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

Friday, May 31, 2013

Daily Message: Colossians 2:6-7

I needed today's passage this morning on my run. For the past two months, I've run less than I have in the past two years. That's mainly because I went through the Insanity workout program and just didn't have much left for running after 40 minutes to an hour sweating with Shaun T.

Both yesterday and today, things got ugly on what should be routine 6 mile runs. But both days, the humidity was 89% when I started and the temperature in the mid 70s. Now that I'm finished with Insanity, I'm trying to rebuild my base mileage and get back to an average of 40 miles per week, but this is a tough time of year to ramp up weekly miles quickly.

I managed to get through the first 3 miles this morning without stopping, and a relatively decent pace. It went south after that though. It was walk/run the rest of the way in and it took me an hour and 9 minutes to finish the 6 mile route. That's the longest it's taken me to finish 6 miles in a really long time.
" 6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness." ~ Colossians 2:6-7

It's times like these when it's easy to get discouraged, and to just quit. But these verses in Paul's letter remind me that even when things don't go our way, we still have much to be thankful for. The same Jesus Christ, Savior, and Lord who died so that we might have eternal life in Heaven with Him is our source of strength to get us through these tough times.

So today, even though the run looks pitiful when you see the time and the pace, I am "overflowing with thankfulness" that He gave me the strength to persevere, to finish when I wanted to quit.


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, May 30, 2013

Summer's Here!

Summer break is something most all teachers long for, maybe even live for. But not everything's great about summer, especially for us runners. That said, a few other things might be making the start of this summer even tougher on me for running.

First, doing Insanity the past two months has really lowered the number of miles I've run. I went from running 150+ miles per month before Insanity to barely over half that for the month of April. Now cross country practice has started and I've got to get my base mileage back up if I'm going to keep up. I'm off to a good start this week with over 25 miles in the first 4 days, but it's really kicking my tail too. Today was a 6 mile run with the cross country team and it was tough!

The second thing I think may be cramping my running is that I've cut back on what I eat the past few days. I was hoping the Insanity would help me drop a few pounds, but that didn't happen. Just like when I run a lot, the more I worked out, the more I craved food, and the more I ate. Throughout the program, I managed to maintain my weight, and felt like I was getting in better shape. But I didn't drop any weight. Then, the week after I finished the program, I just kept eating and ended up tipping the scale at 231 a few days ago, about 6 pounds more than when I started Insanity. I decided it was time to turn that around.

So early this week, I decided to drastically reduce my calorie intake. For losing weight, the plan is working as hoped. But for running well, the reduced fuel intake is resulting in a reduced energy level. I'm going to try and keep it up. So far this week, I've lost 4 pounds with increased running and decreased calorie intake.

The summer heat always reduces my running performance, every summer. Arkansas heat and humidity just pretty much sap me every year. But the reduced running the past couple months and the reduced fuel intake the past few days seem to be making this summer even more difficult to get acclimated.
" 5 Then the Lord will create over all of Mount Zion and over those who assemble there a cloud of smoke by day and a glow of flaming fire by night; over everything the glory will be a canopy. 6 It will be a shelter and shade from the heat of the day, and a refuge and hiding place from the storm and rain." -- Isaiah 4:5-6

But every year, even through the hottest months, the Good Lord has kept me running. And I have no doubt He will get me through this tough stretch this year too. Before long, God willing, I'll have my mileage base back up where it should be, my body will learn to deal with the reduced calorie intake, and I'll get acclimated to the increased heat and humidity.

I've just got to keep pushing, believing, trusting that Jesus Christ can get me through these tough days. He always has, and I am sure He always will. So I'll keep running and I'll let you know how it goes.


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.

Daily Message: Colossians 1:21-22

Summer break is finally here, a day all teachers long for for weeks, or even months. During the break, I've decided to try something a little different here. Starting today, I'm going to try to post a Bible verse or passage and give a short message, what God says to me through the passage, daily. I'm sure there will be days I miss, especially a few traveling days, but I'll keep up the best I can. So here's today's passage:
" 21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation" -- Colossians 1:21-22

I know without a doubt, I spent most of my life alienated from God. Though I knew right from wrong, I chose wrong because it seemed the more "fun" thing to do at the time. I thought I'd be missing out. I didn't think life could be enjoyable unless I was out raising Cain. How wrong I was!

I'm still not perfect. The old me still rears its head every once in a while, but I am so thankful God never gave up on me. I'm so grateful He reached down and welcomed me, sin stains and all, when I finally handed the reins over to Him. Nothing can compare to the peace that knowing Jesus Christ gives me.

And you know what? Life is even MORE fun than it was before. I enjoy life more with Jesus Christ than I ever did with all those vices I thought would bring happiness. The best part is knowing that now, no matter what Satan throws at me, I can handle it because I have Jesus' promise of eternal life when this is all over.


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 27, 2013

Cabot Country Cruisers' Memorial Day Run

What a great day! My main goal was to find a way to honor the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines who have fallen in service to this great nation.

Thank God our local running club, the Cabot Country Cruisers, is made up of dozens of members who felt the same way. Every year they hold a Memorial Day Run made up of an out and back run beginning at Southside Elementary in Cabot with the turnaround at the city's Veterans Memorial. Today was my third consecutive Memorial Day Run with the Cruisers, and I hope to continue that streak as long as possible.

This year I took the 3 x 5 foot US flag that normally flies at our house and carried it with me on the run. All told, I ran and walked 5.75 miles with the flag. There were two other friends carrying large flags, and dozens of others carrying smaller flags. It was a procession with an objective made obvious by the red, white, and blue banners held with pride by so many runners. Several cars passing blew their horns to note their approval. One motorcyle turned off his bike as we passed by the intersection he was stopped at. It's nice to live in a town where so many still know and acknowledge the real reason our country remains free.

"Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends." -- John 15:13

So today it was my pleasure to run with the flag in honor of the brave men and women, without whom, we would not, we could not have the liberty and opportunities we are blessed with today. That liberty and those opportunities were purchased with the blood of the American fighting men and women for whom this day is set aside. May God continue to bless this nation, and may we always remember those who gave all so that we can enjoy life as an American.

Below are several pictures from today's run.











Thank you Jesus for the sacrifice you made so that we might be free, and thank you Jesus for passing that same spirit on to the Americans who have fought and died, to those who served knowing they may well fight and die, and for those who continue to serve, placing their lives on the line to guarantee the freedoms we enjoy.


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 26, 2013

Cabot Cruisers' Memorial Day Run Tomorrow

It amazes me how many people either forget or just don't know what Memorial Day is really all about. Most recognize it as the unofficial start of summer, a 3-day weekend, a time for backyard barbeques, but many have no idea it's a day set aside to honor our fallen soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines. I know this because I ask my students every year if they know what this day really means. Most can't tell me.

I'm not one to play movies in the classroom, but I used to play two a year. One of these was We Were Soldiers, the day before Memorial Day weekend. I'm not allowed to play movies in the classroom anymore, but I didn't mind showing the kids this movie. Though it didn't have anything to do with the math I teach, it taught the kids what our servicemen sacrifice so the rest of us can exercise the freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution.
"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

Some way, somehow, I strive to find a way to honor the men and women who gave their lives so the rest of us can be free. Two years ago, I saw a post on Facebook that a local running club, the Cabot Country Cruisers, was going to run to the city's Veterans Memorial on this holiday to honor all those fallen vets. That year, 30 - 40 of us made the run. That was the first time I ever ran with the Cruisers, and I'll never forget it.



Last year, we had over 70 participate in the Memorial Day Run (pictured above), and this year, we're doing it again. We'll meet at Southside Elementary in Cabot at 8:00 AM, take a photo, then run/walk/ride to the Veteran's Memorial approximately 3 miles away. It doesn't matter how fast or slow you are, there will be others going at your pace. We'll have participants who are really fast, really slow, and everywhere in between. The leaders will turn back several times so we don't get too stretched out. When we get to the high school, all participants will wait for the rest to catch up and we will cross the street to enter the Memorial as one large group.

Once there, we'll gather at the Memorial for another photo, say a prayer, then break into smaller groups to make our way back to the vehicles. Some will take alternate routes back to add miles, others will go back the way we came. This event is open to anyone and everyone. It's a great way to honor our fallen veterans and remind people what this holiday is all about.

I thank God for the men and women willing to sacrifice everything, even up to and including their own lives so the rest of us can live free and in peace. That's why this weekend, I'll do what little I can to remember them and to honor them. I hope you will join us tomorrow, here or wherever you are, and honor them however you can.


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

Race Recap: Rock Run 8K

It was my first ever 8K race, 5 miles along the Arkansas River Trail, and part of the Arkansas RRCA Grand Prix Series. The weather was awesome for this time of year in Arkansas and the Good Lord blessed me with a great race at the Rock Run 8K yesterday.

I normally drive myself to races, but this time rode with two friends whom I normally run with on Tuesdays and Thursdays. We arrived about 45 minutes before the race to pick up our packet, which consisted of a timing chip and race t-shirt. The fact there wasn't much in the packet doesn't bother me at all. In fact, most of the time, everything I get in a goody bag gets thrown away except for the t-shirt and timing chip. So we headed back to the vehicle to tie on our chips.

The lines were long for the restrooms near the start line, so we trotted off for a little warm up jog to a more distant bathroom. I don't usually do much warming up before a race, because it messed me up in 2012 at a 15K. That day I ran about 3/4 of a mile before the race with the idea I'd have an even 10 miles in when I finished. Well I was good and warmed up for the start, too good and warmed up. I started out too fast and crashed with about 5 miles to go. But today was different. We probably jogged about 3/4 of a mile before the start, but I still had a good race.
"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." -- Jeremiah 29:11

I started with a plan to run the first mile at a 9 minute pace and see how I felt. From there I'd decide to pick it up or stay with that pace. As usual, the plan lasted until I crossed the start line. A few steps after I pushed the start button on my Garmin, it told me I was holding a 10:40 pace. But not long after that, I looked and saw we were clipping along at just over an 8 minute pace. I settled into what felt comfortable and finished the first mile in 7:51.

Not exactly what I'd planned, but I felt pretty good still. I was under no illusions that I'd be able to hold that pace the entire 5 miles, but decided on an approach for the rest of the race that still seemed pretty ambitious for me. My revised plan called for me to slow down for mile 2 and each mile thereafter, but I was going to see if I could step each mile down by only 5 seconds.

The new plan worked well for mile 2, though I did have to push a little harder toward the end to make it happen. There wasn't much uphill on the course, but the first of it was the last little bit of mile 2. The only water stop on the course was also just a bit before the 2 mile marker, but I passed it by to try and maintain my pace. All was going well as I passed the 2 mile mark at 7:56.

I began to tire a little in the 3rd mile and began to wonder if I hadn't really messed things up by starting out too fast. My target pace for this mile was an 8:01, but I missed it. I finished mile 3 in 8:03, 7 seconds longer than the previous mile. Still not far off, but I knew now that the spread between each mile would grow even more from this point on. Still, there were only 2 miles to go before the finish, so I knew I could still push and hopefully finish with a decent time.

We made the turnaround just past mile 3 and headed back toward the finish. Less than 2 miles to go and I was still pushing. This time it would be uphill to finish out mile 4 and it slowed me a little more than it did on the way out. I lost 12 seconds on my pace from miles 3 to 4, finishing the 4th mile in 8:15.

This time, I didn't pass the water stop. I grabbed the cup and slowed to a walk as I consumed the H2O. After walking about 20 yards, I tossed the cup aside and told myself we had less than a mile to go. I stepped off headed toward the finish. Several times I thought about stopping to walk, but that's as far as it went, just thinking about it. With about 3/4 of a mile to go, I reverted to the strategy I use on the River Trail portion of the Little Rock Marathon, trying to make it from power pole to power pole. I don't know how far apart they were, but breaking the distance up into manageable goals kept me going. When the finish line came into view, there were 3 of those poles between me and it. I kept going.

When I got close enough that the clock was in focus, it looked like I might be able to break 40:30. I didn't try to sprint the last bit though, not after injuring my knee doing that a couple of years ago at a 5K. I just maintained my pace and crossed the line. Didn't make the 40:30, but did manage to finish in 40:33. It might seem slow to some, but it's fast enough for me.
"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 am so thankful that Jesus Christ has given me this gift, this ability to run. I have met so many great people and it gives me so many opportunities to share my faith and Amanda's story. Today He blessed me with a great race in great weather with wonderful people. I will continue to run, for His glory, not mine. I know, without His blessing, His mercy, and His grace, I couldn't run one step, not one mile, not one race.


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, May 23, 2013

Rock Run 8K This Saturday!

I just registered for the Rock Run 8K this weekend, so Running with Amanda will be at Murray Park in Little Rock, AR this Saturday.

The race benefits Easter Seals. Starting at the pavilions in Murray Park, the course runs along the River Trail past the Big Dam Bridge. It's an out-and-back course that with the turnaround at the traffic circle between the Big Dam Bridge and the Two Rivers Bridge. This race is also one on the schedule for the Arkansas RRCA's Grand Prix series. With good weather, this should be a good course to get a great time.
"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 am so grateful to be done with the Insanity program, now it's time to run! Ready to be out there again, raising awareness of the dangers of teen substance abuse and reminding people that only Jesus Christ offers the peace and comfort that can get you through anything and the promise of eternal life.


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.

Back on the Road!

From the dearth of posts I've made on this blog recently, you might have inferred that I haven't been putting in the usual miles. That's partly because I took up the Insanity fitness program at the end of March, and I've finally reached the end this week! And that means I can finally get back on the road.

It's great timing too because our school's cross country team started practice yesterday. Back to running with the kids and I absolutely LOVE it! We have kids at all ability levels--seasoned runners to those who struggle to run a whole 400 meters without stopping to walk. Yesterday about 60 kids showed up for the first practice, and at least 10 weren't there due to schedule conflicts. That's a huge turnout and I can't wait to see these kids grow!
" 7 In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness 8 and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us." -- Titus 2:7-8

The thing I love most about teaching is the opportunity it provides to influence young people. But as a high school math teacher, I rarely have an opportunity to work with kids younger than 10th grade. Helping with the cross country team gives me an opportunity to work with students as young as going into the 7th grade.

Developing those relationships and getting to know those kids over several years makes my job as a math teacher much easier. It also gives me the chance to have an even bigger impact on them.

So I'll keep running, keep racing, and keep working with these great kids. (And I should be posting more in the coming weeks as well.)


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 20, 2013

Prayers for the Victims in Oklahoma

Tragic. That's the best word I can find to describe the devastation caused by tornadoes in Moore, Oklahoma. The destruction is otherwise indescribable. We are praying for all those who lost property and loved ones, but especially for those who lost children.

I've already noticed people questioning, directly and indirectly, why God would do such a thing, or allow it to happen. With so much damage and dozens of lives lost, even dozens of kids' lives snuffed out, folks around the country are asking these questions, lots of folks. A lot of people who have never experienced this kind of tragedy, people who can't imagine how bad these people are hurting, are asking these questions. But grieving parents know. Because on an individual basis, our loss was as devastating as these tornadoes.

I can't explain why something like this occurs, what God's role is in it, or why He allows such events to take place, but I can empathize with the victims. No. I wasn't a victim of a tornado, but I'd gladly sacrifice every material thing we own to have my daughter back. And that's the thing for the victims in Oklahoma. For those who lost children, that's all that will matter. The material losses won't mean a thing. I can't explain God's mind or His motive, but I can tell folks what I, as a grieving parent believe.

First, I'm not convinced that God "did" this. I can say that because I believe that Satan walks this earth and does everything he can to turn us from God, to lead us away to do his bidding. He will do ANYTHING to tempt us to challenge God, to deny God, and to hate God.
"Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." -- 1 Peter 5:8

The news is now reporting at least 24 kids were consumed inside their elementary school when it suffered a direct hit. That means 24 new sets of grieving parents are facing a life of questions. Who would they have married? What would their kids be like? What would they do for a living? What would they accomplish? It's an infinite string of questions that pop up constantly, and will for the rest of our lives. Evil. That's what the death of so many kids is, just pure evil. But I believe God is incapable of evil, that Satan is responsible for every evil act on the face of the earth, each one an act attempting to turn us away from God.
"When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;" -- James 1:13

As for words of comfort, the only words that comforted me after losing Amanda came directly from the Word of God. Several verses gave me the hope and strength to go on. These verses showed me that none of us are promised an easy time here, none of us are promised fairness on earth. Christians and non-Christians alike are going to experience loss as long as we live on this planet. But those who place their faith and trust in Jesus Christ can know that He died so that we might live, so that whatever we lose down here we'll gain that and more when our time here is over.
"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

The very best part is that, once you place your faith in Jesus Christ, you can rest assured that you can and will see our children again. The time we'll spend with them when we go will be forever, so much longer than the limited time we'd have spent with them here, even if they weren't taken too soon. This was one of the questions I had immediately after Amanda was killed. I had heard my entire life that we would join our loved ones again, but I had never read it in the Bible. I'd never seen it in black and white.
" 13 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. 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." -- 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17

Nothing will make the pain go away. I tell people the pain from losing Amanda will never go away, never diminish. It's simply a pain that I have to get used to. I have to go on living, until the Good Lord calls me home. The pain will always be there. Always. But I know one day I will see her again, and I'll spend eternity with her in a place where there is no pain and no tears.

To the victims of these violent storms, I cannot fix what is broken. I cannot replace what is lost. But I can and will pray that God will give you all peace and strength in time.


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 15, 2013

Not quite to the light at the end of the tunnel...but almost

Yesterday I posted about seeing the light at the end of the tunnel for the school year. The days are passing quickly now and only have what's left of this week and two more to go before school's out for summer! With Memorial Day and semester tests, we're looking at less than 10 school days to go, about 14 days total and this year will be in the books.

But what's insane, is that I don't quite have that same feeling about something that's ending even sooner, like 9 days from today. As of today, I am 8 workouts, 9 days, away from completing the Insanity workout program! I'm that close to finishing the 60-day (actually 9 weeks) program in just 9 more days, fewer than the number of school days we have left. Still...even though I feel like I see the light at the end of the tunnel for the school year, 9 days still seems like an eternity to get to the end of this workout program.
"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." -- Galatians 6:9

Still, I'm close enough now that I know I'm going to finish, and I am SO ready to be finished. This morning I woke up late, and I blame the intensity of these crazy insane workouts in the program. It's already a busy time of year for us, winding down and trying to keep all the students engaged in the classroom on top of the ceremonies and banquets and seeming celebrations of all sorts happening almost every evening. I've just got to hang on 9 more days!

It's tough though, to keep going I mean. I can't tell you how many times I considered quitting over these past two months, but it's been several. Especially after the first month.

For the first four weeks, I thought I was doing pretty well. The first couple of days were horrible, nearly killed me. But after that, things seemed to get a little easier. The workouts averaged about 40 minutes. I was getting used to the routines. My muscles (that I evidently never used running) were adapting to the torture, and I began to feel good. Really good.

Week five was a recovery week. It was the same video, the same routine every day for six straight days. That became a little monotonous, but I was still feeling great! By the time the 5th week was over, I was beginning to think this wasn't so tough after all. But I'd soon learn different.

I was warned that month two was what I needed to be wary of, but I still had no idea what awaited me. When I looked at the workout schedule for day one, week six, it didn't worry me too much when I saw Shaun T had planned two workouts that day for me, the Fitness Test and the Max Interval Circuit.

I finished the Fitness Test pretty pleased with my progress, but pretty much exhausted that day. When I popped in video #2 afterwards, I nearly quit as soon as I saw the countdown clock reading 59 minutes and change. 59 MINUTES! After the Fitness Test? It didn't seem humanly possible. But I struggled through it and, by the Grace of God, survived.

And month two hasn't gotten any easier, not at all. The workouts for these days average around 55 minutes and that extra 15 minutes makes a huge difference. With all my other commitments, it's usually been around 9 or 10 o'clock in the evening when I do the workouts, so I haven't been getting to bed much before midnight on good days. On top of that, I've tried to get my miles back up a little (anticipating the end of this Insane regimen), waking at 4 AM.

Taking all that into perspective, 9 days still seem like an eternity. Eight more workouts still looks daunting. And the light at the end of the tunnel doesn't yet seem visible. But it's there. I know it's there.

So I'm going to try and finish strong. Going to try and make all the workouts and close the book on Insanity feeling good and thanking God. No light yet, but surely it's just around the bend.



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 14, 2013

Light at the end of the tunnel

There are only a few days of school left until summer! These are the days that convince me year-round school would be a terrible idea. It's not that the kids are horrible. They're just ready to be done. When the weather turns warm and days get longer, it's just super tough to keep kids on task.

But today, some of my kids told me they only have 5 days left...only 5 days. The kids who have missed more than 2 days will have a few more than that, but only a few. So I just have to keep the energy level up for another few days. This week, I've been totally exhausted when the day ended. But I just have to keep it up for another few days.
" 23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving." -- Colossians 3:23-24

This last month is even crazier because of all the extra stuff going on. Sports tournaments, award ceremonies, banquets, baccalaureate, graduation and other events keep us busy and on the go constantly. But it's all worth it. Working with kids is the most rewarding work I've ever done.

So even though it's tough and exhausting as we come into the home stretch, I'll keep going, working to try to get the kids to learn something every day. They're worth it, and there's light at the end of this tunnel.


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 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day

I want to wish all the wonderful Moms out there a Happy Mother's Day, especially the Angel Moms. If you know a mother who lost a child, please say a prayer that God will grant them peace and strength, if not today, then in time. Though many are blessed with other children and family, the loss of a child leaves a hole in the heart that can't be filled. It doesn't matter how good anything (or everything) else is, thoughts this day can't help but drift to what could have been, what should have been, and what will never be.
It's Mother's Day today.
Yes, it came again.
Once more this holiday,
Wasn't what it should have been.

Certainly we're blessed,
Of that there is no doubt.
But for all we have today,
So much we did without.

I'll never know just why
Things have to be this way.
They're just the way they are.
With that I have to be okay.

I've given up on changing things,
Though I tried so hard, so long.
It's time to accept the fact,
Sometimes things just stay wrong.

It's an imperfect world.
This I always knew.
I just never fathomed
How cold the cold winds blew.

But I'll keep moving forward,
Righting what I can.
But I have to leave behind me
The stubborn wrongs that stand.

Yes, it's Mother's Day again.
With blessings all around.
But I just can't help but notice
What should be that can't be found.
So say a prayer for the Angel Mom's you know, or even those you don't. They need it today.


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 8, 2013

The End Draws Near...

This week has been one of bittersweet days in the life of a high school teacher. Each day, starting Monday, is or was the last day for graduating seniors at Vilonia High School. I say bittersweet because some of these kids you hate to see go, while some leave you breathing a sigh of relief.

On my desk is a stack of graduation invitations, senior pictures, thank you cards, and even letters from those finishing their secondary school careers. These gifts, mementos, and notes really make a teacher feel appreciated and remind us why we come back, year-after-year. These are the kids who make teachers believe they make a difference, that time spent teaching is not wasted. These are the kids who make all the aggravation and frustration endured throughout the year worth every second.

And even though I'll be a little relieved when some others are finished, I'll miss them a little too. It's not that they're horrible kids, they're just not much interested in school, especially not in their last few days. And even though school's almost out for all of us, we still have to teach and try to get them to learn something.
"Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it." -- Proverbs 22:6

But now we have to hope and pray and trust we've done all we can to teach them what they need to know. All these seniors are leaving the nest, flying off into a big and dangerous world. I must say I'm blessed to see so many who graduated before doing well. Just today, I learned a former student was just accepted into the dental hygienist program at the University of Arkansas Medical Sciences. Several kids I taught graduated college this month. And I've been blessed the past couple of weeks to see many former students making spiritual turns in the right direction too!
"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." -- Galatians 6:9

So even though we worry about the ones who don't seem to have it all together, even though we shake our heads and think there's no way some of them will make it, we can look at the others and have faith that in God's perfect timing, the seeds we've planted will sprout.

I will definitely miss these kids who are moving on, but when you take it all in, this is an awesome part of being a teacher. I pray that God will watch over ALL these graduating seniors, keep them, protect them, and steer them in the right direction.


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 7, 2013

Let Reality Be Better Than Any Dream -- VHS Baccalaureate 2013

For the third consecutive year, I was blessed and honored to be selected to deliver the Baccalaureate address to the Vilonia High School graduating class. Last year, and this year too, I worried about coming up with something original to say. The last thing I want to do is rehash what I said the year before. But God is faithful and once again provided me with a fresh message for this year's graduating seniors. The text of the address follows.


Let Reality Be Better Than Any Dream

I remember…

I remember when I was your age. I remember graduation approaching. I remember I couldn’t wait to get out of school and out into the world. I remember feeling like I was caged, like the moment I’d throw that cap into the air I’d be freed, like a bird from its cage.

I remember I had a plan. I knew exactly what I was going to do. I was going to college, major in Business, become a stock broker, and be a millionaire before I was 30.

When I got out of that cage, nothing was going to hold me back. I was going to set the world on fire. I was going to do everything I’d ever wanted to do. I was going to have everything I’d ever wanted, and I was going to be everything I’d ever dreamed…

Dreams…

I had them. You have them.

I know because I’ve listened to many of you expound upon them. Some are simple, others complex. Some are big and others small. Some of you don’t have a clue how you’ll accomplish those dreams, and some have a plan so detailed you know where you’ll be practically every day for the next 10 years.

You dream of the perfect family, the perfect career, the perfect life.

Here’s the part where I guess I’m supposed to fill your head with rainbows and lollipops, tell you the world is your oyster, just waiting to hand over its pearl, that the accomplishment of your dreams lies at your fingertips, that they will all come true and the life you have planned is your destiny. But I can’t tell you that. Instead, I’m going to tell you about reality. I’m going to tell you how to make certain reality turns out better than your dreams.

I chased…

I chased those dreams. I set out to make them all come true. But the dreams I dreamed as an 18-year-old did not come true. I didn’t get a degree in Business. I didn’t become a stock broker. I didn’t become a millionaire.

Still, I kept chasing those dreams, altering the plan when things didn’t work out, but pursuing pretty much the same goals. Some times were better than others. Some things worked out well and others not so well. At times I was successful, and at times I failed. But the reality I now enjoy is nothing even close to that of which I dreamed at your age. It’s better! So much better!

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dream. Those of you who know me, I’ve told you to pursue your dreams. Some of you will live out the life you have planned exactly – the college you want to attend, the career you want, your high school sweetheart your life-long spouse, the kids, the house, the cars, and on and on and on and on. Everything will work out just as you’ve planned. And you might find happiness in that…MIGHT.

I know people who appear to have everything anyone could want, but they’re not happy. Just the other day a young lady told me she wasn’t sure what she wanted to do. She’d always wanted to be rich, but now she wasn’t so sure anymore. She said her mom and dad both have really good jobs, but they hate them. They stay because they make good money, but they HATE their jobs.

You see, even if your dreams become reality, the reality is not always as great as you anticipate.

Some of you, like in my case, your dreams you dream may never come true. Your college plans, your career plans, your marriage plans will all fall through. A young man called me a couple of months ago, a young man whose college and career plans didn’t work out. He is nowhere near where he wanted to be. Smart and talented, he started college but his train derailed and now he’s trying to get back on track. I talked to a young lady a few days ago and asked how her boyfriend was. She just shook her head and said, “I don’t know.” When they were here, they seemed the perfect couple. They were engaged and everyone believed they would spend the rest of their lives together. But he broke up with her. Dreams don’t always come true.

Right now you’re wondering, “Why in the world did we choose him to speak today?” I mean, so far, this has been a not-so-inspiring message, even a depressing message.

But, like Brother Ken says, that’s just the introduction.

You see, the message I’m bringing you today isn’t one of hopelessness and broken dreams. I’m not here to tell you there’s no point in dreaming or there’s no chance of success.

I told you all this, and I’m here to tell you even more, more about a path to overcome whatever bad befalls you on this earth. If you take this message to heart, it won’t matter if your dreams come true. It won’t matter if that girl or boy you love breaks up with you, if you don’t end up with the career you always wanted. IT.WON’T.MATTER!

I’m here to tell you that I’m more content than I ever thought I could be. I’m here to tell you that I love and I’m more loved than I ever thought possible. I’m here to tell you that my reality is so much better than the dreams I dreamed when I was where you are!

That’s right! Reality, right now for me, is better than my dreams! And it can be for you…if you let it. If you listen to what I’m going to tell you, if you take it to heart, and if you put it into practice, your reality will be better than your dreams!

So dream, and dream big. It doesn’t matter how big you dream, there’s a reality waiting for you, too, that’s bigger and better than anything you can imagine. What it took so long for me to learn, and what I hope you learn a lot sooner, is the key to that reality lies within reach of every single one of you. It’s lying there, within reach, waiting to be picked up.

Just waiting.

Some of you already have the key, you found it and you picked it up and now you’re living that reality better than any dream. Some of you have seen that key, had opportunities to pick it up, but for some reason or another, you passed it by. Then some of you may have never had a chance at the key, maybe never even heard that such a reality exists…a reality better than your dreams.

Today, I want to make certain that everyone of you leave here knowing that such a reality exists, that it is available to anyone willing to pick up that key, and that once you find it, once it’s yours, once you’ve reached that point where reality is better than your dreams, you have to share it.

Those are the things I want you to leave knowing today.

The key of which I speak, the key to a reality better than the best of dreams, that key hung on a cross some 2000 years ago. The One True God, Our Father in Heaven, sent His only begotten Son to earth, sent Him to live as a man, to die as a man, and to rise so that we need not fear death ever again!

So many in our society today don’t accept this gift, won’t pick up that key. They refuse to believe in the One true path to a reality better than their dreams. And they are miserable.

Watch the news, read the papers, listen to conversations at school, at work, at a restaurant, or even at Wal Mart. Sometimes, it seems like all we see, read, or hear is of evil, suffering, pain, and misery. Sometimes, it’s hard to notice the good in the world for all the bad that stands out. The truth is there is evil out there. There are plenty of people suffering. Plenty of people in pain, and plenty of people who are simply miserable with the life they lead.

Does anyone believe that these people, when they were young, when they were your age, dreamed of being miserable? Of course not! Nobody dreams of being miserable. They had the same dreams you do, dreams of fame and fortune, great accomplishments, great jobs, great families…happiness. But instead they found misery. And my message to you here tonight is they don’t have to be miserable! They don’t have to stay miserable. That their reality can be better than their dreams, as can yours!

We live in a world where many, if not most, want to deny you of the key that will unlock the door to a life of peace and joy. Today, in movies and in music, on television, in newspapers, and magazines, in colleges and even high schools across the country, and even among many elected and appointed public servants, there is an all-out offensive mounted to convince you that the message you’ll hear tonight is a lie. They want you to believe there is no God and no Jesus Christ and no eternal life. They want you to believe this life is all there is, that your dreams are all you have and all you need.

They would have you think that to believe in Jesus Christ, to follow His example, to do His will, makes you a hate-filled, judgmental bigot. They want you to believe that the only perfect man to ever walk the earth, the only man who lived a life without sin, the man who told us the greatest commandment is to love God and the second greatest is to love our neighbor, they want you to believe the Son of God, Jesus Christ, was some sort of hate-filled historic figure who sought to condemn us and deprive us of what will make us happy.

But they’re miserable. And those who believe them are miserable. Just look around and you will see these are the people you read about, you see, and you hear describing their miserable state of existence…because they refuse to believe they could be satisfied with the One true source of peace and joy.

You see…the people who point their fingers and scream the loudest that we are the liars, we who proclaim Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior, they are the ones who would convince you of a lie.
"For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. " ~ John 3:17

The world, our society today, would have you believe the opposite, that Jesus Christ did come to condemn. But no, He came to save. He came to save you, to save me, to save anyone and everyone who will call upon His name, who will take up His cross, who trusts Him as Savior and Lord.

Not to condemn. To save.

For so many years, I believed the lies. I thought living life for Jesus Christ meant a life deprived of happiness and joy. I chased MY dreams, but regardless how much money I made, regardless how respected I was among men, regardless how well things went, I could not be happy. I could not be satisfied. I had no joy and I had no peace.

I was so wrong, and it took me so long to realize it. I searched for peace and happiness in so many other places for a long time, to no avail. But I finally found that peace and joy don’t come from money, from possessions, or even from friends or family. I finally learned that even if I had all those things, I still needed more to be content.

Blaise Pascal may have put it best when he said, “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man, which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.” That’s what it took me so long to learn, and one thing I hope you leave here knowing tonight. The filling of that vacuum with a relationship with Jesus Christ is the path to true peace, to true joy, and to a reality that’s better than any dream.

The second thing I want you to leave here with tonight is to know that such a reality is available to everyone—to you, to me, to your friends, your family, to anyone and everyone who is willing to acknowledge Jesus Christ as the Son of God, who came to live, suffer, and die, so that we all might have eternal life!
"for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”" ~ Romans 10:13

5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all people… ~ 1 Timothy 2:5-6

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. ~ 2 Peter 3:9

There may be some of you here tonight who believe Jesus Christ doesn’t want you. You may believe you’re not good enough, you’ve done too many bad things. But the Bible says He gave Himself “as a ransom for ALL people.” It didn’t say for ALL “good” people. It doesn’t say for all “righteous” people. The Bible doesn’t define a level of good that’s “good enough” for God, a threshold below which all others are turned away.

No. It says He doesn’t want ANYONE to perish. Not you. Not me. Not the good. Not the bad. Neither the righteous, nor the heinous. Jesus Christ wants us ALL to turn to Him, to come to Him, to follow Him!

When the Pharisees asked Jesus why He dined with sinners and tax collectors, He let them know there was nobody so bad that He didn’t want them. Jesus Christ made it clear that He wants us all, the best and the worst of us, to turn and follow Him.
" 31 Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”" ~ Luke 5:31-32

The apostle Paul, who wrote much of the New Testament, was the worst of the worst. He persecuted Christians. In Acts, Chapter 8, we’re told that He tried to destroy the church, dragging believers out of their homes and into prison. In Acts, Chapter 9, the Bible tells us He was “breathing murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples.” But on the road to Damascus, with Paul en route searching for more believers to destroy, Jesus Christ reached down and said I can use even you, the worst of all sinners. Not the healthy, but the sick. Not the saints, but the sinners. You can’t be bad enough that Jesus doesn’t want you! He wants us all!

If you can wrap your mind around that, if you can give in and give Him control, if you can accept Him as your Lord and Savior, I can’t promise you a life filled with rainbows and lollipops, or a life without pain and worry, but I can promise that you can have a joy and a peace that those who don’t know Jesus Christ can never know!

After His conversion, Paul became the greatest evagelist the world has ever known, spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the known world. In doing so, the persecutor became the persecuted. The predator became the prey. He was beaten, imprisoned, tortured and tormented in ways we can hardly imagine. But still, he had joy and he had peace, the peace and joy that can only come from knowing Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
" 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 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." ~ Philippians 4:11-12

That peace and joy was made available to Paul, the chief among sinners, persecutor of the church, a proud and self-declared enemy of Jesus Christ, who arguably did more to spread the Gospel than any other. Jesus used Paul. He can use you too. And He wants to use you. He wants to use us all. He wants us all to have that peace and joy, the reality that’s better than our dreams.

But it can’t stop there. Once you have that peace and joy, once you’ve reached that reality that’s better than a dream, it becomes your responsibility to help others do the same. That joy and that peace, that reality, they have to be shared.

Jesus Christ wants everyone to come to know Him, and it is our responsibility to share what we’ve received!
" 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

Once you have this gift, this peace, this joy, this reality, you have to share it. There’s a video on Youtube of an atheist comedian discussing this very topic. In it, He tells a story of a man who gave him a Bible. This atheist was clearly emotional in the video, grateful for the kindness and compassion the man showed him while sharing his faith. In the video, he posed the question, “How much do you have to hate someone to not share your faith?”

An atheist, who even on that video stated he still doesn’t believed in God, acknowledging that once we receive this gift of salvation, once we’re welcomed into the family of God, once we’ve received the promise of eternal life, we should be compelled to prosyletize. Nothing should be able to hold us back, nothing should prevent us from reaching out to others to help them find what we have found, so they can share in what we have received. So their reality can be better than their dreams.

"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 12:10

You won’t all be called to preach, but we’re all called to share.

When you find this peace, when you have this joy, God will use you, give you opportunities to share. Your opportunity may be as simple as inviting a friend, a classmate, or a coworker to church. Or you may find yourself called to present the Gospel to a suffering friend. You may be called to preach, or even to the mission field, but God will use you to help others find what you found, to have what you have, because He wants us all to enjoy that reality better than any dream.

So, ladies and gentlemen, dream and dream big. Pursue those dreams, but know there is more to life than material things that moth and rust destroy, that thieves break in and steal. Know that in knowing Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, as Lord of your life, you will find peace and joy when your dreams come true or when they don’t.

Know before you leave here tonight, that Jesus Christ is the key to a reality better than any dream.

Thank you and God bless 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.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

PR at Toad Suck 10K!

The Lord blessed us with unbelievably beautiful running weather this morning, and blessed me with a huge PR!

At the same race a year ago, the temperature at the start was close to 800 with 100% humidity. Today it was 470 and raining. The rain stopped before I finished the first mile, but the clouds kept out the sun and the temperature never rose.
" Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights..." -- James 1:17

It was perfect running weather, but Jesus Christ blessed me even further this morning, with a nearly 2 minute PR for this distance!

I passed the one mile marker in 7:52, the 2nd in 7:56. I slowed some in mile 3, walking through a water stop before picking it back up, then walking up a short incline just before the 3 mile mark. That mile came in at 8:37. I slowed to a walk on a slightly longer hill in mile 4, and I was really feeling the unusually (for me) quick pace. This cost me some time and I finished mile 4 in 9:00. A pretty good downhill and knowing I was 2/3 of the way through allowed me to make up a little of the time lost in the previous mile. I covered mile 5 in 8:40. Mile 6 was good and flat, and I brought it in in 8:30.

For the duration, I averaged an 8:29 pace and crossed the finish in 52:35.27. My previous best was 54:32.5, so today was just shy of 2 minutes faster than my old best. Today I was blessed! There's just no other way to put it. This race was one of those "good and perfect" gifts from Jesus Christ!

My cup runneth over...


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.