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

Saturday, January 5, 2013

This month will mark two years...

Day 5 of the Janathon challenge to work out every day and blog about it, so we'll get that out of the way. But keep reading because the real meat of this post won't be about today's workout...

I didn't double check, but I doubt the rules for Janathon will let me count any of the 950 miles I drove in the past 24 hours to get from Jacksonville, NC back to the house. Normally after that drive I would have just taken the day off. But on only day 5 of 31, I couldn't allow the challenge to overwhelm me.

Therefore, after a short nap, I changed out of my traveling clothes and into my running gear. No sun today. Overcast skies and 420 temps would accompany me on my 3 mile jaunt today. I didn't push too hard, averaging a 9:57 pace for the short run. But I got it in and didn't fall off the Janathon wagon.

Like I said, today's workout won't be the main focus of this post. It's much more important than that. Today I want to take us back to what brought Running with Amanda to life...the death of our daughter, Amanda Marie Allison.

A thousand mile road trip alone in the car gives the mind a lot of time to wander, to consider everything from where to stop next for gas to the purpose God keeps me upright and walking the earth.

Today is January 5th. That means in ten days, it will be exactly two years since Amanda was murdered, shot down at a party in cold blood. In two weeks, what should have been...would have been...her 20th birthday will be upon us.

Two years...

For quite a few miles on the highway, consideration of how to spend these two days dominated my thoughts. I don't drink and I don't use drugs, not even prescription drugs, so I won't be making my way into some oblivious state to avoid facing the memories and thoughts of what should be but never will. So, how to spend those days?

From the moment I knew she was killed, my biggest fear was that Amanda would be forgotten, that eventually her entire life would only be a memory locked into the deepest closets of the minds of those who knew her. From that instant, I wanted...needed find a way to keep her alive. I'll always believe that God gave me this ministry partly to do just that, to make sure her death wasn't for naught, to make sure she is remembered and to make sure some sort of good came from her death.
"making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil." -- Ephesians 5:16

So as sad as the 15th and the 19th of this month will be, reminders of the evil among us that marks our days, I need to use them as an opportunity to accomplish that, to honor her life and try to make something good come from her death.

And during that long drive, God gave me the to accomplish that.

Amanda was only four days from turning 18 on the night she was killed, a milestone by the standards of most, a milestone she never reached. The Amanda we'll remember for the rest of our days is the beautiful 17-year-old girl who was shot and killed by a drunken, stoned young man who became angry when she wouldn't have sex with him, pulled out a sawed-off shotgun, and ended her life in a thoughtless, heartless instant.

This year, she would have turned 20 on her birthday, another milestone she'll never reach. We can only imagine what she would be doing if she were still alive. We were robbed of seeing what she would have achieved, what she would have become. That drunken, stoned teenager who killed her created a void in our lives that can never be filled, a void now only occupied by vapors of visions our imagination conjures as we grieve.

Two days that remind us of just how evil are the days on this earth. Two days that I need to somehow use to bring about good in Amanda's name. How to do that?

Again, God provided the answer as I cruised through North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, and finally into Arkansas this morning.

On the 15th of this month, the second anniversary of Amanda's murder, I will rise early and knock out 17 miles before work. One mile for each of the years she completed before she was taken from this earth. Then, four days later, on the 19th, what would have been her 20th birthday, I'll run another 20 miles, one for each of the years she should have completed on this earth.

That's what I feel God has tasked me with, two days of running, four days apart, two long runs totaling 37 miles, each a distance that carries a significance to help us communicate the message that teen substance abuse kills and the message that Jesus Christ offers life that cannot be taken!
" After that [when Jesus returns], we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them [those who've died in Christ] in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever." -- 1 Thessalonians 4:17

That message, that yes, Amanda's no longer with us on this earth, but we'll spend eternity with her in Heaven, is what keeps me going. The hope that only comes from the promise of Jesus Christ that we'll be together again, with Him forever and ever is what makes all the worries of this life tolerable.

And that's what Jesus Christ has tasked us with, telling Amanda's story to prevent other such needless deaths, and telling His story, the Gospel, so others can have the same hope and peace that we do, the hope and peace that only comes from knowing Jesus Christ as one's Lord and Savior.

So on the anniversary of Amanda's death, and on her birthday, I'll be running long, tribute runs at distances that help tell the story of her death and of the life we'll spend together for eternity!

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

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