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Birmingham, Alabama

Childbirth is a life-changing experience.

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  • Jeanna McNeil

Wherever Your Path Takes You

Updated: Jun 6, 2019

Dear Mama,

I can't promise everything will go according to plan, that it will all look like what you have envisioned. In fact, I dare say I promise that there's a greater likelihood that it may not.

I don't consider myself a runner. I am pigeon-toed and knock-kneed, and since having an 4-wheeler accident almost 20 years ago, walk sort of funny. So if you can imagine all that in fast motion, it's exactly as awkward as you think. But years ago I was determined to try; I wanted to challenge myself physically and was interested in experiencing the natural "highs" that are associated with running. I nerdily did research on form, breathing, and even got fitted for a pair of shoes that would help stabilize my under-pronation. I felt somewhat prepared and set out to start. And I struggled, really bad.

A road mile is not at all like an elliptical mile, and less than 2 minutes in, my lungs were burning and I was cursing myself for thinking that this was a good idea or even possible. I had to slow down way more times than I wanted, but I kept thinking of a phrase I found in that initial preparation that really resonated with me: "even if you have to slow down, just don't stop; take it one step at a time". So that is exactly what I did; I would run, and slow to catch my breath, and pick the pace back up after I felt like I would most definitely live through it. I would use landmarks as visual goals to reach before slowing down, and eventually would make it past them, looking for new markers with a feeling of empowerment and encouragement that I had just surpassed the expectations I had for myself.

Eventually I went from jogging intervals to running 4-5 miles before I went to work. That's not an egotistical boast; it's a testament to the fact that we can overcome challenges that seem impossible. Hard things take preparation, focus, and support. We have to be willing to adapt to our surroundings and circumstances without giving up or losing focus on our goals. We have to be willing to listen to our hearts and give ourselves some grace, also embracing encouragement and trusting the loving perspective of others.

Now that I have had 2 kids in 3 years, I don't run those morning miles anymore. But I do try to make time daily to push myself physically, because I don't want to forget the feeling of fighting to breathe and move forward, of wanting to quit but still taking steps (no matter how slow) to get to my finish line. Recently after taking the kids to daycare a little early, I decided I would run in our neighborhood instead of going to the gym. It was overcast and cool, and I looked forward to the fresh air. And it was really great until I got over a mile in and the bottom fell out of the sky. And I don't mean it was just raining a bit; it was Forrest Gump raining; there was little bitty stinging rain, big 'ol fat rain, and sideways rain. It was 100% not what I wanted, planned for, or visualized for my relaxing morning run. And so I decided that my only option was to high tail it the next mile or so home. I felt so dumb, too - like neighbors would be driving by looking at me like ,"Girl: don't you know it's flooding?" and likely got a few, "Bless her heart"s. For a moment I felt tired and alone and crazy, not to mention my body was protesting the speed at which I was trying to push it. "Why? Why did I think this was a good idea?"


Turning the corner, I saw a man walking in my direction, several yards ahead. He had a hooded rain jacket on and was walking swiftly, but not frantically so. Just a few moments later and we passed by one another, he smiled so big and threw his hand up for a high-five. I had never seen him before, but closing my eyes now I can see his tall frame, lightly lined perhaps 50-60ish years young beautiful brown face with kind eyes - the kind that give you a little glimpse into their seasoned soul. And I can still hear his laugh behind me as we high-fived and kept going our separate ways.


In that moment, my perspective changed. I felt encouraged; I wasn't alone and more than that, could find something to smile about in the middle of wanting to just go hide somewhere until the storm was over. I hope I never forget that feeling of overwhelming warmth from another human. And standing in the pouring rain with my arms open and smiling like a crazy person. So Mama, things will often take turns you don't expect and look a little different than you envision. And although I can't promise perfection, I can promise to run alongside you, giving you high fives and "go girl!"s, warm smiles, a hug if you need it, perspective, and genuine prayers wherever your path takes you. <3


❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤


2 Corinthians 1:3-5


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