This morning, rounding the corner of one of my favorite spots, I crossed the halfway point. Halfway to 1000.
But let me back up. In July of this past year, our family spent a month in Cambodia. It was a wonderful month, putting the chaos of our lives on pause for four weeks. It gave me time to dream, think, pray, and to find my way back to me.
I was especially thankful for time to read. To my delight, a book on my mental to-read list was in the home where we were staying. It's a book written for teens by teens, and while unfortunately I am almost half my lifetime past my teen years, Do Hard Things still had a lot to say to me.
I read it with the intention of starting to formulate some dreams and plans for my children. Months before, we were privileged to hear the authors' father speak to the topic of "Raising Kids to do Hard Things." I had gleaned a lot from his talk and I was anxious to read more about this concept of hard things and to start to envision what I want to see my children strive for and accomplish.
It was a good book and I highly recommend it (both for teens and for their parents).
One thing kept nagging at me though. I kept asking myself, "What hard things do my kids see me do?"
You see, I have a governing theory on much of my parenting. I firmly believe that I cannot expect my children to do something that they do not see me do. Children learn from modeling. The whole "do as I say and not as I do" line is complete rubbish. I do my very best to never ask my kids to do something I don't do and/or aren't willing to do. If I have expectations, plans, or dreams for my kids, then I believe that I need to step forth and model them. Can I really expect my kids to speak kind words if I don't? Can I really expect them to have grateful hearts if the only thing they hear coming out of my mouth is complaining? Can I expect my kids to be self-sacrificing if they never see me give up my time, my desires, or my money? Can I possibly expect them to make wise food choices if they see me sitting down with a bag of chips every day or downing a pop with my breakfast?
In a natural, almost unconscious, process, children follow the examples set by others, modeling both behavior and the accompanying emotional tone.
And so, as I read through Do Hard Things, I continued to ask myself, "What hard things do my kids see me do?"
Yes, they see me care for six kids and they grasp that it is hard. They see that I homeschool them even when I could send them to a great Christian school, tuition-free. But there is something more, something that was missing. I wanted my kids to see me set a specific long-term goal and then be able to watch as I was diligently, step-by-step, worked towards its fulfillment. In short, I wanted them to have an living example in their minds of what hard things look like. I want them to be able, when they are teens or older, to be able to recall a situation when someone they knew desired to accomplish something big and tenaciously moved forward until the intended result was achieved.
And so, I set a goal for myself. And with Jason's input and blessing (it would require sacrifice on his part as well), I told my children my plan: 1000 miles.
In one year, I was going to cover 5,280,000 feet. I was going to tackle a big goal in the way that I often tell them is the means for pursuing any dream: one step at a time.
And this morning, five and a half months after I began, I crossed the halfway point. 500 miles. Halfway to 1000.
And it's been amazing. I have always loved to walk, so the motivation wasn't hard to muster up. But the persistence required to meet my goal would require a daily commitment. I knew that, allowing for one rest day a week, I would need to add more than three miles to my log every day. This has required time, sacrifice, and sometimes energy I didn't necessarily have. It has meant that Jason has had to get up with the kids and handle all the early morning craziness. It has required walking when I was sick, walking when I was sore, and walking when I really just wanted another cup of coffee.
But God has been good. My walking time is praying time. It is my counseling time. It is my worship time.
I come home each morning with a full heart and a hopeful spirit.
And the unexpected plus? A few weeks into my plan I decided that I would give running one more try (I sustained an ankle injury three years ago and haven't been able to do much on it since then). But now, I am pain free and I have learned to run. Half my mileage each week comes from this 36-year-old mama to six S-L-O-W-L-Y pounding the pavement. And that my friends, is a very hard thing.