Today was a first for me: Wiping out while running.

I started running March 15, 2010. I’ve ran in blizzards, pouring rain, 30 mph gusts of wind, lightening (wouldn’t recommend it),100* weather, and on ice covered roads. I trained for and completed my first marathon last fall. And never fell. Until now.

I have a running buddy for short runs, ranging from one to four miles. My dog. She’s a very good running partner. If I need her to pay more attention to me, all I need to do is give one click with my tongue. We have passed many animals on our runs, most frequently other dogs. And things have always been fine. But today was different.

You would think I would fall on a day with any of the weather conditions above, or on a long run. But today was a perfect running day–sunny and 60*–and we were only doing a mile. We hit the halfway point, and were headed home. We were making decent time up a hill when I saw a guy with his dog at the top. He stepped off the trail and had his dog sit, waiting for us to pass. I smiled and nodded thanks. Right as we started to pass, his dog lunged at my dog. My dog freaked out and slammed into my legs. Unfortunately the first leg she slammed into was my down-stride. And she proceeded to pass in front of me, keeping my up-stride from ever reaching the ground. My feet flew up behind me, I landed on my hands, and rolled over onto my back. I lay there for a second, the air knocked out of me. My dog bewildered. The guy asking if I was okay, if there was anything he could do, apologizing, saying he didn’t know why his dog did that. I sat up, inspecting myself for injuries. I said I was going to be fine, finally convincing him to slowly move on.

Scratched up a bit...

Scratched up a bit…

I was soaking it all in, getting my bearings. Never falling for over three years, on such a glorious day for a run, why did I have to wipe out? Sometimes that’s just the way things go. Outside forces we can’t control…. on days we least expect it….. Just like other trip-ups in life. We may be going along in life thinking everything’s sunny; nothing will get us down. Then something happens we don’t expect; our feet are knocked out from under us, and we find ourselves staring up from the ground. What are we going to choose to do next?

After discovering one of my knees will be developing a nice bruise, and my hands were nicely torn up, I gave thanks that was all that was damaged. I checked in with my dog to make sure she was okay. She was. I stood, walked to the curb, crossed the street, and started running.

After being knocked down in life, we may not be able to start “running” again right away. But, I have found that when I look to my God, he enables me to get up and move forward. I continued on today. Don’t forget that you can too.

A Boy In the Road…

Tuesday we headed out to look at a couple foreclosures. On the way, we spotted a boy walking down the middle of the street, straight toward us. He looked to be about ten years old. And didn’t seem concerned at all that a car was coming.

He didn’t have the demeanor of a reckless or rebellious kid. Something seemed to be off…. His eyes stared past us, his jaw and shoulders were set, and his stride was unflinching, almost as if he wished a car would hit him. My husband’s voice was strained, “That’s a troubled kid.” My husband has seen many of those as a teacher. He continued, “There’s anger in there.” I added, “He’s hurting.” When we see kids like that we know there’s something huge there and we want to help them. And many times you’re not in a position where you can. “I wonder how many people would just roll down their window and shout at him to get out of the way. They wouldn’t see the anger and hurt. They would only compound the trouble.”

We learned a couple years ago that things are not always the way they seem, and sometimes there are horrific things in people’s lives we know nothing about. And we need to be sensitive to that. We learned that lesson again on an even greater level only a few months ago.

We all have a desire to help those we are close to. What about those we aren’t close to? Or don’t understand? Or who are different from us? Or in a situation where we could get hurt?

Surprisingly, our pets reminded me of how we should be willing to help others.

Lester & Chloe

Backstory:  The first time our dog and cat met, Lester clawed Chloe. Ever since then, Chloe has steered clear of the cat. We are currently staying with my husband’s mom, and she has two dogs. We keep Lester separate from the two dogs at all times.

The other night, I noticed Chloe’s hair was standing on end, and she was trying to push one of the dogs around. That’s not normal. Before I could get after her, I heard Lester spat. The other dog was only a couple feet away from him. It took a couple minutes to keep tabs on both dogs, keep them away, and pick up an extremely poofy cat. When I set him down on the right side of the baby gate, I realized Chloe had helped me in keeping the dogs off our cat. Even after Lester was safe, Chloe would still place herself between the dogs (that were bigger than her, I might add) and the baby gate, and lean on them until they moved on. She kept her eye on them the rest of the night.

Who knew? Who knew that our dog who refuses to play with our cat or to lay near him, because of fear, would get between Lester and those who wished him harm? It’s cute. And a desirable trait in a pet. But it’s also a valuable lesson for us humans. Are we willing to stand up for/protect others when it could damage us? When the opposition is bigger? When the opposition is our friends?


Learning (from a cat and dog) that baby steps can be effective

The other week we brought home a new addition to our family!

A little girl, with big brown eyes, we named Chloe…

Our three-legged cat, Lester, wasn’t too thrilled when he came in the house to find a 1 ½ year old brindle boxer pup staring at him. And after the first encounter with Lester’s claws, Chloe wasn’t too thrilled to spend time with the cat. Thus began the process.

Lester & Chloe

In the beginning, it typically went like this:  Chloe got too close to the cat. Lester did the stegosaurus—the hair down his back would stand on end. Lester did the snowman—all his hair would stand on end, making him poofy. Lester would hiss with his back arched—like a Halloween cat. Chloe would back up. Lester would swipe, claws extended, but made contact only twice. And all that would happen in just a few seconds.

Second stage:  Chloe would get too close to the cat. Lester did the stegosaurus with his back arched, and his right paw lifted as a threat. But no swipe. Or….Lester would voluntarily get close to the dog. Chloe would become stiff as a statue and advert her eyes. If the way seemed safe, she would slink off.

Third stage:  The dog and cat are finally willing to lay in the same room and even come within a couple feet of each other. There have been a couple nose sniffs, but interaction consists mostly of ignoring each other. Though, when Chloe’s taken outside to play, Lester has to make sure he can watch her.

And now we’re in the fourth stage:  Chloe attempts to play with the cat, by pushing a toy toward him. Lester looks at her really weird and when Chloe looks away, sneaks off. Lester attempts to play with the dog, by running alongside Chloe, but startles her. Which in turn startles him and he runs off. At the very least they are perfectly content being pet at the same time by the same person.

It won’t be long before they are playing and napping together.

Should we have taken Chloe back, instead of keeping her, when we hit the first cat vs. dog stage? If we had, we would not have the wonderful, adorable, well-behaved, loving boxer-girl we have always wanted. Lester would never have learned how to get along with a dog.

Should you quit your dream as soon as conflict arises? If you do, you will never know all the wonderful things that could result from pursing your dream. You won’t grow as a person, into who you were created to be.

Don’t forget, there are stages. It doesn’t happen overnight.

A post that explains this concept wonderfully is The Power of Incremental Change Over Time, by Michael Hyatt.

What stages, or steps, have you gone through to reach a goal?