It all started back in January, when she saw me lace up those Asics for the first time.
“Mommy, are you sure you can do this?” she asked with legitimate concern. Or was it dread I heard in her voice?
And honestly, I wondered the same: Could I? Still, I pronounced: “Of course, I can!”
In February, she watched me plod along the treadmill, back when it took me nearly 30 minutes to run two miles. (People walk faster than that!)
In March, she was standing at the back door, with her Daddy, to offer fist-bumps when I wobbled into the house after my first-ever six-mile run.
In April, she prayed that God would heal these old mama muscles. And she thanked Him when He did.
On May 2, along city streets abloom with lilacs, she cheered for her mama running her first half-marathon. And I could see the pride in those little hazel eyes that look so much like mine.
And on May 9 — on Mother’s Day 2010 — the girl who watched her mama do something completely illogical and ridiculously wondrous??? Well, she came upstairs dressed just like me. She found black capri tights, and those one-size-too-big black shorts. She wore a pink shirt and steely determination.
“Mommy,” she said. “I want to run like you.”
And so we did. We ran on Mother’s Day. (She asked, Could she train for a half-marathon, too? I’m encouraging her to try a 5K first. ~smile~)
We can preach with our words. Or we can teach with our actions.
I could have told her to run, to step away from the Wii, and get a little exercise, for Heaven’s sake.
We do that sometimes, don’t we? We try to tell our children what’s best for them:
Eat your peas.
Read your Bible.
Brush your teeth.
Don’t forget to say your prayers.
We use the stern words and the clipped commands, and forget that we can model the behavior we want to see in them. We can demonstrate our deepest hopes, and then watch them come alive.
So on Mother’s Day, we laced up our shoes, and drove three miles north to the little lake surrounded by cornfields and cow pastures.
We put one foot in front of another, and plodded out a path, side by side with purpose in every step.
“You go, girl!” I cheered as we ran. “You are looking good, so good!”
“You, too, Mommy!” she belted out. “You’re an AWESOME runner! You’re so cool!”
And she pumped those little legs for two whole miles.
We have these small windows of time when we can hold captive their attention. We have these years — wee bits of time, really — to demonstrate what it means to live … to really live.
Right now, she thinks I’m cool. In reality, I’m a nerd, a complete goof and a klutz and an Iowa farm hick who feels mostly uncultured and uncool. But she thinks I’m cool.
And yes, in this parenting life, there’s already the occasional eye roll, and the clenched jaw, and the arms defiantly crossed over the chest, and the stomp-stomp-stomp out of the room. (And that’s just my behavior! ~wink~)
But right now, my daughters think I’m cool. I don’t want to squander these moments when their eyes are on me, watching for the congruence of my words and my actions.
There’s no such thing as “just” in life — not when someone’s watching.
My half-marathon was more than “just” a run. There was purpose in every step.
That dinner you cooked for your family last night? It was more than “just” a meal.
That bedtime prayer your prayed? More than “just.”
The time she saw you reading the Word? Sending the card? Writing the check? Making the meal?
All of it. More than just.
They saw it. It all has purpose: Every step, every prayer, every meal, every kind word, every embrace.
“So I run with purpose in every step…”
— 1 Corinthians 9:26
Each Wednesday, I join Ann Voskamp in her Walk with Him Wednesday series. Today, we continue to explore Cultivating the Life God Desires. You can find Ann at http://www.aholyexperience.com/ .