Press On to Finish Strong

During the Fall of my freshman and sophomore years of high school I ran for the cross country team. This also included optional training practices that started at 6:30 am! My sister, Megan, decided to run as well. Being my first sport, I took the summer training practices seriously! I think my momentum actually started in junior high when I would run after school or ride my bike. In the winter time I would go up to the rec room and use the Nordic track. Junior high also had summer marching band practices, camps, mission trips and a whole lot of other activities. By the time the end of my 8th grade came, I had to decide on whether I wanted to do band or a sport. Looking back, I know it was God’s timing to end band and take private flute lessons in order to run cross country.

When I first started running in the summer practices, I was able to meet upper classmen. We would run the city streets or circle the grass at the park. By the time school started, the rest of the team joined us and we did much of the same running, except added more distance and more back roads. We would run up a steep rocky hill and run back down. We did this in repetition-and if that wasn’t enough, we would travel all the way out of town to Rock Creek where we would run straight up the mountain! In all of the practices my coach always emphasized the importance of not stopping to walk-no matter what! I took this to heart and focused on this along with added endurance in the hard training which really helped me during the races.

I’ll never forget my first race, we ate a big spaghetti dinner the night before at my coach’s house. We traveled to our course which was higher in elevation.  I didn’t understand how races worked. So when we got there we set off to jog the course for a trial run. By the time we came back, we had a few minutes to put on our numbers, stretch and do a few sprints. At the line, our faster runners were placed at the front. I was in good shape, probably the best shape I had been in my entire life, but my stride wasn’t very long. Often times I was the one toward the end or the last place runner. I think I did well in that race as best as I can remember. As the season went on, we ran a lot of courses- a golf course, a football field and up a rocky mountain.  When we hosted a cross country race we had a little combination of them all.

As you can see in looking back it was God’s perfect timing in the events of my life to discover that my ankles turned out when I ran. As I finished the cross country racing season that October (after four years), I also got my braces off my teeth. To celebrate, Mom and I ate Chinese food and then bought some new Christian music CD’s before heading home. Since I was big on music, I had read about Jeremy Camp’s new album, “Stay”. His late wife had battled cancer. Little would I realize that one month later in November 2002 I would be diagnosed with the NF2 disease. It was that album that I played over and over to comfort my heart. In December 2002, I had my first back surgery to remove a large spinal tumor. Thankfully, I was able to walk and travel home on Christmas Eve. That Christmas was different, but very special for me and my family.

You see, I bring this up because as I have said before in another post, I knew this Christmas would be different too. I didn’t know how “different” or how my body would change. I don’t’ think there is any point in describing what has gone wrong and how things have changed from head to toe on me. The weekend before Christmas, I had some intense talks with my mom and dad. I told them that I knew things would get worse with my health, but that I was at peace with it all. It only made me sad to know-that I wouldn’t have much more time with my family and friends. It was very hard emotionally. Mom, Dad and Marcia came to see me after the Christmas Eve service. We sang Christmas carols together. I couldn’t see any decorated trees or brightly lit Christmas lights, but I knew that I was with my family having really special memories. A week later, on New Years Day, I didn’t make new year resolutions. But I thought about cross-country and I applied it to my life. Like the races, I know there is a finish line. However, I don’t know when I’ll cross the finish line. There is a tough point in every race when you really just want to stop and give up running. The big cheers at the start of the race have faded and now you are running alone. But then you start hearing faint cheers ahead and that keeps you going forward to the finish line. I’ve decided that my focus should be to strain on and cross the finish line. As I think of my life “race”, I’m overwhelmed, by everyone who runs the race along side of me—cheering me on and upholding me with their prayers. As this new year continues, I will take it one day at a time-not stopping, knowing that Jesus cheers me on too!

Jeremy Camps “I Still Believe” Song Lyrics

 

“I Still Believe”

Scattered words and empty thoughts

seem to pour from my heart

I’ve never felt so torn before

seems I don’t know where to start

But it’s now that I feel your grace fall like rain

From every fingertip, washing away my pain

I still believe in your faithfulness

I still believe in your truth

I still believe in your holy word

even when I don’t see, I still believe

Though the questions still fog up my mind

with promises I still seem to bear

Even when answers slowly unwind

It’s my heart I see you prepare

But it’s now that I feel your grace fall like rain

From every fingertip, washing away my pain

I still believe in your faithfulness

I still believe in your truth

I still believe in your holy word

even when I don’t see, I still believe

The only place I can go is into your arms

where I throw to you my feeble prayers

In brokenness I can see that this was your will for me

Help me to know you are near

I still believe in your faithfulness

I still believe in your truth

I still believe in your holy word

even when I don’t see, I still believe

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15 Comments

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15 responses to “Press On to Finish Strong

  1. Cary Mitchell

    Love you Melinda. You still inspire me.

  2. Oh, Melinda when you cross that finish line your trophy will be so beautiful! Your crown will be full of so many beautiful jewels. I know this for sure, one day there will be a cure to ENDNF! if not here on earth, in heaven! You have raced a good one! Love you, dear friend!

  3. michelle

    Amazing and beautiful is our God and the Maker of you. Quelle encouragement de continuer jusqu’à la fin car Jésus, la vie éternelle est là! Bisous

  4. A.B.

    Thank you Mel.

  5. Julie smith

    No worries! Reach for the beautiful glory at the end of the race. Go for it Malinda! Prayers for a safe finish of life’s race!

  6. Uncle Kim

    You continue to inspire … by simply following Jesus … seeing you fight the good fight … pressing on toward the prize … finishing the race is something that I will keep with me all my days … you are one of the strongest humans I have ever met and your faith in Christ is amazing … we love you, Mel.

    Uncle Kim and Aunt Lisa

  7. Tracy

    Thank you, for encouraging ALL of us to walk the path God has for us faithfully! You have inspired my heart FOREVER and have given me the the desire to say, “Come what may, I will follow You, Jesus!”
    Our family loves you, Mel, and is so thankful to call you friend!!

  8. Sheron Gibbs

    Melinda, You have been faithful to the Faithful ONE ! I know his words will be WELCOME my Child, but for now He still loves your words of HOPE to all those in need. Your insight into God’s chosen path for you is such a Blessing to encourage the weary, call ALL of us to Serve where he calls us , until Heaven is our HOME ! !
    Love you and your family, Sheron

  9. Catherine Aviles

    Melinda you have run your ran well! You are a good and faithful servant til the end! You have blessed many people including me 🙂

    Love and hugs, Cathy

  10. Blondezena

    Jesus is waving a banner. You inspire others to continue the race. 😊

  11. I love you, Melinda. Thank you for sharing your heart, for striving to finish strong, and for reminding me how important it is to follow God in everything.

  12. Allison

    You are such an encouragement, dear Melinda. As you continue to encourage me and so many, know that I am cheering you on. Get ready to hear those words, “Well, done, my good and faithful servant.”

  13. Jeff & Tonya

    Melinda, You will finish strong because your faith is strong, which encourages the rest of us to hold tightly to Him and His strength. Praying for you and your family as you continue to run. Love you!

  14. Karen Steward

    Melinda, I love your analogy of a race; even when we run alone and and no longer hear the big cheers, faint cheers ahead remind us of a glorious finish. As you strain on, may the increase of those joyous cheers bless and remind you of Who is waiting with open arms across that line. I pray and cheer for you Melinda!

  15. Melinda, I just read your post ‘Press on to finish Strong’ and I really appreciate you sharing these thoughts with us! I cannot fully express how very much this post ministered to my heart.

    I know that Jesus is the greatest One of all cheering you on! And I want to be counted in with so many others who are for you and cheering you on!

    Uncle Ed

    On Mon, Jan 18, 2016 at 11:40 PM, My Life with NF2 wrote:

    > mel posted: “During the Fall of my freshman and sophomore years of high > school I ran for the cross country team. This also included optional > training practices that started at 6:30 am! My sister, Megan, decided to > run as well. Being my first sport, I took the summer t” >

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