That Hill

11889706_716612705109961_2514489217798177589_nKristy Horine:  I meet Kristy by happenstance.  Kristy is the facilitator of a writing group that meets monthly in Lexington, Ky.  I found out about this group by way of a friend who sent me information on a training that was scheduled at the church where the meetings take place.  After looking into the training, I found out about the group and decided to join in.  As I sit in group listening to Kristy interact with the other group members and watch her reactions to words and feelings of others, I am awe struck by the empathy that she so genuinely shows.  She is a true gentle spirit filled with Jesus.  Since that encounter we have communicated some through email and she has encouraged me in my writings.  Through following her on Facebook, I was pushed to introduce you to her.  You will find a link to Kristy’s blog at the bottom of this post.  I hope you enjoy getting to know her a bit and will continue to engage with her gentleness.

It was that hill. Always that hill.

The entire team dreaded it, so at least I wasn’t alone. That’s one thing about suffering, or rejoicing, or living — if you do it with others, the burden isn’t so great.

I didn’t know about that hill when I first started running in junior high – circa mid-80s. All I knew back then was that I sort of liked to run in the fields on the farm. I also knew my Daddy seemed happy that I sort of liked to run. Looking back, it was the Daddy part that probably made me join the team, and it was the Daddy part that probably kept me there.

The longer I stayed on the team, the more complex the workouts became, the greater the race distance, the harder the courses. In cross-country, each runner competes for an individual score, and a team score. Each runner must do the work for the greater good of the team, as the team scores get everyone to state.

State rewarded us with that hill.

Each year, in the time of the Fall that pretended it was winter, we’d pack into vans and cars and trucks and head to Frankfort. Our scores earned our way there during the season and we joined hundreds of other runners bundled in warmups and toboggans and gloves in the low Kentucky River country cradled in a crisp fog. Our breath made personal clouds and our shoes crunched on grass. Good running weather.

Early out, and together, we walked the entire 3.1 mile course. We were thankful for the wisdom of the walk. We learned the narrow and the wide of the course, the hidden ankle-twisting holes, the tree roots that snaked above the ground, the mud and the grass, the places to conserve, the places to run wide open.

And the inclines. That hill.

By my senior year, we had run the state course five times. Even though we knew the course and dreaded it, still we walked it.

My dad walked it, too.IMG_0308

He had no part of the coaching staff. He wasn’t one of those fathers who pushed and demanded sports excellence at every single event. He’s my dad. He was just there.

He was there in the pre-dawn darkness, running with me on my childhood’s country lane. He was there at community 5k events – always beating my time, then turning back to make sure I didn’t lack encouragement. He was there at our team meets in rain, shine, snow. He was there to encourage and train with me in the off-season. And he was there at that hill.

You see, when my dad walked the course, he sought out the span that he knew would test my weakness, my endurance, my will. He knew because he knew me. Without fail, Daddy stood at the top of that hill, hands cupped around his mouth, ball cap pulled low over his eyes.

“Let’s go!” he cheered.

And I went.

“Dig deep!” he hollered.

And I did.

Race after race, I finished. Never first, mind you, but rarely last.

Somehow, he managed to make it to the finish line to join my mom who was already cheering me toward the end.

Because he was there at that hill, I couldn’t not get up it. Because he was there at the finish line, urging me to find that something I thought I had already run out, I couldn’t not cross it.

This is what I think of when I think of my God Journey because here is what I know:

Jesus was on another hill once, and He didn’t just hard-scrabble up it, He triumphed over it. Because He ran that race so well, He already knows every narrow, every wide, every hidden hole, every tripping tree root, every place to run wide open, and the agony of every hill.  As we journey together, He stands there at the top and He knows the difficulty, the pain, my weakness, my struggle, and He is my strength.

He cups his hands around his mouth, the crown of glory resting on His brow.

“Let’s go!” He says.

And I go.

“Dig deep!” He says.

And I do.

That’s it. Sometimes, I slow from a run to a walk. Sometimes, other runners cut me off. Sometimes, I sprint and catch my second wind. Sometimes I just want to walk off the course.

But I can’t not run.

And I can’t not finish.

Because He’s there.

The victor of all those hills.

Kristy’s Blog – “Write One Real Life”

Lord, I praise you and your ever present leading in my life.  I thank you for bringing others into my life that draw me closer to you.  I pray that you will continue to bless this budding friendship.  I ask you to be with Kristy, wrap your arms around her and bring others into her life where she can share her love for you.  I thank you for loving me enough.  Amen!

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