Tuesday, June 25, 2013

a 26.2 mile story.


Why would anyone feel the need to push their body to run 26.2 miles straight? Why would anyone want to train and commit to exhausting their muscles? 

I know at some point in my life those questions have popped in my head...or maybe it was, "A marathon? How many miles is that?" 

Let me begin by saying that I have never been one to run distance. The farthest I had run the moment that I had made the decision to embark on this journey was 3 miles...and that was in high school. Before that moment, I would never have considered myself athletic. I liked running...when it was a mile or two. Past that, I was a wimp and considered running too hard. 

Now, now I've run 26.2 and might I add that it would have never happened without a very specific moment from the Lord. A picture that He put on my heart that only He could have done. A vision of running the race. 


"Life with a brain injury is a marathon not a sprint." I heard those words over and over. What does that even mean?! Will Cale walk? Talk? Live life?! Will he be in a nursing home or in a hospital for the rest of his life? I don't know anything about a marathon and I don't enjoy sprinting. 

Although I understand the picture the doctor, therapists, social workers, and nurses were trying to paint. I didn't like it. It wasn't something that I could reach out and grasp onto. It was just empty words that left an echo of more questions in my heart. 

I didn't even know what a brain injury was! 


As I was sitting across from April having dinner with Cale and another friend, I looked at her amused. Somewhere in conversation it was brought up that she has run a marathon. A marathon?! She started to tell us how when people ask her how she does it, she'll tell them she just doesn't stop and her goal is to beat the truck that comes to pick up all the cones. 

I instantly started to think about how when people ask me how I do it, how I stay with Cale and keep going so strong, I say that God carries me. When things are so difficult and it feels as if I can't take another step or even my next breath, God carries me. It's not by my own strength. Thinking about this and as April continued telling me her story, I was brought back to sitting in the ICU hearing "Life with a brain injury is a marathon not a sprint." Everything started to unfold in my mind; the challenge, commitment, God carrying me and one day after running this hard race we will cross the finish line into Heaven and Cale will be whole and we will be in glory. The pain will be over. The tears will be gone. The aching of loss will be no more. We will have victory.

As soon as I made it back to the hotel room with Cale I announced that I was going to run a marathon. I told him it might be in 5 years or 10...but no matter what I'm going to run 26.2! The tangible picture of training for the run and the desperation for the finish line and knowing that God would carry me every step was exactly what I needed. It was a special kind of gift from the Lord. 

All of this took place March 2012. Soon it was summer and life kept going. When August hit I realized that if I just wait-wait for the "perfect" timing to start training, waiting until I was brave enough, it would never happen. I decided to start training. I will confess that I didn't really have a clue of how to go about it either...and had to ask for help.

I started with a training plan for a half marathon and then picked a full for the end of June to run. Through this process, God has made Himself known to me in a very intimate way. He's revealed things in my heart and met me in a very deep real way. He's also made the journey really exciting with the people that he's brought into my life to run with! Relationships were made that wouldn't have been so close if it wasn't for the time we ran together. 

It has been a beautiful struggle of mile after mile. 

On June 22nd 2013 I ran my very first full marathon. All 26.2 miles were God given and blessed. My heart in all of it was representing Cale and myself and our walk on this journey with the Lord. So many times through the run I teared up! Rachel ran with me and for both of us it was such an emotional experience. I do realize that some people are just crazy amazing and can just run a marathon with no problem, but that wasn't us. This was hard work training for it and committing to it. It was grueling at points during the race. Through the entire marathon, I was picturing the accident and the moments right after. I pictured all the days and months spent in the hospital. I pictured all the people that have been brought into our lives because of the accident. I thought about the progress Cale has made and the times that felt as though we were going backwards. I thought about all the times that I've had to keep going even when everything within me cried out to stop. 

There came a time when the finish line was in sight and as I looked to my left I saw Mama and Cale. A little further I looked to my right and saw Mike. A little farther and Rachel and I grabbed hands and ran past the finish. 


As I was running and would tear up it was the thought of how it was really happening. This chapter in my life that I had walked (or ran!) with the Lord was closing. It was this picture that for months I had pictured and thought of. I had prayed and surrendered and as I my legs ran pass the finish line the joy of all the promises from my King rang deep in my heart. 

It meant the world to me to have those that were at the finish to be there. It was beyond perfect to run with Rachel and have her by my side just like she's been through this entire journey. It was such a comfort to know...

...He carries me. 

When life sucks. 
when life is full of disappointments
when thing after thing doesn't go the way we want 
when all we feel is anger and bitterness 
when we feel like giving up
when test results come back 
when we lose jobs
when we can't financially feed our family
when the rope seems to have ended
when it feels like the next breath is forced
when your muscles are going to give out...

He carries you. 

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. -2 Timothy 4:7

This was our longest run before the marathon. We felt pumped and ready for the race! 

So thankful to experience this with one of my best friends. We hit traffic on the way up...which created more memories :)

During the expo Friday night I was terrified! Suddenly the idea of what I had committed to seemed a tad too big for me to complete...on my own strength that is! 

My biggest fan :)

She made this run possible! Mama was so great about staying with Cale so I could get all my runs in! 

At this point my heart was pounding! Cale was the sweetest husband! 

The start and finish! 

Rae, we did it girl. We did it! Thank you Jesus! I'm so thankful for our friendship and all that you've been for me. I love you friend! In a big serious way.

Huge hugs after I was done along with "I'm so proud of my girl!" His was the face I saw while running! Thank you Jesus for this man of mine! He is worth every mile...


Here's two videos of the start and then the finish...

So...Cale and Kylie made a little sign for me for when the race was over. This first video I had no clue about and no clue that Mama was sneaky enough to bring it on the trip. The second video is me seeing it :)

Gear I used...

-Hal Higdon training plans- 13.1 Novice 2 (started with Novice 1 and moved up to 2 after a few months) and 26.2 Novice 1
-Nike App to keep track of runs and progress. I also had used Map My Run App but felt after time that the Nike App was more accurate.
-I used a camelbak while running and loved having it! I didn't use this same one but here's what it was http://www.rei.com/product/832314/camelbak-marathoner-hydration-vest
-I listened to audio books while running. I mixed it up and found that books that were deep were frustrating because I couldn't underline and mark the nuggets! 
-I wore http://www.underarmour.com/shop/us/en/womens-ua-authentic-17-capri/pid1238184-001 for all of my long runs and the race (while weather was warm). I loved them! 
-I used http://www.mappedometer.com to help plan out routes once we were home from the hospital

Hmm...I can't think of anything else!

Except that once I get to Heaven and finish this race of life...I won't feel the soreness! :)

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

a thought for the ladies...

Cale with brain injury has opened doors in a wild-kind-of-way into a mans brain. He has no filter. Everything comes out and comes out with anyone and everyone around (oh the joys and adventures...and blushing that goes on around here!!). I'm in no way going to say that I'm now a girl that has the male brain completely figured out, but I will shed light on just one thing he said to me that has made me really think...

A couple weeks ago we were looking through a magazine and we flipped to a page with a lady standing there in a bikini with a beautiful beach scene behind her. I think the add was for perfume which I'm not sure fit the picture in the slightest, but it did cause my husband to quickly turn the page and yell out to me, "I can't see that! She's in her panties and bra!" I smiled and let him know it was a swimsuit but that I was thankful he didn't want to look. He shrugged his shoulders and ended it with, "Eh, I can't tell a difference." 

This instantly put the thought and realization that of course he can't! It's the same skin showing! My guess is that this is kind of how it works for guys (at least most!). 

With his honesty and lack of filter, he's not thinking about what's cool or in style. He's simply stating that to him...that girl is almost naked. 

A friend posted a video on FB within the last week and because the swimsuit was already on my mind, I was intrigued. 

Please know I totally understand that everyone has an opinion about this subject and I'm not posting this to judge, just...letting thoughts out. :) 

I know for me, these two things make me think twice about what I'm willing to wear. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

20 things...


For the last three weeks, I daily have said that I need to update the blog or that I'm going to actually do it. Not even for your benefit, but for me! I enjoy so much getting to write out our days and look back on them. This update is in no particular order, It's just me deciding I've once again gone on too long with out updating...so I'm sitting down alone and typing it out. Here it goes... 

1) I'm just a wee bit late in announcing our June Darling Project. Actually, I was late on the Facebook page as well so... This month we're asking you to join us in serving! To serve someone in our culture isn't always known as the best idea or first chosen thing to do, but, it is what we should be doing. There are lots of different ways to serve someone around you, so, we're going to leave the service up to you. Is it maybe washing dishes? Mowing a lawn? 
Join The Darling Project on Facebook to stay involved! 

2) Just a few weekends ago I was able to escape real life with Mama and take a trip to Spokane for Farm Chicks. It's an antique show and last year we had so much fun, so we had to go back! My favorite purchase was the sweetest little baby rocking chair. I loved going with her. 

 3) Sometimes we make mistakes. Sometimes life is just trial and error. Sometimes I need to listen to advice given. Sometimes I need to not buy a Yorkie. Please don't hate me! Uh...I did. On a Monday night I went to pick him up. This was after days of begging for him along with telling everyone it would be a bad idea. I still really wanted him. I did. For whatever reason, I went against what I knew was right and brought him home. Let's just say that on the following Thursday he was going to a new home. He wasn't here long enough to get attached...and now he has two other little doggies to play with. Cale made sure to let me know that he hated him, scratch hated him, and mama hated him. I was the only one that loved the little guy. 

4) WE HAVE A BIKE!!!!! We finally FINALLY have a bike! We went to Seattle to pick it up...and we love it! We've been able to ride it around our neighborhood together-which is the best. Together. Such a good word. This last Saturday we took it out though and had something go wrong. We're trying to figure that out so we can get riding again! 

Here's a video of us riding while still at the shop!

5) If Cale had a cow, he'd kill it with his bow and arrow, crawl to it and pour A1 over it and eat. 
The end. 

6) "My eyeball feels like it's captured and held hostage by a terrorist." -Caleb Darling
The poor guy. We're still having so much trouble with his eyes. They are so dry that he's in constant pain. We use extra thick gel drops multiple times through the day and nothing helps! We've been to get it checked out several times as well. His brain injury and the radiation he had done combined has them dried out completely! After a call today...I'm hoping we're close to getting the help needed! 

7) On our trip to get the bikes in Seattle, Cale was in the backseat and Mama was in the passenger seat. It had been quiet for a couple minutes until Cale broke the silence with, "Yawn. Long yawn. Long yawn silver!" He has now added, long sniff silver, long cough silver, and long pee silver. Ha!

8) On Mother's Day... 
Don't worry, this isn't an announcement! Just a sweet card from a man that knows the desires of my heart and shares them. This card is filled with the most beautiful and tender words he could ever say. I love you Caleb Darling! Your love is pure and honest.

9) The love of archery continues. Since my last post about archery, we were able to get bows and Cale is able to go shooting as often as we want to pay for it in one week ;) My head can't grasp how in the world he is able to enjoy it. There is no way to set it up for him to have success. There is no way for us to make him having a brain injury not matter, yet, he loves it. He's successful. And, him having a brain injury doesn't matter! I wouldn't have guessed that archery would be something that would turn into a passion for him...but it has. So cool. I walked in on him watching archery videos on Youtube last week...crazy. 

10) "Comparison is the thief of joy." -Theodore Roosevelt
Wow. I read this...and read it again...and again. Every time I begin to start comparing...I'm robbed of true joy. I cheat myself. 

11) I have so loved the emails I've received from some of you just letting me know that even though I'm not posting, you're praying. Thank you.

12) When we first came home, it was hard. I will be the first to say, tears were often around here. Then, we started to move out of Cale adjusting so it started to get better, but then I was suddenly overwhelmed. Nothing I was doing was helping. I sat down with Mama and we both made a list. A giant list...and I have felt SO much better the last few weeks! Does anyone else just need a list?! 

13) There has been a Man Cave update. Cale requested a door and walls shortly after returning home. I wasn't sure if it was possible or how much work it would be. I also thought he was perfectly fine with the Man Cave space he had. Well, one Sunday at church he talked with Frank (he's incredible!) and the project was in motion. Cale now has a door and walls. 

(sorry for the shirtless husband!)

14) Garden! I'm a wanna-be gardener. If only we could grow some veggies...I'll post a picture soon. I was kind of hoping something would be growing when I did. ;)

15) Mama's birthday was last month! She's awesome. Cale made sure to let her know just how awesome she is by making her a napkin hat, tickling her, following her around, and vacuuming her. Uh...Cale's awesome too. Haha! 

(Sorry AGAIN for the shirtless husband.)

16) For Mother's Day we wanted to really bless our moms. I had been doing a ton of thinking about how thankful I really am for both of them...Cale was also very willing to bless his mom by going to get a pedicure with her! He specifically said he wanted time with just her! I didn't get a picture with him and his mom or one with me and Mama, but we do have proof his feet got all done up! :)

17) The summer after first getting home we had go-karts in the area, but last summer they didn't come back. Well, for summer 2013 they're back! Cale absolutely loves going. 

18) We found an old video from Cale's first deployment. Part of me was dying to watch it and the other part was hesitant and unsure. Would it be a good idea? Could I handle it? The first part of the video is actually from right before he deployed. Our friend Jorel had come to visit and had taken random video that maybe at the time I would have thought it was wasted video or boring, but now, now it is one of the most precious gifts. It's normal mundane moments that were not set up for the camera. It's just me and Cale. It's as if we just unpacked gold. The second part was during the deployment and again, such a gift. It was odd watching this man in the video, my man. He was a long ago friend, a stranger, a person that is the closest to me all rolled into one. Many emotions took place and it was hard, but comforting at the same time because something ran deep in me missing the guy in the video, but at the same time, the man that I was snuggled up with- my head on his shoulder...my heart was full with him. 

19) I have new spectacles. 

20) We are home. Home has been so good. There have been so many travels the last couple years and this year we're being very protective of our schedules. There have already been trips that would have been amazing, but we had to turn them down. There are a couple trips planned and the rest of the time we're here, enjoying home.

We're so...