November 12, 2014

A Marathon of Thanks

At some point I will journal about this whole experience from start to finish, but at this time, I feel some special thanks are in order. And how appropriate as we prepare for Thanksgiving! Each of the following represents an opportunity for me to give honor and glory to the One from whom every good and perfect gift comes.

1.       To our great and awesome God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love, for His enduring faithfulness and graciousness. His power and mercy sustained us during the long hard process of training and especially during the race itself.

2.       To my amazing family—immediate and extended—who supported this endeavor from start to finish, even if they didn’t understand it! (Ted constantly reminded me that “the first guy to do this run fell over dead after delivering his message!”) Their prayers and encouragement were vital during the whole process. Special thanks to our 5 older kiddos who prayed for me and cheered me on from home while their daddy worked long hours…and thanks to my hubby for stalking me online the day of the race, praying for me as I crossed each checkpoint. Without his love and support, I definitely would not have even attempted this endeavor.

3.       To Hannah and Tuba, who took care of our little boys the entire time I was in Athens, allowing me to rest easy knowing they were happy and healthy and having so much fun they barely knew Mama was gone.

4.       To Mission of Light, a ministry close to my heart, for giving me a passion and purpose for running this race…not for any personal or earthly glory or crowning achievement, but for God’s eternal kingdom.

5.       To my amazing and incredible teammates, who deserve their own line of individual thanks! But as a team, I am grateful for the group dynamic that pushed each of us to achieve our goal: physically, mentally, spiritually.

6.       To Julia, the first one to actually agree to do this marathon with me! Without her agreement, I may not have pushed forward with this crazy plan! She even got the ball rolling by setting up our Facebook group page, which was a valuable means of communication and encouragement. Her enthusiasm and passion for both running and battling human trafficking was a huge encouragement to me.

7.       To Lisa R, whose knowledge of the human body helped me tremendously in deciding how to handle the times when my body wasn’t functioning properly and whose indefatigable spirit served as a reminder of just how powerful our mental and spiritual states are when it comes to attempting the nearly impossible. Lisa’s previous marathon experience was invaluable in so many ways to all of us.

8.       To Tirzah, my running partner during the race itself, who graciously pulled back her pace during the first ¾ of the course so that we could pray together for 40+ women whom Mission of Light has served. Songs, Scripture verses, and prayers shared during our time together enabled me to push far beyond where I have EVER gone before and gave me the mental edge to pull out a finish at the end. I am forever grateful for the opportunity to spend that time with Tirzah and the Lord together—I know that if I had been on my own, the experience would not have passed as pleasantly or as easily! THANK YOU, dear friend!

9.       To Emily, whose “keeping it real” personality kept us smiling throughout the ups and downs of training. Despite struggling with her own doubts, she was a constant cheerleader for her sister as well as our whole team, and the radiance she showed while be-bopping into the stadium at the finish line proved that perseverance is its own reward. What an amazing example she is for her own family and everyone around her!

10.   To Libby and Grace, whom I had never met before we piled in the Suburban to drive to the Rome airport, for providing a constant stream of witty remarks that kept us all in stitches. Laughter truly is the best medicine, and these girls are forever part of my fondest memories of this whole trip. Their willingness to join this crazy journey without knowing anyone but Emily and without really knowing much about Mission of Light has blessed me beyond description.

11.   To Thea, our natural encourager, who kept assuring me that if I had birthed 7 children, completing a marathon would be a piece of cake (even though she had done neither of those things prior to this experience!!). Thea’s love and concern for everyone around her oozes out of her very being, and her support for our cause helped us spread the word to the ladies of PWOC and beyond.

12.   To Abigail, who truly did throw off the things that hindered as she persevered to rock her THIRD marathon this year! Her participation in the ministry of Mission of Light as well as teaching a PWOC class AND balancing her roles as wife and mother all serve as an example of walking by faith and letting God’s grace be our guide.

13.   To Lisa and Nate, whose tidbits of experience were so extremely helpful as we packed and planned for the actual race. Lisa’s encouragement was especially meaningful to me as I struggled through my foot and back injuries and questioned the wisdom of even attempting this marathon. When she helped me think through the idea of simply walking the course and still finishing within the allotted time, I was strengthened in my resolve to just do it!

14.   To Erin, who joined us later in the planning stages and was a delight to our team and a special encouragement to her aunt Lisa R.

15.   To Shauna, my dear friend, hotel roommate, and organizer of our actual travel details. Without her fortitude and commitment to planning the perfect agenda, we would have experienced so much stress and heartache! Instead, the whole journey was SUCH a blessing and a memory-making time that we will never forget! What a joy to take a trip that I didn’t have to plan myself AND to spend it with such a dear sister in Christ!

16.   To Susan and Rachael, who, along with Shauna, were wholeheartedly committed to cheering for our team. It was SO wonderful to see them at the finish line! And all the little details like buying us treats to enjoy after the race, bringing food back to the hotel when we could hardly walk, and so on…THANK YOU, ladies, for the in-person cheering!

17.   To Mackenzie, whose commitment to our team was absolutely God-inspired. Though she chose not to race with us, she remained a part of our Facebook group and offered support, information, and encouragement. Her marathon “care kits” full of treats for the PWOC racers blessed us all, and the idea for a marathon relay on Support Site the day of the race was definitely an inspiration that provided a unique avenue of prayerful support for the racing team as well as the fundraising efforts for Mission of Light.

18.   To all those who participated in the SS relay team—you have no idea how much you blessed and inspired us! You may think it was “just” 5K that you ran, but your efforts represent so much more.

19.   To all the wonderful women of PWOC, who prayed for us and supported us in amazing ways. Special thanks to Brooke for praying over our team before we left.

20.   To Dr. Silva, who assured me that I would, in fact, run this race!! Thank God for a wonderful chiropractor!

21.   To Ersilia, my new friend and physical therapist, who helped me get through the back episode that set me back in training but allowed me to learn and experience growth I wouldn’t have otherwise.

22.   To Regina, whose spiritual marathon this year was definitely inspirational as I prepared for this physical marathon. Chap. Keith will always have a special place in our hearts, and more than once I heard his voice in my mind, quoting Scripture to keep my eyes focused on Jesus.

23.   To Audrey, who encouraged me to try the Couch to 5K program when I wanted to start running again after feeling so out of shape following pregnancy, bed rest, and delivery of another baby. Audrey, I thought of you when I reached the 37K marker as I told myself I only had a 5K stretch left to the finish line! To think that I started C25K in January and just completed a full marathon!!! To GOD be the glory!

24.   To Nick, the kind Greek man who asked if I needed help when I stopped to stretch a cramp in my calf toward the end of the race. Upon hearing I was turning 40 and had 7 children, he encouraged me by telling me that the finish line of the Athens marathon would be an incredible experience…and he was right!

25.   To the wonderful people of Athens who lined the streets and cheered us on, particularly toward the end of the race! Though we were far, far away from the elite runners, their unflagging support was such a boon to weary bodies!

26.   To all the volunteers who passed out water, iso drinks, bananas, and more to help us refuel. What commitment!

27.   To all those who prayed for ANY of us at ANY point during this journey…I truly felt we were carried along on the wings of all those prayers during the race.

28.   To those who have financially supported the ministry of Mission of Light—you have helped us feel that our efforts were not unnoticed or unappreciated. May God bless you for your generosity.

29.   To our church family at Il Faro for their prayers, blessings, and encouragement.

30.   And finally, to Jeff Galloway, whom I do not know personally, for all the information in his book about the walk-run approach to marathon training. Despite my injuries, I was able to complete 26.2 miles, in no small way due to my decision to run 4 minutes, walk a minute. Though I dropped the walk breaks at the end (it hurt too much to start running again, so I just ran!), they helped me tremendously during the training that I did complete and during the race itself.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, 
let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles us, 
and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Heb. 12:1

“To God be the glory, great things He has done!”

P.S. If you wanted to support our team financially, it's not too late! Go here to donate. Thank you, and God bless!

Names of 40 women we prayed for during the race. Shown with our team shirt.


Brooke Shambley said...

Beautiful Beverly :-) It was a joy to see you all persevere to reach some amazing goals! Glad to be one of your earthly crowd of witnesses for your earthly race and it's so encouraging to think about our eternal crowd of witnesses for our eternal race.

Hebrews 12:1-2
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Sheri Langstraat said...

What a great way to capture many of the moments and people involved in your race journey. What an inspiration you are to many. Isn't it great that while we encourage and inspire, God also gives us people and his Spirit at every turn to also encourage and inspire us? What an awesome God we serve!

taiwan52 said...

Beverly, you are an inspiration to us all. Thank you for drawing us together to run in support of and in prayer for the women trafficked here, and thank you for keeping us focused on that purpose.