Today is my first guest post ever by one of my dearest friends Abigail Austin! She continues everyday to be a major inspiration for me to lose this weight and gain life! I have grown to love her more and more with every post. Please take a moment to read about how we came to know one another and help each other on this road called life! Teresa
Adventure, Spirit & Fitness
This backcountry I am in is part of God’s glory. And along with increasing my stamina, these hikes are a time to feel spiritual, reflect and pray. When I hike, it’s impossible not to recognize the beautiful, three-dimensional work of art that is our world. I have always been faithful, but while finding myself along these mountains, I have found God. I started talking to Him as if He was hiking with me—and He is.
North Franklin Mountain looked over El Paso as I ran. The sun had just risen, and the mountain’s brown rock had a pink shade. I felt blessed to have such beauty around me. I wasn’t excited to begin normal life again after such a wonderful vacation camping, but I was refreshed and ready to get moving.
While I ran, I thought about my blessings. Just three years ago, I entered a negative, depressed state of life. I thought I had it all—career, home, lifestyle—and suddenly the carpet was yanked out from underneath me when we made a military transfer. Oklahoma was a wonderful, wholesome place, but I didn’t give it a chance until it was almost too late. When we moved again, this time to El Paso, I went with my arms wide open. What was different? I surrendered. God had a plan for me, and when I didn’t block Him, I was given trails to follow that would take me to where I needed to be.
This concept of surrendering came from my dear friend, Teresa Ellifritt (I know her as “Brown”). In her blog entry “Here Comes the Whale,” Brown wrote, “God is leading us through a drought and teaching us valuable lessons of his grace and providence along the way.” Even in times of hardship, her faith never wobbles. She watches for His sign and learns from His lessons and follows Him even when the road looks uncertain.
I met Brown for the first time in 2003 when she came to the graduation of our mutual friend. During that short weekend, Brown and I shared a lot of laughs and memories, but it took five more years before we really became friends when my husband and I moved to Lawton, just seventy miles south of her Oklahoma City home.
At the end of 2009, Brown gave birth to her first child, Joslyn. Brown had full determination to take on motherhood. She started an adventure list of exciting things to do in order to be a fun, open minded mom. Several of these adventures I did with Brown. For example, she had never ridden a four wheeler. Trustingly, she’d climbed onto the back of mine, and I had sped out of the driveway—we’d had ridden it like we stole it! Eventually, Brown had sat in the drivers’ seat and rode through the field. A huge, childish grin had covered her face the whole time. Later, Brown had hosted a food fight, another adventure I got the check off her list with her. I’d smeared garlic stuffing on her while she dumped a bowl of chili over my head. It had been a wild, hilarious day.
When I was with Brown, happiness and peace were contagious. She has a calm, nurturing, loving soul, and she showed me the beauty and will of a relationship with God. In these last three years since I sang beside her in worship during our reintroduction, Brown has been my spiritual inspiration. Although we’re no longer neighbors on Tornado Alley, her musings and her faith continue to inspire me. She writes My Big Life Change, a blog about improving quality of life. She is a chef, and the Bible is her recipe book.
And it turns out that inspiration is contagious. As I came out of my despair, I found fitness and lost almost fifty pounds. In a recent phone call, she told me I was her fitness inspiration. In ways friends don’t always notice, we are each other’s inspiration. Brown is beginning her own weight loss story. Although she has apprehension, she has tools, the guts and the ability to do it, and with God on her side, anything is possible.
As I run Mile 468, I feel strong and fast and able. I want this energy to reach Brown, too, in the same way that her words, spirit and kindness have reached me.
Abby and Brown, 2009
El Paso, Texas
Abby grew up hiking the rounded, forested mountains of Western Maine. She has trekked all over the nation documenting the American Wild. This year, with a pen and notebook, her camera and plenty of water in her pack, she’s hiking the 1,000 Mile Challenge, a test of stamina, spirit and fitness. Follow her blog 1,000 Miles on My Own Two Feet