i couldn’t be more excited that the first person to guest blog on dWELL is my dear friend stephanie.  what God has been doing in her life and the lives of all the men (little and big) in her family for the past couple of years has inspired, convicted, and challenged me.  we go all the way back to high school and even though i am a year older, i want to be more like stephanie when i grow up.
enjoy part one, and don’t forget to come back for part two.

I am a mother of three young boys (ages 3, 6, 7). Needless to say my house is loud and chaotic and full of sound effects and many unsettling noises. I never quite know whether they are sounds of play, of mischief or sounds of disaster. I love being a mom, here is no doubt, on any day, that I am so thankful for my boys whom I prayed for and longed for years and years. God blessed us with three wonderful and precious boys through the beautiful yet challenging calling of fostering & adoption. I say that to let you know that I do not wish away one minute of these years. But if you know me, you know I am a quiet person (although some of my close friends would beg to differ). I like quiet places and I like order and peace and predictability. When life becomes too busy and chaotic and distracted and noisy, I become thin and frazzled and shallow and impatient. And life happens, laundry, dishes, bills, dinner, dishes again, shuttling kids from here to there (and back again), my job, character building and correcting with my kids, keeping up with my bible study. Oh and I do have a husband to take care of, and I can’t leave out all the times i HAVE to check facebook, my email, or have watch that favorite show of mine, or two. It seems, if I’m not intentional, my default is that I get up in the morning and I set my head to the ground and go, go, go till my head hits the pillow again. Then repeat.

Business. Noise. Aimlessness = me tired, uninspired, lethargic and shutting down – barely hanging on, living a half-life, knowing deep down that there must be more than this. I don’t have time to stop, to deal with personal stuff, to take care of myself, to make a meal for myself, it’s not about me anyways, right? I’ve got others to take care of first.

I wanted to share what God has been teaching me over the past few years. I am not a disciplined person by nature. I tend to be lazy & distracted with my mind and I can talk myself into and out of just about anything if given enough time to think it through. I admit this gets me into trouble more times than not.  Several years ago now, I have slowly developed the discipline of running. I like how running makes me feel and how it makes me feel physically AFTER I run – it’s a sense of well-being and personal accomplishment and I can eat more!  But I realize that I run because I have concluded it is what is best for my health and quality of life (a greater goal), so I do it. After all how much is it worth to be able to play soccer in the back yard with my kids (without becoming winded & tired) or go to a play area with blowups and race your kid through the obstacle course or run with them down the street talking about our days together – this is quality of life to me (worth the hard work – worth fighting for).

I run every day. Let me share with you why on earth I do this and how this all started. A few years ago, both my husband and I had started running a few times a week to attempt to be more healthy & fight off the aging process & slowing metabolism. Inspired by a friend who ran 2 miles every day for a year, Wayne, my husband, decided 2011 would be his year. He ran and ran and ran every day all year until December came around and he developed a shoulder injury that required surgery. We had to get the procedure done by the end of the year. That means he could not finish his year of running.

I felt sad for him that he had worked all year on this goal and was unable to reach it (he got to 358 of 365). I remember sitting in church on Sunday the week of his surgery (scheduled for Christmas eve) and I felt this impression as I sat there that God had suggested to my heart that since we are married and my husband and I are ONE,  that I should finish his year for him as a gift. I felt the suggestion was a strong one and it felt heavy on my heart for a day or two but I did not mention it to wayne and here is why… FEAR of failure… it would have required me to run every day for a week and I thought that sounded impossible. What if i didn’t feel like running every day, Christmas was coming up, we were going out of town – after all I had never done this before how did I know I could or would do it. I have also had a pile of unfulfilled goals, made with great intentions, mounted up in my past and felt pretty inept to do such a thing. I did not want to let him down.

So, I eventually gathered up courage to announce to him I felt I should do this FOR him, in his place. And while he was down from surgery, I ran the remaining days of the year for him. I did it one day at a time for a week – this was a HUGE victory for me to be able to follow through. I ran that week, 2 miles every day, and then something curious happened, I kept running and running and did not stop running and ran the entire year of 2012 – every day, at least 2 miles a day (typically 20 minutes of my day 24 hour day) for 366 days. How did i do it? I still ask myself that. Looking back I am amazed it even happened. Something unexpected happened that year, this daily discipline became a daily battle of my will (my commitment) verse my feelings coming head to head. I just made a choice EACH day to do it even though I hardly EVER felt like doing it, even though some days I was so busy or sick or tired or fill in the blank with an excuse. But I did it because I knew it was what was best for me (to be healthy, to fight for a quality of life), I had a greater goal, a greater commitment in mind. I learned one day at a time what it meant to be disciplined, to follow through – something with which I have always struggled. I also learned that I don’t have to have that conversation with myself about why I can’t do it, it just did it. This commitment of the will shut down that self-defeating self talk. This discipline of learning, by God’s guidance and strength, to control my mind and body is changing my life.  Because it was not about the running, God had a greater goal in mind that even that…

be sure to check back in a couple of days for part two!

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