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!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Memorial Weekend Swim

Late Saturday morning, Bobber Bill was taking us on a tour of the Camp Lebanon footprint for the future. There were about 10 or so adults headed out just before lunch.

We headed out to begin our tour at one end of the zip line. It’s more than 300 feet long and about 100 feet in the air. It wasn’t operational yet. We could see workers across the way and knew that they were finishing up to have everything in place for the opening event and first ride next weekend. We wound around the newest camp acreage and explored the sites of the new tubing hill, future ball fields, additional housing and the RV Park.  We headed into a more wooded area and I could see we were coming out on the other end of the zip line. We had to step carefully and watch for branches in our faces before we came to a clearing right at the zip line platform. I had to maneuver around some construction debris and then I pressed in with the group so I could hear Bill speaking, but I didn’t hear a word he said. As I lifted my eyes to observe the work on the zip line I felt my stomach drop.

The man I saw made my knees go weak-literally. He had short dark hair and filled out the black t-shirt and jeans he wore with a very masculine build. I could see a tattoo around his left bicep. I couldn’t breathe.

The men working on the platform kept working as Bill talked and asked Tattoo Guy a question. He answered, his voice tinged with some sort of accent.

I began to panic. Alarm bells started going off in my head and I began to back away from the group. I prayed that no one could see what was going on inside of me. I slowly turned onto the path we’d be headed down next, crushing within myself the desire to run down it-away from Tattoo Guy.

I really was unprepared to deal with that element of living. It scared me! That hasn’t happened to me in many years. Not to mention, I was at family camp! We do “family stuff” with other families all weekend. I’m supposed to be safe there. I let my guard down. I didn’t expect the slimmest potential for a weak-kneed moment!

Still, I didn’t give Tattoo Guy much thought as the weekend continued. I asked God to help me sort my reaction out later and I was choosing to rest in the fact that He would. I wanted to enjoy the rest of the weekend. We came back from our tour and had a great lunch that I didn’t have to prepare. I enjoyed some time papermaking while the girls were off playing foursquare and carpetball with friends.

Saturday afternoon was my first opportunity for a swim.

I’d gone back and forth all morning in my head. Should I or shouldn’t I try a swim in open water? There would be a lifeguard. I might be the only adult swimming. It’s pretty cold. Is it too cold? Would it be foolish? Will I be a spectacle? What would people say?
I had become pretty comfortable in the pool. I even swam all the time in the lap lane now! In the end I really couldn’t resist the opportunity to get in the water. I had to try it.

The girls and I got changed and left our room in the chalet in record time. The beach was packed! Not an adult near the water. No adult was even pretending to think about going in the water, but the kids were all playing in the sand and splashing a bit along the shoreline. Some kids were out enjoying the slide in the deeper water. Only a couple of moms had suits on-with shorts, of course.

There I stood with my towel around my waist, swim cap and goggles in hand. It took me a few minutes to gain some courage! I put sunscreen on the girls and chatted with a few of the ladies who asked me if I was really going to swim. Looking around me, I almost talked myself out of it, I could go tomorrow.

What if the weather was bad tomorrow?  I stepped into the water-it really was cold. Then I remembered why I was on the journey I was on. I had lived most of my life waiting for “tomorrow’s” opportunities instead of enjoying the chances I have every today to live life.

I didn’t want to let this opportunity slip away! This was an opportunity to try something just because I could. I had been working hard physically and emotionally so that when I encountered moments just like this one I would be ready to jump. My heart really wanted this!

I put on my swim cap and goggles and I turned to place my towel on the retaining wall at the top of the beach. As I turned back from doing that, there he was, Tattoo Guy, looking right at me from the end of the beach. Mortified, I wanted to dig a hole in the sand and crawl in!! For a split second I almost turned back around to grab my towel up and find an excuse to flee.

Time stood still as I felt a steeliness climbing up my spine.

A man that I’m attracted to only has the power over me that I choose to give him. I can choose to allow no one, no baggage, no insecurities or fears of my own about what someone else thinks about me, to keep me from doing the things in life that I desire to do-that God has called me to!

I squared my shoulders to the water while taking a deep breath and began to pick my way through the sand toys and kids. I prayed that I wouldn’t be distracted or intimidated by Tattoo Guy and that I wouldn’t die of shock in the cold water. I stepped into the water and kept on going up to my chest. It was freezing!! I splashed some over my shoulders and pushed off the bottom into a glide. I began to swim.

There just aren’t words to describe how wonderful it felt.

And I didn’t see Tattoo Guy again all weekend. Thank God.

The Bloody Battle isn't over...yet

Who is that vibrant woman?
This is my favorite picture of "The New Me" so far!
The way I look matches so much better how I feel inside. 

By the end of May 2009, I'd been working with Paul and Mark for about 8 months. I'd seen some tangible physical progress. I've described some of the amazing experiences I had while I was working so hard to change my life, essentially, who I was.

However, I recognize that much of my story can sound kind of "over the top". I love to memorialize the most shiny moments! I don't enjoy revisiting ugliness. You know some people save their "fat" clothes so they can compare them later-remember where they've been-not me! I've gotten rid of every stitch of "fat" clothing I had. I want to support every effort to stay focused on where I'm headed.

Let me explain something, though, that I perhaps have not been clear enough about. This journey has been and continues to be a downright, spiritual/emotional bloody battle.

When I contacted HOMFIT to begin training, I had already been working pretty hard on my own for 8 months. I was mentally prepared to continue applying my determination to the hard physical workouts.

Nothing prepared me for the emotional work I'd have to do! I had to grapple with dirty looks from friends as my appearance began to change. I struggled with feeling very conspicuous as my shape changed and I began to wear more fitted clothing. People were always asking me what I was doing to lose weight and I would find myself the center of conversation over and over again. As my weight went down it seemed to be unearthing a variety of elements that tied my emotions to the pounds that were leaving. As I began to turn my back on previous escape mechanisms I had to begin facing emotional trials head-on! That made for some interesting melt downs and serious self-examination.

Why was I tempted to eat when I wasn't hungry?
Why did I want to watch hours of mind numbing TV?

I was lonely. I was unhappy. I was angry. I was bored. I was anxious. An old emotional scar was picked open as I faced a circumstance of the present.

I had to learn to face those things and wrestle with them as they occurred and make different choices about how to look at them. I had to take the time to frame them in the hope of Truth. And it's still stinkin' hard work!! We live in a culture that isn't the most supportive about putting the brakes on life to get things figured out. We're supposed to pull ourselves together and get on with life! Well, I'd put the brakes on anyway. I was determined to do whatever it took, still am. Sometimes that looks unconventional or defies the comfortable societal norms. People tell me I'm courageous for my attitude about doing whatever I need to do when I need to do it no matter how others view it. Maybe. I think I'm more stubborn and perhaps compelled than I am courageous.

I have to fight every single day to make these changes. Each and every day stands alone. Are there bright, ecstatic days? You bet there are. Are there days that I've been knocked down and decide not to get back up until the sun goes down and comes up again? Absolutely! Every moment hasn't been victorious! I have to choose not just to believe the Truth, but to walk in it.

Some days I don't want to get out of bed and it takes me a while.
Some days I want to be crabby and I cringe as I snap at my girls.
Some days I still want to just pig out and escape whatever current concerns I may have and I do.
Some days everything makes me cry and I can't stand my own wretched ungrateful spirit.
Some days I'm still someone I really don't want to be.
Some days I wake up and think, "I don't want to swim/bike/run today." *gasp* and I don't!

On other days, I know exactly who I am and whose I am!

On those days I am a force to be reckoned with. I embrace the beauty and strength God's wrought in me. I hit the ground running in the right direction and only God's hand will stop me. It seems that my life is absolutely inspired and ordained. I speak and others hear Truth and see Truth as I do life with them. My spirit cannot help but run, dance and laugh and encourage others to do the same with abandon. I live and walk in a trust that is so true and transparent that I feel as though I'm breathing the very air of the Kingdom!

Please hear me say this with gravest humility, because the beauty of this work in my life has almost NOTHING to do with me! God has born it out as I've pressed into Him to remind me of His eternal truth moment by moment. The key to the transformation of my outer shell hasn't been some special diet or workout routine or the power of positive thinking, but my passion to surrender all of who I am to the One who made me.

I felt a need to explain that.

Anyway, as incredible as some of my moments on this journey seem, I was about to head to family camp at the end of May and experience one of the most jaw dropping episodes so far!

...and I had yet to complete a triathlon!