MELINDA'S STORY: by jodi stilp

I’d like to introduce you all to a very dear friend of mine. We met at the awkward age of 14 in the Middle of Nowhere, British Columbia.  Well, technically there was a town (Houston) within driving distance of Rock Nest Ranch, the camp my youth group was working at, and Melinda grew up there. We bonded scrubbing outhouses and cleaning dishes and spent the next three school years writing long epistles to each other and sending them to each other via snail mail.  We lived for the summers when my youth group would traverse the 1,000 miles north into British Columbia to spend six weeks working at camp.  Melinda and a handful of Houston residents would come out to work at the camp too and we vowed to remain “friends forever.”

(Melinda and I at camp when we first met)

“Forever” ended up being a year or two before we lost track of each other.  Seventeen years passed before we found each other on Facebook and we giggled as we exchanged long epistles, this time over email, catching each other up on our lives.  Melinda, like me, felt the big city calling her.  She fled from her small town and embraced life as a city girl.  Fancy coffee, shopping, and fine dining…  she was in heaven.  She swore there were three things she would never do: move back to Houston, get married, and have children.

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But God has a sense of humor and she fell in love with a high school classmate who makes his living logging the remote land surrounding Houston.  Love triumphed over city life and she found herself packing up, moving back to Houston, and marrying Ron.  Neither of them planned for children, but God gave them two sons in rapid-fire succession and they fell helplessly head-over-heels in love with Lucas (3 ½ years) and Ryan (1 ¾ years).

(Melinda, Ron, Lucus and Ryan)

The lesson here is “Never say never.”

In July 2010 one of the deepest fears of every mother became a reality for Melinda.  She was diagnosed with thyroid cancer.  It brings tears to my eyes just to write this, but Melinda has accepted this diagnosis with more grace and dignity than I knew was possible.  She has used the cancer as a chance to count her blessings and in the past nine months has been intentional about finding God’s blessing in even the simplest things.

She wrote me today to tell me she’s been following the posts on He Speaks in the Silence and was inspired to join us on our quest to better health.  I’ll let her share her heart with you.

“So… I am horribly out of shape.  I haven’t run since I was 7 months along with my FIRST child and he’s 3 ½ years old now.  I have spondylitis, arthritis and my core is so out of whack that if I lay down on my tummy, I stay there for hours.  And now I have cancer.

But after reading your blog, I got out and started moving.  I haven’t been able to run a lot, but have speed walked/jogged slow 19km total this week and will have 13 more before the week is done. I am going to run 10km by June 11th, the way you girls are, I’ll just be doing it up here with the bears and deer instead of people.

I have lots of excuses.

  • My husband is literally gone from 1 a.m. to 6 p.m. and when he is home, he wants to sleep.  I have very limited time without my kids to go out and run.
  • The snow is still above my knees here and the highest temp we’ve had so far has been 41°F, but I am so excited to get on this.
  • I am going to be sick and in treatment for a good two weeks before June.
  • I have never been an athlete.  I am as uncoordinated as it comes.

Excuses schmexcuses…

A number of years ago I discovered I can jog and that God uses jogging to keep my body healthy.  But it also keeps my mind and soul healthy and I need that now more than ever.  In four years I’ll be 40.  I told Ron last night that maybe I’ll aim for a marathon at 40.  Who knows?

I am telling you, I WILL run 10 km on June 11th with you girls.  Will you pray for me if you think of it?  I don’t want excuses to stop me.”

Girls, will you commit to pray that Melinda will feel our fellowship as she runs her 10K in the rugged mountains of northern British Columbia while we run the rolling hills outside Portland?  Since you’re before the throne of the Almighty God, will you also ask Him to rid her body of cancer and restore her to perfect health?

If Melinda can do it, so can you.  She’s extending her hand to you, from her couch to yours.  Won’t you grab it?

Persevering with You,


Don't Forget:

1. Join Diane and I at the new runner's clinic this Tuesday night at 7pm at Portland Running Company (read more about it here)

2. Click the Join Us icon to the right of this post and let us know you are with us!

3. Register for the Helvetia 10k or half marathon (click here to register)

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