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Inspired Living

2011: Looking Back

Sarah Stanley

Most people write about the end of the year around the end of December or January. But I'm not most people. While the calendar may say it is Feb. 4, 2012, today is my end of one year and start of another. Today also happens to be the day I am running 100 miles. Yes running. Yes all in one day (or less). When I first registered for the race, I didn't notice the date. Till a few weeks ago. I don't believe it is a coincidence. And for some, running 100 miles seems impossible. But for what I have been through in my life, 100 miles doesn't really seems all that bad. I don't know you how celebrate surviving one tough year, but as fate (?) would have it, I am running 100 miles. True Sarah Stanley fashion (I ran my first 100 miler on my 30th birthday to celebrate it). 

2011 was (another) tough year. Let me highlight a few of the majors.

1) Setting a goal of running all 18 RnR's and raising funds and advocating for different causes (the FIT Project)

2) Sensing God's call to move to Colorado and four weeks later I packed whatever would fit in my car, took the rest to Goodwill, drove 2,000 miles solo in the worst winter storm in 50 years and spent the first night in Colorado in my car (it was 9 degrees). Feb 4, 2011.

3) Lost several part-time jobs and a roof over my head

4) Had former friends (some so-called Christians) not only turn on me, but stab me in the back AND chest

5) Being falsely accused, mocked, bullied, attacked and hated

6) Betrayal of agreements and promises

7) Sometimes flying to the races I was committed for and not knowing where I would stay or how I would get there (because of 3)

But I want to focus on 2. I left the Washington, D.C., area on Jan. 31, 2011 and started making the trek to Colorado. That evening I ended up in Columbus, Ohio due to a bad ice storm moving in. I got stuck there for the next 36 hours. Finally, on Wednesday morning, Feb. 2, I was able to start driving again and drove through some nasty weather to end the day in a foot of snow in Kansas City, Mo. Feb. 3, I left Mo. and started the eternity drive across the state of Kansas. I thought it would never end. God bless all of you who live there. I spent all day driving through it! I shouted out loud when I saw the wooden "welcome to Colorado" sign! Driving over the mountains on Route 70 I hit a blizzard. Welcome to Colorado, Sarah. I finally made it to the promised land. Barely knowing a soul. 150 percent knowing that God wanted me here.

Feb. 4, 2011. Unknown future. Uncertainty. But a peace that calms even the most stressed out soul.

I was in a brand new place, new state - everything was unfamiliar. Unknown. There were moments when I wondered how I would ever make it, let alone survive. While the full details of 2011 will be disclosed in my book, I can say that I did survive (who else would be writing this?!) and in spite of some VERY tough times, I kept the faith. Was it easy? No. Was it hard? You bet. Was it the right thing to do? Absolutely.

So today as I run 100 miles, it is a celebration of living and surviving a very tough year. Running 100 miles will be a piece of cake, comparatively. Because when God wants to do a good work in AND with you, you heed that calling. Even when it is tough and rough and dark and lonely and just doesn't make sense.

I listed the seven major things that made 2011 a very tough and rough year, but I always believe in the positive in spite of the negative.

1) That friendships I thought were good, but God knew they weren't and replaced with much better ones

2) I learned that God always provides, but not in the way I thought he would

3) Strength doesn't come when we are strong; strength is made when we are weak

4) Determined to keep living with the passion and the faith and the grace that brought me this far

5) Forgiveness is healing

6) A few key people that made me believe in friendships and trust again

7) That just because I had/have tough times, it doesn't mean I quit/give up, it means you dig deep and keep the faith

Perhaps you just found this site because of what I am doing today (running 100 miles) and you are having a rough, tough year or just plain life. You might feel alone, depressed and wondering why you are here. Let me assure you that God not only loves and cares for you, but has a plan for your life (Jeremiah 29:11). That plan looks different for each one of us, but the one thing that remains the same is this: God loves each and everyone of us, no matter what state of that plan we are in.

Dear 2011, you taught me to never give me up. Dear 2012, remind me of 2011 when I am tempted to give up.

And Lord, to all of those who are struggling, help them not to give up. May my struggles help them to see that you are a God who cares and loves. Even in our darkest valley. Amen.

peace, sweat, love: life