Happy New Year!!!!!

Happy New Year!!!.............What?...............

It’s MARCH?!!?............... How the hell did that happen?

     As cliché as they are, I usually really do enjoy writing-out my New Year’s Resolutions (usually before the year is a fourth of the way over.) I actually have a ritual – even a designated notebook – where I write out my three personal and three professional goals for the year – and then I write three steps I’m going to take to make those goals a reality. (Some of my past goals have been running a marathon and pursuing work as a commercial model, so they usually have a fairly high success rate – much more optimistic than saying my New Year’s Resolution is to give-up bread or coffee…which would fail within the first week.)

     But this year, I was in a really weird place as the New Year rolled around – almost an emotional/spiritual purgatory. You see 2014 has begun with me experiencing some of the highest of highs and the lowest of lows…all at the same time.

     On Thursday, January 9th I reluctantly pulled out of my driveway – watching my husband wave from the rearview mirror – with my three girls, mother, aunt and two sisters to travel to Walt Disney World (the happiest place on Earth.) We’d been planning this trip for six months (a first for all of the women in my family to get to experience together that was so monumental we even had T-shirts made), my sister and I had been training for a year in preparation for running the Disney marathons...heck, Bianca even ran her first season of cross-country – as a kindergartener – to prepare to run the Mickey Mile, and I’d decided to use the marathon as an opportunity to raise money for our local Relay for Life (raising almost $700.)

      But as life is notoriously known for…we were dealt a few surprises over the months leading up to our departure. I’d injured my back on a long training run with only three weeks left to recover, and – most importantly – as I pulled out of my driveway that Thursday morning so early in our New Year, my father-in-law lie in the ICU on life support.

      Now, my husband and I talked a lot about whether or not I should stay home or go…and we ultimately agreed that it would be better for the girls to be in the Happiest Place on Earth than at home under the circumstances. Plus, we’d worked so hard and raised so much money for this marathon. PLUS, we were blindly optimistic that my father-in-law would pull through this never-ending nightmare.

       So I pulled out of the driveway full of excitement, nervousness, hope, doubt, fear, apprehension, happiness…emotional purgatory!

       And on Sunday, January 12, I ran my second marathon in eight months. As I boarded the bus to head to the start line at 3:30 a.m., I just prayed that my back would last for me to cross the finish line. I’d given-up hope of finishing in the time I wanted, I just wanted to finish. So when I crossed the finish line with a time of 4:57:03 (almost three minutes faster than my ultimate goal of finishing in under five hours), I was at the HIGHEST of HIGHS!!!! My Finish Line photo says it all. The look on my face is that of someone who is so PROUD of accomplishing a goal, so OVERJOYED with the experience I’ve just had, so HUMBLED by all of the prayers that I could physically feel people bestowing upon me from back home, and DEVASTATED that I could just run 26.2 miles and my father-in-law couldn’t even breath for himself…All of those emotions rolled into one moment, one photograph.

         (Now to the paramedics at the Finish Line, all those emotions looked like a heat stroke, a heart attack or the beginnings of a diabetic blood sugar crash because they tried to usher me off to the medic tent as I was fighting back tears. “Are you okay?” a woman asked taking me by the arm. “Yes,” I sniffled. “I’m just so HAPPY!”)

Five days later, my father-in-law passed away…LOWEST of ALL LOWS. There really aren’t words. The experience is kind-of a blur. Here’s what I take away from Charlie’s passing…1) I have the most AMAZING in-laws on the planet! Walking into my mother-in-law’s house the week after her husband of fifty years passed away was like walking into a hug from God himself. My in-laws have unwavering faith. They KNEW Charlie was in a better place, therefore they were able to grieve with hope (which is something my pastor said during the funeral service that really had an impact on me)…2) It is okay to grieve as long as we grieve with hope. 3) Don’t ask ‘Why me?’ when something awful happens. When you instead ask, ‘Why NOT me?’ you quickly realize that there are millions and millions of people in the world suffering through truly unimaginable circumstances – even greater than your own.

       Ironically, the same day as my father-in-law’s funeral I found out that my dog had cancer and needed an operation. Now, I obviously know that in the grand scheme of things, and compared to what my husband was feeling, a dog is just…a dog. But when you stop and think that this dog is fourteen-years-old and has literally been with me for half my life…it is another LOW.

So here we are at the beginning of March…and since Charlie’s passing life has done something else it is notorious for…it has gone on; constantly flowing and moving as it has done since the dawn of time.

       February brought many more highs to our family – praise the Lord! Chuck is running unopposed for reelection, which I firmly believe was his dad’s doing from up above. Bianca and I got the opportunity to travel with my dad to Colorado. And we got wonderful news about Homer’s surgery…our vet was able to remove all of the cancer so he doesn’t need chemotherapy! MORE HIGHS.

And while we continue to ride the wave of life, I think it is fitting to note that last night was Ash Wednesday (which is blog in and of itself that I will write tomorrow! Just imagine Chuck and myself trying to relax through a church service with our three girls…HA!) And this year, Lent will be my New Year. Because isn’t that what Lent is all about? Renewing your faith, making sacrifices and drawing yourself closer to the Lord. And while in year’s past I have made the sacrifices like giving-up chocolate or lattes…This year I am focusing on looking inward. I will use lent as a time to examine myself and my relationship with God. I will use this time to try to process all of these emotions I’ve been given this year, and I will work to get myself out of spiritual purgatory.

So Happy Lent! May it be filled with happiness, peace and joy!