miles5-8Can you accomplish your dreams on your own? I know I can't. If I think about everything that I have accomplished in my life those accomplishments had little to do with me, but were more about those surrounding me. I had to do the hard work, but the people that believed in me, opened doors, challenged and encouraged me were the ones that helped me be successful.

When I think about the marathon, I feel the exact same way. Sure, I did the training (and I slacked a bit on that), but it was the people that I had written on my arm that got me through mile by mile. These people steered my focus from the pain, I felt throughout my entire body, to them and their stories. Here is a bit about the people that inspired me on miles five, six, seven and eight.

Mile 5: Carrie Jenkins- Carrie and I lived on the same floor in college and bonded when we had various roommate issues our sophomore year. Out of all my friends that got engaged, her engagement is the only one I remember. Her boyfriend, now husband, use to provide me a ride in his jeep from chapel back to the dorm. He was always jamming to Garth Brooks Two Pina Coladas. Why I remember this, I have no idea. Carrie married her college sweetheart and they had three beautiful boys. We've casually stayed in touch via FB, but I have followed her journey via her blog I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Her blog is an honest and raw look at what it's like to be a mother to a child with special needs. Brayden, her son, has the following diagnoses, Agenesis of the Corpus Callosum (ACC), Microcephaly, Seizure disorder, Cerebral dysgenesis, Pontocerebellar hypoplasia, G-J tube replaced with separate G-tube and separate J-tube, Delayed gastric emptying GERD reflux, Chronic vomiting, Chronic pancreatitis, Cortical Visual Impairment (CVI), Optic nerve hypoplasia, Cerebral palsy and Nonambulatory. As she spends her days caring for Brayden and her family, she helps other mothers and works tirelessly on giving projects for those that need it most. Check out her blog to see why she has been such an inspiration to me and many others.

Mile 6: Jill Behrman- On May 31, 2000 Jill, a soon to be sophomore at Indiana University, went for a bike ride and never returned home. Her body wouldn't be found until three years later. She had been murdered. I can still remember Jill's smile and the heartbreak when finding out about her murder and then again when her remains were found. She was young, vibrant and had so much life ahead of her. Because of her, I rarely go running by myself and if I do I stay in populated areas. I refuse to run in rural Indiana. Her death changed my life. It made me fear things we should not fear. Almost ever run I think of her. For someone that has been with me for 15 years, I had to bring her on my journey.

Mile 7: Don Schweingruber- I met Don several times during my years at Taylor University as he was the father of my good friend Matt. But it wasn't until his death on September 12, 2015 that I learned Don was an incredible man. I read his obituary and couldn't help think, we would all be lucky to live life like Don did. He was married to his beloved Nancy for 50 years. Wow! 50 years is a great accomplishment in a world where divorce seems to be the easy way out nowadays. Don worked for Bluffton University for 33 years and retired as Vice President and Dean of Student Life. Can you imagine working at the same place for 33 years? I can't! During his tenure he won so many awards, I don't have the space to mention. But it wasn't the awards that got me, what struck me most was this, "Don built relationships with the people in his life. He was a good listener and offered thoughtful encouragement and advice. He was respected for his faith, integrity, kindness, intelligence and sense of humor. He shaped the lives of countless Bluffton students, co-workers, family members, friends, and other people in his life. His motto was, "It's all about relationships." I couldn't agree more! I challenge you to live a little more like Don.

Mile 8: James He- When I stepped foot on the Taylor University campus for the first time, I had met my match. The first person I met was Kristin Horn, a blond hair, blue eyed gal who was just as sarcastic as me. We became immediate friends and would become fierce competitors in cross country and racing the 10k in track. She would move away after college and several years later marry James. The first time I met James I loved him. He's soft spoken, attentive and has a heart as big as Texas. In 2014 he was diagnosed with lung cancer and continues to battle as it's now stage 4. I haven't seen James in a while, but I follow his journey through their blog. In reading his story you'll quickly learn he has an unshakable faith, a positive attitude and perseverance like none other. Please take a minute to leave James and his family words of encouragement.

These are the people that got me through miles 5-8. If you haven't read 1-4 they are listed below. I’ll be posting more later in the week.

Be Bold. Dream Big. Bless Others.

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