Friday, December 14, 2007

Mile 17

Fresh and excited before the race with my training partners and friends.

Early on...still looking okay

The final mile or two where I told Shan that he had no choice but to run with me.

If you look at the time stamp on this you'll die if you know me at all...I MUST be in bed by 10:00 or I'm worth nothing the next day. I struggle though because there is never enough time between the kids' bedtimes and 10 p.m. for me to get all the things done I need to get done. I am also a night person by nature so I fight to make the good choice of early bedtimes.

I am still up because of all I had to do tonight but also because I decided to check in on my dear sister in Christ (she doesn't know me but I feel like I know her), Christina Levasheff. I asked for prayer in previous posts for her family as her two year old son was dying of Krabbe Disease. It has now been a little over one month since he left this place to wait for his family in Heaven. Devastating! I don't really know what else to say about read her posts just wrecks me every time. Truly, my heart hurts when I read it. I sit and cry and cry as she shares her life on her blog. Their grief over the loss of their beautiful boy is heartbreaking. It all the more makes me long for heaven. For our final, eternal rest.

My life has been whizzing by me these past months at a tremendous pace. It reminds me of mile 17 of my marathon I ran about 3 years ago. The beginning of the race is SO exciting - words cannot describe. I was well-trained, rested, pumped up with thousands of people cheering me on and quite a few friends there for support. Mile 13 was where it kind of leveled off - I was halfway there but there were still people cheering and I was still in the pack with the friends I had trained with. Around mile 14 I got a couple blisters. Ugggg. I had to stop to get them taped and my friends went on but I was still okay. By mile 16 or so I was dying, I was discouraged and it felt like I would never make it. My body burned, my feet ached and my spirit was flagging. I came to the realization I wouldn't make it so I laid down on the grass and cried. I stayed there for about 5 minutes feeling sorry for myself and trying to talk myself into getting back up. Finally, I did. I tell you it was the strangers along the path and friends there to cheer me on (along with God of course) who really got me over that finish line (10 miles later). By this point in any marathon the crowds are much thinner than at the beginning and the end but that made it that much sweeter. Strangers would see my weary face and read my name on my shirt so they could yell, "Go Jen! You can do this! Keep it up girl - you're doing great!!!" My friends and husband were also willing to do whatever it took to get me across that line.
Long story somewhat short - I feel like I am watching Christina and Drake Levasheff run their mile 17 and I am aching for them. I'm not sure how to cheer them on but I don't know how to just sit here and watch them lay on the grass and wonder how they're going to get through this.
I too am feeling the weight of those around me suffering. I am surrounded by families who are losing their children, fighting for their children, watching them suffer and struggle through lifetimes of therapy sessions, procedures and surgeries, treatments that kill their bodies before making them better. These parents are sleeping on cots next to each other in hospitals, in their cars in hospital parking garages, they are wives and mothers whose husbands are in Iraq or they are single moms managing healthcare systems, figuring finances to pay for years of medical care and beyond.
Obvious to me is the fact that God is what gets us through. He is the ultimate cheerleader - our portion and strength forever. He is how the Levasheff's will get through this. He is what will sustain Benjamin's parents, Billy and Jacki as they've had to say goodbye to their 3 year old after a tragic accident. God kept Rocio together as her son Jared lay in a coma for weeks while doctors monitored his constant seizures. Although some parents I meet try to do it on their own it is without reservation that I can promise them that God is what gets me up in the morning as I'm having flashbacks of laying on the grass willing myself to get up and keep running all the while telling myself I just need to rest.

The struggle I find is trying to be the one cheering those flagging runners on while I'm laying on the grass telling myself I can't finish. Again, it is through God's provision alone that I indeed get up and keep going - how then, can I not cheer my fellow runners on?? I memorize scripture as it is God's promises and instructions to us, I meditate on it hourly, I post it in my house, I read it at least daily, I talk about it with my friends and family, I teach it to my children. This is the only way to run the race set before us standing firm on shaky legs until the end (Hebrews 12).

My daughter is not dying but she requires a great deal of care and I am so very thankful for every minute of it. If it were not for her differences and her challenges I would continue living my life thinking I could do it all on my own. I would have no taste of the weight that these parents are bearing. I would not have the constant reminder that these bodies are flawed, that this world is fleeting and that my hope lies in heaven alone. In one way, as my family and friends, I hope tragedy does not strike any of our lives but at the same time I'm tempted to pray that it does touch us in some way so that we can be tested to see where our hope lies.

To see Christina's blog go to I urge you to yell her name and cheer her on. You can email or post responses of encouragement to her on that page.


Chiara said...

I love your encouragment of others, Jen! God has allowed trials in your life knowing He could use them to bring you and others closer to Him. It is so wonderful that He desires this deeper relationship with us.
I don't have the trial of a sick or dying child, but on my blog I wrote about going through terrible circumstances and sorrow at this time of the year. (Blue Christmas) . . . It is such reassurance knowing Christ suffered more than most of us ever will and can help us when we are in deep valleys. What an amazing God we have!

Dave and Kate said...

Jen, I was so touched by all your shared about eh Levasheff family. I don't know them, but my heart aches for them right now. God has used your family's situatation to tune your ear to the needs of others. You have the gift of compassion. Keep using it for those who are lost without Jesus. Take care!, love Katie Sherreitt

Yvonne F. said...

Amen! And your marathon is such a great analogy Jen. I am always moved when I hear such wonderful compassion pouring out from you. Like Chiara said, we can understand more of the sufferings of Christ when we hurt for others, and especially for our loved ones. Thank you for challenging me to be more diligent to meditate on scripture too.

The O'Connell Clan said...

Jen what encouraging words! It made me ask myself, what more can I do to be more like Jesus? Who can I lift up, who can I lend a hand to, who's hand can I hold, who can I give encouragement to...I want others to see that our hope is in HIM! Keeping running that race girl...God is definitely using you!

Swimwife said...

Wow!! That was an amazing entry! You work well at late hours:) I love your encouragement and the biblical eternal perspective you give to life! I remember a couple of weeks ago when you were here with me when we found out about little Benjamin. Your perspective was immediatly eternal, saying how the Lord would use the parents as a testimony in the hospital. And He did..Billy and Jackie were an amazing testimony to all who came into contact with them while losing their son. Thank you for your wisdom and encouragement and prayers through it all! You are such an amazing blessing to me and all of those around you!
love you and miss you my amazing friend!

RebeccaMillsap said...

Jen, you are such an inspiration! Thank you for your thought provoking words!

Let us know how the candy cane story goes at the "Santa Exchange!"

Merry Christmas!