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

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Join the Crowd!

The running crowd that is.

I ran as a lone wolf for years, avoiding joining a group, often turning down invitations to run with even friends. I enjoyed the time alone. I worried that I would hold them back. Besides, other than unit runs while in the Marine Corps, I'd always done it that way. I was comfortable running alone. So why join the crowd?

All that changed a year ago when I decided to join the Cabot Country Cruisers for a Memorial Day run to our local veterans memorial. I've been running with them ever since, and none of my former fears proved founded. I learned that running clubs aren't just for elite athletes. Our club has those who could nearly outrun the mechanical rabbit at a dog track, but they also have members whose best pace is a walk and others who run at every pace in between. I found folks who run about the same pace I do, some faster and some slower.

I also found that I actually enjoy the company on my runs too. A little conversation can really make the miles pass more quickly. Small talk or discussions about matters of grave importance take your mind off less than ideal weather conditions, minor aches and pains, and even the countless footfalls it takes to cover the distance.

Today's run illustrated my favorite part of running with a group though...motivation. It was one of those days that I just couldn't seem to ever get into the run. The entire 6 miles seemed a struggle I almost had to drag myself through. Several times, especially toward the end, I seriously considered stopping to walk. But I didn't.

I'm not sure why I couldn't get into it. I had a really easy time yesterday, only two miles at a really easy pace. I ate well and was fully hydrated. I didn't feel sick at all. It was just an off day.

Running and life are similar in that manner. You can have an off day running, where nothing goes right and nothing feels right, and it's everything you can do to get through it. Just like in life. Days when everything you touch goes bad just happen sometimes. There doesn't have to be a reason. It's not necessarily punishment for some sin or the direct result of some action on your part. Today was just a tough running day.
"If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!" -- Ecclesiastes 4:10
But friends, a group to run with, can keep you going. How many times have you not felt like doing something but did it anyway because your plans involved someone else? How many times were you having a rough day and a friend's hand on your shoulder, a hug, or just being willing to listen to you vent got you through it?

I hung in there and finished, even though my mind and body were both telling me to just stop. Every time the urge to stop came over me, the others came to mind. They were still going, so I could keep going too.

It's like that sometimes. Nobody has to say a word, but you keep going because the crowd keeps going. If someone else had stopped to walk, I probably would have too. If another had even mentioned a desire to take a walk break, I likely would have agreed and we'd have stopped. But nobody did. It's possible no one else felt like I did, but it could also be someone else was thinking exactly what I was. They didn't stop either, because the group kept going.

Sometimes the fact that people are expecting me is thing that gets me out on the road. There are days the alarm goes off and I just don't feel like running. But knowing there are people expecting me to be somewhere forces me to drag myself up and get ready. After the run, 99% of the time, I'm glad I got out of bed and on the pavement. But I might not have if I hadn't been running with a group.

So if you're like I was, hesitant to join a group for whatever reason, give it a shot. Look for a local running group and join them for a run just to try it out. I'm glad I did, and I wish I would have joined the crowd earlier.


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, May 30, 2012

Speed Work Sucks!

That's what a kid told me today.

If you don't know, I've been going to school and working with the cross country team the past couple of weeks. I love to run, and I love to work with kids, so this is a fun and productive way to spend some time this summer. But I have to say I agree with this kid, speed work is tough.

Today we had the kids running 400 meter repeats, one fast lap around the track, rest for a couple of minutes then another. They did 10 of these and most were sucking wind before the end of the 10th. They next had a break that lasted about 5 minutes followed by a hard mile. The kids were told to run that mile at a pace that made it difficult to speak. Finally, they got to take it easy when they ran a final cool down mile at an easy pace.

Some of you may be thinking, "That's just 4.5 miles. It shouldn't be so bad." Well, it is just 4.5 miles, but if you think it's not bad please try it. Pushing your pace to the max on every lap and that next to last mile. Speed work is tough, no doubt about it.

I can honestly say I love to run, but I won't lie and say I even somewhat like speed work. I'd much rather do a 10 mile long run than the 4.5 miles we put on these kids today. But just like in life, to reach your potential sometimes you've just got to do things you don't like to do.
"3Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope." -- Romans 5:3-4
When you think about it, it's not the good days, or the easy days that build your strength, your confidence, and your endurance. If all we ever had were the easy days in life, we'd never be challenged. We'd never be forced to do more than we thought we could. We'd be limited to our current ability level because it's comfortable.

We'd never get stronger, smarter, or tougher. We'd more than likely fall backwards, getting weaker, dumber, and more fragile.
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." -- John 16:33
Challenges in our life build us up, teach us that we can endure and survive more than we think possible. I don't know anyone, rich or poor, strong or weak, fast or slow, who gets through life without tough times. Jesus certainly promised us that everyone will face tough times on this earth. But those who succeed are those who don't quit when times get tough. They're the ones who keep stepping into the wind, swimming against the current, and climbing up life's hills.

Few fight through life's battles with a smile on their face. Usually we're all just like that kid when we find ourselves scratching and clawing our way through our own trials. We don't consider it fun when we're fighting through our struggles.

But...when we look back after the weather breaks and the sky clears, we can often crack a smile, point back at the tempest behind us, and proudly proclaim to others, "I just came through that." Because we know, we're stronger, smarter, and tougher.

Yeah. Speed work sucks. But when it's over, we're stronger and faster than we were before, than we would be without it. We fight through the pain and misery of the training because it builds our endurance, teaches us we can do more than we ever thought, and improves our performance.

Speed work, just like the trials we face in life, builds perseverance, character, and hope within us. You don't have to smile during your workout, but you can sure smile when you're finished.


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, May 29, 2012

2012 Memorial Day Run

It was unlike most of my training runs. My run yesterday, Memorial Day, was special. Much slower with several breaks where we stopped and walked, or even stood around and waited. If I'd been running to beat a certain time, it would have been an epic fail. But time wasn't what we sought when we stepped off on Monday.

A year ago, I made my first run with the Cabot Country Cruisers. After seeing a post on their Facebook page announcing a Memorial Day run, I decided to join them. We ran from a local elementary school to the city's Veterans Memorial. The school is only a half mile from my house, so I trotted up there and embarked on what became the first of many group runs with the local running club.

That day a year ago there were 22 of us who made the trip in honor of those who gave everything to keep the United States the "Land of the Free." Runners varying in age from 20's to 70's with paces that spanned the spectrum from very slow to lightening fast. I pushed myself to stay somewhere in between.

I was proud to be a part of that group and to honor our veterans who sacrificed their lives. It was a great experience that introduced me to new friends who share my love to run. I've lost count now of the runs I've made with them, but we've often trained and raced together since that day.

2012 CCC Memorial Day Run





2011 CCC Memorial Day Run



One year later, yesterday, Memorial Day 2012, the Cabot Country Cruisers again made the trek from the school to the memorial. The number of runners, however, had multiplied. More than 3 times!

A few minutes before we began, a cursory count numbered 72 runners and walkers gathered in the parking lot. A few others trickled in after the count. Many carried American flags. Once again their ages spanned many decades. A young boy who couldn't have been much over 9 years old joined us this year, along with men and women who looked to be in their 70s and every where in between.

In spite of the heat and sun, already burning bright at the 8 AM start, those 70+ made the roughly 2.5 mile journey down the sidewalk to the memorial. The faster runners stopped several times to let those in the rear catch up so that we could enter the memorial en masse.

In a column that stretched several hundred yards, we crossed the road leading to the monument. It was a beautiful sight, runners and walkers of all shapes and sizes and ages sweatily paying tribute to the American men and women who fought and died for the freedoms so many take for granted.

After a short prayer and a few pictures, we broke into smaller groups and made our way back to the school. It was hot and humid, not what many would consider nice running weather. But everyone I saw had smiles on their faces. It was a great run, not to be judged by how fast or far we went. Instead, what characterizes this run as great was the company and the motivation to make it.

Thanks to all who've given their lives in defense of this great nation and the freedoms we hold dear. And thanks to all who joined us to honor those men and women at the Cabot Country Cruisers' annual Memorial Day run!
"Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends." -- John 15:13
May we never forget to honor those who died to set us free--Jesus Christ and the American serviceman/woman. The first to free us from the tyrant Satan, and the second to free us from tyrants here on Earth. May God bless these United States and all who wear her uniform.


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, May 27, 2012

Weekly Journal 5/21 -- 5/27

Happy to say I made it through another good training week. Some changes to my routine created a significant increase in mileage this week, but not more than I've done before. Today's my day of rest, no run to give my legs a little reprieve until it all starts again tomorrow.

The last day of school for me was Monday so I've had a little extra time for workouts. Notice I said a little time. A lot of people think teachers have nothing to do all summer, but nothing could be farther from the truth. Now is the time to catch up on all the around-the-house projects that were neglected during the school year. Yard work is in full swing and there's maintenance to be done on the vehicles. On top of that, I'm completely rewriting the courses I'll teach next year because I wasn't satisfied with the results from this year.

Even with all of that, I have found more time to workout. This week I started swimming again and went on a couple of bike rides with Janice. My swimming is nothing like training to compete. Neither is my biking. My wife and I have a 33 ft pool in the back yard and a couple of $100 bicycles from Wal-Mart. Both work fine for the types of workouts I do, but these aren't sports I'm looking to compete in.

But at least summer gives me a little opportunity to cross train, even if it's not really serious cross training.

I won't be listing those workouts in this journal. This will continue to be strictly for running workouts. So here's what I did last week.

Training Week: May 21 - May 27

Monday3 miles
Tuesday6 miles
Wednesday5 miles
Thursday6 miles
Friday8 miles
Saturday10 miles
Sunday0 miles
Total38 miles


"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." -- John 15:13
Next week starts with Memorial Day tomorrow, a day set aside to honor those who served in the United States Armed Forces and especially those who died in the service of our country. Across our nation families will gather at cookouts and picnics, the long weekend will be spent on lakes and rivers. Many will pay not tribute to those who sacrificed to make our nation free. Don't be one of those.

I used to watch war movies all weekend over the Memorial Day holiday. Almost all the movie channels had them playing constantly from Saturday to Monday. Now only AMC does so. It's a shame that so much of our culture has lost touch with what this holiday is all about.

Please, however you celebrate Memorial Day, take some time out to honor those whom this holiday is meant to honor. Say a prayer. Fly a flag. Visit a memorial. Do something to pay tribute to those who gave you your freedom. If you're a parent, be sure to explain to your children the meaning and significance of Memorial Day. They're likely not to learn it in school.

It's a great time to compare the sacrifice our servicemen make to the sacrifice Jesus made on the Cross. Jesus gave His life to free us from sin, from Satan the spiritual tyrant. Our men and women in uniform offer theirs up to free us from earthly tyrants. Enjoy your long weekend. Just don't forget why you have it.



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, May 26, 2012

Running with the Kids & Long Runs Twice

Thank you Jesus for getting me through 10 hot miles this morning!

This is our first week out of school, my first week working with the cross country team, and my first week doubling up on long runs.

Monday was our last day at school so I've been able to get a few things done around the house this week. Some yard work and a couple of honey-do projects down with about 1000 more to go this summer. On Wednesday and Friday I ran with our school's cross country team, mile repeats the first day and their long run the second. I did 5 mile repeats with the kids on Wednesday and you can probably guess they smoked me. That's okay though. I do what I can at 30 years older than some of them.
"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 was the last one in on the long run Friday too, but I don't feel real bad about that. I needed 8 miles yesterday and the longest any of them were going was 6. So I arrived early and did a quick 3 miles before practice started. Then on the 6 mile route, the last runner on the course passed me going the other way when I had about 2.5 miles in. That was a good excuse to turn around and finish the morning with my planned 8 miles.

I usually limit my weekday runs to 6 miles max, but this week marks the beginning of training for something new...a double marathon! A few weeks ago I registered for the End of the World Marathon and the Day After the End of the World Marathon on December 20th and 21st, respectively. You're probably already aware of the prediction the end of the world will happen on December 20th of this year. Because that was the last day on the ancient Mayan calendar, some have inferred it means our existence will cease and there will be no 21st.

Unless there's some other ancient civilization's calendar that ends on a later date, that makes this double marathon a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I mean, there's always going to be the occasional nutcase like Harold Camping running around predicting the end, but this Mayan calendar thing has many more concerned the ancient Indians knew something we don't. I doubt another end-of-the-world prediction will get this much traction in my lifetime.
"32But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come." -- Mark 13:32-33
There's an added advantage I see in taking on this challenge too, the opportunity to witness for Christ. The New Testament clearly states nobody will know the time and day when the end will come. So for me, the Word of God trumps a bunch of stoned Indians from the ancient world. I'm counting on the world still being her for the second race, and planning to finish both races.

That's why I'm starting to do back-to-back long runs on Friday and Saturday. This week was the first set, 8 miles yesterday and 10 today. Next week my plan is 10 and 10 on Friday and Saturday, then 10 and 12 the next week. I'll keep stepping those up until I can reach a double 15 this summer. Then when the heat breaks in the fall, I'll try to get up to a double 20. If I can reach that goal before December, I think I'll be ready for the double marathon to close out our 2012 racing season.

I'm grateful to God for giving me the strength to accept the challenges He sets before me. This won't be easy. Today sure wasn't. There will be a lot of long, hot runs this summer, twice as many as last year, but I know Christ will get me through it!


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, May 25, 2012

Changes in Routine

This week was the beginning of a big change in my training routine. For the past year and more, since the beginning of training for my first marathon, I've been running 30 to 40 miles per week. Those miles came mostly in 5-6 milers, sometimes 3 days a week, sometimes 5, depending on how far I was from the approaching big race. Then I did a long run, somewhere from 10-20 miles, on Saturday. The only variation from that routine came on weekends with races scheduled. Pretty much all of my training runs took place in Cabot, AR too. This week things were a little different.

I teach school for a living, and Monday was our last day until August. However, on Wednesday I was back at school at 6:30 in the morning. I didn't go to teach a class or tutor a student. I didn't go for a meeting with other teachers or the principal. No, Wednesday was my first day to run with our cross country team.

"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you." -- Psalm 32:8


Yes, that's right. This 44-year-old, 225 pound old man has decided to run with the kids, from 7th grade to seniors in high school. I offered to come out and the coaches were glad to have the help. We'll be practicing three days each week, and by God's grace they are the three days I usually run alone during the week. It didn't take me long to figure out these kids are younger than I am, but I was able to offer a little advice to and run with a couple of kids attempting distance running for the first time.

My first day with them was a speed work day and that was tough. I don't usually don't do speed work because speed is not my priority in the running I do. When the kids arrived and the coach told them, "Today we're going to do mile repeats. The girls will do 4 and the boys 6," I wasn't sure what I'd gotten into. Then she told them we'd be running in a field!

Actually, only about 2/3 of the loop was in the field, but it was a big change from the smooth pavement I'm accustomed to. The coach took us around the loop once so everyone would know the route. She called it a warm up, but my Garmin called it an 8:30 mile. Those of you who read us regularly should know that's a fast workout for me. My fastest training runs are usually around a 9:15 pace, but this was a warm up!

I managed 4 more with them, my best at an 8:24 pace and worst at a 9:19. The 9:19 was my last one and I took off several minutes before the others on that loop. By then I knew I was going to be lagging behind the two boys who stayed to finish their planned 6 miles. Those two caught and passed me with a little more than a quarter of a mile to go. They finished the last mile in 5:40 and I, like I said, at 9:19.

Still, I think I hung in there pretty well for an old, fat man.

Today was my second day training with the kids, on their long run day. They were scheduled to run 4-6 miles. I arrived an hour early and did 3 miles before they came, then did 5 with them for a total of 8 miles. Oh yeah, that's the other big change that began for me this week. This summer I'm going to be attempting two long runs each week, one on Friday and the other on Saturday. I ran 8 today and am planning to run 10 more tomorrow.

I know 8 miles doesn't exactly fit my previous definition of a long run, but I'm trying to do this smart. My plan is to do 10 and 10 on Friday and Saturday next week, 10 and 12 the next, 12 and 12 the next, and so on. I'll keep increasing like that each week until I can get a double 15 in this summer. Then, hopefully, when the weather cools in the fall I'll be able to work up to a double 20.

If you're wondering why this radical departure from what I've been doing, check out our Schedule page. On there you'll notice I've registered for a double marathon, the first on December 20th and the second on December 21st. My thought is, if I can work up to back-to-back 15 milers in the heat, a back-to-back marathon won't be too bad by December.
"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." -- Acts 1:8


Part of our mission is to show that with God, anything is possible. Anything, from surviving the devastating loss of a child to running two back-to-back marathons, is possible. With Jesus Christ the most painful emotional experiences and seemingly impossible physical challenges can be overcome, can be survived. I am extremely grateful that Jesus gave me this ability to run, an ability to work with kids, and the opportunity to demonstrate how great His power is through the first and to the second.

The 8 miles went pretty well today. My best mile split was a 8:59 and my worst an 11:52 when I stopped for a bit at the water cooler. When it was all said and done, I averaged a 9:53 mile. That works for me, especially taking into account the 200 foot climb on the route. We don't have hills like that where I usually run, so that too was a new experience for me.

Tomorrow we'll see how the 10 miles go. Memorial Day will throw a little wrench into our cross country practice, but the Cabot Country Cruisers have a Memorial Day run scheduled to make up for that. So far though, I'm liking the changes this summer's bringing.



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, May 22, 2012

Weekly Journal 5/14 -- 5/20

God is so great!

We had a fantastic week that ended with the Joplin Memorial Half Marathon followed by watching the Vilonia Lady Eagle softball team compete in the 5A state championship game at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. Our girls' game didn't end the way we wanted, but they had one heck of a season. One of the girls told me their team motto all year was, "Win or lose, give God the glory!"

"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." -- 1 Corinthians 10:31


She took the loss hard. When I saw her after the game, her eyes were red and puffy. She had obviously shed a lot of tears. That was about 30 minutes after the game ended, after they'd gathered and talked as a team, after they'd cleared the dugout so the next team could move in. More importantly though, it was after they'd congratulated the other team at the pitcher's mound. In those minutes immediately following the game, our team and their opponent gathered at the mound and prayed and I saw this same young lady throw her arms around a friend on the opposing team to congratulate her. They lost the game, but they kept their dignity and sportsmanship.

They upheld their team motto.

This bunch of high school girls can teach the rest of us (even us distance runners) an important lesson. What we as athletes do on the street, on the field, on the court, or on the course is bigger than our school, our team, or ourselves. People watch what we do and they see how we act. Regardless what sport you participate in, people watch and look up to you. Someone, somewhere is watching you when you compete. Someone is in awe of what you can do when you compete.

I can't tell you how many people have told me they could never run a marathon, 13.1 miles, or even a 5K. They're young, old, large, small...they come in every shape and size. That's the ice breaker, the opening of the door that allows me to witness, to tell them I can't run those miles either...not on my own.

It gives me the opportunity to explain that the strength, motivation, and discipline to run are all gifts from Jesus Christ. I couldn't keep running in the heat and cold, the rain and burning sun, the wind and stifling humidity without the hope and knowledge that I can make it through the pain, discomfort and even agony. But I can run because I'm not running for me.

"19 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, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." -- Matthew 28:19-20


And that's what it's all about. Whether you're competing on a softball field or a marathon course, it's about witnessing for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. God gives each of us gifts, some to run and some to play softball, and others are given all sorts of different gifts. These gifts come with a responsibility, a responsibility to use them to glorify Christ and lead others to follow Him.

Training Week: May 14 - May 20

Monday6 miles
Tuesday6 miles
Wednesday0 miles
Thursday6 miles
Friday0 miles
Saturday13.1 miles
Sunday0 miles
Total34 miles


Looking at this week's journal, it doesn't appear too impressive. Barely over 30 miles total, and the half marathon I ran wasn't in a really good time. But the number of miles and the time on the clock at the finish line don't tell the whole story. Just like the scoreboard showing those girls lost the championship game 5-2 didn't tell the whole story.

"I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." -- Philippians 3:14


A lot of people define success by the trophy or award given to the victor in any competition, but there's a far greater prize we seek. It won't be something we can put on the mantle, or hang on the wall. You won't see a picture of it posted on the internet. The prize we should all be seeking is the one those girls were seeking when they took the field at Fayetteville last weekend--a place in Heaven, seated with our Lord and Savior. Jesus came, lived, died, and rose again so that He could go and prepare a place for us. That place is what we seek. It's why we compete.

I'm proud of that bunch of young high school girls who have all that figured out, and I look forward to watching them play 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, May 20, 2012

Thank you Joplin!

For putting on a great race this weekend!

The weather and the hills made it tough, but the folks in Joplin did a great job. The course support, from volunteers and spectators, and the organization made this a great run.

The course was well marked and staffed with plenty of volunteers to direct runners at every turn. There were very few spots on the course without spectators or volunteers, and all of these were friendly, helpful, and cheering on the runners. At one point I was running up a long hill. I was struggling, but also passing an older man who looked to be really struggling. A spectator called out to check on him. He was okay, but she was genuinely concerned and wanted to be sure.

The last two blocks before the finish line were crowded with spectators cheering us on, and thanking us for running their race. As I rounded the turn at Wall and 7th Streets, a lady in a wheelchair yelled, "Thank you from Joplin!" Tears came to my eyes as I finished the last 200 yards. I got more choked up finishing this race than I ever have.

"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


The race benefited the rebuilding effort in Joplin. Devastated by last year's tornado, the city is showing amazing resilience. The race directors used school buses to shuttle us from the hotel to the start line and our driver was great. He drove us through the hardest hit section of town. You couldn't look at it and tell a tornado swept through the area a year earlier. There were quite a few new buildings, but many lots were just empty, some with only a concrete slab. The debris was cleared and the rebuilding was underway.

That's why it was so touching to see so many supporting us--stopping traffic, marking turns, handing out water and gatorade, and cheering us on. After being hit so hard, these people rolled up their sleeves and got to work. They're a long way toward recovering from the storms, but still they were grateful for our willingness to come to their town and run their race.

The little part we were doing to help was hugely appreciated by the entire town. So I have to say too, I appreciate you Joplin--your hospitality and your perseverance impress me.

Now for the race.

A big thank you to the race organizers for starting at 6:30! I can't even hazard a guess at what my time would have been if we'd have waited to start at 8:00. I had a great first 6 miles, averaging just below a 9 minute pace. But the sun was getting higher and the temperature was getting warmer then. Things started getting really tough.

The long uphill at this point in the race didn't make it any easier, but the rising mercury was definitely the biggest factor. I don't know what the temperature was around 7:30, but I had to slow down and begin to walk a few of the hills. By mile 11, I was walking most of the hills and averaging over an 11 minute pace. There was quite a bit of time in the last half of the race that I wasn't sure I could break 2:10 at the finish, but Jesus Christ kept me going.

On the way to Joplin Friday night, I planned to shoot for a 10 minute mile. Like always though, that idea was forgotten when the horn sounded to start the race. The adrenaline started flowing and the pace of the crowd drew me in. In the end, I averaged the 10 minute mile originally planned and I realized that was God's plan for me during this race.

"And whatever you do,(AO) whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." -- Colossians 3:17


After I slowed down and started taking walk breaks I thought about all the people passing me who wouldn't have if I'd kept up my original pace. They would not have seen the Bible verse on my back, or the pictures pinned to my shirt, if I'd have PR'd this race. Several told me it was their favorite verse, or that it encouraged them at a tough point in the race, and I realized this was God's plan.

Sometimes our competitive spirit drives us to push harder and faster than God has planned. Sometimes He lets us go ahead, sometimes He doesn't. Today though, when I had such a great time going for a while, but slowed down and made my original goal, I remembered that I'm not out there for my glory. The reason I run, my number one goal, must always remain to glorify our Risen Savior, Jesus Christ.

The time I crossed the finish line doesn't matter, as long as He gets the glory!

Thank you again Joplin for putting on a great race and for being an example to us all. You are showing the rest of the country that just because you're knocked down doesn't mean you have to stay down. Your resilience, persistence, and perseverance are an example we should all follow, in running and in life.

God bless you Joplin!



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, May 18, 2012

TEAM 413 Prayer Before Joplin Memorial Half

God used this sport of distance running to bless me in many ways. He showed me a way to use running to honor Amanda's memory. He uses it to channel my energy in a positive direction, energy that most likely would have been directed into negative and harmful activities after Amanda was killed. And through our running, I've been blessed to meet many wonderful new friends.

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


Some of those friends are members of TEAM 413, a worldwide ministry that targets endurance athletes, including distance runners. The concept is pretty simple really, to wear a shirt emblazoned with the Bible verse Philippians 4:13 on the back and use it to witness for Jesus Christ. The shirt itself may be enough at times. I can't tell you how many people have passed me in races and said, "That's just what I needed to see right now." Other times, the shirt becomes an ice breaker, an invitation to other runners curious about our beliefs as Christians.

At the Little Rock Marathon earlier this year, I had the good fortune to meet several members of TEAM 413 before the race for a pre-race prayer. Those same runners will be at Joplin tomorrow and we're going to do it again. Hopefully others will hear and join us!


Click to view larger image


We're going to meet near the start line, in the area circled in red in the picture above, at 5:45 AM. Any and all who would like to join us are welcome. You don't have to be a member, and you don't even have to have a shirt. We'd love to have you join us to thank God for what He has done in our lives and for the progress made in the Joplin recovery effort, and to pray for the athletes and for those not yet fully recovered from the devastating losses suffered in last year's tornadoes.

"For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them." -- Matthew 18:20


Jesus Christ gives me the strength, motivation, and discipline to keep running. Without Him, I couldn't run a marathon, a half marathon, not even a mile or a step. Tomorrow we'll gather at 5:45 AM, near the start in Joplin, to thank Him, to honor Him, and to glorify Him! We'd love for you to join us. Hope to see you there.

If you'd like to know more about TEAM 413, visit the website at TEAM413.org. You can also follow TEAM 413 on Facebook.


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, May 16, 2012

Training Journal -- 5/7 to 5/13

Thank you Jesus for a great training week! The weather was nicer, cooler, and just all around better for running than it had been the previous two weeks. Early morning temps were in the 50s and low 60s. Humidity was still a little high, but the cooler temperatures made it bearable.

"Every good and perfect gift is from above,(AB) coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." -- James 1:17


On Saturday my youngest daughter graduated from high school so I had to get out and run early. The Cabot Country Cruisers usually have a group run at 7 am on Saturday, but I started at 5. I posted my intended early start on our group's Facebook page the night before and that paid off. A new friend met me at the school where I started and we did two 5 mile loops from there. Even better, he's faster than me so my planned 10 minute pace turned into a 9:35 pace for the 10 miles. It made for a great last long run before this coming weekend's half marathon.

Training Week: May 7 - May 13

Monday6 miles
Tuesday6 miles
Wednesday0 miles
Thursday6 miles
Friday6 miles
Saturday10 miles
Sunday0 miles
Total34 miles


I have to take this opportunity to thank New Balance, Inc. for providing us with running shoes. In November, they sent me three new pair of their model 1260 shoes, a far more sturdy shoe than the 890s they originally sent us. The 890s were a great shoe, but much lighter than the 1260. This week I went over 400 miles on the new model. I'm going to stick with this pair through my half marathon this week then switch to the last of the shoes they sent in November. The 890s were lasting about 300 miles for me, so the 1260 is giving me 33% more miles.

I want to thank New Balance again for their generosity. Shoes are a significant expense when you put the miles on that we do. This great company, the only one that still makes a running shoe in the USA, is allowing us to run more races by saving us the cost of shoes. If you're looking for a great, high-quality running shoe, please try a pair of these fantastic American-made shoes!

"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


On Saturday we're running in Joplin, MO. I'm running the Joplin Memorial Half Marathon, while Janice and Courtney are running the 5K. As always, I'll be wearing the pictures of victims of teen substance abuse. We're dedicating our charity fundraising for this race to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Our 2012 fundraising goal is $3500. So far, we've raised $1076 for this great organization. Please give what you can to help us raise awareness of the dangers of teen substance abuse.

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


As always, Philippians 4:13 will adorn the backs of our shirts. There is no way we could do what we do--we couldn't run, we couldn't keep on living--without the undeserved grace and mercy of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The strength, discipline, and motivation we have to run, to keep going all come from Him! We couldn't make it one step, we couldn't draw one breath, or finish one mile except for His grace and mercy. I hope and pray that every step we take, in training and in racing, will glorify Christ.

Thankful for this fantastic week and looking forward to another one.



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, May 15, 2012

God is Always at Work

It's funny sometimes how God works...how he's often working when we don't even know it.

This Saturday we'll be running the Joplin Memorial Half Marathon in Joplin, MO, about a four and a half hour drive from home. I registered us for this race months ago, reserved a hotel room and everything. Janice, Courtney, and I are all going to be there. It would have taken a serious emergency to keep me from making the trip to southwestern Missouri after school on Friday.

So when the Vilonia High School softball team made it to the semi-finals in the 5A state tournament, I told the girls there was no way I'd be able to make it to the state championship game if they won. I was disappointed, as were some of them, because I always try to make it out to support our athletes.

It was impossible for me to make it to either of their first two tournament games because they were scheduled last week during the school day. The semi-final game was scheduled for this past Saturday. I had no plans to travel the hour and a half to Wynne, AR that day because Courtney's graduation was that morning at 10 o'clock. So it looked like I would be unable to attend any of the tournament games this year whether they won or lost.

But God evidently had everything worked out in advance.

"Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails." -- Proverbs 19:21


The game was rained out on Saturday and rescheduled for yesterday at 4:30. It was still going to be tough to make the game because we were scheduling kids for next year yesterday, a process that never runs smoothly and becomes more and more difficult as the day wears on. I asked our principal if I could leave a little early and he said it would be okay if everything was worked out by then. We hoped to leave at 3:00 to give us just enough time to arrive by the first pitch.

But like I said, things get hectic on scheduling day toward the end. At 3:22 I finished working the last kid's schedule and a colleague agreed to finalize my paperwork and hand everything in. We were out the door about 3:25, in the car and blasting out onto the road.

It was hammer down all the way to Wynne, not so fast to get in trouble but trying to push the envelope just a little. We made it to the ball park at 4:50 with one out in the top of the 2nd inning. The score was tied 0-0 and our girls were on the field. We won the game 3-1 and it was beautiful. One of our sophomores hit a home run, bringing another runner with her to the plate and putting us up 3-0. The opposing team only managed one run the rest of the game to make the final score, so our girls made it to the state championship game!

I was soooo glad we were able to make it to see them play, but it gets better.

The tournament bracket was posted on the wall of the concession stand. Written in the spot reserved for the teams headed to the finals was the location where the championship game would be played, and it wasn't Wynne. It said, "U of A Bogle Park, 3:00." That's when I realized God had been working for months to make it so we could attend the game!

U of A meant University of Arkansas, at Fayetteville in the far northwest corner of the state! If you're unfamiliar with our local geography, Missouri sits right on top of our beautiful state. So southwest Missouri and northwest Arkansas are about as close as things get in the two states. We were already going to be in Joplin, MO. The game will be played in Fayetteville, AR. Only about 90 miles separate the two cities!

Our race starts at 6:30. I should be finished before 9. Then back to the hotel to get cleaned up and back for the post race party. Then we can take our time to make the hour and a half trip south and still arrive early to watch the Vilonia Lady Eagles play in the 5A state championship game!

"Every good and perfect gift is from above,(AB) coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." -- James 1:17


Only God could have put the wheels in motion all those months ago, and organized everything to fall into place to make it all come together this weekend. I'm really looking forward to the race and the game and I'm thanking God for making it all possible!



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, May 11, 2012

Please Donate to St. Jude

A week from today we'll make the trip to Joplin, MO to run in the first Joplin Memorial Run to benefit and remember the victims of last year's deadly tornadoes. As always, we run to raise awareness of teen substance abuse, reach people with the Good News that Jesus Christ is the source of eternal life that gives hope in otherwise hopeless situations, raise money for children's charities, and to honor the memory of our beautiful daugther, Amanda Marie Allison, who was taken way too early from this Earth.

While proceeds from the race benefit the recovery effort in Joplin, we continue to raise money for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis. Last week we ran the Toad Suck 10K in Conway, AR and raised more than $250 for Soaring Wings Ranch the week before that race. We'd love to see a similar response this week for St. Jude in the run up to the Joplin Memorial Half Marathon!

Remember, EVERY dime of your donation goes to St. Jude! We don't keep a cent and St. Jude hosts our fundraising page. That means there is no middle man, nobody takes a cut when you give to the hospital through our page. Every penny goes where you want it to go...to help the kids of St. Jude!

Last year we raised almost $2500 for St. Jude. This year we increased our fundraising goal to $3500 and we've already raised more than $1000 of that. Summer is generally a time when fundraising slows down so we need to enter the season with a strong push! This is the time. Please help us help the kids of St. Jude with whatever donation you can afford today.

"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


Your gift of $100, $50, $25, $10, or even $5 will carry us closer to our fundraising goal and carry St. Jude closer to finding cures for many deadly childhood diseases. Even a small gift is a big help! Just think, 100 people giving $5 each means we raise $500 for St. Jude! 1000 people giving $5 means we raise $5000! So please give what you can and encourage your friends to give as well. Together we can make a huge difference in the lives of the kids of St. Jude!

I'll be running 13.1 miles on Saturday with 12 pictures pinned to the back of my shirt, Amanda's and 11 others whose deaths were somehow caused by teen substance abuse. Some, like Amanda, were murdered by drunk or stoned teens, others overdosed, others in car accidents, and more. The pictures make people curious. They come and ask me whose pictures they are. Then I get to tell the story.

So many people think teen drinking and drug use is just a phase to go through, a rite of passage almost. We thought that. We warned Amanda of the dangers of drinking and driving, but we never warned her of the danger that some drunken, stoned fool at a party would become enraged, pull out a gun, and shoot her. We never saw that coming.

Teen substance abuse is not something to be tolerated or excused. It's not something to look the other way from. Teens and parents need to be made aware the danger is real! Teens drinking and using drugs cause more than 5000 deaths each year. People need to know!

Help us spread this message by donating to St. Jude through our fundraising page today, and by sharing this post and letting others know what we're doing. We may never stop teens completely from drinking and using drugs, but if we stop just one who would otherwise become a victim, our efforts will not be in vain! Please help 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.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Hope and Happiness

For the second year in a row, I was blessed to be voted to deliver the Baccalaureate sermon at Vilonia High School. I am extremely grateful to the Class of 2012 for giving me this honor.

Below is the text of the sermon I preached on the only source of true happiness in this life, the hope offered through faith in Jesus Christ.

Welcome, and congratulations ladies and gentlemen, for having reached the end of a 13 year journey. A journey that earned you the right to wear your cap and gown, to walk across the stage on Saturday, and to hang your high school diploma on the wall. It’s been an honor and a blessing to work for you and with you these past three years, and I will be forever grateful that you gave me this chance to bid you farewell.

The Class of 2012 will forever hold a special place in my heart. Though I only taught some of you, each of you have touched me in some way or another. Together we faced good times and bad times, fair weather and foul. We faced many challenges and changes here over the past three years--changes in schedules, faculty, and even administration, challenges from the tornadoes last year to the unexpected loss of loved ones. We faced these difficult times together, praying for, comforting, and supporting one another. Through the ups and the downs, the good times and bad, we became more than teacher and students. We became friends.

Six years ago I came to Vilonia, to teach school for the first time. Before that, 20 years of adventures molded me, taught me and changed me, but it took these past six to learn what I hope to leave you with tonight.

As you embark on this next leg of your journey through life, I want you to know what I didn’t know at your age. I want you to know the true source of happiness in life. I want you to know what it’s going to take for you to climb life’s hills and ford life’s rivers. I want you to know what makes the difference between those who fall and never rise and those who continue to climb to their feet and push on in the most dire of circumstances.

Most of you have a plan for your life once you leave Vilonia High School. Some of you plan to go to college, some to work, but most of you have an idea where you want to be in one year, five years, ten years or more. Some of you will follow that plan to the end. Others will encounter unforeseen obstacles and have to adjust, but still reach your planned destination. Still others will find themselves on a course completely different than that which you planned.

One thing you can be sure of though, whether you wind up in the first category, the last, or those in between, you will hit bumps along the road. No one, rich or poor, Christian or atheist, man or woman, will make it through this life without hard times. For some, the going will be tougher than for others, but all of us get bruised along the way. In John 16:33 Jesus says, "In this world, you will have trouble." He doesn’t say, "You will have trouble if…" He says you WILL have trouble.

You will face hard times in life. Making straight A’s won’t keep you from it. Doing good deeds won’t keep you from it. Going to college won’t keep you from it. Being a Christian won’t keep you from it. NOTHING will keep you from hitting the potholes of life’s roads. In this world you WILL face hard times.

My own years are marked by good times and bad, ups and downs, hills and valleys. Good health and death loved ones, money in the bank and not so much as two dimes to rub together, full cupboards and bare. Even in our time together I’ve experienced the lowest of lows and the highest of highs. You stood by me last year through my life’s most violent storm. Tonight I stand before you, with my youngest daughter among you, on one of my brightest days.

I am a blessed and happy man.

After all we’ve been through, many don’t understand. People tell me, "I couldn’t," or "I wouldn’t do what you do, or be where you are." They would understand if I completely collapsed, if I fell apart, if I crashed and burned. They tell me I’m strong…

They couldn’t be more wrong.

What you see, what you call strength, is not of me. Sixteen months ago I was in a tailspin, falling fast, void of any sign of strength, powerless, weak, despondent. I didn’t know what was right, wrong, best or worst. The toughest trial, the strongest storm of my life had descended upon me and I didn’t know if I would make it. I didn’t know if I could keep living, let alone keep teaching.

That’s when I realized I am not strong at all. I had spent my entire life trying to be strong, trying to appear strong. Most thought I was. I thought I was. I never asked for help, not from man, not even from God. I bulled my way through life’s highs and lows for more than 40 years. I had almost everyone fooled, even myself. Then came the hill I couldn’t climb. Instead I was falling, reaching, grasping for anything that might stop my descent.

God reached out and grabbed me. Jesus Christ reached down, grabbed me by the wrist and pulled me from my despair. He gave me hope, hope that all I’d lost I will have again, not in this life, not on this Earth, but after, in Heaven, what is now lost to me down here will be with me for eternity.

Hope.

You see, it’s easy to be happy when times are good, when your pockets are full, when you and your family are healthy, when the sun is shining. But if that’s all you have, it’s not enough. It won’t carry you up life’s steepest hills. It won’t quench your thirst in a drought, or make you full in a famine. Without hope, there is no peace and any happiness is only temporary, fleeting, waiting to vanish with the next strong wind.

The Good News is you can have that hope, and the peace it brings with it. That hope can be yours. It’s there for each and every one of you. Some already have it. Some of you don’t, but you know how to get it. Others may be wondering, "What in the world are you talking about?"

When I mentioned John 16:33 a minute ago, I didn’t quote the entire verse. I didn’t let you hear it all. What I left off, was the promise, the promise Jesus made that gets us down the roughest roads, the promise of hope, the promise that no matter how bad things get, they will get better. Maybe here, maybe not, but they will be better. The promise was this, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

Take heart! Have hope! And in that hope, you will find the peace that surpasses all understanding. The peace that lets you smile when times are tough because you know there’s a rainbow coming after the storm, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, there are better times ahead.

That hope, that peace doesn’t come from money, it doesn’t come from family and friends, and it doesn’t come from anything on this earth.

Throughout my life I’ve seen too many wealthy, powerful people fall too hard to believe there is enough money to buy happiness. I’ve seen family and friends destroy each other and wondered if they would even pick the flesh from their very bones. I’ve watched powerful people crash to the ground.

Sports stars, movie stars, popular musicians and powerful politicians so often seem to have it all—fame and fortune, everything most people think would make them happy. Still, one can’t turn on the news without seeing one or another of these embroiled in some scandal. They turn to drugs, affairs, or any of a dozen destructive behaviors that wreck their lives, bring them down. They go from riches to rags in the blink of an eye, from being adored to being despised.

Why? Why wasn’t all they had enough to satisfy? Better yet, after watching so many with so much, fall so fast and hard, why do so many still see fame and fortune as the key to happiness? Why do so many place their faith, hang their hope, on that which Jesus said “moths and vermin destroy.”

Follow their lead and you’ll follow their demise.

True happiness, the joy that makes us smile not only when the sun shines, but sustains us through the storms of this life, is available to each and every one of you. In Philippians 4:12, the apostle Paul said, "I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want."

That’s what I want for each and every one of you, to learn that secret of being content, to have the joy in your heart that keeps you going when others quit, that keeps you swimming when others drown, that keeps you climbing when others fall, that keeps you running when others faint.

Two thousand years ago, God sent His Son, Jesus Christ to Earth—to live, to teach, and to die. He became sin who knew no sin. He came to Earth, God in the form of man. He walked among man for more than 30 years, teaching, healing, and performing miracles so others would believe. Then He paid the ultimate price, a violent and painful death on the Cross, paying the price for all our sin so that we can have the promise of eternal life in Heaven, where "He shall wipe the tears from their eyes," where "there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain.” Jesus said, “Everyone who believes may have eternal life."

It’s okay to pursue your dreams. It’s okay to make money. Just be careful that you don’t hang all your hopes on things of this Earth, things that rust and decay, things that can be stolen or die. If you want to achieve real peace, real happiness, the joy that can sustain you through whatever life throws at you, seek Jesus Christ, and invite Him to reign in your life, study His word, and develop a relationship with Him.

I close tonight with verses 7—9 of Psalm 16, "7 I will praise the LORD, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. 8 I keep my eyes always on the LORD. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. 9 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure,"

Seek Jesus. Praise Him. Make Him Lord of your life. He will lead you, straighten your paths. Even as you sleep, He will guide you. Place your hope in Him and you will not be led astray, even when times are tough. That’s when you find true happiness, joy that isn’t there without that hope. That’s when you will shine with joy and have the peace that surpasses understanding.

My friends, as you leave from here, go with God. I wish you all the very best, and I pray you will seek Him who brings true happiness and the peace and joy to carry you through the good times and bad.
I am so fortunate that God and my students blessed me with the opportunity to preach this farewell sermon. Thank you all!



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, May 7, 2012

Training Journal 4/30 -- 5/6

Here we are! It's already May. Temps have been climbing to 90 or above already with the humidity making it feel like you're running through soup. Even before the sun comes up, the weather has been miserable for running. But God keeps giving me the strength to run, and the motivation, and the desire, and a purpose to run for. So on I go, mile after sultry mile, up and down the road, in the dark, four days a week, dreaming of September.

Ah September! When that first cool day breaks the months long string of heat and humidity! When that first cool snap breaks through the summer heat and your feet seem to take wings! It seems more like a Utopian dream now as I wring near gallons out of my shirt after each and every run, but one day it will arrive.

"3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope." -- Romans 5:3-4
For now though, we'll suffer and fight through the misery that summer brings to runners in the South. Hot or cold, wet or dry, we'll just keep running.

This weekend was the Toad Suck 10K, 6.2 miles of heat and humidity. I didn't PR, but did beat last year's time on the same course by 59 seconds. On a hot day in May with conditions about as unfavorable as they can be, I'll take that and be happy.

Training Week: Apr 30 - May 6

Monday6 miles
Tuesday6 miles
Wednesday0 miles
Thursday6 miles
Friday6 miles
Saturday6.2 miles
Sunday0 miles
Total30.2 miles

Folks really came through on our fundraising for Soaring Wings these past couple of weeks and we are very, very grateful. We're now within $150 of our 2012 fundraising goal for SWR, and it's only May! Thanks so much to all who donated and helped the kids at the ranch!

On the 19th of this month, less than two weeks away, we'll be running at the Joplin Memorial Half Marathon. The race was formally the Boomtown Half Marathon, renamed to honor the victims of last year's deadly tornadoes that ripped through the town.

While the proceeds from our entry fees and other monies collected by the race directors funds the recovery effort, we are still raising money for the three charities we support. This race we're dedicating to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

Our 2012 fundraising goal for St. Jude's is $3500. So far, we've raised $1051. Also, I'm registered for the St. Jude Memphis Marathon on December 1st as a fundraiser from the hospital. To meet our fundraising goal and the commitment I made to the hospital, we need to have raised $2500 by September. So the push begins now!

"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
If you can help us, please donate to St. Jude through our fundraising page today! We don't get a dime of your donation. Every penny goes to the kids at St. Jude. Please join us today in the fight against deadly childhood diseases!

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.