Thursday, October 31, 2013

How to Prevent Twisting Scripture and Distorting God's Voice

I bet you think this blog is about you, don't you, don't you. You're so .....

OK - Now that I have your attention I would like to have a discussion.
I've had something on my heart that I've tried to express in our women's meeting the other night and did not verbally communicate my point very effectively.  So I thought I would give it another attempt by writing out what I was trying to convey. In our bible study called 'Secrets' by Beth Moore I brought up the fact that all too often people twist scripture and the 'voice' of God to fit their own offenses, motives and secret desires.  I even posted on Facebook last week about how people hear from God and twist scripture to justify their offenses.  I received some interesting responses. Sadly enough, a scripture used in a response was twisted and the 'twistee' did not even recognize it. This is most always the case. We probably have all made the 'twistee' mistake in some form or another. 
There are two points I want to discuss. 1. Twisting Scripture and 2. Distorting God's voice.  Both of which I have done and have seen many others do as well.
First I will start with point 1. Twisting scripture.  
How many times have we or someone that we know, "who has been offended", posted scriptures that justifies the offense or enables us/them to play the role of victim?  For instance, when we have perceived that someone has hurt us; we find scripture that justifies our feelings and we post scriptures about 'God judging those who oppress us', or how the 'enemy is out to get me' etc. etc.  We so easily take on the victim role.  It suits us well when we need petting or coddling from others.  We find others to help justify our own behavior and worse case scenario we try to get others to join us in our offense and create division. This, my friends is dangerous; very, very dangerous. We all know that God hates division.  But oh how we can so easily justify our actions by pointing out more scripture to back us up - hence becoming a 'twistee' of scripture. So in order to prevent these sometimes innocent, yet grave mistakes, I have come up with a few check list points to help with discerning whether or not we are operating from your own egotistic motives from our offense. Please note, these are not all knowing check lists by any means.  Add to or take away what does not sit well with you. Here they are: 

  1. If you are offended what part did you play in it? Did you behave in a 'human' way that caused others to react in a 'human' way back towards you.  Are you offended because they acted not like you thought a 'Christian' should and you took offense at their 'human' reaction towards you? So how can we take offense if our behavior was human and their response back was human? 
  2. Do you believe the enemy is after you? In what way is the enemy after you? For instance, if it's our finances, did you go out and rack up your credit card and now think the enemy is after you because you are in debt and can't pay your bills? Once again, do a check on what part you played in this. For those who glorify Satan and themselves by claiming his attention to them; there is only one devil, and he is not omnipresent.  So, for us to consider that the devil is after us is quite egotistical. 
  3. Are we taking on a victim role? If so, what attention is the 'victim' role getting us? A heart felt check of 'playing a victim' is very much needed here. This can be a very difficult thing to do.  I have been guilty of and have seen so many people who easily take on a victim identity not realizing that they were getting attention from this and therefore subconsciously feeding their own ego. What are we truly getting out of playing a victim?
  4. What are our true motives? Do we need to own our behavior and apologize? Are you secretly wanting to 'divide and conquer'? Search your heart and ask God for conviction on what your true heart motives are in the situation. You might be surprised at how you can deceive yourself.
  5. Is our response to the situation life giving or death? Uplifting or deflating?
  6. And most importantly here, are we convincing others of our perspective and creating division? No if's, ands or buts about this one. This is gossip, back biting and backstabbing. If so, once again pray that God exposes our heart; then either repent and/or apologize for our behavior or move on.
We have to take responsibility and be accountable for our own human behavior and reactions, our own ego and most importantly our own issues of the heart. For if it is not what God says about us, then it is simply not true.  God allows us to go through trials to build character. Character builds when we are forced to take a good, long, hard look at ourselves. This can be very, very humbling. But on the flip side, this humbling of the human heart is a precious gift. So receive it fully and gratefully.

Point #2 Hearing God's voice
How do we know if what we are hearing in our prayer time is truly God's voice or our own ego, motives, or desires? We have an amazing way of distorting God's voice not only for ourselves but for other's as well.  I can't tell you how many times someone has come up to me in a church situation and say "I really hear the Lord telling me (fill in the blank)" and they were way off base. 
So how do we discern that the voice we are hearing is truly God's voice.  By 'voice' I don't mean audible voices. Don't get me wrong, some may hear an audible voice, but God does not speak to me audibly. If you are hearing audible voices and those voices are telling you to harm yourself or others, as a nurse, I must advise you to seek professional help immediately!  All joking aside (kind of), for me - I hear God as a 'knowing' or 'intuitive' feeling. This knowing can be strong and at other times very tender. We must go to our 'closet' as Beth Moore states in 'Secret's and don't tell anyone until we have total conviction that it is from God. Be patient, for He will reveal in due time. 
So here is my check list to help with discernment of knowing God's voice :
  1. If the word of direction given to us comes from someone else ask this question; ''what will the word giver gain"?  Is there a platform for the 'word giver'? For instance is the word giver getting to be 'on stage performing' or getting glory from this in any way? Take caution if this is the case for they may be operating out of ego.
  2. This is the most important point if you are receiving a word of direction from someone else.  Does this word resonate true to your heart? Have you been seeking God for something and it has not been coming to you and now someone is speaking the answer to you? On the flip side of this, when someone thinks that they can hear God better than you can, then let this be a point of caution. We all have that same direct line to God, so don't let anyone lead you into thinking they have 'superior faith' than you. This is a sign of an inferiority complex on the part of the other person. Don't let them push their issues on you. I suggest you listen; decide if this feels true to you; cautiously pray. I firmly believe that God will speak to you through other people, but again, discernment is key. Use caution and just listen.
  3. If you are hearing from God yourself, do a constant heart check. Will this harm others? If so, it is not from God. Will this create division? If so this is not from God.  Check you heart motives strongly here for this is important. We can so easily distort God's voice to justify our actions. History can tell us all sorts of horror stories regarding abuse of people who thought they heard God's voice. If you have a total peace about the 'word' in your spirit, then this is probably God. If you still need confirmation then continuing praying and seek wise counsel.
 I have made a point here to not use scripture to back up my writing. I could pull out many scriptures to justify this writing, but just as easily, I could pull up scripture to justify the opposite. It is so easy to misinterpret what the bible is saying and twist it to meet our needs. That is why it is important to be in a good church that helps to rightly divide the word of God and help in understanding scripture in its context. 
Hopefully these check lists, along with deep prayer and heart discernment will help you prevent being a 'twistee' of scripture.  Most importantly, if you have made any of these mistakes then forgive yourself! I know I have to forgive myself many times over. We are, after all, just human.

So back to the very beginning...I bet you think this blog is about you, don't you, don't you, your so.....Nope!  I wanna talk about me, Wanna talk about I, Wanna talk about number one, oh my me my, What I think, what I like, what I know, what I want, what I see, I like talking about you you you you, usually, but occasionally, I wanna talk about meeeeee! I wrote this to myself and decided to blog it publicly in hopes to help others who have asked these same questions. I certainly hope that I do not come across as 'all knowing'.  For if it's one thing I do know for sure is that I do not know a thing and that I will never just arrive. Life is a journey.  A journey that entails endless lessons.
Blessings my dear friends. I certainly hope that I did not offend anyone with this posting. I was just preaching to myself here and if this helps anyone else, then great!! Would love to hear what you think so please leave me a comment.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Beautiful Things!

This was such a beautiful video that I just had to share on my blog.  Please watch.  I hope this video blesses you as much at it has blessed me. ♥ ✝

Monday, May 27, 2013

How to make a lamp from a clay pot

I found this beautiful clay pot in the back room on the clearance table.  This sparked an idea for a lamp. We have just purchased a small home near the beach and will be moving in about a month. In the meantime I am trying to get decorating ideas that will carry the beach theme into our little home.  I am looking for unique items that will make our home... 'our home'.  This is the first piece that I have been inspired by.  Hope this inspires you to create something new and unique.
Here are the supplies you will need :
Lamp kit from Lowes or Home Depot - cost - $10.00
Clay pot - I found mine regularly priced at $100 marked down to $25 - you can use any unusual container such as glass bottles etc.
Plug for hole opening.  This was the hardest part to find. I wondered around Hobby Lobby looking forever on what would cover the hole. I chose a 31/2 inch wooden disc for 85 cents that worked perfectly and I painted it a neutral gray to match the pot. You can use cork, sculpy clay in which you mold it to fit and bake it to harden.
Epoxy glue 
Drill and Masonary bit to drill hole in pot and piece you chose for plugging hole.
Masking tape
Lamp shade - I did not get this on sale. I thought it was overly priced at $25 at Lowe's. But I was excited to do my project so I bought it. In the future I plan on making my own lamp shade.
So there is the list of supplies.  Watch the video on how to complete and enjoy!!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Blessings in The Hole

This beautiful, foggy Sunday morning I spent, as I often do every week, watching Oprah's Super Soul Sunday. Her guests usually fill me with hope, insight and inspiration. This morning she had Sarah Ban Breathnach as her guest. Sarah wrote the book 'Simple Abundance'.  I have read many inspirational self help books but have to admit that 'Simple Abundance' was not one of them.  'Simple Abundance' is one of the best selling books of all time. 
On the show, Sarah reveals that after her phenomenal success of 'Simple Abundance',  in her belief that the money would never end, chose yet another bad spouse, divorced for the 3rd time, spent her money recklessly and lost her massive fortune and was humbly forced to move in with her sister while she wrote her next book. In a nutshell, Sarah found herself in  what I call 'the hole'.
I am fascinated by the rags to riches to rags stories. Although to a much, much smaller degree, I understand this story for I too have lost everything.  Over ten years ago I found myself with my identity totally wrapped up in materialism and in turn lost who I was supposed to become in striving for financial attainment. I say that I lost who I was supposed to become because I never knew who I was in the first place. Like Sarah, I too lost all material things that I had acquired through the choices I had made (bad financial decisions,  spousal choice and the belief that the money would never end).  It forced me to a place that shook me to my bones.  This place was a horrible, deep dark hole.  This dark hole forced me to take a hard look at myself, my belief system and most importantly at the choices that I had made that so perfectly paved the path for me to arrive smack dab in  the middle of darkness.  It was then that I realized the shallow, materialistic person I had become.  It also forced me to take a look at myself and why I attracted abusive people into my life. For people treat you the way that you allow them to. Unfortunately some of those people were my family (namely my mother and step father) and to this day they will not speak or acknowledge my existence because of the shame and embarrassment that I brought to them in their community (their words).  My youngest son Noah humorously tells me that I got a burn notice from my mom.  He is so funny.  My children will never know this kind of pain. Please note that there is more to this story than I am writing, I just don't have the time or space allowed to bore you with the years of details that led up to my being blacklisted from my family.  They are not fully to blame here. I take total responsibility and own up to the behaviors and choices that I made for my part in this occurrence. 
So back to the Sarah Ban Breathnach interview; I found it interesting that a person who wrote that peace and fulfillment is found in simple abundance could so easily get wrapped up in materialism and finding her self worth in bad relationships.  Yet I found this eerily ringing true.  How many of us seek the truth, know the truth, then allow ourselves to be led astray and before we know it find ourselves back in the dark hole? How many times do we have to end up in the dark hole before we say 'enough is enough'.  For many months, years and sometimes a lifetime, people find themselves in the hole, deflect their bad behaviors and terrible situation onto the blame of others and never take full responsibility for ending up in the hole, or even staying in the hole.  Some people spend their lifetime in the hole and keep themselves there numbed by self medicating, therefore never allowing themselves to acknowledge, recognize or own up to how they truly ended up there in the first place. For others, it is a blessing, an awakening, a call to action. A time for drastic and radical change to get back to authenticity and their true nature. 
Throughout my entire life I have made job decisions based on money.  All the while, I was miserable in my jobs, never feeling authentic and always feeling trapped. I can't tell you how many years I have spent driving to work feeling like just another rat in a wheel. Invisible. Unfulfilled. Guilt for leaving my children when they needed a mommy.  But I did it because I had to support my family. This is what I told myself.  Yet all the while, not saving money and making bad choices and ending right back up in the hole.  I could pull myself out for a while only to end back up in that all too familiar dark place.  There are different degrees in the depth of the hole. The biggest degree is rock bottom, the deepest part of the hole.   Surprisingly rock bottom is the one that can be the biggest blessing if allowed.  The one that awakens you, makes you change everything. It is the constant cycling through the upper layers of the hole that is the most dangerous.  For if you are like me, you can pull yourself up for awhile but before you know it you have made the same familiar choices and find yourself back in the same place and lots of wasted years.  If not recognized it becomes a never ending lifetime cycle.
For several years now I have had a stirring.  Interestingly enough, so has my husband.  I think it is important for one to pay close attention to this stirring, which also feels like a discomfort or edginess.  If you pay close heed to this stirring it can be an anti-hole prevention insurance policy. I believe God placed this feeling of discomfort within us to get us to look inward.  A time for introspection and reflection.  This gives you another chance to move forward, to break old habits, to rise above mundane and a pause for deep search for your true calling. A time to give permission to just be. If recognized, then your hole becomes a gift.  It enables you to ponder on how it is that you truly want to live your life day in and day out.
For years now I have been drawn towards getting back to nature, simplifying, meditating, praying, slowing down, allowing my creativity to flow in whatever form it wants to take,  becoming increasingly self sufficient by living more off the grid and spending more time with family and most importantly with God. I am never more at peace than when I am doing those things. to just remember this on a daily basis and not to slowly slide back into the all to familiar hole.
My prayer for you, the reader :  When you find yourself in the hole may you fully receive the blessings and gifts that your hole offers you.  After all, one cannot know peace and happiness if one has not experienced its opposite.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Crazy Good Detox Drink Recipe

This is a vlog I put together to show you how to make a 'crazy good' detox drink.  I have used this drink for several months now and I love it. I drink it every morning and when I do a full juice detox I incorporate this into my detox program three times a day. I can see a vast difference in how I feel when I drink this recipe.
I am in the process of putting up a website for sharing what I believe is the best detox system ever!  Because we are a tripart being (body, mind and Spirit) I believe in addressing our entire being for a total cleansing that will change you into 'crazy good' health! 
I will be sharing recipes for detox using this apple cider vinegar drink as well as incorporating juicing and healthy 'real' food (no crazy fad diets).  I will also be sharing herbal tea remedy's, yoga postures, skin care and meditation for a complete and total detox of mind, body and spirit. 
So stay tuned. I will share my vlog recipes as I complete the total 'Crazy Good Life Now Detox System'. 
Please feel free to visit my website it is still a work in progress. In the meantime, try my apple cider vinegar detox drink and let me know what you think. 
Do the Crazy Thing!

Sunday, February 10, 2013


I have a bucket list. A list of what I want to do before I die.  I call it my 'doing the crazy thing' list. It is a list that I keep with me and review frequently.  I get great pleasure when I can mark off one of my to do's on my crazy thing lists.
For the beginning of 2013 I thought it would be great to be able to mark off of my list one of my 'crazy things'.  So my husband and I completed a 70.3 IronMan Triathlon.  That entails a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride and a 13.1 mile run all in one race.  We completed it Jan 13, 2013 in Naples Florida. It was AWESOME!  Wohoo! CHECK!
But ever since my 70.3 Ironman Triathlon I just haven't been the same. I have been tired and sluggish and struggled with upper respiratory issues from swimming in the red tide. When you push your body to it's edge, what can you expect? It's all part of doing the crazy thing!  Heck, if we were to sit indoors all day afraid of getting sick then what is the point of living? Besides, sickness is actually good for us. Yes, you read it right. Our bodies were actually designed to get sick.  We have this wonderful little thermostat in our bodies that increases our temperature when it detects foreign intruders. That is why I always recommend to my patients that they do not reach for the tylenol or ibuprophen but simply let your body's natural defense mechanism kick in. That is what it is designed for. Too often when we start to run a fever we automatically try to stop it by taking a Tylenol or ibuprophen. This actually stops our natural immune system and makes us sicker and worse yet, even weaker. If you have a simple cold try letting your body run its course and detox naturally. Your body in turns becomes stronger and this also increases the immune system.
In helping my body kick the funk that I had created by stressing it, I did my simple detox system.  I now feel back to 100% with lots of energy and ready to start doing another crazy thing.  I will share my detox system with you in the coming days.
In the meantime, don't forget to do the crazy thing!
Annette Broy, RN,CCM,RYT
Let thy food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food...Hippocrates.

Friday, January 25, 2013

MY 70.3 IRONMAN ADVENTURE : The life lessons I learned from being a loser and the benefits of being last.

“Have you lost your freakin mind?” Was the response that hubby had when he realized that I had not only signed me up but committed him to a 70.3 IronMan triathlon as well.  This response is a phrase that unfortunately I have heard all too many times throughout my lifetime.  But oh well, I guess ‘out of your freakin mind’ is a matter of perspective.  Anyway that is what I chose to tell
myself.  I’d rather be 
‘crazy’ than ‘normal’ any day.
Completing a 70.3 IronMan Distance triathlon was a bucket list item for my husband and me.  I have wanted to do an Ironman for several years now. Anytime I would start to think about attempting this goal life would get in the way.  So I kept putting it on the back burner. Then one-day fate stepped in and sent me an email.  HITS triathlon series offered a limited time discount on a sign up fee of only $75.00 for the 70.3 Ironman distance (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride, 13.1 mile run = 70.3 mile race).  This was a great deal considering it is normally $250-350.00.  I took it as a sign from God and faster than you can say C-A-A-R-A-Z-Y I signed us up! Just like that! 
And then…
We ran. We biked. We swam. We juiced. We did yoga.
Nine months and many miles later on Jan 12, 2013 at 7:00 am we found ourselves toeing the line at the 1.2 mile swim start in Naples Florida.  Mike is 30 pounds lighter and his run, bike and swim times have greatly improved. Me, well I’m only a few pounds lighter and my times are lightning fast...well…that is…IF YOU ARE A SLOTH ON VALIUM!  But I was OK with that…Really…as long as I didn’t get LAST.
To those of you who do not know, I was fortunate enough to be born an identical twin. Yes, I began life a genetic freak. This has great advantages and disadvantages. For instance you can get by with murder and no one really knows which one it was. This drove my sister crazy, for she was ‘deemed’ the nice one and I was…well…the wild one.  I will leave alone what you can do to boyfriends.  There are many more advantages but I will save that for another blog.  Disadvantage : I was born and raised to compete. Ever since I can remember I was pitted against my twin.  It was always ‘which one is the fastest, prettier, thinner, older, younger’…on and on and on. We competed with each other in everything we did.  So now you get an idea on how I have been raised in regards to competition. Last was never a good thing. It made you invisible.
Back to the race, I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t nervous.  I did not know if I could do this.  I knew I could swim 1.2 miles, I knew that I could bike 56 miles and I knew that I could run 13.1 miles.  What I did not know is if I could put it all together and complete it all in one race.  And to top it all off, there would be no Starbuck’s rest breaks…WHAT!!! HOLY CRAP! No Chai tea latte’?! How could you do all that and not take a Starbucks latte’ break??!! What the heck?? Boy, if I were race director things would certainly be planned better!
The swim starts in the dark promptly at 7 am and I purposely stay at the back of the pack. I am not a strong swimmer so I thought I would be courteous to the other athletes and not make them swim around me, or worse yet over me. We were very lucky this day. In January you never know what the water temp or the weather is going to be like. The water was an amazing calm and clear 70 degrees.  Perfect for a sloth in a wet suit. Immediately I started having trouble breathing, wheezing even.  I couldn’t exhale. The one thing I did not anticipate was red tide, nor my reaction to red tide.  I had an asthmatic type reaction to the point of almost panic. I do not have asthma but apparently I am allergic to red tide. I had to calm my mind and talk to myself the entire swim. I had no choice but to flip over on my back and backstroke.  I really don’t know how to backstroke so I just winged it.  I wheezed and wheezed and stroked and stroked. I looked up at the sky as the sun was rising, slowly pin wheeling the colors from a dark night sky into a clear cerulean blue and I prayed. I backstroked for what seemed an eternity. I have never quit a race before and I was not about to quit now.  I had a relatively calm mind but I was confused with my body for I could not get control of my breath – I could inhale but could not get the air back out.  So all I did was keep going forward no matter how slow. I surrendered to God to carry me in.  Around me there were several swimmers calling for help.  The spotters in the water were rescuing them. How many, I do not know. I was trying to keep from being rescued myself. Near the half way mark a cute young man on a paddleboard paddled up beside me. Hence, this starts my ‘benefits of being last’ part. He starts telling me how awesome I am doing and how close I am to the finish line. He offers to loosen my wet suit, if needed, to help me breathe better. I tell him that I do not know what is happening to me.  I can’t breathe and feel as if I was having an asthma attack.  That is when he informs me that it is red tide and I was probably having a reaction. I am on my back so I cannot see the buoys to sight where I am going.  So cute young man on paddle board tells me when to turn, when to straighten and when to just swim and throwing in a few ‘you are so awesome’ comments. I can’t tell you how much his presence and encouraging words helped. I asked him if I was last and he stated no…you are rockin!! For the record, there was one man way behind me so I wasn’t completely last.
As I was making my way to the swim finish I had to run across a sand bar. I glanced down and there in the sand I saw a perfect sand dollar! A sign of good luck. Thank you God.  I said a quick prayer of gratitude. I knew it was all going to be OK.  I exited the water slightly embarrassed but relieved that I had made it out.  I was saluted with high fives from the race director – I make a mental note to self to talk to him about that Starbucks aid station. LOL!  The closer I got to the transition area the better I could breathe and within no time my breath returned to normal.  Now for the next ‘benefit of being last’.  At the transition area I was greeted with not just one personal male stripper, but two personal male strippers!!  OK you dirty birdies, get your mind out of the gutters. I’m at a triathlon not a strip club! A stripper is someone who helps take off your wetsuit. Had I been with the pack I would have had to wait in line to get stripped. Since I was the back of the pack they had no one else to strip so I got more attention!! Yay for me. As fast as I could say ‘Yippee!!’ they had my wet suit off.  I was quit impressed and a bit dazed…Snicker.
Next up 56 mile bike ride.  About 6 miles into it I had a motorcycle police officer pull up behind me.  He said he was going to follow me. I asked why.
“Because you are last.” He said. 
“What happened to the guy behind me in the swim?” I asked. 
“He dropped out.” 
“Awww shit!”  I yelled. My temper flared. “I hate being last!” I did not want this guy following me!   With him following me everyone would know that I was last!! Shit, shit, double shit!! I thought (I realize that some of my language is not appropriate. But I am writing what happened.  And unfortunately, with my negative frame of mind, this is what I said).  I was completely humiliated.  I’m pissed and discouraged and I am battling a tough head wind. My legs are already burning from running in my wet suit in the water. So I start ‘stinkin thinkin’ as my Uncle Dick Broy always said.  It means that all I was thinking was how bad things were and my mind became my biggest battle/enemy at this point.  ‘I can’t be last! I have to beat someone! How am I ever going to live with being last?  I am so embarrassed!  Oh my legs are burning, I can’t handle this horrible head wind, My back is killing me, I can’t feel my crotch, I have 50 more freakin miles to go of this crap! What the hell was I thinking?!  I am crazy!!’ And on and on it went. I battled my mind’s thoughts as the lean muscled, beautiful pro athletes doing the 140.6 distance tri who has now completed their 2.2 mile swim overtake me on mean looking $15,000.00 tri bikes.  They sped by me like I was standing still.  And here is what they said as they whizzed by this old lady with the motorcycle following her signifying last place.  “Awesome job!”  “You are rockin this race!”  “Keep going you are amazing!”  Highly pissed, I thought to myself  ‘are they thinking I’m a 100 yr old lil ol lady and I’m doing something miraculous?  What the hell?’ After reconsidering my offense I realized that their words were meant to be true encouragement.  Most runners and triathletes are awesome and inspirational people.   Still, I felt deflated and humiliated.  I pedaled and pedaled. 
Then through all the negativity in my mind, the thought immerged that I am here to complete a bucket list.  A ‘DNF’ (did not finish) is not an option.  The pain I am experiencing is temporary, the regret if I did not finish would be forever.  So I became friends with my personal escort officer on the motorcycle riding behind me. I gradually grew accustomed to the gentle hum of his motor. I road what seemed forever and never saw another cyclist.  Just me and the officer on a Sunday ride in the middle of nowhere. ‘Where did everyone go??’ I kept thinking. Finally I spotted someone and I overtook him. Yes!! I annihilated him! (in my mind) I am high, pumped! The wind is now at my back.  I am elated! No longer last! Yipee, yay!! I am celebrating.  The police officer pulled up beside me and said, “Good luck young lady (yes, he actually called me ‘young’ lady), You are doing awesome. I have to hang behind him, he is now last.”  And just like that, he was gone.  
I was alone. 
The sound of crickets.
Then suddenly I realized the benefit of having my last place escort. The bike course was an open course, meaning that there were lots of cars on the road and I went through very busy intersections.  That is when I noticed that the cars now drove too close to me, cut me off and it became down right nerve racking riding in all the traffic.  But alas, it was probably no longer than ten minutes and my escort was back. He said that the guy dropped out of the race and now I was back in last place.  My ego flared again as I told him,  “I’m really glad your back but it really SUCKS to be last!”
He laughed. 
This scenario of overtaking another biker and losing my escort took place three more times to the very end of the bike portion of the race.  But no matter how many cyclists I passed they would drop out so it was still me whom the officer rode to the bike finish line with.  The benefit of having him with me most of the race was that he kept me safe. I had no idea how safe I felt until he was gone. I rode in the bike lane and he rode in the car lane forcing the cars to go into the far left lane around me.  When crossing bridges where the bike lane ended, he would tell me when to move over, I never had to look back to check for cars.  Riding out on that 56 mile course was very lonely (I trained with hubby and was not accustomed to riding so long by myself).  Being alone was something I became acutely aware of when my last place escort dropped back with the riders I would pass. So there, that is a great perk of being last on the bike!  When we finished, he wished me luck and off I went into transition. It was there that I got my biggest reward.  My Dad and twin sister were cheering me on at the bike finish!!  I had not seen them in over a year!  I thought to myself, ‘If my twin were in this triathlon I would not be last!’ Anyway, that is what I told myself.
With a 13.1 mile run ahead of me it was no encouragement to hear someone crossing the finish line before I even got started. Which is what happened.   So, I took my noodle bike legs and tried to hobble out of transition onto the run. It was now a humid 87 degrees. Surprisingly, I was very clear headed.  My body was tired but I felt good. The pain I was experiencing was normal fatigue, a bit of lactic acid build up from what I was doing, but I was in no ‘real’ pain.  So off I went.  I met Mike around mile marker 4.5.  He was on his loop back, around mile marker 9 for him.  He was struggling from the heat, but overall, he was doing well.  We kissed and told each other that we were about to become ironmen.  Off he went as I watched him head towards the finish line.  At the halfway turnaround point came my next perk at being last (although I have to say that by now I have passed people and am no longer in last place). Two men worked the turn around aid station that marked the halfway point of the run. I am assuming that they were bored to tears for they eagerly jumped up and decided to ice me down with their wonderful sponges while making sure that I had plenty of fluids and fresh yummy fruit to enjoy during my refreshing ice bath. I felt like Cleopatra. Now I know that some of you once again are thinking…hmmm…I get two male strippers after the swim and now two men who give me an ice bath all while serving me fruit and drinks.  But I can assure you everyone was perfectly appropriate and they would have behaved the same way no matter who showed up. It was my timing that got me the attention.  I am so very appreciative of their services!! So off I go to the finish line thinking about how I’m going to pose for my finish line photo.  Now be honest! Any of you who have crossed the finish line can’t tell me that you didn’t think about your pose as you cross the finish line! Heck, isn’t that what it is all about? The finish line photo! Proof that you conquered and survived!
 So here I am. The moment arrives and the finish line is in site.  I rehearsed in my head a beautiful gazelle like leap across the line (ok, in my mind I was a gazelle, in reality I was still a sloth. But let me dream, OK!?)  I look around…prepared to leap.  What the heck?  No photographer!  He must have taken a break.  Probably in the crapper for having to wait so long! Oh well, I have no professional finish line photo.  But I did get a funny photo from my sister who took a pic of me from behind, running to the finish line.  Following me was a pro athlete who was competing in the full 140.6 mile distance ironman and was in first place.  I do not know how he ascended on me so quickly for I had turned around at the last tenth of a mile to make sure that those whom I had passed were not gaining on me.  There was no one within sight!  This athlete had missed his turn around at the 13 mile mark and followed me to the finish line! In the photo it appears that I am ahead of him. Hahaha! Poor guy. He crossed the finish line, so in “the zone” that he did not even know he had crossed it and became very confused when I stopped.  The race director realized what had happened and yelled at him to go back he missed his turn around (about 3 blocks back).  The athlete yelled, “But I was following her!” and pointed at me.  My dad and sister thought that was so funny. I later looked back at the full ironman results and this athlete did go ahead and finish first so this incident did not mess him up too bad. It did make for a great pic though for it appears that I am outrunning this great looking athlete!! Hahaha! So it wasn’t’ the great finish line photo that I had imagined, but it does make for a good laugh or two. And that trumps my beautiful gazelle like leap through the air anytime. That perfect finish line photo will have to remain forever in my mind. LOL! 
So to quickly recap. There were 218 athletes that started the race. Of those 218, only 138 people finished the race. So you can say that I really wasn’t in last place, I just refused to quit!  Anyway, that is what I will tell myself.  All the dropouts would explain why I kept asking myself throughout the race ‘where did all the people go?’
Mike finished 2nd in his category. I am so proud of him. I had a feeling he would do very well.   He missed his awards ceremony.  Hubby can never resist a massage and when he saw a sign after he crossed the finish line saying ‘free massage’, well that’s all she wrote for the fat lady had sung. Leave it to hubby to give up his award ceremony for a massage.   Fortunately, they are sending his award in the mail.
I completed the race with well over an hour before the cut off time. I am cool with that.  
I have had respiratory issues ever since the swim in the red tide.  Lot’s of sinus, and coughing, and not feeling well.  But the great part is that I spent the rest of the week celebrating with hubby, my twin sister and dad. I can’t tell you how much that meant to me that they came all the way from Missouri to see me cross the finish line. I am so blessed. It has been an awesome week! 
With every bucket list goal I have completed I discover more about myself and learn some very important life lessons.  With this ironman goal I was surprised to learn that with my feelings of being humiliated with last place there was still a part of me that was concerned with what ‘society’ or people might think.  Our society places importance of being first and tends to reduce the fact that just completing a goal is a feat all in itself.  We focus on how well we did compared to everyone else. I believed that I no longer cared about what anyone else thought about me. However, I realized during the race that the struggles I went through and the thoughts that rose up revealed that I still needed validation from others. I was surprised by this revelation.  By completing this ironman I believe I have come to terms with ‘what society or other people might think’ and now I believe that I can truly say I am free of this mindset.   I learned that despite obstacles (imposed and self imposed) I do not give up. When times got tough I learned to just flip over on my back, look up to the clear blue sky, surrender and pray and just keep moving forward.  I know for certain that I can never do anything all on my own. Nor should I even try. This reconfirmed and strengthened my belief that help is always within.  All I have to do is tap into our almighty God and no matter how hard things get He will always carry me. I consistently need to remember to let go of ego and surrender to this power.  I learned that once again, I am a finisher.  I learned that it takes courage to accept certain positions such as last place, swallow humiliation, let go of ego and just accept that things are the way they are and be ok with that.  I learned to find the positive in a situation that wasn’t working out like I had planned. I learned that last is not something to ever be ashamed of.  And most importantly I re-learned the lesson that we truly never just ‘arrive’ at a particular destination and that as long as I live there will always be another finish line to cross.  Life is a never-ending adventure and I must never forget to enjoy the journey. 
As for now, Mike and I have a check mark on a our 70.3 Ironman bucket list goal and we can officially say...
Let the next adventure and lessons begin!