Finding My Sparkle Again {Holy (cow) Week Day 5}

The last few months has brought a series of difficult things for my family. Nothing tragic, just hard.  The first month I remained strong and faithful and optimistic about it all.  The second month I became a bit sarcastic, but still laughed about the metaphorical black clouds following me around.  Lately, I have been discouraged — tired really. My prayer life has settled in to a single monotonous prayer:  “Lord, I just need one good day.”

Three weeks ago a local shoe maker, Soft Star Shoes, gave me a call..  The company is launching a line of barefoot running shoes, and someone had given them my name.  They offered me a free pair of shoes (retailing for $100) in exchange for feedback and my participation in a photo shoot.  “Yes!,”  I exclaimed, with an enthusiasm that I think frightened them a bit.  I told all my friends I’d gotten a sponsorship . . .really I got a pair of shoes.

Two weeks ago I went to design those shoes.   I wandered downtown and up a flight of stairs in an old warehouse building.  The small store being more reminiscent of Santa’s workshop than a retailer, had a magical appeal.  The smell of leather swirled and calloused hands stitched and glued each pair of shoes by hand.  I was led to the rack of leathers and told to pick.  The possibilities of suede and shiny, matte and vented were endless.  I chose the sparkly pink.  I wanted people to talk.

The shoes were finished last week, and yesterday was the photo shoot.

I am not now, nor ever have been a model.  Since they had asked me to be in the campaign shoot, I assumed all the pictures would be from the ankle down.  I envisioned standing around and pointing my toes for a couple of hours.

Instead, we met up at the Bald Hill trail system.  The photographer was some big shot from Las Vegas, trying to establish himself in small-town Oregon.  He had a twelve page print out of the shoot; describing in detail every ten minutes of the four-hour session. He arrived with two assistance, a pop-up changing room, and a huge rolling cart of equipment.

The owner of the shoe store brought a jogging stroller for me to push (completely squashing any dwindling images of me as some super model . . . really I was the “every day mom” shot).

The first half of the shoot was on a bike path to emulate road running.  The photographer threw a piece of moss on the ground and called it “one.”  My job was to start at one, run through, and then go back to one.  In his best director voice, the photographer called out, “now slow motion, exaggerated, but still true to good running technique.”  Followed by, “we’re getting deep trenches on your forehead, like you’re thinking hard . . . could you cut that out.”

I finally mastered the smooth forehead, slow motion running thing when they put me behind the jogging stroller.  That required running in a straight line while veering the stroller to the right and running so the shoes weren’t hidden by the wheels . . . while still demonstrating good running technique.

The trail segment of the shoot was more complicated.  Looking for the off-road illusion, the photographer took me to a steep hill-side with a series of logs about five feet apart.  Apparently downhill doesn’t translate on film, so I was told to run up the mountain side and leap over the logs.  The water-logged ground sucked my feet towards china while the grade of the slope depleted my momentum.  I got over the first two logs with ease, but the third tripped me up.  Finally, somewhere around take twelve,  I established the appropriate speed and footing, flying over all three logs.  The photographer emerged from behind the camera and said, “that was great– now I need you to do it again but this time keep your right arm forward and left arm back when you leap.”  Another twelve takes and I think he got his shot . . . from the ankle down.

The owner of the store kept apologizing throughout the shoot.  It was cold, and I was in a tank top.  The off-roading scratched up my legs and exposed me to poison oak.  The “stretching scene”  had me twisted into all kinds of crazy and uncomfortable positions.  The shoot even extended past the promised time frame. She apologized for everything, and she didn’t need to.

The photo shoot was actually an answer to prayer.  It was cold and repetitive, exhausting even.  But it was a day, running . . . doing something I loved with one of the kindest groups of people I’ve ever met.  I laughed and smiled, and I went home with pink sparkly shoes .  It was a good day.

I had been praying for a good day.    I thought that meant a day of perfect circumstances,  a trip to Disneyland maybe.  What I got was a day of experiencing joy again.

Tomorrow, we will call Friday good.

It is the day that Jesus faced betrayal, arrest, and crucifixion.  Still we call it good.  In all the horror of that day, there was joy.  And it was His joy.

We know that for the joy set before Him (speaking of me and you), Christ willingly went to the cross. He experienced physical pain, emotional anguish, literal heartache.    He also experienced joy.  Because through it all, He thought of me and of you.

A good day is not a day of perfect circumstances, it is any day where joy is present.  And in God is the fullness of joy.  Any day can be a good day, if He is there.  He is always there, because Christ died.

Tomorrow truly is a good day, and every day after because of tomorrow.  I think I will wear my sparkly shoes.