As air conditioner repairman stands in my kitchen with yellow ticket in hand, I push aside the makings of peanut butter sandwiches and absentmindedly write "Jul" in big swirling cursive before stopping mid-word.
"It's August, isn't it." The thought voiced was more head-shaking at my mistake rather than question, but he answers anyway. "Eight eleven."
The date resonates. But with children gathered 'round the lunch table waiting on me, I simply write August atop the former letters rather than scratch out and try again. He raises an eyebrow at this written messiness as I turn back to cutting late-summer tomatoes with tough, mottled skins caused by drought and excessive heat.
Later, I flip the upstairs calendar backwards just to check my flawed memory. August 11. Yes, four months to the day exactly from when I chose to make a change for me. It's nothing huge, but it is a milestone for me, one of persistence, of not throwing in the towel even when I had to take a break for illnesses.
Since that day in April, I've traveled 139 miles to nowhere. No, that's not a typo. One hundred and thirty-nine miles. I've counted. For most of it, my feet have clipped along at a meager pace of four miles an hour, again, nothing to write home about, and yet, here I am doing just that.
I've read so many magazines filled with these super-women who start back with their exercise routine the week after giving birth. But since the day we brought home two babies instead of one, taking care of three little ones nonstop during the day and teaching late into the night have left me unable to find even a half hour to carve out for myself. A hot bath uninterrupted was and still is something big!
Once the twins started crawling and pulling up, I did try to start walking again, only to feel like a pathetic failure. Once the machine's whirring started, three sets of little fingers made a bee-line straight to the tantalizing danger of a moving treadmill. I tried yelling, threatening, putting up a barrier, and begging. My words, they ignored. The barrier, they pulled down, figured out a way around , or turned over onto themselves so that I had to stop and soothe the crying. Nothing worked. So, after a week, the treadmill started collecting dust again.
In 2010, I gave a half-hearted attempt, but it wasn't long before I couldn't reach the treadmill for all the boxes packed up for the move to our new home. Since the move, I have blazed a trail outdoors, working to tame the wilderness and create a yard, no small feat but still, inconsistent.
In April, I felt the call once again to sweat, walk, run--move! This time, I didn't tell anyone, not even my husband. I just started walking, jogging, running. And it felt good.
As the weeks turned into one month, then two, I still kept silent, waiting for something to kick me off the wagon. As you might expect, my backside is covered with boot-prints, but there's also evidence that I've been dusting myself off a lot, too.
Maybe it's just that I've reached a phase of my life where I can realize that one defeat does not make the task a lost cause. Honestly? I think it's more than that.
If there has been one thread woven throughout the tapestry of the past few years, it's one of grace. The more I study God's Word, the more I understand about His grace towards me. How great and vast it is, how unending.
I have so many minutes, hours, days where I beat myself up for failing as a mother, failing as a wife, failing as God's messenger.
I fail so much, I often wonder how He could even want me to get back up and try again! But He does, and so I'm learning to stumble onward, to be grateful for this daily grace as it is a gift of the greatest kindness for those of us who fail to measure up to any semblance of perfection.
This life is not a sprint.
It is a learning how to walk consistently with my eyes fixed on the prize, to extend and receive grace, to focus on the whole and not just the part.