Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sprint Through the End

I ran track in high school, so I really know what it means to sprint through (not to) the finish line. This Mom Race has been long and hard... and challenging and fun.

Many people may see the line ahead and say, "Oh, the race is almost over, I can slow down now."

Winners and losers. Champions and participants. It's the end which separates the runners into categories.

Only one more of these after this one:

No slowing down for this mom! No coasting on past victories allowed. It is time to get my second wind, to dig down deep, to run with purpose.

And... to lean over and grab my knees, to clasp my arms behind my head, to gasp for air and feel the pain... after the finish line is passed.

I want to run with no regrets, to know that I gave it everything I had to give.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Broken Bone and Shattered Dreams

This is how the game ( and season) ended for #9. It was a touchdown stopping leap... and a clean break through the clavicle.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Big Waves and Peeling Paint

Process. I need time in life to process. Life hits so fast that often I don't fully understand events and the depth to which those events have affected me. There are layers buried beneath the clean, shiny surface, like the ten plus multi-colored paint layers on Hillcrest Cottage's 87 year old woodwork.

The Summer I lived in Hawaii, we ventured to Makapu'u Beach, known for its world-class body surfing. Five minutes. That's all this Arkansas college girl lasted in the water at Makapu'u. The waves were 6 feet tall and very strong. The first wave knocked me down pounding my face into the sand. While recovering and grabbing some air, the second one was already pulling me outward. Glancing over my shoulder, I was horrified to see a wave taller than myself anxious to devour me again. For several minutes the sequence continued as I struggled to make my way back to beach towel safety.

Life can be waves hitting and pounding relentlessly one after another. I need 'towel time' to ask myself, "What just happened? How did I survive that?'

The Summer of 2010 was the hottest in recorded history. The heat for me was more than rising mercury; it was a landmark time, a piling of stones to remember. Part of the remembering is the thankfulness for how God pulled off a couple more miracles. We stubbornly believed Him for big things... and He said, "Yes." Yet...

... the 'yes' didn't come without the pulling and pounding and gasping for air.

There was struggling.

I'm glad to be on this towel. I'm glad to be thinking about a past event, no longer caught up in its emotion.

This morning I am on Hillcrest Cottage's porch with my eyes closed, listening to the gentle wind making its way through the trees. Mac the Labradoodle naps by my feet. Lucy, too young to appreciate the morning quiet has been banished to a nap inside. The hummingbirds have had their last summer feeding frenzy. They are gone to Mexico, and the feeder hangs silently. Occasionally a yellow leaf or two will float slowly to the ground. A signal of summer's last days.

The heat is gone, and I am left with the promise of the beautiful Autumn weather we Arkansans celebrate each year... complete with pumpkins, festivals, and Friday night stadium lights.

For everything there is a season and a time and purpose for everything under heaven. I know there will be more waves and heat and struggling to believe... but... for this morning... there is only the blue jay cawing, fresh air to be taken in, hope revived, and Bifferdoodle coffee in my mug.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Football Player's Letter to God

Dear God,

I have sweat, trained, listened to my coaches, learned tons of difficult receiver routes, and have visualized success. I have endured spring training, have run drills until I wanted to puke, and have survived two- a-days in 105 degree plus heat. I have completed all of my daily work-outs, never cutting corners when the coach wasn't looking, sometimes staying late to do a bit extra. I have kept a PMA through difficult circumstances. I have tried my hardest to play through pain.

But, despite all my effort, I am discouraged.

First of all, I sprained my ankle the day before our first game. It is still painful and swollen. Sometimes my leg just quits working because of the stress. Secondly, yesterday was a very bad practice where nothing went right. The voice inside my head yelled at me to give up and quit. It told me that I would always be a rotten football player. When the football hit my hand, I think I broke my finger. This morning I couldn't tie my own shoe. I had to take my mom's car to school because I wouldn't have been able to shift my Jeep's gears. My finger is purple, and it really hurts. Oh, and one more thing, I have poison ivy all over my leg and have no idea where that come from.

How can a hand that does not bend catch a football?

More than my ankle and finger, I see the dream of my entire childhood slipping away. All I have ever wanted to do was to play high school football. I grew up watching my big brother and his teammates that I admired so much. I was the kid in the end zone playing my own game while watching the real one. I told myself I would be on that field one day. I saw myself catching passes, making tackles, and running the ball over the line.

Now it is my time. Time to turn dreaming into reality. I'm a junior, and the season is now.

I'm so discouraged, God. The mountain seems to grow, not shrink. It would be so much easier to quit.

And, besides all of the above, it just seems that evil people prosper. It just seems like You bless the bad guys. You know the ones: the players who are cocky and break all the rules and give our team a bad rep. The guys who tell fellow players, "You suck. You should quit." God, You know who I am talking about. I try to have intergrity, to do the right thing, to encourage those around me. It seem there is no reward for this!

Life just really sucks right now.

A Discouraged Foootball Player

Dear Football Player,

Even though it doesn't seem like it, I have seen all of which you have spoken, the good and the bad.

I've seen the faith you have had during those very dark August days when just putting on a jersey didn't seem possible. I worked some miracles to get you back for another year in your very expensive private school. Everyone who knew your situation, even your own parents, were amazed that you could believe the unseen so clearly!

It made me smile to see your faith in Me!

If I could do all that I have done, don't you think I can heal an ankle and a finger? Remember who I am!

And, about those bad guys, I want you to think about how beautifully a diamond shines against a black background.

Don't quit, Discouraged Football Player. It is always the darkest just before dawn.

Here's something I asked my friend Isaiah to write down for me a few years back. He wrote it to encourage you!

Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth
Does not become weary or tired.
His understanding is inscrutable.
He gives strength to the weary (football player who wants to quit),
And to him who lacks might (the will to overcome difficult circumstances) He increases power.
Though youths grow weary and tired,
And vigorous young men stumble badly (drop passes, run wrong routes, sprain their ankle, break their fingers),
Those who wait for the Lord ( invite Him to help them overcome, ask Him to join the team)
Will gain new strength (mentally and physically);
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary. (Isaiah 40: 28-31)

Football Player, I am with you at every practice, game, and in your mind where the discouraging voice speaks. I'm the One who created in you the ability and desire to play football! Surely, we will walk through this valley of discouragement together. The top of the mountain where you dream to reach is very far right now, but You are never alone.

I love you so much,


Monday, September 6, 2010

Labor Day Events

Many things have been going on at Hillcrest Cottage the past month or so. Soon, it will be time to process and blog... until then, a few pics tell some of the story.

Beautiful Lucy Continues to Learn the Hillcrest Cottage Life: Four Month old Lucy can 'sit', 'shake', and tell me when she needs to go outside... most of the time. She also knows how to steal naps on my bed.

Davis Turns 17!

Number Nine Begins the Football Season

Cadet Kinley's 'GF Surprise' Labor Day Visit: We love this incredible GF very much... and... all the more because it draws this guy home more often.

Kinley Boys Home for Labor Day: Every mom knows how this feels to have everyone together... even if only for a weekend. These three guys are different in every way... except for their awesome-ness!

Daily life is definitely full of up and down struggles that can sometimes suck away all energy. It is important to jump in a helicopter and get the bird's eye big picture view. That's what this post has been about doing... and... I have to say... it is an encouragement to my own heart to see these images and be reminded that Hillcrest Cottage Life is a very blessed one.