It was the Friday before I was scheduled to run my 9th half marathon. The half marathon - that's my race. Never was I more aware of that than on November 12, 2016 when I ran my first full marathon. Immediately after crossing the finish line of that race I decided 26.2 miles was indeed NOT my race. Too far. Too much training involved. I decided then and there the marathon was the perfect race to do once, check it off and escape as fast as I could still run back to the starting line of the race I love.
The half marathon.
This 9th half marathon was going to be particularly meaningful. I'd partnered with St. Andrews Church in Pearland, Texas to run the race to raise money for their hurricane relief efforts. (Running My 9th Half Marathon - The Hokie Half for Texas). What God had put so strongly on my heart I was now prepared to fully pursue. Only, until this particular moment, I wasn't fully aware of what pursuing entailed.
The first connection I made at St. Andrews Church was Tom Lusk - a dear friend of a long time dear friend of mine. I'd already been considering how I would get the bib I would wear at the Hokie Half for Texas to St. Andrews church after I completed the race when Tom reached out to me with this message:
I listened to your podcast today. Great work! As the Minister of Fun of St. Andrews church, (which I find hilarious that you discovered that little tidbit of information) I wish you good luck in your upcoming half marathon. I will also throw out another idea I had, if you are so inspired. I would like to invite you and your family to come to Pearland to come and witness our outreach in action for yourself, perhaps even get a chance to participate , if you so desire. I would also invite your family to attend a service at our church and get the full experience. We honestly are a no frills church where the emphasis is put on the message "love everyone, perform service, and understand we are all people...in progress, and where a t-shirt, shorts and flip flops are part of the dress code for Sunday service. This would be an open invitation and no strings attached (unless you want to run a race down here) and absolutely no pressure. Father nor Debbie know I'm extended this invitation, but as my title suggests, wouldn't it be fun to put faces to names, be able to participate first hand and be my family's special guest at one of the church services.
You see what Tom put in parentheses don't you - (unless you want to run a race down here). So you know want the runner in me always looking for the next running challenged did - I went to the Houston area race calendar to check out available races in early 2018. The first one I came to was the Houston Marathon. But, as luck would have it, a no go. My race, the half marathon, was sold out.
I was not long finished with exploring that race and making the unfortunate sold out discovery when I got this message from my friend Robyn Larkin.
So as I finished listening to your podcast, I realized that running the Houston half in January would be a GREAT way for you to go there and meet people from St Andrew's in person...and to continue raising money for them...🤔
To which I responded:
Already checked, the Houston Half is sold out. I'm NOT running the marathon. But there are other halfs down there early next year. Would love to get a group of us to go. Maybe do a day of working with the church and then run. Something to explore for sure. But yes, I'm with you.
Followed - after a brief bit of thought - by this message:
And now after listening to myself I'm rethinking - if those folks can do all they are doing, the least I can do is run another marathon. The perfect place to do my second one maybe? Ugh. Why do you put these things in my head.
Robyn responded with this:
So I just got a few chills. I originally registered to run Houston in 2017. Then Chris had to go to Bermuda and it was at race weekend time...so I deferred my entry until 2018. Coincidence? You need to go there and run this. It's a flat area, so the course is going to be pretty flat.
You know what happened next. I signed up for the Houston Marathon. The flat -(famous last words) - 26.2 mile Houston Marathon.
I'm going where I've never been : Texas.
I'm going where I thought I'd never go again: the marathon.
I'm going to Houston not by my design but through wide eyed obedience to God's call. Any questions about that were put to rest last night in an email from Father Jim at St. Andrews Church. He emailed me a report of the contributions made to St. Andrews Church for hurricane relief as part of my Hokie Half for Texas run. My original goal was $500. His report said $2,000.
And then there was this. Before I'd received that total - one that spoke to the financial contribution - I received an email from a dear friend that spoke to the heart contribution that was blossoming from this effort. My friend Nicole Williams has been a long time supporter of my TwoTim.com ministry. Still, I was a bit surprised when I received this email from her:
Congrats on the hokie half finish and even more so, the reason you did it. I am so proud of you and the efforts by all of the amazing people who have come together to support the hurricane Harvey efforts. I have been so moved by your podcasts, the pictures and the people there.
Flash back a little earlier in the year. I had decided to run another full (in addition to rva this year). I found one within a couple hours of me, in September. Perfect timing and close. I never actually signed up, but I've been training. Here we are two weeks from this full and I still have never signed up. Honestly, I've been asking myself for a couple months now, why haven't you pushed the button. Today, it became clear. God has plans for me to be doing something else. After talking with Jason today, who is also on board, I wanted to message you. I want to be a part of this Houston marathon journey and meet this Pearland Texas community. My heart has forever been moved because of this story you have shared.
Excited for this journey and hope I can join you on such an important visit to Texas and meet this community and tackle 26.2 miles.
I say it all the time. As I grow closer to God I'm no better than I've ever been at predicting what He will unfold in front of me next. I could never have predicted all that he's doing through one simple idea that was hatched during one of my routine runs. But if we point our thoughts and desires toward him, if we act with faith on the simple ideas he plants in us, he'll reflect them back to us and to those around us in miracles.
My friend Nicole and her family joining me in Houston is a miracle I never saw coming. But looking in the rear view mirror I can clearly see God orchestrating it. I can see God arranging Robyn's race schedule so we'll be running this race together. I can see God forming my friendship with Janice nearly 20 years ago so she'd be able to arrange my friendship with St. Andrews Church at precisely the right moment in time.
I'm reminded nothing in our lives is small. No moment. No thought. No race. God is constantly at work in all we do and all He does is bigger than our minds can dream or imagine. Like Texas big. The anatomy of this trip to run the Houston Marathon is mind boggling to me, but to God, it's just the way he rolls.
The lesson for me, and maybe for you, is to start the ball rolling. We can't go for a run and dream of a ball and then come home and set it in a corner. We have to push it. Run behind it and give it a couple of extra shoves full of momentum for good measure. Then watch what God does with it.
When I dreamed of this TwoTim47.com ministry I dreamed of running to dark with light. The mistake I made was in grabbing a flashlight when God had a stadium full of spotlights in mind.
Thanks for the extra light God. That's why I like to run with you.
Life is like running.