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Rain pouring at 5:00 a.m. on a Saturday. I check the radar. It might stop by 7:00 a.m. Do I go for it, or do I stay in bed? I encourage my students to show grit, and my Run 4 buddy shows her grit, so I roll out and head for the Geist 10K.

On the way, I hit a few pockets of heavy rain. Ugh, why didn’t I stay in bed? There were several reasons, I was to find out.

I parked, and as I got geared up the precipitation slowed to a light sprinkle. Throughout the race, it was mostly dry with a few sprinkles. Praise! I saw my sister-in-law, Denise, and nephew, Josh, before the race started. What a treat!

During the race, the 4 and 5 mile markers were missing. For runners without GPS, that makes it difficult to gauge your pace. Even with GPS, it is mentally challenging to not see the mile markers. Two women were questioning if they were near mile 5, and I was happy to tell them how close they were. I was also able to tell them when they were closing in on the last half and quarter mile. Hope makes tired legs run faster! It was the first 10K for one of them; how I love to witness others meeting their goals!

I chuckled as I ran with two other women, nearby. “…He was really upset. I told him to go out and use his gentle voice  and communicate with them.” I can’t get away from my job, even during a race.

After the race, I was able to congratulate Josh on placing 1st in his age division and 5th overall! I would have missed the opportunity, had I stayed in my comfy bed!

For my own accomplishments, I completed my 9th Geist event (7 half marathons and 2 10ks), which means I have participated every year since its inauguration. The race was humid and hilly with a headwind the last mile and a half, but so worth the effort!

What blessings I would have missed had I listened to my excuses (too tired, too old, too out of shape, too injured, too rainy). I was created to be a life participant, however that may look!

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Last Wednesday, as I was teaching a group lesson to my four, elementary students (K-2nd grade), a paper fell off of the back wall. It was quiet enough that the students could hear it fall (a miracle in itself).

I said, “There must be a mischievous elf back there.” I hadn’t realized how my casual statement would be received; their faces lit up like Christmas morning!



“Can we go look for him?”

I knew I would not get their attention back until they had their curiosity satisfied, so I let them go search. I told them that elves are shy and don’t like to be seen. Eventually, I called them back to the table.

Later, a 2nd grade student, Mark, asked if he could spend his 5 minute brain break looking for the elf. I told him he could do whatever he wanted for the 5 minutes. Mark raised one arm in the air and announced, “I am the Elf Hunter!” and was off looking on shelves and behind supply storage bins. Needless to say, he did not find the elf.

The elf event sparked something in me. I had wanted to do some kind of elf in the classroom, but I hadn’t known where to get one this late in the season and didn’t want to spend money on the original Elf on a Shelf. A Christmas miracle provided me with an invisible elf, at no cost!

The next day, while they were out on the playground for recess and one student, Evan, was back in the room with me due to a pesky head cold, I sneaked around the room and put all of the chairs down around the group table and their student work offices, as if they had been knocked over. When the students came back in, I was at my computer with my back to the room, and Evan was in the library corner quietly doing a math app on the iPad, oblivious to anything I had done.

Soon, Mark noticed the chairs knocked over.

“What happened to the chairs?! What did Evan do?”

“Evan was sitting quietly working the whole time, and I have been at my computer,” I replied.

“THE ELF!!” shouted Mark, with great excitement, followed by much chatter amongst the boys. They were jumping with excitement, literally.

“I guess we do have an elf that visits,” I responded. Luckily, lunch was next on our schedule.

The next day, Friday, was our last day before winter break. In the morning, we tried to follow our normal routine. In the afternoon, while the boys sat and watched Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, my assistant and I put a book, with a pencil and note from the ‘elf’ inside it, on the students’ desks. The boys were so engrossed in the movie that they never noticed us.

After the movie, giddy with excitement, I waited patiently¬†for the students to go to their desks. I finally told them to straighten up their desk areas, because I couldn’t take it any longer.

“There’s a new book on my desk!”

“Mine, too!”

“It looks like there is a note,” my assistant played along.

Mark excitedly read:

Dear Students in Room 129,

I have enjoyed visiting your classroom this week. Have a great break. Hopefully I will see you next year!

The Secret Elf,


The boys exclaimed:

“He came, he came!”

“When did he come?”

“How come we didn’t see him?”

“I told you; elves don’t like to be seen,” I said, with a wink.


Names of students changed for confidentiality purposes.

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