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
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
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.
I WILL TRIumph.
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
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,
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."
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~