The Long haul...
Growing up we shared a home with another family due to my parents being financial status. My dad worked tirelessly to support us, but I had a good experience at the elementary school I went to. The neighborhood we lived in had some attempted drive by shootings and a stranger tried to kidnap me, so my parents made the decision to move. When we moved to a new town, I did not make friends as easily in the previous town. The label as being too "boyish" was born wearing my brothers hand me downs. I was a loner until high school when one day stepping on to the track. During PE class they did some sprint testing, and as a result was invited to try out for the track team. The first time evre hurdling, I three stepped, and from that day forward was on the varsity squad. I had friends now, but it started because of the accomplishments that were occurring. I began to tie my identity to achievements and grew hungrier to add medals, titles, crowns, and awards as much as possible. Every year a new boyfriend, floating from friend to friend, living life carelessly and selfishly.
During my high school years, my two older brothers were in and out of jail and one had dropped out of high school. There was a pattern in our family history and soon I would be wrapped into that cycle. I was in several car accidents and two near drowning accidents where I had to be pulled to safety. I was raped, assaulted and abused. Life was chaos and there was never a constant.
My high school track career was a successful campaign, but I was a poor student just hoping my athleticism would carry me through. With a low GPA, I went to a junior college and eventually met my first husband. A star on the basketball team, it seemed a natural fit. We married, I continued to run and win state championships, but he had finished his career and was not a fan of me being in the spotlight. A cycle of abuse started in our marriage and I was so embarrassed to admit to anyone it was mistake to marry him, I stayed. At that point, I did not want anyone to see my life less than perfect, but I paid a heavy price. Alcohol became almost a daily habit and it is a miracle I was still able to be successful at track while being such a frequent drinker. Despite my bad habits, my grades picked up and I was heavily recruited out of junior college by Division I track programs across the United States. After a recruiting trip to Nebraska, I knew it was the place for me. The school was beautiful and the number one thing that set Nebraska apart from anywhere else...the people. I did not want to go to a California school because of all of the readily available distractions. Nebraska was a place I could focus and really become a great student-athlete.
After one short month in Nebraska, the abuse with my then husband had reached a point of life safety. I left him and secured a restraining order. All of the ups and downs did not leave me in a strong state of mental health. I let the negative overtake me and was searching desperately for security in anything I could. My life decisions led to a poor year of performance on the track and lost my scholarship. I opted to stay since I just had one year left of eligibility....then life started to change. One day I went running and instead of just letting everyone pass me and give up....I tried. That's it. I just tried. The more I tried, the better of an athlete mentqally and physically I was being shaped in to. I cut out alcohol, poor eating habits, partying and took extremely good care of my body post workouts. At this point I had ran track for almost a decade and it took me that long to realize one of the most important things as not only a student-athlete, but human being....I HAD A CHOICE. When I stepped off that track, I was now the coach and had to take care of myself, it all plays into your overall well being. By the end of the indoor season I made it to the National Championships ending up 11th in the nation and we broke a school record in the distance medley relay. Funny thing was, I thought this would bring so much happiness, but it didn't. Instead, I had felt more sorrow than ever and thought that if that didn't make me happy, what would in life. All of my awards, all the titles, medals...yet I was so empty. So many mistakes, so much pain, I wanted it to stop. Upon returning home I tried to take my own life and was found by the police. I ended up in the hospital and something very special happened that night. When I woke up in my hospital bed at 11 o'clock at night, the team doctor was by my side. I am sure he had other places he could have been and probably wanted to be, but he made a choice to come see if I was ok.
I was amazed that someone would care about my well being despite my failures, faults and poor choice to try and make the selfish attempt to end my life.
Outdoor track started and I was able to make it to the National Championships outdoor competing in the 4x100 relay and 400 hurdles. When I was there I made a job connection and they offered me a job upon my return to Nebraska. I took that job and met my friend Susan. Susan is an important person to me. She was the first person in the 22 years of my life on earth to ask me if I knew God. She invited me to a Christian music festival and while listening to Switchfoot and the song 24, I accepted Christ as my savior. For the first time in my life, I felt clean, new, redeemed, free and loved deeply and genuinely. I had tried to read the bible before and literally could not understand it at all, but after accepting Christ could read it cover to cover. My salvation is nothing I earned. I didn't even believe in God leading up to this. I didn't have water I threw all over me, pixie dust or any other crazy thing....it was just by GRACE.
Ohhhh, God's timing. Upon return from the festival, Susan and I drove all over the country visiting with people and praying for those around us. It was transforming. My summer came to a screeching halt though when I got the news that my oldest brother had died. This was a difficult time for our family and if I did not have my faith at that point, I would have surely gone back to my security blankets of poor choices. Thankfully, I knew where to turn know and that was to God.
After our family started to move on down the road I wanted to live life completely different than previously. I didn't want to date anyone, or to wear makeup, or even dress a certain way. I wanted to be just how God had intended. I met my current husband and from the minute we went on our first date, I knew we would be together for the rest of our lives. Boy meets girl. Girl likes boy, boy likes girl, they get married and live happily ever after. Right? RIGHT? Even though I was living life as a believer now, I had carried with me the social stigma of the Disney syndrome...Perfection. Bubbles, rainbows, butterflies and all that jazz.
The year Fred and I met my career started at the Nebraska athletic department on the grounds crew. I wiped down the bleachers in memorial stadium, picked up trash, vacuumed, set up tables...basically anything and everything. At the same time, I was volunteering for our nutrition staff and the track and field team and Boyd Epley who would eventually hire me had observed me working in the other areas. He invited me in to do some work inside the office instead of outside and would feed me little bits of projects here and there just to see where I would take it and how I would do it. At this point, I didn't know how to use photoshop, AutoCAD, SketchUp or any other architectural/design program. He would assign me projects to use these programs and I had to figure it out...and fast. The ability to be self taught helped me grow as more responsibility was assigned and the willingness to take on any task. I was willing to work as hard as it took to serve a place that helped changed my life, and helped shape me as the person I am today. My job role developed over time to managing over $340 million dollars in construciton projects among other responsibilities. Along the way, I got sidetracked with my priorities.
By the year 2010, we had two wonderful children, I was able to capture a couple more state championships in track, some boxing state championships, but I was not focusing on the most important title of all...Mrs. Thorne. My husband was not focusing either and had made some poor choices that had a very negative impact on our marriage. Upon returning from a mission trip in Haiti, we were all but roomates. We held on to old memories and what "was" and was not focusing on what we could be and were meant to be. Instead, we were both being selfish and not owning any of our own mistakes. We were too focused on pointing at each others faults.
December of 2010 we were surprised to find out we were pregnant with our 3rd child. This was a difficult time as we had been going through counseling and each of us had one foot out the door. Our hearts were broken and we were just two broken people. In May of 2012 we hit a big bump in the road and separated. I was 6 months pregnant and we were a few feet away from filing for a divorce.
I talked to our counselor about what our percentage for our marriage to survive the difficulty we were going through and he said based on his experience...about 30%. Hmmmm. Well, we decided to give it a last ditch effort and drove out to Colorado Springs for a 3 day intensive counseling session. Our first day there we went to a place called Seven Falls. It is seven waterfalls and you can go to the top by climbing these steep, steeeep stairs. At this point I was 7 months pregnant, but we figured we were going to go for it anyways. On the first flight of stairs we were both complaining because it was painful. Our legs hurt. We were out of breath. We were bickering at each other. It was awful to sum it up. On the way up we were in so much pain, we said we did not want to go all the way, we were going to turn back. Buuuuut, after catching our breath at the half way point, we both agreed to go to the top. The funny thing is, the second flight of stairs was easy. No complaining, nothing. We got to the top and we were glad we put forth the effort to finish. It was beautiful at the top and worth every step taken to get there.
That one moment in our marriage was momentous. It was in that moment I saw a reflection of our marriage and what it had been.....and what it could be. We would have to make the choice to commit to it though no matter what bumps lied ahead. When we first were married, we jumped right in young and ambitious, but ended up in a lot of pain and didn't really know what we were truly in for.
After our visit to Colorado, we knew what we were in for now and if we could handle some pain, it would be worth it all the way.
There was one more thing God was asking of me though...I had to forgive my husband. I am not talking about in a moment when he was asking for an apology or when he brought flowers or did anything at all. I had to forgive him even when in my eyes he didn't deserve to be forgiven. I had to do that because that is exactly what God did for me. In my eyes at that moment, Fred may not have looked perfect for me, but I realized I was exactly the person HE needed to be married to because of how much I had been forgiven, it was my turn to do that for someone else...my husband.
Right after Fred and I got back from our counseling session in Colorado, I found out a dear friend had committed suicide. After these two back to back moments in my life, along with a couple years earlier losing my brother, I am on a personal worldwide mission to NEVER miss an opportunity to love someone in their pain or whatever it is in their life. I deeply desire to live a selfless life that I do not seek what is right for me, but others. We will change the world, one person at a time.
I am thankful for my relationship with Christ and know without a doubt I would not be here today without it. My husband and I knew if we made an intentional commitment to each other to work through the difficulties we faced in our marriage, we would make it. We focused on a phrase that surrounds us every minute of the day "Never Give Up". I pray that if you made it through this book of a story, it touched your heart in the way God wanted it to. Thank you for reading my story, I would truly love to hear yours someday.