Today marks 10-days until the Love Does Bike Tour. It’s hard to believe really. Months of anticipation and preparation leading up to a trip that is almost here. I’ve been going over gear lists and training plans and fundraising for months - all the while counting down to my departure date for California, eager to meet up with the team and embark on this tour together. But, being real here - this doesn’t look or feel like what I hoped or even expected it would.

I leave for California in a week. But, after a a few months that have been challenging in ways I didn’t expect and after weeks of countless conversations with doctors, close friends, and lots of prayer (and lots tears and letting go of what I wanted this to look like), I’ve made the decision that I’m leaving my bike at home.

Wait. What? A bike tour without a bike? That doesn’t make much sense.

It doesn’t. But isn’t that so often how God seems to (graciously) show up in our lives?

When I launched Project Hope six months ago, I thought that I’d train hard and that it would be hard but that the hard would be worth it as I finished each race and somehow recovered the competitive athlete I used to be. I hoped that I would get to run fast and be strong again, that I would get to celebrate and remember all the amazing people we’ve lost to cancer and how brave and bold they were in their battle(s) with illness. And I thought that maybe-just-maybe I wouldn't have to deal with any injuries or sickness anymore myself. I hoped that somewhere in all of that I’d be able to raise lots of money for work I believe in completely. I thought that I come May 10th, I’d be packing up the last of my gear and going for my final training rides/runs before shipping my bike south and getting on the plane.

Basically, I wanted all of the things associated with this adventure to pan out beautifully and for this to be redemption unfolding in a clear and linear fashion.

Well. Can we just laugh at that a bit together, for a moment?  

In reality, it’s looked a bit different – and far more nuanced - than that.

So far: I crossed the finish line of a race for the first time since I first got injured (thinking the whole way of all the days when I thought I’d never get to run without pain again) and was nearly overwhelmed with gratitude for how huge that day/moment was. I trained as hard as I could last winter and slowly begin to feel my strength and speed coming back (and I ran the fastest 10k I have post-injury!), but early in the new year, my migraines kicked it up a notch and as a result I haven’t been able to run or bike nearly as much as I hoped. I’ve had to pull out of a few races and rearrange my race schedule. I finished 3 more races, celebrating the amazing people each race was meant to remember - and was more blown away and humbled by that process than I expected I would be. And, so far! thanks to the generosity of some incredible people, together, we've raised quite a bit of money for Love Does!

But, I also started getting really bad vertigo and found myself blacking out - especially after I exercise. I’ve spent lots of time at doctor’s appointments and trying to adjust to new medicine and treatment plans and my diagnosis was officially “upgraded” to Chronic Migraine(s), which comes with a new level of "risk" for living regular life much less training hard. I’ve had to reduce my days at work so I can rest more. I’ve slept a lot. I’ve cried a lot of tears because it hurts and it’s disappointing and I’ve struggled against the idea that I’m failing and that my body is always going to be broken.

I wanted redemption to come in a clear and linear fashion, but I’ve seen it unfolding in nuance and complexity. I wanted to be “strong”, and I’ve had to embrace “weakness”. I wanted “success” and I’ve had to embrace “failure”. I wanted resolution that came wrapped with a nice ribbon-and-bow and I’m still living in the unknown and the tension.

This isn’t redemption arrived: This is redemption in motion.


This whole adventure came out of a question that buzzed around my head and heart for months, taking root in the wake of loss and injury and in a space when I felt repeatedly bashed against the rocks. The question(s)? “How would you live if you lived out of a place of love?”

What risks would you take if you lived like you know – and fully believed – that you were at home and fully at peace in His crazy love for you? What would life look like if you embraced anchored love & audacious hope?

And you know what? In a lot of ways that started as an almost subtle whisper and now bellow with more strength, I’m laughing a lot lately at how vastly different my life looks than I expected. Laughing at the way that things have almost systematically imploded in the best possible ways.

Not because this version has in. any. way. been easy, but because every step and twist has pointed me back to Him, back to a Love that’s so much better than I ever knew it could be, a peace that’s so much more steady than I ever could have known, and a belief - that I now know and believe with all that I am -  that holding on to and fighting for Hope in the midst of all the mess of this thing called living is the hardest and yet best thing that we’ll ever do.

I don’t always like what’s going on here and I don’t always understand how God works in all of this, but oh, how I’ve come to love Him. How I come to love this life I get to live and these people around me who love me so well and this stunning place we get to savour and explore.

But I do. I love it. I love them. I love Him.  

With all that I know and all that I am: I love this thing called living.


I don’t get it, really. This dance of light and dark, of death and life, of dreams and disappointment, of possibility and limitation. I don’t understand how it is that pain makes us love more fully or how it is that death make us live better. How it is that the shadow really does proves the sunshine (thank you, Jon Foreman) or how the rain teaches us to dance in ways the sunshine never could.

There were seasons when the pain felt so heavy and I wondered if life would every be full of light and love and whimsy again. There were long days where grief and loss and death and disappointment seemed so dominant that I struggled to see past the looming clouds. I remember clinging to hope like a scared toddler does their favourite toy – desperate, white-knuckled, & wondering almost constantly if I was entirely foolish for holding on so tight to something I couldn’t yet see.  

If you’re in those days right now, my heart aches with you. Those moments and days sting in ways that words will never explain, like a fog that weighs heavy on the heart and threatens to silence every ounce of goodness and mute every ray of sunshine. But they end. Someday. They do.

And until they do, let's dance in the rain together, shall we? And then, when that day comes, we'll sit in the sunshine and celebrate all the ways that new life - in tiny glimpses and in sweeping scores - does come.

With all that I know and all that I am: I love this thing called living.


Chronic headaches are weird and frustrating thing, because you never really know how you’re going to feel until you’re there, when the pressure builds and you can feel the trap slamming shut around you without much of anything you can do to stop it. There are some factors you can control and yet most is a game-day decision and you have to make the best “in-the-moment” guess on how you’ll respond to light and sound and movement and certain foods. Sometimes you can feel the pain coming and prepare and sometimes it comes at you with the speed and impact of a truck.

For me, the hardest part is choosing to slow down and rest and coming to terms with that having to be my normal right now. I hate not getting to do what I love, hate missing out on any sunshine and activity, and hate not being able to work to the level of focus, creativity, and productivity that I typically demand of myself.

Earlier this week I had a pretty good day. I made it through the work day with a relatively low amount of pain and it was sunny outside and I was dying to move. So I went for a run. Or, rather, I tried to go for a run. Within a kilometre, I felt light-headed, the world started its now familiar spinning game, and I had to stop, sit down in the grass, and close my eyes for a bit to regroup before getting up to walk home.

I sat in the grass and cried.

I cried because I was so frustrated and everything in me in that moment hated everything about being sick and not being able to do the things that I love. I cried because I so badly want to see God bring healing to whatever is going on in my body and He hasn’t yet. I cried because I knew this final “failed” workout, especially in the same week that I crashed by bike due to a blackout, meant I was definitely not going to be able to bike during the Bike Tour. I cried because in that moment I just wanted to talk to my Dad and ask him how He learned to love Jesus so well in weakness and wished so desperately that I could somehow magically rewind so much of what has happened in the past few years

But then, sitting there in the grass, shaded from the sun, I also started to laugh.

I laughed because I realized that for a few minutes I probably looked like I had passed on on some random person's lawn and now just looked like I was a rookie runner who was super out of shape. I laughed because I felt a wave of His peace and an overwhelming promise from God that He was/is doing more in this than I can see right now. I laughed because living with headaches makes me live life a bit like a sun-starved Vancouverite when the first week of spring hits (sun! beach! ocean! mountains! music! drinks on a patio! must.savour.every.moment.) and I think it's actually teaching me to love and appreciate life a bit better.

With all that I know and all that I am: I love this thing called living.


I hate feeling weak, but Jesus meets me there over and over and reminds me that His joy and peace surround me regardless of how weak I am or may feel.
I hate knowing limitation, but God keeps reminding me that it’s there where the power of His love gets to shine the brightest.
I hate so much of this, but I'm more grateful for it than I can say because of it, He's making more of His strength, His beauty, His goodness, His presence, and His redemption in me

That's worth it. Oh, that's worth it.


On paper, Project Hope is pretty much just a crazy idea about a girl and a bike and some running shoes and trying to make a difference in the lives of some incredible kids around the world. And, it is about that. But it's about a heck of a lot more.

This is about learning that proactive love and audacious hope is lived out in really small ways (that are actually really big ways). This is about redefining failure and success. This is about community and support and encouragement and the dismantling of ideas that we have to do or accomplish epic things to make a difference. This is about embracing and celebrating all that we can do to make the world better – one life and moment at a time - and living without any guilt or shame for what we cannot. This is about freedom and whimsy and learning over and over and over that love is simple, and in its all-encompassing simplicity, it's the single most powerful thing in the world. This is about looking death and loss and sickness and disappointment in the face and tangibly saying, “You can’t - not now, and not ever - silence this love.”

  

I used to think that “success” was more powerful than “failure”. I used to think that a project had to be perfect to be worthwhile, that my body had to fit a certain mould to be beautiful, & that a goal was only truly successful if I lived up to my own unrealistic standards of success at every turn.

But, what I’m starting to see and believe more and more though, is that the very act of trying and persevering is the most powerful and meaningful part of any journey. That “failure” is inevitable, brave, and even beneficial. That these broken bodies of ours deserve far more credit (in both insane beauty and intricate function) than we give them simply because they were crafted so brilliantly by the living God and they allow us to live and laugh and move and be. And, that false, limited, and unforgiving notions of "success" only rob us of joy and hold us back from doing the things that are truly worthwhile. 

  

Sometimes love does look like biking 800KM down the California Coast. & sometimes love looks like leaving your bike at home, embracing plan B and all the adventurous unknown it can hold, and cheering on and supporting others while they ride. 

T-10 days. I still can’t wait.

Comment