running for…Ellen Sprague
- day 22
Two years ago this April, Ellen’s husband Steve was diagnosed with bone cancer in his hip. Twenty-eight days later on May 4th, he died. He was 38.
My children attend Fresta Valley, a small Christian school in Marshall, Virginia. Although it is school, most students and parents view it like a second family. That is why it was not unusual when, upon Steve’s death a letter came home. It explained Steve had gone home to be with the Lord after a brief but brave battle with cancer and asked the Fresta family to keep Ellen and her children, Aiden and Kyra in our prayers. At the time I had no idea who these people were.
The letter also invited the Fresta family to attend Steve’s funeral on May 8. May 8, the weekend of our inaugural Rev3 Knoxville race. I was planning on going to that race with my kids. I was looking FORWARD to going to that race with my kids. But my heart wouldn’t let me. As a wife and mother my heart broke for Ellen and the pain she must be experiencing during this hard season of her life. The kids and I stayed home. May 8 we attended Steve’s funeral. That day I grieved a man I didn’t know. I cried for a woman I’ve never met and prayed for children I’d never seen.
Fast forward 18 months. That fall I’d been invited to attend a Bible study with a couple moms from Fresta Valley. I debated about going. I eventually reasoned, why not? It’s the off-season. I tip-toed into Linda’s living room, late as usual. I realized I didn’t know anyone there except Linda and the seats next to her were taken. Glancing around the room I saw one empty chair. I slid into it. As only God Himself could have planned the sweet, quiet woman I sat next to that day was Ellen.
Through our Bible study I have come to know Ellen. She is gracious, gentle and elegant. She is a woman of few words. Over the months she has shared pieces of her life with us girls. Her stories and prayer requests reveal to each of us that God is indeed holding them in the palm of His hand. Her story teaches me that the hard seasons of life do not minimize God but in fact, magnify His goodness. Her story encourages me that even the hard seasons of life have a purpose. Perhaps even a greater purpose, to draw her and many others along the way closer to Him.
Take a moment to read Steve Sprague’s last advice for us all as he posted on his blog prior to entering the hospital:
FRIDAY, APRIL 16, 2010
So Ellen, this run…every mile, every breath is for you.