Sunday, February 17, 2019

20/20 Vision

So . . . I went for a little walk last month. On the first Saturday of 2019, I arose as usual, laced up my tennis shoes and decided that it was a beautiful day to walk a half-marathon. No hoopla. No cheering crowds. No medal to commemorate this achievement. Nope. Just a simple walk by myself up and down the hills of my neighborhood that took just a little over 4 hours to complete. But why?

Because I have a goal - a lofty goal! Before I venture forward and talk about my dreams for the future, please allow me to share some of the highlights of our family from last year. 2018 was an incredible year with memories to last a lifetime!

In the spring, after 5 long years of discipline and training, David was selected to compete on American Ninja Warrior, Season 10! We traveled to Indianapolis, IN in April to cheer him on. Our whole family was so proud of him as he advanced to the city finals and we were able to watch him when it aired on national TV in the summer. Ninja Pastor D-Wom was incredible, and we were amazed that God gave him opportunity to shine in front of all America! We're thrilled to be on Team D-Wom!

Then in the summer, after being together for 5 years and growing in their love for one another, Tim and Heidi were married in August (just shy of 6 years as a couple). It was a beautiful, fairytale wedding in the most perfect setting imaginable! What incredible joy I had as a mom as I witnessed my only daughter commit her life to the man of her dreams. The joy was multiplied as Jason walked Heidi down the aisle wearing his dress blues, David performed the ceremony, and Danny and Chris escorted me to my front-row seat. Words cannot describe the emotions of that day for me! I treasured every beautiful moment!


A few months later, in December, after 5 years of being together, Jason and Cortnie welcomed sweet little Felix Alexander into their family. Evan became a big brother, and Olivia now has 2 baby brothers to play with in the California sun! They became a family of 5, and I am now a blessed GrandMama with 6 precious grandkids. Life is grand!

Over the course of nearly 5 years adjusting to life post-Marine Corps, Chris is now excelling in a more than challenging and stressful profession. He has been OTR driving for the past year and a half. I have so much respect for him and the behind-the-scenes sacrifices he made for his family in 2018. We are truly grateful!
And most recently, after more than 5 years of planning, preparing, studying, working and praying, David and Brittanica just launched a new church plant, The Grid Church, Chicago a few weeks ago. I was thrilled to witness their grand opening!
And then there's me! After more than 5 years of struggling mentally, emotionally and physically through the changes that occur mid-life, I am finally better. There's so much more to the story, but simply put I feel happy and whole again. Thank goodness!
Which brings me back to the focus of this post. Most often when I am quiet, it's because I'm hiding. I don't want people to worry about me, especially when I know that I'll eventually be ok with God's help. But this time was different. Quietly, over the past year when I was silent on this blog (and I apologize for that!), I was laboring hard in secret to regain control of my life. And it worked! 
Did you notice a recurring theme above that ran through the events of our family in 2018? A timeframe?
5 years! 5 years training to become a Ninja. 5 years of relationship before committing for a lifetime. 5 years of relationship and marriage as children are added to the family. 5 years struggling professionally and adjusting to career changes. 5+ years of grueling labor to birth a new church in one of the hardest cities in America. And for me personally, 5 years of walking through one of the hardest seasons of my life and the emptiness it held - midlife.
5 is the number of God's grace. Whether it's 5 days, 5 weeks, 5 years - or for me, 5 children - I've learned that we are all weak, no matter how strong we think we might be, and we all go through seemingly unmanageable seasons. We all need God's help, His favor, to see us through the changes every season of life brings. We need faith. Vision.
We need 20/20 vision.  As I look back over my lifetime, I can see the hand of God and His grace in absolutely every detail of my life and that of my children. It helps me now and gives me confidence that the God who helped me before will help me again. Looking back helps us as we look forward
In 2 months, I will celebrate my 60th birthday!  And I am actually quite excited about it! It may seem silly, but as I have reflected on my life over the past year, it seems that my "seasons" can pretty well be summed up in 20-year increments.
The 20 "GROWING" years (ages 0-20). A little girl who loved dolls, jump rope, jacks, hopscotch, books, school, friends, my mom, and . . . more than anything else . . . ballet!
The 20 "QUIET" years (ages 20-40). A young woman hiding a lot of pain whose main focus was to love, nurture and protect these 5 precious babies entrusted to my care: Danny, Jason, David, Chris and Heidi. Be still my heart.
The 20 "VOCAL" years (ages 40-60). A mature woman who watched babies grow into incredible teenagers and young adults. I am so proud of each one of them! God did an amazing work of healing and restoring my heart from the pain of past hurts. I found my voice and gained confidence in speaking the truth.
I watched these 5 . . .
grow into these wonderful adults!
So now, the question for me is, "WHAT'S NEXT?" What is the theme for my future?
I want the next 20 years to be the "GIVING" years (ages 60-80+). May the steps I begin (quite literally!) in 2019 blossom and grow by the year 2020!
I'd love to travel, and talk, and share about the grace and faithfulness of our Heavenly Father. I'd love to write more and spend quality time with family and friends. I'd love to birth Hearts and Pearls Ministries and help as many mamas as I can mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically. I'd love to have the resources to financially meet the needs of as many people as possible. I'd love to have the ability to travel from coast to coast and spend time with my kids and grandkids. I'd like to restore hope to the hopeless, peace to the restless, compassion to the hurting, and healing to the wounded. I'd love to be the voice of encouragement and inspiration in a world that is weary and disillusioned. I want to tell the world that Jesus cares!

"How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!" Romans 10:15
And, with that in mind, I'm starting by going for a walk. A walk that celebrates LIFE!
I will share more details in my next post, but simply put, what happened to me last year - 2018 - was really quite remarkable! In the midst of my mid-life struggle that had been going on far too long, I came home from church one beautiful Sunday afternoon last April and felt compelled to go for a walk. I strapped on my tennis shoes and went on a one-mile walk. I breathed in the warm spring air, and I felt better! The next night after work, I went out again and walked for 2 miles. The next night, 3 miles. And lo and behold, I could think again. It seemed impossible that after years of sadness, depression and questioning what the rest of my life was going to look like that all of a sudden the questions were gone! Over the course of the next month, I came back to life! There's more to the story, but for now I'd like to tell you how I plan to celebrate my 60th birthday.
I'm going to walk/run a marathon! In my neighborhood, with as many or as few as would like to celebrate with me. You all are invited! Once again, you might be wondering WHY?
Because it's symbolic. We all go through seasons of life as we walk from birth to death. Life is a marathon that can be exuberant at times as well as excruciatingly painful at others. Sometimes it seems impossible, just like walking a marathon! We need God's help through it all.
And I have asked God to help me as I've been preparing to walk/jog this marathon. As I mentioned before, the training actually began last May. After I was comfortable walking 3 miles, I added a mile each month until I was walking between 9-10 miles/5 times a week by November, 2018. At that point, I wanted to walk a half-marathon the beginning of January, 2019, which I did as shown in the opening photo. Believe me, I couldn't believe that I actually did it! The plan now is to add 1 mile every 3 weeks with hopes of reaching 16 miles by the end of March. Then hopefully, 26.2 miles in mid-April!
This happened last Saturday!
Woo-hoo! 14.5 miles in 4 hours and 10 minutes (about a 17-minute mile). Not super fast, but I did it! (In case you're wondering, the app on my phone interprets the hills I walk as flights of stairs.) Not too shabby for an almost 60-year-old gramma! Next goal: 15.5 miles the beginning of March. I can only do this with God's help!
And so my dear friends, there's the update on what's been going on in my life in 2018. Crazy, right?! Thank you for your enduring love, encouragement, and friendship through the years. In times of my nonstop chattering, thank you for listening. In times of my quietness, thank you for caring and understanding. In times of my joy, thank you for sharing it with me. In times of my sadness, thank you for carrying the burden with me. In times of sharing my dreams, thank you for supporting me. And in times of crazy goals like this one, thank you for encouraging me!
Let's make 2019 a CELEBRATION OF LIFE!
And 2020, we're coming for you with CLEAR VISION for all God wants to do! 20/20 vision!
With all my love and a heart full of gratitude, my dear friends,

May The Lord bless you and protect you.
May The Lord smile on you and be gracious to you.
May The Lord show you His favor and give you His peace.
Baby Teresa learning to walk. I'm still holding my Heavenly Father's hand and learning!
Pearls in the making!