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To LIFE! Part I

Suck the Marrow

"Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." ~ Psalm 90:12

“I guess it comes down to a simple choice, really. Get busy living or get busy dying.” ~ Andy Dufresne, Shawshank Redemption

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life…” ~ Henry David Thoreau, Walden.

Today is my 50th birthday. It doesn’t seem real, but clearly it is. Time marches on.

I made my husband promise not to surprise me with a party like I have done for him three times, at 30, 40 and 50. He is so much kinder than I. Though I must say, he never specifically asked NOT to have a surprise party, he just didn’t want to be embarrassed by having to wear a moose hat. That only happened once, when he turned 30-something and we went to a restaurant with friends.

Scott Spry is an exceptional man and I am an exceptionally blessed woman to have him as my husband. We celebrate 29 years of marriage later this month!

So when I told this exceptional man what I wanted for my birthday, he never hesitated to promise to do his best to grant my wishes or support me immensely as those wishes changed.

I have been an athlete my whole life: gymnastics and soccer as a youngster, basketball, volleyball and softball as an adolescent. I played—er, rather, sat a lot—one year of collegiate volleyball at Wayne State University. I continued playing sand volleyball for many summers, enjoying doubles tournaments with friends, winning one memorable one on the shores of Lake Michigan.

I have never enjoyed running but have done it throughout the years for the cardiovascular benefits. One college coach chided me for my short gait, insisting I was running wrong. Until I read Born to Run a few years ago, I believed him. The book inspired me to embrace my short-step style and also to go barefoot, giving up thick-soled shoes for the barely-there variety.

My newest pair of "barefoot" running shoes by Merrell , they fit like a glove!

Despite any ideas you might get, I really hate running. I do it, but am not a natural like I was at shooting, spiking or pitching. On my 45th birthday, my daughter Bailey and I ran for 45 minutes up and down the shores of beautiful Lake Michigan. It was then that I began to develop the idea that on my 50th birthday, I would run 50 miles. You heard me right, not 50 MINUTES, rather 50 MILES!

Besides having chronic lower back pain (did I mention I’m turning 50?) I am in relatively good physical condition and had been using a stationary bike all winter and doing core exercises. For the last five months, I have been trail and road running, building up to 8 miles. Not one run went by that I didn’t whisper to myself, “I hate running.”

Why it ever occurred to me that I might be able to run 50 miles without more intense training illustrates the absurdity of my thoughts. I knew that this initial plan was not gonna work, so a few months ago I came up with an alternate plan: run and walk, alternating would allow me to do this! “So,” I thought, “I will walk 23.8 and run 26.2. Why not make this a marathon-length run? Running a marathon would be a bucket-list achievement!”

I charted a course, exactly 50 miles from our Paris, Michigan home to my favorite Great Lake, Lake Michigan. It is a beautiful rural path through Newaygo and Oceana counties, beside pine forests and pastoral fields of asparagus, cherries, corn and hops. There are few inhabitants until closer to the lake, near Hart and Silver Lake.

We planned to leave at 4 a.m. for this walk/run course from our cabin to Lake Michigan.

Scott and I drove the course a week ago, marking turns with a GPS to record the mileage. Then, last Sunday, we rose early and set out for a trial run on this course, he on his bike, I in my barefoots. I wanted to go two-hours west, then turn around and head back the same way. We didn’t have a support person to help us, so didn’t want to venture any further.

I was pretty strong the first eight miles, running three and walking one alternately. And then after we turned back I digressed, running one walking one, running half, walking the rest. Hmmm…is it any wonder that eight was my magic number as that is previously the farthest I’d gone?

Five distinct aspects of this experience will be long remembered:

1. FOOD: Applebees pretzel sticks with pub cheese are not good pre-run nourishment, and in fact, are a great diuretic. Grabbing the disposable wipes was a last-minute clutch addition to the very small supply cache Scott was carrying in his backpack.

2. INSECTS: Mosquitoes love shady spots off the beaten path, the same exact ones—five to be exact—that I hid in off the road to evacuate the Applebee’s pretzels and pub cheese. Mosquitos do not discriminate about where to bite. And deer flies love the hot sun and a sweaty body…for multiple sunny miles they made a game of swarming and biting me. It did not occur to me at the time to curl up in a fetal position and cry, but the thought of this now does. Thanks to their efficient work, it appears as though I have a mild case of the chicken pox from an abundance of bites.

3. LIQUIDS: 40 ounces of water alone is not enough for two people exerting themselves for almost five hours on a hot June day. Not a fan of Gatorade or other sugary energy drinks, that day my parched mouth and flagging energy begged for an electrolyte-charged elixir.

4. LADY PARTS: [TMI—too much information—ALERT] “Things” have never been the same since Bella’s precipitous home birth and I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything. However, nine miles into this trial run it became abundantly clear that the gravity (pun intended) of this run was taking a toll on my uterus. I don’t ever want to know what a prolapse feels like and if I continued running, I was afraid it might be inevitable.

5. PLANNING: This “failure” was proof positive of why we have dress rehearsals. Had I not given it a go, my birthday run would have turned out a big disappointment. But instead…

I am BIKING 50 miles TODAY, alongside my husband, who only a month ago took a chainsaw to his left knee. Thank God it was a “minor” incident, and his angels kept the blade from chewing into muscle, tendon or ligament. Eighteen stitches later (which he removed by himself two weeks ago) he is with me today—on my 50th birthday—biking from Paris, Michigan to Little Sable Point on Lake Michigan where a small contingent of family await to share a fabulous picnic lunch on the beach. By request, Bella baked some decadent ganache-covered chocolate peanut-butter filled and mousse-topped cupcakes. I am soooo excited!! 50, here I am!!

We did another "dress rehearsal" on Friday, July 3, riding 18 miles. We got a good feel for what today would be like, beautiful and tiring. Here we are before take-off.

Scott worked all week to get our bikes in tip-top shape. He surprised me with this basket which is perfect for holding all the essentials.

The first nine miles of our path passes through deep woods in the Huron-Manistee National Forest in Newaygo County. This is where the deer flies love to swarm. Thank goodness for insect repellent!

Forecast for today: HOT! We will stay well-hydrated with water and Gatorade, refilled by our crew support--our son Jacob and my dear mom, Bonnie--who will meet us at a few spots along the way.


SO thankful for my LIFE! SO thankful for my wonderful husband and our four beautiful children. SO thankful for our excellent family, siblings, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles and cousins. SO thankful for our loving brothers and sisters in the Body of Messiah. SO thankful for our great friends. SO thankful for my FATHERS—one a sperm donor, the other a man of God who adopted, loved and raised me in the nurture and admonition of the LORD. SO thankful for my MOTHERS—one who gave me life and the other who loved and raised me to know Yeshua and his GOOD NEWS!!

"I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." ~ John 10:10

L’chaim! To LIFE!

WISH ME A HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Please make a donation HERE to THIS pregnancy care center, where I volunteer. It is an amazing place where mothers and fathers are nurtured and cared for, as they choose LIFE for their children. From the AWPC website:

"Your donation allows us to help women and men in our community. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, every dollar that you donate to the life-affirming work at AWPC may be tax deductible. Most importantly, your donations enable us to help families in our community and supports our work of rescuing and restoring precious lives."

Again, click HERE to donate.


To be continued…

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Jenni Halterman
Jenni Halterman
15 ก.ค. 2563

Dress rehearsals!! Life is full of them! We all have the best intentions, but then things happen and we adjust.

Shawn, you and Scott have always sucked the marrow out of life! I'm glad you haven't stopped at 50! Who knew you'd become a runner!!!🤪 Wow! I never thought I'd see the day, let alone run with you! 😃. Way to go Bailey for getting you started! You did everything you could to plan the big 50 miler and it paid off!!! I'm so glad that I've been able to be on this journey with you for over 40 years now!! Who knew! 🤪. I'm so glad too that we could celebrate 50 together! 🎉🎉. To life!!🎉🎉🎉. Jesus c…

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