Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Running the Good Race...

I write about a lot of things food and exercise on this blog but every once and a while I like to step outside those boundaries. I'm here at Joni & Friends (JAF) Family Retreats for my 6th year. Our focus for the week is "Press On," based on Philippians 3:14 "Running the good race..." which of course I absolutely LOVE.

A major mission of JAF is to help individuals affected by disability to form a supportive network to cope with the struggles their disability presents, the most major piece of that network being God/religious faith and the other being individuals who have similarly struggled and understand. Life is its own sort of endurance race and here it is a huge gift to witness healing power of simply realizing you're not running it alone!
Happy to be here with family :)

Now I will admit to being someone who is very stubborn and independent by nature... I don't like to ask for help and I tend to want to do things my way. But over the past few months, I've been working to slowly knock those walls down with the help of a little push by God and a lot of humbling days. I live a very blessed life and cannot complain by any means: I live in a town that I love, married to the most amazing person that I've ever met, great friends, fulfilling job, etc... Yet, I've had many days where I've just wanted to escape and get away from it all and just could not pinpoint why.

I am often plagued by insecurity, anxiety, feeling misunderstood, sometimes depression and often times being absent minded. Some days it's "just how it is" and sometimes it can be overwhelmingly difficult. I can't help but think that some families here feel the same way regarding their own or their child's disabilities. I'm certain that somedays they feel they're fighting this battle alone and no one truly understands their daily struggles.
Waiting to greet families as they arrive...with my sister!
Day one of JAF and we are taught as short term missionaries (STM's) how to serve as a support system for these families and reminded that we should not (cannot) navigate the challenges of the week by our own means. We are reminded that God is sovereign above all things and that we have an infinite supply of energy, help and support, if only we choose to recognize and utilize Him. I quickly thought back to a little more than a month ago, when I finally gave up this daily battle I had been facing and surrendered. I was tired of fighting against myself on a daily basis, tired of struggling alone and lacking hope that things would get better. I realized that there will always be things that I cannot do on my own and God intended it to be that way.

I let it all go and as a result, the past month has probably been the happiest I've known. I've felt free of my own expectations, free of anxiety most days, more at liberty to be myself and just loving, living life a little more fully. I am reminded daily that I can dream and God will dream bigger, I can worry but God will always take care of me, I can struggle but God will always provide strength to overcome. 

Yesterday I had the pleasure of pushing a little girl on a tire swing while reading to her a special book (yes, it made me dizzy!) I don't know what her disability is, but I do know it didn't seem to matter. She was full of joy and excitement by this simple activity and I could tell she absolutely adored her life with not a care in the world. What an inspiration she was to me! :)
This is actually from my first year of family retreats in 2007. Same idea...LOVE this sweet little girl!

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