This weekend was one of those times.
A couple of months ago, I signed up to run in the Country Music Half Marathon in Nashville, Tennessee. Some of our small group friends were doing it and said it would be fun, so I hopped onboard. Then my little sis decided to come up and run it with me. Then my awesome dad decided to do it, too! This would be a first for both of them, and it was the weekend of my daddy-o's 55th birthday. Yay! I had visions of us gracefully galloping the sunny streets of Nashville, being cheered on by massive crowds and crossing the finish line with victorious smiles on our faces.
Well... Things didn't go exactly according to my plan. We galloped (sometimes trotted and not so gracefully) through the streets of Nashville, and there were crowds of people cheering us on, and we crossed the finish line with victorious smiles on our faces.
It POURED rain for the ENTIRE 13.1 miles of the race.
I am not talking a light mist, or even a steady drizzle. We ran for 13.1 miles through legit rain, like the kind you see in movies during a very dramatic scene where two characters are making a profound life choice (like Noah and Allie getting back from the swan sanctuary in The Notebook). It was insane.
Oh, and it was 50 degrees. So these here Floridians were a bit chilly. You have to understand, 50 degrees is the dead of winter to us. It involves parkas and fireplaces. Not exaggerating.
Not exactly what we were anticipating.
Still, it was an incredible experience. Brookie and I stayed together for the entire run, and I must say that it was awesome to cross the finish line right next to my baby sis. Plus, our amazing mom was waiting for us right at the finish line with a big smile and lots of fist pumping even though the skies were pouring and the wind was howling. Daddy-O came across shortly after, and completed his first half marathon two days before his 55th birthday!
Let me show you some pictures, and then let me tell you what I learned.
Race bibs picked up and ready to go!
Our goals for race day!
Prepping the night before
Right before we started. It was SO cold, and a sweet woman was walking around with a box of trash bags, offering them to the runners to stay warm while waiting to start. Dear garbage bag lady, I don't know who you are, but I love you!
Minus the trash bags for just a minute! You will notice the colors of the Ethiopian flag! Hopefully next year I will be pushing a stroller through the streets of Nashville! One more awesome thing. We ended up being able to start in the same corral as our friends who were also running the race. Big shout out to Bob, LC and Steven! You guys are awesome! Especially LC, who totally rocked her first half marathon!
Just crossed the finish line!
Back in Birmingham and out to dinner to celebrate...
This guy's birthday! Happy Birthday to the best dad to ever walk the face of the earth!
Sometimes we set out on a journey knowing that it will be really difficult. We anticipate that the journey will test us and stretch us. So we prepare for that. And then we get going, and once we are going we find out that we were not really expecting all of the obstacles that the journey actually brings. It is harder than we thought it would be. It doesn't go the way we thought it would, or even the way we believe it should.
And then we have a choice.
We can quit. We can give up and say, "This is not what I signed on for. I was ready for difficult, for challenging, but this is too much. It is more than I can do." Or, we can push through. We can keep the end in mind and keep putting one foot in front of the other until we get through it.
I was ready to run a half marathon yesterday. I was ready for the distance. I was ready for the hills. But I was not ready for the pouring rain. Until yesterday, I had NEVER run in the rain. Not once. If it is raining here in Birmingham, I make it a cross training day and ride our stationary bike instead. So I was not prepared. The rain was an unforeseen obstacle. And I will be honest with you, when I walked out of our hotel at 5:15 on Saturday morning into black skies and rain, there was a great big part of me that wanted to hop back in the elevator and go back to sleep.
But I had committed to this race. I had decided to do this thing. And so I knew I had to do it.
I was ready to wait for our child in Ethiopia. I was ready for challenges. For difficulties. But I was not ready for what February, March and April have brought. Almost no movement. To my knowledge, no referrals in April at all. I was not ready for that. I was not ready to face the reality that 2013 might come and go and we will still not have our child home with us. I was not ready. Not prepared.
But that has become our reality.
And now I have a choice.
I can choose to walk away. Some days that is a tempting option. This is so HARD. I don't have adequate words to explain it to you. I wish I did. My inner-English teacher is failing at this. There are days when I tell myself, tell my husband, tell God that I simply cannot go on, that I have to stop. There are days when I am so unbelievably exhausted or sad or confused. So I could choose to walk away.
Or I can choose to run this course that God has mapped out for me. I can choose to do what He has asked us to do with our lives, even when it feels impossible. And maybe that is the point. When something looks impossible to man and then it happens, God alone gets the glory. So perhaps that is the purpose here. And that is why I am making my choice.
I choose to stay the course. I choose to keep putting one foot in front of the other on this road to our adoption until the Lord tells me I have reached the finish line. I choose to trust Him and Him alone, because nothing else makes sense. I choose to believe Him when He tells me that He is good and that He is working things together for my good. I choose to believe that every little bit of this pain and hurt will be absolutely worth it. I choose to put my trust in God the Most High, because I know that His mighty hand is over all things.
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance."
P.S. Adam usually proofs my posts for me before I publish. He was smirking as he read this, because less than an hour ago I was sobbing on our bed about how we are never going to get our kids home and how this is all just too hard. He, as always, did an incredible job reminding me Who is actually in charge of our lives and that He has a purpose for us. So please don't think that I have it all together! You see, when I write these posts, I am reminding myself of the truth of God's Word just as much as I am telling you about it.