I spent my childhood as the sidekick of my older brother, four years my senior, who loved baseball, basketball, and football. It was just the two of us and we spent every day together doing pretty much whatever he wanted to do because (a) he was the oldest & quite the talker – he’d get you going and before you knew it, you thought it was your idea; (b) I wanted to be just like him – he was good at everything, had a magnetic personality, and mercy, could that boy make me laugh; and (c) for the most part, it was really fun. So imagine the scene, we’re 4 & 8, 6 & 10, or 8 & 12 – honest, it probably happened at all of those times – and Bud wanted to play basketball or football or baseball. There were only two of us, so it was him against me. I couldn’t even venture to guess how many times I got plowed over in football or basketball all in the name of a game. And you can bet, when he hit fly balls to the alfalfa field, I was the one he sent to get it because the pitcher has to have a ball to pitch! Those endless summer games taught me a love for playing sports and the ability to enjoy myself even when there was no chance I was ever going to win.
Fast forward 30 years. My husband decided to join a local group of people who were doing a relay style run from Macomb to Peoria for St. Jude in honor of our teenage neighbor who had been battling cancer. The route rolls mostly through the country for approximately 70 miles. I was so proud of him and the team, and jealous because I thought I could never do that. But here’s the thing: I decided I was going to do it anyway. If I could be the opposing team on a backyard football field or basketball court or driveway baseball diamond, by golly, I could put one foot in front of the other. I may never be the strongest or the fastest, but I could finish for those who couldn’t. That was two years ago.
Earlier this week, I laughed as lyrics from an old Ray Stevens song ran through my head (Oh yes, they call him “The Streak!”) as I read a challenge in a facebook group. The Streak is a challenge to run at least one mile every day Memorial Day to the 4th of July. It’s all on the honor system and this group is a just a bunch of ladies spread across the county who all have one thing in common: they run. You get one point if you run at least a mile, one point for posting a sweaty post-run picture (keeping it real), and a point for doing at least one thing for yourself in that day. And get this…they are even offering weekly prizes. Yes, I’m still a kid!
The problem is that even at my best, I have only ever run every other day so that my body can recover on the off days. I may go for a walk or play backyard baseball with the kids, but no running on off days. So, this is a stretch, but I decided to do it, so now I can’t not do it. That’s just how I operate – my brain won’t let me “not”. Then, as our youngest daughter loves to sing, the rains came down and the floods came up. While the rain is quite literal this week, it’s also figurative because I have had the worst spring/summer cold to date for the last two weeks. The cough just will not move on. And it’s a busy time with work projects. And summer ball, with four of our five kids playing, in three different leagues, based in two different towns, there are less than a handful of calendar dates that doesn’t have us at a diamond somewhere. I’m really not complaining. I love that they love to play just for the joy of playing. They also love to win, but just getting to be with their friends and play ball, it’s a joy in their young lives and I love watching them enjoy themselves so much.
Today was a long work day with a very short stop at home to eat, change and head out to see if our teams would play or if we’d be rained out. T-ball practice was called off early. Bonus, we could divide and conquer and no child would be left behind without a parent. I hadn’t gotten my mile in for the day yet, so I checked to make sure our son wouldn’t be embarrassed for mom to be at his game in run gear and post-run stench. He agreed all was well, so I changed and we headed out the door with the plan that I’d run while they warmed up. But we noticed this cloud to the west as we approached Abingdon (home to his team, but 20 minutes north of our home). This thing was larger than life and darker than dark. We quickly agreed that if this was going to happen, I’d run back and forth on the not-so-busy street to the west where I’d be close at all times and leave the doors unlocked so he could jump in if this thing let loose. By the time we got to the ballpark, there was no question. Our boys in black would not be hitting the diamond tonight, but this cloud was so amazing, we had to just sit there and watch it for a bit. It just never stopped moving and continued to roll over us as we drove back to Avon and waited for his twin sister’s game to be cancelled 30 minutes later.
And all the while, I just kept thinking, I haven’t got my mile in. By the time the softball game was cancelled and we got home, it was merely sprinkling so I decided to head out, determined to get my 3 points for the day. Out & back in an amazing light rain. 1.326 miles. At about the .9 mark, I thought I must be hearing military planes. We live along a flight training path, so this is not unusual. Then, I realized it was thunder. God said, “Listen, Girl, I’ve held off for you. Now get yourself home!” Holy cow, that thunder was loud! I checked my pace the last three strides (normal is about 10:50 this week) however, my last bit tonight was 5:25. That. Was. Not. Me. Running. I found myself on our road, looking at my phone, laughing because I know that I know that I know, there is no way I could possibly ever run that fast! But God can. And then the rains came down.
I’ve never run 5:25 and likely never will again. It was a great run and with five kids, that could easily be my me time, but that little bit who sings “the rains came down and floods came up” met me at the door, looked at me with those big blue eyes and asked me to join her in golf. How could I possibly say no? Such excitement that I agreed to a 30-second game: cheers, jumping up and down, fist pumps, and sweaty hugs. It doesn’t get much better than that.
However, I got to experience another 5:25 moment at bedtime tonight. I was all nestled in with Ben for story time. Wiggly Numbers is his current favorite. We’ve read that story at least 100 times since he brought it home from school early April. No kidding. If you know Ben, you know 100 is probably a low estimate. But last night, he read it to me. And tonight, he read it to me again. His hand held my finger, and moved along the words. His voice is about the sweetest sound a momma’s heart could hear. Yes, I know he has it memorized and he was merely replaying the script, but he was sharing his world with me. He was “reading” to me, just like all four of his siblings have read to me in their early years. We have believed in Ben and encouraged him and read with him whenever he would let us since day one. Just because he has autism doesn’t mean he can’t do things like other kids. It just means it might be more of a challenge for him. Life is not about avoiding the storms, it’s about learning to dance in the rain. Ben can do things. He will do things. God has an amazing plan for Ben, just like He does for every single one of us. And who knows, if we listen to Him and believe in His power enough, we just might see a few more amazing 5:25 moments!