We are honored to welcome this next guest blogger here on Story Cast. It's our dear friend, Melanie Edwards from here in Tyler, TX! Melanie shared her story with us back on Episode 14 and trust me, if you haven't listened, YOU NEED TO! So inspirational and moving to see how God has worked and continues to work in her life through her personal training business. He is using her story to impact others even beyond their physical health & wellness. Her story showed below is proof of that! Love this and we know you will to. Enjoy this post from Melanie & have a great week!
When Your Life Course Shifts by Melanie Edwards
To you this picture may represent two friends sharing victory over the completion of a race. And, while that is true, there is a deeper celebration of victory going on here. You see, this is my friend Jamie. Jamie and I have been friends for years. We’ve grown together, we’ve grown apart, and we’ve grown together again. It’s odd to me to even think about the time that we were apart, but I see now that it had to happen. It was part of our course all along.
I met Jamie through my boot camp family. She was first a client, but she quickly became my power sister and dearest friend. After two years of being nearly inseparable, life happened and the two of us went separate directions. She had school aged boys who were busy and I was just starting out my marriage. We were in completely different seasons of life. As days went by we spent more and more time away from our friendship, and before we even had a chance to truly realize what we were missing, life happened again.
I remember the day our course of friendship shifted once again. I was pregnant with my son and was sitting in my office at my gym when a friend sent me a text and told me the news. “Jamie has breast cancer.” I was instantly sick. How could I let life interfere with someone who was so important to me? Why hadn’t I worked harder to rekindle our friendship? Really, why had we even fallen out of touch? My mind was swirling, but I knew I had to reach out to her. I suddenly didn’t care about the why’s of our fallen friendship. I didn’t even know how she would respond to me reaching out, but I told myself it didn’t matter. I just had to tell her that I cared. As it turns out, Jamie was diagnosed with breast cancer in September 2014. She had a double mastectomy in October 2014, and then underwent 16 rounds of chemotherapy, which was then followed up by 6 ½ weeks of radiation.
Mine and Jamie’s friendship wasn’t rekindled right away but, once again, this was our course all along. In May 2015, I participated in the Komen Race for the Cure in support of Jamie. Of course, by this time I was big pregnant (and had my son a few weeks after), but if Jamie could do what she did with so much grace and determination, then I wasn’t going to let anything stop me from being there with her. It was so surreal to see Jamie in her place at the race because what I remembered and knew of Jamie was from our friendship before we went different directions. Back then we were NONSTOP active. We worked out twice a day most days of the week and we never, ever backed down from a single challenge. We pushed before we breathed, and we loved every second of it. So, here I was walking (okay, I was waddling, let’s be honest) behind her at this race and it was clear to me that she had suffered. She was bald. She wasn’t going as fast as she once did. She wasn’t racing past the people around her. She wasn’t the same power sister I once had. Yet, despite all of this, she seemed more powerful than ever. She was wearing a pink tutu. She was glowing. She was brave. She was a warrior. She was and is a survivor.
Since that race day a lot has happened. For starters, Jamie and I are closer than ever and when Jamie came back to our boot camp family last spring, we picked up stronger than ever! By the time the New Year rolled around, we knew we were ready for a challenge and we set our sight on this year’s Fresh 15k race. However, before we could begin our training, our life course shifted once again; and this time it was me who was suffering the most.
If you remember from my Story Cast episode a year ago, I talked about my journey with my pregnancy with my son and I even said that I was unsure if more children were in our future. Well, it turns out that God had a special treat in store for us because towards the end of December my husband and I were thrilled to discover that we were expecting baby number two. As the realness of being pregnant set in, I was so happy to see that I was feeling more excited about pregnancy this time around. However, on January 23, 2017, we lost our baby and he or she is now an Angel Baby in heaven. Through this despair and pain, my relationship with God has changed. Thinking back to when I last shared with Rebecca and Traci on Story Cast, I am overwhelmed with the way my relationship with God has strengthened. I can clearly see his grace at work throughout the course of my life, and it feels freeing to know that even in all the entangled mess of hurt, He is at work in me.
After our loss and as the race approached, Jamie and I talked about what we should do about the race because we just hadn’t trained the way we should have. The Jamie and Melanie we once knew would have said to “just do it” because we could. But, that’s just it. Sure, we could do it. We have determination. We have strength. We are warriors! However, our life courses (both separately and together) have taught us to value our bodies, our minds and our souls. Together we decided to embrace a smaller course and to do it in honor of our friendship and life changing victories. We decided to run the 5k instead of the 15k and we said we’d run it and have “FUN”. I must say, I was really worried that I would beat myself up for not muscling through that 15k, but it was truly the best race of my life. Our celebration at the end of this race was about so much more than the accomplishment of finishing a race. In fact, it was more about the continuation of our life course because this time I ran beside a friend who has faced extreme darkness and she ran beside a friend who has faced extreme loss. We aren’t the same friends as before and this time we weren’t running to prove that we could be challenged and overcome struggle. This time we ran to say that we love our life and that we are grateful for our good health and strength. This picture proves that, even in darkness and loss, there can be light and deep, deep love.
In Hebrews 12:1-2 the bible says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”
To me this picture will always remind me that something happens when your course of life takes a shift. You cling to everything good in your life and you run from the things that don’t serve you well. You find forgiveness in places and relationships that matter, and you do what it takes to make things right with your world. You crave light and love and when you receive it, you also learn to give it back. You allow grace in your heart and through that grace you overcome. You develop compassion for others and through your struggle, you embrace compassion for yourself. Most importantly, through His love you grow stronger in time, and with His word and promise you began to see that your course of life just makes sense.
Melanie's website: http://www.easttexasfitness.com
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