Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Progress

I have a pile of grading the height of a chubby, bearded yard gnome; and I really should be making my way through at least a few inches of it today. Naturally, I've spent the morning watching Youtube videos and taking frequent trips to the kitchen, and I have now turned to blogging.

My grading started okay. The key to convincing yourself to grade in May is to make yourself comfortable, so I did. I nestled in my anti-gravity chair in the sunshine, a cup of lemon water in my handy-dandy cup holder, and a bowl of raspberries within arm's reach. But as soon as I sat down, I realized there were so.many.other important things to do, starting with snapping photos of everything on the patio. It all went downhill from there.

Grading Photography, Exhibit A:


This is a candid grading selfie, if ever there were such a thing. English teachers, please, please, please snap a selfie while you're grading and send it to me. It will give me so much joy.

Grading photography, Exhibit B:


A student gave me this plant last fall, and when I potted it, the little beauty was traumatized. Within weeks, the trauma had turned her luscious, budded stems into a few black, spindly arms. The poor thing belonged in The Lion King's "Elephant Graveyard."

Normally, I love gardening, but I was far too preoccupied with my health to try to resuscitate her. But lo and behold: several months later, those black, spindly arms sprouted waxy leaves; and a month after that, flowers burst forth.

I've taken comfort in my hydrangeas this spring as I struggle to climb out of the nightmarish pit of sickness. I often feel like the only way I will get healthy is if I work my tail off. And it is so much work to get healthy. Some weeks I'll put in a full 25 hours of work researching, strategizing, talking to insurance agents, going to the doctor, and completing daily medical regimes; and in the midst of all that work, it's easy to forget that God could heal me without my help. My hydrangea is a daily reminder that dying things can sprout life without my assistance.

Many of you have sent me notes of encouragement over the last couple of weeks as I wrap up the semester. Thank you. I'm really delighted to tell you that I have made some hopeful improvements lately.

The herbs in April helped, of course, but a few weeks ago, my body rejected them, and I spiraled back into the pit the week before my nerve-wracking test. I imagine the fear of what the test might reveal suppressed my immune system even more than usual, and the viruses took advantage of the weakness. When the test results were favorable, the burden on my immune system lifted, and I began to feel a bit better.

The herbs I took last month seem to have quieted my GI tract infection enough that my body can once again tolerate some of the tinctures that helped me heal some in the summer and fall, so I've resumed taking them. Little by little, I inch forward (then backward, then forward, then backward — the cha-cha continues, but I am SO grateful for those steps forward!), and every now and then, I'm able to participate in life in more normal ways.

I recently enjoyed an afternoon at the beach after one of my doctor's appointments with Sean, my friend and doctor's appointment chauffeur, and since it was a blustery day, we flew kites.


Everyone, meet Skippy, the happiest little tail-wagging kite in all the land.


Also, I imagine Sean will be happy if he never hears Mary Poppin's "Let's Go Fly a Kite" ever again...

Mr. Sun finally made an appearance!

Last weekend a friend and colleague, whose name means Queen of the Fairies, hosted a garden dinner party for a handful of faculty.


After dinner we sat around a campfire for hours, talking and drinking hot rose water tea (isn't that just what you would expect from the Queen of Fairies?!), and though it was a full moon,  my body held up remarkably well. The outing gave me such hope, and hope is such a powerful healer.

This week is finals week, so many of us — faculty and students alike — are blitzed with work, and we are exhausted. We are drooping, dragging, crawling across the finish line, but WE ARE STILL MOVING.

My (girl)friends, there is a trick to making it out the door at 7 A.M. on a Monday in May with optimism about the long day ahead: a fancy hair-do.


A fancy hairdo can make a girl stand a little straighter; and good, open posture tells your brain you are strong, which makes it increase your testosterone levels and lower your cortisol levels, which tells you that YOU ARE WOMAN AND YOU WILL OVERCOME.

Never underestimate the power of a good hairdo.

Also, a big breakfast will do wonders for the spirit (and the waistline):


Girls, the above hairdo is so easy (maybe I'll do a tutorial), and one of its many benefits is if you nap in it, you will wake up with Queen Elsa hair, which may well inspire you to leeeeet.it.go, whatever it is:


(Please forgive the inordinate number of selfies in this post).

Anyway, good things are happening over here, and for the first time in many months, I feel hopeful that one day I will return to decent health. I've even dared to hope that I might heal enough this summer to go on occasional outings. I'm trying to manage my hope because I'm still so weak and symptomatic (I'm guessing I'm functioning at about 5% of normal), but you guys: I would love to go dancing, and hiking, and walking through the countryside this summer.

Would you pray that my body continues on a healing trajectory? And would you continue to pray for wisdom for me as I try to figure out which treatments to try this summer? And finally, on Friday I see another specialist about a follow-up test to the one I got earlier this month. Would you pray for insight for the specialist and me as we discuss my case?

Thank you for your faithful prayers and wonderful encouragement this semester, my friends!

Cheering for you,

SJ


P.S. I turned in the final paper for my PhD class last week:


This paper, as with all of the work for this class, was a collective effort, because I surely would not have made it through this class without all of your fervent, faithful prayers for my health. Thank you, dear ones!




© by scj

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Results

My friends,

Thank you for your prayers these last couple of days. As this test drew nearer, my anxiety grew heavier and more pervasive, affecting both my waking hours and sleep. But when I climbed in bed Monday night, after many of you had started praying for me, I slept peacefully, without bad dreams, for the first time in awhile.

I am happy to report that the test I underwent yesterday revealed nothing life-altering. The test is not conclusive, however, so I will meet with another specialist later this month to discuss having a second test done which will give us definitive results. As far as I understand, the odds of this second test being negative are much higher because the first test was negative, so I'm expericing a measure of relief. I appreciate your continued prayers as I look toward meeting with this specialist in late May.

In the meantime, my chronic symptoms have been particularly unrelenting, and I suspect the herbs that have given me pockets of relief the last few weeks have stopped working. This is not uncommon with illnesses like mine. Often, something will work for a few weeks or months before my body grows accustomed to it and I have to find some other form of treatment.

Right now, my plan is to begin a new form of treatment on May 25th. I'm nervous, as I always am, because I'm not sure how my body will respond; but I'm hopeful, too. These treatments will take awhile to work — I imagine I'll need 60-100 treatments in all before I see real improvement — but I'm hoping I'll see incremental improvement along the way. I have read that patients like me find the first 15 treatments (and the days following them) particularly hard, so I appreciate your prayers for special grace as I will likely experience what we sickies call "a healing crisis."

I'm still not positive this form of treatment is the right next step, but it seems like it. Would you pray that the Lord would make it clear if this isn't the best next step for me?

Thank you, my friends.

And to all my teacher people: we are in the home stretch. We can do this. Soon we will be sipping iced tea on the back patio with months of glorious rest stretching ahead of us. Lord, help us get there.

-Sarah

P.S. There was a giant photo — of blossom-bedecked trees stretching toward a spring sky — embedded in the ceiling of the doctor's office yesterday, so when I laid on the table, I felt like I was at the park watching the sunlight dance through the trees. It was glorious.

P.P.S. My dear friend took me to the doctor yesterday, and before we went inside, she grabbed my hand and prayed for me. And you guys, this sickness and all its complications are a nightmare, but yesterday, as my friend and I sat there holding hands and praying, I felt like I was especially blessed. Like, more blessed than all my healthy friends, because I was there, in the car, listening to my loving friend pray fervently for me.

God is always turning the nightmare into a gift, isn't he?

P.P.P.S. Raspberries in the sunshine with Harry Potter: there is no better way to end a hard day, my friends.




© by scj

Monday, May 9, 2016

Tomorrow

All my Pray-ers,

I'm wearing my favorite night shirt as I prepare to climb in bed. It's the hole-iest pajama top I own — white, oversized cotton with long, holey sleeves, a bright red Adidas logo across the chest, and a holey hood I wear when the weather dips below 65-degrees — but it's my favorite because it used to be my dad's. 

My dad is broad and muscular, with big biceps I liked to wrap my hands around when I was a little girl. "Flex, Daddy, flex!" I'd exclaim as I gripped his arm. I always giggled with delight when I felt his rubbery muscles turn to steel.

I feel small tonight in his big, cotton shirt.

And actually, I feel small in lots of ways tonight. Tomorrow I'll undergo a significant and unexpected medical test to explore potential causes for new symptoms, and I feel overwhelmed by the enormity of my disease. It towers menacingly and threatens to devour, and on the days it's especially hard for me to be a warrior, I feel like a tender little morsel.

And last week I discovered one of my dearest friends will be moving 5,000 miles across the ocean, and though I got three messages last month from girlfriends I met when I traveled to Spain, the world doesn't feel small today. It feels enormous. And I feel tiny and frail, and I wonder if I'll ever have the health to fly 5,000 miles across the globe to visit my dear friend.

And the papers to grade are piled high, and the PhD assignments feel far too long, and my body has been especially unhappy the last few days, and life's injustices and inconveniences are so invasive, and there is not enough of me to carry all this . . . and I do not like feeling so small.

But the smallness I feel in my dad's shirt? It is good. It is good because it reminds me I have a big, strong dad who loves me.

Yesterday I went on an easy walk down the street. I drank in the jasmine and stopped to take a photo of my neighbor's plumeria bush, its white petaled stars forming perfumed constellations in the fading light. But most of the time I looked up at the sky. Its cathedral dome glowed with layers of dusky rose, lavender, and indigo. And I'm wondering, as my eyelids grow heavy with sleep, if inhabiting this great big cathedral-planet is a taste of what it might be like to wear God's shirt, its vastness reminding us of how small we are, yet teaching us that we have a big, strong Father.

I'm imagining God the Father sitting with me tonight as I look toward tomorrow's test. The Son and Spirit are here too, praying, advocating on my behalf. And I'm wondering if you would join us in prayer about my test tomorrow. Would you pray for peace for me, wise doctors, and good test results? I don't think I've ever felt so anxious about test results before, and I covet your prayer support.

Thank you, my friends.

I'm praying for those of you who also feel small tonight. I'm praying, especially, that the bigness of life would remind you that God is biggest of all.

Cheering for you,

Sarah


P.S. This came in the mail this evening:


A dear, wonderful friend who has faithfully prayed for me made this for me. I have it displayed on my piano, across from my princess crown:

There's a mirror right above this, and sometimes I put the crown on, look in the mirror, and quote Psalm 103: "Praise the Lord...who redeems your life from the pit, crowns you with love and compassion, and satisfies your years with good things."

Isn't the prayer on this canvas beautiful?

 
I've been praying it throughout the evening. And look at the reminder at the bottom. Some days I really do need reminding. 

Thank you, sweet Ann; this is such a treasure.



© by scj

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Happy Mother's Day, Mom


Dear Mom,

Remember those cat eye sunglasses with the *very* colorful rims? I was in fifth grade when you wore them. In public. And you didn't care what other people thought. You didn't listen to my stammering protests or pay attention to the most recent fashion magazines. You just donned them with confidence and style. I think you may have even danced your way into the mall with those things on your head, just in case people hadn't already noticed them.

I love you for that.

I love that you've always marched — or danced — to the rhythm of your own drummer. You haven't tried to cram your soul into the stifling corsets of silly expectations, reductionistic roles, or cultural “coolness.”
 

Your tenacious commitment to be who God calls you to be is evident beyond your daring sunglass choices.

It was evident when you stood alone before the city council to challenge an unethical education mandate.

It was evident when you stood up for the woman in your musical theater group whose male director felt her gender and youth made it okay for him to invade her privacy and publicly degrade her.

It was evident when you brought the four of us kids to the courthouse to participate in silent protests on the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade. You wanted to show us that there are some things in the world worth fighting for, and that it is possible fight in a quiet and respectful way.

When people drove by honking and yelling profanities at us, we watched you smile graciously, with dignity. When a man walked past and accused you of brainwashing us, you engaged him respectfully but didn't back down. Because you know it isn't brainwashing to instill in your kids a value for our most fundamental right—the right to live—and it isn't brainwashing to raise your kids with a sense of justice and a commitment to action when the world goes topsy turvy.

You taught us how to do the right thing, but you also taught us that life is for having fun.

When we studied world religions you thought it would be fun to celebrate the Jewish Festival of Booths, and so we made a booth—or sukkah—in our backyard and ate our meals in it that week.
When we grew older and were stressed from school, or irritated with each other, you'd show us how to throw back our heads and laugh and let the stress and irritation drain from our spirits, like air from a balloon.

And when you met people who had come from other countries to create a better life in America, you'd invite them to our house for holidays. They'd bring authentic cuisine from their country, and they'd teach us new words; and we learned that the world is big and grand and full of new friends.
I could go on and on, Mom; you taught us so many things.

You taught us that empty amphitheaters in foreign countries are for dancing,

that empty dishwashers are for loading,

and that empty plots of land are for gardening.


You taught us that we were more important than your sleep when we'd wake up sick in the middle of the night; and you taught us that paint, foam, and cardboard are for creating Halloween costumes, doll houses, and Christmas presents.



A few years ago, little brother Marc was driving onto his college campus with his buddy. As they crawled across speed bumps Marc noticed a male student about his age standing alone and looking despondent.

Go talk to him. The Holy Spirit prompted Marc to do something unusual and even embarrassing.

He turned to his friend and asked him to stop the car, and then he walked over to the student and introduced himself. After talking awhile, the student told Marc he was fighting despair and wondering if life was worth living. Marc got his phone number so they could hang out, and he walked back to the car one friend richer.

Marc reminded me of you that day, Mom.

Like you, he has become a man who heeds the voice of the Spirit, even when it's uncomfortable. Like you, he knows that we all — the immigrant, the grocery clerk, the marginalized student, the librarian, the homeless, the next-door neighbor — belong to each other.

This is because we learn more from watching lives lived than we learn from powerful rhetoric and substantive textbooks.

We grew up imitating you, Mom, and you have always marched to the beat of the Maker of music —the One wired you to dance, stand up for the oppressed, initiate new friendships, and wear zany sunglasses.

And so today, on Mother's Day, telling you I'm thankful for you just doesn't cut it.

But I am.

I'm thankful for you,

I love you,

and I hope I'm like you when I grow up.

Thank you for being such a marvelous mother.

Happy Mother's Day,

Your Sarah Christine



© by scj

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Elizabeths

Last night I had another pocket of relief(ish) from my neurological symptoms, and I felt well enough for a girlfriend, Elizabeth, to come over for a girls night. Elizabeth is one of a kind. I met her a year and half ago at my church's women's Bible study, and two months after meeting, I fell desperately, scarily sick. From that point on, I've probably seen her an average of once every four months due to the limitations of my illness. Even so, she has remained a faithful, supportive friend in my life, despite only two months of friendship foundation.

Last night she brought the movie Brooklyn, along with berries and apricots for dessert. We talked for hours before starting the movie, and when the movie's credits rolled, we could've talked for hours longer. My vertigo started getting bossy, though, so we called it a night. But what a gift those hours together were.

............

I got a package last week (another answer to my mail prayer!) from one of my dearest childhood girlfriends, another Elizabeth, and its contents had me gasping aloud with delight.

Content 1: Silly Putty — for playing.


One of the many griefs of perpetual bed rest is the inability to play. Play is such an important part of emotional and mental health, and without it, life loses lots of its sparkle. But I'll tell what's perfect for bed rest play: silly putty for making sculptures, and bubbles, and loud snapping noises. Oh my sweet heavens, I love feeling like a kid again.

Content 2: A Puppy — because I want one. Thankfully, this puppy is the hypo-est of hypoallergenic puppies.


I've put him on my nightstand to keep me company throughout the day. I still haven't named him, because I need to find the perfect name. Any suggestions? I should tell you that this puppy is playful, affectionate, and smart, and I'm thinking his name should reflect these qualities.

Content 3: Chapstick — this is an essential.


Content 4: A card filled with kind, encouraging words.


I have this card displayed next to the last card Elizabeth gave me, because she is one of the best card choosers, fillers, and senders of life.


Golly, I'm thankful for my ELIZABETHS!


Happy weekend, folks.

I'm cheering for ya, Home Skillets.

-Sarah


P.S. The pockets of relief continue. They have become the rest between "sets" of loud symptoms, and I'm so thankful for them. I'm hoping they'll carry me through the end of the semester before I turn my attention back to the treatments I've been investigating. I'm hoping to move forward with the first of these treatments the last week of May or first week of June.

Thank you for continuing to pray for me, my friends.


© by scj

Friday, April 22, 2016

Beach and Chips

Yesterday my friend Sean took me to one of my many weekly doctor's appointments, and afterward, I was feeling well enough to head to the beach. Hip-hip-HOORAY!


This trip I had the foresight to wear a swimsuit, so I enjoyed splashing in the waves sans work clothes.

If you are using a desktop and you click on this photo, it will get big; and, if you are like me, then its bigness will make you feel like you have taken a virtual trip to the beach.



And you guys: my symptoms were so quiet yesterday afternoon, I almost forgot I was sick. Yesterday's pocket of relief makes for three relief-pockets in nine days. I am so hopeful this becomes a trend.

After spending a few hours in the sun, I was happy and fried to a crisp. Unfortunately, after so many months in bed, I forgot that backs are prime real estate for sunburns, so my back stayed sunscreen-free. My legs, on the other hand, were lathered in sunscreen, so today I look rather like a strawberry that has been dipped in white chocolate.

Sean and I could've stayed at the beach hours longer, but we plan our lives around traffic down here, so we hit the road before the traffic could get too bad. On the way home, we took a detour to Whole Foods where I promptly marched to the chip aisle.

For months now I have been craving — and I mean CRAVING — some sort of comfort food. I want chocolate, I want macaroni and cheese, I want toast with butter, I want tea with cream, I want enchiladas, I want a heaping bowl of peanut butter ice cream with chocolate fudge and whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles and crushed peanuts and basically, my body is sad and it needs a food pacifier.

But alas, I stick to squash and turkey, and my body thanks me for it. Yesterday, though, I decided to branch out and try sweet potato chips cooked in coconut oil. I'm not sure if my body can tolerate either ingredient, but I went ahead and bought four bags (which, incidentally, bear my name. How could I NOT buy almost every bag on the shelf?!) and then ate an entire bag of sweet and salty Jackson goodness on the way home.


It's so fun being a grown-up.

Also, this picture cracks me up. I believe this is what they call an "action shot."

I hope your weekend is full of rest and joy, my friends.

Happy Friday!

-Sarah



© by scj

Thursday, April 21, 2016

End of the semester

Today I accidentally showed up to work an hour early. "But where all the students? Why is there so much parking? And why is the sun just now peeking over the hills?"

My friends, the time has finally come: end-of-the-semester dementia is working its mischief, and I am thankful I at least remembered to put pants on before slipping on my shoes this morning, which does not always happen for me in almost-May.

Let us all have a moment of silent prayer for teachers around the world showing up to class at the wrong time, on a Saturday, without wearing pants, and their shoes on the wrong feet. And then let's adore my CUTEST FURRY NEPHEW, Copper because: happiness.



Peace be with you, all you educators of young minds.

I'm cheering for you (and I'm wearing pants).

 -SJ



© by scj

Monday, April 18, 2016

News and a pocket of fun

My friends,

I have all sorts of news. I'll start with the good stuff.

The Best News: Finally, after months of prayer and hard work, I experienced some relief from my neurological symptoms last week, and for a few glorious days, I felt like I'd been released from prison.

The timing of this pocket of relief couldn't have been more perfect. My sister-in-law, who is training for the 2016 Olympics in Calgary, Canada, was in town with my brother to compete in her first heptathlon of the season at the Mt. Sac Invitational track meet. My dad and some dear family friends also happened to be in town last week, so we all attended her two-day meet together at my Alma Mater, Azusa Pacific University, where I reunited with some of my old teammates. I have all sorts of photos from that meet that I'll share later in this post.

The Disappointing News: I'm fighting a new infection, the presence of which seems to have reversed the progress I made last week. This has been the story of the semester — just as I'm seeing glimmers of healing, a new infection swoops in and devours them — and it's a narrative that has me discouraged. Would you pray that my immune system kicks into gear and I return to the place of freedom-from-prison that I felt last week?

The Other Disappointing-yet-Actionable News: I got another piece of this crazy health puzzle: the results of my more extensive genetic testing came back this week. Prior to ordering the test, I expected to have a number of genetic mutations because illnesses like mine are usually caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. I just didn't expect to have so many genetic mutations.

Of the 20 genes that were tested, 14 are mutated, and some of the mutations I have are especially blahblahblahblahughughugh. (I tried to think of a word to describe how I feel about these mutations, and that's the only thing I could think of). I'm hopeful I will be able to take action to compensate for some of these genetic defects, though I imagine doing so effectively will require a lot of research and a really good doctor. If you think of it, please pray for wisdom for me and my doctors as I take steps toward addressing the genetic component of my illness.

The Change-of-Plans News: Many of you have been praying about the new treatment I intended to try last Friday. At the last minute, I decided to postpone the treatment for at least a week so I could ride the wave of relief I was enjoying. I didn't want to throw myself back into prison if I could enjoy the break from my neurological symptoms that I so desperately needed. I'm especially glad I postponed treatment, because dealing with its aftermath while also dealing with a new infection would have been too difficult. I appreciate your continued prayer as I figure out the best timing to move forward with the treatment.

Okay, that's all the news I got, man. Now, for the feel-good stuff: track meet photos.

..................

On Wednesday morning, when my dad and I pulled into Azusa Pacific University, our old friend Simon called my dad's phone. I answered since my dad was driving, "Hey, Sarah!" Si said. "We're here."

WHAT?! You're HERE here? Like, at the meet?

Si, his wife Taylor, and their baby, Joanna, live in Arizona, and they were the last people I expected to see at the meet. But they were on a road trip to central California, and since they are our honorary siblings, they took a two-day pitstop in Azusa for the meet.

And oh sweet heavens, it was glorious to see them.

From left to right: me, Daddio, Taylor and Baby Jo, Simon, and my brother Aaron
Brother Aaron and our star athlete, Natasha
 

Over the course of our two days together, I got enough baby snuggles to fill my Baby Snuggle Tank...

..And enough girl time to fill my Girl Time Tank. Both tanks are very important and make life approximately 30 times sunnier.




We hadn't seen Baby Jo in 6 months, and we were all enamored with her. 



While I was snapping photos of Dad and Jo, Simon decided it would be nice to get a photo of Dad and Jo's twin hair-dos.

Dad's always such a good sport.


Oh my sweet heavens. How are we to handle the sweetness?

 Joanna liked to play with her sock. She'd twist and pull it and twist some more, until it was on upside down. After awhile, Simon would notice her sock needed fixing, and he'd carefully return it to its upright and locked position (he's a pilot, see).

Years ago, after realizing afresh that God created good earthly fathers and mothers to teach us about His heart for us, I started practicing the discipline of noticing moms and dads caring for their kids. Whenever I saw a dad rocking a distraught baby on an airplane, or a mom laughing with delight over her child's attempt at a knock-knock joke, or a dad jumping up and down cheering when his daughter scored a goal, I imagined I was the child in the scenario and God was the parent.

As I sat there watching Simon and Joanna, I imagined God carefully sliding my sock around so it fit just right, and it hit me, the way it always does when I watch good parents and kids: God cares about the way our socks fit. And if he cares about that, certainly he cares about the big stuff, like betrayal, financial hardship, relational discord, sickness, and injustice in the workplace. Good moms and dads can remind us to pray with the confidence that God cares about everything we bring before him.

......

Okay, now for some action shots, but first, a disclaimer: I really need to invest in a good lens if I'm to capture any decent action shots. These will do, for now.


Oh hello, spongy Old Friend:


You are the holder of my team's puke, sweat, snot, and tears, and I love you for it. 

The Mt. Sac Invitational is a prestigious meet where many of the world's best athletes have their debut spring performances. All events are held at Mt. Sac College, with the exception of the heptathlon and decathlon, which APU hosts. 

On the first day of the heptathlon, the girls compete in the 100-meter hurdles, high jump, shot put, and 200-meter sprint. 

Tash had a great high jump on Wednesday — she went 1.86 meters (that's 6'1), and was only out-jumped by one other athlete.



The day is action-packed, so the athletes don't get much time between events. Here, Tash has come straight from the high jump and is warming up for the shot put. 
Notice the men in the dirt where the shot put will land. The man on the right with the rake is my friend, Bryan Clay. We trained together, and he is great. He's also an Olympic gold medalist in the decathlon. You can read about him and my other teammates here. The man in the blue shirt standing on the left side of the dirt pit is Ashton Eaton, another Olympic gold medalist and the current world record holder in the decathlon. They were a few of many Olympic athletes at this meet. 

I'm telling you: Azusa Pacific Track meets are the place to be if you want to watch some of the world's best athletes do their thing.

Hey brother Marc: do you see the girl in the red hat on the far left of the above photo? She ran track with you at Liberty and was at APU for the California Invitational!

One of my favorite parts of returning to APU this time of the year is seeing some of my old teammates. Some are coaching, some are helping run the meet, and some are just chilling, so I was unable to get a photo of all of us.

These are some of my favorite guys in the whole wide world (you can read about them and why I love them here). 


It's funny how after all these years, being with them still feels like home.

Left to right: Matt Sparks (we call him Sparks), my fellow hurdler and training partner; Rob Jarvis (I call him Jarv), and Bibi
And it's funny how after all these years, we still speculate about what kind of athletic performances we've got in us. And always, at every reunion meet, somebody's gotta do something crazy to find out. 

Last spring we decided we'd all join in the madness and compete in this year's Bryan Clay Invitational. I'd do the shot put (naturally); Bibi would do...something — we hadn't decided; and Sparks would do the long jump. Sparks started training in April of last year, and even sent us video footage of his training to spur us on in our own training regimes. 

Bibi responded to Sparks' video footage with this photo of his training regime:

 

 And I responded with a picture of a bag of potato chips I'd just polished off:

"I'm going for the high momentum/inertia approach to my event," Bibi said. I agreed.

None of us ended up formally competing last week, but Bibi wasn't about to pass up an opportunity to showcase the effects of those cheeseburgers (or something like that), so he and Bryan had a little javelin showdown. 

Bryan was nursing a knee injury....


And Bibi was sporting his work clothes...
 

...But it didn't matter, because these two have still. got it.  

Meanwhile, Tash was killing it in the 200-meter sprint. Oh man, these girls are starting to feel the pain right about here:

But the pain of the 200 is nothing compared to the pain of the 800-meter race. Here's the schedule of events on the second day of the hep:

Day 2: long jump, javelin, 800-meter race


The 800-meter race is arguably the most difficult race in all of track and field, and is rivaled only by the 400-meter hurdles (in my humble opinion). Having to run the 800 after six events spread over two days requires guts upon guts upon G.U.T.S.
The start of the 800

And man are these girls gutsy. When they'd all fallen across the finish line, I wanted to weep. So I did. There are some things I don't fight anymore now that I'm settling into my 30s. 

After the meet, we celebrated by eating. And the day after that, we ate some more:


Gosh you guys, I'll tell you what: last week was just what the doctor ordered. 

And there's this: Tash, you are the gutsiest, most faithful inspiration out on that track, and I'm glad to call you sister.

Happy Monday, friends. 

Cheering for ya,

SJ



© by scj