God is not in the tragedy, but in its response

Originally I had planned to write today about the great run I had yesterday and how all pistons seem to be firing correctly, but my heart is too heavy to speak of those things.

Most of you know that I work in the office at an elementary school.  Yesterday afternoon we learned about a horrific wreck in our area that claimed the lives of 3 people.  Living in a small community, you always wonder who was involved, because chances are you know them or someone in their family.  I am so sad to say that we knew those involved in the wreck.  A mother, her husband and one-year old daughter were killed instantly in the crash.  While her other 3 sons were happily in class at our school.

To say that our campus is devastated would be an understatement.  The kids on this campus are OUR kids and when something terrible happens in their lives, we hurt for them.  We worry about their future and how they will cope with the changes that are inevitable.

Our community has suffered through some terrible events in the past few months.  The last one was the North Central Texas College softball bus crash in the Fall.  Several local girls played on the team and 2 girls from our county lost their lives in it.  Times like these cause us to reevaluate our beliefs and focus on the “important” things in life.

Being Presbyterian, I am always amazed at how people can actually explain these events (with conviction and mean it) by saying that “God needed another angel”.  To that, I say that God is God and doesn’t need anything.  Another one that I have difficulty with is that “it was God’s plan”.  Ok…..I know that Presbyterians are known for our belief in “predestination”, but I don’t worship a God whose plan is ripping a loving mother away from her 3 children…..or multiplying a family’s grief by calling home a 20 year old woman whose mother passed just over a year before.  I just don’t believe that, but I do believe that God weeps and grieves with us when these terrible things happen.

I think that “predestination” means that God is omnipotent and knows all, but that does not specifically mean it is in God’s “plan” for these things to happen.  God gave humans free will, and as a consequence, events happen that are terrible and out of our control.  Such as crashes in fast-travelling vehicles, which were invented and made by man (and driven by man, I might add).

So where is God in all of this?  One of my favorite quotes (ok, I don’t even know if it is a real quote, but when I heard it the first time it stuck with me) is “God is not in the tragedy, but in the response to the tragedy.”  I believe this with all my heart.  God works through human actions.  Through hugs and food and money given to honor a person’s life and in so many other ways that can’t even be named.  God is in the response, not in the event.

After 9-11, when our country came together as one in response to that tragedy: God was in the response.

After Allison died and my community honored her and held up her grieving husband and kids: God was in the response.

After the terrible tornadoes in Norman, OK, and many donated their time to help clean up and rebuild: God was in the response.

After the Boston Marathon bombing and runners across the country laced up to run in honor of the victims: God was in the response.

After the fertilizer plant explosion in West, TX and donations of school supplies and money poured in: God was in the response.

After Meg was run over and killed while out on a run and runners across the country ran in her honor and left their shoes in an on-site memorial: God was in the response.

After the NCTC bus crash and people across the country gave tribute to the 4 angels lost in that tragedy: God was in the response. (YouTube tribute here)

And in our most recent tragedy, while the wound is still fresh and our hearts are heavy with sorrow, one thing is certain: God will be in the response.

My point is that if we open our eyes, we can see God’s work, because God has a knack for enabling positive things to happen from negative events.

The family involved in the wreck was like most families in my area: they struggled to make ends meet.  If you feel moved to give, there has been a Go Fund Me account created to help with funeral expenses.

God bless,


Fighting the imbalance (no snickering allowed!)

First, I highly encourage you to read @RunningLonely‘s recap of his 24-hour race here.  I’m still amazed at how he pushed through, and in awe of his accomplishment!!  (Read my blog first, though, because my post will pale in comparison with his! 😉

At the beginning of 2014, the members of my Sunday school class were challenged to pick one word as their focus for the year.  I never could settle on a word, although I pondered it many times throughout the year.  Over and over, one word, or theme, kept coming up: balance.Balance

I’ve always struggled with balancing work/family/extracurricular activities.  I think it is something that moms just do in our society.  This past year, though, I found myself yearning for a change.  I realized during marathon training that SOMETHING had to give, and the only way to describe it is that visceral feeling that I get when something HAS to be done.  (Well, usually that visceral feeling is the one that gets me injured, but it’s a feeling that is hard for me to shake.)  My schedule was incredibly over-booked yet some how I managed to get most of my scheduled runs in AND wash clothes.  Having clean clothes was the real victory.  One thing (among many) that suffered was my strength training, and boy, did I suffer because of it.  I am quite certain that I would have run Dallas healthy and happy, had I kept up proper strength and cross training.

So this idea of balance had been on my mind, almost constantly during the last quarter of 2014. In rolled 2015 and I STILL couldn’t settle on a word.  Until last Thursday.  It hit me like a brick in a moment of beautiful clarity while Alli and I were driving home from practice.  My one word: balance.  WHY did it take so long for the light bulb to turn on?  I need balance across my life: in work/family and in my fitness between running/strength and cross training.  Balancing my training was even one of my goals for 2015.  What can I say?  The universe usually has to knock on my brain several times for the message to sink in.  (And, OK, we ALL know that I am imbalanced.)

I think one reason that my brain has been hesitant to settle on this word is because committing to it means I have to make some hard decisions and then execute those decisions.  This will push me outside my comfort zone, but we all need to live outside our comfort zones, right?  Still, this will be one of the biggest challenges of this exercise.

Yesterday was a special day in the life of our church, and for my family!  My son, Logan, was ordained and installed as the youth elder on session for the upcoming year.  (The session is the governing body for our local church.) From this point on, Logan will always be a fully ordained elder in the Presbyterian Church, USA.  It is indeed an honor, and I hope he understands just how much so.  The most special part of the morning was the actual ordination, when all ordained elders, deacons and clergy were invited to come lay hands on the person being ordained.  Since I am also an elder in PCUSA, I was standing right next to Logan with my hand on his shoulder.  What an honor to be able to share that moment with him!

Logan, just before the ordination ceremony.
Logan with Pastor Brad, just before the ordination ceremony.

It was another fun weekend as far as sports were concerned!  Bonham High School soccer tied 2 games and lost 1 in their season-opening tournament, a HUGE improvement over last year.  Last year at this same tournament, we got our rear ends handed to us over and over, and we were not able to maintain possession of the ball.  This year, however, we were able to maintain possession of the ball roughly half the time, if not more, and we out-shot our opponents in the games we tied.  Eventually the ball WILL find the back of the net!

Alli played in her first basketball game of the season in our local rec league.  She scored 11 of our 13 points, including a buzzer-beater that put us ahead 1 point, for the win!  I mustered as much excitement as is possible for me to muster for a basketball game.  All I could think about was what a ball hog she seemed to be, although I wonder if it was the coach’s strategy?  (I know NOTHING about basketball.)  In any case, my biggest concern is that throwing the basketball doesn’t cause her to start throwing her elbows out when she attempts to set a volleyball….because elbows out won’t work for a setter.  #obsessivevolleyballmom

Our sweet young ladies after their thrilling 1-point win!
Our sweet young ladies after their thrilling 1-point win!

BIG congrats to my daughter, Taylor, as her team finished VERY well in this weekend’s ranking tournament.  There are 3 BIG tournaments in our region and this was the first, which is used for the initial team rankings that will be released later this week.  Her finish should put her team in the top 30, which is PHENOMENAL!!  I know she was proud of the effort from her girls.  Taylor is a great volleyball player, but I think her true calling is as a coach!  She is disciplined but fun and could motivate a fence post to greatness, if she wanted!

Taylor's team from last year.  YES, these 14 year-olds were all taller than her ;) (She is back row on the right)
Taylor’s team from last year. YES, these 14 year-olds were all taller than her 😉 (She is back row on the right)

I’ll leave you with an update on my personal quest to get back out on the roads.  For more reasons that you care to read, I decided to move ahead to the next phase of rehab and started Sunday.  In this phase, I add weights to the strength exercises (3x/week), bike for 60 min every other day and walk for 30 min on the days I don’t bike.  So yesterday morning I did my strength exercises and hopped on the bike trainer for an hour in the afternoon.  I’m NOT complaining, but riding for an hour and going nowhere is difficult mentally.  I looked at my watch, literally, almost every 2 minutes.  Today, I have a little tightness in my ITB, but I halfway expected this, since this is the longest sustained exercise I have done since running the marathon on December 14.  Even so, I don’t have any discomfort and the tightness isn’t severe, by any standards.  I am so encouraged by the way my body has responded this last week and am allowing myself to be cautiously excited about my return to running in two weeks!!

It’s Monday….all day!  Make the best of it and drink coffee when needed!