Tag Archive: life

Lessons from a Mud Run

You may remember, before all of the NY excitement, that I mentioned I was doing the Seabee Volkslauf Mud Run that takes place every year at the Naval Construction Batallion Center in Gulfport. My friend Melissa, who is also the Ombudsman (family support liaison) for our Navy det (that's detachment or unit for you civilian friends) talked me and another friend, Kim, into doing it as a team. Melissa is the most athletic out of the three of us. She plays on a women's soccer team and runs pretty regularly. Kim and I were just hoping we could finish and not pass out or die before the end.

All of us were doing it to meet a challenge (I mean, could we actually do this??) and in a small way, honor our husbands who are all  serving together in Afghanistan right now.

Though it's been a couple of weeks now, I will never forget just how tough that day was!

Six miles long. Mud pits and walls and big mounds of dirts that resembled hills to climb and logs to swim under (in muddy water). One mile alone was JUST mud pits and hills. Over and over. They called it the Mile of Mud. Did I mention this was SIX MILES?

We called ourselves the SeaBabes of 28 in honor of our Seabee husbands and their battalion, NMCB 28, which is decomissioning. (Seabees, incidentally, never actually spend time on the sea. They are land-based, doing construction projects for the Navy and other branches. They fix what the Marines blow up. People like to see the Seabees coming because they make everything better. Though I may be a little biased...) This deployment that they're on is the last one for the Old Pros.

Here we are, before the race. Don't we look all fresh and ready to go? We had no idea what we were in for. Remember this image... it doesn't last...

seababes

Lesson #1: You Can't Worry About What Everyone Else is Doing

We did this race with 1500 other runners/participants. Most of them were military. Some even did it in their combat boots (that's hard core, y'all!). Within the first 10 minutes, we knew - um - we weren't going to be keeping up with those folks. And when we hit our first obstacle - climbing over 10 ft hay bales (ok, they were probably more like 6 or 7, but still, they were taller than we were), it took us a while to get through it (and we might still be there if not for the kindness of a couple of guys who gave us a leg up (and a little push) to get over them. We had to decide early on our goal was to finish, and it wasn't going to matter how long it took us.

 

Lesson #2: Some Journeys Aren't Meant to be Done Alone

There are many things in my life I have done and accomplished working by myself (of course, always with God at my side). But then there are moments where it's so much better to have others doing it with you. This was one of those moments. The rules of the race actually required teams of three to stay together - you couldn't leave a man (or woman) behind. I'm so glad. We warned each other when there was a drop off in a mud pit, we took each others hands and helped each other up the hills, we talked each other through climbing over walls. These two ladies helped encourage me when I wasn't sure I could keep going, and I hope I did the same for them too!

 

Lesson #3: Everyone is Afraid of Something.

Each of us had our own "thing" we didn't like on this race. For Kim, I think it was the hills - she had a leg that started cramping up just a couple of miles in, and it was PAINFUL to have to climb up and over those enormous hills. For Melissa, who did awesome at just about everything, including keeping us going when we seriously just wanted to sit on the side and wave to everyone else going by, she didn't care for the muddy log pits. These were pits covered by logs and the only way through them was to go UNDER, like under the couple of inches between the log and the top of the mud. "There is no way I am putting my face in that!" she would say. Me neither! So we would have to go through on our backs and back-float under the logs (with everything under the muddy water except our eyes, lips and noses! I don't even want to think what might have gotten into my ears!).

And what was I afraid of? The wall. Before we even started the race, I told the girls that I hoped there weren't any walls to climb.

Um, there were several. (Here's one of the pics the race folks took that is proof we went over a wall - well, at least proof that Melissa did - but I promise, I got there eventually!)

thewall

And it was HARD. Climbing up a super slanted wall is hard enough when you have spaghetti for arms, but doing it when you're already muddy and wet and slippery was even more of a challenge. And I was so afraid I was going to fall. But I did it (and got the bruises to show for it when I slid completely down a wall the first time I attempted to climb)... faced my fear and overcame it (well, until we got to the next one. And then I had to start all over!).  I couldn't have done it without the encouragement and support of my friends.

 

Lesson #4: Sometimes it's better to forge your own path.

When we were climbing hills (and more and more people passed us), we sometimes found great little foot-holds others had already made that made it a little easier to get up and over. But the more time passed, and as more people went through, the more often we found that those paths already made were super muddy and slippery and much harder to follow (and extremely easy to fall in and slide down than climb up). It was actually better to find our own way up the hill, and make our own foot-holds. I think there's a lesson there for life too.

 

Lesson #5: Don't Stop - Keep Going

Probably around mile 4 or 5, things got pretty tough. We were exhausted. That was also about the time we hit the Mile of Mud. And we stopped going slow. We stopped almost entirely. And the longer we took breaks, the harder it was to get going again. So it's ok to take things slow - but keep going. Once you lose momentum, it's that much harder to get it back.

seabees_endurance

Lesson #6: Sometimes You Just Get Stuck. Ask for Help.

Different mud pits had different types of mud. Some pits were more muddy water than actual mud. Some were sloshy, and you tended to choose the middle rather than the edges because it was easier to navigate. And then some were just seriously thick as Sonic milkshakes, so that if you weren't careful, you'd get stuck. We saw shoes EVERYWHERE. People lost them in the mud, or sometimes they just got tired of the mud sloshing in their toes and ditched them to the sides. I was determined I wasn't going to lose my shoes during the race.

And then we came to Mud Pit #24 (or whatever it was, I lost count.) This one was special because it was a mud pit that went right up against a wall (yes, my favorite thing as you know).So you had to navigate the pit and then immediately climb up the wall. But there were a couple of problems. This mud was THICK. And there was a crowd of people trying to navigate it. And to leave the pit, you had to climb the wall, but there were only two ropes and unless you were Spider Man, you had to wait your turn.

This must have been one of the trickier obstacles because there were several military guys standing to the side watching. One of them tried giving us advice - "just run across the pit and you won't get stuck." Good advice. If I'd been the only one there. I attempted the run and made it about a foot to the wall. And that's where I stuck my landing. Literally. Because I had to wait on the ones trying to climb the ropes.

And I was stuck. My legs literally were encased in mud, and no matter how hard I tried to move them, I wasn't going anywhere. And I was NOT leaving my shoes!

The same military guy who gave me the brilliant advice about running across the pit told me it would be easier if I just stretched out like I was swimming, and my legs would come out. Yes, but then my face and my arms would have been stuck. No thanks.

I looked around and saw two ROTC kids right next to me who weren't as stuck as I was. "Could y'all dig me out?" I asked. Thankfully, that's just what they did.

Sometimes you can find your way out of tight situations on your own. And sometimes, God brings other people to you to help.

 

Lesson #7: Life willl always bring challenges. Finish them well.

Six miles, through serious mud, through utter exhaustion, steep hills, scary walls, all shoes still on feet and 2 1/2 hours later, we finished. There will be times where it doesn't matter how fast you get through something or how quickly you finish. The important part is that you face your challenge and you finish. You get through it. And you do your  best with what you have and what God gives you.

finishline

afterrace

 

 

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Where Do You Hide?

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. ~ Psalm 91:1

In life, all of us at one time or another seek out shelter. We look for comfort, for safety, for emotional security, for the knowledge that everything will be ok. Elijah could relate. We read his story in 1 Kings 19. After entering into a major competition with Queen Jezebel and King Ahab and their prophets of Baal, and seeing God bring victory against them, Elijah still didn't feel like much of a winner, after he learned Jezebel had put a bounty on his head. His life was in jeopardy. Elijah needed shelter in the worst kind of way. So he looked for it in a cave.

What Cave Do You Hide In?

It's easy to find ourselves hiding in a cave of our own making.

Unsettled

Unsettled

Have you ever waited for God to work?

You're expecting, you're counting, you're hoping, you're.... waiting.

And the longer you wait, the more anxious you become? Or maybe the more perplexed? Or confused? Or discouraged?

Have you ever waited for God to work?

And yet, isn't God working all the time? For even when His hand is not obvious, isn't His Hand still on it?

Know what I mean?

He's got it. He's on it. He's working.

We just can't see it.

We're like the child who can't wait to open the beautiful wrapped gift sitting in front of him.

But it's not time.

And so we wait.

And we fidget and we get up and walk around, and we sigh loudly, or complain quietly.

That the waiting is taking too long.

Waiting makes us feel...unsettled.

I don't like to feel unsettled.

Limbo is not the address I wish to post on my Christmas cards this year.

But I think about some other folks who felt unsettled... and they got to feel that way for 40 years. And they sighed loudly, and they complained softly (and sometimes not so softly) and yet...

God was still in control.

Still in charge.

Still with a plan.

I think God uses our unsettled-ness to focus our attention. I'm doing a personal study of Hebrews this month and over and over, the author reminds us of God's sovereignty. And Jesus's gift. And God's plan for us all.

So we wait... for the things spoken, and unspoken. With hearts yearning for hope and spirits hoping for peace.

And let the unsettled feelings come.

Because regardless of how long we'll continue to wait...

There is one foundation we can rest our unsettled heads.

The Lord is my rock, 

my fortress, and my deliverer, 

my God, my mountain where I seek refuge, 

my shield  and the horn of my salvation, 

my stronghold. 

~ Psalm 18:2

 

 

Faith in the midst of uncertainty reminds us what faith means in the first place.

 

 

 

Kids Say… Well, You Know

So as a special surprise for my husband for our 10th anniversary that's coming up at the end of this week (honey, if you end up reading this... well, SURPRISE!), I took our VHS tapes of our wedding and reception to get converted to DVD. The store messed up and gave me two copies of the wedding instead of one of the wedding and reception so I have to go back again tomorrow for the reception. But today I watched the wedding with our 7-year-old. Caleb got a kick out of seeing all of his relatives looking so young as well as unnervingly assuming so many must now be dead, since some looked so old then. (Not all of them are, let me assure you.)

One of the special things we did in the wedding was a reading of scripture...

Lee Myers, the youth minister at the time who we had become good friends with along with his wife Tammy, did the honors. He started with Philipians 4:6-9.

Lee: "Cliff and Sara have chosen a few scriptures today that are very special to them. (Reading) 'Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God...' "

Caleb (interrupting): "Oh, so that's why Daddy doesn't get mad. He remembers!"

Two seconds later...

Caleb (looking at me): "You must have forgot."

OH, when conviction comes through your 7 year old! LOL!

 

The Importance of Doing Life Together

We just launched our new Wives of Faith blog (http://faithwives.blogspot.com/) for military wives. I hope you'll check it out!

Here is a post I just put up that I decided to cross-post here. (This is also a not-so-very-veiled attempt to update my blog during a really really busy week! :) )

Doing Life Together

In the first chapter of Luke, we read about Mary and the visit she receives from the angel who tells her she will be the mother of Jesus.

Can you imagine receiving this earth-shattering news? One minute you’re tidying up the house, dreaming about your wedding and the home you’ll have with your fiancé Joseph, and suddenly, you’re about to be a mother, even though you’ve never slept with a man. And, you’re told, you won’t be just any mother – but the mother of God’s Son! It would be enough to make my knees bend and my head swoon.

I wonder how Mary felt at that moment. Was she afraid? Overwhelmed? In shock? Did she tremble with the thought of how she was going to handle it all? The Bible doesn’t say much about the state of her emotions, except that she was “thoroughly shaken” (Luke 1:29, The Message) from seeing an angel at her doorstep.

I wonder if her first thought was how she would tell Joseph… or what her parents would think. I wonder if she had the scary sensation of being left completely on her own; did she envision the possibility of being deserted and forced to manage this unexpected pregnancy and life-altering event all by herself?

God, however, had something else in mind. The angel quickly lets her know she’s not alone – her cousin Elizabeth is also pregnant.

“And did you know that your cousin Elizabeth conceived a son, old as she is? Everyone called her barren, and here she is six months pregnant. Nothing, you see, is impossible with God,” the angel tells her (Luke 1:36).

Mary’s eyes must have widened. Elizabeth? The one who told me stories when I was just a toddler? Elizabeth, who is old enough to be my grandmother? Her prayer for a child has been answered, after all these years.

And that’s when she sees it. That’s when it clicks. There is Elizabeth’s calling, and there is hers. God must know what He’s doing.

“Yes, I see it all now,” she tells the angel. “I’m the Lord’s maid, ready to serve. Let it be with me just as you say.” (Luke 1:38)

Mary has reported for duty. She has stepped up to the task God has laid before her. She accepts God’s invitation to be part of something that will change the world forever.

And then she does something else. She goes and sees her friend.

This is where we need to stop. This is where we need to pay attention.

Mary could have told herself that she’d be fine, that she could handle the morning sickness and the nerves and the looks and whispers of other people by herself. But she recognizes the treasure the angel has passed to her when he tells her about Elizabeth. She doesn’t have to go through this new adventure by herself.

So she travels to visit Elizabeth. The Bible says she doesn’t “waste a minute” (Luke 1:39).

And Elizabeth doesn’t disappoint. She is a friend of friends and offers three things we can all benefit from. First, she gives Mary encouragement.

“You’re so blessed among women, and the babe in your womb, also blessed!” Elizabeth tells her young cousin. (Luke 1:42)

She gives her confirmation.

“And why am I so blessed that the mother of my Lord visits me? The moment the sound of your greeting entered my ears, the babe in my womb skipped like a lamb for sheer joy.” (Luke 1:44)

She also gives Mary affirmation.

“Blessed woman, who believed what God said, believed every word would come true!” (Luke 1:45)

Encouragement, confirmation, affirmation. These are things we all need as we go through life. We can receive these things from God. We can also receive these things from friends, and I believe we need to have it from both.

It is tempting when we’re going through challenges to go into Fort Mode. We strengthen the perimeter, secure the entrances, pull up the drawbridge. We depend on ourselves and no one else. But that’s not what God desires for us.

Sure, friends can let you down. They can make mistakes or ask ridiculous questions or simply not understand. But they can also encourage you when you need it the most. They can rally around you when the marathon you’re running feels too long. They can offer a tissue when you just need to cry. And they can help you stand up when you need to keep going.

Reach out for friends today. Reach out, and be a friend to someone else.