Over the river and through the woods…

The transition from Oregon to Washington was one of extremes. Our 4 day stay with the Phillips in their house just outside of Portland was both incredibly fun and short lived. It seemed no sooner had  we arrived than we were packing up our belongings early on the morning of our departure from the Portland area.

As one of the highlights of the trip, Portland proved to be one of the coolest cities I have ever seen. Riding the gondola, exploring downtown and experiencing some of the local bookstores and coffee houses were just a couple of the many adventures Cameron and Mallory took us on. All a prelude to the beginning to the most difficult and demanding stretches of the entire trip. I wish I was exaggerating for the sake of an exciting story, but there had not yet been a point along the trip where we had questioned the ability to complete the run on time until now.

As Zac described, we have eliminated rest days and shortened some of the runs to minimize our heat exposure. What you did not hear is how we arrived at this decision.

Our trek towards Washington began just as any of the other runs had started, an early morning and light traffic greeted us as we set out to conquer the Columbia. Within a few hours, the sun had burned away any remaining traces of fog or haze and what remained was much like running on a lava plain with no shade other than the occasional grouping of trees which we longed would last. The scorching heat wasn’t like Phoenix heat which I would describe as being grilled on a barbecue. No this heat was like being inside of a microwave, leaving us feeling almost claustrophobic from the stifling and stagnant air. Our 8 litres of water was rapidly depleted  as we struggled to stay hydrated.

Then came the test. Our final mile and a half was the bridge that passed into Longview/ Kelso. Once again, the shoulder disappeared, the road ahead of us ascended into a steep climb, and the heat was on. Our path was cluttered with tons of debris from all the local logging trucks dropping large chunks of bark. I found myself struggling just to keep the baby jogger  from shooting out into traffic. “Zac, I think this is our only chance to get a picture of us entering Washington. Let’s get a picture!” I cautiously handed Zac the camera, not wanting to stop moving for fear of fully realizing the gravity of the situation we had put ourselves in. I don’t think I’ve ever gripped the baby jogger that tight. A couple of shots of the sign “Entering Washington” and a couple of the mighty Columbia hundreds of feet below us fulfilled our need to document our “safe” passage into our next and final state.

For us, it was a bit of a dissappointment to realize that we had more runs to do. We had gone from having 9 runs to complete to 10, which may not sound like a big deal, but it was a huge accomplishment just to get down to the single digits of remaining legs.

But our dissappointment like many things on this trip was short lived. There is just to much adventure and unknown to really worry about the future. When we focus on the day at hand, it always seems that the day passes before we even have time to appreciate it. Our good friend Babe shared some pretty insightful wisdom with us that has been rolling around in my head since we left her home back in Eugene. Those of us who have grown up in or around church have always heard about trusting in Christ, about not worrying. It was a phrase that somehow for me had almost lost its reality through its repetition. Babe told me that faith and worry cannot exist simultaneously. They are not only opposites, they are fiercely opposed to one another, and if I find myself worrying, it should always be a reminder to remember who it is who I trust. Immovable, unshakable, sovereign and loving; that is the One whom I follow. It is not faith in faith that empowers us, but drawn directly from his Spirit that moves us daily.

It was this strength that took us to our next stop, one we had been looking forward to since we learned about it. Tucked away in the forests near Tacoma Washington is headquarters of the boating and watersport company “Active Watersports”. Set upon a beautiful man made lake, our afternoon was a much needed day of relaxation, as we would watch wakeboarders zip by just feet from the house. Although we opted out of spending the day out on the lake wakeboarding and waterskiing, the family understood that after running 20+ miles we were a tad short of energy. Early to bed and early to rise put us back out on the road, as we were yet to encounter our next obstacle, or should I say, adversary.

Now in all of our other runs, through many a rural setting we had always been wary of stray dogs. We had been lucky to not encounter any along any other stretch of road, but for some reason, I think the majority of rural Washington enjoys leaving their dogs in their frontyards. Our run from the lake took us past a number of dogs who seemed to be rather interested, or should I say angry at our running. One encounter was particularly unnerving in which Zac and I fought off a pretty aggressive dog who would have probably enjoyed our hamstrings for breakfast. Fortunately, swift feet prevented us from being dog food for the morning.

I will bring you all further up to date in my next post, which I promise will be much sooner than the last! Keep praying, we are just 3 days away!

7 thoughts on “Over the river and through the woods…

  1. Hey guys,

    I want to thank you for completely shattering my view of Christianity. I grew up thinking that Christians were safe and boring or even worse – perfect. You both have been such an encouragement to me because you are two real people who follow so closely to God – even when He runs before you up the Pacific coastline.

    What you’re doing is extreme. It is crazy. It does not make sense rationally. And yet because it is such, it is Godly.

    I pray that your lives would continue to radiate God by the way you live radically by following after Him and His heart. Thank you for inviting me into your journey. By living so openly, I have felt challenged, encouraged, some times healed, but most of all – loved. By loving and following God, you love me and every one who you encounter this summer well.

    It has been my prayer this summer for both of you that God would reveal more of Himself, of yourself, and of His heart for this world as you run. I want to write you this so you know, that God has been using you to do even more than this – He has used you to change me. Healing me of my misunderstanding of what it means to say I am a Christian.

    I want to pray Hab. 1:5 over both of you.
    Look at the nations and watch—
    and be utterly amazed.
    For I am going to do something in your days
    that you would not believe,
    even if you were told.

    Oh and just something to chew on while you’re in the grand sunshine a few more days :

    A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell. – C.S. Lewis

  2. Great to run into you guys yesterday. Forgot to mention that as you run north on Hwy 9 look for the snow covered volcano ahead of you, It’s Mt Baker (home of snowboarding). What’s cool is that you may not be able to see Canada yet, but one can from that mountain. Finish strong my friends!

  3. The most exciting part of reading your blog is ‘seeing’ how God is growing you guys. Lessons taught are one thing. But lessons learned and lived are the ones that sink deep and stay.
    Babe is right…faith and fear/doubt cannot coexist. With the presence of one the other is overshadowed…at least for a time. We all move in and out of the light and shadow; the mountain top and the valley. BUT, God’s Spirit indwelling us is our constant. We always and forever have that blessing of Him as our guide our comforter.
    So by the time you read this…TWO days left. Dad, Lauren and I are so thrilled for you! What an accomplishment…God has blessed you and others through this. We keep praying for you Sport. You’re the best!
    Luv MOM…. and all the rest of your family here in Phoenix

  4. I can’t believe its only two more days and you’re done. So crazy to think. It felt like yesterday you two were in my living room after your first day of the run!! I’m almost sad its gonna be over to be honest, cuz reading your blogs has been so encouraging this summer through everything. To see how you’ve been blessing others, for me to be blessed by you guys, and to hear how God is changing you its amazing! But then I think of how great its gonna be to actually see this life that God’s been stirring in you this summer in person when I’m finally out in AZ!! So excited and blessed to be doing ministry with you two next year!

    The faith and worry thing got to me too. I’ve been dealing a lot with those these past few days, kind of struggling to figure out which it is i have more of at this point. I thought I’d been keeping the faith strong, but I’d be lying if I said worry hasn’t sunk in these past couple days. Thanks for sharing that and putting that in perspective. This is tough, but God is strong. Stronger than any measly worry that comes to my head. Praying for you guys in finishing strong through this! Can’t wait to see you both so soon!!

  5. There are SO many of us behind you, we have been a part of the journey before you even started back in may in tijuana…. we are still with you. Be strong, stay away from dogs and CELEBRATE like crazy when you finish!

  6. Continuing to pray for you today and as you finish, FINISH! tomorrow! I am so excited for you both and continue to be amazed, challenged, and humbled by observing your journey and what the LORD is doing in your lives. As it has already been shared, there are so many standing with you in prayer, cheering you on! May His joy be your strength….
    You are loved!

    “The LORD will accomplish what concerns me. Your lovingkindness, O LORD, is everlasting.” Ps 138:8

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