Who Would Have Thought???

When he was just a kindergartener, he was the smartest player on the soccer field. As all the little players swarmed the ball like bees around a hive, AJ waited patiently outside the crush for the ball to emerge, then singlehandedly (or singlefootedly?) ran the ball down the field to the goal. The coaches and parents marveled, "He's going to be a great soccer player!" 
Until he quit. 
"I don't like soccer. You have to run all the way down the field, then run all the way back again." From then on, baseball was his true love, playing year round. 

In eighth grade, his homeroom teacher, Mr. Allen, was also the cross-country coach. When AJ told us he was going to run cross country, my husband and I fell over laughing, literally. But when he started finishing in first place, we stopped laughing. Turns out that it was "useless" running that AJ didn't like. All that down the field and back again with no scoring was boring. But running through the countryside or down streets toward a finish line - in increasingly faster time - was an achievement. 

His high school coach, Mr. Apol, a model of what coaches should be, challenged and encouraged each student to better themselves according to their own ability. Cross country taught me so much about running the race of life, my early blogposts were peppered with XC stories. (Stay tuned for more on this next week!)

Now AJ, college student, is running the NJ Marathon! On Sunday May 1st, he will run 26 miles through several NJ shore towns. Once again, family and friends will be there cheering along the sidelines and at the finish line. 

This time, he's raising money for a summer mission trip to Uganda. 

Now for the mom-pitch! Would you consider supporting AJ in this endeavor? 
First, please keep him in prayer:
- that he would run well and finish well 
- with no injury! (He's been having some knee trouble during training.)
- that the weather would be favorable.

And second, if you feel so led, financial donations toward his mission trip go to Touch The World and can be made at: 
Donations can be made in any amount large or small, flat or per mile.

He, and we, thank you in advance for your prayer and/or financial support. 

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith... Consider Him ..., so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Heb. 12:1, 3

ps - couldn't resist adding this poem that AJ wrote and posted on facebook this morning:

‎'Twas the night before race day
and everyone knew
That twenty-six mile was
a whole lot to do.
My bones are all aching
my muscles all sore
Nervous cause no Panzica
has tried this before.
But I have a secret that
I want all to see
And that is my God
that lives inside me.
Cause when I cannot do it
and am falling apart
He holds me together
From my feet to my heart.


Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Susan -

AJ is not only an excellent athlete, but also quite a writer! You must be so proud of him. :)


Robin said...

Wow! I am reading this late in the afternoon, AJ is probably done with his run by now. We trust he "finished well"!! Go AJ!! And I love the poem, what a talented guy you have - what a blessing!! Love, Robin

Donna said...

Love it! Love his poem! I wonder how he's doing?

Love you,

(PS: Prayed for AJ, and still praying that his body is all okay!)

Susan Panzica - EternityCafe said...

Susan - Oh my yes, I am a proud mama! He loves the Lord for which I am most grateful.

Robin - He did finish well. Came in under his goal and qualifies for the Boston marathon.

Donna - Thanks for your prayers. They were surely answered!

lynnmosher said...

Just read this and was coming to ask how AJ did. That's awesome he qualifies for the Boston marathon. Congrats, AJ! And loved his poem. I so wish I could help out but it's just not in the books right now. Blessings to you both!

Nancy said...

love it love it, especially the poem!

Susan Panzica - EternityCafe said...

Lynn - Thanks for your words. No worries about the financial support. Most important is prayer support, and I know you are faithful.

Nancy - I love it too, so I had to share it ;D
And he did great in the race!

Terri Tiffany said...

His poem brought tears to my eyes!! I will be praying for him! My husband just ran his first 5K last week, the man who never ran in his life until last year and his is 56!

quietspirit said...

I am reading this on Monday. I ran into some former neighbors on Saturday. I believe the husband's daughter was running in that marathon.
I love the poem. AJ has a gift there.
Where did he finish?

Jeanette Levellie said...

Wow. I got goosebumps reading that poem! That's wonderful he is using his talents for Jesus.

How did he do Sunday?


Susan Panzica - EternityCafe said...

Thanks ladies for your comments. He did great!! Finished in 3:22, 8 minutes ahead of his goal. Came in #113 out of 2000. I'm still amazed. He really didn't start training early enough, but he has great determination when he sets his mind to something. He had some knee and hamstring issues but ran through them. He qualified for the Boston marathon, but is not sure if he will run that race or not.

Marja said...

Bit late, but I donated and re-posted :) Great boy you have there!!!

Rhonda Schrock said...

Oh, yes!! From one XC mama to another one...love, love, love this sport! My kiddo started running XC in high school. This weekend, we go to Indianapolis to the largest half-marathon in the world. He and his dad are both running the half. Last year he came in (College Kid) #442 out of over 30,000 runners! (Sorry; mama can't help but throw that in there.)

Those are some of our favorite memories of his high school years. I share your joy!

Smiling and waving,


Susan Panzica - EternityCafe said...

I can't thank you enough for sharing. What a blessing you are.

I so agree! The whole XC experience was a joy. Even though, unlike other sports, most of the time our athletes can't be seen during the races. But I just love the people who participate in this sport.
And brag away!!! That's what moms are for! ;D