Saturday, July 20, 2013

A Marathon and Magnificent Blessings!

"The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places;
Yes, I have a good inheritance."
Psalm 16:6 - NKJV

Race Day - The Dorans, Nicole's sister Dot and Nicole's niece Ashley

This is Part Two of Three of my sweet friend Nicole's amazing testimony of how God blessed her through a 40th birthday gift and her family's obedience. Click here to read part one.

It's hard to believe a few months have passed since we arrived safely home to Southeastern Pennsylvania after an richly blessed time in Nashville for the Team Toby Mac at the Nashville Rock-n-Roll Country Music Marathon. Even more astounding is just how the Lord blessed us. When He called us to this journey a few months ago, it was clear that our "reward" would be to attend a Pasta Party, Private Concert, and Finish Line Party with Team TobyMac and Powered by Hope and (maybe) get to talk with TobyMac himself.

Yes, those events were fun and rewarding! But even more were the abundant and incomprehensible blessings we received. Truly, I am still not sure if we were called "to bless" or "to be blessed" because THAT is what we experienced! For a few short days, we experienced a slice of heaven, and the love of Christ was poured out on us like no other time in our lives, by brothers and sisters in Christ, and by Christ himself. It was one of those times that words can never really give justice to all the little details that added up to one huge blessing after another. Our Lord met us there...fully and completely affirming His calling to us to "run".

The Starting Line

We arrived late Wednesday morning after a safe and peaceful overnight drive. We were unable to check-in to the hotel so we spent some time at the Opry Hotel and sightseeing in the Opry Complex. On the way to the complex we received an email from Team TobyMac: 

"Congratulations! You are fundraising Rock Stars. 
You've qualified for the private Brunch."

(Deep breath) WHAT?!?!?!?! We thought we needed to raise $4000 to qualify for this event. Nope, less! As of that moment we had raised $3500. 

Blessing #1. We would be able to attend a small Brunch on Friday (about 50 people from our team) which TobyMac and his Wife (Amanda) would host and spend time talking with each of us.

Thursday was our expo visit and race packet pick-up day. We picked up our packets and proceeded to browse the expo. I had wanted to look into compression sleeves for my lower legs since I'd been having the issues with shin splints. The manager of the booth suggested I go with a full compression sock instead (after seeing my lovely varicose veins). 

Blessing #2. These would prove to be the best gear purchase I've made thus far. You see, if you’ve ever been to Nashville, then you know that Tennessee is rolling hills. Hills equal tough on shin splints. I finished the ½ with no pain…Praise God!

Thursday night, while ironing clothing for Friday's events, the door to my room opens and in walk my niece, and unofficial coach, Ashley! (Deep breath) What?!?!?!? She had registered weeks before to run with my my pace! Wow! She is a three-time tri-athlete, and she would humble herself to a slower pace with her dear 'ol aunt! 

Blessing #3. I could have run alone, but I didn't have to. Thank you Lord!

Blessing #4. My sister, Dot, decided to join us in the race as she celebrated her 50th birthday! She ran with Bob and the kids.

On Friday we were scheduled for the brunch, New Hope Academy Tour, the Pasta Party, and the Team TobyMac Concert.....

Visit again soon for Part Three of Three of Nicole's testimony!

Friday, July 5, 2013

A Gift, A Marathon and A Calling

The Doran Family 
Bob (Dad), Nicole (Mom) Jacob and Hope

I invited my sweet friend, Nicole, back to share with you an amazing testimony of a gift God put in heart for her 40th birthday. Little did she know the surprises God had in store for she and her family as she unwrapped the gift...and unwrapped...and unwrapped...

Here is the first part of Nicole's story. 

When my husband, Bob, asked me what I wanted for my 40th Birthday in March, I had a hard time coming up with an answer. A party? A trip? A special gift? Those ideas were nice, but I wanted some different, something with eternal value. 

After thinking about it and praying about it for a while, I knew!  How about WE ALL TRAIN TOGETHER for the ST. JUDE COUNTRY MUSIC MARATHON and JOIN TEAM TOBY MAC AND POWERED BY HOPE! What better gift could Bob, and our children give to me than to literally carve out family time to work together to reach a GOAL with an ETERNAL PURPOSE! A gift we could all give to others.

We set a goal, planned our course and trained for months together as a family.

Our goal? Me: Half Marathon. Bob, Jacob, & Hope: Mini-Marathon.

Our purpose? To raise scholarship funds for a private, Christian school, which is changing lives in the great name of Jesus Christ by reaching out to, and providing scholarship monies, for low income families.

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’" - Matthew 25:40

Meet The Doran Family 4.0:

Picture Taken in February 2013 while training

Nicole: Anyone who know me, knows that for the greater portion of my then-39 years, I have been a Classical Ballet and Modern Dancer, Instructor, and Movement Specialist. In March 2013, The Lord upgraded me to a 4.0 (the big 40), a term coined by my dear cousin Megan, an avid runner and athlete. This half marathon was my first training, and race... ever ... except for gym class in elementary school! I was very excited!!!!

"But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; They will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." - Isaiah 40:31

Bob: Awesome husband, partner, and man of God! When I asked him if he would do this with me, he enthusiastically replied... "if that's what you want ... yes!!" I don't know too many men who get up at 5:00 AM, get home at 6:00 PM, and drive 60 miles round trip daily for work, who would have replied in such a way. His answer showed me his immense love and support by which I was tremendously blessed. He made time to train alone and with our children our family.

"Let us run with endurance the race 
God has set before us." Hebrews 12:1

Jacob: Incredibly funny and dynamic 9-year old, whose favorite Bible story is "The Good Samaritan". He aggressively entered into his training with a heart for the kids.

"Jesus replied: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'" - Matthew 22:37-39

Hope: Abundantly thoughtful and sweet 7 year-old, who is noted to regularly say, "You never know..." This mini-marathon was just the first step for Hope toward organizing a kids triathlon for children to raise money toward foundations of their choice.

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" - Jeremiah 29:11

If you told me, prior to January 2013, that I was going to complete a half marathon, and that my husband and kids would train too, I'd have laughed. THE LORD called us to this. He equipped us. He prepared us. He saw His work through to completion. 

So, if I can do it... if we can do it... then so can you. He may not call you to run a marathon, but He will call you to something. And, it may seem like He's asking you to do the impossible. But truly, if He calls you, and if you are obedient, He WILL provide for your every need to accomplish His works prepared for you.

Please visit me for part two of this post when I share with you that AMAZING miracles and gifts God unwrapped for our family as we followed His lead in this unexpected journey. ~ Nicole Doran