Monthly Archives: November 2013

A Gentle Nudge

My eye’s flicked open and I was awake. I shouldn’t have been though. Just three short hours earlier I had finally wrapped up the final must-do item on my trip prep list and flopped down on my bed. In the moments before I drifted off to sleep I wondered if my phone’s alarm would ring out loud even with its “Do Not Disturb” mode engaged. So I whispered a simple prayer: “Father, wake me gently right before my alarm.”

I thought planning this trip would be the biggest challenge before we left. I discovered, that hands down, shutting ones life down for six weeks trumped the scheduling. Every time I crossed one item off the list, two more would take its place. It wasn’t until the last night that items finally seemed willing to give up their place in the queue to empty space. When the last buckle snapped shut on my backpack I knew I had beaten the list but at the cost of sleep.

So when I finally hit the sack early Saturday morning I knew I’d be in deep slumber when 5:15 rolled around. But after my prayer, I didn’t worry about waking up. And sure enough Father gave me a gentle nudge. As I lay there in the pre-dawn darkness I wondered how close it was to wake-up time. The thought had barely formed when, sure enough, I confirmed that “Do Not Disturb” doesn’t silence the alarm.

I swung my legs over the side of the bed; it was time to travel. As I stood up, my swirling head confirmed the lack of sleep, but I smiled and relaxed. Father is present and he cares enough to wake me on time so this adventure gets rolling on schedule. The children have been at a fever pitch of excitement for several weeks building to a crescendo in the days leading up to blast-off. I didn’t want to screw up the first day. No worries! That waking nudge was the best gift I could have received here at the beginning.

It was Father’s confirmation that even here, at 36,000 feet over the western Pacific, His Spirit is with us as we cover the final three and half hours into Sydney. And that is my goal for this trip…that each of the children experience His presence, knowing that this is indeed our Father’s world. So my prayer is the same as two nights ago: “Gently wake us up Father to the reality of your presence. Let us respond to your nudge and let your Spirit guide us along the way.”

And now, eleven hours and 6000 miles from LAX the children are doing great at adapting to international long haul travel. Matthew’s biggest thrill has been receiving the free sleep mask. He’s sacked out next to me with his neck pillow and mask in place. He wakes periodically, shaking me from my reverie and asks again, “Do I get to keep this mask?” He responds to my yes with a grin, a fist pump and then he snaps it down in place and flops to one side. He hasn’t been pestering at all, just cute as a button in his Star Wars PJ’s as he takes in the wide-body jet with wide eyes.

The flights from Austin to LA were smooth and on time and we arrived at my sister Amy’s house excited to see her family. The cousins spent the entire 36 hours in constant motion and play of one sort or another. I thankfully got a full night’s sleep and Sunday’s dawn promised a perfect SoCal day. It didn’t disappoint. Our time together closed with an early Thanksgiving meal whipped up by Amy. Thanksgiving of course isn’t celebrated in Australia so stuffing ourselves with stuffing was nourishing to body and soul.

Our checkin for the fifteen hour flight to Sydney couldn’t have been smoother. No lines and twice more I was reminded of Father’s presence before we even cleared security. During checkin, the lady working the desk said, “Only four?” as she cast a glance at the children. Yes, only four. “I come from a family of eight siblings” she noted positively. How nice… “only four” is typically a comment reserved for home-school conventions. Usually people are gasping at four. This was just a little reassurance that Father’s favor doesn’t worry about family size.

Then just a few short minutes later one of the TSA officers took a shine to my little flock as we loaded our bins to go through xray. “Dad, are these your fine boys? And those lovely ladies too? Beautiful family sir. What a blessing! Step right this way”…and he whisked us through the simple metal detector instead of the full-body scanner. Nice!

As we settled on the plane I realized Matt and I sat in the wrong row. We had to move forward…to a bulkhead row. Three feet of leg room. No one reclining in my face. No extra cost! Yes! And the checkin lady had blocked out the seat next to us so the five of us have six seats between us in which to spread out. Yep, the nudging continues.

Sunset was in North America. Sunrise will occur on Australia. Yet we’ve never left His hand.

B-Gone, B-9, B-Healed…Its a way of life.



“My left foot is numb.” I hollered to my dad as I ran past him and waved to my cheering children packed into the wall of spectators lining the race course. “Please pray” I managed to communicate before I trotted out of earshot. The front outside portion of my left foot was indeed feeling thick as I finished the first round of the three loop course. I have dealt with foot numbness on the bike in the past, and I can usually ameliorate the tingling by sliding my foot around inside the shoe. But there’s not much place to move your foot while running, you just have to keep going… I was concerned. Would it get worse? Was this going to derail my race?

I had felt good about the day up to this point. My swim time was the fastest I had ever posted. That gave me some breathing room during the bike to let my heart rate come down a bit and refuel for the coming run. The only real issue, up until my foot had given notice it was not cooperating, was my stomach. I had been a little queasy since just after starting the bike course. But after three hours of queasiness I figured it wasn’t going to get any worse. I knew I had a good chance to beat my time goal if I could put together a decent run time. Now my left foot was really bothering me. Not this, I thought, not now. I only had nine more miles to go…

As I passed my dad again on the way out for the second loop he called out with the advice to move my impact point, to change how my foot hit the ground. I adjusted my stride to land a little more on my heel and monitored the results to see if it helped. Winding down the second loop I was glad to report to my dad that though the foot was still bothering me, the feeling had stabilized and I was ok. I could hear him praying for me; his shouts of encouragement buoyed my spirit as I entered the roundabout and began the last lap.

Passing my children for the final time and taking in their smiles, high fives and cheers was priceless. Only 4 more miles to go. I wouldn’t see them again until the finish line. But I wasn’t alone out there. In the throng of runners were two other friends also competing and we were watching for each other, calling out our names and a mutual “You got this!” as we flashed by each other. And then there was our tri club operating one of the rest stops of the course. They were busier than bees offering liquid and food to the athletes streaming by, but they always cheered loudest when one of their own came through. By the last lap I was walking the aid stations so I got to soak in their adulation a little longer than normal. I needed those few seconds of respite from the pounding to take a blow, dig deep, pour a cup of cold water over my head gobble some fuel and then restart my cadence.

Finally the eleven mile marker came into view…only two miles and the finish chute to go! For the first time all day I checked my elapsed time on my watch. I was going to do it! The end, while not quite yet in sight, was close and with that I picked up my pace.

The finish area was inside the main arena building at the expo center. Instead of entering the roundabout to start another loop you veered right and entered the chute which took you down and under the building. I took my shades off as I passed through the dark entrance and then burst into the light and noise, finally catching site of the finish arch, just fifty short yards away. Arms raised like I’d just won the world championship race in Kona I glided along the carpeted path reveling in the moment. I heard my name and turned to see my children and parents pressed to the barrier waving and snapping photos. And then I was through. Done. 70.3 miles completed. Bent over. Hands on knees. Chest heaving. Adrenaline flowing. Five hours, forty-two minutes and six seconds. I felt something hanging around my neck. I opened my eyes and there was the medal that proclaimed, “Finisher”! YES!

And then I was enveloped in love, hugs and tears from mom, dad and my children. I sought out my fellow athletes and congratulated them on finishing and we all hugged and high fived. I was of course euphoric that day. Tired yes but amped up and thrilled to have finished and to have beaten my goal time. The rest of this last week has been recovery. I was extra sleepy on Monday and Tuesday. My legs and hips took a few days to overcome soreness but was this the toughest thing I’ve ever done in my life? Not by a long shot.

Yesterday morning the children and I took time to just rest in the presence of our Heavenly Father. I reminded them that in our study of the book of Exodus earlier this fall, we learned that the Israelites camped around the tabernacle while in the desert. The tabernacle had either a pillar of cloud by day or fire by night that enveloped it. The very presence of God was in their midst. They weren’t just camped around a portable building, they were camped around the living God. Our lives need to have a similar orientation. Our advantage over the ancient Hebrews is that God’s spirit is within us through the life of Jesus! We can freely approach Him at any time to get His input, encouragement and correction…wisdom for life, in fact the very author of life sharing it with us!

With that encouragement I gave the children four questions to ask God. The first was this, “Is there anything You want to tell me about the loss of mommy?” I want them to be able to talk to God about the hurt, about the process, about grief. He’s their source of life, they need to connect early and often. I did the same exercise so we could all share at the end. What I heard was this: “Don’t let this loss define your life. Let my life, my life in you define you. Live full of Me, Chad.” What a needed message! So timely, so full of hope and life.

And with that we all laid back on the trampoline where we had gathered to share, relaxing in the morning sun and soaking in our Father’s presence. We are not alone in this race. My foot may go numb at times, there may be more queasy stomachs ahead. But as we walk the rest stops, taking time to rest and refuel with Jesus while refocusing on the road ahead, His life, His joy will indeed manifest itself in and through us. And that is where I aim to live.

B-Gone, B-9, B-Healed…It’s a way of life!

Matt extends an encouraging hand!