I ran cross country for one grueling season.
I ONLY ran cross country because my Dad had and I so wanted to make him proud of me.
I lost track of how many times my poor Mom had to wait for me to finally run that last stretch in practice back to the school parking lot where all the other Moms left from gathering their hot and sweaty teenagers long before I waddled in.
I was not made for distance.
I was small, scrawny and always- always out of breath.
I don't remember much of that season, but I do remember one very hot afternoon race.
It was rare that my Dad was able to come to any of my meets with work and all, and so this one was incredibly special to me.
He was on the sideline and each time I ran a lap past him I could hear him calling my name.
A name he himself chose. My parents had some agreement to take turns naming us kids. He chose my oldest sister Dawn's name, Mom picked out Denise's name and Dad came up with Deena all by himself. Two "E's" and all, to help people pronounce it properly.
I regret to tell him that the spelling hasn't helped anyone pronounce it correctly OR spell it well either.
I didn't always like my name because I couldn't find it on shoelaces, pencils or hair bows like the rest of my friends. I never had another girl in my classroom or whole school with the same name so I felt like it was a bit odd. When I saw my name on a bulletin board apple or in a yearbook it was special to me.
So hearing my name called by the very one who placed it on my shoulders was momentous to me.
That day, three miles seemed like a moment for the cheering and it was the one and only time I ever placed in a race for my school and for myself.
And I did so because my Father was standing cheering me to the finish line.
Even now the joy of cheering makes me misty-eyed.
I remember it took me a good long while to catch my breath and even now it catches in my throat for the cheers that day!
When our car drove out of the college parking lot, I imagined lots of things about this one we named "Laughter."
I imagined missing that one-of-a-kind-we-sure-named-him-right-laugh.
I imagined setting an extra place at the table forgetting he was gone, listening for him to come through the door after work and hearing him throw his work boots in the heap of shoes.
I imagined looking for him to bound off the bus on Sunday or missing his incredible hugs.
I imagined enjoying the fact that I didn't need to find a certain article of clothing for him that he has once again misplaced and hear him hoot and holler over brother's things on his bed again.
And some of these things have happened.
Some tears have come and some laughter too, but there's something that has completely taken me off guard.
I could've never imagined in my wildest dreams how much and how hard I would cheer for him in this new phase of life.
How I would wait on bated breath for confirmation that he did indeed make it through that try-out and was accepted into the fellowship that his heart was set on.
The amount of relief and joy, excitement and prayers that would transpire in these first few weeks has indeed taken me by surprise!
How I DELIGHT to pray and cheer and shout for joy over him!
Because of previous camp experiences with string-bean juniors standing hungry before snack shop windows and what this does to this soft heart of mine, wanting to gift things to my son did NOT come as a surprise.
Surely Amazon Prime stays in business solely on College Parents' dimes.
I cannot help but send something he needs or forgot and know that in two-day's time it's sitting in his dorm room. If he mentions it, I take note of it and send it almost as quickly as the request is made.
I know him so well that I LOVE shopping for him and knowing what will bless him and remind him how much we love him.
Don't tell him that I have things stashed in my "cart" to bless him for months to come!
It's my JOY to give him gifts!
I have never been a "Football Mom, " or even a "Soccer Mom," but now I know that I was just holding out for college.
I am a "COLLEGE MOM" and I am shouting and cheering from the sidelines with just as much gusto as sports Moms.
I am doing dishes, grading English lessons, making meal plans and yet I carry around an unnoticed pennant with his name on it.
And while folding laundry last night the Lord reminded me that THIS is indeed how he has been loving me my entire life.
"Will this help you understand just how much joy you bring me?"
He said, "If you think you love sending things to Isaac, how much more do I love giving you good gifts?"
Matthew 7:11 " If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?"
"Each time you come to me in prayer I delight to answer you. I know your heart so well that I can answer you before you even call out to me.
Isaiah 65:24 "And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear."
Each race you run I am there marking the laps and rejoicing over you.
And I am always cheering for you."
Zephaniah 3:17 "The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing."
And mid-fold I was overwhelmed with a new realization of the immense love God has for me.
I allowed myself to sit for that moment and just soak in all that the Spirit was trying to get me to understand over a heap of clean towels.
My relationship with my husband and with my children has opened my eyes wide to how God really truly loves us and thinks about us.
My oldest might drive me up a wall and forget to send a thank you note, but he will always be mine.
And I will cheer as loud as I can for him to follow hard after the Lord and seek him with his whole heart.
And I will remember that the Lord, my Father is cheering me on just as loudly.
He's cheering YOU on too friend. Such cheering for you!