As we celebrate July 4th, let us give thanks to God, to the founding fathers and to all who have fought and served and sacrificed so that we have the opportunity to live this abundant life. God bless you all.
I was compelled to write this blog today “Remember Your Blessings” ; Enjoy!
As I lay on the coach or the picnic table or the floor day after day, hour after hour, I purposely remember my blessings.
Remembering the blessings in your life give you strength when the waters rise, when defeat looks eminent.
It’s hard to lay still. It’s especially difficult when moving and being a world-class athlete was your identity, your joy. I cannot change my circumstance yet, with God’s help, I can rule my mind.
Ruling your mind is powerful.
Remembering your blessings helps you keep your mind on the victory.
One of the blessings I keep close to my heart as I traverse this valley is something that happened just this past November.
For nearly 30 years, God gifted me with the ability to compete in triathlons, aquathlons and biathlons. I love everything about them. The challenge, the extraordinary places you travel; the waking in the wee hours of the morning when the world is still asleep, the brilliant stars that take your breath away, the electric energy as you arrive, the new and old friends you meet; the beauty of the sunrise, the glistening water, the prayers, the frenzy as the gun goes off; the mind control, the jumping over fear and doubt, the pushing of one’s body beyond the limits, the elation of crossing the finish line or standing on a podium.
I miss racing so much. And yet I am so grateful for all the years God let me chase my triathlon dreams.
At first, I just wanted to finish. And then I raised the bar. I wanted to place in my age division, then overall, then make Team USA and compete in an age group World Championship, then win Nationals, then Worlds and then break a World record.
By 2013, all those dreams came true except winning a National championship.
To win, everything needs to go perfectly. Sadly for years at Nationals, something always came in my way; a slow leak, chemotherapy, a competitor grabbing me in vice grip induced by fear, bone metastasis, rocks in my goggles, a race belt falling off, loosened handle bars, to name a few.
But on November 10th 2018 in Miami Florida, something extraordinary happened.
I wasn’t planning on being in Miami to compete at the National Aquathlon Championships. I was planning on retiring. I’d just competed on July 12th, 2018 at the Age group world aquathlon championships in Denmark where I placed 6th overall and was the top American with the fastest run despite enduring radiation to 4 pelvic tumors just months before. To God be the Glory.
When my fellow competitor asked if I was going to the National Age-group Aquathlon Championships in Miami and subsequently announced the date November 10th (111), hope rose up within me.
111 had been Gods special way of encouraging me through hard times. Maybe that long ago dream of winning Nationals was in my future.
Leading up to Nationals, I won every race overall for woman and once overall for men and women. I felt strong, ready and yet when I arrived, doubt crept in.
Each time doubt threatened to overwhelm me, God would send me a 111 on a building, or the clock would read 10:11. He was so faithful in His encouragement. At thus, I surrendered it all. I could only do my best. The rest was up to Him.
The Larry and Penny Thompson zoo was a perfect venue even with the alligator signs warning us not to swim in the lake. I wasn’t scared, but another competitor was. I asked her before our wave went off if she would like me to say a prayer. As I held her hands, the Holy Spirit surrounded us. I don’t know what I said but when I finished, multiple hands of other competitors were upon us. We all felt blessed. Never had that happened before a National Championship; it was beautiful. I knew it was going to be a great day.
When the gun went off, I gave everything I had. My swim and transition were perfect. As I began to run, I felt Jesus running with me. My mantra; “All for your glory Lord; all for your glory”. I pushed past the heat, the pain and focused on my heavenly father. When I crossed the finish line, there was nothing left to give. I had given it all.
My husband Peter met me at the finish line, hugged me and told me he thought I came in 5th. I was crushed. I really thought I had won. I collected my things and we began to socialize. When the announcer said he’d be presenting awards in 3 minutes, I went to check the standings. Miraculously, I saw my name in the number one slot and fell on my knees. I’d won.
I stayed on my knees with my arms raised and wept as I thanked Jesus over and over.
I just couldn’t believe that God gave me my dream. And incredibly on November 10th (111). It was more than I could ask or imagine. The cancer treatments, the pain, the doubt, the trials, the insurmountable odds were all were washed away in a moment of unimaginable bliss.
When the announcer put the Gold medal around my neck said and “Here is Karen Newman, she is a stage 4 metastatic breast cancer survivor, and she is your National Champion”, I wept again. Then I smiled in awe as I looked out over the crowd. I pointed to the heavens and the two award winners to my left and right grabbed my hands, raised them higher and together we gave God the glory He so richly deserved.
It is a moment, I will never forget.
No other National Championship win would have been so rich. God’s timing is perfect.
Do not lose hope if your circumstances look dire or your dreams are taking a while. Sarah had to wait until she was 90 to have a baby. I waited nearly 30 years before winning a National Championship.
Before that win, I waded through many deep dark valleys. I know what it’s like to be on a bedpan, I know what its like to be broken. And I know what it’s like to taste victory.
Your God inspired dream is about to be realized. Keep your eyes on Jesus. He will never leave you or forsake you.
In the waiting, remember your blessings; write them down, keep them close. Thank God often. This is the only way, I am making my way through my present circumstance with glimmers of joy and hope and victory.
The Creator of Heaven an Earth loves you. He knows your dreams and your every need.
He will help you triumph in His perfect timing. Of this I have no doubt.