Proud … 

If I had to describe this past school year I would describe it as CHALLENGING. It started off as any other year had … and then craziness ensued. Getting sick is one of the most selfish things I could have ever done to my kids, my family and my friends. It derailed all of us.

Do I really believe it was my fault?

No. Of course not. But I still feel a tremendous sense of guilt especially when it comes to my kids. They needed me and there were days when I could hardly lift my head. My heart broke each time I couldn’t do something for them. I was angry when they had to struggle without me. They had to step it up and do so much on their own. Things that I normally would do for them or with them. They missed out on our talks. Moments that they used to deflate from their day or share their excitements. They handled stress and problems without me. Again. It broke me.

Today my son George graduates from high school. Goodness I love this kid of mine! He is gentle, kind, compassionate and brilliant. And throughout this past school year he grew into so much more. He matured naturally but also because he had to. He didn’t fight it. He never acted out. He wasn’t bitter. He just went with it. He helped so much. He took on so much. And he accomplished so much. As painful (and wonderful) as it is to admit this, my baby boy grew up in what seems like a few short months. He had to.

Today feels surreal. I want to cry because it’s over and cry from a sense of relief. This was a tough school year but George did it. He finished despite the curve balls life threw at us. And he somehow managed to thrive.

If we are lucky, as parents, sometimes we get a glimpse of reassurance that our kids are READY to take on the world. They get it. They can do this. Those moments when we see clearly that they are exactly what God meant them to be in this time and in this place. I gratefully had many of these moments this school year. They came as a result of time and nature but also out of pain and need. I don’t believe anything happens by chance so I cannot look back on this school year bitterly. All the events that unfolded have delivered us to this day. My baby boy’s graduation day. He got here precisely how he needed to and in a way that has left him better and more capable. What an amazing young man he has become. Indeed.

Well, I hope you all have a day where you are proud!!!

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Celebrating Reese …

I post this every year, because I honestly I feel that this is her testimony of strength and perseverance that she is unable to tell for herself. For me, there are no words that tell this story better. This is about her beginning and how our EPIC journey together unfolded … a legend of sorts about a little warrior who is changing the world one heart at a time.

We were told, when I was about 11 weeks pregnant, that things did not look quite so “typical” … I didn’t care. And I prayed.

A few weeks later we were told, that not only was our baby “not typical”, but there was a chance I would be delivering a still born … I wanted our baby even more fiercely than I had before. And I prayed.

Several weeks later, we almost lost our baby … To which I said an adamant and angry “NO!” And I prayed.

A month later we were told that our baby had a “very large hole in her heart” … To which I said, “I don’t believe you.“ And I prayed.

Two months later we were told, “Your baby is small” … To which I laughed and said, “Of all the things you have told me, this seems pretty manageable.” And I prayed.

Two weeks later, on what was supposed to be a brief doctor’s visit before we headed to our local water park, we were told our baby was not growing, that she was too small and that she was not acting the way she should. We were told that I would be given another amniocentesis to see if her lungs were developed. If they were, my doctor wanted to take her right away … I felt like my body was failing her. And I prayed.

My doctor gave me a drug to speed up our baby’s lung development. The results of the amniocentesis were not good. My doctor told us that our baby’s lungs were not developed, our baby could not breath on her own. Now we had a team of medical professionals. They hoped nothing would go wrong for the next 48 hours so that the steroid they had given me would have enough time to help our baby’s lungs grow … To which I said, “OK”. And I prayed.

Less than 24 hours later I had a hospital room full of people wearing blue running around and pumping my body full of fluids and drugs. We were told that we could no longer wait. We were told our baby wouldn’t be breathing and that she would be very small and weak. To which I cried in my husband‘s arms and said, “I’m scared.” And I prayed.

Minutes later I was strapped to a table. I had refused anything that would alter my mental state, I wanted to be there for our baby. It took a long time to get her out. I was told that she was so small she kept slipping through the doctor’s hands. I kept screaming, “Is she out?!?!” And I prayed.

Then, I heard a cry … To which I thought, “That is loud cry for a baby who is supposed to be weak, small and not breathing.” And I prayed.

A few minutes later our baby was brought over to me, warmly swaddled, pink as can be, breathing on her own and with no hole in her heart. Sure she has some extra chromosomes, but who cares about that? And to which I thought, “You are my miracle and I love you.” And then, I praised God for our beautiful daughter.

Five years ago today, through God’s awesome grace, Reese Lindsey Grace was born by emergency cesarean section. She weighed 2lbs 15oz and was 15 ½ inches long. My world has not been quite the same since, and I would have it no other way.

Happy Birthday my precious Reesey Roo! YOU ARE MY HERO! Mama loves you and all of your EXTRA parts!!!

Well, I hope you all have a day where you celebrate a miracle … and always remember to pray!!!

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Covered in ugly …

Well, I finally did it. I washed my NEW Marathon Maniacs racing tank … that I bought over 4 months ago. I have never worn it before. I’ve been saving it to wear for the first time at the LA Marathon. Last year on that course was where I committed to myself that I would get one, even if it took the rest of my life to do so. It was at mile 23 and I was running very injured, painfully watching runners pass me by. I was broken … and it was terrible.

But then … SHE passed me. SHE was wearing the ugliest pink tech shirt I had ever seen in my life. I will never know HER name. And I will never be able to give HER the huge hug I feel she deserves. But SHE changed my life. She was a Marathon Maniac in a herd of other runners who passed me. And like a light bulb moment of hope it all became clear to me. I would finish my second marathon as best as I could … take the time I needed to heal my ankle … and earn the right to wear one of those ugly shirts.

And 7 months later … I did.

I ran two full marathons 7 days apart becoming Marathon Maniac # 7762. It was one of the happiest moments in my life … because it defined me. It was my statement to myself and LIFE that no matter how hard I might get knocked down, I WILL only get back up STRONGER.

And so, 51 weeks after being broken down and feeling weaker emotionally and physically than I ever care to remember … I will be back … on that same course … only this time … I’ll be the runner wearing the ugly pink tech shirt.

Well, I hope you all have a day where you are proud to be covered in ugly!!!

Finishing strong …

My training for the Los Angeles Marathon is complete. I always consider my last Saturday run before race day my final training run. I usually have two easy 3-milers over the next week to stay loose, but for all intents and purposes training is done. This week brings a significant rest period for your body. There is a science to marathon training. I learn something knew about it every time. I don’t think I’ll ever fully understand it, but I know it works … and I trust it. For some reason it was very important to me to have my last run be outside today. I guess I felt like after all I’d been through this training, I deserved to end it where I feel the most free. But being overly cautious I didn’t want to run in the rain. I am still coughing quite a bit and have a lot of congestion. I have 8 days to get better and I didn’t want to do anything that will make me worse. So I spent the morning hanging with my H-Crew, when there was absolutely no rain. As my crazy training would have it, just as I was walking out the door (no joke) it started pouring! I just had to laugh. Really??? So I sat down and waited. Then I made lunch and waited a little longer. Then the storm passed. This time literally! So I got out there and ran. The first two miles were perfect. Then the sun came out around mile 3 and it got oddly hot. But I pushed through keeping my pace where I wanted it. Then at mile 4 a headwind started. I was like, “Are you kidding me???” It was horrible. And then at mile 6 … another storm. With two miles left to go, I refused to give in. I was finishing this training the way I started it and how I faced every personal trial. STRONG. I have survived two bouts of the darn plague, relived the loss of my mother, saw my baby sicker than she has ever been and thought I had breast cancer! I wasn’t backing down to some rain and wind. Heck, it was down right poetic to end my training this way! And boy oh boy did I get angry! I was talking to myself (god bless my neighbors for loving me through my running antics), pushing myself and somehow … healing myself. I was on a mission to shed the pain and worry and self doubt that consumed me the past 7 weeks. And despite my tears, my coughing and my snot (good lord, where is this coming from), I did it … and it felt simply … amazing.

Well, I hope you all had a day where you FINISHED STRONG!!!