I am blessed to share with you the guest post and words of my new friend and Boston Marathon runner Linda Leonard Ambard. May her journey and words encourage you and deepen your faith in humanity and God.
For five years, I felt like I was called to do more than I was doing with my life. For five long years, I prayed that God would help me to be the woman I was being called to be. When I didn’t find the answer, Phil told me that it was because I was living my faith, yet I knew that there was something I was to do. On 27 April 2011, that calling was directly shown to me. I could never have foreseen the events of that day–events so terrible that the human heart cannot wrap it’s arms around the vile act. Do I think that God took my Phil? No, I think that my Phil was received into heaven, but I believe that God knew that it would take me five years to be ready for what was going to be asked of me.
You see, my husband of 23 years was assassinated by someone he liked and trusted. This vile monster looked at my Phil and shot him time and time again. The media figured out who the fallen Air Force Academy Professor was and my children found out through social media. Imagine finding our from Facebook or an acquaintance. I, however, was at school teaching. I thought I might lose my job that day because I had volunteered to be the one let go (because teachers were losing jobs due to district bankruptcy essentially). I knew we would be moving when Phil returned from Afghanistan. When my principal got me and we were walking up the hall, I saw media trucks outside. I thought I would have to give an interview about school politics. I never dreamed that the media would be at the school, my house, and the airport because Phil was never coming home.
As I saw the military men and women in uniform, and as the words began to be uttered, I fell to my knees keening. As I fell to my knees and I heard sounds I could never again replicate, a singular thought crossed my mind. I had a choice to make. How could I claim to have faith if in my darkest hours I get angry or question God about the loss of Phil. I chose. I chose to fall into my faith and in that singular act, I have been carried and blessed beyond belief. Make no mistake, the walk is hard; it is lonely; and I do not understand why him and why not me, but here is what I do know. I see the people God has put into my life. I see the ways that I have grown in faith and with my testimony, but again, it was a choice.
This year, I was running the Boston Marathon to honor the second anniversary of the terrorist that took Phil. I had been given a number because of my story. I was the girl running in a red polka dotted skirt, a smile, and with a spring in her step. I was running well and I was but a quarter of a mile away from the finish line when all hell broke loose. I had conquered 26 miles of the course. The finish line was in sight. I never got to cross the finish line. Another terrorist sought to take the singular facet of my life that gives me joy and lets me fall into my faith, but even as I cowered and broke in a Dunkin Doughnuts shop, God worked through people and through my heart. My heart began to blaze. I cannot let evil people take any more from me. I must stand up and be bold. I am a woman of faith and no matter what happens, I can say, it is well, it is well with my soul. Easier said than done at times….
Faith and happiness are choices. I am nobody special really, but God can make a work of beauty even among the debris and ashes of my life. There are days, days like the Boston Marathon, when I am transported back into the darkness, but I am well aware that God is in control. People make choices. I choose to be bold and to step forward one faltering step at a time. I choose not to let my tragedy define who I am, rather I embrace the life I have been given because if I don’t evil people will have won two of us versus just one. By standing firm in my faith, and by choosing to live in the light (sometimes with pink polka dots), I know that though today I may break, there will be someone some where that will be the hand that carries me. I know that some day some how, I will live a life of joy. I have seen it, and I own it.
My writings are the story of my walk in faith and it is the story of the way I can find joy and life even now.
Linda and her Phil