This blog recounts my fitness journey into the sport of triathlon and the gifts God has blessed me with while on it! May the movements of my life boldly proclaim that the sparks we encounter in scripture will kindle hope in our lives!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Bike

So, I knew I needed to get biking.

It was August. I knew I'd have a few months yet that I could get some biking in, but I had a bit of a problem. Unless I left my girls at home alone, I really wouldn't accomplish to much. My youngest daughter would never be able to keep up! I really could use a tag-a-long bike. I had no idea what to even look for with a tag-a-long! No clue how to hook one up.

Enter Donna. My friend Donna is one of the most helpful people I know. Not only that, but she and her husband do the bike thing, it's their thing. They know way more about bike stuff than anyone else I'd encountered up to that point! We were at the park one day and she said to me, "You know, you could probably find one on Craig's List."

"But, I'm not even sure what I'm looking for. And I've never done the Craig's List thing. It kind of scares me."

"Well, I could watch for you?!" she said. Donna just seems willing to do whatever she can to encourage me to be active. God bless Donna!

Within 48 hours, Donna called. "This is the one you want!" she said. The price was steep but we negotiated that. Well, Donna negotiated.

I drove to a strangers house and picked up a very nice tag-a-long. Now to get it attached to my bike.

Donna volunteered her husband for this part. The poor guy.

"Well, sorry," he said. "It just isn't going to work on your bike." I knew it. Now what.

Whatever it takes...

That meant a new bike. Ooooff! The thought of choosing a bike was more overwhelming to me than the tag-a-long thing.

I took a trip to the local bike shop. I asked a few questions. I'm a pretty decisive gal. Just give me the bare bones facts so I can make a decision that I can commit to. It came down like this.

"Well," I said to bike shop dude, "I'm going to do a triathlon next summer." 

"Great..." he said. I could just imagine what he was thinking as he looked at me. I forced the rest out.

"But, I need a bike that I can attach a tag-a-long to." I explained what brand the tag-a-long was and that I'd have to put a rack on the bike for the tag-a-long. "I'm sure that limits me some. You're supposed to be the expert. So, what are my best options?"

He showed me 2 options. Told me which one he thought was best for what I was asking. "Why don't you try it out?" he said. I sucked in my breath.

"Nope, that's fine, I'll take it!" He looked at me like I was crazy. Spending that kind of money to buy a bike and not trying it first?! Well, HE had no clue what was going on in my head. The thought of riding that bike in the parking lot where people could see me terrified me. I felt silly saying no, but couldn't make myself say yes. I felt so conspicuous about participating in any sort of activity in front of anyone! I was sure I'd look absolutely ridiculous and people would think so too! Well, God knew that and it was only the beginning of this journey.

I left the store with a brand new hybrid bike. Exactly the one God knew I needed and the girls and I enjoyed riding together until the end of the season.

However, God was about to blow the lid off my tightly contained attitude about men and I never saw it coming...

Friday, February 12, 2010

Training Buddy

I called my closest friend. Her name is Charis.

This woman has been my closest friend for most of the last 10 years. We live 8 blocks away from each other. (Though we haven't always!) I came from a larger family and so did she. We have similar faith backgrounds, but we don't agree on everything. She's married to an Eagle Scout husband (literally) and they currently have 5 children. She's the friend that has taught me how to relax! All the stuff I usually worry about having perfect in my life, I don't worry about with her. She understands if I'm late or a cake doesn't turn out or if I forget to bring something that I intended to bring. I can call her to share a laugh about something funny the girls did or said. I can call her when I just need to cry. She knows things about me that you really don't think people will ever know, things you don't want them to know. She has permission to say the things to me that I need to hear-and she does. She loves me. And, for her, I'm the friend that will stay up until after 2am organizing her kitchen cupboards when she moved into the new house or help her pick up and paint a room just to get it done! I think she enjoys my sometimes inspired perspective on life too. A rather lopsided friendship, more in my favor I think, but it seems to work for us!

"Hey, you know how several years back you said you wanted to do a triathlon someday? Do you still want to do one?" I got right to the point. Charis says I have the most intriguing starting points for conversation. In my head I was thinking how she'd just had baby number five and I better grab the chance we'd have just long enough to get this thing done before she and her wonderful hubby decided to have another!

"Yeah..." she laughed.

"Want to do one with me? I'm going to do one next summer."

"Sure, that would be fun!" She said in her lighthearted way. Um, she was much fitter than I at the time. Now I felt the need to clarify.

"No, really. I intend to train to do a triathlon next summer. I'm going to start training right now! We need to decide which one. I'm not even sure how to find one!"

And so our training partnership was born.

I'd take her kids while she went for a run. She'd take mine while I did a swim/bike brick. Her husband would manage all seven kids while we swam, biked and ran miles and miles together.

I remember having a whiny moment shortly before we did our first triathlon. I'd lost more than 50 pounds, but my body image was still so messed up! I could only see fat Jesaca. Being the awesome friend she is, she showed me this picture taken two months after my husband died. If you don't recall from one of my previous posts, I weighed 248 pounds...

Charis said, "I was looking through pictures the other day, Jesaca, and when I came to this one I thought, 'Now who is that?' I didn't even realize it was you and I've never seen the fat. You've just always been my friend. But that person in the picture, that's not who you are anymore!"

Gosh she's the greatest! I love her!

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Family Camp at the beginning of the summer.
I loved running the path along the lake for the first time!

Wow! A triathlon! I began to consider what it would take for me to accomplish this. It began to settle in my heart what I was committing to and why.

God wanted me to be stronger. He asked me to give Him one year.

Could I fully devote myself to this for 1 year? Prioritize my body for 1 year. What would people think? The house could get really messy. I might not always make it to the shower before I need to go somewhere. I could hear them in my head, "Who does this fat lady think she is? An athlete? Seriously?" What other people think has always been a problem for me. What if people thought I was just doing this for vanity, or worse, to become more attractive to the opposite sex?! (I really could have cared less about men!) I remember the Holy Spirit pressing on me during a prayer time. "Jesaca, you know how to lay it all down, surrender. You know what 'whatever it takes' looks like. You've done it before. You can do it again. You've risked what other people think. You've journeyed with Me alone before. I've granted you the inner strength to do it! You can do it so you've got a body that says so! All of who you are is a testimony of who I am!"

I considered again what "whatever it takes" looks like. What it looked like when I did it before. This is what it looked like...

Surrender - a journal entry...

I remember I was about 3 or 4 months pregnant and we had just painted the room for child number two a beautiful yellow. We lived in a tidy rambler with a huge back yard. We already had child number 1-piano, tire swing, dog, and patio furniture. We had finally painted and decorated every room just the way we wanted it. Two cars-paid for, no debt but the mortgage and my husband had the dream job he’d always wanted, downtown with a window office in the IDS.

My husband came home one day and announced we had to sell the house. He explained that we had to get the equity out before the economy crashed down around our ears. I listened and expressed my thoughts hoping to calm some of his anxiety. He came up with extreme ideas like this now and then. He would become a Ferrier. We would go to Alaska and work a Salmon boat. Mostly they would pass. A few days went by and he started taking care of all of the little handyman things around the house. I waited, hoping this idea too would pass. I didn’t start to panic until he brought home information on how to list the house and a plan for how quickly we needed to get out. At this point we’d been married 8 years and I hadn’t stopped praying that our relationship would become all that I desired it to be.

Then he laid paperwork out on the table in front of me to put the house on the market. I tried to hold it together. I asked him for 3 more days to get used to the idea. After letting me know very firmly that it was going to happen, he consented-he wasn’t completely heartless.

The first day all I could do was cry.

Financially, everything but the house was in his name. He had refused to pay medical debt that was in my name and I had a financial judgment on my credit record so he put everything in his own name. For the first 4 years of our marriage we both worked full time and often second part-time jobs. We lived in the cheapest apartment he could find. I was given a $10 a week allowance and I had to answer to him for every penny spent. When our first daughter was two years old (and he wanted me to stay home with her) he insisted that I get a part-time overnight job and watch our daughter, prepare meals and do everything else he expected, during the day. I once endured a hollering hour-long lecture for a $10 library fine because I was wasting money. I told him I would pay for it out of my $10 weekly allowance and begged him to forgive me and he told me I was missing the point. He didn’t speak to me for 2 days. He would tell me to eat everything on my plate in a restaurant. He’d get upset with me if he thought that the toilet paper disappeared too quickly! He spent money on all of his interests and was honest in telling me that mine weren’t worth the investment, I wasn’t worth it. On the occasion he’d give me something I’d better be over the moon about it.

I knew that once the house was gone-that was it. Any perceived security I had that he would “look out” for my financial needs in our relationship would be gone. Emotionally, we had no authentic intimacy. He’d made it very clear on numerous occasions that we’d get along just fine if I just did what he said and agreed with him in things without asking questions. One day I’d do or say something in a certain way and he would be delighted and the next time I tried it he would sneer at me. He smashed the pocket watch (that he said he loved) I gave him for a wedding gift in a fit of anger and declared that he was completely justified because I’d made him mad. He hated and ignored tears unless someone else had caused them, and he would just freeze me out and refuse to speak for days to make a point. Spiritually, well, he wanted the appearance of spiritual living without any of the investment in relationships with God, or with other people. He attended church and despised the people there. He would often say that the world would be a wonderful place if it weren’t for all of those other people.

Letting go of that home would eliminate all security I had in our relationship. My footing, the way I maneuvered and hung on in the marriage was the busyness of my time spent investing in our home, our daughter and our child yet to come. I hosted friends and family there and tried to enjoy what I could of the life I had chosen. If our home was gone, what would I have? Where would I place my hopeful energy?

I thought I’d cried all my tears out on the first of those 3 days. I was mistaken. Day two began no differently. I began to pray once more for my marriage, my husband and his misplaced priorities. God started working in my heart. I had no control over his choices. At the end of time, I wouldn’t answer for choices he made as a father and husband. So, o.k., I would need to let go of my desire to control the outcome of his decision. What then would bring me the freedom to do this? Where did I place my trust? Did I really trust that God was the author and finisher of my life? What would it really look like for me to let go of my petty small dreams and “security”? What if I could breathe again by trusting Him for my needs and desires instead of scraping by with what my husband would give me or what I could manage to come up with myself? What would I be willing to let go of to breathe in that freedom? Could I live in a car? On the street? Could I give up my friends, my family-my daughter? Did I believe that God is faithful? If I did, I could do whatever He might ask. I really believed the God I called my own. I needed to live that belief! My husband feared losing things, I didn’t! When had I allowed myself to be consumed with his fears and paranoia? He told me I was weak. I knew that in God I was strong. Trying to honor (the best way I knew how) my husband had become an exhausting, spirit-crushing duty and I didn’t know up from down anymore. God knew my heart better than I did. He knew how desperately I longed for an unbroken thriving family, for a husband that really loved me, and the freedom to live in abandonment, serving Him in faith.

I found myself face down on the floor crying out from the depths of who I was. I remember it vividly. I sobbed my plea out breathlessly, “Whatever it takes God. Whatever it takes. Grant me breath and life and freedom from this bondage to how I think my life should go.” He knew I meant exactly what I said. And he answered. His Spirit swept over my weary soul and whispered gently, “You will lose it all.” His peace and comfort flooded that room. I cried some more. This time tears of relief. I had surrendered with all that was in me. I had no idea what losing it all would look like, but I laid down my life and He was taking it! I’ve asked Him since to never let me forget the freedom of abundant living that I received at that moment.

On day three I signed the papers to sell our home. Friends told me, “Just refuse to sign.” They missed the point. I now really trusted God with my life. I could honor my husband's request when I believed God would walk the path with me. I let the responsibility rest on my husband's shoulders and trusted God to provide for our physical needs and my need for emotional and spiritual wholeness.

I was so weary. I listened to and waited on the Lord. At 6 months pregnant I was showing the house to potential buyers and packing for a move. It was all on me. Tax season was under way and my husband was gone 60-70 hours a week. He had demanded the move, but I was the one that was forced to take the dog, our daughter’s dear friend, to the humane society. My husband was sobbing about the dog, and all of the paperwork fell to me. We moved in May to a rented duplex and I gave birth to our second daughter in July. I had no idea what he had done with the money and I didn’t ask-he never offered. He became more and more anxious about the future and I couldn’t convince him to get any help. He began to use emotional blackmail to freeze out our little girl, refusing to hug her when she hadn’t done or said something just like he wanted. She was barely 5 years old. She began to wet the bed again and my husband was livid. He no longer let me grocery shop without him, my name wasn’t even on the checks anymore. He would degrade my appearance, my hair, clothes, makeup. But if I asked for money for a haircut he’d insist I pay no more than $6. I started lying awake each night until I knew he had fallen asleep, the tears slipping silently down my cheeks, praying he wouldn’t kill us while we slept. What was I supposed to do? Still, I listened and waited.

On our 10th wedding anniversary we took a trip, just he and I. It was different than any other trip we’d ever taken together. We did a few things I wanted to do. He didn’t complain once-about anything. He was pleasant and polite on the entire trip. I thought, as I had hoped many times before, that things were maybe getting better. I know now, that trip was a gift from God to my broken heart. Years later I can hang on to that as one of few authentically happy memories of my time with him. Four months later, after a couple of agonizing weeks of meeting with a pastor, I left him.

Christian people, women mostly, ask me how I knew it was o.k. to leave. I point back to that moment when I was face down before my God. It started with me and my genuine willingness to lay it all down-to offer up whatever it took to allow God’s beauty to move in my life beyond what I could imagine in my own pea brain. There was not formula to determine whether it was the right or wrong thing to do! From that moment I walked in a deep intimate way with my God. I did what HE asked of me in my marriage. He gently walked me to a place where I could know without a doubt that I had done what He had expected of me. When I stepped out of my marriage it wasn’t away from my husband. It wasn’t toward some wonderful new man. It wasn’t to get a new start in life. It was to step toward the woman God was calling me to be.

Here I sit today, living that beauty. God has restored a home to me-more beautiful than the one I so desperately feared losing. My girls are thriving in a life filled with people who love and nurture them to grow into young women that are a delight. He continues to heal me and restore my spirit. He provides for us faithfully. He’s showing me who I am. He’s calling forth from me the beauty that He created me to reflect-sometimes in gentle lessons, sometimes using the harsh moments not borne of His hand but by the hand of the enemy. He’s called forth in me strength, honor, grace and compassion that He crafted into my spirit before the beginning of time. He’s breathed into my body and spirit a life and a vibrancy that my heart always longed to express.

He continues to ask me to trust Him and this is often still a hard thing. I long to share my journey with someone that will cherish it as a precious honor and I don’t know if I ever will. Or if I’ll ever manage to get out of my own way long enough to let it happen! I often ponder my failings as the only parent to my 2 girls. I have to trust His heart toward them as well. I have to remember that His hand in raising them is mightier than my own. As I run headlong toward the dreams and desires of my heart, dreams and desires He has ordained, suddenly I’ll find myself sidetracked, sometimes by my own foolishness and sometimes be the enemy of my soul. God has to keep reminding me to not pick up again what I’ve laid down-the perception of control and security.

He has to keep reminding me that I wasn’t designed to live in this war-torn world-but in a world that was paradise. That I’m going to be o.k. and that the pain I experience sometimes is because I choose to believe and walk in the Truth in a world that is built on illusion.

Knowing now the beauty, the redemption, that was borne out of that place of surrender, absolutely I could do it again!
"Show me!" I told the Lord. "Show me what I need to do to make this happen."

"Whatever it takes." He said.