Formation runs. I conjure up sweat running down my back, a side ache, and the sound of somebody calling a cadence. Even today, on a trail run here in Colorado Springs, I heard echoes of “C-130 rolling down the strip…”

More than 30 years ago, I learned how to run in formation. Before my military swearing-in ceremony, the only running I ever did was at sports practice. I had to learn to run, and learn to run in a group.

Running with 50 other people was challenging. Some of the tall guys had to shorten their stride. The vertically challenged had an extra hustle.

My fitness improved (I didn’t have much room to have it worsen) with those humid summer runs. I discovered working as a group created energy and satisfaction. I realized dry heaves are temporary – and that I could go just a little further, just a little longer with others by my side.

Having learned these lessons, we faced a new challenge of calling cadence.

You will probably agree that all exercise is harder if you are talking and singing while working out. Now imagine having to yell your song loud enough for 50 panting, grunting peers to hear you over their own misery.

Add to that the “performance” pressure of not having a brain-freeze trying to remember the next line in the cadence. And by the way, the lyrics of cadences can be crass at best and downright awful at worst.

Ok. You might now be wondering what this has to do with the ministry of Planting Roots.

The theme Bible verse for the Planting Roots ministry is found in Jeremiah 17:8: “For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit.

Like being thirsty during a formation run, we women of the military community thirst for strength to thrive in military life. We may fear the no-notice assignment or changing world events. We may wonder if we can sustain the pace or overcome the looming challenges ahead.

Living by God’s Word has developed spiritual fitness in my life. Embracing unit relationships forged in the military community has given me meaningful friendships. When my soul feels empty and I have no idea what is next, I can fall back on spiritual concepts such as “I can. Do all. Things through. Christ who. Strengthens. Me” (Phil. 4:13). Sounds like a cadence, doesn’t it?

Out of these trials – whether a formation run or another challenging military experience – comes growth. Perhaps physical growth is the result of endorphins released through exercise. Maybe it is the opportunity to look back and see that God was with us, whispering “C’mon, I am with you, stride for stride.” Perhaps sharing your military story will encourage someone currently in the trenches.

So – here’s my challenge, my call to action for you. Planting Roots needs its own God-centered, Jeremiah 17:8-focused cadences that we can call out when we get together at our one-day events. We invite you to submit a cadence for our ministry! I look forward to hearing you “Sound Off!”

As the Planting Roots Strategic Planner, you can reach Kristin Goodrich via message on the Planting Roots Facebook page or at

Memes by Christie Esterline, Planting Roots Social Media team.

Kristin was sworn into the U.S. Navy on July 2, 1985. She graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1989 and served as a junior officer until 1993. Even though nothing happens to her body when her brain screams “Double-Time” and she now weighs more than she did when she wore a Navy uniform, Kristin still likes to go for a good long run.