31 goals


I turned 31 two weeks ago.  It felt just like any other day.  There was no fanfare, no trumpet blowing, no life-changing ‘a-ha!’ moment to signal that another year had come and gone.  Just some loving friends who made sure I wasn’t forgotten, took me out for dinner, went to wander around the local art gallery’s Christmas light display (which was bizarre with no snow…. weird), and then to Starbucks for a gingerbread latte.

It was lovely.

But at dinner, my dear friend Laurel encouraged me to set 31 goals, as I turned 31.  She said it’s something she started doing at around 27, and she’s really enjoyed it.

To me, it seems almost like having to make 31 New Years Resolutions, because my birthday is a mere 3 weeks from the moment when the entire world notices that another year has come and gone, but that’s neither here nor there.  I’ve decided to take Laurel up on her suggestion, and I’ve decided to set 31 goals.

I’ll check back in around this time in 2016 and let you know how I did

  1.  Read 40 books (So far this year I’m at 22 of the 25 book goal I set for 2015.  I think I can pull it off.)
  2. Write every day (summer 2016 — I’m not going to Camp for the first time in 6 years.  I think writing about SOMETHING every day is a solid aspiration).
  3. Be generous.  I’m not limiting this.  I just want to be open to the voice of the Holy Spirit and do what He tells me to with the money and time I’m blessed with — things like helping refugees and caring for the homeless.
  4. Actually use my Instagram account.  I just revamped it yesterday.  Follow me if you’d like: @epicwings84
  5. Love deeply.  Who cares if I get hurt?  Hurts heal, but regret takes longer.
  6. Learn to chord on my mandolin
  7. Learn to chord on my guitar
  8. Keep playing the violin
  9. Not hide my piano in its carry-case/bag, but actually play it every once in a while.
  10. Create a music nook in my basement — because 6, 7, 8, and 9
  11. Watch all the Star Wars movies.  I’ve never done it.  I want to know what they hype is about.
  12. Actually read my Bible.  I haven’t figured out what this looks like yet — whether I start a plan or just read, but I want that to be a Dec. 31-Jan. 1 deal, since I already missed my birthday goal start by 2 weeks.  Details to follow.
  13. de-clutter my home.  It’s so cluttered.  I can’t handle it.  I will be removing clutter, filing clutter, giving away and selling clutter.  And if I manage to pull out enough to clutter to have a sale of some sort, I will donate the proceeds to somewhere important — probably to refugees.  They hurt my heart and I want to help everywhere I can.
  14. pray more — not in a “God, this situation sucks please fix it” kind of way.  In a “I lean into the Spirit because the Spirit is in me, and let’s do life together” kind of way.
  15. Start running again.  This is a tentative, hopeful goal.  I don’t know if I can do it, because I wrecked my ankle a couple years ago.  When I stopped running, I then gained a bunch of weight, which leads me to 16….
  16. Lose 50 pounds.  Or more.  But at least 50.  But healthily.
  17. Eat good food.  Goal # 16 does not have to mean I don’t eat good food.  It means I stop eating sour keys and chips.  Seriously — big vices right there.  I just got a Ninja professional kitchen system for Christmas.  And a veggie Spiralizer for my birthday.  And a sweet frying pan.  I seriously feel like I can make anything.
  18. Learn.  I keep saying “if I were to ever go back to school, I would study….” Well, I’m not going to go back to school.  I haven’t paid off round 1 and 2 yet.  But that doesn’t mean I can’t just learn.
  19. do something adventurous and scary.  I haven’t decided what that is going to be yet.  Time will tell.
  20. Play more — do the things I love even if they seem a little childish and like a waste of time.  Like colouring.  Or playing in the rain.
  21. actually stick to my budget.  At the end of August, I created a spreadsheet that’s been really helping me watch where my money is going.  This needs to continue.
  22. Choose love.  Where I can judge, be snarky, be rude, or even just be apathetic… I must choose love.
  23. Practice my French.  I’m not teaching it anymore, and this is the third year in a row that I haven’t been using it regularly.  I don’t want to lose it.
  24. Drink water.  This sounds so cliche and ridiculous, but it’s something I really, really, really need to do.
  25. Take my vitamins every day lol.  See 24.  Also, I’m running out of goals.
  26. Take time to watch the sun both come up and go back down.  I tend to ignore the sunrises, because I firmly believe I should be sleeping, but they’re a part of the natural process, and their beauty is just as profound.
  27. Install a dog door in my back door so Kloe has freedom this summer — something she’ll miss not going to my Mom’s for 2 months.
  28. Road trip somewhere (in Ontario) that I’ve never been.
  29. Write a song.
  30. eat way, way less refined sugar
  31. Choose joy — life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.

 

We’ll chat at the end of 2016 and I’ll let you know what I accomplished.  Do you have any goals?

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One Word for 2014. Some goals, and my favourite posts from 2013.


I had actually already thought about my New Year’s Resolutions for 2014 when I read She Loves Magazine’s One Word idea for the year.  I’ve decided to combine this with Mama Kat’s writing prompts, and add in my top 12 blog posts from 2013 and to talk about some Resolutions, or anti-resolutions if you will.

Here’s what I love about this one-word idea, to get myself back on track.

You pick one word for 2014.  Not a bunch of New Years’ Resolutions.  Not a bunch of lofty probably unattainable goals that you’ll be discouraged over later.  No.  One word.  I had already thought about it.  I had already given 2014 enough thought to decide that the only thing I’ll be ‘resolving’ is this:  value.  I will value myself.  I will value those around me.  I will refuse to devalue myself on account of things of this world.  I will wrap my value up in things of Christ, knowing that that’s where my true value is to be found.  I described this idea to my parents as “I will be less hard on myself,” but when I saw the One Word idea put out by She Loves, I wracked my brain for one word.

So the things I’m not resolving to this year, because I’ve resolved to them every year and failed:

I’m not going to put a number on weight loss.  Instead, I’ll value myself enough to make healthy choices, and if that results in weight loss — awesome.

I’m not going to put a kilometre goal on running.  I haven’t been able to run in such a long time because of a stupid ankle injury from LAST CHRISTMAS that I may stick with boxing and take up swimming instead anyway :p  I will value myself enough to know that I don’t need to obsess, and that if I don’t get in a certain number of kilometres or minutes or whatever… accomplished in a week, that doesn’t mean I’m a failure or that I should be so hard on myself.

I’m not going to put a ‘I hope to be in a committed relationship before I’m 30’ marker on this year, because that doesn’t value my singleness or myself AS a single individual.  I will instead recognize that I have value whether single or coupled.  Besides, I’m currently rocking the preferable term, ‘independently owned and operated.’

I have a few things I’d like to accomplish this year, certainly, but these things have less to do with beginning a new year, and more to do with being a person who likes to set goals for herself.  Most notably, I’d like to rock the violin this year.  I’m starting a 52 week money saving challenge with the end goal being a stellar (probably refurbished) violin which was not made in China and which will not break as easily (mine’s currently with a repair guy and I have a borrowed one.  Handing it over to a stranger was like turning over my baby.  It was sad).  I actually may have a resolution for 2015… I’d really like to enter the Canadian Open Fiddling Competition held every year in Shelburne.  I went with my Grandparents for the first time this past August… and I was enraptured.  I don’t think I’ll be ready for this August.  Maybe next year though 😉

Ann Voskamp summarizes really well my thoughts on heading into 2014.  I want to fall forward, not stumble backwards.  Check this out.  Wonderful words, here.

And as I get ready to usher in 2014 with One Word, I’m going to bid 2013 farewell with a few of my favourite blogs from this year (both my posts and those that I follow).  I’ll do 12 of each.  One for each month, I suppose.  Check out Sarah Bessey’s post along the same idea.

First:  Blogs I followed.

Tim and Olive, Olive To Run, A Holy Experience (Ann Voskamp), Jen Hatmaker, Sarah Bessey, Megan Gahan, Sometimes Screaming Helps (Sarah Richardson), Holley Gerth, She Loves Magazine, The Young Woman’s Bucket List, Mama’s Losin It, Darcie the Kindred Spirit, The Road To Rome, Avoiding Neverland (I know… that’s 14.)

Second:  My top 12 posts from 2013.

1.  My ‘2nd Blogiversary Post — I Will Not Humour the Cray Crays.‘  I wrote this just kind of summarizing my most recent dating experiences, and didn’t expect it to get kind of out of hand.  Blog Her picked it up and featured it and it got like 1300 views or something insane like that.  For a fairly newbie blogger, it just blew my mind.

2.  I Am Not Bible Barbie.  This was another one that kind of blew up on me.  I had decided that I’d had enough of being held to this impossible standard by potential suitors, and some friends and I were talking about it at church, and this happened.  And then 450 views happened.  It was my first big post, and the first one that blew up without help from anything else.

3.  The More Boys I Meet, The More I Love My Dog.  I’d been on an AWFUL date.  Seriously, read the story.  I decided that I’d better channel it into good writing that would get new readers, lest I sit around and mope.  It was good therapy 🙂

4.  I Don’t Want to Marry Bible Ken.  The day after I wrote I Am Not Bible Barbie, it occurred to me that I had picked on guys for holding us women to this impossible standard, when we do the same thing to them, and that I don’t want to keep looking for the ‘perfect’ guy.  Read on to find out why 🙂

5.  Singleness is not a disease, nor a curse, nor an affliction… nor is it a problem of mine for others to solve.  I wrote this post about a year ago.  Someone obviously had a ‘solution’ to my singleness problem.  I haven’t re-read these posts, so I don’t remember what prompted it, but it sounds angsty.

6, 7, 8, and 9 were parts 1, 2, 3, and 4 in a series of stories I wrote about a girl named Anna (fictional) who was sold into the sex trade.  I wrote it for The Exodus Road, an organization which works to spread awareness about sex trafficking and the work that’s being done to combat it.  Read Part 1 here.  Part 2 is herePart 3 is hereAnd Part 4 is here. Please read them.  They were hard to write because the details were supplied by Exodus Road, and I knew they were technically fictional, but it was gut-wrenching to think that even though I was making this up, it could very easily have happened in real life.

10.  How I Feel About Endings — A Tribute to My Buddy, Jack.  Hardest post to write this year probably.  I wrote it in the days before we had to have one of my Mom’s dogs, Jack, put down… he was very sick, we had no choice, really.  But it was really hard.  So hard.

11. A Picture’s Worth A Whole Lot… Apparently.  I updated my profile pictures on the dating sites I was registered on because a friend of mine showed me how to use makeup…. and like magic, I had a whole bunch of interest generated.  It caused me to reflect on the value we place on looks.

And tied for number 12 (yes, I know that means I have 13… but I have 4 tied into one story that took 4 months to finish, so I think it’s fair.  Also — it’s my blog.  #idowhatiwant)  “My ‘come-to-Jesus’ moment about Rob Ford’ and ‘A Duck Call for Love.’  Both of these posts were written in response to public figures blowing it in view of the entire Western World, and how I feel like there has to be a better way to do things than we’ve been doing it.  As Christians, we’re called to love, and that’s what both of these posts are aimed at.

favourite TV

Bones, NCIS, NCIS Los Angeles, Nashville, Chicago Fire, Rick Mercer Report, Elementary, Castle, How I Met Your Mother, Big Bang Theory, and… apparently there are only 11 of these.  That’s ok.

Books:  Confession ~ I didn’t read anywhere close to 12 books this year.  I’d like to read more in this next year.  I guess that comes with valuing my intelligence and not squandering so much time on Facebook?  We’ll see how that goes.

Pirates of Savannah, The Sacred Search, 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, Made To Crave, Every Body Matters, The Sweet By and By, Love Lifted Me, Softly And Tenderly, Flabbergasted.  I can’t think of any more that I read this past year.  There might be more, though that number in itself kind of shocked me.  I have a giant stack beside my bed to get through still, so… we’ll see how that goes :p  Next on the list, which I’m really excited about (just have to finish The Sacred Search first), is Real Men Don’t Text, by Ruthie Dean.  Can’t wait.

Movies: I should preface this — I’m not super picky when it comes to movies.  I’m pretty easy to please.  The only one I really didn’t like was The Heat.

The Hobbit, Frozen, The Butler, Captain Phillips, 12 Years A Slave, The Family, Oz the Great and Powerful, Gangster Squad, Safe Haven, Olympus Has Fallen, 42, Runner Runner.  Those are just ones I saw in theatres.  Like I said, I’m pretty indiscriminate.

Music:  I could never pick just 12 songs.  I guess I can pick 12 artists, though.  Note:  I fell in love with Eastern Canadian Folk Music this year.  So…. get ready for this.  That’s right… The Rankins are in there.  Classic, 1990s Rankin Family.  On repeat in the car for the last 5 days.  Straight.  Legit.

Charlie Worsham, Natalie MacMaster, Leahy, The Rankins, The Band Perry, Luke Bryan, Third Day, Dixie Chicks, Sugarland, Duelling Fiddlers, The Piano Guys, Lady Antebellum, Lindsey Stirling.  I know, I know, that’s 13.  It’s the best I could do.

And that’s it, guys!  That’s it for 2013!  Stay tuned for January.  Another NaBloPoMo kicks off January 1.  Am I insane for taking the challenge during a Report Card month?  Probably, but it could lead to some really entertaining (albeit brief) posts 😉

#bestweekendever


This weekend was the best weekend…. quite possibly of my entire life to date…. I seriously can’t remember a time where I’ve had more fun, laughed harder, or been sadder when it ended.

I did a Color Me Rad 5k in Hamilton this weekend… well, at Christie Lake Conservation Area… and I’ve never been, but it’s beautiful, and I’d love to go back and hike/wander at a time when it wasn’t being overrun by runners.  haha I’m punny.

I ran it with two dear friends and a new friend.  Now this new friend is unlike any other new friend.  Have you ever met anyone where the second you’re introduced, you know you’re going to be mega bummed when you have to part ways?  I’ve only ever had it happen one other time in my life.  But it happened yesterday.

I met Jeannie right before we got in the car to drive to Dundas.  We’d been informally introduced by Ange on Facebook, but boy oh boy Facebook does not do this new friend justice.

#iminlove

Oh, bad habit we fostered this weekend… I now hash tag at completely inappropriate times and I think it’s hysterical.  I’m sure not everyone will agree, and I’ll have to try really really hard not to say “hash tag criss cross applesauce” tomorrow, I’m quite certain.

We hit up Starbucks pre-race, because everyone needs a little caffeine, sugar and whipped topping to course through their veins before a 5k.  (Please note, most of us are not hardcore runners by any stretch of the means, and this being a fun run, we decided to maximize the fun and minimize the run).

We weren’t quite sure where to go, but stopped at a stoplight, to what did our wandering eyes did appear, but a lovely young lady with “RAD” tattooed on her face.  I yelled out from the backseat…. “FOLLOW THAT SUBARU!”  And we did.  Thankfully, they knew where they were going!

We arrived, took copious selfies as we got all layered up and warm and ready to #beastit.  Walking toward the check-in point where we picked up our swag, Becky yells out “I HAVE A CRAMP!” and the laughter started all over again.

I also have to admit that for the first time in my life, I fell prey to the duck face photo… I’ve never done one before that wasn’t clearly mocking everyone else who’s ever done one… and I’m looking back through the pictures now to realize to my own shock and horror that I duck faced… on my own phone… and I kind of like the picture an awful lot.

We stopped along the way, took many more selfies, asked strangers to take pictures of us, and we laughed and laughed and laughed….

We changed in the parking lot… legit.  Well, now me…. I chickened out and changed in an outhouse.  I should have changed in the parking lot…. it was gross.

We went for lunch and professionally carb loaded.  East Side Marios anyone?  I don’t think we truly deserved it since we didn’t run that hard, but meh!

Then, after some time apart (mostly to spend the whole time showering to get the corn starch dye off of everywhere…. seriously… it went through two shirts.  EVERYWHERE!), we met back up at Value Village and then back to one of our houses to continue the fun.

The fun spilled into today, but then Jeannie left.  And while I still have other amazing friends here, and I do not take them for granted, I love my new friend already.  It’s like I’ve known her all my life.  And I hope I see her again soon.

And — if you’ve never done a colour run — I highly recommend that you find the nearest one and sign up.  Amazing.  You don’t need to be a runner.  You don’t need to run the whole thing!  The first one I did, a lady did it in flip flops and her wedding dress…. seriously… do it.

Please enjoy the pictorial recap of what I just wrote to you…. and I have not included the picture of what my bathtub looked like at the end…. but it was gross.  (ps — the pic of me running is me imitating the Phoebe Run from Friends... I don’t actually run like that…. I hope…. and I definitely didn’t run into a horse)

1275868_10151927642560240_1023442542_o 1391677_10100301476037300_1288295131_n 1392048_10100301476052270_284288669_n 1410693_10151927642895240_2012514323_o1400180_10151927652345240_193553838_o 1402056_10151927647480240_1915548991_o1399144_10151927650985240_1755436195_o856605_10151927657275240_382768421_o1399411_10151927659730240_604759945_o

oh… and the dye is Gluten Free!  (random fact)

I don’t know what to call this.


Recently, ok… a couple months ago… I read a blog post called “A Love Letter To My Body.”  I can’t remember if a friend posted it on her Facebook or if I found it stumbling from one blog that I read to another, to another, which inevitably always gives me new blogs to read.  (like this one!  I found it today, because I finally wrote this!) I love it.  But something about it really hit me.  It really got to me that this girl identified all the lies she’d told her body, and then apologized, and told it all the things she loved instead.  If you’ve read anything else I’ve ever written, you’ll glean that I go back and forth with body image issues.  Some days I love myself, some days I loathe myself.  Some days, like today, when my stomach hurts because I’m positive I ate too many carbs (yay Camp food!), I feel like I should be mad but I can’t because I was finally starting to feel like I was losing weight DESPITE the Camp food!  And that’s an accomplishment in itself.

So I put this exercise off, over and over again, because well, report cards.  And then… Camp.  I’ve been writing full time for a Christian Camp in Northern Ontario, blogging daily about everything that’s gone on, and taking not less than 2-300 photos per day on average for the entire month of July.  August has started to slow down, because we’re into a different type of camping, and so I can stop being sorrowfully neglectful of my readers here.  And I can finally write this.  Because it has. not. left. my. brain.

I kid you not.  Two months.  It just keeps popping back into my head…. “you need to write this.”

And so, here goes nothing.  A love letter to my body.

Dear Body,

When I look at you, I’ll admit, I’m not usually very nice.  I stand and critique; I judge; I compare you to others’ bodies, even though, knowing what I know about my Western Culture and its pervasive frenzy over perfect, thin, lean, sculpted bodies… I’m sure those I compare you to are doing the very same thing.  I’m positive.  Many of them, at least.

I look at your legs – the ones that carry me up and down stairs, the ones that work every bit the way they’re supposed to, the ones that have run two races, and are aching to train for the one in a month.  I look at those legs, and I sigh because I normally see cellulite, and I have never seen a thigh gap.

I look at your tummy – I see the chocolate and the candy, I see the carbs, I see the junk.  It’s hiding there.  In pretty plain sight…. But that’s not very fair, is it?  Because I often overlook the temporary home for my future babies, and the place where you digest all of my food… and even though I don’t always make great choices, I have to say when I think about it, I’m pretty thankful for no major allergies and restrictions, and that’s because you work the way you should.

I’ve resented your weakness because I rolled our ankle in December, and it never healed quite right.  I’ve lamented how hard that’s made it to run, and I’ve let fear of rolling it again stop me from doing what I know I should be doing.

I’ve said many bad things about you.  I’ve judged you harshly and unfairly.  I’ve called you huge, weak, and disgusting, and I’ve walked away from mirrors sad.  I’ve tried to do too much, too fast, without training properly, and then I’ve given up because you failed me and we got hurt.  I make jokes about you that seem harmless enough, but every time I make them, I believe them more and more.  I’ve listened to the lies that others have told me about you.  When they wrote on the bathroom stalls in high school that I was a fat, ugly cow… I blamed you, not them.  When boys went for prettier, smaller girls, I blamed you then, too.  It never seemed to matter to me that they weren’t nice boys, and they didn’t treat those girls well.  That wasn’t important.  They didn’t pick us, so I was mad.  I’ve listened to the lies the media tells us… all of us… that no matter what we look like or what size we are, we’re never quite good enough.  There’s always something better.  I almost let those lies trick us into an eating disorder.  I almost believed that a size 10 was still fat, and that I still needed to drop 20 pounds.  What was I thinking?  Now, I’m thankful for the Camp Food that saved us from that disaster…

But here’s the thing.

I’m done. I’m done calling you names behind anyone else’s back.  I’m done staring you down and finding the bad things to say about you.  And I’m done believing the bad things anyone else has to say about you.

And I’m sorry.

What I should see when I look in those mirrors is a beautiful, loved-more-than-anything Child of God.  And I will.  Because when I really, really look… when I ask God to help me see truth, I see legs that are strong.  Legs that power through races, even if they don’t do it as quickly as I’d like.  That’s not your fault, I never pushed them hard enough or trained them well enough.  I will run.  Not because the world thinks we’re fat.  Who cares what they think?  Because running is fun, even though it’s hard, and because we both benefit from it.

I see eyes that sparkle and love life and find humour in silly, ridiculous things.  I see energy and passion exude from you.

And so I make you a few promises.  Covenants, even, because it’s a bigger word, it’s more powerful, and somehow, it feels like it holds more weight.  A Covenant between me, you, and our Creator that….. I will push, and train, and push again.  I will watch what I put into you, treating you with the respect that you deserve, because you’ve taken good care of me, and it’s my job to take good care of you.  I will make our muscles hurt, but we’ll both love it.  You remember what the burn feels like, right?  I will love you, and treat you with respect, knowing that we will never be this world’s version of perfect, and that’s ok.  I will not expect that out of you.  I will get us healthy, and I will be happy with that.  And after being heavily convicted this past week to let my yes be yes, and to not back down from the things I said I’d do, and to not say I’ll do things I have no intention of doing, I will let those close to us challenge me and keep me accountable to all of these things (when done gently and in love).  But most importantly of all:  I will trust our Creator to pour into me the truth of how He sees us, so that maybe in time, what anyone else thinks pales by comparison, and fades into nothingness.  I will trust Him for the strength to see you for your good.  Every day.

Love,

Me.

That time I was literally dragged across a finish line…


Picture this:

It’s a gloomy, dark, drizzly, humid Sunday morning in June.  Your alarm goes off at 6 am and you so badly want to just smack it and roll back over and go back to sleep.

But you don’t.

You drag your tired butt out of bed, regretting not going to bed sooner, knowing you had to be up at 6.  You put on your knee length yoga capris, a moisture wicking tshirt, moisture wicking socks, a lightweight jacket, because it’s raining, and you scramble all over the house looking for your hat, but you can’t find it.  You’ve become that crazy person who gets up on Sunday mornings at 6am to run.

That was me this morning.  I was up super early, because I was being picked up at 7 to go run a race.  A 3km race.  I ran a 5k last month, and so I figured I had this.  If I can run a 5, I can surely run a 3.  The plan/goal when I signed up for the 3 was to run as valiantly and expediently throughout the month between the two races as I could manage, in order to build up speed.  I don’t think I need to explain why I was displeased with my 10:47 pace time on the 5k race.  I mean, I finished my first race without puking or crying, so that’s a plus, but training harder yields faster running, and I didn’t do that.  So with this race, like so many other things I’m determined to do, I was determined to be faster.  I was going to do “sprintervals” and work my way under a 9 minute kilometre.

That was the plan.

Except… I’m a lazy bum.  So I ran once in this past month… and on that one run, I fell off the treadmill.  That’s a funny story in itself……

So here’s my revelation, because I didn’t get this blog post mulling in my brain this morning because I wanted to gripe that I’m lazy.  No one wants to read that, and I don’t want that to be the only point of this post.

I totally understand why Christianity is compared to running the race and pushing onward toward the prize.  Paul, your imagery makes perfect sense.

Running isn’t easy.  You can’t do it well when you don’t train and practice.  You end up out of breath, cramped, and wanting to puke on even the smallest of distances.  You can’t fill your body with garbage and then expect it to perform well when it counts.  Welcome to my morning.

Because it would detract from the entire point of this post, I’m not going to try to say that it was all ok just because my pace was faster than my last race.  I finished my 3k race in 28:08, with a pace of 9:47.  That’s 1:01 faster (pace-wise) than last time.  That’s great.  Except that I walked a good half of the race, and so my pace would have kept slipping throughout the rest of a 5k, and I’m quite certain that I wouldn’t have come out any better than the first time through if I’d run a 5… in fact, my pace likely would have been slower.

But here’s the cool part.

I came to the re-entry point into the stadium grounds, and my iPod said I had 200 metres to go, but the sign about 50m ahead of me said I had 355.6 metres to go… my iPod is a liar and a jerk.  I psyched myself up.  I had been walking for a bit on account of this mega cramp.  My internal dialogue went something like this for about 250 metres.

“You can do this!”

“No, I can’t.”

“Yes you can!  You’ve done it before!  And they give you medals at the end!”

“Ooooh medals!!!

“Good, see?  Keep going!”

“I can’t”

This is where I stopped to walk.

And this is where, seconds later, a lady who’d overheard me tell my already finished friend (who I hated a little bit at that moment while I thought I might throw up then die) that I wanted to barf.  She was also already finished.  I saw her running her 3k with a 5 or 6 year old kid.  That’s right…. little kids beat me.  She came alongside me, took me by the hand, and very gently said “Run.  You can do this.  You have like 200 metres left.  You didn’t come this far to walk across the finish line.  I’ll go with you.”

She dragged me to just about the end, letting me stop for 10 seconds when I begged haha, but then making me go again, the whole time asking questions about my race and if it was my first time, essentially distracting me from how much I wanted to just lay in the grass….. ok AstroTurf.  I got going again, we rounded the last corner, the finish line was in plain sight.  Maybe 50m ahead.  She let go of my hand and said “it’s all you.  You can do this!  10 more seconds!  Just keep running!!”

I felt like a little kid whose parent had just let go of the two-wheeler for the first time and was pushing me off into something I wasn’t sure I could do.

Granted, that’s sorta strange, because this woman was not my parent, I don’t know her at all, and I know how to run.  My body just Did.  Not.  Want.  To.

That’s what community in the church should look like, I reckon.  No one should have to be running the race, struggling on their own, wanting to just quit and lay down on the soaked AstroTurf.  If you’re doing your Christian life alone, there’s no one to come alongside you, hold your hand, and run with you, even though they’ve doubled back.  There’s no one to coach, to cajole, to convince you that in fact, you can do this.  Because you can.  That’s why we need community.

Because it really is a race.  And because while running is an individual sport, encouragement is not.