A Marathon Challenge on Behalf of Uptown's Homeless!

This year I plan to do something that's going to be a huge (could I even say enormous) challenge for me. I've decided to attempt (yes, attempt) to run the Chicago Marathon for the homeless shelter I work for: Cornerstone Community Outreach. This is a challenge that takes me out of ALL my comfort zones; I haven't run since I was required to at Kelston Boys High School, but this was well over 20 years ago! The truth is, I was slow and clumsy. I don't have high expectations, I don't expect to break any records; in fact, I'd actually say that my expectations are fairly low! I just wanna, somehow and in someway, eventually make it over that long-awaited finish line, sometime on the same day!

Listed below are the 5 main reasons I am going to run this marathon....
  • I need an outlet. Working at CCO is an all-consuming task that rarely allows me to escape from all the constant needs. Even going for a walk around the neighborhood, I get phone calls and people stopping me, needing advice and answers. My hope and prayer is that running will help me escape from all the stress.
  • I need "alone time". As someone who easily gets wrapped up in our modern world of technology, my hope is to use the training to free myself from it's powerful embrace. My hope and prayer is that running will help me refocus, pray and embrace Jesus and the "rest" He promises.
  • I need to DO something that's different. When I DO something in Chicago; homelessness, advocacy and CCO still grips me, because it's ever-present. Whether it's in the parks, playgrounds or libraries, people recognize and approach me. I'm not complaining about that; I just need those times away, and my hope and prayer is that running this will help me find that freedom.
  • I need to exercise. Doctor's orders! When I went for a check-up late last year, and he discovered that my blood pressure, cholesterol and weight are all elevated and they need to be lowered. My hope and prayer is that running will help me live a healthier lifestyle.
  • CCO is in need of money. Always! Last year, some people started running the Chicago Marathon for Cornerstone, fundraising over $12,000 for our homeless shelter. This year, we're trying to make over $50,000 toward the great work we're doing amongst the homeless, in Uptown, Chicago. At the last count, CCO has 62 runners, and I want to contribute in a very different way than I usually do. My hope and prayer is that I can make over $1250.00 for the place I love and have poured my life into, by running 26.2 miles.
If you feel like donating to the amazing work CCO does, please click on the following link (which is my Crowdrise page): http://www.crowdrise.com/teamcco2013/fundraiser/jeremynicholls
You can also click the "widget" on the right hand side of this blog ------>

To be blunt, I feel really nervous about this whole endeavor. It's not something I feel at ease with, because it's not something that's easy for me to do. In all honesty, my life encompasses many challenges every day, responding to homeless people's needs and trauma. This week I took a wooden table leg off someone who was intent on hitting someone in the head with it! This week I visited and prayed with a dying person in the hospital, another person who lost a limb and now lives in a nursing home and tried to comfort a lady who's swollen toes have been ravished by frostbite. This week I walked down to "front street" and spoke to the local gangstas who had just chased and wanted to hurt a young guy who was acting a fool and begged them to "promote the peace" and have mercy on him; they agreed. This week I was also in the middle of comforting and assisting a distraught couple who's young baby passed away during the night. My week has also been occupied in trying desperately to house my buddy Chief who's been homeless for a long tedious 38 years; Chief's tragedy started when his mother died and he was only 13 years old!  Sadly, no doors are opening for him. Yet, this week, I'm happy to say, doors did open for 3 chronically homeless people who I've been actively working with, and they signed their leases and successfully moved into their own cribs. Click here for the LINK to their story

The reality is, this list goes on and on, because that is but a glimpse into the chaotic mess I wander through as I try to piece together all the fragments, by bringing comfort, peace and solutions into all the drama that hits us at such a rapid pace. Even though my life is caked in so much drama, death and chaos, I know what my "purpose" is and seem to thrive in it all. At this point, and in light of all I've just written, it would be utterly false of me not to admit that I often find myself emotionally splattered, and these are the moments it becomes imperative to bow my head and "be still and KNOW that God is God"; it is in these moments, it becomes imperative to cast my cares upon the One who said, "come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest....." 

Yet, my irony sits in the reality that these challenges and moments are far easier to embrace than merely putting on running shoes; I feel that living in this tension is a God-given gift that I was called to do, while running the Chicago marathon is something that is going to be very difficult to accomplish, I need to challenge myself with it, so I'm going for it....

I'm going to conclude with a few links....

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