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

Monday, April 30, 2012

Training Journal 4/23 -- 4/29

It's almost crazy that we're already on the last day of April! Almost 1/3 of 2012 has passed. Next month, our youngest daughter will graduate from high school and turn 18. Whether we're ready or not, time keeps marching on.

And this week I kept marching on, beating my weekly mileage goal getting in a good long run on Saturday. I finished the week with a little more than 32 miles, more than 14 of that coming on Saturday.

Training Week: Apr 16 - Apr 22

Monday6.2 miles
Tuesday6 miles
Wednesday0 miles
Thursday6 miles
Friday0 miles
Saturday14.3 miles
Sunday0 miles
Total32.5 miles

Warm weather has returned to central Arkansas. On Saturday I started my long run at 5 AM with a 5 mile loop. According to the temperature reading from my Blazer, it was already 70 degrees. The humidity was back as well, it was a kind of muggy morning with low clouds. By the end of that first 5 miles I was drenched with sweat.

After that first 5 miles, I drove across town and met some friends for the rest of my run. One of them had mapped an 8-mile route from our starting point to the start line of a local 5K. She is one of the leaders of the local Women Can Run clinic and knew several of her ladies would be competing. Her goal was to get in her run and watch her charges race.

We were clicking off our 8-miles at about a 9:30 pace without stopping for water and fuel. When I do my long runs, I usually stop after every 5 miles to hydrate and take on fuel (food). So by the time we started the last mile, I was feeling drained. When we reached the last turn, with about 3/4 of a mile to go to the race start line, I told them to go ahead and I'd catch up. I walked a couple of hundred yards, eating M & M's and drinking Gatorade that I was carrying in my pack, then ran on in.

I'm not sure how long we were at the race, but it was really enjoyable cheering on the finishers in this small local race. Some I knew, most I didn't, but it was the first time I just stood in the spectator section and watched. I'm glad we broke up our weekly long run this way, because I had a great time.

Next week is the Toad Suck 10K, another in the Arkansas RRCA Grand Prix Series. This is a pretty big race every year. We ran it last year so the course is familiar. If the weather's like it was this weekend, I doubt I'll be achieving any PR. Whether I do or not, I'm going to just go and run and enjoy the race.

This race is in Faulkner County, the same county our school is located, and the same county that's home to Soaring Wings Christian Home & Ranch. SWR is one of the charities we raise money for. We've set a goal to raise $1500 for the ranch this year and we've already reached the $1100 mark. We'd really like to push this one over the top before summer so we can start focusing on our fundraising for Arkansas Children's Hospital and St. Jude as we enter the second half of the year.

"In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’" -- Acts 20:35

Please help us reach our goal for Soaring Wings by giving what you can today! Thanks so much and God bless!

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.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Arkansas Law Enforcement Battling Deadly Synthetic Weed

“Legal Marijuana” isn’t legal, but it is DEADLY!

There’s a myth going around that synthetic weed (K2, Spice, Mr. Nice Guy, Blaze, etc.) is legal and safe. WRONG on both counts! It’s illegal and even deadly!


Some, especially kids, think it’s legal because even today some gas stations and tobacco stores sell it. But this month, three stores in Lonoke County were raided and shut down1 for selling synthetic weed after a months long investigation. They couldn’t shut these stores down if what they were selling was legal!

Last August, police arrested a man in Fayetteville, Arkansas for selling fake marijuana in two stores he owned2. Fayetteville police Sgt. Craig Stout said, "This was kind of known as a place where kids can go get this illegal substance."

Just last month in Northwest Arkansas, the Benton County Sheriff’s Office let it be known they are stepping up their efforts to stamp out the spread of synthetic weed in their area.3 “It's illegal to possess or sell, you cannot have it at all, it's just like marijuana, meth anything...classified as Possession of Controlled Substance, the actual charge of obtaining any type of K2 or selling it," said Benton County Deputy Corey Coggin.

So whenever someone tries to tell you this stuff is legal, or okay, tell them you know better! Cops would not be arresting people for having it if it was legal!


New York Health Department officials have linked at least three deaths to this so-called “safe” alternative to other drugs. "Upstate New York health and public safety officials recently held a press conference to publicize the fact that three people in the area have died after using synthetic pot," reports attorney George F. Hildebrandt4.

In the autopsy report on the death of a Florida teen, the medical examiner concluded that synthetic marijuana use likely contributed to the young man’s death by drowning in a creek less than knee-deep.5 In a statement explaining the link between fake pot and the boy’s death, director of investigations Bill Pellan said, "A 19-year-old, otherwise-healthy young man fell in a body of water that he shouldn't have drowned in — and he drowned."

Fake pot/“Legal Weed”/Synthetic Marijuana CAN KILL YOU! DON’T DO IT!

1 Tobacco shops raided in Lonoke County for selling fake pot

2 Police Arrest Man After Synthetic Marijuana Investigation

3 Northwest Arkansas Cops Battling Synthetic Marijuana Problem

4 Three Syracuse-area deaths fan the flames of debate over synthetic marijuana

5 Use of synthetic marijuana linked to drowning death of Clearwater teen

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.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Running for Soaring Wings at Toad Suck 2012!

We're only 11 days away from the Toad Suck 10K in Conway, Arkansas. This morning I decided to run 6.2 miles to get an idea how well I'll do. For a Monday, I felt pretty good about my time.

The Good Lord was looking out for me and I covered the distance in 56:29, a 9:07 pace. That's not setting fire to the pavement, but for me it's a good training run. It's only a minute and a half slower than my PR for the 10K, and a pace I rarely come even close to unless I'm running a race.

"The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation."-- Psalm 118:14

There's no doubt in my mind that Jesus Christ is the source of my strength. His grace is the only reason I can get through each day. His mercy is the only thing that keeps me sane in an insane world. Without Him I couldn't run a marathon, not a 10K, not a mile, not a step! Without Him I don't know where I would be, but I am certain it wouldn't be where I am.

I knew God was calling me to devote my running to Him before Amanda was murdered, but I was doing my best to ignore that call. I made a couple of half-hearted attempts back then, but that was all. After Amanda was killed I was so devastated that I knew my only hope to go on was Jesus Christ. My only hope. And so now I run for Him.

"Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship." -- Romans 12:1

Part of how I do that is raising money for children's charities, three different charities to be precise. One of those is Faulkner County-based Soaring Wings Christian Home and Ranch. This wonderful organization gives kids a chance, kids who would otherwise have none.

Soaring Wings takes kids, ages 6-17, and places them with a Christian married couple serving as house parents. "The goal of each home is to maintain an environment that offers each child a chance to develop into a confident young adult with a high degree of self-sufficiency, exemplary work ethic, a strong ethical base with a clear understanding of right and wrong, a team player mentality, and a biblical understanding of sin and forgiveness," according to SWR's website.

SWR takes kids from abusive or neglectful homes and gives them their best chance to develop into good, productive citizens and followers of Jesus Christ. At the Ranch, they focus on the whole child, addressing his/her spiritual, emotional, physical, and intellectual needs.

That's why we support Soaring Wings, and that's why this year we're again running the Toad Suck 10K to raise money for this wonderful organization! A Faulkner County race to benefit a Faulkner County organization that saves kids lives, physically and spiritually!

The Toad Suck 10K is only 11 days away! Let's see how many people we can get to donate $50, $25, or even $10 to this wonderful cause before the starting gun goes off on May 5th!

Won't you please give to the kids at Soaring Wings today? And remember, we don't get a dime of your money. The web host of our fundraising page takes a small fee, but everything else goes to SWR! Running with Amanda does not take one dime of your donations!

Thank you in advance. And may God bless you as He blesses the children at SWR!

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, April 22, 2012

Training Journal -- 4/16 to 4/22

Thank God for beautiful running weather! The last half of March and the first part of April saw temperatures here rising as high as 900 with near 100% humidity. I was really dragging on some training runs and looking forward to Fall already. I honestly thought all the good running weather was gone until after Summer.

But God wasn't ready to cast us into the fiery furnace of Summer just yet. This week blew in cooler temps and fantastic weather to get out and pound the pavement. So I took advantage. The beautiful weather encouraged me to step out and pick up 15 miles on Saturday, my longest run this month.

Training Week: Apr 16 - Apr 22

Monday6 miles
Tuesday6 miles
Wednesday0 miles
Thursday6 miles
Friday0 miles
Saturday15 miles
Sunday0 miles
Total33 miles

This week I also signed on for a new challenge. I'd been toying with the idea of doing 3 marathons this fall, 3 in 30 days to be exact. I've known I was going to do St. Jude on December 1 for a while, but there are two others here in Arkansas in November, one two weeks before St. Jude and the other two weeks before that. I'd had in mind to do these two and St. Jude to close the year with 3 marathons in 30 days. I'd just about talked myself into it when God led me a different direction.

"in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight."--Proverbs 3:6

It was this week I stumbled onto two marathons in December on two subsequent days--the 21st and the 22nd. If those dates sound familiar, that's because the world's supposed to end on the 21st according to some ancient Mayan calendar. A bunch of pagan nonsense if you asked me, but some folks down in Humble, TX decided to have a little fun at the Mayan's expense. So they put together the End of the World Marathon and the Day After the End of the World Marathon.

So we thought we'd join them (That's right, I said "we." Janice is doing both halves!) for both, to poke fun at the whole end-of-the-world-because-the-Mayans-said-so thing and to demonstrate our faith in Christ by allowing Him to use us to accomplish what many think is insane or impossible.

"He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”"--Matthew 17:20

It wasn't so long ago that I thought running 26.2 miles was impossible. Now I've completed two marathons. Only last month, my friend Jesse ran a 100K race on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. That's more than 62 miles! When he first told me he was doing it, I thought he was crazy, that it was impossible for him. He told me a few days before he ran that race, "I can't run 62 miles, and if the Lord doesn't show up, it's going to be a really short day." He finished the race in just over 16 hours.

He had that faith that can move mountains. That race was his first ultra-marathon (race over 26.2 miles). Before that, the most he'd ever run was a full marathon. No scientist, no trainer, pretty much nobody would have believed he could do it. And Jesse didn't believe he could do it on his own. But God was there, with him all the way, through 62 miles from start to finish. He made it!

So I'm going to attack this the same way, with faith that Jesus Christ will carry me through these back-to-back marathons. I only hope I can represent Him as well, the way Jesse did in North Carolina. If God doesn't show up, I won't be able to run 52.4 miles in two days. But I have complete faith that He will show up, and He'll carry me through the miles...all of them!

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, April 18, 2012

Bring on the End of the World...

...Marathon that is!

That's right! The End of the World Marathon is what I'm talking about...and the Day After the End of the World Marathon.

Most of you probably know someone who is making preparations for civilization's end on December 21st of this year. Supposedly, the Mayan calendar stopped on that day because it would mark the end of the world.

"For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain."-- Philippians 1:21

Personally, the end of the world doesn't scare me. It worries me for others who I'm not sure are saved, but I know where I'm going. This world is not my home, only a temporary residence that I'll one day have to leave. Whether it's leaving as an individual, as part of a group, or with all of humanity, one day my time on Earth will be up. When it is, I'm going home, to Jesus, to Heaven, to paradise, for eternity. But I doubt any ancient Indian civilization had the date pegged. But just like last year when Harold Camping drove around predicting the end was coming then, there will be people who believe it.

I think there will be a lot of people cashing out their 401Ks, spending their life savings on lottery tickets, and taking dream vacations in the days preceding. Others will take the opportunity to live it up, party hard, thinking if the world ends they'll go out with a bang. But not everyone will be going out with wine, women, and song.

Some folks down in Humble, TX have decided there's no better way to go out than to run a marathon! On Friday the 21st, at 8 AM, runners will hear the gun and step across the starting line at the End of the World Marathon.

Personally, I don't believe the world will end that day, but running this event is going to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. So I signed up. As a Christian, I believe the Bible when it says we won't know, we won't be forewarned, we won't have an idea when the end of the world is coming.

"1 Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, 2 for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night."--1 Thessalonians 5:1-2

In fact, I'm so confident the world will keep spinning after the 21st that I signed up for the Day After the End of the World Marathon too! This race will take place at the same location, exactly one day after the first.

People think I'm crazy for signing up for back-to-back marathons in two days, but I have friends who have done it and others who've gone more miles than that in one race. Several friends in the Cabot Country Cruisers have run two marathons in two days, and my friend Jesse just ran a 62 mile race a month ago!

Besides, it's not about ME having the strength to do it. It's about letting Jesus Christ show His strength and power by helping me through it!

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."--Philippians 4:13

Just like everything else, I've got to put it in His hands. Jesus gives me the strength, determination, ability, and motivation to put in the miles I do every week. Without Him, I'd have quit long ago. I'd have never made it through my first marathon, let alone have the confidence to sign up for two marathons in two days.

So bring on the End of the World Marathon and the Day After the End of the World Marathon! Running with Amanda will be there--before, during, and after!

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.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Why We Support St. Jude: Kids Like Phoebe

We receive regular newsletters from the charities we support. These often relate stories of the kids of St. Jude, life-saving stories of kids getting another chance at life, stories of parents given the gift of hope after others had given up on their children, stories that tell why we run and raise money for this great institution.

These stories do a better job of explaining why we support St. Jude than any words I could ever pen. Please read the story of young Phoebe below and help us support St. Jude and SAVE KIDS' LIVES!

Phoebe hadn't been able to do many things before coming to St. Jude. Now, St. Jude doctors are giving her the chance to experience those special moments.

When 14-month-old Phoebe arrived at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in October 2011, there were many things she had never done: She had never been to day care or the park or the zoo. Phoebe had never run through the grass with her older sister, Mae, and she had never been to the grocery store. Phoebe had also never enjoyed food; instead, her nutritional needs were met through a nasogastric (NG) tube that sent food directly to her stomach.

Phoebe had spent most of her life in hospitals.

At just 9 weeks old, Phoebe was found to suffer from acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Although ALL has a survival rate of 94 percent, Phoebe’s parents, Jenny and Jon, clung desperately to hope, because infant ALL is often a more deadly form of leukemia. She underwent treatment, including a bone marrow transplant, in Canada, her family’s home.

When Phoebe relapsed just 76 days post-transplant, her family was devastated. Phoebe’s doctors told Jenny and Jon to take her home, that there was likely nothing more to be done.

“That wasn’t an option for us,” said Jenny. “You don’t go from fighting something like this to giving up.” Instead, they turned to St. Jude. Within days, she and her family had arrived in the United States.

At St. Jude, Phoebe underwent a natural killer (NK) cell transplant in December 2011. NK cells are special cells in the immune system that target cancer cells.

“Traditional treatment hadn’t worked,” said Jenny, who served as her daughter’s NK cell donor. “We knew we needed something more.”

Within weeks of her transplant, Phoebe was in complete remission.

Phoebe’s treatment has also included physical and occupational therapies. “Before we came to St. Jude, Phoebe wouldn’t stand on her own, and now she’s standing,” said Jenny. “She basically had an NG tube her entire life. Now she doesn’t. She’s eating, she’s talking. Here at St. Jude, it’s about treating the whole child. It’s amazing.”

On a recent afternoon, Jenny and Jon watched Phoebe and her older sister, Mae, color. Free of her NG tube, Phoebe took a handful of orange, animal-shaped crackers, lined them up carefully on the coffee table in front of her, and ate the crackers one-by-one. By the time she was finished, orange cracker crumbs littered the front of Phoebe’s shirt and the floor beneath her. There were crumbs in her hair and on Mae’s artwork.

Jenny and John love these normal moments.

"We’re looking forward to being at home and doing every day family things, like bike rides and picnics," Jenny said.

This past weekend, Phoebe experienced another first, a moment her mother treasures. Phoebe and Mae participated in an Easter egg hunt with other patients and their siblings. "She was a natural," Jenny said. "She didn’t hesitate at all getting in there. To see Phoebe doing something as simple as participating in an egg hunt with her sister and other kids was wonderful."

"The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'"--Matthew 25:40

St. Jude is a fantastic organization dedicated to saving kids' lives, kids like little Phoebe. When you donate through our fundraising page, we don't get a dime. Every penny goes to St. Jude!

Also, your gifts bring attention to our cause. Giving to St. Jude through our page helps us spread the word about the dangers of teen substance abuse, helps us spread the Good News that Jesus Christ offers hope in seemingly hopeless situations, and helps us keep the memory of our beautiful daughter alive!

Your gift, large or small, will go a long way and accomplish a great deal. So please, give what you can today to St. Jude!

Thank you and God bless you.

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, April 15, 2012

Filing Taxes, Twisting the Knife

"In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes."--Benjamin Franklin

Today I filed our 2011 taxes, fifteen months after Amanda's death.

W-2s, 1099s, and all the other forms have been sitting here by my computer for months now, in a pile that I've intentionally avoided dealing with until this--the last possible moment. Only this year, the reason I've procrastinated is much different than other years.

Most years I put it off, but usually file at least weeks before the deadline. But this year I just kept putting it off, trying not to even think about it even when asked if I'd already filed. I knew why. I never said it aloud, but I knew it from the day the first tax documents began arriving in the mail box.

The pain of losing a child is constant. It never goes away. There are days when you get distracted by something and it gets covered up for a few minutes, or even a few hours sometimes. But it never goes away.

Even though it's always with you, there are things that happen all the time that make it feel sharper, like twisting a knife with which you've been stabbed. We still get mail for Amanda often--credit card offers, student loan offers, letters from schools, etc. Each time I see her name on an envelope in the mail, the blade is turned to remind me of all the things she never had the chance to experience. The trial for her murderer should be coming up next month. Every time someone asks about it, the knife is twisted with thoughts that he could somehow get off and go free.

Tonight as I went through the annual process of filing our taxes and the anticipated questions about our dependents popped up on the screen. I felt guilty when I checked the box to claim her as a dependent, somehow feeling as though we are receiving some sort of financial benefit for our murdered child. But I'd have felt guilty to not claim her too, as if I'd let her go before I had to.

Every time her name appeared on the screen, it felt like the knife piercing my heart once again. Maybe the hardest thing was knowing that next year I'll have to delete her from the tax forms. Not because of the financial impact, but because it will feel like I'm erasing her from part of our lives.

It's something I'd have had to do sooner or later. If she hadn't been murdered, eventually she would have no longer been my dependent. But that would be different. There would have been something to feel good about if I had to drop her from my return because she became independent, striking out on her own.

Next year when I have to click that "delete" link next to her name it won't be because she moved out, got married, or became independent. It will be because she's no longer here.

So many things hurt when you've lost a child. Tonight I faced another.

Training Journal--4/9 to 4/15

I cut way back from last week's 44 miles and only got in 28 this week. We'd been in a sort of a premature heat wave, but got a little reprieve this week. That is...until Saturday's long run.

I had in mind to do 12 miles Saturday that would finish up the week with 30. My plan was to wake early and get 5 miles in before meeting for the group run at 7 AM. I woke up early, just as I planned. But I didn't get up early. I convinced myself that an extra hour of sleep would do me more good. So I set the alarm and dropped back off.

I guess that threw off my whole routine because I turned the alarm off again at 6 and nodded off again. When I woke the next time, the clock beside me read 6:40! Lucky for me, runners from the Cabot Country Cruisers generally meet only a half mile from my house for their long run on Saturdays. So up, dressed, and out the door I went, arriving at the parking lot just before the small group of runners was about to embark.

Many of our regular weekend running group members weren't there Saturday because they were registered to run the Hogeye Marathon, Half, or Relays today. So it was a small group I ran with on Saturday, including a couple of ladies who were joining us for the first time.

We did a pretty easy 5 mile loop and dropped a couple who had all the miles they needed, then took off for another 5. We never got in a really big hurry or anything, but the temperature was climbing and the humidity was high. By the time we reentered the parking lot, I was drenched like I'd been swimming.

I called it quits then and decided to let the fact that I've averaged more than 30 miles over the last two weeks convince me that 10 miles was enough for this long run.

Training Week: Apr 9 - Apr 15

Monday0 miles
Tuesday6 miles
Wednesday0 miles
Thursday6 miles
Friday6 miles
Saturday10 miles
Sunday0 miles
Total28 miles

Like I said earlier though, the middle of the week brought cooler temperatures than we'd been getting. Those 6 mile runs, especially on Tuesday and Thursday, felt great!

Today the heat is back and I'm really glad I didn't register for the Hogeye. Our next marathon isn't until late fall, but we've got the Toad Suck 10K coming up early in May, then the Joplin Memorial Half on May 19.

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."--Philippians 4:13

Heat or no heat, we'll keep running. It may slow us down but nothing's going to stop us.

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.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Training Journal--4/2 to 4/8

Our next marathon is months away, so my training is in a pretty much maintenance phase right now. That means my weekly goals are to run 4 times and finish 30 miles. But this week was different.

On Monday I turned 44 years old so I decided to shoot to finish 44 miles this week. That's following three weeks of running less than 30 miles that I described in last week's training log. But like always, God was with me all week and Jesus carried me from start to finish.

I started each weekday with a 6 mile run to complete 30 before the weekend arrived. That left 14 to run on Saturday, but I had a 4-mile race scheduled for Saturday morning. Not to be dissuaded, I rose early and hit the road at 5 AM. I ran 10 miles and still had two hours before the race started.

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."--Philippians 4:13

After running 10 miles I wasn't expecting much, thinking I'd only be able to manage a 9 minute or so pace per mile, but Jesus had other plans. There were several times over the course of 4 miles I wanted to stop and walk, but I could hear the breathing that told me another runner was closing on me. So I couldn't quit and kept running.

We made the last turn back onto the highway with about a half mile to the finish line. The guy that had been behind me for so long kicked it in and passed me then, but I was blessed to cross the line at 34:22. So even after 10 miles earlier that morning, the Good Lord helped me manage an 8:36 pace and finish the 44 miles for the week to celebrate my 44th birthday.

Training Week: Apr 2 - Apr 8

Monday6 miles
Tuesday6 miles
Wednesday6 miles
Thursday6 miles
Friday6 miles
Saturday14 miles
Sunday0 miles
Total44 miles

I am thanking God for His blessings--providing me purpose, motivation, and ability. This week I'm back on my plan to run 4 days and 30 miles. Our next races are the Toad Suck 10K on May 5, then the Joplin Memorial Half Marathon on May 19.

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, April 6, 2012

What Easter Means to This Bereaved Parent

What does Easter mean to you? That's a question that I never really asked myself before. Not that I didn't recognize its importance, but I think I just kind of took it for granted until the past year. I always knew it was set aside to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus, but I never really thought much more about it until this year.

So what does this holiday mean to me? It means one day I'll get to see my beautiful daughter again.

"I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us."--Romans 8:18

I still remember what it felt like when we got the news that Amanda had been killed. It was like I'd been hit so hard that I was numb. I didn't feel pain immediately, but more like the very life had been sucked out of me. Stunned, I didn't know what to do or even what to think. What had happened was so unexpected, so improbable, so impossible to even fathom, that those first minutes were filled with no visible emotion. No screams, no tears, no words. Only random thoughts, some rational, others irrational, bouncing around in my head trying to make sense of a world that had just been shattered.

It took me a while to make sense out of my initial reaction. The pain and tears followed within a couple of hours. For three straight days I neither ate nor slept, consumed with thoughts of what I'd lost. At first I thought my initial reaction was due to simple shock, but now I think it went deeper than that. Those feelings and my reactions to them were the signs of feeling completely helpless and completely hopeless.

"but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength."--Isaiah 40:31

Looking back I can see that my failure to protect Amanda from the killer who took her life began to haunt me the instant I heard the news. I consider it my job to protect my family, and thought I was doing that job well, but I had failed miserably. Amanda was murdered and there was nothing I could do to bring her back. I was completely hopeless.

Like I said, I thought I was doing all I could to protect my family. Short of locking them up so they'd never be exposed to danger, or following them everywhere so they never left my sight, I didn't know how I could do a better job. And what really bothered me was, if everything I was doing wasn't enough to protect Amanda, then it really wasn't enough to protect Janice and Courtney either. I was forced to face the fact that the best I could do wasn't enough. The reality slapped me in the face, that I really can't guarantee the safety of those whose care is entrusted to me. I felt completely helpless.

"Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope."--1 Thessalonians 4:13

I have corresponded with many other bereaved parents and most felt the same hopelessness and helplessness when they lost their child. For many, these feelings persist. Some never find relief.

For me? Though I still grieve, and always will, the helpless and hopeless feelings are gone. It's not that I've gotten over losing Amanda. That will never happen. But I have hope and I now know where to turn for help, and the only reason I can say that is because of what we celebrate on Easter.

The Resurrection.

"5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay."--Matthew 28:5-6

God so loved us that He sent His one and only Son to Earth, to live among man and teach, then to suffer a horrific, agonizingly painful, violent death, and to ascend from the grave and return to Heaven so that we can be forgiven and spend eternity with Him. God sent His only Son to come and bear the burden of our sins, transgressions that by all rights should separate us for eternity from Him. He loves us that much.

And now we celebrate that He is risen, that he went to prepare a place for us, that one day we'll follow Him up that stairway to Heaven and dwell there forever. Our ticket is bought and paid for. All we have to do is pick it up. And everyone who does, will enjoy paradise for eternity.

"14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.--Matthew 28:5-6

That's what gives me hope. That we'll be together again in Heaven with Amanda, forever! She picked up her ticket. She accepted Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior when she was a little girl. Now she's up there and we're down here. But when it's my time to leave this world, I'll join her there and we'll be together forever.

That's what gives me hope, but it also gives me help.

Now I realize that, though I cannot protect others from every physical danger Satan presents here on Earth, I can show them the way to have the same peace of knowing that they too will be with us in Heaven. If I live my life as an example, if I teach them what God's Word teaches me, if I can be a part of helping them pick up their ticket to Heaven, then I can be a tool, used by Jesus to protect them from the ultimate danger of being doomed to Hell.

"Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful."--1 Corinthians 4:2

That's what keeps me going now. That's what keeps me motivated. That's what keeps me alive. That's what overwhelms those initial feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.

The help and hope offered through Jesus Christ and the Resurrection, what we celebrate this Easter Sunday, is what keeps me going.

That's what Easter means to me.

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.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Kohen's Park 4 Mile Monkey Run this Saturday!

That's right! It's time for Running with Amanda to run again, this time at a small local race to raise money for a great cause. On Saturday, we'll be running at the Kohen's Park 4 Mile Monkey Run.

We'll be skipping an Arkansas RRCA Grand Prix race this weekend, but that's okay. Whenever possible, we prefer to run in races that benefit a worthwhile charity. Not only does this race fit that bill, but it's only a few miles down the road from where we live too! God has blessed us with the ability to run and sent His only Son to die for us on the cross. This race feels like the best way to honor Him with our running this weekend.

Kohen's Park is a private park that is open to the public seven days a week from sunrise to sunset. The park was built by the family of young Kohen, whom they lost at 3 years of age, to honor his memory. Proceeds from the run go to pay for maintenance and upkeep.

So, if you're looking for a run this weekend, we'd love to see you at this small race on Saturday at 9:00 AM. You'll know us by our Running with Amanda shirts and I'll have pictures of those lost to teen substance abuse pinned to the back of my shirt.

You can register here, and check out the map below to figure out how to get 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.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Last 3 weeks' training logs

You might say I've been somewhat of a slouch these past weeks, as a blogger and a runner. Posts have been few and far between, and the running miles haven't been meeting my weekly goals. This week I worked three track meets at school, one that didn't end until 11:00 PM. I also had a huge project due yesterday that kept me up late these past two weeks. The previous week we spent in Colorado skiing with OneTwentyOne Student Ministries, the youth group at Friendship Baptist Church. Though the time I spent was worthwhile and I'm blessed to have had the opportunities, they didn't allow much free time for running or writing.

The week before Spring Break was when things began to get a little off track where the running is concerned. I wasn't going to have an opportunity to do a long run on Saturday, because we would be leaving that Friday right after work. Fortunately, we had Parent-Teacher Conferences that Tuesday and didn't have to be at work until noon. So I did my normal six miles that morning with my running partners, then added ten to get in my long run for the week. That meant a day of rest followed, then my normal six on Thursday with the guys again. We arrived at Crested Butte, CO in the early afternoon and I convinced three of the kids to run with me that evening. We managed three miles in the high mountain air, but that was it. The next morning, two kids went with me again for another three miles. Then the skiing took over and I didn't run for the rest of the week.

Training Week: Mar 12 - Mar 18

Monday0 miles
Tuesday16 miles
Wednesday0 miles
Thursday6 miles
Friday0 miles
Saturday3 miles
Sunday3 miles
Total28 miles

"There is a time for everything,and a season for every activity under the heavens:"--Ecclesiastes 3:1

This was the first time I've been skiing since 1994, and the first time ever for Courtney. We went with a great bunch of folks and I'm so grateful we had the opportunity. I had the opportunity to get to know some kids and some adults better and see if I still had it on the slopes. All in all, we had a fantastic time and a great experience. I even got in a couple of three mile runs before the skiing started. :)

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."--Philippians 4:13

Janice predicted I'd come home in traction after three days of skiing, but her prowess for predictions is apparently lacking. I did get out and hit the slopes pretty hard, trying to keep up with a bunch of kids 20+ years my junior. They skied down some slopes that I tumbled and slid down, but the Good Lord kept his ever watchful eye on me and kept me from injury.

Training Week: Mar 19 - Mar 25

Monday0 miles
Tuesday0 miles
Wednesday0 miles
Thursday0 miles
Friday5 miles
Saturday16 miles
Sunday0 miles
Total21 miles

"I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us."--Romans 8:18

Then there was this week. I managed to make it for my group runs on Tuesday and Thursday, probably only because I knew there were people expecting me. I didn't manage to get up and run on Monday, Wednesday, or Friday. I was up until at least midnight every night, working on my National Board Certification portfolio that had to be mailed by March 31st. Finally, I finished that on Friday evening and mailed it Saturday after a 12 mile run.

Training Week: Mar 26 - Apr 1

Monday0 miles
Tuesday6 miles
Wednesday0 miles
Thursday6 miles
Friday0 miles
Saturday12 miles
Sunday0 miles
Total24 miles

I think things should be back to normal for a while. We'll see if I can drag myself out of bed tomorrow for my morning run. But God is great, Christ is King, and I'm thankful for all the opportunity He has blessed me with, even those opportunities that make life a little stressful from time to time.

Maybe, just maybe, you can count on these training updates each week again. Happy running and have a great week!

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.