A Beating Heart : The Prodigal's Son
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Sam Evans
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A Beating Heart

by Samantha Evans on 01/15/20

I joined the YMCA without truly comprehending that attending the Y meant returning to an exercise routine. 


Night One: Zumba. Imagine any chick flick dancing scene and I was the character five steps behind everyone else, turning the wrong direction and nearly colliding with other participants. 

Night Two: My daughters loved the Kid's Place so much, they asked if we could return. "But then I would have to exercise again," I told them. Thirty minutes later I checked them in to the Kid's Place and wandered up to a HIIT class. Ha ha. 

I gained 30 pounds in 2019. No one blames me. Anyone in my circumstance likely would have found herself in the same situation. Nonetheless, I've discovered that jumping jacks, which I'd never classify as "fun" to begin with, are even less "fun" while holding an extra 30-lb. pack of flour. 

Despite my out-of-shape-ness, I grinned like a fool throughout the entire class. The smile might have been evidence of strain or the circulating thought that the class instructor was insane. Or possibly, my mouth was stuck because every other muscle in my body was overloading my circuit board. You expect us to accomplish, what, exactly?

But also, I've not participated in group excersise classes for six years. I exercise so much more effectively when I can simply stroll into a room, accomplish--or attempt--the impossible feats an instructor poses and limp away at the end.  

Especially now in this stage of life, six months after Clint's death, my thoughts hum like the static on a television. I used to have opinions and a brain. Now, I find myself struggling to accomplish simple tasks--like checking my voicemail. I finally dialed voicemail today (January 15): "You have 23 new messages. First message, December 17th." I cringed.

Another attribute of hardcore exercise that I appreciate is by pushing my body to the limit, all extraneous thoughts taper off, leaving only the impossible demands of my loca and locamotive instructor, a unique blend of drill segeant and encourager. The crummy consequence is that whenever I stop, or my body declares mutany (whichever comes first) life thoughts rush in as if the Federal Dam on the Hudson River exploded. 

I laid on my back on the mat after reintroducing my abs to one another. My heart pounded, pounded, pounded. The endorphine high had not yet HIIT my sysytem. I felt slightly nauseous after pushing my body to the brink. I pressed my palm into my thundering sternum, feeling my jumping jack pulse--and then the thoughts.

No, no no, no, no. 

But it was too late. The memory invaded and latched on.

I stared at my husband's sleeping form. Discomfort pinched his eyebrows together, even in sleep. His too-loud voice, which filled any space he occupied had vanished weeks prior and silence swelled between us. "I'll miss you," I whispered. "I love you." I pressed my hand into his sternum, searching for the tired ventricular rhythm. Slower. More difficult to feel today than yesterday. I closed my eyes and wept. And I prayed for my husband's heart to fail. 

Tears mingled with the sweat on my forehead. I held my hand to my heart once more and lingered on the implications of a beating heart. Responsibilities. The responsibility to live. 

I "jumped" up from the mat. In actuality, I rolled onto creaking, protesting knees and lumbered to my feet. The concentration required to stand after a grueling workout swept into my mind's forefront. I grabbed my gear and headed down the stairs toward the Kid's Place to retrieve my beautiful, energietic responsibilites. 

Spiritually, I am lying on my back, muscles protesting, heart-drumming. God and I have a quiet understanding at present. As my fitness instructor. He's in the room near me, but knows it best to leave me "alone." Despite the silence we find ourselves in, God's word still reaches the fragile places within me. His love resonates with my beating heart and refreshes me with hope and longing for communion with Him. 

Psalm 112

Praise the Lord.[b]

Blessed are those who fear the Lord,
    who find great delight in his commands.

Their children will be mighty in the land;
    the generation of the upright will be blessed.
Wealth and riches are in their houses,
    and their righteousness endures forever.
Even in darkness light dawns for the upright,
    for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous.
Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely,
    who conduct their affairs with justice.

Surely the righteous will never be shaken;
    they will be remembered forever.
They will have no fear of bad news;
    their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.
Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear;
    in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.
They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor,
    their righteousness endures forever;
    their horn[c] will be lifted high in honor.

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Front: Clint Evans (husband), Sam Evans (that's me!)
Back: Friends Eric Sprinkle (co-author) and Scoti Domeij (publisher)

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My Testimony
The Gift of Suffering: Part 1
My Testimony
The Gift of Suffering: Part 2
I'm an author. Yet, every word I have ever typed has been typed with one hand. Due to mild cerebral palsy, my right hand isn't much more than a prop to help me look normal. In "The Gift of Suffering" I share my story, and challenge others to follow my example in being vulnerable in the midst of brokenness.  
"Often times when Christians ask, 'why do bad things happen to good people,' what they're really asking is, 'why do bad things happen to God's people?' I have a theory, and you may not like it..."
"I heard her kiss me." 
I spent six months in a body cast. Yes, you read that right. Hear the story of how my loving God brought me through it all in "The Gift of Suffering Part 2."
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The door at the back of the plane opened and people started disappearing. The goggles that Tandem Man passed over my shoulder provided zero comfort. He pressed me forward toward the opening and my camera man nonchalantly hung sideways outside the door of the plane. The absurdity of his casual air momentarily distracted me from reality. 

Then I looked down. 13,000 feet down. 
-Excerpt from Adventure Devos

The greetings at the Colorado Christian Writer's Conference closely resembled a college freshman orientation. During one of these introductions, I pointed to the name tag on my collarbone. "Hi. I’m Sam.” 

The man pinched the fleece at his collarbone and, finding it nametag-less, said, “Hi. I’m North Face. Nice to meet you.” And that, friends, is the moment that Eric Sprinkle and Sam Evans became friends--and near-future co-authors.

The day prior, I awkwardly trudged through the MSP airport wearing Minnesota winter boots (vastly different from winter boots) while 80 degrees outside, but redemption came when 42 inches of snow fell in Estes, in 36 hours. The snow didn’t bother me. It was gorgeous and I’m from Minnesota, “where people help people get stuck cars out of the snow for fun,” adventurer extraordinaire Eric Sprinkle noted. I shrugged. With great boots comes great responsibility. 

I was curious about home, but had poor cell reception. “I tried to call, honey—honest.” Besides, my soul craved quiet  and quickly shoved curiosity into a snowbank.  Roads closed, trapping some people in while keeping others out. The sheer amount of snow forced the clock’s rotation to slow down. 

I hiked out the next morning before the sun rose on the white forest. In that stillness, I felt God sifting me. Ugly corners of my heart required attention and I was God’s captive audience. 

When was the last time you stepped off the page of your Choose-Your-Own-Adventure life and granted God an opportunity to speak to your heart? Adventure Devos is about taking a breath to locate God in your adventure. Because, if you learn to find him in the stillness, it will be much easier to match his pace within the chaos. 


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"In His Shoes" is the first entry of a series that chronicles the life of Pastor Clint Evans, the prodigal pastor and the Prodigal's Son. He lived hard and loved hard and died of cancer in June of 2019. In this realm of navigating grief and loss, once again my heart syncs with my pen.