In the summer of 2002, my co-worker registered for a sprint triathlon in Tarpon Springs, Florida. This event involved a .5 mile swim, 12 mile bike and 3.1 mile run, ALL IN ONE DAY! This event came at a very difficult time in my life where there were a lot of changes and attempting one more new activity was unsettling. However, I felt as though I should participate and began training.
On race day, I packed my goggles, running shoes, bicycle, helmet and other essential race accessories. After singing the National Anthem, I started swimming freestyle with at least a hundred other women. Within the first 5 yards, I was kicked in the head. A few strokes later, I got kicked in the chest. I thought I was going to drown. The swim was grueling and when I made it back to land, I wanted to kiss the sand.
I was delirious after the swim and couldn’t find my bike. A friend who came for support, directed me to my bike where I strapped on my helmet and got on my fat-tire bike. There was a strong headwind pushing me backward rather than propelling me forward. When the challenging bike segment was completed, I removed my helmet and began running on extremely wobbly legs. I believed that this was one HUGE mistake and I felt like a failure and was questioning every area of my life.
During the run, I heard spectators yelling, “Go, 14901, you can do it! You’re gonna make it!” I realized that they were yelling to me! They didn't know my name, but they were calling me by the race number that was pinned to my t-shirt.
As I was questioning whether I would make it to the finish line, I felt the Lord speaking encouragement to me through His word: “I see you: They don’t know your name, Beth, but I do. I formed you while you were in your mother’s womb; I know the number of hairs on your head. I love you and am singing over you. I have a good plan for you!”** The Lord was my running partner!
In the midst of physical and emotional exhaustion, in the midst of complaining, being dirty, sweaty and stinky, I no longer felt invisible, discouraged or defeated. God saw me and knew all that I was facing in life. He reminded me of His amazing love and I was able to sprint across that finish line!
Wherever you are, whatever you are facing, God’s love for you is perfect, unconditional and complete. We can either fix our eyes on our limitations and our circumstances OR we can fix our eyes on the Author and Perfector of our faith. When we focus on Him, He will get the glory and honor and when we cross that final finish line, He will say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”
Let His Word be encouraging during challenging times:
For you created my inmost being; you knit me
together in my mother’s womb.
And even the hairs on your head are all numbered.
The LORD your God is with you, He is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to proper you and not to harm your, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11
My precious husband, Bill, and I have been planted in Fort Myers, Florida for almost 35 years. As a newly married couple, God most graciously had placed people in both of our jobs to share Christ with us. Its hard to believe it has been almost 34 years since we asked Jesus into our hearts! Bill and I have been blessed with four children, 3 daughters, then a son. These blessings came quickly, all within 6 years!! During these years I'm so thankful I was able to be part of women's ministry classes at our church, helping me to grow in my walk with Him. Then came the day when I was asked that question that stretched me way outside of my comfort zone...will you teach a class? Its hard to believe that I have now been teaching more than 20 years. Bill and I love to travel, most of the time going to visit our 9 grandchildren, oh ya, and their parents! I also love reading, walking and hanging out with some very special young moms in Beloved that bless my socks off!
Julie is a Kansas girl who resides in sunny Southwest Florida. She's been married to her husband Sean for 23 years and they share two boys ages 21 & 17. She enjoys baking and biking, but her absolute favorite thing is snow skiing which is a little difficult to do in a sandy 80 degree land.
She became a follower of Christ at age 10. She loves studying and teaching God's Word. She has a passion for encouraging moms to love and follow Jesus.
Beth grew up in a loving home; however, in her early 20s she faced a very lonely time. During that time, she cried out to God and asked “If You are real, please show yourself to me!” God met her where she was and she trusted in the Lord Jesus at that time. Her life verse and desire is “no matter what happens, to conduct herself in a manner worthy of the gospel.” Philippians 1:27
Beth now resides in Tampa, Florida with her husband Larry. The Lord has blessed them by blending their family of five children. They currently have eight grandchildren and are hoping that there will be more grandchildren in the future.
Donna accepted Jesus as her Savior at the age of nine and has been amazed at God’s goodness and faithfulness throughout her life. She has been blessed to have had many mentors through each season of life, who have shown her what trusting God looks like. Donna and her husband, Bryan, make their home in central Arkansas. They have five grown children and are grandparents to wonderful grandchildren. Donna enjoys spending time with her family, laughing with friends (usually over coffee), going for long walks with her husband, and reading a good book (which may also be accompanied by a cup of coffee).
Sarah is a true Florida Cracker. She was born and raised in Southwest Florida. At the age of 6, Sarah accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior, and she hasn't looked back since. Hebrews 13:8 is one of her favorite verses, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." Eating delicious desserts, spending time with her family and friends, and teaching people about Jesus are a few of the things she enjoys to do in her spare time.
Sarah has been married to her best friend and husband, Brandon, for 7 years. They have been blessed with one beautiful, determined son, Asher, who keeps them on their toes. Sarah and her family live in the Tampa area. They love exploring their community together, family hugs, and eating pizza whenever possible.
Katie Flint just recently moved back home to Fort Myers, Florida with her husband, Ryan and two children, Collins and Madden. At the age of 5, Katie accepted Jesus Christ to be the Lord and Savior of her life, after attending Vacation Bible School. Through each phase of her life, God has shown her that He alone is trustworthy. The verse that has been her life source is Psalm 46:10- “Be still and know that I am God.”
She is a stay-at-home mom and enjoys exercising and baking. She has been married to her husband Ryan for almost 9 years, who is her high school sweetheart. They enjoy trying new restaurants, family trips to the beach, and relaxing at home.
Marsha grew up in a small rural town in upstate New York. In 2006, after finishing college, she moved to sunny SW Florida where she met her, now husband, Shawn. Together they enjoy spending family time with their two fun-loving toddler boys Zachariah and Kairos.
Marsha enjoys living an active lifestyle, which is helpful, considering that her favorite hobby is baking.
Though she attended church as a child, Marsha was not saved until adulthood when her eyes were finally opened to the love and mercy of Jesus Christ.
Since being saved, God has placed a loving burden on her heart to share the truth about God’s healing grace with those who may feel like forgiveness is not possible for them.