30k by 30

On March 6th, 2021 I ran 18.6 miles. No, it’s not a new fad race distance; it was my birthday party.

The idea began with an innocent conversation at the breakfast table. “What was that race I did with you mommy?” my oldest asked.

“You ran a 5K, sweetie,” I responded while spooning scrambled eggs onto the baby’s tray.

“Oh, yeah, because I’m five. Next year I’ll run a 6K,” he responded. I acknowledged his idea with a smile and went back to my steaming cup of coffee.

An hour later, I stepped out into the clear, 65-degree morning for a quick two-miler. As my feet crunched gravel on country roads I mulled over conversations from the past week: acknowledging the fragility of life, lamenting current events, naming personal disappointments and sorrows. My heart ached for circumstances out of my control. I needed to remember the purpose of striving.

My son’s words echoed in my head, and I wondered: could I run a 30k on my 30th birthday? If I could conquer this somewhat crazy goal, and God used my efforts for his glory, then maybe even one person could find hope to conquer their own challenge.

Later that day, I started looking into my crazy idea. I had about six months before I hit my next decade which, according to most training plans on the interwebs, was plenty of time for a decently in-shape mom to get off the couch and get in some Ks.

If you read the first sentence of this blog post, you already know I completed my goal (so much for suspense).

s/o to Pastor Michael for the artistic sign!

And while I don’t want to diminish the incredible feeling of crossing the (imaginary) finish line, the time spent training is where God worked in my heart, bringing me to my knees and lifting me into his care. I journaled throughout my experience and, through reflection, compiled the top 30 things I learned. Just kidding, no one has time for that. Here are my top six wisdoms-in-progress:

  1. Tell someone

About a week into my training I told my longtime and very dear friend about my goal. She frequently checked in and always spoke kindness and encouragement over me despite my roller coaster of self-doubt (which probably got pretty old pretty quick). Although she lives several hours away, she surprised me at mile ten on race day, and at mile fourteen, Melissa laced up her running shoes and inspired me through the last 4.6. Through her generous spirit, I realized that no matter how big or small a goal might be, we need to open up to one (or several) people. It will be hard. It will push us to actually follow through on what we say. I promise it will be worth it. 

  1. Find a tribe

In February 2020 I was six months postpartum with my third baby and hadn’t run consistently since becoming a parent six years ago. When my across-the-street neighbor learned of my pre-child marathon days, she invited me into their weekly running group. Although intimidated by marathon running mothers, I nervously laced up my Brooks and walked across the Trail of Memories one Saturday. They did not laugh when I stopped at three miles, and the community running eventually pushed me to five, and then eight. When I shared my 30k by 30 plan, once again no one laughed, and Victoria even chirped, “I’d love to train for and run it with you!” (she did!) They told funny stories during hard miles, offered their own equipment as a loaner until I could get my own, and opened up their homes for post-run celebrations. (While a tribe can be any group of like-minded people: a mom’s Bible study, a church community group, a book club, or a softball team, I realize that finding an in-person tribe can be difficult right now. Our running club met outside year-round and is a naturally socially distant activity, but don’t give up if your only tribe options are online… see my next point)

Cheers to many more long runs with this lovely group.
  1. No step is too small.

The other day I had an opportunity to run for fifteen minutes. Pre 30k, I would have turned up my nose, whined that I didn’t have more time, and served iced coffee and chocolate at my pity party. While training, I realized even walking my kids to school instead of driving built muscle, perseverance, and desire for more: a domino effect that ultimately helped me accomplish a big goal.

  1. Look around.

The town where I live is only 1.78 square miles, so during distance runs, I got to know the neighborhoods very well. I recognized new paint jobs, flourishing gardens, and where extra prayer might be needed. Now, as I walk my children to school or enjoy an afternoon run, my eyes are looking for opportunities to pray and praise.

  1. Invest wisely.

At the advice of my running group, I purchased running “gadgets,” and my body thanked me for proper nutrition, hydration, and a muscle roller. Investing in the care of my body meant I was better able to serve my family and friends as well as enjoy the training.

  1. Rely on God 

In the last weeks of training, I continually fought the fear of not finishing. What if I let all these people down? What if I got injured? I relearned the beauty of casting my burdens and fears on the Lord, taking them to him in prayer and resting in his promises. “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; But we trust in the name of the LORD our God” (Psalm 20:7) 

The way I see it

“I can think of 10,000 other things I can spend $30 on that would be more fun than this.”

It was hot. We didn’t have water and I didn’t know what I was doing- or actually I wasn’t good at what I was doing. The most logical response – whine and complain and quit. And so we did. We walked off the course on the 5th hole because I was done, with a capital D.

Golf or anything that costs money that results in frustration, discouragement and silent rides home in the car with your spouse feels like an exercise in futility. At least it did 27 years ago when my husband was trying to convince me that this sport would be something we could do together for the long haul. I was perfectly happy with our rhythm of playing tennis. We both enjoyed it. I felt like I got a good workout and occasionally I would get a shot past him. I understood the game, had a decent serve and could hold my own. Tom reminded me that as much as we enjoyed tennis the likelihood of us playing into our later years was probably not going to happen. Golf was easier on the body and there was always the option of taking a cart. So, Tom was all in to improving his golf game, investing in equipment and lessons and I was all out.

Somewhere along the line of our 27 years of marriage – my perspective changed. It may have had something to do with the women’s golf league I joined. We affectionately called it “Golf and Giggle.” The swings of the club were secondary to the conversations we had as we met each Monday, rain or shine, for our girls night out. We didn’t keep score ( I still don’t – important golf hack for all you newbies) and we cheered each other on in only the way girls can do. This experience opened my eyes to the joys this sport can bring. Tom paid for golf lessons and I now feel like I understand the rules, the reasons for the club numbers and when to use them, and also when to pick up my ball and throw it ( without shame) when needed. We have enjoyed many rounds of golf in some beautiful locations and even enjoyed a 3 day golf trip in northern Michigan – something I would never have agreed too early in our marriage. This shared enjoyment of the sport had us imagining the fun of possibly living on a golf course. You know, the homes that back up to a green or fairway. The ones that have extra homeowners insurance covering the cost of broken windows due to a stray ball going off course.

Someday, we would say.

Well, 4 years ago – that dream became reality. Not only do we live on a golf course but we are proud members of the Tri- City Country Club located in Emma, MO. Heavy emphasis on Country. $60 a month gives us unlimited golf for our family. We have several friends that are members and we will often join them for a round. Last summer we worked to make every Friday night a golf date with another couple in town. We are living our dream. Our backyard sits on the edge of the fourth fairway. It’s really glorious.

our backyard

I posted a picture of our course side view on facebook last week and asked the question “What do you see?” What is interesting is that out of the 100 + responses to my question not one person said – golf course. Our friend Jim and golf buddy of Tom’s from our days in Michigan was closest when he said “Look’s like a nice day for golf…” My quest to prove a point that I hope to make by the end of this blog (I’m getting there) poked some deep emotion that I did not expect. Some of the responses made me laugh and others brought tears to my eye. Here is a sampling of just a few.



Endless possibilities/opportunities

The coming storm.

The calm after the storm. Clarity, peace.



Stairs leading to a mystery in the sky.

Rollin’ Rollin’ Rollin’

Emptiness. A vast nothing awaiting something.

A shark.

God and love.


My question was inspired by a quote from American poet and essayist, Henry David Thoreau ,

“The question is not what you look at…… but what you see.”

Not what you look at but what you SEE.

As I read each response I imagined each person taking a moment to not just look at the picture but to see it. I was so pleased that so many paused even for a few seconds to take in the view and offer me a different perspective. I also loved that not one person saw what I did – an important reminder for me today.

When I look at that picture I see a water tower. If you squint your eyes and look to the right side of the picture – under the clouds – it is there. That water tower proudly displaying the name of the small town of Emma, sits next to the fourth hole of the country club where Tom and I belong. Did I mention our names are engraved on a brass name plate and mounted on the member board in the club house? Yes – we are all that and a bag of chips;). The water tower, on the 4th hole is visible from the deck in our backyard. Thus the logical conclusion that we are indeed living our dream of living on a golf course. This picture and this reality makes me so happy. I also love that between us and our golf course are fields of either corn or beans. I know the farmers and their families that work these fields and their addition to our golf course living makes it even better.

In contrast – this is what I don’t see (but I could).

I don’t see the field mice that storm our house each fall after harvest. I don’t remember the pain of job loss that was necessary to move us across the country to need this home. I don’t see the 4 miles that separate us from the 4th hole of the golf course. I don’t see it because I choose not to.

When this blog posts I will be far from this backyard view of the 4th hole of our country club. I will need to decide what I see when I take in the circumstances around me. I will choose to write the story of the picture in front of me and this will make all the difference. I will wake up on Thursday in Texas – in the home of my parents. Odd for me since I was there just 10 days ago. My quick journey back was inspired by my moms recent cancer diagnosis and my desire to be with her during her chemo treatments. I will have many decisions to make during this visit on what I see.

Will I see moms hair loss or the opportunity to shop for fun hats and scarves?

Will I feel the effects of travel in the middle of a busy month in my business or will I celebrate the fact that CO-VID has forced me to work 100% virtual and I can work anywhere life takes me?

Will I see the challenge of my sister and I living thousands of miles from our parents or will I see the incredible local support my parents feel with caring neighbors, friends and church family?

Will I see the stop on my flight home in Orlando (the opposite direction of my home) as an inconvenience or the opportunity to do some fun Disney shopping in the Orlando airport?

It’s not what I look at…

It’s what I see.

The skeptics out there – I see you and honestly sometimes I need you. The ones that are thinking I’m to polyanna – ish. The ones wanting to shake me and tell me to join the “real” world – the ones saying …..

“Beth – you don’t live on a dang golf course. “

To you are I say – “You’re right.”

To you I say,

“But so am I.”

My hope as I look at my surroundings – wether its my backyard or the hospital with my mom – comes from a God who promises to give me eyes to see the good. He promises that he will never leave or forsake me. He promises that he uses all things for our good and for His glory. He promises that even in the hard he will reveal his perfect gifts. It is His power that changes my perspective. It is His promises that gives me peace. It is His love that prompts me to pull up a deck chair, prop my feet up with a cool drink on a hot day and imagine I see the great shot by a fellow golfer on the 4th hole.

Living the dream.

Living His dream

And that’s the way I see it.

The gallery on the 6th fairway – We love the Country Club life:)


We’re coming up on a year with Covid-19. This week last year, we had no idea what lay ahead. Just around the corner, life was completely changing for the whole world. Here are my comparisons to where I was then, and where I am today. 

Yesteryear me was shuttling kids to school, prepping for Grandparents’ Day and gathering items for a school auction.

Today I wake up late, help my kids write spelling sentences in our dining-room-turned-school-room, and head to the park to enjoy the warm day. 

Yesteryear me was searching for a dog for my family, thinking it would bring comfort and peace to my boys when they needed it. 

Today we visit the same dog at a friend’s house. We brought a good dog and owner together, it just wasn’t us.

Yesteryear me was not yet aware of the tiny life starting to grow inside of me. 

Today my 3 month old gives us smiles and joy–our favorite surprise of the year.

Yesteryear me heard about a virus attacking other countries and tried not to worry about it here. 

Today I see my country ravaged by disease and fear, quickly-made decisions, and extremely human people trying so hard to make this right. 

Yesteryear me was in a crowded gym watching my kids play basketball on teams with friends. 

Today we didn’t even realize basketball season passed us by.

Yesteryear me was faintly aware of the election year that lay ahead and knew we’d be up for some tough talks and walks.

Today I see a fractured government made up of broken people who have a seemingly impossible job of listening and responding to millions. 

Yesteryear me was getting ready to assume more work hours outside the home.

Today I serve in 2 new jobs. One as teacher to my kids and one as mom to a fourth little boy.

Yesteryear me was so excited to take my kids to their first TobyMac concert (later in March) as a surprise. 

Today, boys none the wiser about the cancelled event, our home is a concert hall as they play their drums, piano, and guitar.

Yesteryear me was filled with hope for the future.

Today I am filled with hope for the future.