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November 2015

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I have an exercise for you.

 

  1. Grab a sheet of paper and pen.
  2. Write numbers 1-26 down the left side of the paper.
  3. Jot down people that have inspired you.
  4. Once your list is complete, write notes to everyone on your list. If they are no longer with us, find a family member and send them a note.

#3 may take you 15 minutes or a couple of months. That's okay. I can't tell you how powerful it was for me to make my list. I know the process affected me and those of you that are kind enough to follow me on my mile by mile journey. It helped me get through a difficult time and may help you get through something in your life.

I asked you to go through the exercise so you'd understand that the task is more difficult than first perceived. There are hundreds of people that I love, that challenge and motivate me in various ways and the list wasn't intended to slight anyone. I wish I could share the formula I used to narrow it down to 26, but most of it was based on feeling. Feeling strong enough about someone's situation that it would motivate me mile by mile.

I must be honest…I cheated on mile 17. I didn't choose one person for this mile, but three people, one family. Their story is intertwined and there is no way I could choose only one. I knew that for this mile, I needed to keep them together. I needed to pray for them as a family and draw from the strength they pull from each other.

Mile #17 was dedicated to a high school friend and fellow track/cross country runner Pam. In high school, I strove to be a runner like Pam. She worked hard and each time she stepped onto the track it seemed so effortless. She left nothing to chance and when she crossed the finished line it was evident she had given it her all.

Pam's children Brookelyn and Derek have Dysautonomia, a medical condition that causes a malfunction of the Autonomic Nervous System. Here's a little physiology lesson, the automatic functions of the body are the ones we consciously don't have to think about, such as heart rate, digestion, blood pressure, kidney function and body temperature control.

They have also been diagnosed with mitochondrial disease which is a group of disorders caused by dysfunctional mitochondria, the organelles that are the powerhouse of the cell. Mitochondria are found in every cell of the human body except red blood cells, and convert the energy of food molecules into the ATP that powers most cell functions. Symptoms include poor growth, loss of muscle coordination, muscle weakness, visual problems, hearing problems, learning disabilities, heart disease, liver disease, kidney disease, gastrointestinal disorders, respiratory disorders, neurological problems, autonomic dysfunction and dementia (wikipedia).Can you imagine being a child and having deal with such a diseases?

Pam shares the struggles of this disease honestly and openly with her friends and family on facebook. But I have taken note, as others have, of common themes in Pam's journey.

  1. Thankfulness. She is often thankful for friends, family and coworkers. Never losing sight of what is important or taking these people or things for granted.
  2. Fighters. I love that she shows us pictures of her children in the hospital smiling and snuggling together. She refers to them often as fighters. I love that term. A fighter never gives up. A fighter pushes through tough times. And fighters, as she notes, don't complain.
  3. Faith. Pam often draws on her Christian faith to get her through the day. She shares her faith openly and provides encouragement to all that read her posts.
  4. Heroes. Her heroes are not in capes, tight pants and in a comic book. Her heroes are her children and she is theirs. Heroes are admired for their bravery, courage and noble qualities. Several weeks she posted one of my favorite quotes which I think perfectly aligns to the topic of heroes.

I must admit, mile 17 was a difficult mile for me. I wanted to walk soooo bad. I pulled out all the stops to keep me running. I have always had a passion for music and songs have been with me almost every moment, good or bad, throughout my life. And songs propelled me forward through every step of the Chicago Marathon. I knew what I needed to keep me going. I flipped through my iPod to find Jason Aldean’s She's Country and Hicktown so I could hear Adam Shoenfeld jamming on the guitar. I found myself running, playing air guitar and smiling. I'm sure I looked CRAZY...but I didn't care. Anything to get me through another mile.

Blessings,

Stephanie

If you missed my first 16 miles of the Chicago Marathon, you can check out my stories here:

Miles #1- #4

Miles #5- #8

Miles #9- #13

Miles #14- #15

Mile #16

P.S. To make sure you never miss a post, enter your email address on the right and hit SUBSCRIBE. Thank you!marathon3

I'll get right to the point on this one. As I was preparing my marathon mile list, I knew my inspiration for completing Mile #16 would be my husband, Mike.

For 18 years Mike has served in various capacities with the Indiana State Police. From the moment I said I do, I have been his #1 supporter. I’ve been a proud police wife, and he's always had my respect. But his career never "inspired" me; not until he transferred to a task force. On this task force, he has spent countless of hours hunting down child predators.

In my opinion, child predators are the sickest of the sick. The media is starting to shine a light on how dark and disgusting the world of children pornography and sexual exploitation is and the strategies pedophiles use to prey on children.

My husband, even though I pray this isn't how he spends the rest of his career, works countless hours, day and night thinking through each case to ensure no stone is unturned. Unlike most jobs, he can’t leave his work at the office. It’s in his head and will not depart until the day he dies.

I know that sounds dramatic, but I want you to understand the gravity of what our police officer deal with and observe on a daily basis. What they see changes them. Mike’s drive to put predators behind bars for a very long time and his work ethic inspires me. During marathon mile #16, I prayed for his safety and child pornography and abuse victims. The world of child exploitation is a dark, sad world and it takes dedicated women and men, like my husband, to keep children safe.

For 15 years he has been beside me through good times and the bad. He continually pushes me and well, tells it like it is. If you want to hear the truth...ask my husband.

Honestly, he didn't think I would run the marathon. I quit my training not once, but two times, heck maybe three times! I had medical issues arise, which concerned him so much he thought I should quit. He said, "I want you here a while longer."

But at no time did he prevent me from pursuing my dream, and even though he didn’t agree, he continued to support me. He'd give his opinion, but when I was out on a run, and it started lightning, he was in his truck, looking to pick me up. When I needed water, he brought me water. And when I needed to sleep all afternoon after a long run, he let me rest.

My husband is my number one supporter, and he's always on the sideline as my biggest fan. He and the children he fights for every day got me through marathon mile #16.

Your giving challenge for today is to pray.
*Pray for police officers who work child exploitation cases.
*Pray for child victims and survivors.
*Pray for the children that are being abused.
*Pray for children to come forward and tell someone.
*Pray for the people in these child’s life to recognize something is not right.
*Pray for the child that had the courage to come forward.
*And pray for physical and mental healing for their body and mind. that brings them comfort and peace.

Blessings,

Stephanie

If you missed my first 15 miles, you can check out my stories here:

Miles #1- #4

Miles #5- #8

Miles #9- #13

Miles #14- #15

P.S. To make sure you never miss a post, enter your email address on the right and hit SUBSCRIBE. Thank you!

Do you ever wonder why out of the millions of conversations you've had over your lifetime; there are several that remain front and center in your mind?

I was twenty-four and working for the Indiana State Police as a grant administrator and personnel officer. I enjoyed my job but wanted more. A good friend of mine from high school was the head coach at a large school district in Indianapolis. One night we were talking and he offered me a job as the distance coach for the high school girls track team. Since running in high school and college, it was a job I had always wanted, but there was one problem...my day job was a BIG obstacle.

When my friend asked me to consider the position, I immediately thought, "There is no way I can make this work. I would have to leave work two hours earlier than I leave now. My boss is not going to go for it."

But I really wanted to coach!

After several days of being in agony on what to do, I sought counsel from Major Medler.

He had always given me good advice. I shared with him my dilemma. His response changed my life. He said, "Ask. The worst that is going to happen is that your boss is going to say no. But at least you'll know."

After my conversation with Major Medler, it took several hours to get the nerve and "pop" into my boss's office. He was also a Major, but he intimidated me. I hem-hawed around and finally he said, "Stenger (that was my maiden name), what do you want?!"

I stuttered, "Well sir, I have been offered a coaching position. I'd really like to do it, but my current hours won't allow for it. Would it be possible…for me to…um…come in early and work through lunch so I could leave at 2:30?"

Whew...I had done it. I was bracing for the worst case scenario when he said, "Will this affect your work?"

More confidently I responded, "No sir, no it won't."

He grinned and said, "Okay, you can work an adjusted schedule and coach. Have fun!"

I wanted to give him a big bear hug, but that probably wasn't the most appropriate response. I thanked him continuously as I backed out the door. I could have done the Irish jig down the hallway, but no need to draw attention to myself. I couldn't believe it! I was going to be a coach. A dream was coming true!

Over the last 14 years, I have never forgotten that lesson. There are hundreds of opportunities I would have missed out on for the fear of hearing the word no. You know what I learned? That most of the time...people say YES! People want to help other people. People want to give other people chances.

This has become second nature to me, but I thought of it today when I was watching Katie Couric interview Elizabeth Banks. It seems like someone gave her good advice years ago also.

What have you been scared to ask but fear hearing no? Comment below or send me a message. I would love to encourage you as the Major encouraged me so many years ago.
Blessings,
Stephanie