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

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Do you have the Spirit to guide you?

And I [God] will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. ~ Ezekiel 36:27
Today we've become convinced that God wants us to be happy so we should be able to do anything that makes us happy. In the US at least, too many of today's Christians believe they serve a God who doesn't mind if they violate His laws and decrees.
In Hebrews, Paul told us Jesus Christ is and always has been the same. In Matthew, Jesus told us He did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. It is wrong to think that believing in Christ gives us carte blanche regarding God's laws.
Christ didn't come so that we can sin freely, or redefine sin, or refute that sin even exists. Jesus came to pay the price for our violations of the law, but that certainly doesn't mean He is pleased when we sin, or doesn't mind if we sin. In Romans, Paul makes this absolutely clear!
What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! ~ Romans 6:15
Here in Ezekiel, God tells us that when we belong to Him, He will give us the Spirit to guide us. Does that mean we will be perfect? By no means! We are flawed humans with a free will, and every one of us is a sinner.
But, if we constantly find ourselves going against the laws and decrees God laid out for us in the Bible, one must wonder if he really has that promised Spirit. If we can sin freely without remorse, we should wonder if we've really given ourselves to God. If we claim that God's word is wrong and our 21st century ideals are right, are we really in submission to God's will?
I can't believe we are.
If I'm not motivated to seek out God's will, but instead work to convince everyone that my will is God's will, then I have to believe I lack that promised Spirit. That means I'm not where I need to be. That means I need to rethink my position. That means I need to change. That means I need to submit.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Great Running Weekend!

This weekend was great to be a runner!

Saturday morning started with the Fly Like an Eagle 5K, not as a runner but as race director. This was our third annual race to benefit Vilonia Cross Country, and our most successful so far. We're still waiting on the last couple of checks from the online registration company, but it looks like we'll clear significantly more than last year.

This race funds some extra rewards for our kids that aren't included in our program's budget. It lets us pay for t-shirts and hoodies for our athletes, meals on the road once in a while, and for hotel rooms for faraway meets. Our kids run all summer to be ready for fall. Once school starts, they show up for practice at 5:30 in the morning four days a week, then on Friday afternoon too. And most weekends, their Saturdays are spent traveling to and from, and competing at meets. At the peak of our training, some of our kids will be running up to 70 miles per week. As hard as our kids work to represent our school, we like to be able to reward them, and this race helps make that possible. Thank you to everyone -- runners, sponsors, and volunteers -- who helped make this successful!

Yesterday afternoon, I had a great run at the Arkansas 10 Mile Classic in Little Rock. That race benefits the Cabot Band program. The weather was as nice as could be expected for a 5 PM mid-April race, and it made for a great run. By the grace of God, I dropped five minutes and ten seconds from last year's race, finishing the race in 1:22:40.

I am so thankful that God makes it possible for me to run!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

10K PR at the Capitol City Classic!

This morning was the Capitol City Classic 10K. Last year at this race I set a PR of 48:39. God blessed me again today, with perfect weather and a great race. 46:55 was my finish time today. Praise the Lord!

At the beginning of the year, I stated my goal for 2016 is to PR every distance. So far, I've been blessed to do just that in the 5K, 10K, 15K, and 2 Mile distances. Next weekend is the Hogeye Marathon, the Grand Prix marathon this year. While I'm not expecting a PR there, who knows what will happen when we get there!

With God, all things are possible!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Happy Easter Everyone!

Happy Easter everyone!

The truth is that Jesus Christ, the risen Son of God, who was crucified for our sins, that Jesus Christ is the One and Only Way, Truth, and Light! The salvation offered by God through Christ is the ONLY way to have eternal life in Heaven! Regardless what the world wants you to believe, that's the truth! Preach the truth, regardless whether they flock to hear you or flee from you.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Some 2000 years ago today...

50 Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, 51 who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea, and he himself was waiting for the kingdom of God. 52 Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body. 53 Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid. 54 It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin. ~ Luke 23:50-54

Some 2000 years and just a few hours ago, Jesus' body was taken down from the cross and placed into a tomb. Most people then, those who loved Him and those who hated Him, thought that was the end. But oh were they wrong!

On this day, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Son of God, was nailed to a cross and died an agonizing, unimaginably horrendous death. And the people thought His story would end there. But oh were they wrong!

This weekend isn't about a magic rabbit that hides eggs for children to find. It's about the One and Only Son of God who paid the price for all our sins, so that we would have the opportunity to spend eternity in Heaven.

I pray that someone out there who doesn't have the hope that comes from the promise of life everlasting in Heaven will come to believe, repent, and find that salvation, that produces that hope, in the loving arms of Jesus Christ!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Spring Fling 5K 2016

Thank you Jesus for a great race this morning at the Spring Fling 5K! No PR, but a great race in great weather, much cooler than we've had lately.

This race is in Cabot, the start and finish only about 3 miles from our house. So Janice, Zoey, and I were all there. The kids run is always scheduled to start before we know Janice can get to the finish. So, last year I pushed Zoey in her stroller for the 3.1 miles.

But the race is a Grand Prix race, and I'm faster this year (by the grace or God), so the stroller was going to really influence my time.  But last year I met Janice on part of the course where runners are coming and going. So this year we decided she would push Zoey from the start. Then, when I met her on the way back, I'd take the stroller and run Zoey back to the finish.

Sure enough, it worked well enough that I could still finish with a decent time, 5th in my age group. My first mile went by in 7:06. The second in 7:03. I was still feeling really good when I met Janice, right about the 2 mile mark, and took over the stroller. But it did slow me down. I even had to walk about 30 yards on a short uphill stretch. Managed the 3rd mile in 8:29. Then, about 50 yards from the finish, I steered Zoey's stroller to the field beside the track.  I pulled her out and let her run that last 50 yards with me. That was a lot of fun!

My finish time was 24:03, but it was a great race and a lot of fun! Thank you Jesus for a great day!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

A Great Day to Run! Chase Race 2016

But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth. ~ 2 Timothy 4:17

Blessed. Most definitely blessed. God continues to bless me with strength to run and spread the message of salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ, and the message of the dangers of teen substance abuse. He blessed me with this gift of running to push on after Amanda was killed.

Today was the annual Chase Race in Conway, AR. It's a 2-Mile road race, held in memory of Chase Potter, son of race director Don Potter. This was the 11th running of the race, and Don announced record participation today.

I first ran this race in 2009, when I was 40-years-old. That first year, I finished in 17:24. I remember that race. I remember reaching the one mile mark and having to walk. That was two and a half years before my first marathon, and almost two years before Amanda was killed. A lot has happened in the years since my first Chase Race.

This year was my sixth time to run the Chase Race and God blessed me with a big PR! Last year I set my previous PR here at 14:20. This year, I set a goal to drop below 14 minutes. I missed that goal, by 2 seconds, but still finished with an 18 second PR! Chip time today: 14:02.

That was good enough for fifth place in my age group. Because this was an RRCA Grand Prix championship event, age group awards go five deep. This was my first ever age group award in a Grand Prix race! It honestly surprised me. I never expected to win an award in a Grand Prix race!

But God has given me strength. Because my improvement definitely didn't come from me. Only God can make an old fat man like me fast enough to win a trophy at a race. Thank you Jesus for all you do for me, running and everything else!

This race is always special because following the two-mile road race is a one-mile leashed pet race. Last year and the year before, I ran this race with Sandy, who was Amanda's dog. We won trophies both years for top ten finishes. So, this year, we ran it again. Once again, we finished in the top ten to bring home a trophy!

One day Sandy will be too old to run it with me. Before that, she'll get old enough that we'll run it but won't be fast enough to get a trophy. But we'll run it as long as we can, and do the best we can. I sure hope Amanda can see her little dog run. I know she'd be proud.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Run the Line Half -- What an Adventure!

Well...a PR in the half marathon will have to wait for another day. This weekend turned into quite the adventure, but God allowed me a decent finish with a time of 1:58:51.

Last night a prior commitment meant leaving for Texarkana around 9 PM. That should have put me there about 11:30. My plan was to sleep in the back of the Blazer close to the start, so I wouldn't need to wake up until 6 or so. That would have made for a good night's sleep before the race this morning.

But, about 80 miles before I got there, I had the cruise control set on 70, humming down the freeway, with everything seeming fine. Suddenly, the vehicle jerked, started, jerked, then quit. I popped it into neutral and watched the tachometer drop to zero. I turned the key to try to restart it, but no go.

Thank God the next exit was right there. I mean RIGHT THERE. I steered down the ramp. The light was red, but nothing was coming. So I rolled through in a right turn. Another blessing was the Pilot Truck Stop right there beside the exit. I had enough speed to coast right into a parking spot.

I tried several more times to start the vehicle, to no avail. I popped the hood, but couldn't immediately identify the problem. I was a little over halfway to Texarkana at 10 PM on Saturday night, and I was stuck.

I called Janice and she asked if I wanted her to come get me. But I had a different idea, not such a bright idea in her mind. I told her I was going to try to hitch a ride with a trucker on to Texarkana so I could run this morning. She wasn't too keen on the idea, but didn't threaten to divorce me. So, I went to the fuel island and began hitting up drivers for a ride.

Several turned me down. One driver of a pickup with a horse trailer told me they would take me but they weren't leaving until the morning. Then, finally, an older fellow pulled up in a pickup pulling a camper trailer. I repeated my story, even offering to ride in the back of his truck if he gave me a ride. He looked at me with a measuring eye and said, "Sure, I'll take you." So, I ran back to the Blazer and gathered my gear.

He didn't make me ride in the back, and we ended up having some interesting conversation during the 80 mile drive to Texarkana. I even got to witness to him when religion came up. He told me about his kids, and heard about mine, including Amanda's story. All in all it was a pretty good trip.

He dropped me off at the exit ramp for State Line Ave right around 12:30 AM, about three miles from the race start. And I started walking, carrying my bag of clothes and my sleeping bag.

At first, the walk wasn't too worrisome, but three miles into the heart of Texarkana carried me through a variety of areas. The first half mile from the freeway was well-lit, with lots of hotels and restaurants. After that it turned a little more seedy, with car lots and pawn shops and other businesses that are closed that time of night. Then I passed by a smattering of bars and night clubs with plenty of patrons milling about. The last half mile or so was downtown, mostly deserted, but more populated with government buildings and law offices.

A couple of times I encountered other pedestrians, who fired my precautionary instincts. Once, a car load of late night adventures turned down a street behind me yelling something I couldn't quite make out. But again, my instincts were kindled and I was spying escape routes and looking for suitable battlefields to make a stand if the need arose.

But the need didn't arise. Upon reflection, I think carrying a sleeping bag that time of night probably made me look like a not-so-great target for robbery.

About a half mile from the race start was a small, ancient motel. I stopped and rang the bell beneath the neon "Open" sign. But nobody answered and no lights came on inside. So I decided to go the last little bit to the start area. I finally reached the start line of the race, where I took advantage of the port-a-potties to change clothes, then went about spying a place to sleep.

It just so happened the start line was right in front of the Bi-State Justice Building. I walked around behind the building and found a loading dock area with a corner protected by an overhang and out of sight from the road. It looked like as good a place as any to spend the night. It was after 2 AM at this point.

I woke about 5:40 and packed up. I couldn't carry everything when I left my Blazer behind, so I'd left my ice chest with my breakfast. There was a McDonald's about a half mile away, so I trekked there, stashing my gear in some bushes not far from the starting area.

When I got back, packet pickup was underway. A friend had already offered to give me a ride back after the race. So I stashed my gear in his car and mingled with the ever-growing crowd of friends who were there.

When the race started, I was actually feeling pretty good, in spite of the 62 degree temperature and 85% humidity. My goal was a 1:50 finish. I started the race running between 8:00 and 8:10, holding that for the first five miles. But, by the end of that five miles, it became obvious holding it was going to be tough.

The adventure and the weather were taking their toll. So I slowed down and began walking the hills. I was still hoping to get a PR at this point, but it by mile nine, it became clear that wasn't going to happen either. It then became a struggle to just finish under two hours.

I was able to pick up the pace after mile 11, and a two hour finish seemed more and more doable with each step. I was glad to cross that finish line, and even more glad we weren't running a full marathon today.

I want to say a special thank you to my friend, David Edwards, for driving me back, going well out of his way to do so. And, of course, thank you Jesus for keeping me going through a race after so many challenges.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Valentine's Day 5K 2016

Today was my first 5K since last March, and the Good Lord blessed me.

It was a clear morning, cold with a stiff wind. The course was two loops around the campus of Arkansas Tech University in Russellville, AR. My previous PR for a 5K was 24:24, set two or three years ago. My goal today was a PR, but I was also hoping to break 23 minutes, believing it was possible because I've been running pretty strong lately.

Several friends had asked what I was shooting for. Mostly I just said, "Close to 23." But my friend Greg lined up with me at the start and asked what I had planned. I told him I wanted to start out at a 7:30 pace and see how it felt.

The race started and we were off. Before we'd gone a half mile, my watch was telling me we were going at a 7:00 pace. I knew I had to back down. But, as usually happens, I couldn't seem to quite slow down to my target pace. When I reached the first mile marker, my watch showed 7:10 had passed since the start.

Surprisingly, the pace wasn't killing me, so I decided to press on and try to hold it. We completed the first lap, passing the start and finish lines, and pressed on to make the final loop around the campus. The second mile passed in 2:11, according to my watch, but I was feeling it now. There were still 1.1 miles to go.

I decided to try and hold the pace, but it was starting to get difficult now. I made it down the long backstretch and started up the little uphill with about a half mile to go. Another left turn with a short stretch to the only right turn on the course. By the time I made that right turn, I was struggling. That's when I did back down a little. I realized I had a PR unless things went totally bad in the last quarter, so I felt okay to back out a little.

I crossed the finish line mats with a time of 22:46, a minute and 38 seconds faster than my previous 5K PR.

I am truly blessed with great running friends who push me beyond my comfort zone. And I am definitely blessed by Jesus Christ, who died so that we might live, and who permits me to run and improve as a runner.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Trust Jesus, and LIVE!

But if a wicked person turns away from all the sins they have committed and keeps all my decrees and does what is just and right, that person will surely live; they will not die. ~ Ezekiel 18:21

Regardless how far you've fallen, how terrible you've been, what awful things you've done, repent and trust Christ and you become righteous in God's eyes. He promises to forget ALL the evil you did, and welcome you into His kingdom!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Let us not become weary of doing good..

It's a crazy world we live in, with Satan working hard to rob us of the saving grace that God made ours for the taking through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ.

for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." ~ Romans 10:13

Salvation, eternal life, eternity in Heaven with Jesus Christ is available to every single one of us, if we just reach out and ask him to save us. It has been said there's a God-shaped hole in each of us, that can only be filled with him. But we, in our human rebellion against the Almighty, seek all sorts of other things to fill that hole.

Two of those things are alcohol and other mind altering drugs. A young person I've talked to a long time, trying to convince her to stop using drugs and alcohol, recently told me she did it because it is fun. What it is though, is actually an escape, an escape from the Hellish reality that resulted from her bad choices.

Since Amanda was killed, I've tried hard to reach as many kids as I can, to get them to recognize and avoid the dangers of substance abuse. Recently, I was really struggling because it seemed I just wasn't getting through to the kids I was talking to. I began to doubt if I'm in the right place, doing what I'm supposed to be doing. I wondered if I'd lost the ability to connect with kids, to reach them, to convince them.

Satan works that way though, working to convince you that the task God assigned you is impossible, or that you're not up to the task. And I'm convinced it's been the devil in recent months that caused me to wonder if there is even any point in trying to convince kids these days.

But God promises to be beside us, whenever we struggle.

"No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it." ~ 1 Corinthians 10:13

And...just like He promised...God showed up for me when I was ready to throw in the towel.

On Friday, one of my students told me that he has never drank or taken drugs, but that he did go to parties...until he heard the story of Amanda's death. I tell that story to all my classes, at the beginning of every semester, hoping they'll hear it and understand just how dangerous this way too typical teen behavior is. He told me that he went to the parties...until he heard that story.

So, on Friday, when I had nearly reached the point of believing that  nobody was listening, nobody was learning from Amanda's death anymore, God sent this kid to let me know that's not the case. Though many may not have ears to hear, at least one did.

And I've often said, that if even one hears and changes to avoid those dangers, that something good has come from the horrible tragedy of Amanda's death.

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." ~ Romans 8:28

That's another of God's promises, that He can make something good come from anything, even the most evil of things we see on this earth.

So, thank you, God, for always fulfilling your promises! And thank you to those who hear Amanda's story, recognize the dangers, and turn from abusing alcohol and drugs, and especially to those who hear the warning and avoid putting themselves in dangerous situations where others are impaired by mind-altering substances.

If not for God's promises and those kids who do hear and learn, it would be nearly impossible to keep going.

"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

Saturday, February 6, 2016

River Trail 15K 2016

This the day that the Lord hath made; We will rejoice and be glad in it. ~ Psalm 118:24

Today certainly was!

This year my goal is to run fewer marathons, run more Arkansas RRCA Grand Prix races, and PR every distance. A couple of weeks ago, I ran the first Grand Prix race of the year, the One Hour Track Run, finishing 29 laps and an additional 600 ft on the track in exactly 60 minutes. That was a PR, because it was the first time I've raced a one hour track run.

But today was my first REAL PR, on where I beat my best time at a distance I'd raced before. The Good Lord gave us perfect weather for the River Trail 15K, and it certainly had the look of a great day to PR. But, if you're a runner, you never really know what's going to happen in a race until sometime between the starting gun firing and crossing the finish line.

But I lined up with a plan, a plan to start out running an 8:10 minute per mile pace. My previous PR at this distance (and at this race) was a 1:21:55 when I ran it two years ago. So today, I had in mind that beating 1:20 would make me happy.

I ran the first mile in 8 flat, and felt pretty good and at ease. The second mile went by in 7:59 and I still felt great. I was good and warmed up by now and there were a few overambitious folks falling off a bit. My pace picked up slightly on mile 3, covering that ground in 7:54.

I knew I was in better shape this year than I was when I ran this race two years ago, but I was still surprised at how comfortable the pace was feeling at this point in the race. When I looked at my watch and saw the time, I realized I was really close to a 5K PR too. But this was no 5K and there were still more than 6 miles to go.

What few inclines that count for hills on this course came in miles four and five.  I made it through those in 8:01 and 8:05, respectively. Now, I realized I was past the halfway point. I'd down salt, magnesium, and potassium, along with a Gu packet around the four and a half mile mark, and chased that with a swallow of water on the run.

It was decision time. My heart rate felt great, my breathing wasn't labored, and I still felt really good. There was a pack of men a short distance ahead of me. I didn't know them, and I couldn't tell if they were in my age group or not. So the question was, "Do I want to expend the energy to catch them and risk crashing and ruining a great race?" I decided to stick with the 8 minute pace that had carried me to this point and see how they held up over the next couple of miles.

For mile six I was back down to a 7:58 pace, and the pack ahead of me had started to stretch out. Only one was falling back though, while a few were starting to pick up the pace. I ended up catching the one just before the seventh mile marker, and set my sights on the next one. I finished that seventh mile in 8 minutes even.

The eighth mile of the mostly out-and-back course included those few hills again. But this time they slowed me down a little. I guess it slowed the guys in front of and behind me too though, because we didn't change positions. Mile eight went down in 8:10, which would be my slowest mile of the race. But after we passed that eighth mile marker, I think we all decided to pick things back up.

I was working to catch the guy in front of me, and the guy behind me was working to catch me. Now I'd reached the point where my breathing was labored and my heart rate was picking up. The thought crossed my mind to slow back to the 8:10 pace and just let the finish order sort itself out. But the competitor in me just couldn't do that, while the coach in me kept saying, "What would you tell your cross country kids to do at this point?"

So I pushed on. And the guy in front of me pushed on. And the guy behind me pushed on. We were all pushing hard through mile nine, covering it in 7:55. Now there were 0.3 miles to go. The finish was in sight. One more right turn, then a few hundred yards to the end. And none of us had any intention of getting passed on that last stretch. None of us did.

So the three of us finished in the exact same order we'd run the last 1.3 miles in. But we all gave it our all and congratulated each other at the finish. In that last stretch, I thought I might be able to break 1:15. When I got to where I could finally read the clock, it said 1:14:40. I had 20 seconds to get there before it turned to 1:15. But there just wasn't enough left in the tank.

I finally crossed the mat at 1:15:06, and put an end to a fantastic race on a beautiful morning!

It wasn't long ago when I recall just trying to break an hour in a 10K. I never thought I'd run this well again. But I serve an amazing God! He has blessed me with health, strength, discipline, a job, and friends that have allowed me to run farther and faster, even as I'm getting older.

Jesus put me in position to coach cross country, and running with those kids has definitely made me faster. He put me in contact with the Cabot Cruisers, the Conway Running Club, and Team Loco, all or whom have helped me run more and run faster, who have inspired me to push myself farther than I ever would have dared, and who have held me accountable. Jesus put me in the path of my Vilonia School District coworkers and parents I run with, and they push me and motivate me and hold me accountable too. And the countless friends I've met at races around the state and around the country, heck, even my online running friends.

Today was just another great stop along the way of a great running journey. Next stop, next week at the Valentine's Day 5K in Russellville. Hope to see you all there!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

It is time to get angry!!!!

Today a kid overdosed at school. This week I read about a 17-year-old girl who was shot and killed at a party by the 40-year-old mother who resided at the house and provided alcohol to her teen guests. I also read about two kids in Tennessee who died after drinking a mixture of Mountain Dew and racing fuel. Yes! You read that fuel...the kind that makes race cars run!

My question is...What are we doing to our kids? What kind of world are we handing over to them?

We have become a society so afraid of "judging" that we lead kids to believe that anything goes, that anything is okay, and that nobody (not friends, strangers, or even parents) has the right to say any choice they make is wrong!

That's crap!

Our kids are pushing, testing limits, looking for lines that we as parents, that we as society are supposed to draw in the sand, lines that kids are not allowed to cross. But we, in our "enlightened" state in this 21st century, haven't only blurred those lines. We've erased them altogether. We have decided, as parents and practically all other supposed authority figures, that we should draw no such lines. We've decided that it's best to let kids make their own decisions, with no thought to the permanent negative consequences that seem to follow more and more often every day.

We have relinquished our authority, handing it over to immature, incompetent, and ignorant kids! Immature because they haven't lived long enough to mature. Incompetent because they haven't lived long enough to become competent to make good decisions. And ignorant because they haven't lived long enough to learn how serious and common those negative consequences are!

WE are killing our kids because we are not angry! We are killing our kids because we'd rather just shake our heads when someone else's kid falls prey to this vicious monster that is teen substance abuse! We are killing our kids because we won't draw those lines in the sand! We are killing our kids because we won't tell them that some things are not okay!

IT IS TIME TO GET ANGRY! It is time to reclaim our authority as parents! It is time to stand up and tell our kids what's right is right and what's wrong is wrong! It is time we demand our kids act right and make good choices! It is time to draw those lines in the sand and say, "YOU WILL NOT CROSS THIS LINE WITHOUT SERIOUS CONSEQUENCES!"

I'm tired of seeing kids die. I'm tired of watching kids ruin their lives before they even graduate high school. I'm tired of watching adults close their eyes and refuse to see what is happening to our children. I'm tired of seeing adults and authorities act as if it just doesn't matter, as if there's no way to change it or stop it.

We can change it! We just have to get angry enough that we once again draw those lines and refuse to let our kids step across them.

So, yes, it is time to get angry and save our kids' lives!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Five Years Without Amanda

Five years ago tonight we received the call that would change our lives. "You need to call this number. And I want you to be prepared. I think Amanda has been shot." That's what Amanda's friend told me after receiving a call from a Cleburne County deputy.

That's the night we lost our oldest daughter, Amanda. She was at a party. Her killer was drunk and stoned. He pulled out a sawed off shotgun and killed her. Five years ago tonight. January 15, 2011. Four days before her 18th birthday. Four months before she would have graduated high school. She never made it to either.

Everyone at that party was either drunk, stoned, or both. Under the influence of mind-altering substances. The oldest was 19. Nobody there was old enough to buy alcohol legally, yet they all had access to alcohol and illegal drugs.

I believe, with everything in me, that if everyone there that night had been sober, Amanda would not have been shot and she would not have been killed. Heck. Maybe if ANYONE at that house had been sober she would still be alive today!

Everyone seems to think this day is harder for us to deal with than other days. It is hard. But everyday is hard. Every day. We don't suddenly remember that we lost our daughter on the anniversary of her death. We remember that every single day. We don't suddenly miss our daughter on the anniversary of her death. We miss her every single day.

And though every day is hard, though we miss her every single day, we have learned to keep going, to get through, and to get by. We've made it five years now. We'll keep making it.

I appreciate all of you who thought of us today and who prayed for us today. Your thoughts and prayers got us through those early days before we ever thought we could keep going, and they continue to give us strength. So please keep them coming.

But I have another request. Not for us, but for all the parents who will soon join this brotherhood to which no one wishes to belong. Every year, more than 5000 young people die because of alcohol abuse. I have been unable to find numbers that show the number of young people who are killed because of illegal drugs each year. But together, illicit drugs and alcohol, directly or indirectly, take the lives of thousands of young people each year.

That means thousands of parents', siblings', and other relatives' lives are ripped apart by teen substance abuse every year. Because of teen substance abuse.

So my request is this. Please pray for all the people who WILL lose a young family member this year because of teen substance abuse. Pray that thousands of teens will be reached with the message and recognize the dangers and refuse to partake, so their lives will be spared and their parents' hearts remain unbroken.

Sadly, our society of late is practically encouraging teens to experiment with alcohol and drugs. Our entertainment industry, and even our politicians seem to want our young people drunk and stoned. And as the number of young abusers increases, so does the number of their cadavers in our nation's morgues...because they chose to abuse alcohol and drugs.

So please, when you think about Amanda, on this day or any other, don't just pray for us. Pray also for all those like us--who have lost kids to this epidemic, all those who will be like us, and all the young people out there--who still have time to wake up, recognize the danger, and refuse that drink or that hit that might just end their life.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Great Run to Start the New Year!

Happy New Year! When we headed for NC last week, I was planning to run 16 miles today to ring in the New Year. That was my plan, even though I already knew my New Year's resolution was going to be to run fewer miles but run them faster.

Well...God has a way of setting me straight when I seek to stray from His path. All week it's been unseasonably warm and humid, making pretty difficult what I expected to be a pretty easy running finish to 2015. I managed to close the year with 2015 logged miles, but it wore me out. Put simply, I just didn't have 16 miles in me after this week, even though temps dropped this morning.

I realized that was God's way of telling me that I needed to start on that New Year's resolution TODAY!

So, I left the house this morning with a plan to run 4 miles instead of 16. I decided to do the first at 9 min/mi pace, the next two at 8 min/mi, and the last at 9 min/mi.

When I hit the road, even that 9 min pace felt tough, and I started to think maybe I was a little ambitious after the week of warm weather running. However, I managed to knock it out in 8:54. When I picked it up to start mile 2, it again felt like it would be hard to keep it up.

But I pressed on, recalling that I only had to run 4 miles. I have to admit though, several times in that 2nd mile I thought about changing plans and slowing down for mile 3. When I hit the 2 mile mark, my Garmin showed I covered the ground in 7:55.

By now I was warmed up and it started feeling a little better. I actually began to think I could hit my target paces. That 3rd mile clicked by in 7:45 and it was time to slow down.

The thought crossed my mind to abandon the 9 min goal, but it was only for a second. Actually, I found it more difficult to slow down to even the 9 min pace I'd planned. The 4th mile was covered in 8:26, and my first run of the New Year was over.

So thank you Jesus for a great run to kick off this New Year! Looking forward to this fewer, faster miles thing.