I hope and pray that Jesus will continue to remind me when I slip and forget that all of this is about Him and not about me. I hope and pray that I will recognize His reminders and will immediately return to His call. My prayer is that Christ will use me as a lamp through which His light shines, and others are brought to Him or closer to Him through what they see and read here. I pray that our running and racing will encourage and inspire others, and that they see the source of our strength is Jesus Christ. I hope and pray that those who read here will come to understand that all things are possible through Him, everything is better when covered under His umbrella of grace, and that all things come to naught without Him. Through all of our trials and turmoil, Jesus Christ has been the rock to which we could cling to weather the storms. My prayer is that everyone reading here will be blessed with the same peace and strength He provides us.
Thank you Jesus for all You've given me, all You've done for me, and all You have in store for me. I couldn't be more blessed than I am because You always walk beside me, through tough times and good times. I'm where I am, I have what I have, and I do what I do only because of You!
"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." ~ Romans 12:2
For at least the past month, I've been thinking and praying about how things have gone with Running with Amanda and what changes might need to be made in 2014. I believe Jesus has supplied the answers and now it's time to put them in play to test and see if the ideas in my mind are truly from Him or are only of my own making. So here they are, my goals for 2014...
RunningBy the grace of God, 2013 was a great year for running. I logged a total of 1859 miles on my feet, racing and training, completed 3 marathons and 3 half marathons, and multiple other shorter races. The most amazing thing to me was I went from January to December, beginning to end of the year, without injury. My only break from running came in April and May, a partial break that cut my monthly mileage in half, when I took on the Insanity workout program. None of this was possible except for the mercy and grace of God, but I but I believe He has even more in store for 2014.
"...if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." ~ Matthew 17:20b
After much prayer and searching, I'm setting a goal to run 2,014 miles in this year of our Lord, 2014. One mile for every year since Jesus' birth. That's a big leap from last year's total, I know. But this year I have no plans to sideline running for Insanity or any other cross training program. Focusing like a laser beam on running should make this goal achievable. And, like the verses above say, if it's God's will and I have even a little faith, it can be done.
In 2012, I suffered an inexplicable knee injury when I got caught up in the attention that comes with running marathons. I forgot why I'm doing this, and who I'm doing it to serve. It was all about me that year, and I was basking in the glory when people would ask incredulously, "How?" or "Why?" or any other question that showed their awe at my running marathons. Beset by that injury with only a few weeks before the first of 3 marathons I had scheduled in one month, and nothing to explain it, I became convinced (and still am convinced) that it was God's way of getting me back in line, of bringing me back to the proper perspective, of reminding me that He will only let me run this crazy schedule if I run it for Him and for His glory. It can't be about me.
So I've been praying about how to do more for Him as I run, and an idea has popped into my head as I prayed and searched these past few weeks. As of right now, I'm signed up for 6 marathons through June and planning to sign up for another shot at the Full mOOn 50K in July. (I DNF'd Full mOOn last year.) I also plan to run St. Jude Marathon in December, and hopefully at least one more in November. Even with the tough training I've been putting in these past few months, and with signing up for this insane race schedule, I'm healthy with no hint of injury. I take that to mean God's pleased with what I'm planning, but those plans go a little farther than what I've been doing as a witness for Him at my races.
I always wear my Running with Amanda shirt when I race, with the bible verse on the back, and it's usually noticed and at least commented on during longer races (marathons or halves). But lately I haven't had as many comments, and I therefore have had fewer openings to share the Good News of Jesus Christ at races. So, starting in Baton Rouge on the 19th of this month, at the Louisiana Marathon, I'm going to carry a 3 foot PVC cross at each race. My hope is the cross will draw more comments, more attention, and therefore open more doors to witness to other runners over the course of the race. I'll keep everyone updated on how this goes, but it's the answer that's come from my prayers asking God how I can be a more effective witness for Christ when I run. So one of my running goals for 2014 is to run every race this year carrying the cross as a profession of faith that will hopefully open doors to share.
So those are my big running goals for 2014 -- log 2,014 miles before New Year's Day 2015, to complete the marathons/ultras listed above and a few shorter races in off months, and to carry the cross and be a more effective running witness for Jesus Christ.
FundraisingThere are tradeoffs we sometimes have to face in life that we just don't want to face. Sometimes, to get more or do more in one area, we have to give up something in another area. Our first year fundraising, I set goals that turned out to be too low. In 2012, we upped the goals and reached them in the closing month of the year. Last year we upped them again, but this time, in spite of a really hard push by my good friends the Whitehead's, we fell well short of the goals we set for each of the 3 charities we supported. After much prayer and handwringing and trying everything I could think to try, we still fell short. I've come to believe that God doesn't intend for fundraising to be as big a part of this ministry as I was trying to make it. Therefore, we're scaling back our fundraising activities and our goals for this year.
Instead of raising money for 3 different charities, we're going to focus our efforts on just one. This year, we're setting a goal to raise $2500 for Soaring Wings Christian Home & Ranch. In the past we've raised money for SWR, St. Jude, and Arkansas Children's Hospital. The hospitals are really great charities, and I wish we could be effective fundraisers for all three, but much prayer and worry over not meeting our goals this year has brought me to believe God wants us to focus on just one. And even though I can't explain it, I feel strongly that Soaring Wings is the one God is calling us to support.
Soaring Wings provides a Christ-centered home to abused and neglected children, offering them a chance to grow up in a Christian home with Christian role models, possibly the only chance these kids will ever have to learn about and accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. I can't think of a more important cause than one that reaches out to children in an effort to save their lives spiritually, giving them an opportunity to partake in the promise of eternal life in Heaven with Jesus Christ.
"The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’" ~ Matthew 25:40
Remembering AmandaThe 15th of this month will mark the 3 year anniversary of Amanda's untimely death. On the 19th, she would have turned 21. We'll never know what Amanda would have made of her life, what kind of person she would have ultimately become, or what she would have accomplished. All we can do now is try to see that some good comes from losing her. All we can do is work to honor her memory. This website, our presence on Facebook and Twitter, and our running, especially our racing, is intended to do just that. But sometimes it seems we're not as effective as I'd like to be. So that's another thing I've been praying about.
I've been wearing a laminated sheet with pictures of Amanda and several other kids whose deaths were, directly or indirectly, a result of teen substance abuse. Like the Running with Amanda shirt mentioned above, it just hasn't generated the questions, or opened the doors, that it did in the beginning. So I've been searching for ways to better get her story out there.
Last month, my friend Rick Karampatsos (author of Heading Toward the Final Finish Line), asked me to read a pre-released copy of his newest book, Running on the Living Edge (available soon), and write an endorsement. His earlier book is one that was given to me when this ministry was in its earliest stages and became a great source of inspiration and encouragement. Though I've never actually met Rick, we've corresponded quite a bit and are Facebook friends who touch base quite often. Just like before, this newest book is already working to inspire and encourage me.
I'll continue to wear the poster when I race, but Rick's newest book gave me another idea to help spread our message. Ministry cards. That's right! Such a simple idea, but such a great one. I have a bunch of business cards I had made early when we started Running with Amanda, but have found little opportunity to distribute them. Reading Rick's book, I learned that he routinely passes out his ministry cards at races and anywhere else he finds himself. My problem was always that I couldn't carry them running because I sweat so much. But, while reading Rick's latest work, the idea to laminate them popped into my mind. That had to be God-inspired because it had never occurred to me in the past 3 years. So if you see me at a race, or even training, don't be surprised if I hand you one of these cards.
So you'll see a few changes this year, but Running with Amanda will charge into 2014, led by the Holy Spirit to honor Jesus Christ and the memory of Amanda Marie Allison. I hope and pray that each of you will be blessed and find peace in the coming year.
See you on the course!
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.