It's taken me exactly forty days to finally write this little story down, but maybe today is just the day I was meant to share it with you.
Since it's Christmas, and we all love Christmas memories, perhaps this is simply the perfect space.
On my birthday back in November, I did a kind of crazy thing.
For my 45th birthday I challenged myself (again!) to a crazy “walking” day.
I walk pretty regularly, and on a good day can easily get in 15-20,000 steps, especially in the summertime.
In fact, on my 40th birthday I managed to hit a whopping 40,000 steps in one day (which felt a little crazy, but not totally bizarre at 40 years old.)
It may sound silly, but for someone who's kind of an introvert and not all that comfortable at a birthday party or really into fancy gifts, the gift to myself of walking entirely too many miles in one day was kind of the sweetest gift.
So this year, I decided that maybe if I started super early in the wee hours of the morning, I might just go for a whole-whopping-45k.
I walked with my sweet friend and neighbor first thing in the morning, then debated really going for it that day. While the idea sounded awesome, I really do have a good bit of work to do around here, and wasn't so sure it was worth wasting the time during our I-run-a-deal-blog-and-November-is-nuts-and-I-really-should-be-writing-deal-posts-today.
(I am lucky to have an amazing team who posts like 99% of the deals while I cheer them on, send out emails and do video. Of course they were here to take care of allllll the things like always. I didn't even tell them I'd be off ~ I just skipped out until later that night!)
When my twenty-year-old-son called though to wish me a happy birthday and I mentioned the idea to him, he said “MOM. You only turn 45 once. It'll be cool to walk the steps. N-o-b-o-d-y does that.”
“WALK THE STEPS MOM.”
So I did. 🙂
I walked 45,421 steps.
A whopping 23 miles.
All in one day.
(That's just 3 miles shy of a full marathon in case you're curious. I just needed you to know that.) 😉
Every chance I got throughout the day I hopped up, walked around the basement, walked around upstairs, and walked outside.
When one of my favorite friends called to wish me a happy birthday, I circled our family room exactly 972 times while we chatted on the phone.
In fact, whenever anyone called to wish me a happy day, I hopped up, walked, and walked . . . and walked.
My family took me out to dinner, then we walked around the mall. 🙂
When we got home I was right around 32K steps, but still had a whopping 10K left to go to hit 40K, way more if I wanted to make 45K to really mark the day.
So I headed out (it was FREEZING out . . . we're talking gloves, hat ear muffs and everything in my Ohio neighborhood), and I just.
While I walked that last stretch, it occurred to me (um, finally?), to think a wee bit back over these first 45 years.
As I looked back, I watched glimpses of sweet grace flash over each and every year of my life ~ almost (weirdly?) like a movie scene.
Just like you've felt I'm sure, many of those years included moments of sadness, seasons of anger, frustration, fear, doubt, anxiety, despair, and goodness, so. much. over. whelm.
But inside each and every one of those years, right smack in the middle of the dark shadows were people who shined the brightest light.
Looking back at those years ~ especially during the earlier years of my life . . . there were so many very dark days. Days when I truly questioned that light existed at all.
But in those very same days, every single year as I walked through them, someone stepped in in some big or small way, stood next to me, and shined a bright light to the year ahead.
Mrs. Siers who taught me to love Jesus.
Mr. & Mrs. Phipps who made me eat the veggies.
Ms. Saundra & Ms. Caroline who let me sit first chair every once in awhile in our tiny violin section at church. (It was and still is a pretty big church. It felt pretty fancy to me).
Mr. & Mrs. Neal who let me spend hours in my friend Shannon's bedroom chit-chatting all night.
Mr. & Mrs. Treadway who picked us up 39¢ hamburgers at McDonald's even after Mr. Treadway lost his job. (They told us we could have the 49¢ cheeseburgers, but even then I was frugal, and knew that extra 10¢ of cheese was worth skipping.)
Betty Jo who walked this two-hundred-and-twenty-pound girl up and down the streets of my hometown at least a few hundred miles.
Mrs. Stewart who taught me to type.
My mom who pushed me to learn to type too and instilled in me the crazy value of hard hard work.
My step-grandmother who gave me a violin.
My bonus mom who showed me how to be the most organized hostess (and make the best broccoli cheese casserole you've ever eaten).
My aunt Judy who picked me up from college 18 hours away from home to take me out for Fazoli's on Friday nights.
My dad who told me I should probably keep running a business even when I was sure it would never last.
My Reagan who taught me to navigate failure graciously.
My Sweet Caroline who's challenged me (bless!) and led me since the day she was born.
My firstborn big-ole-kid (um, who told me I might as well go ahead and walk the 45,000 steps.)
And of course, my husband who's been my biggest cheerleader since the very first minute we met.
The list goes on a bunch.
I know your list is long too.
I could share the other details, the darker things, the things that make my story a little more “sell-able” in this very noisy world online.
But in truth? The stories of the lights along my way shine so much brighter than the dark hollow spaces. So I'm not even going to waste your time thinking on them here.
***And there is nothing different or unique or special about me. ***
I know if you look hard, you'll see the same bright lights in your own life too.
And … just in case you're curious, here's the rest of the story this last year?
Welp, I turned 45 years old. (WOOHOO!)
I have 3 cute kids. A husband who loves me so much more than I deserve.
And this last year, we took a pretty good-sized business, and grew it beyond my wildest dreams.
Over 100,000 families have been impacted by a few of the products we've made in the last two years here on PPP, which completely blows this girl-who-grew-up-amidst-some-serious-darkness-space.
Those menu plans were made for a mom like my mom who struggled to make dinner each night.
I simply didn't want moms to struggle any more. I wanted an easy way.
Those home planner checklists were for crazy-busy moms like me, who were easily overwhelmed, struggled to stay focused, who sometimes didn't know where to begin each day, and who might feel discouraged juggling work and home life behind the scenes.
I just wanted moms like me to have easy checklists so they felt a wee bit more in control of their homes each day.
And the New Testament Journals? Those were just to encourage other women like me to stop, savor a little time with God in just a beautiful way.
However, had I never seen those darker days, my perspective would have been so very different.
The shadowed moments along the way gave me bright clarity in the darkness that only night could shine.
My direction would have never been the same had the peaks and valleys not lined the way.
I am so crazy thankful for each and every piece of this crazy-beautiful life.
I never dreamed it, never-ever-never could have imagined it.
Yet His grace continues each day to cover my life, just as I know He covers yours today too.
That light is there in your life today too.
The darkness you might be feel covered by right now? There might just be a beautiful lesson inside this very space.
If you're in a dark spot today . . . I encourage you ~ please, please…. look for a light today.
Reach out to a friend, start a new project to encourage you, or maybe just hop up and walk a few hundred steps today.
Whether you're in a dark sullen space today or a bright-shiny-light-season, know that each and every space has it's own perfect and scandalous grace.
Praying grace, peace, and more than anything that you will know your own true value and worth today and every day.
Cheering for you right now from this side of the screen ~ and praying the most beautiful 2021 for you and your family today too. Merry Christmas and the very happiest of new years ~ I'm so crazy thankful for you!
(Addendum: I did tell my kids that starting next year I'm walking backwards from now on – next year I'll do 44K, then 43K …. at 50 I can do 40K and at 90 I'll just be done. They informed me that I need to keep going until I'm 50 because . . . they expect me walking at least 1000 steps until I'm 100. I'll let you know how that one goes in 2021…. ) 🙂
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