Saturday, June 2, 2012

Making Your Life Matter

***Welcome! Bienvenue!: If this is your first time visiting my writing website, especially if you got here via one of my guest posts on another website, thank you! I appreciate you taking the time to read and share comments. This started out as a cycling website because I love cycling. I love watching cycling, but even more than that, I love riding my own bicycle. As a lifetime writer who loves life, though, my website quickly became about much more than cycling because, well, -gasp- life tends to be about more than cycling. So I write about life. As you will learn if you browse through other columns here, I have lived a lot of life already with lots of joys and lots of sorrows. I have had a lot of exciting adventures as I have traveled this wonderful world. I have celebrated many incredibly joyful times. I am blessed with the love of a family of amazing friends and the very best brother in the world. I have also survived many tragedies, many adversities and I have lost many of the people I loved, starting as a little girl. Through it all, with the compassion and care of friends and God's grace and tender mercies and unconditional, faithful, strong love and the power of strong, relentless HOPE, I have learned to persevere and triumph--- and now that's what drives me. My heart's desire is to share hope with as many people as possible and to encourage people to keep the faith and never, ever give up. If I'm still standing, you can make it, too. As I always say --- because it's true --- there is ALWAYS hope. Always. My life is living proof. Thank you for joining me in the journey to find joy and choose love and hold onto hope --- always.
~Janet Lyn*** 

~Recently, I was invited by a sweet friend I met via twitter --- Michelle DiRocco in Canada @mdirocco --- to write a guest column for her wonderful website about making a difference in the world:
Here is a reprint of the original column I wrote for her site. I hope you will take the time, as well, to check out the very uplifting pieces Michelle writes on her website. She is one of the shining lights on social media and the Internet who is using her words and her life to encourage other people.
You ROCK, Michelle!~ 

Making Your Life Matter
By Janet Lyn
Copyright May 2012

We all want to know we matter, that what we do and who we are makes a difference in this world.
I believe one of the greatest ways we can give our lives significance is by encouraging someone else and sharing hope.
With all of life’s joys and sorrows and ups and downs, we all need to know we are not alone.
We all need to hear someone else reassure us that we’re going to make it through a tough situation.
We all could use a cheering section sometimes, that realization that someone else cares about us and wants us to make it.
Sometimes it’s as simple as telling someone, “I’m proud of you” --- and really meaning it.
Most people don’t hear those powerful words often enough --- and the result can be profound.
As a teacher, I try to tell my students I’m proud of them as much as I can. Whether my students are elementary school children or university students, they never seem to tire of hearing that I believe in them and care about them.
At the same time, I try to challenge them to use their gifts and talents to help other people and make this world a better place.
Sometimes encouraging someone can be as simple and meaningful as spending time together and really listening to what someone has to say and what’s in their heart.
Sometimes what someone needs most is a heartfelt hug or a hand to hold or someone to walk beside them.
Sometimes the most powerful way we can make a difference in someone’s life is with the power of our words.
Our words --- spoken or written --- have the power to communicate encouragement, compassion, hope and unconditional love.
Yet too often, we hold back those encouraging words --- maybe because we’re afraid they’re not enough, maybe because we’re caught up in our own world, maybe because we’re not sure exactly what to say.
But if you think about it, most people hear so many discouraging words from the world around them, so many unkind or thoughtless words that leave a mark in the heart and soul.
That’s why the power of encouraging words can make such a difference.
That’s why the power of kindness is so strong.
Sometimes the difference between someone finding the inner strength and courage to go on in the face of difficulty or tragedy is as simple as knowing that even one other person is in their corner, committed to be there for them.
We all have to endure challenges and even tragedies at some point in our lives.
Those are the times we have to make a choice. We can choose to give up and feel sorry for ourselves. Or we can choose to endure and persevere and refuse to give up.
And then, when we are able, we can choose to use what we have been through to encourage someone else who’s going through a tough time to keep the faith and hold onto hope.
We were created to connect with each other, to need one another.
When we reach out to someone else with encouragement and compassion and love, we make a difference in the world wherever we are.
Our lives matter when we use our lives to make a real difference in someone else’s life.

Janet Lyn is a writer, teacher, journalist, singer/songwriter, inspirational speaker, photographer, avid cyclist, runner and beginning triathlete who enjoys life in the wide open spaces of the Southwest United States. Her passion for sharing hope comes from a lifetime of surviving and enduring and triumphing over adversity and tragedy in her own life and her desire to make a difference in other people’s lives. She can be contacted on twitter @WriteOnRideOn
~~~What are you doing to make your life matter and make a difference in the lives of other people? What has someone done to make a difference in your life?~~~

Sunday, December 25, 2011

HOPE for Christmas 2011

I wish you a very Merry Christmas

and hope you and your friends and family

have a wonderful holiday.

May you carry the spirit of Christmas with you

everywhere you go!

And may you always hold onto that spirit of true joy

and stubborn, relentless, unquenchable hope

and strong unconditional love

and childlike, trusting faith

that only Jesus can give.

And may the wonder and peace of that first Christmas

fill your heart and life

especially this Christmas and through the coming New Year.

God bless you and encourage you.

Feliz Navidad! Joyeux Noel! Buon Natale!
Merry Christmas!

Joy to the whole world...the Lord has come!

We are never alone, for truly God is with us--Emmanuel.

This Christmas, no matter what kind of year you have had,

No matter who joins you this holiday season

and no matter who is missing---

may you take comfort in knowing

that no matter what,

there is always HOPE.

~Christmas can be such a mixture of joy and heartache.~

I know that all too well, for that is my life story.

But every Christmas, I take great comfort

In knowing that God loved me so much

He came to live among us

To walk through this life with us

So that through every joy and every sorrow

We would know
beyond a shadow of a doubt

That we are never alone.

So, this year, though my heart always aches

For the people I love who are no longer here,

Still, I rejoice for I have so many loving people in my life

And so many blessings

And so much yet to do

And too many people who need compassion.

There are people who need you, too.

Together, one person at a time,
we can make such a difference.

So let your light shine.

You never know who may need the light and love

Only you bring to the world.

This Christmas season always reminds me

That Jesus came to show us

The power of true love, unquenchable hope

And the healing power of compassion --- love in action.

And there is no force greater than the power of that strong love.

So this Christmas, may your heart be assured that
you are loved with that strongest of loves
and that you are valuable and irreplaceable
and may you look forward with HOPE.

Monday, September 6, 2010

TRI to TRIumph!

TRI to TRIumph

*By Janet Lyn*


Ever since I was a little girl, my life has been about survival and endurance.

It is one thing to survive and endure.

It is another thing
to learn to overcome.

And it is still another
~ and far better ~ thing
to triumph.


The summer season used to be an emotional landmine of sorts for me.

July marks the birthday of my first brother, Craig, the brother I only got to share life with for 2 years and 2 months before he died suddenly in a senseless car wreck.

August now marks the painful anniversary of the unexpected, sudden loss of my only sister, Linnie, just 2 summers ago.

Sept. 5 marks the anniversary years ago when I was 5 years old of the day I survived the car wreck that killed my brother Craig and my Mom Barbara.

Sept. 11th marks my sister Linnie’s birthday. The day she was born
was absolutely
one of the most joyful days of my life.

Now, her birthday is both a reminder of her and all the birthdays we will no longer get to celebrate ~ and the painful reminder of the 9/11 attacks that devastated our beloved New York. My sister was born in New York and we grew up there, so what happened there affected us deeply ~ and especially for her, since after that fateful day, she no longer felt joy on her birthday, like many who were born on Sept. 11th.


But this year, Sept. 5 was no longer a day of sorrow or grief for me.

I awoke smiling and singing this year on the sweet sunny summer morning of Sunday, Sept. 5, with a deep peace in my heart.

I even had an opportunity to sing and share a song I wrote to try to encourage people and share the unshakeable hope I have that comes from the unconditional, amazing love that only God can give.

And I smiled again, as I saw that God has given me the strength and compassion to use what I have gone through in my life to reach out and try to help others.


For so long, my life was about survival.

Even my birth was about survival because I was not planned. And yet, in God’s perfect design, I most definitely am no accident either.

When I was 5 years old, I survived the horrific car wreck that killed my Mom and my first baby brother.

I survived a childhood in which my father was largely absent, even when he was there.

I survived psychological, emotional and verbal abuse from family members that no child should ever have to endure.

As an adult, I survived 2 more near-fatal car accidents: one on a steep, icy mountain road in Colorado when the car spun out of control and almost went over the edge; and another in Dallas when the car in which I was a front-seat passenger slammed into a telephone pole after being struck by a hit-and-run drunken driver.

Several years ago, I survived an armed robbery in which a loaded gun was pointed directly at my head the whole time.

And then 2 years ago, I survived the devastating death of my only sister.


Yet I have never wanted anyone’s pity because that is not how I live my life. I do not feel sorry for myself. There isn’t time for that.

Life is for living, not for dwelling on regrets.

I share what I share because that is my life; that is my story.

I cannot change the things that happened in my life and I will not take away from the present or my future by giving too much thought or time or energy to those things in the past.

I share my life
because I believe with all my heart
that my experiences and what I have survived allow me to share
my firm hope that has endured
and the reason I still have joy in my life
and the reason I can still love with all my heart.


My whole life has been about survival and endurance. About never, ever, ever giving up ~ no matter what.

That’s why I think endurance sports such as cycling and Triathlon appeal to me.

Physical endurance requires mental, emotional and even spiritual endurance ~ and that is what my life has always been about.


And so this week, I am embarking on yet another adventure that will test my endurance on many levels.

Yet, I’m not doing it for that reason.

I’m doing it to shout to the world that unconditional love can help you overcome anything and go on to live life with joy.

I’m doing it to shout to the world that there is always hope.

On the morning of Saturday, Sept. 11th, I will travel to West Texas for my very first Triathlon.

It’s a sanctioned U.S.A. Triathlon and a Sprint Triathlon.

It’s called Tri To Make A Difference.

My sole surviving brother ~my amazing, wonderful brother Dave~ plans to fly out for my first Triathlon so he can cheer me on and give me a big hug after I cross the finish line.

My brother being there will be absolutely the best part of my Triathlon.

I chose to train for and do this Triathlon
because it is on our sister’s birthday, Sept. 11th.

It is my way of honoring her life and celebrating her
and making her birthday a day of joy
instead of a day of sorrow.

Our sister also was a nurse
who loved working with children,
and this Triathlon is 100% dedicated to helping children in the local area with medical needs.
It was started by a local family whose child has severe medical challenges.

So this Saturday morning,
I will swim 400 meters in a lake,
then ride my bicycle 10 miles
up out of the canyon and then back down to the lake,
then run 3.1 miles
along the lakeside and back for a 5K run.

And then I will cross the finish line, with my arms held high in victory and triumph
and the biggest grin
anyone has ever seen
and probably tears streaming down my face.

On that morning, I will not only Tri.



Because this year, I have learned firsthand that real, unconditional love gives you courage
like you’ve never known.

Because when you believe in yourself
and you have loving people who believe in you, too, and a God who believes in you,
you really can do anything.

Because if you let love give you courage and you dare to dream big dreams
and then you’re willing to do the hard work
and get strong enough to follow your dreams, all things are possible.

Because our lives are not about ourselves.
Our lives are about making a difference
in the lives of others.

There are people in this world who are dying because they have forgotten they are loved and we are called to love and to remind them of the incredible, life-changing power of real love.

We are called to share hope,
the kind of hope that endures, overcomes, triumphs.


For life is not merely about survival
or even endurance.

Those are simply the first steps.

Life is about learning to persevere
and overcome.

Life is about daring to dream.

Life is about daring to believe that God is good and that He loves you ~ no matter what.

Life is about reaching beyond survival
to reach for victory.

Life is about working hard
and holding on through the struggles
so you can

Whatever you are going through,
there is
always hope.


My life is living proof of that.


“Do all that is in your heart,
for God is with you.”
~I Chronicles 17:2~


"Live a life
worthy of the calling
you have received."
~Ephesians 4:1~


This Sept. 11th,

in whatever way you can,

I hope you will try to make a difference, too.

Make a difference in someone’s life
by sharing hope and love and joy and compassion.

Make a difference in your own life
by choosing courage and daring to believe that you matter
and that God has amazing things for you ahead.

And wherever you are on the morning of Sept. 11th this year, smile.

Because a lot of you are the reason
I’ll be smiling as I cross that finish line.

Your unwavering support and encouragement and good thoughts and prayers helped me find and hold onto my courage during a rough couple of years.

And my grateful heart wants to thank you.

~With faith, hope and love,
anything really is possible.~

~Much Love, jl~

Saturday, May 8, 2010

I Am Still My Mother's Daughter

I Am Still
My Mother’s Daughter

**By Janet Lyn**
Copyright © May 12, 2007.

I am my mother’s daughter

For nine months, she carried me;

For five years, seven months and one day

She loved me and nurtured me,

And then she was gone.

But I am still my mother’s daughter.


I have tried and tried

To remember

But I still can’t remember her voice.

I have tried and tried

To remember

But I still can’t remember her smile.

My memories are a handful

Of aging photos in a book;

It’s the only way

I can remember how she looked.


I am almost twice as old

As she was on her last day here.

I have walked a road she never walked,

Her road ended much too soon;

Her path was not so clear.


Yet I am still my mother’s daughter

And I hear her when I sing.

An angel with a tear-stained wing.

For I am still my mother’s daughter.


***Dedicated With Much Love***
to my Mom Barbara
~Thank You for all your love~

***Author's Note***
I was very blessed to have a Mom who loved me deeply and sang with me and took really good care of me and was proud of me, even though it was only for a short while. I know that mostly because of all my Mom wrote in my Baby Book and what relatives have told me and what I remember of life as a cherished little girl when my Mom was still alive.

My Mom Barbara and my first younger brother Craig, who was 2 years+2 months old, died in a senseless car wreck when I was 5 years, 7 months and 1 day old. I was also in the car and sustained injuries.

Growing up without a Mom and living life without a Mom was certainly not my choice. I miss her. But my loving, merciful, compassionate God has turned that severe tragedy and profound loss in my life into a profound and lifelong compassion in my heart for children in need and a deep understanding and empathy for those who are grieving the loss of a loved one.

I was 6 years old my first Mother's Day without a Mom. So Mother's Day used to always be one of the most difficult days of the year for me. But now I see it as an opportunity to share God's love and hope with others and to look beyond my own life to find ways to help others, especially children in difficult family circumstances.

This year for Mother's Day, I am blessed to be invited to share a reading of my poem "I Am Still My Mother's Daughter" and play guitar and sing another original song "I Was Made To Worship You" at two different churches on Sunday morning. It will be a new experience for me on Mother's Day. I am hoping and praying that it will encourage and bless other men, women and children, knowing how God's love can sustain us and redeem our lives.

Some of you are blessed to still have your Mothers in your lives this Mother's Day. Some of you are doubly blessed to be Moms. Some of you are like me and have the great joy and privilege of loving and blessing other people's children. Some of you will be missing your own Moms this Mother's Day.

Whatever your situation, you are not alone.
 When we share our stories,
we share the joys and sorrows of this life
and we help each other survive.
 We live the power of love.

~Me and My Mom Barbara~
~Safe In The Arms of Love~
**Happy Mother's Day**
~Love, jl~

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Scenes From A Sunny Saturday Cycle

***Saturday, April 24, 2010***

Saturday afternoon brought warm sunshine, clear blue skies 
and practically no wind
(which around here means winds of 25mph or less).
True delight for cycling.
The kind of day made for riding a bike outdoors.
So I did.

Setting off cycling for a Saturday afternoon ride along country roads surrounded by farms and ranches, I found so many reminders of
why I love to ride
and why I love living in the country
now here in the great Southwest.

Even though I always thought of myself as more of a city girl, I realize now I've probably always been more of
a country girl at heart,
now more than ever.

There is so much beauty all around,
up above, below on the ground, out on the horizon.
Wild beauty.

(Please forgive slight film on camera lens.)

Wildflowers of all colors are blooming along the roadsides. Bright oranges, yellows, whites and more. Such raw beauty.

Whenever I ride my bike around here, I always smile and wonder why people still think New Mexico is desert.
We are definitely not desert.
We are rich farmlands and large cattle and horse ranches.
We are long, peaceful country roads.
We are wide open spaces
under endless, deep blue skies.

I love watching the changing seasons as I ride my bike.
This is one of my favorite times of year.
Spring planting and the ground is green with growth.

On Saturday, I met up with the three horses I'd seen under a shade tree on another ride earlier in the week.
(Yes, we even have trees in NM.)

This time, all 3 horses came close to the fence for a better look
at me on my steel horse
as I looked at them.

And then, as all good stories do,
this one ended with true love ~~
and a kiss.
(I told you I'm a country girl at heart.)
Ah, I love country life.

~~Janet Lyn~~

***What makes you love where you live?***
Learning to be content with what you have
and find the unexpected joys all around you
brings a peace and sweetness to life
wherever you are.~jl.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010



By Janet Lyn
Copyright April 20, 2010

It was the shout of determination heard ‘round the world.


And it came from a 9-year-old boy riding his first road bicycle in his first criterium race.

This weekend I was profoundly moved and completely inspired by this cyclist who is not quite yet a pro.

But in every way that counts, he is already a pro at one of life’s most important lessons.

He knows how to hang in there and persevere, to finish what he started, to endure no matter what.

He knows that what’s most important is to never, ever give up.

Even if you are not a cyclist or a fan of cycling, this cyclist will inspire you. I guarantee it.

His name is Preston Franklin. He is 9 years old and he’s a third-grade student in Knoxville, Tennessee.

He didn’t even start riding a bicycle without training wheels until a couple of years ago ~ when he was in the first grade.

Preston won’t turn 10 years old till Dec. 23rd. That means whenever he races, he will likely be the youngest racing against other boys with birthdays much earlier in the year. He’s allowed to ride in the 10-year-old category, though, because anyone who turns 10 before Dec. 31 of the race year can compete as a junior cyclist.

When Preston raced Sunday, April 18 in the Dogwood Crit in Tennessee, he was up against other cyclists who were much older than him.

For those not familiar with cycling terms, a crit ~ or criterium ~ is a race similar to riding laps really fast around a pre-determined course with tight corners where racers vie for the best spots.

The Junior Division of the Dogwood Crit, in which Preston raced, featured a course with steep uphill climbs, tight corners and 25 minutes of solid racing outside the Civic Coliseum in Knoxville.

He raced lap after lap for 25 minutes against a field of 15 other riders who ranged in age from 10-18 years old.

But even at his tender young age, Preston was as ready as he could be. For Christmas and his birthday, Preston got his first real road bike, a brand new, shiny Felt.

He had trained indoors during the winter with his father, Vic Franklin, who loves to ride bicycles and even became Tennessee’s state road cycling champion at the age of 18.

Vic is Preston’s main hero when it comes to cycling and life.

Garmin-Transitions procyclist and reigning and five-time U.S. National Time Trial Champion Dave Zabriskie comes in a close second. Meeting “DZ” in person at the recent 2009 Nationals gave Preston extra motivation and inspiration for his own cycling.

But his Dad and his family remain Number One in young Preston’s life.

“I have two inspirations: Dave Zabriskie and most of all, my Dad. My Dad is tied with the rest of my family for the rest of my life for being the most important in my life,” he said proudly.

Preston receives plenty of encouragement from his Mom, Anita B. Franklin, a true and dedicated cycling fan who follows cycling races passionately all year long and knows more about procycling than most men or women.  Occasionally, she even rides her own pink bicycle with a basket and pompoms.

That’s why both Anita and Vic Franklin wanted their only son’s first experience with racing a crit to be exciting and fun, with no pressure.

“He wanted to do this race,” Anita said. “We were concerned that he might be turned off to cycling if he didn’t do well or if it was too hard on him.”

Preston also had cycled outdoors on his new road bike whenever he could. He even rode in the wind and rain and mud on a recent family vacation to the North Carolina mountains with his father and Dr. Rick Clayton, a Georgia chiropractor and avid cyclist, in conditions they described as like riding a bike most of the time in Belgium --- meaning it was tough, very tough.

But Preston Franklin is one tough kid.

“Life is not easy, and you don’t want your child thinking it’s easy,” Anita said, as she explained why she and her husband have always encouraged Preston to try new challenges.

Athletics has been a particular challenge for Preston, in part because he deals with asthma. He’s tried T-ball, judo and soccer. With cycling, he feels like he’s found a better fit.

But he’s also a really well-rounded boy. He excels at academics and plays piano well. He’s active in Cub Scouts. He dreams of getting into M.I.T. and becoming an inventor and designer.

A lot of people know Preston and his family because the whole family --- including his grandparents, Jane and Mark Franklin (Vic's Dad Mark is also a longtime cycling racer) and Jeff Burnett --- is on Twitter. They love cycling. More than anything, though, they love Preston.

So when Preston got ready to start the Dogwood Crit, his parents and grandparents Jane and Mark ~ (Jeff was cheering for him in spirit from a fishing trip) ~ were stationed at all four corners of the course.

Even at the very start of the race, Preston faced challenges and kept on going.

“I was kind of nervous and I was kind of shaking a little,” Preston said, of the daunting prospect of racing in his first crit against cyclists much older than him. “I was like, how am I gonna start? I’m not sure if I can do it in a large group.”

He recalled what happened when he got on the bike and tried to start riding.

“My foot missed the pedal and I had to start again,” Preston said. “I just thought, oh well, I’ll just catch up.”

Preston took off finally and started racing the crit. About the middle of the 25-minute race, he had to come to terms with the fact that he was behind the other riders.

“I was going kinda slow and I knew it,” he said. “But I knew they only take you out of the race if you decide to stop. And I’d been keeping my pace. I didn’t care if I won; it was just for fun. So I kept riding.”

Preston’s Mom, as she usually does at cycling events, was busy tweeting the race play-by-play. Only this time, her tweets were a lot more personal.

At one point, she tweeted: “About to get lapped by big kids. He's still pedaling!”

Meanwhile, Preston said his Dad had been careful to make sure he didn’t feel any pressure and had reassured him that no matter what happened, they were proud of his efforts.

“My Dad said if it was hurting really bad that I could just go to the pit and tell them I wanted to stop,” Preston explained. “My lungs were hurting worse than ever at the end. But I decided I’d do the next lap and keep going. So I just went ahead and did it.

Anita said she and Vic had made sure Preston knew there was no shame if he had to stop before finishing the race. Their main concern, she said, was that their son would still enjoy cycling after that race.

“I think I looked at him like, ‘Are you okay?’” Preston’s Mom Anita recalled. “I was wondering what he was thinking as he was going around there near the end. I anticipated they would pull him or he’d get to Lap 4 and say that’s all he could do. It was very hilly and the climb up to me was pretty steep.”

His family thought he’d probably stop about that point. But Preston soldiered on.

“When you’re tired and your lungs are burning and there’s your Mom and you could stop and be safe…,” said Anita, stopping in mid-thought. “But he had his hands tight on his handlebars and he looked over at me and yelled, ‘I’m NOT GONNA QUIT!!’ Like he was answering a silent question.”

At that point, about 9:45 a.m. EDT Sunday, Preston’s Mom tweeted:

“He's dead last out here, knows it, and is still riding. Just came around the corner and yelled, "I'm NOT GONNA QUIT!” Ok, If you're not crying, you're made of stone. #dogwoodcrit

What Preston didn’t know at the time is that when he yelled out “I’m NOT GONNA QUIT,” it quickly became the determined shout heard around the world, thanks to Twitter and the Internet.

What no one knew until now, though, is Preston ~like all true champions~ had made up his mind BEFORE the race that he was going to follow through, no matter what.

“In the car on the way there, I made a silent promise in my head that I wasn’t going to quit, that I was going to finish the race no matter how bad it hurt,” Preston said. “I knew I wouldn’t win but I would finish.”

Preston’s fierce determination to finish his race and not quit immediately resonated with grown men and women around the world and inspired everyone who heard about it, as word got out via his Mom’s twittering.

It even reached his procycling hero, DaveZabriskie, who sent him a tweet Monday night via Preston’s Mom: “Good job man...never quit.”

As any cyclist or true cycling fan knows, finishing a tough race even in last place is no small thing. In fact, the procyclist who endures to the end and finishes the race in last place receives a special honor—the famed Lanterne Rouge (Red Lantern) --- because there is true honor in finishing and not quitting.

For awhile, Preston’s family thought he had achieved Lanterne Rouge honors by coming in last in the race, while still finishing it.

As it turned out, Preston actually didn’t technically come in last after all. One of his older competitors did not finish. DNF. The letters no racer wants to see next to his or her name in any race.

But 9-year-old Preston Franklin finished his race and finished it proudly and triumphantly.

“After the race, he was on Cloud Nine,” Anita said. “He was so happy he finished. His goal was not to win but to finish the race, so he made his goal. Because we love cycling so much, we were thrilled. We were beyond proud.”

Now, Preston is already gearing up for his next race, the Athens Twilight this weekend in Athens, Georgia.

“He knows there’s nowhere to go but up,” his Mom said proudly.

Preston quotes the legendary voice of Le Tour de France ~ procycling commentator Phil Liggett ~ when asked what advice he has for anyone facing struggles in life, after finishing his own tough race.

“Have courage,” Preston said. “Dig deep into the suitcase of courage, like Phil Liggett says.”

Good advice, because like Preston’s Mom said, “Life is not easy.”

Most of us know that all too well.

I’ll tell you one other thing I know for sure though now.

Next time I face something seemingly insurmountable in my own life, I’m going to think of 9-year-old Preston Franklin riding his bike as hard as he could, with his heart full of determination and courage.

And even if there’s no one else around to hear me, I’m going to hold on tight in the midst of my struggles and raise my voice and yell,

Bravo, Preston.
And thank you for inspiring me and a lot of people around the world.
You are my hero.

***Author's Note:***
For the firsthand version from Preston's Mom, Anita B. Franklin, here's her blog post about what it was like for her watching his first crit race:

*All photos used by permission with this story courtesy of Anita B. Franklin, Vic Franklin and Preston's Granny Jane Franklin (Thank You!!)*

***Author's Note 2***
Preston's hero, his Dad Vic Franklin, also raced in the Dogwood Crit on Sunday, April 18 and came in 7th in his division!!
~ALLEZ Vic!!~

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Why I Love Easter

I love Easter.

The power of the Hope of the Resurrection means the world to me.

All that Jesus Christ did for me and you when He freely gave His life and died on the Cross as a sacrifice for our forgiveness humbles me and overwhelms me.

Every year at this time, I remember all over again how much it means to me that Jesus looks at me with all my faults and failures and still He loves me more than I can even comprehend.

The fact that Jesus would have gone to the Cross even if I was the only one ~and even though I didn’t deserve it~ is more than I can take in sometimes.

The mind-blowing power of His passionate, unconditional, neverending love for me and for you takes my breath away.

What Jesus did to conquer death when He rose three days later moves me to tears of gratitude every time I think about the Resurrection.

I HATE death.

I absolutely hate the heartbreaking, gut-wrenching separation of death. To say that death has a sting is putting it mildly for anyone who has suffered great loss.

I have hated death with all my might since I was a little girl only 5 years, 7 months and 1 day old. And Easter Resurrection Sunday has meant the world to me ever since then.

My small family ~ my little brother Craig and me and our parents ~ had been visiting grandparents in New Mexico that summer. Early in the morning on that fateful Sept. 5, we took photos outside my Grandma and Granddaddy’s house in eastern New Mexico before leaving to drive back to our home in the San Francisco Bay area of California.

Four hours later, still in New Mexico, my father lost control of the car on the highway.

My 26-year-old Mom Barbara and my 2-year-old brother Craig were killed almost instantly.

I remember riding in the back of an ambulance to a nearby medical clinic and then to a bigger hospital where they could stitch me up.

As a little 5-year-old girl, I remember going to the funeral home and seeing my Mom dressed up pretty in her casket and my brother Craig lying too still in his little one. I still remember what they were wearing. I remember telling my father we needed to bring Mom some earrings to wear because she always liked to wear colorful earrings to match her outfit.

They were buried three days after they died. The significance of that is not lost on me now. Three days after my Mom and brother Craig died, they were still in their graves.

I hated those graves. And I hated death. I hated what death had done to my family.

They didn’t let me go to the actual funeral.

But I knew better than anyone that my Mom and my brother Craig were dead. And I knew life would never, ever be the same.

And I knew with every fiber of my being that I HATED death. Absolutely hated it.

The following Easter, I was 6 years old. Before that year, Easter had been about “Jesus Loves Me This I Know” and wearing a pretty new Easter dress and a pretty Easter bonnet and shiny new Easter shoes and eating chocolate and carrying a bright Easter basket to hunt Easter eggs.

That Easter when I was 6, everything changed for me. And Easter has not been the same for me since.

I may have been a child but I understood more than some adults did what Jesus’ Resurrection was really all about at that point.

When the preacher read the verses, “O Death, Where is thy sting? O Grave, Where is thy victory?” I knew what those powerful words really meant.

I HATED death. I still do. The agony. The separation. The sorrow. The longing. The loss of someone so dear and so loved.

The pain so deep it hurts in your heart and soul and mind and every pore of your body.

I HATE death.

I hate death so much I want to scream and punch it and kick it to Kingdom come. But I don’t have to. Easter means God already did that for me and for you.

Once and for all, God conquered fear and death on Resurrection Day.

Once and for all, God let the world know that death is NOT the end.

Once and for all, God showed the world the power of HOPE.

That’s the power of Resurrection Sunday, the day we also call Easter Sunday.

It hurts my heart knowing what Jesus had to do to get there. We can’t get to Resurrection Sunday without going through Good Friday and the agony of His Crucifixion.

Still to this day, it makes my heart ache reading about and knowing what Jesus suffered. That people would do so much to deliberately hurt and ridicule and punish Someone so full of genuine kindness and unconditional love still floors me and grieves my heart.

But He did it. He did it because that was the only way to rescue and redeem us.

He did it because that was the only way to show us ~beyond a shadow of a doubt~ how much He loves us.

He did it because that was the only way to prove that death does NOT get the last word.

He did it because that was the only way to prove that HOPE and LOVE are far stronger and far more powerful than any force on Earth.

I love seeing pictures of the Empty Tomb. I love reading about the day the stone was rolled away, once and for all. I love picturing what it must have been like to walk up to the grave full of sorrow and mourning and instead find an Empty Tomb ~ and great JOY.

When the stone was rolled away from Jesus’ tomb, darkness and fear and death lost their power forever.

When the stone was rolled away from Jesus’ tomb, faith, hope and love won the victory forever.

I have seen the caskets and graves of far too many people I love already.

My Mom Barbara. My little brother Craig. All my grandparents and great-grandparents. Several friends. And most recently, my sweet and only sister Linnie.

I have hugged and mourned with too many friends and neighbors over untimely and tragic deaths in their families and circles of friends. I have seen grief take its toll.

Each time I lost someone I love, I have hated death even more.

Each time I lost someone I love, I have loved Jesus more for what He did this Holy Week.

Each time I lost someone I love, I have longed for Easter Resurrection Sunday even more.

It’s my favorite holiday of the year and by far, the most meaningful to me.

Easter Resurrection Sunday tells me that no matter what happens, no matter what it looks like, HOPE WINS.

The significance of what happened this Holy Week changed the world ~and my heart and life~ forever and gave me a HOPE that will never die.

The power of the HOPE of the Resurrection.

~By Janet Lyn~
*Written Palm Sunday, March 28, 2010, for Easter*

*Original photo by Janet Lyn*
*My little brother Craig*                  *Me and my Mom Barbara*

*My sweet sister Linnie laughing with her kitty-cat*

*Original artwork by Gia Antolini. Used by Permission*


*With Easter Love from Me to You*