An Interview with Karen NewmanWritten by admin on Sep 08, 2016 in - No Comments
KAREN NEWMAN is an athlete, dietitian, author, cancer survivor, and prayer warrior who attends Church at the Well with her husband Peter and their son Trent, a high school senior and avid tennis player. Their two other boys live outside of Vermont. Karen’s book Just Three Words: Athlete Mother Survivor: How One Brave Woman—Against All Odds—Wins the Race of her Life released earlier this year, and she spoke a few words (video below) about it at The Well. Karen is preparing for the World Triathlon Championships in Mexico later this month, but she took a few moments to share a little more of her story with us.
You are preparing for a really big and important event: The World Triathlon Championships in Cozumel, Mexico. When did you start competing in triathlons?
In 1989. It was hoot. I knew nothing. I had a wet suit too big that nearly drowned me. My bike was too big for me and kept giving me a wedgie. But I had so much fun. I’ve come a long way.
What are you looking forward to about competing in Mexico?
I will have such joy because I know what it’s like to sit on a bedpan, be immobile, shriek with pain just laying down. Just to be upright and standing and putting on my USA uniform will be more than a dream come true. I’m not racing to win. I’m racing to show the glory of God. And God has been showing up in the details.
Tell me about that.
I have to ride a mountain bike because it’s safer, and I can’t afford to fall, but the ITU has rules about what kind of bike you can ride, and mountain bikes are illegal. They made an exemption for me and the amazing God-blessed detail is that there’s a bike shop in Cozumel that rents mountain bikes for $15.00 a day, and they have the exact bike I need. If I went through the official rental bike company, it would have cost upwards of $450.00. So I’m racing in a world triathlon championship race on a $15.00-a-day rented mountain bike, representing the USA with the greatest joy ever.
You’ve been through a lot this year. Your book came out in January, and then in May you heard the news that your cancer came back. Tell me about the journey you’ve been on in 2016.
My New Year’s dream was that my book would be a bestseller immediately and that I would break a world record in my age division at Nationals and podium at Worlds. My book hit the market and it did not make it to the bestseller list, but I realized that one by one, people were being blessed. I began surrendering to His plan, and He opened amazing doors to speak for incredible organizations. I finally began speaking boldly about my life and the secrets I carried for so many years, and it was not only freeing for me, but for others. I was keynote speaker for Hope Centers—and they only invite famous people. They took a big risk asking a non-famous person to speak, but I told my story to 400 very powerful people, and at the end, the standing ovation went on forever and really confirmed that this was my purpose.
Three days later, I was in the ER on Mother’s Day finding out I had stage 4 metastatic breast cancer and that there’s no cure. And that was shocking because I had just found my purpose. Now I couldn’t walk, couldn’t compete, couldn’t stand and give lectures. Everything was stripped away.
Bible Study was a changing point. We sang, “Your love never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on me,” but I couldn’t sing. I couldn’t worship. I realized in that moment that other people can help lift you up when your faith falters. I cried a river of tears, and I eventually realized that God’s going to do something beyond my wildest dreams. He did not make me spend 3 ½ years of my life devoted to the calling of writing this book to strip it away—He’s not that kind of a God. I’ve been walking boldly and standing on his promises, and the recent news that the tumors in my spine are gone and the cancer in my pelvis has shrunk is testimony to the miraculous mighty work of our amazing God.
You have been an enthusiastic member of the Prayer Team at Church at the Well. When did you become passionate about prayer?
In my dreams, I kept hearing, “Pray for people.” One day at Tom’s Point, I see a girl walking on the beach, and I hear, “Go pray for her.” “Right!” I thought, and walked past her, but that night I couldn’t sleep. “What if that girl is going to commit suicide and dies?” “I’m sorry Lord,” I prayed. The next day, I go online and find a Bible study in my neighborhood because I need to repent. I’m at Bible study, and the doorbell rings, and who’s standing there, but the girl I was supposed to pray for! I almost starting crying on the spot. She cried and said to the group, “I’ve been trying to have a baby for seven years. Could you pray for me?” I felt power go through my hands, through everyone’s hands, as we prayed for her. Nine months later, she had a baby girl.
How has your understanding of prayer changed over time?
I used to think that prayer has to do with me and my words and that I could mess up prayer with my words. But it has nothing to do with us, and everything to do with the power of God, and God using us to be his hands and feet. Each person is capable of prayer. We’re all qualified.
How has your faith changed or grown over the course of your journey with cancer?
Cancer, while being one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to go through has also been one of the greatest blessings because I’ve found an unconditionally loving God in the midst. It’s through cancer that I was able to open myself up to receive love. Before, I felt like I was worthless and might as well be dead. Trials can be one of the greatest opportunities to discover who you are meant to be in this world.
Interview conducted by Abigail Carroll.