Running

One of the greatest privileges I have enjoyed as a mother is reading aloud to my kids. I don’t get to do it very often anymore but for a few years, I read aloud to all three at the same time and occasionally the youngest will still sit long enough for a chapter or two.

I have a few rules for these books I read aloud:

  1. NO fantasy. Can’t stand it. (although I LOVED “A Wrinkle In Time”)
  2. NO books based on a Disney movie. Yuck! 
  3. Finally I try to not read books told from the point of view of talking animals. I try. Can’t say I’ve never done it, but it’s not my favorite.

Occasionally a picture book from the children’s section with crazy, animal and people stuff is OK (Can somebody say “Skippy Jon Jones”? ) but typically, I prefer reading real-life stories that make you think and feel; stories that TEACH.

Serious, funny or sometimes both, typically these stories deal with many of life’s challenging “coming of age” issues and the solving –or not– of real life problems. There’s not always a “happily ever after” because ….there’s not always a “happily ever after”.

I love these types of stories because they provide a way to deal with some really difficult subjects and to engage them in a manageable way that starts on the outside and eventually works it’s way in. Teachable moments and discussions are born in these times as we enter in and get emotionally involved with a story’s characters– laughing and cheering when they win, wincing when they hurt and crying when there’s nothing to do but cry.

Through these stories I have an opportunity to speak to my children about things that matter and hard life questions. Recently, we read a book entitled “Iggie’s House” by Judy Blume.  Nearly as old as I am, this book is set during the Civil Rights period right after the Chicago race riots, amidst the struggles of integration.

As we traveled through those pages, we caught a glimpse of life from all perspectives that was so much more engaging and refreshing than any static textbook. We talked about people of color and the bigotry, animosity and hatred that was present on both sides of the battle.

It was a good place to be with my then 11 year old…not a complete picture, but when it comes up again in a textbook or discussion, he can now draw from a place inside himself that can help lend  a personal perspective.

By far, one of the most memorable books I’ve read aloud is “Rules” byCynthia Lord. Told from the perspective of Catharine, a 12 year old girl whose brother is “functionally” autistic, she’s very protective of him and at the same time,  resentful of the weighty responsibility her parents place on her to care for him.

Often embarrassed by his behavior, Catharine struggles to fit in with her peers while love-hating and wanting to guide him at the same time. She’s an artist and the book is replete with vivid imagery, mental drawings and careful, artistic observances of the world around her.

Twice a week, she accompanies her mother and brother to OT. There she slowly befriends a boy named Jason who is wheelchair bound, nonverbal and extremely intelligent. He communicates using a “communication” book where black and white word cards are inserted in a photo-album type book and he points to the words to construct simple sentences.

 Catharine begins to make word cards for him–adding color to his black and white cards (and his world), inserting  expressions, adjectives and interjections common to frustrated and excited pre-teens (“STINKS A BIG ONE” and “AWESOME!” )

As she begins to trust him as a friend distinct from and despite any of his physical limitations, they find common ground, share frustrations, new words and music. They share secrets and laughter. Beautiful.

Oh but this is the part of the story I’ll NEVER forget:

Catherine comes to the clinic with hard, angry word cards for Jason based on a mean encounter with a  neighbor who has taunted her brother. As she shares her frustrations with Jason, he shares his “secret”:

  sometimes he wishes he was dead … he feels so “incomplete” and “disconnected”
from the world around him.

He tells her when he sleeps, he dreams of running and asks her to describe running. When she does, he’s sad because it’s not at all what it seems like to him in his dream. This is what happens next: (big time spoiler!)

************************************

“TELL. MOM. I’LL. BE. RIGHT. BACK. He stops his finger on PLEASE.

I pull in a shaky breath. “Mrs. Morehouse: Jason and I are going out in the parkinglot for a few minutes. We’re going for a run.” I say the last part extra quiet.

“A what?” She looks up from her magazine.

“A run.” I step behind Jason’s wheelchair and push. It rolls smoothly, easier than I expected across the carpet.

“Do you really think this is a good idea?” Mrs Morehouse asks as we pass her.

I can’t see what Jason taps, but she moves to open the door, “Be careful Catherine.” She fixes me with a stern look.

I grip the wheelchair handles as we go down the ramp, my muscles tight as rope. My palms feel slick, but I don’t even dare to relax even one finger, afraid he’ll roll from me.

At the bottom of the ramp, we both let go a relieved sigh. I turn the wheelchair to face the parkinglot. “if this gets too wild, lift your hand and I’ll know to stop, okay?”

Jason nods. RUN.

I jog, more a fast walk than a run. Jason’s head and shoulders shake as I bump him over cracks in the tar. There’s so much to watch out for: holes and rocks and sand near the side of the building.

I stop beside the dumpster. “Sorry this is such a bouncy ride. Are you sure you want to do this?”

RUN. FAST.

I start again, pushing Jason’s chair ahead of me. I run past the fire hydrant and around the parking sign, keeping a lookout for cars puling into or out of the parkinglot. Every few feet I shoot a lightening-quick look at Jason’s  hands.

He doesn’t pick them up, just holds tightly to his communication book. So I make the first turn, running faster. Clouds of seagulls take to the air in front of us quarreling and shrieking,

Running hard now, my feet pound the tar, the flap of seagulls wings as loud as my breath in my ear. People are looking,but I try not to see them as real, just statues to run past.

At the final turn, I see Mrs. Morehouse standing in the entrance to the parking lot, her palm out like a traffic cop, keeping cars from pulling in.

I dash past the mailbox, the EXIT HERE sign, past Mrs. Morehouse.

Leaning into it, faster, harder, my feet slap the pavement, until it comes–that weightless, near-to-flying fastness.” Do you feel it?” I yell to the back of Jason’s head.

But if he answers, it’s only in his head.

I run all the way to the clinics ramp “How was that?”

AWESOME!!!

I bend over to steady my breath. When I straighten up, I see not only is everyone in the waiting room standing at the clinic windows watching us, but a family on the sidewalk is staring, shopping bags in hand. And in several of the restaurant windows surrounding the parking lot, people have stopped eating to watch. Most of them have their mouths dropped open.

Jason waves.

A man in one of the restaurants gives a thumbs-up, and everyone in the waiting room cheers…

“One more time?” I ask Jason.

He grins. EXCELLENT!

And we’re off! Past the windows and the dumpster, around the parking lot sign. Seagulls billowing into the air at every turn.

Strong, flying-fast, and free, we run.”

***************

This story is our story. It’s what God has intended for us as we journey through this life with it’s pain, suffering, hardness, coldness, cruelty and flat out meanness.

We are meant to find ourselves in Him first and then seeing one another with His eyes– with compassion for others and ourselves to walk it out together…really,

to run.

 

C. S. Lewis Friendship

 

My friends….do you dream of running?      Do you desire to feel the connection of another soul who understands the hard weight of gravity pressing on our souls as we try to faithfully journey through this world?

I understand.

“Strong, flying-fast, and free”, we were meant to share the journey and run this race with endurance, to help one another keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and keep from getting entangled in sin. (Hebrews 12:1-2)

That’s my hope and prayer for you today; not simply to “get by” or “make it through” another day, but to know the joy of salvation and true freedom.

 

There’s so much to see and do and understand and know about God and being faithful in this life.


Let’s do it together…    let’s run.

Lorretta signature

 

38 thoughts on “Running

  1. oh friend i LOVED this post. first of all, i really appreciated the book recommendations–i’ll save those for when my boys are older–and the analogy was breathtaking. i long to run. thank you for this.

  2. Oh you are speaking my language here—books! 🙂
    You know, my Great-Grandma would read to me. Her voice slow with shaky vibrato…would mesmerize me. At the end of every book–didn’t matter what it was–she would say, “Nikki, I want you to remember. There’s always a ‘happily every after’ when you’re Jesus’ girl. If it’s not feeling that way, don’t worry. you’re not at the end yet. He always rescues His girls…” He’s been my Hero ever since…

    I’ve missed you, Lorretta! Thrilled to see you today and love the new avatar!

    1. Stephanie..if you only knew how I”ve TRIED to enjoy running for exercise and have failed miserably! I had a few friends try to help me enjoy it too and one even tried to “coach” me but alas, the only way I could ever possible run is if someone was chasing me! Love you girlfriend!

  3. I’m visitng your blog for the first time today. I’m so glad that you linked up with Leaving A Legacy! I loved the way you talked about some of these stories, it made me want to run out to the library and get them. I loved when you said ,”I prefer reading real-life stories that make you think and feel; stories”, I prefer real stories as well, stories that have a true meaning behind them, that make you want to grow and become a better person. It was so nice to “meet” you. I’ll be back soon for a visit.

    Blessings~
    Shari

  4. Ok, I was writing, then took a break and was reading your blog…abruptly stopped. You were hitting a “spot” and I’ll flat out tell you, we’re on the same page. How does God do that? So, when I hit the word gravity my jaw dropped….exactly the word I had just typed on my keyboard. Amazing little community I have fallen into… Thanks for sharing those book titles. I always need something for the kids to read instead of just what’s popular.
    Excellent Lorretta…excellet : )

  5. What a wonderful story. I loved reading to my son when he was small. Now that he is in college, I sometimes read aloud to him from his textbook. He is painfully dyslexic and reading is quite tedious for him. I used to love the Mrs. Pigglewiggle books. I’m sure they are woefully old fashioned these days. 🙂

    1. I made the comment somewhere in this thread that I am just going to HAVE to find a good excuse to read aloud to kids someday! Maybe after mine are all grown and gone I can dress up in character and visit children’s hospitals and read…THAT sounds lovely, eh? 🙂 Blessings!

  6. you almost lost me when I read your “never” list. fantasy, talking animals? take a step and try Redwall by Brian Jacques. it’s beautiful…I’ve been in love since I was a small girl, and I’ve read the entire series a thousand times.

    and this story all together is inspirational, stunning. visiting from dear emily’s place, and i am blessed.

    1. And a faltering walk is perfectly acceptable…just don’t feel like you have to walk alone. I’ve been leaning on Isaiah 42:16
      “I will lead the blind by ways they have not known,
      along unfamiliar paths I will guide them;
      I will turn the darkness into light before them
      and make the rough places smooth.
      These are the things I will do;
      I will not forsake them.”
      Blessings to you!

  7. So lovely. There have been more times than I care to thing of when I felt alone…like there was not one other person that “got” me and so I felt I was carrying this burden all by myself. God was really there, of course, but He was as foreign to me as another language I cannot speak nor understand. He sent IRL people so I could see “Jesus with skin and bones” as Shannon once said! I needed the reminder that though I am NOT in that place at the moment, someone else might be. Could I be used by Him to encourage someone else?
    BTW…the imagery here is wonderful. Sounds like a great book. I miss reading aloud to my kids.

  8. Way to go, Lorretta. We took up running on STAS last year. It is empowering. I now understand Paul uses this metaphor. Anyone can walk. But running means pushing one’s self, testing, concentrating one’s effort, and putting it all out there for the goal. Let’s run, baby!

  9. When the grandies were here, I got the Skippyjon Jones books from the library. I hadn’t heard of them before. They had a cd in the back of the author reading. It was hilarious. Anyways- I can’t help but feel I am the one in the wheelchair and my friends are the ones pushing me. Mostly. Then sometimes I get to be the one to take them on a joy ride. Great post, friend.

  10. Girl, you almost lost me when you said no fantasy!! I’m glad I read on tho because this is most excellent and touching and a beautiful picture to relate to Paul’s verse! But I will run in my head if you don’t mind !!! And I will persevere as He calls!

    1. Easy Nancy! I can’t help it…I just don’t like the stuff! I’m a touchy-feely person and that stuff is too weird for me. The boys love it and I tell them they can read it all they want. However, I will be reading Screwtape Letters here soon…now THAT should be great!

Welcome to the discussion!