Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,--Hebrews 12:1

Saturday, November 5, 2011

What comes next? After that first marathon...

Another of course! We're going to keep running, keep raising money for charity, keep reaching people for Jesus, and keep Amanda's memory alive through all of the above.

I was told I'd get hooked if I ever ran a marathon and it was true. I'm hooked. Even though I remember telling myself, just after my first half-marathon and many times since, that I would never run a full, now it's done! That first one is under my belt. was the Marine Corps Marathon no less!

Even before the big day arrived, my mind was already racing ahead to decide how to proceed after MCM. I don't have the funds to travel the country running 26.2 mile races every week, and I don't think my body could handle it if I did. But the energy and enthusiasm generated by the rigorous training these past months was already becoming an addiction, so much of an addiction that plans began forming for my second and subsequent marathons even before I ran the first.

Janice and I will continue our race-a-month program we've been doing since the beginning. As for future marathons, I've decided to run two a year, one in the spring and one in the fall. There may arise special circumstances that convince me to run a third, and maybe a fourth from time to time, but for the most part, I'll stick with two a year.

That's why, the day after MCM, I registered to run the Little Rock Marathon on March 4, 2012. This race won't cost me much more than the entry fee. The starting line is only about 20 miles from home. No plane tickets, hotel rooms, or eating out required! This one was a natural choice for marathon #2.

Besides, I ran my first half-marathon on the same course in 2010. So the first 10 miles of the race will be familiar territory. Today I ran with the LR Marathon training group for the first time. Ten miles through the biggest of the hills on the course. I had a great run and enjoyed meeting some of the people I'll be running with next March.

After Little Rock, I'm planning to run St. Jude in December 2012. Then, who knows which one will be next? It's a little too far out to plan.

Running two marathons every year will give us great opportunities to raise even more money for the charities we support. Our fundraising page for St. Jude expires on the first of December, so I plan to reset the pages for Arkansas Children's Hospital and Soaring Wings Christian Home & Ranch too on that day. That's when I'll create new pages for our 2012 fundraising year, new pages for all three charities.

"For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. " -- Ephesians 2:10

In March, we started with a goal to raise $1000 for each of the three charities, a total of $3000. We cleared each $1000 hurdle, collecting a total of more than $4600 between the three. This year, I'll set the bar higher. I plan to start with a goal of $2500 for St. Jude, $2000 for ACH, and $1500 for Soaring Wings, for a total of $6000. With a full year to work at it, and running two marathons next year, I am completely confident we can achieve that goal!

After Amanda was murdered, I wasn't sure I'd ever be able to keep going. When I ran that first half-marathon, I was convinced I'd never be able to run a full. Things will never be the same again, and I can't say I'll ever get over Amanda's death. But I can say I have been able to keep going, and last week I ran that 26.2 miles for the first time.

Not long after Amanda was killed, and throughout these past months, I've realized that none of that was of my own doing. Though many have been there to help me through these difficult times--those helping us with things after Amanda was murdered and those helping me get through the long runs as I worked to get ready for MCM, I could never have made it without the help from one in particular.

"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit," -- Matthew 28:19

If I hadn't known Jesus, if I hadn't turned to Him, if I had tried to make it without Him, I can't say where I'd be right now. But I can guarantee it wouldn't be where I am right now. Knowing that through Him I am guaranteed salvation and eternal life gives me the peace of knowing that one day, when I'm called up yonder, I will be reunited with my beautiful daughter. Without that confidence, without Him, His grace, and His mercy, my journey after my beautiful Amanda was killed would have been much different.

Honestly, I cannot imagine how anyone could survive such a tragedy without knowing Christ and having that peace. I don't know how anyone could go on. That's the reason I am compelled to tell everyone and encourage them to seek Him, find Him, and know Him! So I will continue to tell the world how Jesus gives me strength, courage, and motivation to keep moving forward.

Last, but not least, we're going to continue to bring attention to Amanda, her life, and her senseless death at the hands of a drunken, stoned 19-year-old fool. Teen alcohol and drug abuse is deadly! It killed my daughter, and it can be the death of other children too.

The last thing I would ever wish on anyone is to suffer the same fate that befell us the night of January 15. I don't want another child to fall under the sword of teen substance abuse. Amanda's death was avoidable and senseless, a tragedy that did not have to be. I want people to remember how she lived, who she was, and how she died so that, hopefully, the lives of others will be saved.

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." -- Romans 8:28

I hope and pray that some parent will hear Amanda's story and intervene before their child falls prey. I hope and pray that some young person will read about Amanda and choose to avoid alcohol and drugs and those who abuse them.

Yes. We will continue running to Reveal the dangers of teen substance abuse, Reaching people for Jesus, Raising money for charity, and Remembering Amanda Marie Allison.

If you don't know Jesus as your personal savior, if you're missing the faith, hope, and love written about here, if you want the peace that we as Christians have in our lives, please visit our Got Jesus? page for step-by-step instructions on how to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.

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