Dreams really do come true. It just never seems to be in our timing. Still I have consistently found that Gods timing is perfect. He sees the whole picture.
5 days ago, my 8 year dream of carrying the United States of America Flag at the Parade of Nations came true. When USA triathlon announced the flag barer and it was Karen Newman, my heart jumped.
It was such a long wait.
The dream started in 2008 when I was told that Team USA had elected me to carry the flag in the Parade of Nations. I was there to represent the USA in the age-group world triathlon championships. I had earned a slot to compete on Team USA the year before. The year I didn’t know about the advanced breast cancer.
75 other countries were also there, putting forth their best athletes. I wasn’t going to be the best athlete that year as toxic chemo was coursing through my body. But despite the hardship, I had risen up. I was there to be an inspiration. I was there to show the world that anything is possible, that we can throw off the limits and do amazing things. The additional honor of carrying the flag made every struggle worth it. But as parade day approached, the icy rains would not relent and thus the parade was canceled. And with it, my dream was dashed. Still, I didn’t stop hoping that one day I would have that honor again.
On August 6th, 2015, USA Triathlon awarded me the “Most Inspirational Comeback” award and three days later, I went on to secure a slot on Team USA to compete in the 2016 age-group world championships in Cozumel. But on Mothers Day, 2016 (May) it seemed impossible to even think about representing my country, let alone carrying a flag because the breast cancer had spread to my spine and pelvis. The tumors, compression fracture and pain held me to the bed. When I finally got out of the hospital, I cried for the first time. I was unable to sit, wash my face, dress and could barely walk. The mountain in front of me seemed impossible to traverse. But we serve a God who specialized in the impossible. I had 4 months (September) to get walking, running, swimming, biking and racing. I didn’t know how, but I just couldn’t give up.
I told my doctors who shook there head in disbelief and everyone else that I was going to race. I kept putting out into the world thoughts of carrying the flag. I visualized myself in my uniform, on the start line, carrying the flag and crossing the finish line and my resolve grew strong. Slowly but surely, I got stronger, and in time, I was swimming, biking, and running. I kept dreaming. And then it happened.
On September 14th, 2016, I stood in my USA uniform on the front line of the Aquathon in Cozumel Mexico ready to race for my country. And miraculously, I came in 4th in the world! I still can’t believe it even as I write this. And I ran with no pain, only joy.
Later that night at the Parade of Nations, there was no icy rain. It was magnificently sunny and bright like the smile I could not wipe from my face. I soaked in every detail, appreciating everything so much more because of all that I have been through. I carried the flag high above my head and with each step, I was awed by it all.
Don’t give up your dreams. The creator of heaven and earth put them inside you to help you grow, stretch, lean in and learn. Dreams that take time and commitment to achieve are so very precious. Sometimes our dreams need tweaking, but don’t let someone else steal them from you. Don’t allow negative words to defeat you. Trust the God of the universe to reveal His great glory in His perfect timing. Speak life to your dream and to yourself. Tune into the still small whispers, be adaptable and persevere.
Your dreams matter. Honor them and I have no doubt that one day you will achieve them.