(old Post from 2007)
It's a mild day in Southern California and the wind is gently blowing as you roll up to a quaint freeway overpass and park your car. It's a Thursday afternoon and you and other parents like you have taken the day off of work or hurriedly grabbed Johnny and Susie from grade school so they could make their sisters cross country meet. As you exit your car your eyes fall on the vast expanse of an overpass that has yet to be made into a fully functioning road. Johnny and Susie wave good-bye as they make a beeline for the largest dirt pile that lines the overpass, jumping and running, calling mommy or daddy “look here, watch me” as they jump off and come tumbling down, and instantly jump up with hands raised to the sky yelling – “Ta Da” – all its missing is the drummer playing that “Ta Da” tune.
As you join the other parents standing on the sideline, you recall a time when the overpass did not exist, the church that is adjacent to the overpass was a field of nothingness, and there were not as many cars on the road. Your mind jumps back and forth among the events of the day and week and recall a conversation you had with your daughter regarding this race. As you picked her up from school at 6pm after a long day of school and cross country practice, she recounts this intricate story of how coach took them on a nice little run around a vacant expanse that included the biggest hill she had seen since she began running – stopping her in mid-sentence to ask if the hill really was as big as she says it was, your daughter says it was and you can see it when you come to the race on Thursday. She continued saying that after they had done the warm-up, they began to start stretching and it was during this time that coach unveiled the master plan for the race on Thursday. We were facing our chief rival and we were running well, but that he wanted us to think big and most of all to focus on working as a team. The goal put seven girls in front of the opposing teams first runner – this was no simple goal and would involve strategy and pace execution – it had the potential to backfire if not executed correctly. The goal was stated and the workout was geared towards being able to transition from rolling trail to flat concrete to “the hill”. Listening attentively, she recounted practice and I remember saying “did you have fun” – her answer, “absolutely”.
Being jolted out of her memories by the starter gun, she saw her daughter go by with no wave, no smile, but with eyes fixed on the prize. She grabbed Johnny and Susie and walked towards the hill which her daughter had told her about just her coach came running by, yelled “greetings” and gave a wave. Johnny and Susie had taken off after the coach but gave up about 25 yards later, guessing they weren't going to catch him. The trail wound its way through a barren wasteland of dry shrubs, pot holes, and and horse markers flanked by track housing on her right, and the freeway on her left. As she approached the hill she could here the faint shouts of the coach, who had whizzed by her only a few minutes ago. As she started down the hill she realized that her daughter wasn't exageratting about the size of the hill and she wondered if she walked down would she be able to get back up, but she risked it. Coming to the intersection of the trail, concrete and hill she heard the girls coming and to her amazement, they were bunched together as if they were the only school in the race; however, trapped helplessly in the middle were the rivals, as they had to endure the painful conversation of the days events between runners with no exit available. There was smiling, giggling, talking, and of course and infamous wink to mom that says “hi” and “I'm having fun”. Watching her daughter attack the hill, the team moved as one with the coach shouting encouragement from down below.
It must have been about ten minutes when the first runner of the race closely followed by other teammates surfaced from under the overpass, but now they had quickly distanced themselves from the competition and were running uncontested along the road. They transitioned on to the trail and my daughter with smile from ear to ear rolled along. With each step, my daughter's team pulled steadily away and as they began the final ascent of the hill we began ours. Cheering and screaming and laughter could be heard coming from the finish line area and as we approached we watched the flood of kids from daughter's team finish one after another until the first seven had crossed the line before the first from the rival school did.
My daughter ran over, gave me a hug, thanked me and said “I told you that was a big hill”, agreeing with her they walked passed the first runner from the other team and was overheard saying “all they talked about was school and tests and what was going on in their lives, and I was going crazy”. The mom laughed to herself as they went to the car and headed home for a victory family dinner.
The power of moment or memory so vivid you can taste it, so close you can feel yourself back in it. This story, although told in a slightly different style, actually happened during the 1999 cross country season. Memories are a powerful thing which can be good or bad. Sometimes you would like to forget about some memories, and other times you wish you could have those special moments back to relive over and over again. Your potential is much like a memory, it is often surpressed and others can see it in you, but you have lost sight of it. Sometimes it takes a story to bring you back around and more than often it takes the encouragement of people sharing with you and reminding you that you are worth something, that you were created in the image of God, and that you can be something special because you are something special. Max Lucado shares in his book “You! God's Brand-New Design” that God made only one of you. Some may have your characteristics, but they don't have all of them – that's what makes you, YOU! He further points out that if you were not you, then the world would not get to have you. Moments, memories, things that touch the core of each of us serve as the backdrop for potential. Cherish the moments you have, and seek to remember all those that had a dramatic effect on helping you become who YOU are.
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