Saturday, December 25, 2010

Gift

The other day I was on my way home from a run when I bumped into a neighbor I hadn't seen in a long time. Red-cheeked and out of breath, I talked to her for a minute about the news in our house and how our children were doing. I was half-in/half-out of the conversation, because in truth, I was totally digging the fact that I had just completed a three-mile run without stopping: a first time accomplishment in my own personal history. When the she asked me about Lucy, I braced myself for the inevitable, "So you're done now, right?"

***
Grant and I got engaged on the day before I graduated from college. Saying "yes" to his proposal was the easiest decision I ever made. Yet, I was very much still a college student - unpaid bills, lofty ambitions, and girlfriends who dreamed of and pined for their very own engagement. I don't think I will ever forget the moment we announced our engagement to one of my very best girlfriends. She was a recent graduate with a good job, a live-in boyfriend, a new car and no engagement ring. I showed her my ring and she started to cry. "I'm happy for you. Really. I am. I just never pictured this for you. I always thought you'd be living downtown alone with cats."

***
My mother always worked when I was a child. She was a beautiful, feminine example of how a woman can have a foot in both worlds and reap the benefits of both. Her office always provided good dinnertime stories and when I imagined my life I always thought that I would follow her example. For a long time, I let my paycheck define who I was as a woman. But, when I had Ben, the truth is, I was too exhausted and too overwhelmed to return to work. (go here for more on that.) My husband had always wanted me to stay home and so the choice was clear. I called my boss and told her I wouldn't be returning. At first I was relieved, I got to nap in the middle of the day when I needed to and if I wanted to stay in my jammies all day, I could. But after a while, the indulgences got too much and I felt as if I was falling. My "self" was slipping away and I didn't like the new me. This is when God intervened. He told me to attack this new life with the same vitality that I did my previous life. So I got out of my jammies and I started living. Life has been pretty darn good ever since.

***

Six months ago, my husband agreed to support me in my long held dream of homeschooling my children. Shortly after moving into our house, about 7 years ago, I made friends with a big group of Catholic homeschooling mothers, and I fell in love. These are truly some of the most inspiring women with whom I have ever made acquaintance. And their children.... They are talented, they are interested, they are respectful, they are devout. This is the life I wanted for my children. After lots of research and prayer, we took the leap.....

and there have been moments that I have sincerely doubted the sincerity of this calling and my abilities to complete this challenge. I am weak in places where I thought I was strong. My patience (which is often attributed as my greatest virtue) has waned and I have found myself on my knees begging God for the strength to just get through this year.

Strength. Dear Lord. Grant me strength.

***

The other night I was sitting in front of the television with all the children. Lucy was having a particularly difficult day and we just needed some time to have the tv entertain us. Grant sat down with us and started to watch as well. Something(one) inside my head said "You should run." And I continued to watch tv. Then it felt like a thunderclap went off, "You CAN run." WHAT??! "RUN!"

I went upstairs and I put on my running shoes. It should be said that my "running" shoes have never seen a pace beyond a shuffle. I don't run. I never have. But this night, I decided to be obedient. I bundled up. I told my husband that I was going to run. I left my children with him and into the cold, dark night I RAN. And I didn't stop. For three miles. And I felt the muscles, usually tense in my forehead, release. My feet, my legs carried my weight at the pace of a run for three miles. And I felt something....

strength.

That's when I bumped into my neighbor.
***
Merry Christmas.

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