Team Hoyt & Apostle Paul run the race

This last Sunday, I was leading my Ladies group in a study of Philippians 3:12-21. I was suddenly struck by the beauty of Paul’s words in verse 14  I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus (HCSB).
We tend to recognize that racing, reaching the prize, pursuing the goal, as favorite metaphors of Paul. One of the most well known being found in Hebrews 12:1-2 (bold) Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne.
I realized while reading it with my class, that I had the wrong vision of what Paul’s race might look like. I admire Olympiad athletes who can run full out in quick sprints and break records of the fastest run in so many seconds, but it never truly echoed in my life.
Christian life is not a sprint. It is a marathon race where we do not get to pass off the baton to someone who can do that scary obstacle course right in the middle of the race. Reading the various race metaphors before, did tug a little on the heartstrings, but it never sank in in regards to the enduring dedication that is needed to continually run when your energy is flagging.
My life has been more of a marathon. It has never been a sprint. Racing round a track in under 4 minutes is an amazing feat, but the energy is gone. I have had to see some people race ahead of me in life while others fall behind, and still I must doggedly continue to race towards the goal of my life- complete humble perfection in Christ Jesus. The prize that will hopefully await me upon entering the heavenly kingdom of God.
The vision I now carry with me is the idea that the marathon race that I am in the midst of is closer to what the amazing Team Hoyt might go through.
Team Hoyt is a father son duo who have ran in various races since 1977. The duo officially ran their 1077th race as of April 2012.
What is so amazing about Team Hoyt?
Dick Hoyt, the father, is now in his 70s and races for the benefit of his son Rick, who was diagnosed with spastic quadriplegia. Rick had told his dad after their first run together, “Dad, when I’m running, it feels like I’m not handicapped.” Since that moment, Dick has done whatever he could so that his son could feel freedom.
They have raced in marathons, triathlons, and the difficult Ironman competitions. They have also biked and run across the United States in 45 days.
Throughout the races, Dick carries his son. Depending on the competition, Rick is either placed on the front of the bike in a special chair, pulled behind his father on a small boat, or pushed in a specially designed racing wheelchair. He is in the midst of the race. And he always finishes before his father.
So why did reading Paul’s “pursue as my goal the prize before me” suddenly make me think of Team Hoyt? I’ve known about Team Hoyt for years. I’ve always greatly admired the duo and follow them on Facebook. I remember praying that they weren’t near the horrible tragedy at the Boston Marathon, which happens to be the duo’s favorite race.
So why now?
Perhaps my last year of life has focused my attention more on the fact that I cannot face this race as a sprint. Becoming mature in Christ is not a quick one-two thing that happens. It is something we must struggle with. We must sweat, cry, and bleed over our spiritual life.
Dick Hoyt shows how important his son is to him by continually bleeding and sweating over that which makes his son feel free. I’m sure he has shed more than his share of tears over the years as exhaustion and illness plague him, but still he continues to strive towards the goal of the finish line. His focus is totally on that which is in front of him- Rick, his son.
It is not about the ‘prize.’ It is about the growth of his son’s sense of freedom.
Applying this to Paul’s metaphor might seem like a stretch, but stick with me.
Paul, throughout his letters has mentioned that that he has shed blood, sweat, and tears in the service of Christ. He praises that that which is behind him (the old him who despised the salvation of the cross) no longer has the power to sway him from his goal. He has beaten his body into submission and is wholly focused on coming perfection at the end of the race. He encourages those he writes too, to bring their own bodies into submission and run with endurance towards the prize, to not be swayed by the world’s glitter, but focused on the true reward.
I’m sure that Dick Hoyt has wanted to just collapse in the middle of the Ironman competition more than once (or any of the races), due to the exhaustion of going from biking, to swimming, to running. But, rather than give into his flesh, he puts one foot in front of another, his eye on his prize- his son’s joy.
Paul was not a sprinter. If he was a sprinter, I believe he might have renounced Christ rather than go through torture at the brutal hands of the Romans. A sprinter would not have the fortitude to withstand his faith being questioned. Sprinters in the faith burn brilliantly and quickly. The first time there is a small bump in the track they will fall away, unable to handle the difficulty of the race.
Marathon racers on the other hand, will conserve their faith in the midst of the race. It is for when those hiccups come their way, they have the knowledge and strength they built up during the calm moments that will help carry them through the tough moments.
Christian marathon racers should not be trying to leave everyone in their dust, but rather be helping our fellow racers finish their race well. We all are striving for the same goal.
The beauty of racing for the prize of fellowship with Christ, is that there is enough of him to go around to all the winners!

hoyt12You can read about the amazing Team Hoyt here on their website

 

Advertisements

Joni and Friends Camp

I spent the last week at Joni and Friends Southern Oregon‘s Family Retreat.
It was….amazing.
I’ve been sitting here, trying to figure out the best way to explain what I saw, felt, and experienced, but everything that seems to come to mind seems a bit dull, flat, and not exactly right.
How do I explain the acceptance? The compassion? The love? The peace?
How do I explain the power of watching a young man who rarely if ever touches another human being, dancing and laughing? And watching his mother cry with joy at being able to see it?
How do I begin to explain Joni and Friends family retreat?
This camp in action is what the Church should always be.
Camp is where I had the awesome pleasure of watching 106 people pay a mini fortune to come and serve strangers. Young children, teens, twenty-somethings, and people upwards to seventy, gave their money and time to serve strangers. This was not a camp where people could come to do a couple of things and then have a free vacation. They came to work hard. And work hard they truly did. These people worked all day long with only one small break, being one hundred percent focused on the camper.
Not only were they focused on the camper who had a disability, but they were focused on the typical sibling. It was a time when every person in the family could be truly acknowledged for who they were.
Watching the interactions between these vastly different people was eye-opening. Going through school, I have heard more than once that certain disabilities were just too disruptive to have in the classrooms. Churches quietly shun them by offering tv rooms so that the disruptive noises are reduced and removed from ‘proper worship.’ But at camp? Campers who had Cerebral PalsyDown Syndrome, Autism, different varieties of physical or Intellectual/Developmental disabilities to just name a few, celebrated life together in a way that  was just truly Godly.
These campers were not loved because of what they could give to someone or do for the camp. They were loved solely for the reason that they were children of God.
Churches need to take a look at how they are run. Do they truly love those who come broken into their doorways simply because they see them as a child of God? Or are we looking for what we can gain by allowing them into circles?
I wish every person I know would serve in a Joni and Friends camp, because we will finally feel what true acceptance is like. What being loved without expectations can do to change our perceptions of the world. And crave the coming Kingdom of God even deeper.
What was camp like? A small taste of the coming wonder in heaven.

Making a joyful noise on to the Lord

Making a joyful noise on to the Lord

The volunteers were prayed over and their hands were washed to remove the sins that can get in the way of their work.

The volunteers were prayed over and their hands were washed to remove the sins that can get in the way of their work.

Watching these people serve each other was just a lovely experience

Watching these people serve each other was just a lovely experience

 

 

A thought on actors

I am not a fangirl. I enjoy a great actor when I see them whether in a movie or on a show, but I will refrain from becoming a fangirl. Right now, I might be a little crazy over BBC’s Sherlock, waiting for the next series to come out–because let’s admit it- it’s a great show! The depth of character that these amazing actors portray is awe-inspiring. Plus, I just want the tears to stop when I watch “The Reichenbach Fall” and for Sherlock to come back. The whole crew who works on screen (as well as the writers) pulls off the emotional turmoil needed beautifully.
I appreciate actors who make their characters believable. It takes special skill to place a fictional skin over your own personality so that people only see the character.
I do not have the skill and I’m glad to be able to enjoy a few hours watching someone who does.
But, also, I would never want to be famous. Looking through different sites to see what thoughts there were about how Sherlock survived the “Fall,” I was amazed by the possessiveness of some of the fans. Not only do they defend their favorite characters aggressively, but they just as aggressively try to influence the romantic aspect as well.
Then you have the fanatic fans of the actors themselves. Men and women alike will stake out and stalk actors. Paparazzi will do everything in their power to get one picture to sell, the more possibly compromising the better. They are known to photoshop what is going on in the picture just to make it more racy.
I find it sadly ironic that in America where we believe in the right to privacy that we have no qualms of breaking that right when it is someone famous. I’ve heard some people say that they gave up that right when they became an actor. I’m shocked by that thought!
Just because someone is well known, they lose the right to their privacy? I bet those people would change their mind quickly if they were forced to deal with the paparazzi and crazy fans.
I feel sorry for famous people. The chance to do something that they love in front of the masses makes them lose their anonymity. Few well known actors can just walk along the street without being bombarded by questions and cameras. Quiet moments with a loved one become tabloid fodder and every supposed argument is leading to a break up. Every pound lost or gained is weighed by the public.
Just because they play on our screens, we think that these people are ours to dissect.
Honestly, sometimes it doesn’t surprise me when I hear the sad news of another actor going into rehab, or even worse dying due to an overdose.
We remove these actors’ ability to simply be. We seem to forget that they are NOT their professions, but rather are people who just act for work.
We forget that despite their money and their fame, they are simply human. They are just as broken and lost as we are and they are just trying to find a little bit of happiness.
No, I would rather never be famous. Questioning people’s friendships because you can’t trust why they hanging out with you, having your conversations sold to the highest bidder by your own relatives, and having money stolen from those that you thought you could trust.
To be famous is not the blessing we might think.
The next time we go crazy over an actor, maybe we can step back and allow them a breath.
Just a thought.

Political agonies

I’m not a fan of politics. I know its a ‘necessary’ evil as some might people call it. It’s a big election year yet again and the smear campaigns are spewing across the airwaves. I despise this time of the year.The last thing I want to do is get on a website, open an email, pick up the phone, flip through the channels, or talk to someone just to hear hate.
People think I’m joking when I say that I would probably vote for the least visible nominee than the name that is being bandied about everywhere (as long as I agree with them morally and Biblically).
Why?
I would much rather support someone who doesn’t spend money tearing down their opponent. I think that shows a strength of character. The ability to withstand and not throw back the hatred that scared people shovel is a mark of a good person.
Why would we want people who spend millions of dollars on digging up skeletons on the opponent? EVERYONE has sin in their pasts (and their futures and presents)- and yes, we don’t want leaders who have harem of mistresses in the wings or strung out on drugs guiding us on the already bumpy path.
But, I wonder. What could be done with all that money that is being paid to sneak around bushes with cameras and others to hack into computers?
Imagine what could be accomplished if the candidate spent their money on things they are ‘promising’ to do in their term? What if they started before they were hired? They would have proof of what they say they will do for us, rather than us having false hope that they would follow through. Imagine the possibilities of having only candidates in the race who have proven themselves before they even tried to get your attention!
We would be voting for the right person for the job rather than the lesser of two evils. We would be voting for a morally conscience person rather than choosing between an inhaler or an adulterer.
Think of the schools that would have the supplies needed because the candidate cares.
Think of the money that could infuse health care, veteran hospitals, small town business and so many other ‘hot topics’ that are used to bash each over the head rather than create change.
Rather than spending the constituents’ money on trying to bury the other opponent- what if politicians changed their image and were what we needed?
Stop with smear campaigns and start doing what you say you will do.
It shouldn’t make the news because you are ‘suspending negative campaign commercials’  because of a horrible shooting massacre. Instead, how about it making the news when a candidate actually does a negative campaign?
These are just some thoughts as we get deeper into this election year.
Eagerly awaiting the day the commercials are off of the screen and out of the paper.

Beautiful age


Today’s culture in America is truly negative against those who are aging. It’s an abomination to the “beauty” companies who keep improving their formulas so that one might have less wrinkles. We puncture our skin with needles and knives to get tighter skin, while we insert foreign objects that were not created by the God of Creation into the very body given to us- simply to deny our own age.
Women fib their ages by decades while men go into mid-life crises trying to prove they aren’t as old as their birth certificate proves.
Why do we hate age so much in this culture?
In many other cultures- that have some how stayed untouched by America’s brashness- age is something to be venerated. They hold a special place in the family hierarchy and those who hit a certain age are sought after for their wisdom. In tribal cultures they are the rulers of the village- guiding it along treacherous paths so that they might thrive. In many cultures the grandparents live with the children, helping take care of the grandchildren and helping the family prosper. They have respect and honor.
Then there is America. Where we have totally turned upside down what it means to be family. Where more families are torn apart by selfishness than anything. Where broken families are meshed together with other broken families in an attempt to heal which causes more problems than it mends. Where family members are replaced, misplaced, and displaced as easily as a pair of shoes. Where family is something you make rather than being born into, when gathering a group of friends that fit your criteria is better than your own blood. This is America in all of her broken misunderstanding.
But, then when we age, our family- because of our culture- decides we no longer matter in the grand scheme of the family. So we do our ‘duty’ hopefully and place Grandma/pa in a nursing home– spend the money so that they are out of sight out of mind. We can’t be bothered taking care of an ailing human who only takes up time and valuable resources. Better to pay someone else to do so we don’t have to be bothered.
So life goes on.
We fight the act of aging because we fear the very thing we have done to our own parents happening to us.
The Baby Boomer generation in fact are facing this dilemma more than anyone right now. There are more than 78 million baby boomers out there who are hitting the age of 65. As a caregiver many of my clients will now be part of that generation. They will also be the ones who will fight the most about what it means to be considered old. And because of their own actions towards their own parents- their children will mimic them. They will most likely be one of the most forgotten aging generations in the retirement and nursing centers than any previous one. Many families have not instilled in their children the need to respect and honor their elders, so many children and grandchildren will not understand the need to care for their aging family members and will even begrudge the need to put money towards their care.
Euthanasia and assisted suicide are on the way to being a normal action of an aging generation because they fear age and suffering- and they want to die on their own terms.
Age is beautiful. Your face will show the pages of your life. The silver of your hair will show the wisdom you have gained through pain and joy. Why do we fight something so beautiful?
I served a woman who made it to her 105th birthday- a woman who lived through the War to End all Wars- twice. A woman who saw technology create wondrous things never thought possible. She met many people and she was a blessing to know. She didn’t fear death but embraced life like an old friend. The beauty carved into her face made her radiant. A small woman in stature but a giant in personality. To sit at her feet and hear the stories are some of my fondest memories.
I love to hear the stories these elders carry. Sadly, many of them will go unheard and forgotten because we can’t be bothered to take the time to listen. Wisdom will be loss and ignorance will be hailed the victor.
Embrace age I say! Sure, your joints will ache, your sight might fail, your hearing might go- but share your wisdom. I am not saying that age doesn’t have it shortcomings but the wisdom that you can impart is worth so much. Don’t let your children be ignorant and don’t hide from age. No matter how much one might hide- it will always find you. You think you might erase your wrinkles of years pass, but one day you’ll look in the mirror and realize that you look much older now than if you had just let life creep over your face the way it was going too.

A poem I wrote to a client who was apologizing for getting old:

You’re Not Old!
For Ann M-C
By Ranelle Gildersleeve
August 2012

You don’t eat slow- you’re savoring every bite!
You don’t walk slow- you’re smelling the roses!
You aren’t hard of hearing- you’re having deep thoughts!
You don’t sleep too much- you’re just praying a whole lot more!
You’re joints aren’t popping- you ate Rice Krispies this morning!
You don’t have false teeth- you just have an extra smile!
You don’t go to the doctors a lot- you just go to get updates on their families!
You don’t take too many pills- you are just supporting your local pharmacy!
You don’t forget things- you just keep them in an extra safe spot!
You don’t repeat stories- you just remember the good times!
You’re not old- you just see the world a little better!

 A letter from an aging mother to her daughter: The day I am getting old

Fleeting Summers & Life Lessons

It’s hard to believe, but I’ve been out of school now for a month. “Living it up” on my summer vacation…heh. Yeah, I have never ‘lived it up’ on my vacation time. Due to the fact that my dad’s busy time with work always falls during the elusive dry months of summer in Washington, my family has never truly gone on a vacation. I’ve only flown once- to Texas to see my brother graduate with his Bachelor’s. It was a weekend jaunt, which meant I didn’t get to explore the fact that I was in Texas much less enjoy the fact that for the first time I wasn’t on the West Coast.
When I was 5 years old, we went to California to do the prerequisite trip to Disney. I got a double ear infection…don’t remember anything about Disneyland but throwing up. Only thing I vaguely remember is getting to eat with my fingers while knights on black and white horses tried to get each other off said horses with loud clashes of wood meeting armor. That was on the way home. Because Medieval Times still resounds with me, I’ve thought about going down there to see the jousting- the prices are nearly $60…and I think, yeah I’ll put that off. Though I highly recommend it (at least my inner 5 year old does) because it shows a snapshot of history where children can interact with it. Image

That was really the only true vacation that I’ve had. And really? At 5 years old, there really isn’t anything called ‘vacation’ in your vocabulary.
I’ve never truly traveled. I’m a homebody in more ways then one. I’m ok with that for the most part. I’ve been 20 miles over either border of the US (To the Peace Arch in Canada for a Girl Scout rally, and to El Testerazo, Baja, California for a 2 week Youth Group mission trip). I’ve barely touched Idaho and only fleetingly ran through California. Oregon? Lived in it for 6 years and haven’t went much past Portland.
When you are friends with people who randomly jump on the plane to go to Europe for a few weeks, or friends with natives from other countries, I look at what I’ve been able to ‘see.’
Unlike many of my age group that I’ve known, I’ve worked hard since I was 14. Even before that I was taking care of animals for friends (as they jet off to Mexico or for a long camping trip in a famous national park), while others played, I worked. I made money. I proved my reliability, and I’m proud of that fact.
For many adults, I (or my brother) was the one they thought about to watch their house while they were away, because my parents raised me right.
I was taught the power of a good reputation, the satisfaction of a job well done. I learned how to work hard and be willing to do it for no reason beyond the fact that it was the right thing to do. I learned how to work my brain but also my muscles. I learned how not to take anything that didn’t belong to me- simply because it was wrong. I didn’t earn it, I wasn’t entitled to it, and I didn’t need it simply because I wanted it. I learned that sometimes the best feeling in the world were bleeding blisters on your hands- because it meant that you worked hard. That sometimes the feel of a hungry belly after a hard day of work was more rewarding than the relaxed limbs of a body out in the sun all day. I learned life.
Sure, I had my pangs of envy when school would roll around and I heard friends bragging about what they did (always to be followed with “but that is ALL we did this summer (sigh)” ) and the knowledge that my friends soon stopped asking me what I did, simply because I would say I worked.
Sometimes, work was simply around the house, sometimes work was taking care of an elderly woman with dementia. Work was work.
But, those rare moments, when Dad didn’t have to work so hard during summer driving truck, when we were able to sneak away to the river are still beautiful little nuggets to me.  When Mom would pack a big lunch, we’d load up the dogs and hit the river for the day, those days are embossed in my memory.
Or the simple joy of an all out war with water in the house. The knowledge that my friends didn’t have parents who are willing to get things wet so they could be called champion for the day still makes me smile.
Or the simple days of getting in the car and just driving. To explore the area around us and get that special beef jerky at our favorite butcher shop a few hours away.
These were my summer vacations, simple one day wonders.
Right now, as with the last few years- I have itchy feet. I want to DO something. I’m in a rut and I’m tired. I have been putting one foot in front of another academically and work wise for so many years, I don’t know if I’d recognize adventure if it sat in my lap. My ultimate goal and dream is to go to Ireland. It has been my life’s goal since I was a little kid. It’s the reason why I keep focused on graduating (my parents promised me that they’d send me to Ireland for a graduation gift). While I’ll want to explore Dublin, my ultimate goal is the Cliffs of Mohr because of the resounding beauty of the area. Also, I’m the type of person who’d rather find a couple of talkative elders to tell me stories of their lives than shopping for knickknacks in all honesty.

Image

I think ultimately though- I wouldn’t know how to take a vacation if I wasn’t doing something that was helpful. Considering how uncomfortable I am at a friend’s house after dinner (not helping clean the kitchen up afterwards) I don’t know how I’d handle free time to do whatever I wanted. I don’t want to be one of the annoying American tourists that so many countries complain about. I don’t want to take- I ultimately want to give.
So I like the ideas of the Volunteer Vacations, getting to give back to a country that I’m visiting. Who knows? Maybe that will finally be a way for me to get out of my rut? But, I’d still need money to do that…so I’ll be spending this summer doing what I always do- work.