I did not plan to become a muddy mess running this weekend, but that’s what happened.

It just wasn’t part of my plan.

With this new running thing I’m doing there has been some unforeseen, exciting effects on my family.

My kids are eating breakfast when they see me return from running in the mornings. They are hearing me talk about how God is doing new things in my life and it is making an impact.

At my daughter, Caroline’s, school her PE coaches started talking about a 5K coming up and that they will help the kids train if they will come early before school starts twice a week.

Caroline didn’t hesitate to sign up.

We were able to compare our workouts for the day and she was so excited to show me a way to stretch I had never tried before…and we all know I need lots of stretches in my repertoire (ahem, “Hello IT Bands, not so nice to meet you…”)

I decided to sign up with her and this past weekend we ran a whole 5K together. In the rain, in the mud, and in step with each other.

My friend, Alisha, has been my running coach and encourager the past four months and I heard myself telling Caroline the same things I had so recently learned, “Don’t start out too fast, keep your pace even though you feel like you can go faster you have to have energy left for the final mile, hydrate and stretch.” And then during the race, “You can do it! You’re almost there! Keep your eye on the prize and press through! Don’t fall in the ginormous mud pits!” Well, Alisha never had to tell me that last one.

We heard the cheering crowd before we saw them. I felt Caroline pick up her pace with new determination. As we turned the last slippery, squishy time and saw the crowd she sprinted past me and through the finish!

She did it! Our 8 year old finished her first 5K! When I told her I was 33 when I ran my first race I realized how much my kids are influenced by my actions, even more so than my words it seems.

Caroline MudI never set out to make Caroline a runner when I started this crazy adventure, but she couldn’t help but want to join in on the experience I was having.

It’s a bit sobering and exhilarating to see first-hand, such a tangible way of how my actions unintentionally influenced her.

What I choose to do with my time matters. So this “being obedient” thing God is teaching me, I now see, isn’t just for me.

I have to shake my head at the tiny perspective I have on how God works and marvel at how our lives intersect to be part of a much larger story.

He has such great plans for us while here on earth that I can’t even imagine! I had zero clue that Caroline and I would have such a blast together in this way!

And as I teach my kids why obedience isn’t just following “rules” so we can’t have what we determine as “fun,” but obedience leads to the ultimate fun in life and how to enjoy life to the fullest as God intended. I realize how desperately I need to rely on Him for direction every single day in order for my kids to desire the same liberation for themselves.

I am encouraged by those of you working out your faith in the good and the hard times. I need to see what endurance looks like for you so I can believe it for myself. So of course, the same is amplified for the sweet kids living under my roof!

The best part of this whole thing is that when we mess up (not if), when we do it wrong, fall on our face in the mud, we can show people that, too! Grace covers it all! I need my kids to see my mistakes and how I handle them through God’s grace. If I only put forth my “perfection” then they are seeing a false reality they cannot achieve. Their path will not be all sunshine and blue skies so we need to learn together how to weather life’s storms with God as our provider.

I’ll never forget this wet, muddy experience with Caroline, and I know she won’t either.

caroline bonnie cowpaddy runJust as I won’t forget the encouragement I continue to receive from all of you in our race to the only finish line that matters.

“However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” Acts 20:24 (emphasis mine)