Road of Questions

I hate going to the doctors – absolutely dread it. It ranks among the top 5 things I hate doing. My reasoning behind this is somewhat long and boring. I wrote it out and deleted it because I was falling asleep re-reading it. But you should note I did NOT say I hate doctors. I think they are wonderful, knowledgable people for the most part. In fact, sometimes I wish we had a live-in doc to tell me what needs to be medicated or seen by a professional; thankfully we do have Daniel’s Grandmother who is a nurse. We call her any time, day or night; and we always receive sound medical advice. She is pretty laid back about most things – usually saying it’ll run its course while dispensing advice about how to care for the patient in the meantime. And she’s been right every time. There was even a time I felt strongly we should go to the ER for one of the kids; she advised us to stay home, giving us things to do here instead of spending hours in the ER with nothing but a huge bill to show for it. Daniel, who is altogether more laid back about medical problems than I am, almost had to tie me down; but once again – she was right and we were saved a lot of headache and hassle.


Best type of doctor's visit

So when I called her the other night about a problematic infected sore that was obviously spreading at a “decent” rate and she told me to go to the ER if it got any worse, I was a mess – to put it lightly. As I sat on our vanity putting the hottest washcloths I could stand on the sore I realized something that I’ve been subconsciously struggling with for a while. It literally hit me a like ton of bricks… Would God care if I died tonight? (not that I was in any imminent danger of dieing! but I was thinking worst case scenario, something I tend to do altogether too much with medical issues) And if He does care, how do I account for all the senseless deaths in the world due to freak mishaps, whether it be by man’s doing (a drunk driver causing a fatality), but more importantly by nature – like a sore that gets infected leading to blood infection, etc etc, or the young child who gets the flu and dies from complications. Maybe this is why I have always been so tense when my kids get sick. There’s no guarantee he/she isn’t going to be the one in one million when an ear infection leads to hospitalization. It just seems so senseless when a person, young or old, dies from something that generally isn’t life threatening. How do I make peace with this all while believing in a God who loves each person so much that He knows the number of hairs on his/her head? (Seriously – that is mind blowing!)


At Alicia’s visitation we shook hands with/hugged approximately 500 people, but the one comment that I remember from that whole evening was someone – I honestly don’t remember who – who said to me “It was God’s plan.” (Funeral etiquette note – that is NOT a comforting comment to make to someone grieving the loss of a loved one, no matter how much the bearer of such sentiments believes it!) Really… do you really truly believe that? Maybe you haven’t had anyone close to you die a senseless death. God’s plan to let a toddler die and leave his parents aching to hold him and hear him laugh just one more time. God’s plan to let both my and Daniel’s grandpas die at a relatively young age, leaving behind teenage and young adult kids who would have benefited from their wisdom and godliness? God’s plan to let my intelligent, young sister have LAM – a disease that only 1500 women in the world are diagnosed with? God’s plan that someone should feel so hopeless and distraught that ending it all appears to be the best answer? Really? God’s plan? Really?


Someone else may say “Maybe you haven’t/didn’t pray hard enough.” That’s another area I’m completely struggling with right now as well. So many times I can look back on my life and say I prayed about X, Y & Z, and it was answered – even really big things like my marriage surviving serious issues. I can even acknowledge those times when I prayed for something to happen, and it didn’t; however I learned so much more by getting a different answer than the one I thought would be best. But even in those times of “tough love” answers, the ability of my loved ones to continue living and breathing wasn’t at stake. Let me tell you how much I’ve prayed that my sister’s disease would be slow moving – presently it’s not. Let me tell you how much we prayed for Alicia. And where did that get us? Possibly the biggest heartache we could fathom from the situation. How is it that God’s plan feels so random and many times altogether so uncaring? Is it just that life this side of heaven really means absolutely nothing in the long run? Just a test to see if we will remain faithful?


And yet as I struggle along this shattered road, I’m not ready to give up on God. I know He’s with my sister. She will tell you He is faithful and about the miraculous! birth of her son. I can still sense Him in the thunder and lightening of a summer storm, in the rustle of the leaves, in the faces of my children, while holding my husband’s hand and listening to a beautiful piece of music, when visiting my parents’ farm, during choir practice, in the hearts of so many people who continue to send us cards and let us cry on their shoulders. I can even sense Him walking this road beside me although sometimes I don’t know how to respond to that. While I continue to question this God of “mine,” I’ve also been filled to overflowing with a new gratefulness for all that He has given me. A strange and quiet peace I’ve never known before has filled my soul even as I deal with relentless physical tension from the chaos of my emotions that leaves me unable to breathe deeply at times and my shoulders in continuous knots.


It’s been a long walk with no end in sight; but I’m not giving up on You, God, please don’t give up on me either.

Half-Marathon Training – The Unexpected

Someone asked me on Sunday if I’m nervous about the upcoming half-marathon on October 16th. “Should I be?” I wondered. No, I’m not nervous at all. But maybe that’s because of some snafus that have come up along the way that will make race day a lot different than I originally imagined. In fact, there are a lot of things about training for this half-marathon that are different than I originally imagined. For those of you who have never trained for one, let me fill you in on some things I’m learning along the way.


Cat Calls – Yes, believe it or not I have been subjected to cat calls while running. The most popular place for this to happen is in front of Hempfield high school – usually when sports teams are out practicing. While I guess this is supposed to make me be disgusted that men are still whistling or using other “demeaning” language in order to show their “appreciation,” I must admit that I really don’t find it overly degrading. In fact, if I get such a reaction from a guy probably about ½ my age, I guess it just goes to show Daniel didn’t get the worst looking girl in the world. Of course there is a line to be drawn when a cat call gets out of hand, but thankfully I haven’t had to deal with that.


My Manly Appetite – Seriously, I’m hungry 24/7. I’ve never experienced this before, not even when I was pregnant. Before registering for the half-marathon I considered whether or not our grocery budget could handle the fact that I would need to eat more due to the increased activity. In my naivety, I decided that my eating habits most likely wouldn’t inflate our bill enough to deter me from training. It’s good I didn’t know how much I would be eating. While I don’t have firm statistics on how much our bills have gone up, I know I’m eating pretty much everything in sight, all day long; and my will power to say “no” to sweets except for dessert has gone completely out the window. I’m quite surprised that I haven’t gained any weight during this training season. So if you see me sneaking fruit snacks and granola bars during church, I’m NOT pregnant, just really hungry.


Half-Marathon Camaraderie – I have been greatly encouraged by meeting other individuals who have completed half-marathons. Since not everyone can say they’ve trained for a half, when I find someone who has, I automatically feel connected in some strange, mystical way. One woman I think about a lot is a-friend-of-Mrs. T’s who was injured early in training for her first half (never ran more than 5miles at a time before race day), but she still was able to meet her goal on race day even though all her workouts took place using an elliptical machine. I haven’t ever met this woman; but all the same, I get my motivation from her story after particularly bad workouts. Also I was super excited to find out my uncle will be running his first half at Hershey too. My uncle Wendell was the cool one. He drove a motorcycle and enjoyed being with the kids when we were little… probably because he didn’t have any kids of his own at that point. I remember making pizza and sleeping over at my uncle and aunt’s apartment at least once when my parents went away. It was tons of fun. To be journeying “together” into this territory is kinda surreal. (It also makes me feel old.) Also I found out my cousin-in-law will be running that day – we could have a Musser get-together at the Hershey Hotel afterwards, that is if any of us could afford it.


Motivation – I guess I thought once I started training, I would automatically love going out and running 4-5 days a week. And while my motivation has been pretty good until recently, I also have those days when I wake up, look out the window and decide it’s too dark to go out… or too wet or too cold or too fill-in-the-blank. Then I find myself trying to get in a workout at 9pm after I’m already totally spent – ugh, motivation killer.


knee braces & shoes just waiting to go for a run

Physical Ailments – I wish I could say my hands falling asleep while I run was my worst problem. I’ve had carpel tunnel symptoms off and on since high school, especially early in the morning before my hands “wake up.” However, my worst problem – and almost a show stopper – has been my knees. Since early-July I’ve been experiencing knee pain. First in my left knee – figured out how to manage that by wearing a sexy, awesome knee brace. Unfortunately, after my 8 mile run in early August, my right knee started up too. After much experimentation of how often and how far I can run without aggravating either of my knees since what they really want is rest right now, I’ve figured out I’m able to run 2 days a week, 5 miles each time on a flat, non-macadam surface, wearing braces on both knees, applying ice and taking Ibuprofen after every workout. For the rest of the 5+ weeks of training, I’ll do the majority of workouts on a bicycle, which I do not enjoy as much as running (sorry Daniel and Dad-in-law. But yes, Eric – I hate to admit it, that archaic exercise bike you rescued from the side of the road which found its way to our basement before it ever got to yours earlier this summer has come in handy recently, especially with all this rain.)


The inability to run as I would like to has really dampened my motivation to keep training – bad thing; however it has also provided a way for me to be able to escape the nerves and pressure I would put on myself if I were able to train as I was hoping to – good thing. I can no longer exercise in the manner which I feel will leave me in the best shape for the race, so it really won’t be a true estimate of what I’m capable of doing – that is seriously disappointing because my earlier training was going way better than I ever expected. I’m not sure how to even go about setting a goal for myself – any suggestions would be helpful. I’m trying to tell myself that this “no pressure” attitude I’ve taken is probably for the best. I didn’t want the race to become a day I dreaded and just wanted to get over with. In fact, I’m actually looking forward to it. It’ll most likely be the first time since early August when I get to run with Mrs. T. I haven’t even talked about the scheduling complications of trying to run with Mrs. T, that was something of a nightmare before my knees made it a total impossibility. I’ve missed our time together – our great conversations, our silences, our laughter and pain together. So to have a block of time to run 13.1 miles with Mrs. T will be close to heaven. Can’t wait until that day – bring it on.