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

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Training for MCM: 9 Weeks to Go!


We already closed out our second week of school Friday, and it seems like there hasn't been much time to do any writing whatsoever. On August 15, we hit the ground running and things haven't stopped moving since. But we're still running, still training for the Marine Corps Marathon. I never had a chance to write a training update last week, so this week's is a two-for-one deal.

For anyone reading who may not be quite sure of what we're doing here, I'm going to offer a quick explanation. You can learn more by visiting our "About Us" and "Mission" pages.

On January 15, our oldest daughter was shot and killed at a party by a drunken, stoned 19-year-old. Only four days before her 18th birthday, and only 4 months before her high school graduation, her life was snuffed out by the senseless act. Amanda's mother and I run endurance races, at least one each month, hoping to Reveal the dangers of teen substance abuse, Reach people for Jesus, Raise money for charity, and Remember Amanda Marie Allison.

We run so you don't have to! Of course, we'd love it if you want to Run with Amanda also, but you can join us in our efforts in other ways too!

"6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully." -- Romans 12:6-8

You can help by "Like"-ing us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, commenting on our posts here, and donating to the charities we support. We raise money for three specific children's charities: St. Jude, Arkansas Children's Hospital, and Soaring Wings Christian Home & Ranch. Donate using the links on the right side of this page or those on our "Donate" page to help us reach our fundraising goal. None of the money donated through these pages comes to us!

The week of August 14-20 was a week of running fewer miles that culminated in Janice and I running the Run with the Son 5K in Little Rock. I only made 35 miles that week, but maintained my goal of 40 per week. That's because the week before tallied 45 miles! The following table is my training log for the week of August 14-20:

Monday7 miles
Tuesday7 miles
Wednesday6 miles
Thursday6 miles
Friday6 miles
Saturday3.1 miles
SundayRest
Total35.1 miles

This week I actually topped the 40 mile goal, logging all of 43 after the long run on Saturday! After Friday's morning run, I only needed 12 to meet that mark. Fortunately though, I was invited to tag along with some friends for a 15 mile jaunt on Saturday. It was a good thing I was with the group because I would have most likely settled for the 12 if they hadn't been there to encourage me. :)

I have to give thanks to God for the beautiful weather we enjoyed on Saturday! Lower temperatures and lower humidity made the long run doable. Several days during the rest of the week started with miserable sultry mornings that soaked me in sweat and sapped every ounce of strength from my body. By the end of 15 miles the heat was coming on and took its toll, but we ran the first 10 miles in nearly optimal weather for mid-August!

The table below lists the miles I logged each day last week.

Monday5 miles
Tuesday6 miles
Wednesday6 miles
Thursday6 miles
Friday5 miles
Saturday15 miles
SundayRest
Total43 miles

What happened to Amanda was the work of pure evil. I'll never believe it was God's will for her to be shot down like she was. But He promises us that He will make good come from every thing for those who love Him. So we run for the reasons listed above as a tool for Jesus, to bring glory to Him.

"Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." -- Romans 12:21

Without Jesus, there's no way we could have made it this far--nearly 8 months since Amanda's death-- and no way I could continue to climb out of bed every morning and hit the pavement! Please join us in our campaign and help out any way you can!



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.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Tomorrow Should Have Been...

Tomorrow's the day Amanda would have started college. She wanted to be a police officer since she was four years old. Because police departments don't hire anyone under age 21, she planned to attend Arkansas State University at Beebe and study criminal justice.

This should have been a time when I was overwhelmed with a mixture of emotions: happy, sad, proud, and scared. Instead, I'm just sad. We lose so many things, tangible and intangible, with the death of a child, so many things that we can never get back.

I'm so proud of all my students who are moving on with their lives and into their new college homes, but watching that brings all of the "what should have been"s to the surface once again. I wish Amanda was a part of this great migration from child to young adult, but she'll remain forever just where she was on January 15, 2011.

" 'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.- " -- Jeremiah 29:11

Amanda's hope and future were apparently in Heaven, not here on this Earth with us. It's impossible for us to understand, but faith and the knowledge that she is with Jesus and we will one day join her helps to keep us going. Still, missing what would have been major milestones in her life make for some of the hardest times.

I hardly saw it coming,
This day that is tomorrow.
Now it's crashing down upon me,
And I'm overwhelmed with sorrow.

These days I'm mostly okay,
Though each one I think of you.
Usually I think of happy times,
But this weekend seems more blue.

As I wander through the house,
In pictures, you look back at me.
But today your smile reminds
Of all you'll never get to be.

Tomorrow's August twentieth,
A day I always thought would come.
It's the first step in a journey,
For many others, but not my one.

That's the first day of classes
At the college where you planned to go.
Many of your friends are starting
An experience you will never know.

I hear other parents talking
And read their worried words.
As sons and daughters leave the nests
And become like soaring birds.

Though I'm really happy for them,
That doesn't stop the pain.
Thinking of what should have been,
You with your friends the same.

Tomorrow should be your first day
Of class at the university.
Instead, you'll remain here on the shelf
Where you'll forever be.

Life goes on, even after the loss of a child. As hard as it is, I can't imagine how anyone makes it without the love and comfort of having Jesus Christ as their Savior. I know I could never have kept going if not for Him. That doesn't mean it's going to be easy, ever. It's not.

Times like these, all the sadness rises to top. I doubt it will ever be any different until I join Amanda in Heaven. Some days good, others bad. Some days happy, others sad. Until then, I'll take one day at a time and try to live as Jesus would have me live. I just hope she can look down and be proud of what she sees.



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.


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Run with the Son 5K

Whew! It's been a busy week. School started and we have a new schedule teachers and students are trying to adjust to. Janice and I are serving on the board that is trying to form a new chapter of K-Life Ministries in Vilonia, and next week is our first big fundraising banquet. So there hasn't been much time to sit down and write.

We never had the time to sit down and register for a race, but decided last night to head to Little Rock this morning and sign up for the 2nd annual Run with the Son 5K. The race is organized by Geyer Springs First Baptist Church of Little Rock and all proceeds go to the Shepherding His Flock Ministry--an organization devoted to providing for Arkansas orphans and foster children.


This was a wonderfully organized race that benefited a great cause. We stayed for the award ceremony where we learned the church pays all the costs involved in staging and administering the race, allowing every dollar from sponsorships, donations, and entry fees to go to Shepherding His Flock. At the ceremony, a check for $17,500 was presented to representatives from the charity from the church.

"If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea." -- Mark 9:42

I am really glad we had the opportunity to participate in this race and encourage any and all to join us to do it again next year!




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.


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Training for MCM: 11 Weeks Away

Had a great week of training this week! A cold front pushed through and we actually had lows in the 60s a couple of days. The humidity was down too. This all made running a lot easier!

"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

I started the week loading up on miles, thinking Janice and I might run a 5K this weekend. Monday and Tuesday I ran 8 miles, then another 5 on Wednesday. I'm not sure why, but that 4 mile Wednesday run was tougher to get through than the two 8-milers the previous two days. My legs never loosened up and I just never could find a rhythm for my stride or my breathing. It was an ugly 5 miles.

Thursday morning I woke to thunder and lightning. Though I'd run in a thunderstorm on Tuesday, I just wasn't feeling it on Thursday. So I rolled over and went back to sleep. A little aggravated at myself, I made it through the day determined to make up the miles by week's end.

Another storm came through with a cold front that night and I arose at 4:00 AM on Friday to 680 air with almost no humidity! I stepped off into the darkness planning to run my hill route. At the top of the big hill, 3 miles into my run, I was feeling better than I have in months at that distance. I decided to add 4 miles to the route to make it an even 10 and make up for the miles I'd slept away the day before. On the way back to the house, with 1.5 miles to go and 8.5 down, the digital clock flashed 690 degrees for the current temperature! I finished the 10 miles feeling better than I'd been feeling after 5 in the torturous heat that's plagued our area since June.

Saturday morning I ran the 1/2 mile from my house to the elementary school where many members of the local running meet on weekends for long runs. Two friends rolled into the parking lot at 5:00 AM. When I asked how far they were going, they told me they wanted 15 miles. That's exactly what I was looking for that morning so I tagged along. The first 7 went well and I was still feeling good, but then we started up an incline that lasted 2 miles. Long before we reached the top, the 10 miles from the day before and the 7 we had already gone were beating up on me. We were still 5 miles from the house though. That 5 miles we covered with a run-walk, run-walk strategy and I made it to the end. Thanks to my friends, because I'm afraid I would have quit long before we'd gone that far if it hadn't been for them.

Even with the day off in the middle of the week, the Good Lord carried me through 45 miles this week! That's 5 more than my weekly goal. Janice and I should be able to run a 5K this weekend and I can still maintain my average 40 miles per week!

Monday8 miles
Tuesday8 miles
Wednesday5 miles
Thursday0 miles
Friday10 miles
Saturday14 miles
SundayRest
Total45 miles



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.


Friday, August 12, 2011

New Contest! Win a $50 Visa Gift Card!

UPDATE: This contest received no response and was therefore cancelled.

In the last few months, our fundraising efforts haven't been nearly as productive as they were early on. So we've come up with a plan to hopefully rejuvenate them and realize our goals for each of the three charities we support: St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Arkansas Children's Hospital, and Soaring Wings Christian Home & Ranch.

Starting August 12, 2011, running until 11:59 pm CST of the day we raise $500 for these charities, each donor will be entered in a drawing for a $50 Visa Gift Card. For each dollar donated during this time period, the donor's name will be entered once in the drawing. A $5 donation will enter the donor's name 5 times in the drawing, a $10 donation 10 times, etc.

Now your donations to the charities we support could win you a $50 gift card! So donate now for your chance to win! The more you donate, the more likely it is that YOUR name will be drawn as the lucky winner!

Best of luck!

Contest rules and procedures follow:

  • There are two ways to make eligible donations. All donations made through our fundraising pages (linked in the sidebar of this page and on our Donate page) are eligible. You may also send a check, made out to the charity listed above you are choosing to support, to our address (found on our Contact page).
  • To make sure we're on solid legal ground, there is a way to enter without donating. Send a self-addressed envelope to our address (found on our Contact page) to have your name entered in the drawing, even if you didn't donate.
  • Eligible entries will be those made or received beginning on August 12, 2011 through 11:59 pm CST on the date when accumulated eligible entries reach $500. If you are mailing your donation, mail it soon. If we receive it after the contest ends, it is no longer eligible.
  • An announcement will be made on this site and on our Facebook page 24 hours prior to the drawing and the winner will be announced immediately following the drawing on the same venues.
  • The prize will be mailed the first business day following the drawing if winner's address is known. Otherwise, Running with Amanda will make every reasonable effort to locate the address of winner for one week. In the event winner's address is still not known one week after drawing, a new winner will be drawn.
  • By entering this contest, you are agreeing to have your name posted on this site, on Facebook, and Twitter if you are declared the winner.

We hope this makes things a little more interesting and ignites a new spark in our fundraising campaign. If this contest accomplishes its goals, look for others to follow.

Thanks for joining us and helping us raise money for these worthwhile charities! You can also help by sharing this post to let others know about our contest.

Best of luck and may God richly bless you.



If you don't know Jesus as your personal savior, if you're missing the faith, hope, and love we write 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.


Costs of Teen Substance Abuse

This is the last weekend before the new school year starts. My youngest daughter, Courtney, will officially be a senior in high school on Monday. It's so hard to believe that after this year, I won't have any children left in school.

Last year at this time, it was Amanda who was about to start her senior year. She was proud and excited to have finally entered the last leg of her journey as a K-12 student. She had dreamed of being a police officer since she was four, a dream that never changed for 13 years.

Right now, Amanda should have been preparing for her freshman year in college. She was planning to enroll in Arkansas State University at Beebe's criminal justice program to prepare her for her career in law enforcement. But she's not, because four days before her 18th birthday, four months before she graduated from high school, she was shot down by a drunken, stoned fool at a party.

All her dreams were shattered, all her potential gone in the blink of an eye.

My Amanda was stolen from us and from this world on January 15 of her senior year in high school. The tragedy struck like a thief in the night, completely unexpected, a victim of underage drinking and drug abuse.

Now, all we have left of Amanda are memories, pictures, and her ashes in an urn. Every morning, I look at pictures of her and give thanks to God for the time I had with her, but at the same time regret what will never be. She never got to celebrate her 18th birthday. She never had the chance to see her get a job. She never had the chance to get married and have kids, graduate from college, and fulfill her dream.

All because of underage drinking and drug abuse.

Courtney will forevermore lack the opportunity to discuss her problems and her blessings with her big sister. She will never again have the chance to turn to the person who should have been her life-long confidante. Her children will never get to know their aunt who was so full of life and who made such an impact on those who crossed her path. The cousins they would have had will never be.

All because of underage drinking and drug abuse.

I thank God everyday for the time he gave me with Amanda, but I'll always wonder how life would be different for us all if she had not been murdered. I would pay any price, give up every material thing, if it would only bring her back. But I can't.

I beg each and every young person out there to think about all we lost when 19-year-old Cody Gorecke became stoned and inebriated that night he murdered my beautiful daughter. The legal drinking age is set at 21 for a reason, because the odds of someone younger having the maturity and responsibility to handle it are almost zero. Illicit drugs are illegal for a reason. They interfere with the normal processes of your brain and result in irrational reactions and responses that would most likely never occur if the abuser wasn't abusing.

Students, don't partake and don't even hang around other underage drinkers, and avoid drug abusers at all costs. Parents, please talk to your kids about the dangers, not only of them abusing, but of being around others who are.

My family and I have embarked on a life-long journey that nobody ever wants to take, nobody ever expects to take. Please do all you can to make sure you or your family never join us.



If you don't know Jesus as your personal savior, if you're missing the faith, hope, and love we write 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.


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Thanks Again to New Balance, Inc.!

If you've only recently started following us, you might have missed our announcement earlier this year that New Balance. agreed to sponsor us with running shoes. In April, we received our first pairs of their model MR890. It's now early August and New Balance has graciously provided us with new shoes to run in.

Before New Balance signed on to sponsor Running with Amanda, we were purchasing shoes at a local discount sporting goods store. Those shoes were lasting only about 200 miles for us until they needed replacing. My first pair of MR890s now has carried me nearly 500 miles! This is a really great shoe!

That's why we're so grateful that New Balance has agreed to sponsor Running with Amanda by supplying us with running shoes. Our first two pair came in last week, and today we ran our first race in them.

One of our favorite things about partnering with New Balance is the company's commitment to the United States of America. Though the MR890 is made overseas, New Balance still operates factories in the US. It's almost impossible to find running shoes made in the US these days, but you can still find New Balance shoes made right here at home!

We're proud to be running in New Balance shoes and are proud to recommend their products to runners and non-runners alike. Thank God there are still great companies out there. New Balance proves a company can care about its community, continue to manufacture products here in the US, and stay in business!

Thanks again from Running with Amanda to New Balance for all the great things they do!

About New Balance

New Balance began as a Boston-based arch support company in the early 1900's, developed into a specialized shoe manufacturer in the 1970's, and has grown to become a leading global athletic products company. Today New Balance is a family of brands including New Balance, Dunham, PF Flyers, Aravon, Warrior and Brine.

Since the days of selling arch supports to police officers and waiters, New Balance has been a brand concerned with meeting the needs of the everyday athlete. Part of producing superior footwear and athletic apparel is manufacturing it to fit all widths and sizes, because a better fit produces better performance.

To ensure the best fitting, best performing shoes and apparel, we focus on improving our technology and production methods. We have maintained five manufacturing facilities in New England where we continue to rely on the skills and teamwork of our American workforce to produce a percentage of our athletic footwear. We have also remained strongly committed to a core set of company values that include integrity, teamwork and total customer satisfaction.



If you don't know Jesus as your personal savior, if you're missing the faith, hope, and love we write 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.


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Training for MCM: 12 Weeks to Go

I'm a couple of days late with this training update because my family and I spent the weekend in Branson, Missouri. We drove back Sunday, but I was too tired to sit at the computer. Yesterday, we reported for our first day of professional development sessions at school. Anyway, I'm just now getting to the 12-weeks-to-go training update.

I finished the week with 40 miles, meeting the average weekly goal I've set for now until the Marine Corps Marathon. We left Friday morning a little after 8:00 am, but I still had time to get that day's run in before that. Then Saturday I finished the week with a 7 mile loop from our hotel in Branson.

That 7-miler was some kind of tough for an old fat man from the relatively flat lands of central Arkansas. If you don't know, Branson is nestled in the Ozark Mountains in southern Missouri and it's almost difficult to find a flat spot big enough to plant both feet at the same time. The hills were tough, but it was a great way to finish off the training week.

"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

Monday6 miles
Tuesday6 miles
Wednesday7 miles
Thursday7 miles
Friday7 miles
Saturday7 miles
SundayRest
Total40 miles

Don't forget that one of our goals is to raise money for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Arkansas Children's Hospital, and Soaring Wings Christian Home & Ranch. So far our fundraising efforts are going well, but we've hit a sort of plateau. We far surpassed our $1000 goal for St. Jude, but we're still short on our $1000 goals for ACH and Soaring Wings.

In the next 12 weeks, we need to raise at least another $220 for ACH and $573 for Soaring Wings. You can help by clicking the links on the right side of this page and making the most generous donation possible today. All gifts are appreciated, large and small. Please give whatever you can to make a difference in children's lives.

I have to thank God for giving me the strength and determination to keep going and keep training. There is no doubt in my mind I'd have long ago given up if not for Him! The Marine Corps Marathon is only 12 weeks away, and we're getting there!



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.


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

They Have a Liver for Kelly

Thanks so much to all who read about Kelly Cooper and lifted her up to the Lord in prayer. Your prayers have worked. They have a liver and Kelly's surgery is scheduled to start at midnight tonight. Doctors anticipate the procedure will take 12 hours to complete.


"And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven." -- James 5:15

God is great! Now, please continue to pray for a successful surgery and recovery.

Anyone wishing to donate should contact Centennial Bank at (501)843-3575 and explain that they wish to give to the "Prayers for Kelly Cooper Fund." You can send cards to Kelly at the address below, but the family has requested everyone refrain from sending food and flowers.

St. Louis Children's Hospital
Room 5.
St. Louis, MO 63110.



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.