"The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace." ~ Psalm 29:11
RunningTo say I was blessed in my running is really an understatement. It was an absolutely awesome year for running. When today's run was entered in the mileage log, 2013 total mileage came to 1859! It was a year without injury too, and the mileage would have been significantly higher except that I didn't run much for 60 days while I went through the Insanity workout program. Even with that lull in running, it comes to an average 35.75 miles per week, not too far from the 40 miles per week I try to average.
Jesus got me through to the finish of 13 races, including three full marathons, three half marathons, a 15K, two 10K's, an 8K, a 4-miler, and two 5K's. There would have been 14 races with four half marathons, but St. Jude was canceled this month due to an ice storm. And I would have added another race to the total except that I managed my first DNF at the Full mOOn 50K in July.
Even those setbacks presented opportunities. I knew at the time I was running Full mOOn for the wrong reasons, more for my own glory than for God's. When I dropped out at mile 23, I wasn't sure I'd ever try it again. But as I've looked back and prayed about it, I've come to the realization that I have to go back. This time though, it has to be for the right reason, for God's glory and not mine. It was around 7 PM the night before St. Jude when we got word the race was canceled. I had already driven to Memphis, picked up my packet, and was eating with friends when we all received the text we hoped would never come. But again, the disappointment turned to opportunity. The next day I met at the start line with about 50 others for what I thought would be a 5 - 6 mile run to the hospital. We ended up running the half course. Again, it was opportunity to run when you weren't supposed to be able to run, to show that all things are possible with God.
I'm really grateful for this gift of running and the opportunities God gives me serve him with this gift.
FundraisingWe fell short of our goals here this year, goals we set a little lofty in retrospect. We started the year hoping to raise $2500 each for St. Jude, Arkansas Children's Hospital, and Soaring Wings Ranch. As of today, our donors gave $1447.98 to St. Jude, $1810 to ACH, and $1060 to Soaring Wings. Still significant, but not what we hoped. We have to give a big thank you to Dylan and Delaina Whitehead who gave a lot and tried to generate traction for our fundraising efforts. After much praying on the matter, searching for God's will, I'm about convinced that it's time for us to scale back our efforts in this part of the ministry. We'll still raise funds, but will be cutting back to only one charity to support in 2014. We'll continue to pray about it as we move through the New Year and adjust again next year if that's what God tells us to do.
Sharing the Good News of Jesus ChristWe didn't get in as many long races this year as we did in 2012 and that gave us fewer opportunities to share at races. Still, we continue to wear Running with Amanda shirts to the races with Bible verses on the back. We had new long sleeve shirts made this year with Isaiah 40:31 on the back. All our other shirts have Philippians 4:13 emblazoned across the back. We also continue to share the blessings we receive from God online, here on this blog, on Facebook, and some on Twitter. Right now I'm praying about a new idea to improve this part of our ministry in 2014. One thing's for sure, without the hope that comes from the promises of eternal life with Jesus Christ when our time here is done, there is no way we could have made it this far.
Remembering Amanda Marie AllisonFrom the time Amanda was killed, one of my biggest fears has been that she will be forgotten. I am so blessed God has led us to this ministry that keeps her memory alive. Every race reminds me why I do this and who led to our ministry. I still see old friends posting on her Facebook page. From time to time, her friends still send me messages, always reminding me that Amanda is remembered, that her life counted for something, and that her death was not in vain.
I hope that everyone had a great 2013, and I'm looking forward to all that Jesus Christ has planned for us in 2014. I pray that God will continue to use us to accomplish His will and that our actions will bring Him glory. May God bless each and every one of you and may you have a safe and happy New 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.