Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Tenacious, Undaunting, Fearless, Unstoppable

Those are words we heard that described competitors, as we watched the reality show, NBC's Spartan Ultimate Team Challenge.

Night before last Ryan & Shawntel made it back home after a few days out of town. After dinner we sat down to catch up on the show. Okay, I'm an avid fan of American Ninja Warrior and this "Spartan" show. The resilience and sheer determination of the competitors has always inspired and motivated me. But, now, even more so, as one of Shawntel's "Bible Study" friends, and her husband, Brandon & Allison Brickley, are in the competition with their team, "Heart of Texas" from Austin.

"Spartan: Ultimate Team Challenge" raises the bar on team competitions. It's always a group of friends, families, or co-workers who must work together as they race across specially designed Spartan courses engineered to test their endurance, determination and will. Teams of five compete on one of the most demanding courses ever devised and they have to push through the pain to win $250,000. No team can get through the course and reach the finish line without working together. From rope-burning climbs to crawls through cold, wet mud, the competition culminates with some of the most backbreaking obstacles ever built. It's an adrenaline rush just watching it, but having friends in it, makes it even more exciting.

Yes, we were cheering on the "Heart of Texas" team, not only because of the friendship they have with my kids, but because of the story of the friend's husband. Brandon Brinkley was 17 years old when his home caught on fire and his entire family, except for him, perished. His story is that of rising out of tragedy to a story of grace and gratitude. Brandon's aunt adopted him and raised him with her son, Joey, who is also on the Heart of Texas team. So far, their team has won in their heats round one and two and now they've advanced to the semi final rounds. It will be interesting to see how they do, because Joey dislocated his shoulder during the 2nd round.

There are so many competitor stories of how individuals put aside pain to push through to victory -- for example the former Marine who lost his leg during combat and wears a prosthetic or the one who competed with only one arm. Last night, as I watched those soldiers, I commented "What's our excuse?"

Those words went deep into my spirit as even at this "mature" age, I don't want to have excuses for not giving everything I've got to this life I've been given. I want my story to end with "She was unstoppable!" No, I'm not planning on trying out for some ninja obstacles or apparatuses, but I do plan to continue to be God's Ninja Warrior -- taking on life's obstacles, challenges and pressures with a vengeance. I refuse to give up until I'm taken up. There's a hyphen in between the date of birth and the date of death on gravestones. What does that hyphen represent in our lives? I sure want mine to be "lived life to the fullest, didn't accept quitting, ran her race with gusto, pressed on to the finish line". What does your hyphen represent? What's YOUR excuse?