This morning I finished my last run of the year, a 12-miler to close out 2012. I finished the run with an average 9:55 pace, the best I've managed on a long run since my October knee injury. The injury set me back for a while, but Jesus Christ brought me back and helped us meet our running and fundraising goals for the year.
It never fails. God delivers even when I doubt.
"...'At that time I will gather you; at that time I will bring you home. I will give you honor and praise among all the peoples of the earth when I restore your fortunes before your very eyes,' says the Lord." -- Zephaniah 3:20
As December approached, I didn't think it was possible for me to accomplish my running goals, or for us to reach our fundraising goals. The first two weeks of November I was still not running due to my injured knee. We were also nearly $1000 short of our fundraising goals for St. Jude and Arkansas Children's Hospital.
I had three full marathons scheduled in December and wasn't sure I'd be able to complete even the first one. Two weeks before the St. Jude Marathon, I strapped on a knee brace and made my first 3 mile run since the Soaring Wings Half in October. The pain was gone, but the many weeks of inactivity were obvious in my slow time and lack of endurance. I had two weeks to get back in shape to complete the 26.2 miles.
Easing back into it, I never did a long run in those two weeks. But when race day came, I was feeling good. It had to be Jesus, because it certainly wasn't training. I was feeling so good, I caught a couple of friends at mile 4 and decided to run on in with them.
I had come into the race with the hope of a PR, a sub 5 hour marathon. But around mile 14, my friends began to struggle. We pretty much walked it in from there and finished at 5:52, my slowest yet.
" 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." -- Matthew 6:31-34
All the time I had to take off, all the time I couldn't train, all the time I wished I could run, I worried, "How am I going to be in shape to finish the marathon?" I knew better. I knew what the Bible says about worry. Still, my imperfect humanity left me wondering...did God not want me to finish these scheduled marathons?
I decided, training or not, I was going to show up for the race, pick up my packet, and start the race. If Christ didn't want me to finish, I'd DNF. But until then, I was going to step out on faith.
And Jesus got me through it. His strength, not mine. He kept me going, and by the time I finished, I realized He ws already working to help me finish the next two I had scheduled for December.
The End of the World and Day After the End of the World Marathons were December 21st and 22nd, back-to-back, one on Friday and the next on Saturday. After walking the last 11 miles of St. Jude, I realized that Jesus was training me for what I'd need to do to finish the next challenge.
Three weeks after St. Jude, the End of the World Marathon proved more challenging than I expected. It ended up a trail marathon, 4 seven-mile loops. That's right, 28 miles. So that Friday, I ended up doing my first trail race and my first ultra marathon at the same time. A lot more challenging than I expected.
But just like at St. Jude, Jesus gave me the strength, the discipline, and the ability to finish. The second day was no different. In fact, the first 20 miles proved easier than the day before. I walked the last 7 miles of the second race and the last 9 miles of the first race.
That's exactly what Jesus knew I'd need to do when I was running St. Jude, and that's why He put me in a position to walk so much in that race. He was in total control from the start. I was worried and didn't need to be, because God had everything in His hands.
I had also run the Little Rock Marathon in March, so Jesus let me finish the year with 4 completed full marathons. Not my strength, but His. Not my ability, but His. He made it possible to reach my running goals for the year, and He deserves whatever glory comes from every run, from every mile, from every step I managed through the year.
"For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." -- Ephesians 2:10
Our fundraising goals looked impossible to reach too. We had reached our goal for Soaring Wings earlier, but in November we still lacked almost $1000 to reach our goal for Arkansas Children's Hospital, and another almost $1000 to go for St. Jude. Until two days ago, we had made a little progress, but not much.
Again, I doubted we would reach them. I wondered if I had set them too high, and had plans to lower them for next year. But God again had it all under control.
This time, Ms. Barbara Wood stepped in and, with amazing generosity, made donations through our fundraising pages that allowed us to achieve our goals. We are extremely grateful for every single donor, every single dollar, that our supporters gave to Soaring Wings, ACH, and St. Jude. These donations save kids' lives and I can't think of a better way to honor Amanda's memory.
We have been truly blessed, by God for giving us a reason and a role to keep going in the wake of Amanda's death. We have been blessed by all our wonderful supporters who help us stay motivated through their prayers, donations, and encouragement.
We couldn't do what we do, we couldn't be where we are without you all. We hope and pray you'll stay with us as we enter year three Running with Amanda.
God has laid it on my heart to shoot for 13 miles tomorrow, the first day of 2013. So today we close the door on 2012 and tomorrow we open the door to a brand new year.
If you don't know Jesus as your personal savior, if you're missing the faith, hope, and love written about here, if you want the peace that we as Christians have in our lives, please visit our Got Jesus? page for step-by-step instructions on how to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.