Running for Anna

On December 12, 2010 our family was devastated by the loss of my niece, Anna Rogotzke, on her fourth birthday, to a rare cancer called Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma. On December 4, 2011, I ran in the California International Marathon to raise money for the Liddy Shriver Sarcoma Initiative, a leader in the fight against sarcomas. This blog is created to update those interested in my journey and progress as I train for this event and events thereafter.

....And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,
2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Count Your Many Blessings, Name Them One by One (Words by Johnson Oatman, Jr.)

When I was in grade school, I read the book The Hiding Place written by Corrie ten Boom. While I only read it once, there are portions of that book that I will never forget. Corrie and her family were captured by the Nazis in World War Two after participating in hiding and saving many Jews. She and her sister ended up at Ravensbruck concentration camp in Germany. They suffered many horrors and much cruelty there, but one thing they always did was thank God for what they had. One time, they and their fellow inmates were horribly infected by lice, and they thanked God for that (my memory is unclear as to why they did...I think it was because it kept the guards from wanting to be near them). This left such an impression on me and, the older I get, the more I realize how important it is to "count your blessings" even in the worst circumstances.

A sign on the side of the museum recounts the fate of Corrie's family after the home was raided by the Nazis and the family members arrested. Casper (Corrie's father) died in Schevingen Prison after only ten days of captivity. Betsie (Corrie's sister) died in Ravensbrück concentration camp. Willem (Corrie's brother) contracted spinal meningitis in prison and died shortly after the war. Christiaan (Corrie's nephew) was sent to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp and did not return.Source
If you remember, I had an 8-mile run scheduled for Tuesday. My alarm went off at 3:55 a.m., and I was NOT feeling like getting up to run. But, I told myself to get up and just do it. Yes, it would be horrible....yes, my time would not be the best....yes, I would be tired all day...yes, my legs are stiff...blah, blah, blah. I was wishing I didn’t have to work, so I could run at normal-people hours.

I like to run alone. I can listen to the music I want to listen to. I don’t have to talk to anyone. I can pray. I can reflect. On this particular morning, I decided as I started running to think about all of the things that I am thankful for. I was wearing my Garmin, but decided not to monitor my pace that day, as I was feeling very sluggish anyway. So, I started running. Let’s see, I thought to myself, I’m thankful for that job I’m complaining about, as so many people are out of work right now. Thank you, Lord, for my husband and my son. I’m grateful for a home...etc., etc. Suddenly the miles were ticking by, and I started to feel a lot better. In my head, I was HOPING for a 10:30 - 10:45 pace, but wasn’t counting on it. When I finished and finally looked at my Garmin, turns out I ran a 10:27 pace overall.

I know there are much worse circumstances than a bad run. However, it’s crucial to never lose sight of our blessings no matter what the situation. When Anna died in December, I have to admit, I couldn’t find much to be thankful for. In fact, while I never said much about it, I was pretty angry and hurt that our prayers weren't answered in the way that I wanted. It was so hard to be a comfort to my sister and her family when I, myself, was asking, Why? It just didn’t make sense. How could a beautiful little girl die on her 4th birthday? So, here we go. I’m thankful that Anna is forever pain free in the presence of Jesus, whom she loved so much. I’m thankful that I was there (I thought to celebrate Anna’s birthday) with my family on that day, and had the chance to "say good-bye". I am so very thankful for my sister’s example of faith which she still demonstrates every day, even as she struggles with her grief. I am grateful that I have now learned to cherish every second with my loved ones (or at least try to).
Anna Lynne Rogotzke
Always Remembered
Forever Loved
Some days are just plain tough. We might have a really bad day at work. Maybe our families aren’t living up to the picture-perfect ideal we have in our heads. We have disagreements with friends. All this is meaningless (and maybe could be prevented) if we take a moment to count our blessings. That life we’ve been complaining about suddenly starts to look pretty good, after all.

On a lighter note, it’s Friday!! On schedule today was a 4-mile run. I woke up to cool temps (in the 40's), and thought I would just go as fast as I could for as long as I could. Final result? 9:27 overall pace!!  I think mile 3 was 9:08.  (I'm not at my home computer to make sure...I know it was 9:0something) My previous best was 9:54 overall pace. Could I have held that for even one more mile? Probably not. Did I find out that there’s always potential to grow and improve if I push myself? You better believe it!!

Have a great weekend everyone...and don’t forget to count your blessings!


  1. Ah! I did not come to your blog to cry, but i did anyway!!

    Thank you for setting such a great example for me. I believe that's why the Lord gives us a body of believers. To share each other's burdens and to encourage each other and spur each other on to be more Christ-like.

    Fantastic running , Jen. Sounds like you had a wonderful experience. :) Nice weather too!!

  2. awesome job on your running! what a beautiful post as a reminder of the important things in life. I found it so inspiring that you were able to remember all of your blessings as a way to push through a tough run...I definitely want to remember that for the next time I have a tough run or am in a down mood! Thank you for sharing!

  3. What a great post. Thanks for the reminder to be thankful in good and bad times. Your story of Anna brought tears to my eyes.

    Great job on your run!

  4. great reminder post. awesome job on your miles