Posted by: Ed Deiss | September 3, 2015

A Letter To Myself in Ten Years

ed and will at pierDear Ed in Ten Years,

Your kids are likely on their own by now, and you may be as well (or not, it is ten years from now after all). Will is now twenty-seven, Rachel is twenty-four, and Zoe is twenty-one.  Need to get, or pickup, any of your kids from sports practices? Is their homework done? School papers signed? Do you have any laundry to fold this evening? Any lunches to make sure get made? Dinner for four? Great, all done and caught up!

I know there were times you wondered what qualifications you had to be a parent, let alone a single parent. What you experienced was not always as it seemed by flipping through your Facebook news feed (by the way, is that still around or did it go the way of MySpace?). There are probably times you are looking back right now and think about saying good night to them all as I do now.

As you are looking back on this time, I’m asking you to remember. Really remember. You never planned on being a single parent, yet decided to put into action the wisdom of Coach John Wooden: “Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.” Dad modeled it raising you as a single parent. Both Mom and Dad were there for you during this time, always. You learned growing up in Asia as a Third Culture Kid, though uneasy at first you adapted to your new environment and that ‘call of the unknown’ started to fill you with wonder as to what was ahead. Most days ended with exhaustion yet you were strengthened by the experience. You were navigating unchartered waters, yet you became more resilient. Though there were many times of doubt and instead of allow them to weaken your faith, you gained strength as you carried on. Raising kids is hard and there is a mirror in your face everyday. Gretchen Rubin was spot on when she said “The days are long, but the years are short.”

me and my trio at the beach

Will, Rachel, and Zoe are fantastic and you have enjoyed each and every stage. Football, basketball, until midnight summer swim meets, gymnastics, fishing, canoeing on the Shenandoah, beach time, camping, father/daughter dances, parasailing, water slides, the ‘dougie’ in the car at stoplights, making up our own lyrics (Zoe was right, you are a lousy rapper), Asian food dinner nights, speaking Malay to clear things up, school morning wake up routines with Zoe the wake up machine, ‘I love you notes’ that melt your heart, ‘I love you’ words out loud that melt your heart too, the look in their eyes when they don’t want their eyes to leave looking at you, and you at them, and saying goodnight before and after they are asleep.

will playing footballrachel on boatzoe at beach

You may have not realized it at this time where I am; sure you miss these times now. There is a tipping point and the years start to speed by. Oh, almost forgot. Make sure you call them; sure they will still have phones of some kind that have a voice feature in ten years. They will be paying for them too by then. Whether you are just letting them know you love them, thinking about them or making plans to be together.

I’m on my way to where you are Ed, and so far I have come to realize and appreciate what C.S. Lewis realized as well that “There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.”

By the way, remember those summers we chased the sun?

Just as this year, each one has its own story.

Stay Strong,

The younger Ed

Posted by: Ed Deiss | August 11, 2015

Getting Through Tuesday

helping_hand_by_lhhusky07He came home from an ordinary workday, yet something seemed amiss.  It has been 14 years, however the day that changed futures is still fresh in his mind. What he saw when he opened the door, he never expected, wanted, or had a passing thought would ever happen.  There was a car he did not recognize in the driveway, what is going on?  Went in his home and found his then wife with another man who was in turn being confronted by his wife, and carrying their 2-year-old child as a shield during the heated confrontation. A volatile mix of emotions and actions; surreal, confusion, confrontation, and anger. Though in the midst of one of those blindsiding ocean storm waves he never saw coming, he had the strength of character to protect. My buddy’s wife was so distraught with her actions she went for the Drano to poison herself, he knocked it out of her hands.  She then went for a gun, he blocked her. Then she raked a butcher’s knife across her wrist. After more threats and waving the knife at him, he called 911.  The street was filled with police cars, and in they came with guns drawn. Away she went in cuffs.

That day changed and impacted many lives, that guy who walked in that door is one of my ‘band of brothers’ who has encouraged and been there for me. We can share and relate with each other as we both have experienced human betrayal and pain beyond our, and probably your, wildest imaginations, yet we got through it.

He shared with me for this post that afterwards:

  • The future went from 10 to 15 years out to simply Tuesday
  • His initial reaction was “trust no one” …who has keys to the house? Close the bank accounts! Buy a safe! Change the locks! Cover the windows with sheets! Draw the curtains! Cancel all the credit cards!
  • Learning to trust was a huge challenge ….let me rephrase that …making a deliberate and conscious decision based on blind faith to trust was a huge step
  • Being an independent minded man, I had NEVER relied upon my friends so heavily. Without fail each one was there, no questions asked. One was packed and ready to drive from Colorado until I convinced him that I was ok. My neighbor was right at the door right after police left.
  • He came to a place where he could be comfortable in his own skin again and was completely transparenent with his now wife; the first time they met…let her know “I have baggage.” Being graced by God with his new wife coming into his life (they have had 2 children as well), she is from a country on the other side of the world.

Fast forward a few years. We met for lunch to catch up with each other, as I was just learning to fly on my own and as a single parent.  How did you get through it, I asked?

‘Ed, just focus on the day at hand, and then getting through the next day, and then just getting through Tuesday.’

One step, one day, at a time.

Thank you buddy for sharing this to encourage others, as you have with me…you know who you are.  You have gone through Tuesday and beyond.

“We’re stronger in the places we’ve been broken” – Ernest Hemingway

Seems that is the way life goes, living each day as ordinary as they seem and then one day, something happens. Suddenly, we are on the boulevard of broken dreams; lives are shattered.  Life as it was and we have known is gone, feeling both helpless and hopeless.

There will be times in your life that you will have to deal with personal hardship of some kind.  It could come in different ways, and more than one at a time; loss of your job, death of a spouse, adultery, divorce, death of a child or parent, or the inability to have children. The experience may seem overwhelming, and knock the wind out of you.  You can press forward and though it won’t be easy, here are some ways to maintain that focus and peace of mind that authors Marc and Angel Chertoff have learned, with some of my insights:

  • Learn to trust yourself – Trust your instincts and your gut, and move forward with faith in your abilities.  Stay true and honor yourself, life will not forsake you. Though I could not see it at the time, I was reassured it will work out in the end.
  • Focus on what you are learning – Any journey worth going on is supposed to be just that, worth it. Not easy, worth it. “I have never met a strong person with an easy past” (Unknown)
  • Ease your expectations – Had to remind myself what happened and what it was all about, as was completely unexpected. Perhaps there was a greater purpose, and seeing things as they are is just what I need and where I need to be.
  • Open up to someone you trust – See above. I came to realize that I was not alone and other guys and dads who had been on a similar journey, they had been there. They walked beside me, picked me up, pulled me through, and were there at 3am when I called too.
  • Use hope to drive positive action – Encourage and inspire, strive and grow. Even when circumstances say otherwise. As my heart healed I figured out that I needed to get to a place where I could appreciate and be grateful where I was at this point in my life. One of the ways I learned to get on the road of hope is by being there and serving others, you will likely learn as I did that serving others serves you. Serve with who you are, wounds, limitations, and experiences and your heart changes, perspective is gained, and appreciation will grow.
  • Give yourself time – Remember my pastor saying probably take a year to year and a half to heal. I took that time and more, thought best to take what I need and no need to rush. It is a process that is as unique as each person and circumstance. Be patient with yourself and don’t force it, better to take the time than mask your pain.
  • Look for the beginning in every ending – Let the adventures of what lies ahead fill your heart with wonder, as the lessons of the past serve you well for a great beginning.

Though this does not sound like a gift anyone would want, I have come to appreciate and see a purpose through the pain and how faithful God was to carry me through.  Namely:

  • Through the storm and fog that blurred my vision, my faith was strengthened, more refined, and pure by being put through the fire.  Strong convictions does not mean doubts do not creep in. Walking the foggy road of doubt and confusion after being on the boulevard of broken dreams helped solidify my faith.
  • My heart has grown more compassionate toward people around me as I look through a new set of eyes.  I have a heart for single parents, kids of single parents and Third Culture Kids who just need someone to encourage, believe, and be beside them through the tough, uncertain, doubtful, and dark days.
  • My focus as a Dad has become stronger; as my Dad was with me I treasure the time with my kids.  As a new school year is upon us and our summer days are getting shorter, am reminded that though ‘though the days may be long, the years are short’.  They are all getting taller though.

IMG_3919

 

It is natural for us to only see our circumstances with the troubles and pain, rather than results of enduring the struggle and the hand walking us through the storm.  Arthur Hays Sulzberger was the publisher of the New York Times during the second World War. Because of the world conflict, he found it almost impossible to sleep. He was never able to get worries from his mind until he adopted as his motto these five words: “One step enough for me” taken from the old hymn, Lead Kindly Light.

I figured out that all I needed was a lamp to my feet, not a crystal ball into the future. Don’t know what will happen tomorrow, what I do know is I’m not alone and though God is not going to let me see the distant scene I’m reassured that “Faith tells me that no matter what lies ahead of me, God is already there.”  – Unknown

Finally, getting through Tuesday can involve questions of identity. My journey has circled around it and the lifelong puzzle that falls into place one piece at a time.  Where do we find it, and why does it matter. If there are times you can’t seem to see your own worth, don’t need to look to yourself to find it.  Allow yourself to be reminded that your identity is not found in how you look, your income, education or relationship status.

Rather than run from it, run to it and be reminded who you are.  You can get through Tuesday, and beyond.

Until Next Time,

Ed

 

 

Posted by: Ed Deiss | July 27, 2015

The Strength of Scars

strength of scarsI was asked a question one evening a few years ago by some good friends that know where I have been. Just take a look at your scars, Ed. Look closely, what do you see?  I have one immediately in sight from when my Dad accidentally slammed the car door of our Dodge Polara (anyone remember those?) on my index finger when I was around five years old. What came to my mind was ‘Looks tougher, more resilient than the original skin tissue and serves as a reminder of my past; it is real and healed’. Now, what did I realize after that epiphany? The strength of scars. Even though I was going through another life changing storm at the time, I had a choice to make, namely choosing to dwell in the scar or realize and use the strength gained from it.

“A scar simply means you were stronger than whatever tried to hurt you.” – Unknown

In life, we are going to encounter bumps and ‘jagged rocks’ as we climb through the years. Many of them hurt us, scar us, and leave us sore and bruised. However we can choose to see all the bumps, bruises, and scars not in terms of the damage they caused, but as stepping stones that provide focus to a higher plane of living; they make you strong.

From every wound there is a scar, and from every scar there is a story.

As writer Jeff Goins has said about stories, they sure can be powerful. You know why?

A story is where we came from and where we are going. A story is what connects us and binds us to each other. It is in the story of God and mankind amongst love and fear and failure that we make meaning of our lives. A story is what defines us and sets us apart. It’s what allows us to connect with each another to truly know and be known. Nothing is so warm and inviting, yet so challenging and poignant, as a powerful story, told well. They are written to be shared not only for our own sake, for the benefit of others. Stories change people.*

“Scar tissue is stronger than regular tissue. Realize the strength, move on.”– Henry Rollins

As you realize the strength of your scars, I’m sure there is a story behind it that others can learn from.

The story of a healed scar became a gift not found under the Christmas tree as the relationship with my mom transformed through time. This week we are going on our annual trip to New England to see her and my step dad. She visits several times during the school year as well, spending time with her grandkids and me. She also helps get ‘stuff’ accomplished around my house including tasks I’m not good at, such as going through girls clothes. Spending time with each other, I sometimes reflect on how I may have ended up not having her around at all.  Being raised by my Dad in Asia, I did not get to know my Mom until I was an adult. However that may have not even have happened. Wounds become scars, and scars become stories.

In the middle of a high school summer night visiting my mom and brother, she and my former step dad had passed the point of no return in their marriage. Awakened suddenly in the middle of the night, it was my mom crashing the bedroom door open in what I will call a heated exchange.

That ‘heated exchange’ was attempt on my mom’s life. When she crashed in the door and I was awakened, there was a gun to her head and an arm around her neck. She flipped on the light when she opened the door and yelled to wake us up, her life was in imminent danger. There was a rush of adrenaline through my body as I tried to awaken my brother and look for the baseball bat that was in the room. My mind and blood were racing, and so was I to beat the sound I feared hearing, gunfire.

Thank God for sheep dogs.  As protectors of their herd, her dog, Katie, was barking her head off and growling fiercely at my former step dad when she was forced downstairs. Next thing I know, neighbors are at the doors and so are the police.

That was a wounding night for us all, it left a scar, and it has healed. We all have moved on from that night and our bonds are stronger because of it. The memory and images are still there, however the smiles we have now are ones of hope and strength. How much I love and appreciate my mom.

ed and mom

The question I was asked that evening served as a reminder that scars are evidence of something that happened in my life.  There are others and they are part of who I am and represent where I have been. We should take heart because:

“Scars are badges of strength and courage. They tell the story of what we have endured. Only survivors wear them” – Kaki Warner

Since you are reading this, you have scars.

What are they and how have they made you stronger?  Can you name one you are grateful for?

You know the wound, you know the scar, you know the story.

Be grateful for the strength.

Until next time,

Ed

*from “Why I believe in the Power of a Story” by Jeff Goins

Posted by: Ed Deiss | June 7, 2015

We Run As One

Run As 1

Everyday reminder of getting through the long runs #werunasone

 

The end of a 26.2 mile run.  I know it is there, just can’t see it.  I know there will be  times I don’t think I will ever see it.  The muscles will get tired and sore, my heart will beat faster than my pulse, the pain to keep going will become to great to bear, and I will wonder, why am I here?  As with long distance runs (in my mind anyway) I have completed,  there will come a point where I want to come to a full stop. The pain on the inside is several times more than what is being shown on the outside.

Sounds akin to life at times, doesn’t it?  Life is a series of runs, some of them long.  There may be a point where you want to give up; can either quit and go home or finish the race.  Leaving the American midwest and all that was familiar as a kid, including my mom and brother, certainly was a long run as I grew up in Asia having Adventures with Dad, to restoring the relationship with my mom as an adult.  Only within last couple of years did I find out why she was not there to say goodbye; disillusioned, hurt, and abandoned are natural as you would imagine a seven year old boy would be experiencing.  It was a long run to reconcile, from childhood to my adult years.  The road to heartfelt forgiveness can scar, bruise, and seem like running on rocks.  It’s not easy, yet was certainly worth the run.  Every mile.

“We’re not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.” – C.S. Lewis

The fact is we are not promised the absence of struggle with abundant strength in this life, it is through struggle through which strength is built.  Whatever long run you are on, you will get through it. You think you won’t, however you will.  Relationships, parenting, responsibilities, the storms in life that will hit; final tears shed at chemotherapy, betrayal, a parent who left or passed away, death of loved one, a job loss, or keeping close to a loved one’s bedside during a time of need.  How do we flourish in the midst of this?  How do we not only survive, but thrive?  How do we get through those long runs?

#WeRunAsOne

Approaching finish line at Shamrock Half in Virginia Beach, eyes on ocean sunrise and going for 26.2

Approaching finish line at Shamrock Half in Virginia Beach, VA; eyes on ocean sunrise and going for 26.2

What I have learned as I have run longer and longer distances transcends running.  There is the importance of encouragement and having others around you; lightening the load and letting go, throwing off what is holding you down; perseverance as a good mind and heart are a formidable combination; keeping your eyes on what’s ahead of you, just as important as finishing the run in my mind; faith of how amazing it can be when we step into the unknown, with full confidence that God will not let you go; and trusting others who have gone before you in more difficult circumstances that inspire you to keep going and not lose heart.

With a heart that doesn’t harden, and a resolve that never vanishes, pain can be rewoven for a higher purpose.  We can rise up from the rubble,  feel our pulse, with full confidence that setbacks are not final conclusions. Tears and sweat can become a symphony of hope in the cathedrals of our hearts.

Richmond, Virginia on November 14, 2015.  My first marathon. Grateful to #runasone with so many; and for a new license plate.  Will be getting #richmondready for #RVAMarathon where each mile is going to have a purpose, whether it be a person, country, idea, or matters of the heart.  I will be running for you as well single parents, kids of single parents, and Third Culture Kids; including my Comfort Zone Camp little buddies. Every one of us has a story and your story can impact others.

There are two families that come to mind when I run, one of which got me started running and the other encourages me to finish the race.  Their stories are one of impact, with tears and pain which has fueled a higher purpose.  Still pictures of Meg Menzies move hearts for us all to #bethegood and live out the true definition of 1 Corinthians 13 love in action.  For Cameron Gallagher, The Mission at Mile 12 has become her legacy and parents vision of inspiring others to take to heart the message of Fight, Finish, Faith in 2 Timothy 4:7 and SpeakUp for others who are down and fighting depression.  Both Meg and Cameron loved running and have inspired so many others.

Two families that  inspire, with Dave and Grace Gallagher, Pam Cross (Meg's Mom), and Scott Menzies.

Two families that inspire, with Dave and Grace Gallagher, Pam Cross (Meg’s Mom), and Scott Menzies

As with other families I know and have shared how purposes found them through their storms, there are times in life in the midst of trials where we don’t know if there’s a purpose or a meaning behind it all. Tears can become waterfalls; our symphony of hope in the cathedrals of our hearts.  A song on my playlist speaks to my heart about how even though we can go through rough times and trials, and tears, we can reweave our pain into purpose and raise the flag of hope. Waterfalls are a beautiful sight afterall.

We #runasone, my heart is beating, my pulses start….26.2 my eyes are on you.

Until next time,

Ed

 

Posted by: Ed Deiss | May 7, 2015

A Letter from a Mother’s Heart

ed and mom (2)A choice no parent wants to make, ever. Nor ever should. Which one to keep, which one to let go.  In order to save herself, and being the older one, her heart froze that day. The risk was that our relationship would be gone, so she put time in a bottle as I grew up on the other side of the world.  Surrounded herself with pictures, each one telling a story.

Growing up without my Mom meant Mother’s Day came and went.  Can’t get that time back, but what we have is now is great.  It did not happen by accident; it took time, time together, forgiveness, a decision to trust, and understanding.  Her life was almost taken away when I was a teenager on a night I won’t forget, and this story would have a different ending.  However the best gifts are the ones not found under the Christmas tree.

In honor of Mother’s Day, I asked her if she would not mind sharing a letter she wrote me in 1997.  It is a letter I keep close at all times, a letter from the heart of a Mom to her son.

By sharing it I hope it conveys the bond of a mother and a child no matter the circumstances and encourages Moms (and Dads) to share their hearts with their children, no matter what age.  My Mom certainly did with me, when the time was right.  She had taken the time to heal, with the courage to face and honor herself; what a gift to give.

For Moms, Happy Mothers Day and God Bless You All!

March 16, 1997

Dear Eddie,

I use the name of your childhood.  You and your brother are the most precious treasures of my life.

This letter speaks of and to you.

As you know, I surround myself with pictures of you at many different stages of your life.  Each picture has a story to tell and I pick up the pictures and think about what we were doing when the picture was taken.  My “mind” camera sees a little boy:

Tugging on Jingles

Wearing chocolate ice cream from forehead to chin

Playing trucks with Rick (best friend next door) in our tire sandbox

Hugging your first kitten, Princess, tightly to your chest

Singing the songs with Dancing Bear on Captain Kangaroo

Sitting in my lap and handing me your favorite books to read

Intently pursuing each days activities…

sprinkler run

I shared your first eight years, I treasure every memory.  After the divorce and your move to Singapore, I lived for the summers when the three of us were together and tucked my feelings under the bed covers when you left in August.  Those years will not come back to us.  I have written about the events surrounding the divorce, and put these issues to rest.  I will share what I have written with you at anytime we are together.  All you have to do is ask.  However this letter is to and about you, not me…

ed in singapore harbour

With the unhealthy marriage over, you had two homes in which to grow, not hide.  Not forced to spend your youth and young adulthood negotiating peace treaties or side stepping land mines in hostile surroundings.  Laughter returned and we looked forward.

You gained self confidence, and each year when you returned to me, I noticed.  It was like watching a beautiful tree growing and extending branches – the trunk was strong.  Children have a way of showing adults what is to be valued.  Eddie, your intelligence, love, laughter, and trusting nature were daily miracles unfolding before me.

ed waterski

Being a mother was and still is the most important part of my life.  It is who I am before all else.  The role changes, the mother-son connection does not. My love for you Eddie, is unconditional – no strings.  Like breathing and heartbeats the love is and always will be there. After my breathing and heartbeats are gone, there will still be the love.  I live in your heart and you in mine.  Remember that I love you because I gave you up.  It is the only answer I had for you when you were eight years old, feeling abandoned and hurt beyond description.  It is the only answer I have for you now, and understanding why your father and I divorced.  Love is the core – my center.

Eddie, there is not another person that I share laughter with like I do with you.  I can hear your giggle starting as I write these words.  Thinking of the many times we have rolled out of our chairs in tears over some ridiculous event is spiritual food. Laughter is a beautiful melody – you do it well. It is a gift to both give and give in to a good laugh…you have it.

I am immensely proud of your academic and professional accomplishments.  However, it is the person you are that leaves me speechless…filled with tears of pride and joy.  You are rare and unique.  Living your beliefs, actions are your words – the metaphors.

ed at sas

Without even knowing it, Eddie, you have given me the gifts of healing, acceptance, and joy.  I take these gifts with me and hang onto them when I come across rocky terrain.  Your love has led me to a new beginning, a new church and God’s love.

Having the opportunity to write this letter has been another gift.  I know you will receive it with all the love that is in my heart for you.

with mom

Praising God in gratitude and love for all that we share.

Our past, the present, and the future.

Lovingly, lots of hugs

Mom

I love you too Mom, Happy Mother’s Day!

Ed

 

Posted by: Ed Deiss | March 13, 2015

The Mission at Mile 12

speakup4Two best friends, 13.1 miles to go.  A victory lap for all the training miles that had been run, all the sacrifices that had been made; an accomplishment awaits for Cameron Gallagher and her best friend Abby Donelson.  For the Gallagher family, watching their daughter and sibling Cameron run her first half marathon with her best friend was nothing short of exhilarating.  They could not wait to put their arms around them both at the finish line at the Shamrock Half Marathon at Virginia Beach, Virginia on March 16th, 2014.  There are times when words spoken become a mission, and it happened at mile 12.  Cameron needed to stretch her legs, and turned to Abby and said “Let’s Finish This.”

They crossed the finish line together, then something was not right with Cameron, and Abby knew it.  Cameron saw and came to her parents and fell into their arms and died, for reasons unknown.  It was discovered that she had an undiagnosed heart arythmia.

I’m grateful to know David and Grace Gallagher.  What comes to mind brings a heaviness to my heart and tears to my eyes, as their daughter just layed there in their arms motionless.  She fought the good fight, kept her faith, and finished the race.  From the arms of her parents to her heavenly Father’s.  Unknowingly when Cameron turned to Abby to Speak Up at Mile 12, the mission was born.

This picture taken of Cameron a mile from the finish line

This picture taken of Cameron a mile from the finish line

As someone who spends time with kids that have lost a sibling or parent, the grief can be overwhelming.  What I have also experienced and seen first hand is how storms in life can bring about purposes and how scars can become a source of strength.  Cameron’s best friend, Abby, lost her dad when she was eight years old.  An organization that I’m honored to serve is Comfort Zone Camp, a bereavement camp for kids, as a big buddy.  I’m proud to serve with Abby as a fellow volunteer.  She recently shared her impactful story, her friendship and last day with Cameron, and importance of compassion and Speaking Up when others are down.  The Mission at Mile 12.

After listening to her speak about her friendship with Cameron, it is apparent that Cameron’s opponent was herself.  She struggled with depression, and it was serious.  At one point, she missed two months of school.  What did she do?  She fought it, the good fight to honor herself. She would fill notebooks with positive thoughts and quotes, hang them on the walls.  She forced herself out of bed for swim practices and when she decided to run a half marathon, she forced herself to train.  One of her siblings shared with me how fantastic she would feel, and be, after a run.  Cameron also fought the impulse of isolation, common among those suffering from depression.  Abby remarked “On a really bad day, Cameron wouldn’t want to talk with anyone. But then the next day she’d be back to being the most energetic person in the room,”

Depression affects 16 million Americans, and an insightful piece by Elise Jamison, a teen who suffers from it, provided the following perspectives:

  • Depression is often a long journey, and the only ‘cure’ is to make positive healthy choices
  • It is hard to explain and answer questions, the best thing you can do to help someone is simply be there
  • Realize that you are not alone, seek out others and speak up; that will help the fog clear

The ‘I love you’ said each night before bed, the look in the eyes, the holding of hands as parent and child, the connection that will always be.  Cameron’s bedroom, a place where Dave and Grace did not want to go after she died in their arms.  The hugs, the smiles, the kiss goodnight, the bedside stories of childhood, the pictures that moved hearts, the stuffed animals she loved, the clothes she wore, the notes she wrote.  All Cameron, no longer in her room where they long her to be to do all the above. Even just one more time.

A week before she died, Cameron spoke of an idea she had to her parents, a community race to promote childhood depression awareness.  She was growing tired of keeping her struggle private, and knew many teens were in great and silent pain. She wanted to address the misplaced stigma about teenage depression.  When Dave and Grace finally went into her room, they found it, all 16 pages.  The Plan to Speak Up. It was going to be called the SpeakUp 5K, dedicated to raising awareness about childhood depression.  It included vision, featured speakers, and sponsorship invitations to local businesses.  They shared with me this story, mouths open when they found it.  Tomorrow does hold out her hand to us all, and The Mission at Mile 12 was becoming her legacy and an inspiration to others to live 2 Timothy 4:7.

The SpeakUp mission is to fulfill Cameron’s dream and legacy by being a positive force that works to cultivate awareness and understanding of teenage depression and anxiety.  She wanted to encourage other teens that it is OK to Speak Up about their personal battles.  The annual SpeakUp 5K is to speak up for positive causes and for those that are down and suffering. Running was such a positive influence for Cameron as she fought her battle.  The inaugural SpeakUp 5K was in September, 2014 and nearly 3,500 participated.  I had the pleasure of being there, and what an uplifting event for the community.  It was also the first time I have been silly stringed during a race, Cameron loved that stuff!  So did I.

Speaking Up at Inaugural SpeakUp 5K, Richmond, VA

Speaking Up at Inaugural SpeakUp 5K, Richmond, VA

It’s time to finish the race, the same race Cameron did to honor her and her mission to Speak Up with 200 others on the SpeakUp team.  A race by the ocean at sunrise at the Shamrock Half Marathon in Virginia Beach, VA.  Been an honor to be on the SpeakUp team and after working out with Dave and Grace at a team event this spring, convinced they could have us all ready for one of their Ironman races!

With Dave, Grace, and Abby at SpeakUp Team Training

With Dave, Grace, and Abby at SpeakUp Team Training

I have been thinking about the emotions that will certainly be felt as I get closer to Mile 12. I have not been able to run as I would normally, due to my achilles taking away my ability to run for weeks. As I run this race, can’t let doubt get in the way, and going to follow Cameron’s lead; step out in faith and fight all the way to the finish.  That is what she did, and her legacy is who she was called to be.  Rather than keep running from who she was, she ran to it and faced it.  God Bless you Cameron.  You have reinforced to us all how amazing it is what can be accomplished when you take a step into the unknown, with full confidence that God will not let you go.  You fought the good fight, kept the faith, and finished the race.  We got next.

So what are we waiting for?  Our faith is all it takes.

Until next time,

Ed

Posted by: Ed Deiss | January 13, 2015

Still Pictures, Moving Hearts

10408979_10205587618030883_2323608627022962132_nDear Scott, Pam, and Wirt,

Saw one of the most beautiful sunsets this evening when I went for my run, knew I wanted to run at Hickory Hill. It was as if God was waiting, and Meg had it all planned. Thought I was going to be alone, however it has been a year that I have come to realize on many of life’s journeys it may seem that way, and then reassured I am not. The sunset, what a reminder! It was as if it said ‘Hi Ed, knew you were coming and wanted to welcome you.’

When I write, I usually take a couple of days to get my thoughts down. Not today. With our Meg’s Miles run event this weekend and after my run this evening, I wanted to write as know you all have a heavy heart today. Ran on the road where Meg called home and was called home.   As I ran, I imagined. It was my fourth time running there, thought about the runs before. On Meg’s birthday and meeting you both Pam and Wirt, Meg’s parents. Even though it was the first time our eyes had seen each other it was if we already knew each other. I will never forget that day. By the way Pam, your hugs are the best. I stopped at the field where I had stopped before when Scott was running through Meg’s eyes in the Boston Marathon. Took another look at where I had hands on my knees and wept that day a mile into the run. I also remember not a run, rather a chance meeting that was anything but chance. I stopped by to visit after Thanksgiving and met Wirt, as we were the only ones there. We had one of the most heartwarming conversations as dads of daughters. Stories of Meg growing up, how she would chase her brothers on their bikes, what she was like as a kid and young adult, and walking her down the aisle to marry Scott. Stories can be told through the eyes, and tears of a loving father became my own. God Bless you Wirt. I’m blessed and honored to know you and Pam.

My own eyes are not enough for me, I will see through the eyes of others. Reality, even seen through the eyes of many, is not enough. Here, as in worship, in love, in moral action, in knowing, I transcend myself; and am never more myself than when I do.” – C.S. Lewis on seeing through eyes of others

I am blessed and honored to know you, Scott. When you ran the Boston Marathon in your wife’s stead, above is what came to mind. You are never more yourself than when you were able to see through the eyes of Meg. Tears of joy from heaven came down and became your sweat as ran with your heart and through her eyes.

As I ran this evening I thought about what an example you are of love in action. When I think about what love for someone should look like and involve, what comes to mind I’m sure is quite familiar. Namely that “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

Where it gets challenging is when I try this, substituting my name for each instance of the word “Love” or “it”; serves as a humbling and constant reminder of what love should resemble. Namely, an action without condition or limits, and fearless. However, behind the words, love is also a decision that has a purpose that is bigger than oneself and is selfless. You have modeled that Scott, thank you my friend.

“Love is a second life; it grows into the soul, warms every vein, and beats in every pulse.”– Joseph Addison

You all may have heard of Bart Millard, and the story about his Dad. He passed away from cancer when Bart was 19, leaving him with many questions. He struggled with why his father died and why it had to take place the way it did. Though his Dad assured him that he would be in a better place, hard for him to understand as a 19 year old and he was frustrated. A grieving son crying out to God for a clue, left him asking ‘What is so great about there that he can’t be back here?’ It set him off to thinking about what he was seeing, getting strength he never had and seeing things he couldn’t fathom here. It really brought peace and hope to Bart. In case you have not heard his name, he is the lead singer of the band MercyMe.

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Still pictures, moving hearts. Empty picture frames can still carry those we love. As I imagined this evening, could not help to think what Meg can see. For Gabriel, Whitfield, and Skye I hope you will always feel the connection to your Mom. Even take a picture frame and some still pictures, go lay down in one of our scenic Hanover countryside fields and look at up at the clouds. Imagine, and know how your Mom has lifted so many on her wings.

God Bless you all and see you soon,

Ed

Posted by: Ed Deiss | November 11, 2014

Where the Road is Calling You Home

meg running and notDear Meg,

I know we never met, my name is Ed Deiss.  I live right down the road in Hanover, right outside Richmond, Virginia.  My oldest child attends (my younger two will when they get there) and will graduate from the same high school you attended.  I wanted to take the time to write before I do something this weekend that I have never done, or even gave a passing thought to doing before last January.  I’m running a half marathon; running 13.1 miles was probably a warm up run for you.  Your friend Brooke Roney started a group that I joined to run that first Saturday afterwards. What a group it has become, Meg. A truly inspiring and compassionate community that has come together from all reaches of the globe bonded by the love of running and how it is a reflection of life’s journeys.  I spoke to people who knew you that cold January day we ran; there was not a dry eye in sight.  As the months have passed, we have continued to be lifted on your wings.

As someone raised by a single parent, my dad, I think about Scott and your kids. Looking back on that time with my dad growing up in Asia, and as a single parent now,  there were times as we made our way down the proverbial road of life, and felt uncertain about the direction we were going. Strong convictions do not mean doubts don’t creep in.  I had a picture of my mom and brother in my room as a kid a world away, looked at it everyday knowing we were connected even though apart. Though circumstances are completely different, want to reassure you as I look through my eyes as a kid, hope you will always know Gabriel, Whitfield, and Skye will always be connected to you.  As tenacious as you were in your running, love for your family and friends, their love for you will overcome any fears they are experiencing now.

Training, running hills, and running at Hickory Hill.  After having trained for the Richmond Half Marathon and run hills, and run at Hickory Hill, have learned the sport you loved is symbolic of what we can go through in life.  Each passing Saturday, ran longer and longer distances with the support, encouragement of my running mates and #megsmiles.  Running hills every week, what a struggle that was.  After one of those hill runs, thought would share a #megsmiles post on what I was reflecting on and learning through it all:

There is a hill I would like to run one day, however if I get there may want to slow down and take it in. At the end of the hills we run, there is turning point. Even after running downhill can’t help but think about the uphill battle on the way after making the turn. Running can be symbolic of what we go through in life. Turning points result in changes, and can come through struggles; the fuel for strength. In coming to terms with those turning points I have learned it is essential to decide what to keep and what to let go. Keep up the struggle and press on, fighting against what I have known up to this point and let go of what I thought my limits were. Certainly there is fear in letting go, and though sometimes holding on makes us strong, sometimes it is letting go and trusting what is ahead. Don’t lose sight of who you are, and have the belief, which will turn into faith to embark on those changes in life (or your next hill) after that turning point. It can scare and fill a heart with wonder at the same time, while your heart goes ‘boom boom boom’ of what lies ahead. What lies ahead on Saturday is 12 miles to get #richmondready for the #RVAhalfmarathon. Today it was hills before daylight full of turning points for total of 6 miles, yesterday some speed for 4 miles. That hill I want to get to, Solsbury Hill. Actually I have found it, when I run #megsmiles. Also found on my play list!

Have run at Hickory Hill three times, the streets with your name.  Ran on your Mom’s birthday, the day Scott ran the Boston Marathon, and your birthday.  All runs with my heart, much more than my legs.  When Scott was running through your eyes in Boston, I was coming to terms as one dad to another and had to stop a mile into my run that day.  The last run there, your birthday on August 1, as I approached the intersection of Patrick Henry and Hickory Hill, I saw a couple of people tending to your marker.  As I approached, was asked “Are you Ed?”  Yes I am I replied…it was your Mom and Dad.  We immediately knew who each other were and hugged.  I will be looking for your Mom at the finish line!

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After a run, with your Mom and Dad on your birthday

Meg, I certainly agree with Keith Cartwright that we were all introduced in a way I would not have wanted given the choice.  That said, you have brought together so many lives and changed them, more than you will ever know.  You have encouraged me to live life to the fullest, have no regrets, honor myself, and invest in the lives of others.  You have encouraged me in my faith, and the faith to carry on.  After taking my three kids to Asia this summer to see where their Dad grew up and calls home, I wanted them to see what was in my heart, and to understand that across cultures, backgrounds, and nationalities…relationships are to be treasured and an appetite to be adventurous, take risks, and explore is one worth satisfying.  That includes running; was even able to get in some Asia #megsmiles!

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#megsmiles on Pulau Rawa, Malaysia June 2014

What I have also learned from you is that lives can impact others, even those we have not met.

Whoever thought Meg, that the NYC Marathon would be a warmup for Richmond? With NASCAR and VCU basketball, we do get some sports fans. This weekend, the marathon is in your hometown and what an event it is expected to be, all being brought together by you. We are running with you on our hearts and minds. I have the map printed out, and seeing is this is my first race, learning to trust the training. Just found out what taper means about a week ago.

As we run through the streets of your hometown here in Richmond, know you are running where the streets have no name. There will be a day Meg, when I will be making that run as well…save some room. Look forward to it.

The road at Hickory Hill

The road at Hickory Hill

 

The open road unknown, know that is what Scott, your kids, and your family are on at present. It can traverse both fear and hope. It becomes clearer as one moves forward and as with struggle building strength, we do find what we are made of by persevering through the fear and uncertainly. It is part of the road we are on, and am reminded yet again tenacious love overcomes it and leads home.  It is worth the fight.

Thank you Meg and God speed,

Ed Deiss

  

Posted by: Ed Deiss | July 20, 2014

A Journey We Will Always Remember

Singapore 2014 031‘So Dad, happy to be home?”  Those were one of my daughters first words to me after we landed in Singapore.  It had been eight years, and just as before the closer we got, the warmer my heart became.  I wanted to share a piece of my heart with each of my children, as when I answer the question ‘So, where are you from?‘ they will know with their own eyes and understand.  After all, that is what it is about, understanding and relating to each other.  By seeing their Dad’s ‘hometown’ and how he grew up as a Third Culture Kid (TCK), would encourage them to understand different cultures, experiences, and perspectives.  Also that they would see first hand that relationships are to be treasured and an appetite to be adventurous, take risks, and explore is one worth satisfying.

 ‘Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.’ – Andre Gide

When my Dad and I arrived in 1975, we were hoping for a new tomorrow.  We were scarred, and set out to make the best of it as father and son apart from my mom and brother.   Our family had broken apart, and certainly did not foresee what the relationship with my mom would become.  I have also come to realize that growing up in Singapore and Asia enabled us to rise up allowing our scars to heal, so much so that they became a source of strength.  The hope of a new tomorrow became a reality as the months and years passed.  As I have shared, my Mom wrote a letter from her heart and she noticed ”  You gained self confidence, and each year (summer) when you returned to me, I noticed. It was like watching a beautiful tree growing and extending branches – the trunk was strong. Children have a way of showing adults what is to be valued.”  They sure do Mom.

singapore from the flyer

Singapore, you and I are about two weeks apart in terms of age; good thing you are the older one!  We have known each other since we were nine, and I would not be who I am had we not crossed paths.  You are in my heart and run through my veins, I became a blend of your Asian culture and my Dad’s.  You have certainly changed in the time we have known each other, and your journey from third world country to first happened right before my eyes.  My son, Will, remarked…you are several cultures and countries in one.  I shared with him that as I thought about my schoolmates and friends, he could name any country and/or background and would likely be right.  Growing up on your shores I was able to experience relationships and gain perspectives I never would have otherwise.  For all my school classmates and friends who were there with me, this trip back certainly brought back memories of our times together growing up as know many of you followed this journey on my Facebook posts each day.  Thank you.  We will always be connected and as TCKs, we know our puzzle pieces may be out of synch however they fit perfectly. We ‘get’ each other.

with leela

Rubbed my eyes each day I was in Singapore and Malaysia with you, Will, Rachel, and Zoe.  It was a dream come true.  As I can see in yours, you could see what was in my heart, and the hearts of others.  With the three of you is always home to me, and was blessed to be able to give you my heart and go to the place that was home to me when I was your age.  I realized it opened your eyes, as it did mine as it became home after I left America.  However, truly understanding and relating to friends from other cultures, backgrounds, and countries will help you walk in others shoes.  It is an honor and blessing to be your Dad.

As we left Singapore after our 2 week journey, wanted to share my final post:
Goodbyes are hard, prefer see you laters. Same held true when I left America when I was nine years old. Did not want to let my eyes off Singapore when the plane took off. This journey actually began not in 2014, rather in 1975 and this time ‘later’ was eight years ago since was last here in 2006. Back then on that trip with my Dad, knew would be good for my kids to see this place that their Dad called home growing up. They now have and sure love the fast food here too! As we departed reminded of two things, one is to always “Treasure your relationships, not your possessions” (Anthony D’Angelo).

The other is that it will encourage a spirit of adventure and to explore because as Mark Twain famously said “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

And while doing that, find some coconut husks to get through with each other as well.

Jumpa lagi Singapura…”

Telling the story in pictures, just as songwriter John Ondrasik put it perfectly when it comes to taking chances, by saying ‘It’s all about taking the swing – there is beauty in the scars’, he also does by asking “What if?”

 

For this journey that we will always remember, terima kasih dan saya suka anda!

Posted by: Ed Deiss | April 27, 2014

Through Your Eyes

MegandScott3As I ran, I struggled to imagine.  What did Meg hear?  Did she see Scott leaning over letting her know how much he loved her? Did Meg try to let Scott know the same?  The disillusionment and cries of despair from their three children, Gabriel, Whitfield, and Skye.  It was if I could hear their cries in the distance.  The anguish, someone you love not there anymore.  The scene went through my mind as I ran where Scott and Meg Menzies journey began at the intersection of Hickory Hill and Patrick Henry Road in Hanover, Virginia.  It was on the same day Scott was defining the true meaning of love and 1 Corinthians 13 by running the 2014 Boston Marathon for Meg.  A mile in, I stopped with the sun setting over a scenic Hanover farm field as I could not continue. Had to let it out, guess why God gave us tear ducts.  It was akin to a punch in the gut and not having any air, openly wept while hunched over with hands on my knees.  This happened a few times during the first couple miles.  Then, as we all have since that January day and as Scott did running #bostonstrong for #megsmiles, lifted On an Angel’s Wings.

Now that I think about it, how appropriate it is for last blog post in January on that event to be next to this one;  as Meg and Scott should be.

From what I have experienced and witnessed, grief has no rules or timeline.  I live near the intersection where this journey started and as I ran there last week, much unfolded in my mind.  Scott was running with Meg that January morning to spend time together as a running date while Meg was training for the Boston marathon with an eye on a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team.  They were 1-2 with Scott running ahead against traffic.  Suddenly a large SUV appears out of nowhere and allegedly drunk driver not in control veers off the road rounding that curve.  Scott was able to get out of the way in time, Meg was not.  After looking at that curve, I started my run.

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We all will share and experience grief at some point in life, through those difficulties we realize we are human and it creates a universal bond.  That universal bond has been one extraordinary Facebook group, Meg’s Miles.  It certainly transcends running and Meg’s friend, Brooke Roney, started the page as a virtual event where people could post thoughts and photos of their runs in support of Meg’s family on the Saturday after she was killed.

Remembering that January Saturday morning we ran:

As we huddled the morning before we ran to honor Meg and her family on January 18th, 2014, one of Meg’s good friends from her church spoke to us. With tears in her eyes she conveyed what a great athlete she was and how strong her faith in Christ carried her each day. We prayed and then ran.  Have not run five miles continuously in a long time, and without headphones enjoyed the quiet thoughts as I felt sweat, the pain, the wind, and the cold.  Was grateful for it all. 

That event had more than 99,000 people across several continents running that day, it has since expanded and has more than 16,000 members.

“Only love, only love can leave such a mark, but only love, only love can heal such a scar” – Magnificent by U2

Reading and absorbing Keith Cartwright’s heartwarming discussions and insights with Scott before and after the Boston Marathon has brought to life the power of a story and that bond.

From every wound a scar, from every scar a story.

As writer Jeff Goins has said about stories, they sure can be powerful.  Why?

A story is where we came from and where we’re going. A story is what connects us and binds us to each other. It is in the story of God and mankind — amongst love and fear and failure — that we make meaning of our lives. A story is what defines us and sets us apart. It’s what allows us to connect with each another — to truly know and be known.  Nothing is so warm and inviting, yet so challenging and poignant, as a powerful story, told well.  They are written to be shared not only for our own sake, for the benefit of others.  Stories change people.

scott running

On April 21st, 2014 Scott Menzies ran the Boston Marathon in his wife’s stead.  Let me say that again, a little over three months after being by his wife’s side during a run and having to say a gut wrenching, heartbreaking goodbye he never imaged, Scott Menzies ran the Boston Marathon.  A run to honor and to cherish.  With Meg’s bib numbers from 2014 on his front and 2012 on his back he not only ran it, he crushed it.

scott finish

When I stopped during that run on Hickory Hill and thought about the strength that it took, Herculean comes to mind.  Would could blame him if having said goodbye to Meg while running that he would do the same?

“It’s been a tough last couple months, but things like that make it easier to see people care,” said Scott. “Maybe I feel like I’ve lost faith in humanity, and it’s been a great reminder that there are great people in this world, people like Kel Kelly and a few other people I’ve never met who have started a lot of different things … It’s just been amazing for me and my family to see.”

Kel Kelly lives near the first mile of the Boston Marathon route in Hopkinton, Massachusetts and learned about the story.  Faith in action; she decided to create a shoe memorial to make Meg Cross Menzies’ presence felt on Marathon Monday.  The Soles of Love reassured Scott of Meg’s presence during what was going to be an emotional run. It was built with 388 pairs of running shoes sent from runners around the world who sent them to Kel.  She arranged them into a tower shape next to the well-known “Spirit of the Marathon” statue. As a writer for the Huffington Post, she also wrote an eye-opening piece to raise awareness on the dangers to runners of drunk or distracted drivers.

Scott at Soles of Love

My own eyes are not enough for me, I will see through the eyes of others. Reality, even seen through the eyes of many, is not enough.  Here, as in worship, in love, in moral action, in knowing, I transcend myself; and am never more myself than when I do.” – C.S. Lewis on Seeing through eyes of others (An Experiment in Criticism)

After reflecting on that quote, I read again Scott’s note the night before the race:
I wanted to say very quickly- thank you all so much. My family and I continue to be amazed and overwhelmed by the support that we are still receiving. I will run the Boston Marathon tomorrow for Meg. I am going to do my best to finish what she started and I can’t wait to see, hear and experience what she would have experienced if she were still here. I want to feel her with me- it will be very emotional. I will do my best to make her proud- it may not be pretty but I will get it done. Thank you (all of you) so much. Please continue to run hard- be Boston Strong and Meg Strong! -Scott Menzies
meg at 2012 boston marathon
Seeing it through your eyes, Meg.  That is where he wanted to be.  Being where you knew that morning in January where you were going to be, as Scott wanted nothing more than to be by your side.  Always.  He wanted to feel you there again.  He may have thought it may not be pretty, I’m sure I share the sentiment of many that  thought it certainly was a beautiful thing.  
 

scott at finsh line

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. – 1 Cor 13:13

 

Right after I ran where this journey began last week,  knew had to put my thoughts down and here is what I experienced as posted on Meg’s Miles that day:

With Scott running ‪#‎bostonstrong‬ today and seeing through Meg’s eyes, thought would be good to run where this journey began. Ran as far and as long as I can remember (8 miles in little over an hour), before the sunset on the Hanover horizon. Started at Meg’s Marker and the roadside Memorial on Patrick Henry Rd. When I wrote yesterday my intention was to run to be strong for Scott as he ran for Meg. During the first mile or two it was Scott’s journey that manifested itself today in his amazing run that gave me strength. This day, wanted to see where this journey began through Scott and Meg’s eyes.

As I approached one of the scenic farm fields, I stopped, hands on my knees and wept on Hickory Hill. I could not hold it back. Thought about what Scott went through when he and Meg took that run that morning. Blindsiding storms can hit in life and the ensuing fog of a broken heart; it disorients and makes it hard to see the road ahead. As I stood back up, took a breath, then another, then a step, then another, then started running again. All my instincts, they returned. This happened a few times and got stronger as I kept going. Once I kept going, could run with more purpose.

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Wanted this run to be for Whitfield, Gabriel, and Skye too so I brought something with me for the run. It was given to me at Comfort Zone Camp at the end of a weekend by a little buddy in my group who had lost her Dad, a rock from the camp where thousands of other kids who have lost a parent and had walked upon over the years to get through the grief, heal, and grow. I ran with that rock for them.

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As we continue to running ‪#‎megsmiles‬ and beyond, after experiencing this day I thought about seeing things through others eyes. Experienced it firsthand today.

And being complete in His eyes.

Found something by Peter Gabriel that conveys about perfect love and being complete…in Your eyes.

Godspeed Scott, and from one dad to another…thank you!


 

“…but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”  Isaiah 40:31

God bless, God speed, and Run Strong for #megsmiles and beyond.

Until next time,

Ed

 

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