Monday, August 12, 2013

Jefferson's Triathlon

My children are very physically active.  Last  summer they did two local triathlons and loved it!!

This summer, their plan was to do the same.

The 1st triathlon was in July at the YMCA, and they competed like champs!

The children try so hard to do their best.  My favorite part is watching my kids' intense expressions on their faces.  I truly love the excitement of competition... whether they win or lose!!

For their age categories:  Mariah took 1st place overall, Jordan took 2nd place overall, Tyson took 3rd place for 9 year old boys, and Jackson took 4th place overall!!  

My children couldn't wait for their next triathlon on August 10th.  They would actually swim in the lake.  They competed in it last year, and I couldn't wait for it either.   As the date got closer, we realized we wouldn't be able to register for the race for reasons beyond our control.

I broke the news to the children that we would have to wait for next year's triathlon.  The children took it well, but I hated not being able to give them the opportunity.  I hated missing the experience they had waited so long to be a part of!!

This experience was gone, but a much better blessing and experience came:  an invitation to Jefferson's birthday party.

Jefferson has a disability which makes him incapable of walking or talking.  He has the sweetest, most gentle, loving spirit.  He would be turning 15, and this would be his 1st birthday party of his life.

The date of the party?  August 10th- the same day as the missed triathlon.

Guess what Jefferson's mother decided to do for him on August 10th?

She planned a mini-triathlon for him!!

I couldn't believe it would be a triathlon of all the things!  I knew the kids would be excited to still do a triathlon and to of course celebrate Jefferson's birthday.

When Jefferson was a young child, Abe's music (Jericho Road) was his favorite music.  It calmed his little spirit and gave him great joy.

Abe felt honored for the opportunity to sing for Jefferson on his special day.  Many of us cried with love for Jefferson's brave spirit as Abe sang these words:

"If you don't walk as most people do, some people walk away from you,
But I won't, I won't!
If you don't talk as most people do, some people talk and laugh at you, 
But I won't, I won't!
I'll walk with you, 
I'll talk with you, 
That's how I'll show my LOVE to you!"
~LDS Children's Song Book (See John 13:15)

After he finished singing several songs, Abe reached down and tenderly hugged Jefferson.  As I pondered on the words of each song, I felt an overwhelming, deeper love and understanding for this little boy's mission in his life.  I think we all wanted to wrap our arms around sweet Jefferson too.

We all treasured the moment, and then prepared for the race to begin!!  Jefferson was strapped into his new, birthday cart!!  

The children were definitely ready!  

Even several adults ran and walked in honor of Jefferson!

  Jefferson's parents touch my heart.  They know with every part of their being that Jefferson is a treasure.  They have sacrificed much over the years, but their faces and actions portray a deep joy,  admiration, and adoration for their heavenly child.  There was no greater love and no greater cheers of love than for this magnificent father-son duo.

Biking was next!!  It was a beautiful sight to watch sweet Jefferson ride freely behind his father's bike for the first time in his life.

Swimming was not necessary for Jefferson- the other kids did that portion for him. :-)

...and just like any great birthday party, presents were next.  His father held him tenderly while his dear mother opened the many gifts of love.

It was a sweet miracle to consider the timing that my children would still have the opportunity to do a triathlon on the very same day as the one they would be missing- August 10th!!  However, the GREATER miracle rested in the fact that God turned one missed opportunity into an even richer, life changing opportunity.  To race with Jefferson, the purest of souls, brought a greater love into all of our hearts.

No competition could have matched this day's experience.  God wants us to experience the greatest of what HE has to offer.  I'm sure the triathlon in the lake would have been fun, but a triathlon with Jefferson was life-changing.  I should have known better than to feel discouraged about a missed experience for the children.  God knows how to orchestrate the very best life experiences as long we trust in HIS process.

I will always cherish the look on my children's faces as they ran for a greater, more meaningful purpose... in celebration of Jefferson... who cannot run on his earthly legs.

We thank Jefferson and his family for allowing us to be a part of this very special day.