Running With Angels

A few years ago at BYU I had to read a book from a selected list of books that had to do with people making healthy life changes and I chose to read Running With Angels. It has a surprisingly sad beginning as she talks about losing her newborn baby with a heart defect.  So heartbreaking. If it doesn't bring tears to your eyes then I'm concerned for your hardened heart. She shares her story of overcoming hardships and losing weight while paralleling it with running her first marathon. She shares insight and inspirational quotes as the story continues.

Summary: On a beautiful April morning in 2001, Pamela Hansen decided to do something she hadn't done for a very long time. She decided to take a walk. Though fearful that she would not be able to take more than a few steps with her morbidly obese body, she was desperate to focus her attention on something other than the tragedies of her life - the death of an infant daughter, the cruel and debilitating autoimmune diseases that had attacked two other children, and finally the stillbirth of a son just a few weeks earlier. That first walk, which lasted just ten minutes, was the beginning of an amazing year-long journey that ultimately led to a 100 pound weight loss (without surgery or pills) and the fulfillment of Pamela's dream to run a marathon. In Running with Angels, Pam shares her struggles and successes, using the marathon race as a metaphor for facing life's challenges. She candidly describes the pain of living life as an obese person and the hopelessness that accompanies it. More importantly, she offers practical suggestions for anyone trying to reach a goal, particularly a weight-loss goal, and shows how small steps over time make it possible to achieve even a seemingly impossible dream.

Favorite Quotes:
Page 126, "Soon after I began losing weight, I had a startling thought. I wondered how I would feel if I entrusted my child to someone I felt was a competent and nurturing caregiver. Suppose I returned home one day and discovered that my child had not been cared for very well, that proper attention and nurturing had not been given. It was easy to imagine that I would feel sadness and probably even anger. here I had trusted this person to care for my precious child, and she had betrayed my trust. That's when I began to wonder, for the first time, how my Father in Heaven was feeling about how I was taking care of His daughter - me! I hoped He was pleased with the way I was caring for the children He had entrusted to Mark and me. But I had been so wrapped up in taking care of my family's needs, that I was not taking very good care of myself. And I am His child, too! I marveled at the recognition of the scared responsibility I had, knowing Heavenly Father had trusted me to take good care of myself. My attitude changed as I gained a desire to show Him that I appreciated having this body and to demonstrate that I was taking good care of it."

There is a sequel which I read as well called Finding the Angel Within. Summary: "In response to her book Running with Angels, bestselling author Pamela H. Hansen received thousands of letters and emails from people struggling with issues of body image and self-worth. This new book draws upon those stories and confronts society's obsession with the perfect body, examining the destructive belief that physical appearance determines worth."

The author was pregnant with twins when she found out that one of babies had a fatal heart defect and would only live a matter of hours.  The author's Mom wrote this poem about Emily, the daughter who had only such a short time to live.

Our Emily
-Carolee L. Harmon

This day-old child who just arrived
with tiny mouth and hands
Will soon be going home again
obeying divine commands.
But wait...we have so many plans for her
it really seems unfair.
Bedtime stories and nursery rhymes
and secrets sweet to share.
Valentines and cookies to make,
cousins for her to know.
We want to buy her dolls and books
and watch her talents grow.
She needs to feel the seasons change,
giggle with friends among.
Blow candles out on frosted cakes
when "Happy Birthday is sung!
We want to teach her things of Thee
with loving, kind concern
And sing our favorite Primary songs
So much for her to learn!
But wiser, she, than all of us
wrinkles her little nose
As if to say: "He needs me more
than you do, I suppose...
So I'll go back to Heavenly Father,
my mission here is done
But He'll let Amy fill your hearts
with twice the joy and fun.
I came to gain a body, claim these parents for my own
We're now a family unit
so I'll never be alone.
Such happiness!  To know I'm loved
and fulfilled my part with birth
You have to live with much more faith
to stay here on the earth
This day I spent with you's enough...
My dad gave me a blessing
The hardest part is leaving
Mommy's arms, I am confessing..."
Then she was gone.  But this thought dwells:
What she brought, none can sever
And if we do our part - we'll be 
A family forever!

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