Quietly I rise each morning and lace my shoes and go outside and run. Before the sun, before my family wakes, I am running. Many mornings I have been running for hours while most of you sleep.I just laid her down for her nap. As I lay in her bed next to her. Her sweet little voice asking me to "SSSSSSS" for sing, I see the mighty GIFT that God has given me. This sweet soul has taught me SO many important lessons. She has taught me to fight for her, to fight for myself, to never give up. She has taught me that I have a purpose, that I have a gift and that I am here to spread the good news.
In 8 days, on November 5, 2011, I will be running my first full marathon. 26.2 miles. Yes, you read that number correctly.
18months ago I ran my very first 5K. I was a nervous wreck. I had never run a race before. But, my cousin's wife had just gone to heaven and I wanted to run for her and how hard she fought breast cancer. I was also running for Lilah. I wanted her to see that her Mommy tackled a big fear and tried something very new and scary. My friend, Melissa, ran it with me. She ran slightly in front of me. She turned around every few minutes and told me I was almost there. Then, right before the finish line, she slowed up and watched me cross the finish line. The race photos showed her cheering me on from behind. I will NEVER forget that moment!
That night at church, she asked me to run the Princess Half Marathon with her. I told her she had lost her mind because I had just completed 3 miles and thought I would die. She told me I had months to train.
I did. On February 27, 2010 we dressed in tutus and tiaras and ran 13.1 miles through Disney World with our black tank tops embroidered with HOPE. We were running for Lilah. At the finish line Aaron held Lilah up so I could find my family. I cried with Liz and Melissa as we crossed the line.
One more time I am lacing my shoes and running for my girl. And this time, even more than the last, I am more nervous. I sit here with ice packs on my knees resting my overworked body as I type this. I sit typing with hands trembling as I realize what I am about to do for my child. For my family.
I want my children to see that their Mama was dedicated. She didn't give up. She didn't give in to the pain and fear. She was determined to cross that line on her feet.
Melissa and I talked the other day and her words brought me to tears. She said, "Katie Sharp (she always calls me by my full name) , I don't run 26 miles for just anyone. I am running this race with you...for her." Tears streamed down my face as I listened to her.
One more time, team HOPE will be running together. We will be in those same black tank tops embroidered with HOPE.
God has given me this child for a reason and a purpose.
I am not a "strong" person. I am not superwoman. I am not different than any of you. I draw my strength from Jesus. I credit HIM and HIM alone for all of this. For everything.
I know that those of you reading this are wondering how I am finding such joy in each moment when months ago, not too long ago, I was still stuck in SO much grief.
John 9:3 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him."
I didn't see then what I finally do today. Lilah has changed us all. She has made us closer to Jesus. She has made us realize that we CANNOT do this by ourselves. We cannot do this on our own power and strength. Lilah was sent to me to teach me that I can do ALL things through HIM...and you can too.
Did I ever think I would be running a full marathon? NO WAY!!! Did I ever think I would be running for hours? NOPE!
But, I also never saw myself as the mother to a child with needs. I never saw myself as the person who would put her foot down and say what she needed. I never saw myself as Jesus' child. I thought that HIS grace was for everyone BUT me. Boy was I wrong. HE came to save us ALL. HE is inviting us to a life of freedom and grace. All we have to do is reach our hand back out to HIS that has been there all along and accept HIS offer.
Do you remember me telling you earlier in this post how Melissa watched me cross that finish line and cheered me on? She did for me what I have been doing for Lilah. I have been cheering her on to walk, talk, grow and learn.
In 8 days I will be drawing strength from Jesus as I run 26.2 miles. When I cross that line, and YES I will, it will be one of the most emotional moments of my life.
I will have done something that I never thought I would EVER do.
May I ask you to pray for me, Melissa,the other runners, and the people that I am quietly praying for as I run 26.2 miles for HOPE.
Philippians 4:13 is what I repeat as I run my long runs in practice. And this will be what I recite as the miles increase and I want to quit:
"I can do ALL things through HIM who gives me strength!"