This past weekend was definitely an eventful one, and one that i will never forget. I was challenged mentally and physically, and realized just how far I have come in my faith and life.
On Saturday, my sister, kids, and I were invited to do the Dirty Dash 5k Race by my friend Bill Schuffenhauer (who is a 3x Olympic Medalist). He called me Friday night to ask if I wanted to come, in which I just started laughing. I told Bill, “You know I don’t run, right?!” and he just laughed and said it would be fine and that if I really wanted to I could walk.
As much as I love exercise (I usually do Yoga 4-5x a week), and being outdoors and of course hiking, but I have never been one to like running. But, getting to play in mud all day for a good cause sounded like a lot of fun and something the kids would enjoy, so I agreed to do the race despite my dislike for running.
Once we got to the Race, we met up with Bill, and prepared the kids for the Piglet Plunge. The Piglet Plunge is a shorter, smaller scale version of the 5k adult race complete with mud baths, barrel crawls, and a giant water-slide finish. Seeing the kids faces was priceless! Elle was so excited to get dirty and play in the mud. Earlier in the day, Elle told me “Mom, this is the one time you will let me get dirty without getting mad, I am going to enjoy this!”. Rocky on the other hand didn’t know exactly what to think of the whole situation. He was scared of the mud and getting dirty at first, but once I showed him (by diving in the mud puddles and splashing everyone) he loved it.
After the kids finished the race, Farrah, Bill, and I finally did our 5k…. although Bill and I totally cheated and went through shortcuts, and didn’t run (I don’t run, remember! haha). Either way, it was such a blast. I felt completely restored after that, which sounds so weird since we were getting dirty and playing in mud, but it was so nice to just let go, forget about to-do lists, bills, and the mess I had left at home. It has been a very long time since I have been able to do that, and the look on the kids faces said it was long overdue, and definitely worth it.
Sunday, I had a great morning with the kids, which is a rare occasion since they are usually with their dad on Sundays. But because of a birthday party on Friday, we switched and I got the kids on Saturday night. I woke up and did 90 minutes of yoga, then the kids and I made whole wheat blueberry pancakes while watching VeggieTales, and then got ready to go to Church. After church I dropped the kids back off with their dad so they could spend some time with him. On the way home from his house, God gave me a Test. A test that challenged my patience, strength, and faith.
For the 7th time in six weeks my car broke down. This time however, it did not seem to be a quick fix (before I would just have to change a blown fuse, and then i would be on my way again). I tried calling my ex-husband (since i was just down the street), a few of my friends, and Robbie’s friend who helped fix it in the first place. No one answered, which left me stuck in the middle of the road in 95 degree weather.
My faith in humanity was then temporarily shattered as I, in a short dress, got out of my broken down car that stopped in the middle of the road and pushed my car by myself, while people just looked and drove by!! After pushing the car, I finally got a hold of a Robbie’s friend, and said he would be there in 20 minutes or so to help. As I sat on the side of the road, waiting, I couldn’t help but wonder how God was trying to use these frequent and frustrating experiences in my life, and what it was that I could do.
As a single mom, one of the most frustrating things is living paycheck to paycheck, not having any kind of backup, or the ability to afford little luxuries such as buying a magazine or going to the movies on a regular basis. I have learned to appreciate that these little luxuries are a real treat and blessing when they do happen. Growing up in a very blessed (and quite well-off family) to losing it all and being homeless with kids, to now being responsible for two kids, rent, bills, and trying to stay sane through it all on my own has been tough. Needless to say the endless struggle and worry is exhausting.
I continually, usually on a daily basis and sometimes hourly basis, repeat my two favorite passages to myself:
“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
“I can do all things in Christ, who strengthens me.” Phillipians 4:13
As I was sitting there thinking about “how am i going to afford this”, “where am i gonna get the money to fix my car”, “I can’t ask for help, who would I even ask?!”, it hit me!
Whether it was just a random thought of selflessness, or it was God speaking to me, I stopped my worrying and realized just how blessed I am and how far I have come. I have a great job, a roof over my head, and food for my kids. For me, I have been told, and probably believed a bit, that the only way I could get a new car or get through all this struggle would be to win the lottery, marry a millionaire, or have someone hand me the keys to a new life with no strings attached. But I no longer believe this. I know God is bigger than my problems, and he will provide a way. I have come so far with just him, why give up now?!
Before, I probably would have started crying, or immediately went to a place of fear and anxiety wondering just how i can possibly do it all, and take on one more thing. But this weekend, I remained hopeful and began praying that the Lord would provide a way.
I began thinking of everyone else who deserved and needed help more than me. There are so many people in the world that are sick, struggling, and are tired that don’t know Jesus as their savior. So many people who keep hoping, wishing, and praying to just have a friend to be able to call when they get stuck. Luckily, you, Me, All of us have someone to lean on. I have learned time and time again how Jesus is my net when I fall. He will pick you up when you need it, and he will be your pillow when you need rest.
After spending time with God on the side of the road, my friend showed up to help. Initially, he couldn’t figure out what was wrong with it. Like I said before, it had been a fuse problem, and we would just replace it and it would work again, but this time it kept popping the fuses. After about 30 minutes of trying and looking at everything it could possibly be, my friend decided to try one more thing (sad to say, i have no idea what he tried!). I waited anxiously to see if it would work, trying as I hard as I could to not go to a place of fear, and silently praying “please let this work, please please!’. Then to my amazement (and my friends) the car started without hesitation. It seemed to be working fine, and whatever was wrong with it was no longer a problem. If it weren’t for God’s grace and love, and my faith in his plans, I would probably be stuck with no car.
God has a plan for me and for the people whose cars break down, people who are struggling to buy food for their kids, people who are sick and just need someone to hold their hand, people who just need a friend to call when times get tough. I pray that somehow my plan involves theirs, and that I will be used to help those in need and as a shoulder to lean on for those who just need a friend.
If I learned one thing this weekend, it is this: Its not about you, or me, its about him. Have faith when you have fear, pray when you have no way out, and learn to love like Jesus.
My challenge for everyone today, is to Pay It Forward and help someone. Anything counts, whether its picking up papers that someone dropped, opening a door, pushing a car out of the road, helping the elderly, or sitting in a hospital with someone who doesn’t have any one there. Donate time or money, be a voice or a shoulder to lean on, and let people know you care, and the love of Jesus. It only takes one person to lead through action. We all have been given different talents, resources, and experiences that we can use to make a difference and make a difference in the world. I pray that you and I will use what we have been given and learn to love, help, and lead people to Jesus.