Defeating the Odds!

Screen Shot 2018-04-24 at 2.23.35 PMHave you ever felt as if the odds were against you? If you met Crystal Tucker she would list them one by one down to the first battle cry, but for the first time in her life, God has given her the desire to share her story and share how God removed her comforts and false securities from her life to remind her that He is the one and only source of strength. 

In 2006, Crystal served as a 68W (Combat Medic) with the U.S. Army with the 32nd Medical Battalion stationed at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. In 2007, she was engaging in Afghanistan combat readiness training when something unexpected occurred. “During a 5-mile battalion run with my attending commander, I stumbled, and took a hard fall into a hole fracturing both of my legs,” says Tucker. Her injuries were much more serious than she imagined and resulted in fractures in both tibias, femurs as well as her hips. 

Throughout her recovery, Tucker went through vigorous rehabilitation efforts while relying on ambulatory devices. She was evaluated by military physicians who assessed her with a permanent profile of a non-deployable status, which led to her honorable medical discharge. “Since I had what was called a ‘Permanent Profile’, I was considered non-deployable and of no use to the military,” she said sadly, “I could not run, jump, march correctly, or lift over a certain poundage.”

CRYSTAL_6Upon receiving her medical discharge from the U.S. Army in April of 2007, she returned home to Georgia. “After returning home from the military, I rested for quite a bit, settled back into civilian life, completed my VA paperwork and got back into school,” Tucker said. And for the first time in several months, Tucker and her husband, Chris, received some good news and had a reason to celebrate – a new addition to the family. What Tucker did not expect were her injuries to return.

Throughout Tucker’s pregnancy, her symptoms became worse. “My legs would fall asleep to where I could barely walk. I had trouble sleeping due to the tingling in my legs. I developed arthritis and it became painful to leave my bedside and even participate in physical activity,” said Tucker. “After my son was born in February of 2008, I tried to exercise to help with the circulation of my legs, but decided to seek a vein specialist to correct my problems.”

After experiencing symptoms of numbness, pain and tingling, Tucker was evaluated by her doctor and was diagnosed with Venus Reflux Disease. “Basically,” Tucker said, “the blood flow – instead of making a complete circulation in my body, it was trickling back down.” Tucker’s physician best described her condition as a ‘leaky roof in her circulatory system’ and required her to have two separate surgeries, one on each leg, to correct and burn out the bad veins and reroute the blood flow. After the procedure and during a follow-up with her physician, told her she would never run again. Tucker did not lose hope.

God’s Word speaks a promise of renewed strength.

“Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will sore on wings like eagles; they will RUN and not be weary, they will not walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:31)

If you have ever been in a place where you have been weary and tired, you have more than likely yearned for renewed strength. Being weary and tired can lead to discouragement and perhaps the desire to give up. It is in this place that we find it difficult to face life, to make decisions or to even take another step.

Tucker did not know what she would go on to accomplish after hearing that she could never run, not just from one, but from two different doctors– but through the Run for God program, God was able to show her that with Him all things are POSSIBLE. Tucker, now a Run for God graduate, found hope and strength during a time when others lost all hope and faith in her. 

Screen Shot 2018-04-24 at 2.30.16 PM“When I think of Run for God, I can’t help, but smile,” says Tucker. “I am so passionate about this group and ministry and I will never think of running the same way again. With all of the odds that were stacked up against me, God lead me right where I needed to be,” she continues. 

“I was looking through the newsfeed on Facebook when I came across a group that involved running and a Bible study,” she said. “At the time, I wanted to try out a Bible study, so I thought I would give it a try.” The class was a Run for God 10k/Half Marathon Challenge that began in January 2014 after the Run for God’s 10k/Half Marathon program release in December 2013. This challenge is a 12-week Bible study that parallels faith and endurance all while preparing experienced runners to run a 10k or half marathon. 

“Once I entered the classroom, I was terrified about the decision I had made,” she said, “I mean, I have only completed a 5k since my injuries.” The class met three days a week for the training: Tuesday evening after the Bible study, Thursday evening, and Saturday morning. “The weather could not have been more cold,” said Tucker, 

“I was bundling up as if I was heading to Alaska.” 

Screen Shot 2018-04-24 at 2.33.09 PMAs the program continued, Tucker thought of all the odds stacked up against her, including not being able to run again. They began to cloud her mind until a 12-mile training run. “I was listening to K-LOVE for motivation to push through the pain of a long 12-miles when a verse from a song said, ‘you are the peace in my troubled sea,’” said Tucker. “It was in that moment, while I had been wanting to quit and wallowing in my pain that God was trying to tell me something. Not only had I come to realize that God had completely restored my health, transformed my life and gave me hope and the renewed strength I needed to run again, but also He wanted me to use it for His glory – I am to run to serve His purpose,” she exclaimed!

“I can still remember our graduation day just like it was yesterday,” Tucker says, “when I ran down the hill of Prater Mill Road, emotional, exhausted, turning the corner to run the last few kilometers. Then hearing the familiar sounds of my Run for God friends cheering and shouting, ‘GO, GO, GO! YOU CAN DO IT!!!’ and God whispering to me, ‘Run towards me.’ ‘Remember your purpose.’ ‘All finished.’ ‘You finished.’

“I am impacted greatly by this journey. It is still a journey. Despite the odds that were against me that should have demolished my future, instead lead me to not stand defeated. With God by my side, He helped me stand up to defeat the odds and to serve a purpose larger than myself,” said Tucker. So when the odds are not in your favor, don’t think that God has abandoned you. Stand your ground and keep your eyes fixed on the LORD. With everything else stripped away, you will be amazed at what your God can achieve.

My Life In a Picture

Have you ever gone through a rough patch of time?  Of course, you have.  We all have. I went through one recently.

It was Sunday morning and I was getting all my last-minute things together for church.  I had my Sunday School lesson plans.  I run the sound and video screens during our service and I had prepared all of that material too.  I got in my car and drove to church on a chilly, rainy day.

On the short trip to church, I was thinking about our pastor.  He was headed to a new adventure and that Sunday would be his last.  I love our pastor.  I have become a better man over the six years he has served our church not in small part because of the great example he set every day in his life. I hated to see him go.

In addition, we had just completed our annual Run for God Run at the Mill.  The race went well, but our number of participants was down.  I had not done a very good job of promoting and getting the word out about our race.  It hurt me that I let the Run for God team down.

There had also been the text message that had gone out alluding to something on my other job that had gone undone.  In this case, it actually WAS done, but I was lumped in with a group that had largely failed and so I was guilty by proxy.

Oh, and there was that tax thing.  The IRS would be looking for my completed tax documents within the next two days and I had not started on them yet.

I arrived at church felling pretty inadequate.  I dropped off my Sunday School materials and went to the sound room to make sure all of my presentation and audio plans would work that morning.  It was on the thumb drive I carry on my key chain.  But it wasn’t on my key chain.  I had left it at home.

Fortunately, I live very close to my church and could go home and retrieve it.  As I drove home, what was earlier a sprinkle had turned to a hard rain.  I would get soaked because I was too forgetful to remember my thumb drive.  I ran in the house, picked up my thumb drive, and stopped dead in my tracks as I was about to exit the garage.

There in front of me through the pouring rain I could see the picture of how I felt about the circumstances of my life at that point.  My lawnmower was sitting on a trailer, where it had been for two weeks, with a flat tire and the grass grown up around it.  I had planned to take it to the shop because it had stopped running and needed several things done but had not been able to find the time to get it there.  I had gone by the shop with it once, but it was temporarily closed at the time.  Such has been my timing lately.

It hit me so hard that I snapped a picture of it.

LawnMower

Then I ran through the rain to my car to get back down to the church.  Feeling sorry for myself, nearly in tears, I took the thumb drive out and placed in the computer.  I went through the screens to make sure they worked and stopped when I saw a video playing. It was a video of the song “All My Hope” by Crowder and Tauren Wells.  Wow.  The words to the song:

I’ve been held by the Savior

I’ve felt fire from above

I’ve been down to the river

I ain’t the same, a prodigal returned

All my hope is in Jesus

Thank God that yesterday’s gone

All my sins are forgiven

I’ve been washed by the blood

I’m no stranger to the prison

I’ve worn shackles and chains

But I’ve been freed and forgiven

And I’m not going back, I’ll never be the same

That’s why I sing

All my hope is in Jesus

Thank God my yesterday’s gone

All my sins are forgiven

I’ve been washed by the blood

There’s a kind of thing that just breaks a man

Break him down to his knees

God, I’ve been broken more than a time or two

Yes, Lord then He picked me up and showed me

What it means to be a man

Come on and sing

All my hope is in Jesus

Thank God my yesterday’s gone

All my sins are forgiven

I’ve been washed by the blood

Now the tears came flooding. I realized that my hope isn’t in all the things that had gone wrong over the past couple of weeks.  ALL my hope is in Jesus.  Everything else pales in comparison.  Oh, next year will be different at Run at the Mill.  We’ll find another pastor.  It will stop raining.  My lawnmower will get repaired.  Things are already looking up because my taxes were done by the time I sat down to write this.  I thank God that, not only that my hope IS in Jesus, but that He sees fit to shove that fact right in my face when I need I need it most.  Praise God for His grace and mercy!

Dean Thompson