This morning, I ran 6 miles, slower than I've run that distance in quite a while. But today wasn't about speed. It wasn't about time. Today was a run to reflect and to remember what it is that keeps me on the road. For pretty much the entire time I was out there, a little over an hour, with every step I took, I prayed and thought and remembered. I remembered little things we did together -- good times, bad times, and in between times. I remembered that day, that day that is frozen in my memory, as cold as a block of ice. And I remembered the days that followed, the days when I searched and prayed and begged God to show me how to go on.
He answered my prayers and gave me the motivation and the desire and a path to move forward. My friend Jesse Hardy challenged me to run the Marine Corps Marathon with him that year. I never had any intention of running a marathon. In fact, I had often sworn I would NEVER run a marathon. But that challenge was God's way of putting me on a path that would take all the negative energy, the anger and the rage that consumed me, and channel it into a productive pursuit.
For 9 months I trained, and then, on October 30th, 2011, Jesse and I ran that first marathon together. It was harder than I expected, but we made it to the finish line. I'll never forget that first 26.2 mile race, but God wasn't finished with me there.
Since then, by His grace and mercy, I've finished 8 marathons. My 9th is this coming Sunday in Baton Rouge, LA. This race is special too, because it will be the first marathon I'll get to run on Amanda's birthday. This Sunday, she would have turned 21. She never made it to 18. God gave me this gift of running to honor the memory of my beautiful daughter, to draw attention to the dangers of teen substance abuse, and to spread the Good News of salvation through Jesus Christ.
Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." ~ Matthew 19:26
I can promise you this, i don't believe I could have gone on without placing my faith and trust in Jesus Christ. I don't know how anyone could lose a child and keep going without His promise of eternal life, and the promise that those who die in Christ will spend that eternity together and with Him in Heaven. I couldn't. If I hadn't turned to Jesus, I don't know exactly where I'd be now...dead, prison, or some other Hellish place. I just don't know.
But I do know that I wouldn't be where I am. I do know that I would not be able to face each day believing this world is all there is, the best there is, and that our lives here can be taken so quickly and without warning. Without Jesus Christ, there would be no hope to hang onto, no peace and no comfort. Regardless what job I held or where I had to lay my head, life here would be Hell.
But that's not how it is. I won't lie and tell you everyday is roses and rainbows and unicorns. I won't lie and tell you every day is easy. I won't lie and tell you that I don't long to see my daughter, to speak to her, to hold her, to hug her, to kiss her, even one more time.
What I can tell you is that I can now face each and every day knowing that, when my time on earth is finished, I will see her. I will speak to her. I will hold her. I will hug her. And I will kiss her. One day we will be reunited and that's only because Jesus Christ, Son of God, came to earth and died so that our sins -- mine, Amanda's, yours, anyone's who accepts Him as their Savior -- can be forgiven and we can go to Heaven, a place of peace, for eternity.
So I thank God each and every day for sending His Son, for offering us that path to salvation, and for giving me a mission that keeps me going. I have missed Amanda for 3 years, but one thing is certain, when we are reunited, the time we spend apart on this earth will have been like a second compared to the time we will spend together in Heaven.
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.