So I have two confessions to make.

As I’ve been working on the manuscript for the Daily Wisdom for the Mommy-to-Be devotional book, that will be published by Barbour Books, I wasn’t planning to write a blog post anytime soon.

Which leads me to my second confession….

Are you sitting down? This one might take a while.

For several years, I’ve had this reoccurring dream at night.

I’ve brushed this dream aside because life happened. We lost several family members seven years ago, I had surgery on the butterfly-shaped thyroid gland six years ago, and I was pregnant with our first child five years ago. Then, I trained for a half-marathon four years ago. Three years ago we were preparing to make a major cross-country move, we made a major cross-country move two years ago, and I was pregnant with our second child one year ago.

I didn’t take this dream seriously. I thought it was my mind reliving subconscious thoughts, or maybe I visualized races so much as a teenager that they just got too deeply etched into my memory.

I’ve had some fears and limitations too. Like being a mom of two little ones, and having a thyroid autoimmune condition.

Almost fifteen years ago, I was getting ready to enter my junior year at The University of Iowa. I swam two years at the varsity level for the Hawkeyes. Five months prior to my departure from the sport, on March 9, 2002, I was captivated. A teammate led me to Christ. In August of 2002, I stopped what became my identity to find my true identity.

Fast forward to September of 2016 when we became members of the YMCA. To have fun with the family, get our daughter into swimming lessons, and to get back into shape after having a baby, I started to swim again. I also started to attend strength train and group cycling classes. I got a lot of encouragement and support from the YMCA members and staff. This dream that I brushed aside like my side sleeper pillow, started to surface like a flotation device.

Around the New Year my husband and I registered for our first sprint triathlon. Then, through the encouragement of those at the YMCA, I registered for my first swimming meet in 15 years; a state masters championship.

This past weekend I started to make some sense of this dream. I felt the joy of the Lord when I swam. I was so excited to see people I’ve been training with do well! I prayed to God for strength and help. In between events, I listened to Francesca Battistelli’s Giants Fall. Before my childhood best event, the 200 butterfly, the nerves creeped up on me like an ugly spider climbing my leg. I texted my husband and asked him to pray for me. He replied saying that our preschooler did.

Prior to this swim meet I visualized my races. Before stepping up on the block for each event, I reminded myself I had a choice: I could walk away and that would be okay. Or I could remember that it was a privilege to be there.

I surprised myself by coming in second in two of the four events I swam, and I qualified for the United States Masters Swimming Nationals.

After that long day, I gave one of the medals to my daughter. I couldn’t have done this without her inspiration, joy for the water, and prayers.

She and I gave the other medal to the YMCA Kids Stuff workers. Without them, and their love for children and child care, I couldn’t be doing this.

So there you have it. My long-winded confession.

If you’ve made it this far in the blog post, I have one more…

As we come to the tail end of Lent, and look forward to Resurrection Sunday, 15 years ago I came to a place of brokenness and embraced the message that Easter conveys. A spring-board diver, who represented the United States in the 2008 Summer Olympic Games, spring-boarded me into a relationship with Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit helped me realized my need for Him. I felt convicted when I realized I wasn’t glorifying God in swimming, nor in many other areas of my life, and I desperately needed His forgiveness. Ever since that day, I daily come face-to-face with this reality that I’m a sinner constantly in need of His grace and mercy. He offers it freely, with unconditional love.

Prior to March 9, 2002, this teammate gave me a card at the Big Ten Swimming & Diving Championships. In the card was a passage of Scripture that has stuck with me.

Ephesians 3:17-19 (NLT): Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

To celebrate the most important victory we will ever identify ourselves with, what do you plan to do this Easter?

28 thoughts on “Finding Easter

  1. I love how you said:In August of 2002, I stopped what became my identity to find my true identity. I was a Division 1 Collegiate Athlete when an injury cut my career short. A few years later, I decided to toss caution to the wind and try to play professionally (my sport was Golf) and the second time around I walked away on my own. It just wasn’t what God had for me. It wasn’t my true identity. I’ve never regretted my decision.

    My family is starting a new cross-centered Easter tradition this year. Can’t wait!

    1. Wow, Sarah, I didn’t know you played golf?! I’m grateful to read that God allowed you to try it out again, on your own. I’m so thankful that our true identity is in Him. Whether we win or loose, He’s already given us a great victory that we can identify with!

      Praying that you and your family have a blessed Easter.

  2. I love to swim but due to a heart condition I have not been able to for quite some time. but I am recovering from bypass heart surgery and have three more months to go before I can resume going to the Y. Now I use the treadmill at the gym there. I applaud you, a challenge is always good for since it keeps us mentally sharp and in shape. Happy Easter

  3. Wow, Stacey. I love your story. And the fact that I live a mere half-hour from Iowa City makes me drawn even more to it and to you! Do you still live in the Hawkeye state? I’m blessed to be following you at Holly’s this week. Happy Easter to you and to your family! (Can’t wait to read your book too!)

  4. Ooh, a real swimmer! Congrats on still having it. My mother never learned how to swim, and as a result, she didn’t let us go near the water very often. In college I took a swimming class but I still don’t have a true love for it. However, I wanted my own kids to NOT feel like me, so they both swim like fish, as does my husband. I’m glad you were able to follow your dreams! God is so good to delight us in many ways in this life.

  5. Stacey, great post! I’m impressed with your swimming and love how God used your passion to introduce you to Him! Happy Easter.

  6. Beautiful post! I love how God keeps bringing your dream back to you, even if it looks a little different each time! I recently started swimming again at our Y! And although I won’t be doing any meets, I am participating in the 100 mile in a year swim challenge! When I got out of the Army I thought I’d lost my identity, but it was only then that I finally began to discover my true identity in Christ! Easter Blessings!

  7. This is a great testimony- thanks for sharing! I love how you’ve been able to get back into swimming and do so well after such a long time, and I love this: ” I stopped what became my identity to find my true identity.”

  8. Found your post at Fresh Market Friday. So glad I browsed around and clicked. Fantastic post, so enjoyed reading some of your story and your journey to Christ. Thank you for sharing your heart.

  9. I’m your neighbor in #FreshMarketFriday today! What a fabulous story you have! I also have an autoimmune immune thyroid disorder. I was diagnosed last year and I’m still trying to find my way. It’s a huge encouragement to me that you have children and can handle strenuous physical activity. Praise God for life beyond any seemingly hopeless situation!!!

  10. What a wonderful story and amazing accomplishments! My daughter also has this autoimmune disorder, and this is inspiring to see that it does not have to limit or stop one from doing what is most desired. Thanks for sharing on Fresh Market Friday!

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