"We rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us."
- Romans 5: 3-5
Isn't that how the Holy Spirit is? He is there every step of the way encouraging us to finish the race and guiding our steps if we let him. As I ran, I was thinking about Akhil who was at home unable to walk let alone run. This battle with ALS is a long, slow marathon. I believe God spent the last several years of my life preparing me to run this race with Akhil. Thanks to Jordan’s encouragement and the formation of the Sunshine Girls, I spent a lot of time stepping outside my comfort zone as I served others. Little did I know that all that stretching and growing was preparing me for the biggest service project of my life that would occur within my own home. I volunteered at least twice a month in a retirement home where I planned parties for every holiday for them and other fun events. Most of the residents were in wheelchairs and had some level of dementia. In spite of the limitations, the residents loved the celebrations we had together and enthusiastically participated in whatever crazy activities I would plan. That experience developed compassion in me for people with physical limitations recognizing that all life has value. I spent time volunteering in homeless shelters, sometimes weekly, serving those who couldn't serve themselves. That experience made me realize that sometimes people just need a helping hand and encouraging word to keep them going. I started a weekly youth ministry program in my Dallas neighborhood to get kids fired up about living a life for Christ through service and actions. Little did I know that I was actually preparing myself to be fired up when Christ called me to serve my husband.
It is amazing how God prepares us for what He eventually will call us to do. Ten years ago, I would not have been equipped to handle the challenge of ALS but today I am both mentally and physically prepared. I didn’t know it at the time but I have spent years training for this marathon. In July of 2011, the starting gun was fired for our race. The Holy Spirit guides our steps through each day. I can't see which mile we are on but I am filled with hope that we will persevere and finish well.