God, Trails, and a Surprise

With two sick kiddos we’ve been a bit stir crazy staring at the same four walls all morning. We also were all awake around 4:30am…so lunch and nap time came around 10. What to do, what to do with the rest of the day?

We decided to head out to Washington Park again, but this time the kids were riding in the Bob and I was going to run the 3 mile loop road that runs around the camp sites. I haven’t yet run the entire thing since moving back. I remember it taking about 45 minutes to an hour to walk it when we lived here before so I was curious to see how fast I could do it now that I would be running (most of) it.

Let me just say that pushing 70lbs of kidlets in the stroller up those hills was no joke. At the steepest inclines I was essentially bent at the waist with my arms straight out by my ears pushing the stroller in a pseudo “superman” pose! I’m sure it looked ridiculous, but it worked! I got the loop done in 30:13 with a pace of 12:43. I always thought and the markers along the way indicate a 3 mile trek, but my GPS had it down as 2.31 or something. Hmm…..

Essentially I was doing intervals – sprinting as fast as I could and walking up the inclines. Here’s what one of them looked like over the top of Bob:

This really doesn’t do it justice – but take it from me – its a serious climb!
And some of the amazing views looking over the San Juan Islands
Running and wringing myself out after a stir-crazy morning, I felt great! After putting the stroller back in the car, we made our way down to the beach and playground area. Since it was the weekend, there were families grilling and picnics at every available table.  Acutely aware of Eric’s absence, I felt the familiar stab of “lonely in a crowd”. Happy voices all around, smiles, laughter and the wonderful smells of grilling foods were all around us. The kids played a bit, then we decided to check out some of the little trails that run along the loop road. Jake likes to pretend we are pirates!
Jacob leads the way!!! “Yo, ho, ho! Matey!”
BIG TWEEEE!!
Yep – it’s a big one! (And sadly this little phone camera doesn’t do any of this scenery justice! Gonna have to get out here with my REAL camera!)

After a while we came out into a clearing that overlooks the water. (One of many.) It’s been a cool day out, so the air is nice and crisp. I am currently reading Wild, by Cheryl Strayed. It’s about her journey hiking the Pacific Crest Trail that runs from Mexico into Canada. She went on this trek as a sort of therapy after the loss of her mother. Since reading it, I’m finding myself drawn to trails lately as she describes the scenery on her journey. Much of her story is about the physical trials of being on the trail, but the deeper layer is about the spiritual nature and growth of her as a person.

Do you ever have the feeling that God is talking to you? Not audibly of course, but sometimes you just, well, you just know. Some call it our intuition, our conscience, our inner voice. It is alluded to in Cheryl’s book, and like most people, I’ve had experiences that I feel could come from no other place except a higher power. It’s those moments where you feel assured that you aren’t alone, and that God, the universe, does in fact see you. And cares.

In her book Captivating, Staci Eldridge describes a wonderful example of what I am trying to (albeit not as articulately) explain. I’ll briefly recap the story from what I remember of it:
She tells of her husband going through a trial of some kind. He loves the ocean and starfish in particular. After praying about the situation and walking a while on the beach, he comes over a crest and laid out before him are literally THOUSANDS of starfish. EVERY. WHERE. She describes this scene and while going through a trial of her own, prays for a similar experience – to see thousands of starfish like her husband did. She did not see any. Defeated, she walks back to her house but on her way is greeted by breaching whales. She describes that feeling you get when you know its just for you. Someone out there sees you and cares. (Even if it is seemingly a “first world problem”.)

In a sermon I heard years ago, our pastor likened our parenting relationship to that of our relationship to God. As a parent, most of us just want our children to be fulfilled and happy, well adjusted adults. Most parents don’t necessarily think, “Little Johnny can ONLY be happy if he is a mechanic.” (Or a doctor, lawyer, banker, etc.) My point is that it isn’t the specific occupation that a parent hopes for, but rather that the child be fulfilled by whatever profession they choose. And like God, parents “delight” in our children. We marvel awestruck as we watch the world unfold before them, seeing it through their eyes. How much more does God love us? Delight in us? Want to make us laugh? See us joyful? My guess is more than we can ever imagine.

While this may seem a little “twilight zone-y” for some or “whoo-hooey fluff” or “Oprah-y and new-age-y”, (Yes, those are all words!) I had such an experience today walking with my kids in the trails. The past couple of weeks have been a bit of a roller coaster ride with the tragic loss of 3 of Eric’s family members and the deployment in general. Feeling a tad melancholy while amongst the families grilling, enjoying the last tidbits of summer we have left, I was comforted by the woods, the wildlife and the beauty all around me.

Most people that know me are familiar (if not tired of hearing about) my fitness journey. And of course it’s so much more than just physical fitness. I have a fondness for butterflies, and specifically the change they represent. (Even have a tattoo of one!) I feel like I have gone through, and continue to go through, a metamorphosis of sorts.

So coming into a clearing – I see this:

And it’s not just fluttering by. It’s literally hanging out with me and my kids while we all just kind of stand there in awe. If you know my kids – under normal circumstances their raucousness and sheer volume will scare away creatures of all kinds.
Not today.
Then – it landed on me.
And stayed…..
And flitted around and stayed some more….
I’m laughing because I have never seen a butterfly sit and hover in front of a person, land, hover some more and then land again. Long enough for me to fiddle with the phone to take these pictures!
Despite all the “stuff” going on, I am continually amazed that I am seen. Cared for.
Delighted in.

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