mile 9 9:55
Mile 10 9:50
Mile 11 10:29
Mile 12 9:45
Mile 13 10:00
When I looked at my splits, I was thrilled! Looking back, I can see where I was carried; this koala is heavy! My official finish time was 2:08:04.772; a little over a minute faster than last year! I was thrilled, but there was a part of me that started to creep in that was thinking I could have hit that illusive 2 hour half. My loving Father quickly reminded me that this race was not about me; it was Logan’s race. He also reminded me that this past year of racing and these 13 half marathons were in no way about me; He has used me to shine His light and to bring all the glory to him. I am frequently thankful that I have learned to be still and listen, because He is much gentler in his reminders when I am paying attention and listening to that still small voice inside. I came through the finish shoot and got my awesome medal and some water and found a good spot to wait for the girls.
Now, this is by far not the end of this story. Hold on; it gets better. After I chatted with Bar and let him know that I had finished in one piece and would be home soon, I first noticed I had a text from my sole/soul sister, Anne. It read: “So excited for you today! Praying for you that you will have an absolutely blessed run and precious time with the Lover of your soul. That He will encourage you today more than ever. I love ya sista. You are a huge encouragement and inspiration to me to keep on keeping on. Enjoy #13. This journey is almost over.” I couldn’t believe it, but there’s more. When I went on to FB, Anne’s message to me there in response to my status that morning was: “Thank you for posting this beautiful devo. Praying for you this morning. Isaiah 40:31. May our God give u a blessed time with him out on the course.” Wow, just wow! If you have never heard the term “living word”, you should! This is some good stuff. I probably looked like a blubbering mess standing there; people probably were wondering what the heck was wrong with me. I soon sent a private message to Logan’s mommy which read: Please tell Logan he was with me in spirit for 13.1 miles today. The Lord carried me. . . God works miracles and Logan needs to learn that! This trial is going to draw your family closer to Him. I know. He said so. Stay strong. He is with you!” I am not usually so bold or upfront in my faith, but I have felt the need and the Spirit was prompting me. In response later, Logan’s mommy replied that he had been laughing like crazy all morning and that they had not seen him like this for almost 3 weeks! God immediately reminded me that during that time, I had carried Logan’s burden. I couldn’t believe this was happening. As the mornings events started to fall into place like a puzzle, I could not fathom the weight of what had happened. I couldn’t even verbalize the story to Barrie when I got home; I told him that it had been a hard race. I needed time to process.
The girls and I got our post race goodies, including a cup of hot minestrone soup, and sat in the sun enjoying the warmth and experiences of our race day. We trudged back to the car and headed home, enjoying conversation about our children and the joys of motherhood.
I couldn’t even really process the days events until yesterday, and in the morning was able to recount the details to Barrie who just replied wow. What could he say? I think he needed time to process a well. There is one more important part to the story since that’s not quite where it ended. In our small group bible study, we have been studying the man of Jesus. Our last study session last night was entitled “Three days that changed the world.” It talked about the three days, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, at the end of Jesus’ life and resurrection. On Friday, He died on a cross, a brutal, horrible and painful death in fulfillment of the prophecies. He carried the cross for my sins, and yours, and bore the weight of the world on his shoulders. On Sunday, he defeated death and rose from the grave; through the resurrection, we have hope in life everlasting with our loving Father in Heaven, if we only believe. But what happened on Saturday? Those who loved him had despair and doubt. Jesus had told them that he would be raised on the third day, but I don’t think that anyone really believed it until they saw him. What an amazing event in history! The question in the study asked “Jesus describes taking up one’s cross as a daily choice, a habit practice int he routines of everyday life and relationships. As you think back over the last day or two, what opportunities did you have to take up your cross-to make a loving, sacrificial choice?” What?! I could barely believe it, and as I finally began to process Sunday’s events, and the hope that it had brought to one family and one special little boy named Logan, an unbelievable feeling of peace and comfort came over me. I had carried that cross for Logan for 13.1 miles; it is amazing to me the power of prayer and how when we are faithful to believe He is faithful to answer. Wow, just wow!
You may believe my story, and you may not. But in my eyes, the seeds have been planted. Maybe you believe in Christ and his resurrection and maybe you don’t. I put my full faith in Jesus Christ; I have not and do not lead a perfect life, but this little koala will let her light shine for all the world to see the Glory of the risen King! Please share and spread some Koala love<3