I was a cross country runner in high school. It all started because I was effectively "chasing" a girl who was on the cross country team, and so I decided the best way to be around her would be to just join the team. My interest in the girl waned fairly quickly, but in its place sparked a real love for running. I even made it onto the Varsity team. Me, an asthmatic self-described "band nerd" (trombone) and singer. I wasn't terribly coordinated, never considered myself an athlete, but I could run - and enjoyed it! I wasn't the best guy on the team, but I pulled my weight and was getting better. I began having dreams of being the best runner, not just on the team, but in the state! But then at the end of the season, during regional competition, I had an asthma attack. It scared me so bad that I asked to be let off the team immediately, and quit running for a few years. My hope was lost. But I effectively "outgrew" my asthma and started running "just for fun" again after college.
The dream returned.
Early in our marriage, Tiffany and I had the chance to become foster parents. We went through some training courses, submitted to the necessary background checks, took First Aid and CPR classes, and then opened our home. We only had one foster child. A little 3 year-old girl. She was sweet, and she was a hellion. All wrapped up in one cute little package. She was "ours" for about 3 months, and I still think of her often to this day.
We were so "hooked" after that, we went to work as House Parents for a Children's Home. We enjoyed the work, even though it was difficult. We were "parents" to several kids, aging in range from 2 to 17, over about a 2 year time period. We especially enjoyed working with the older teens, even though they had their own set of specific challenges. But then we began our own family and left the Children's Home work for other pursuits. And that was about 15 years ago. We never lost our desire to serve "orphaned" kids, and dreamed of the day when we would be able to do so again.
On May 1, 2011 I ran my first marathon. I did well enough, even in some pretty extreme weather conditions, and it didn't kill me. So I figured I'd run another and see if I could do better. And then another. Pretty soon I started dreaming again. And then I almost got good enough to qualify to run the Boston Marathon. So I figured if I just trained a little harder, ran one more race, then I could actually qualify! I began training for the race of my life! I was working hard, getting faster, putting in the miles and the hills and the sprints - whatever it was going to take! The dream was becoming a reality! That race was to happen on January 19th of this year.
Hope lost...and found!
Then, on November 3 of last year, I heard God speak. It wasn't *quite* audible. He really spoke through a woman who came to our church to share about the plight of the foster child in our community. And He didn't just speak to me. He also spoke to Tiffany and our kids. We all walked out of that church service ready to do whatever it takes to become a foster family - specifically being available to sibling groups and teens. And we began an intentional process, once again, of taking the steps necessary to that end.
And that's not all. God changed my entire perspective. I had an instantaneous change of heart about qualifying for Boston. It just became unimportant to me. January 19th came & went, and I am still complete in God. He is my hope, He is the giver of all good things - even dreams!
Sometimes, a dream deferred does not mean it will never happen. We waited 15 years for the dream of becoming a foster family to come "full circle." Who knows, maybe I'll qualify for Boston some day. Maybe not. It's just not that big of a deal, especially in the light of eternal significance. I still get out and run a few times or so each week. But now I primarily run just for enjoyment and health. And you know what? I'm okay with that. If God wants something different from me later, I'm sure He'll let me know.
"Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart." Psalm 37:4 (emphasis added)
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