In my "intelligent" years as student at university, I decided it would be fun- yes, fun- to run a marathon together with some of my pals.

We had a professor who also found it "fun" to run marathons, too, and offered to train us.

What do I remember about training for a marathon? I remember finally liking coffee, irresistibly presented to me by my friend Natalie before an early morning distance training run. I remember sweating with my uni friends. I remember a nasty blister on the bottom of my right foot. But significantly, I remember Dr. Higgins, our professor. Our trainer.

His training technique has never left me. For Dr. Higgins, training wasn't simply observing us from a distance, and yelling out instructions to us. For him, training was putting on his running shoes, and with a eager smile and infectious enthusiam, observing us along the way, and showing us ways of improving.

I'll never forget that Dr. Higgins didn't train us from a distance; Dr. Higgins ran every step of the way with us. 

Eventually, we ran the whole thing. 26.2 miles.
And then we college girls intelligently ran another one... for fun.

Now that I'm a mom, I'm not running marathons anymore. My knees have declared civil war on any ambitions like that.

But I still think about Dr. Higgins. Regularly. Because now, as a mom, I'm a trainer, too.

Everyday, I'm training Catherine, Camille, Jack, and Jude for the steps that they are going to take in the days ahead.

Dependence on Jesus.

I can train them from a distance, or I can get right into their lives and run every step of the way with them.

I remember when Catherine, our eldest, was 18 months old. She loved to toddle over to our front door where the basket of winter hats, mitts, and scarves were kept. These things she put on. And took off. And put on. And took off. Until the basket was empty and these things were all over the floor.

I said, "Catherine, I don't mind if you play with those, but you need to put them back in the basket when you're done."

Time passed. Hats, mitts, and gloves still lay like colorful snow on our floor. Catherine was elsewhere.

I found her, walked her back to the empty basket, and rephrased my words. Then I showed her exactly what I meant. Then we did it together. Then I left a few at the end for her to do on her own.

We looked at the clean floor and celebrated.

Catherine wasn't the only one with a lesson to learn that day. Through this situation, I remembered Dr. Higgins. He subjected himself to our training. He entered in to our discipline.

I thought about how parenting can be distant: from-the-comfy-couch-remote-control-parenting. In the story I shared, I could speak out orders which Catherine may or may not understand how to implement. Both parties are likely to get upset with lack of understanding.

Or it can be it can be involved, integrated, let-me-run-with-you parenting. I could get in there and train with Catherine until she was conditioned to know the standard and uphold it on her own. (She's great at this now.)

Training, or discipline, cost our prof as much as it did us. Higgins had to put on his running shoes and run - every step we ran.  As we train/discipline our children, it costs us as parents. We have to get off the couch. We have to stop what we're doing. To talk to our kids. To explain. To demonstrate. To work together. To give opportunity for our kids to practice.

There's a verse in the Bible about training, or discipline (the Greek word is sophronismos, which is a blend of sos "safe" and phren "the mind" = "a calling to soundness of mind"):

All discipline (training) for the moment seems not to be joyful but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. 
Hebrews 13:11

I initially read this verse with my children in mind, but if I consider that discipline equally involves me, then this verse takes on a new light. It is encouraging not only for them, but also for us as parents. Training my kids may be tough. Hard. Sorrowful. Sometimes there are blisters. But as I am trained by it, and my kids are trained by it, discipline will yield peaceful fruit in our home.

Lord, thank you for the privilege of training 
alongside our children as we run through life together. 
As we train our children, 
may we humbly and faithfully embrace Your training in our own lives.


  1. I needed to read this message today. Thank you!! :)

  2. That was so encouraging to read, Sarah! I love "hearing" the wisdom God is giving you in your season of motherhood. Love and miss the Snyder's of CO!!