A Beacon of Light Toward Home

We went to Laughlin last week for our son’s football game. A place I’d never been in all my thirty four years of living here. I guess it was a place to bypass on my way to other destinations. The scenery was rugged as the mountains bounded down toward the Colorado River. I was glad to be there.

I spent my afternoon and evening with my family watching the game, but most of my attention was toward a precious woman who sat beside me. Our conversation was easy, as if we’d known each other for a long time, yet hadn’t learned all the facts. We asked questions about our history and journeys throughout this crazy life. In her questions I found myself answering over and again with a familiar theme. My life has been spent for the last thirty-four years wrapped up in a five mile radius. My school, all my homes I’ve lived in, church, jobs…seldom has anything fallen out of that area. She said it was eerie in a way, and well, it is. I never left for college. I’ve never left the country…(I’d never been to Laughlin!) We did try to move out of state before our youngest two children were born but God had other plans, so we set down our roots for good.

This is home. A town right outside sin city. But it’s the only home I’ve known. The place where my grade school is a block away from the private school where I teach. This is the town where all my childhood memories were made in. Where I learned directions not from a compass but from mountain ranges and the position of the sun. It’s where I learned to drive, had my first kiss. Where I met and married my husband. Where my three children were all born in the same hospital, just a couple miles from the house. This is home.
I never realized how grateful I am to be pouring back into this community until now. It is my heritage. It is the town where my children will have fond memories to look back on as well.

On the drive home from Laughlin, the road was long and dark. In the distance I saw light reflecting on the clouds and thought the moon was on the rise. But as the road turned and I drove northward I realized the light was my beacon home. The light of sin city and all it’s surrounding suburbs was guiding me home. I know, home forever isn’t found here in my town, I get it. I know the beacon of light toward home forever is in Christ. But I know beyond a shadow of doubt he’s placed me here, kept me in this town to be a light to point others toward Home in Him. There hadn’t really been much doubt but somehow talking about it made my calling all the more clear as I followed the beacon of light toward home.


Making the Grade

I graded. All. Day. Long. I sat in the hunter green padded kitchen chair for at least six hours if not more, grading stacks of papers trying to close out the first quarter of the school year. Reports cards are due. I was happy doing my work, don’t get me wrong. I love my job more than words can express, but sitting in one spot for so long I knew I’d go nuts another minute longer.

Inspired by a friend, I decided to go for a run. Just what this sedentary body needed. I didn’t know how my body would respond. It was a trying week physically. This past Thursday I had memory loss and thought for a moment I was twenty again. I was on the asphalt playground with my 6th grade class playing football. With a jumping reach for a pass, I missed and the entire right side of my body planted into the asphalt. It was one of those moments you’re either going to laugh or cry. I laughed, got up and continued with the game. As the hours of the day passed and my students moved on to other classes, my body stiffened and by day’s end I limped to my car.

Now, Sunday, and walking much better with a bruised knee and sore hip and shoulder I wasn’t sure my body would be up for this run, but I went anyway. Parking at the Armagosa trail head, I decided I really am crazy. This is a rocky dirt trail that climbs up the hills on the side of Black Mountain. Another kind of grade awaits me. Yep, I’m nuts!

I walked fifty yards downhill, fast paced to warm up, and then off I went.  Changing quickly the path turns uphill. It is not a super steep grade at first, but then it climbs…up… with switchbacks, bends and turns.  My legs burned, as with each step I dodged rocks and holes. I pushed myself further up wanting to know what I was made of now after all the ailments, and injuries. Shockingly, I sailed up this hill. My lungs filled deep with air. I felt as though something were tethered to me ahead of me pulling me up further and further. I reached a peak, one of my favorite places to perch, and then went down the other side careful as not to eat the dirt while running down hill, (it’s happened before). Another hundred yards and then I head back the direction of the car but this time off the trail and onto some dirt that had been graded out of the mountain side for a housing development years ago. Only a slight down hill grade and much smoother footing, I picked up my pace. The car was getting closer and closer parked on the road but I wasn’t done. Now on the street one hundred yards from the car I did an about face and sprinted back up hill. I opened up sprinting fifty yards then jogging back. Sprint uphill, jog back, repeat. After three or four of these I decided it best not to press my luck though I felt I could do it all night long. With a swift walk downhill, I cooled down with a ten minute walk, still reeling with delight like a giddy school girl in love.

Some may think I’m crazy, but only runners will understand the “high” that comes from a running workout. I caught my breath enough to whisper out a “thank you Jesus.” I’m in awe of what my body is accomplishing right now. It was about a fifteen to twenty minute non-stop, rigorous mile and a half run. That is slow to some, very slow. But I am on cloud nine! I made the grade.  I pushed.  A month ago I didn’t even know if I would be able to run anymore, ever. I am thankful, so grateful for another chance to do what lifts my spirit and inspires my mind and soul and gives glory to my Creator if only with a whisper of thanks and praise.

Epilogue- It was the most intense of my runs yet this month, so much so I coughed all the way home in the car. I needed air and the inhaler was at home. After two quick puffs and an open airway, I celebrated my run with three slices of my favorite pizza and a long drink of water!




Rock in my Shoe

Warmth. A little warmer than I would have liked for this afternoon’s run. But I feel good, I’m going.
I warmed up with a fast paced walk then began a slow run…with a rock in my shoe. I was going to stop and get it out, but decided to leave it in there and see how long it would take to annoy me. Why would I do that?
It tossed its way under my foot, to the heel then the ball, and the arch. Bouncing around it did annoy me, but the music was loud and my body moved unusually quicker with each step. Before long I forgot about the rock, or pebble or whatever it was. So focused on my breathing, my pace, the fact that I was actually running, breaking a sweat, the rock became insignificant.
As I slowed finally to cool down at a walking pace I didn’t feel the rock any more. Had it bounced out? To do that, it must have been just a little pebble! At home I took my shoe off and shook. Nothing was there.
The rock in my shoe…how it is like life’s boulders. They annoy, they take us by surprise, the move around and make us uncomfortable. I want to live my life like I was on this run today. To be so focused on my Help, my Hope, my Salvation. So focused on the One who loves me most. I want it to be that all the boulders in my life become insignificant. Holy Spirit bring the realization to my heart and mind that whatever temporal boulders and rocks are in my “shoes” will not compare to the joy that waits for me in Your eternal glory, especially because then, they will all disappear! “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.”-2 Corinthians 4:17.

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”– Romans 8:18

I was with you in the valley
And up upon that hill
So take just one more step in front of you
For I am with you still, you still
And you’re not alone
Shine on Shine on – “Shine On”- Needtobreathe