Monday, August 29, 2005

Continuation of previous post

While stumbling across the marathon ad, I was on administrative leave from work wondering if I was even going to have a job to go back to. I also went through the workbook "Experiencing God" which helped a lot. As I was reading the ad for this marathon I started thinking to myself that I was going to run it. Now first let me tell you the physical shape I was in at this time. HORRIBLE! My blood pressure was high. I had no aerobic fitness whatsoever.

I joined the Mountainside Fitness gym on Cooper and Warner which is about a mile from our house. I jumped on the treadmill and just started running. After about 1 minute of all out sprinting I was totally out of gas. I'm serious. I had nothing left. But I stuck with it. I had to start out just walking for awhile and riding the stationary bike. Then I graduated to running, or jogging slowly and my stamina started to build. I also started lifting weights.

During all of this time, the marathon was still on my mind. I was approaching 40 years old and I thought to myself that this was crazy to even consider. I started researching and reading about running on the internet. I found out about Runner's World magazine and quickly got a subscription. Then I read about training plans for these marathons. I decided I liked a program by Hal Higdon for beginning runners. Hal Higdon is in his 70's and still runs marathons today. To celebrate the year he turned 70, this man did something that amazes me to this day. He ran 7 marathons in 7 months and LIVED! The Lost Dutchman Marathon also had a half marathon. I used Hal's beginner half marathon training plan and trained with a buddy from my old church. We trained together and ran the half together. I finished in something like 2:19 if I recall. I was in the best shape of my life. Even better than when I was in my 20's.

The following year I trained for the full marathon. But I thought I was so cool and so good that I was going to use the intermediate plan instead of the beginner's plan. I figured the more miles I ran each week the better I would do. I was SO WRONG! I've told people that the biggest mistake you can make in starting a running program is to do too much too soon. I had read this from the experts but I chose not to take their advice. To make a long story short, I ended up hurting myself before the marathon even started. I used the Tucson Half Marathon as a tune-up and did well in that finishing in 2:11. But about a month before the Lost Dutchman Marathon I had a nagging pain in my lower right leg that hurt like hell. It was sort of deep in the leg between the shin and calf muscle. I finally broke down and went to the doctor and he said I had tendonitis. So I said fix it. HA! I wanted a shot of cortisone but he wouldn't do it. He said it could rupture the tendon and if I wanted that I would have to see an orthopedic Dr. I did not have time. The race was coming up. He prescribed prednisone and no running. I was a few weeks away from the marathon, injured, and was told to not run while it healed. I had completed the longest training run in the program at this point which was 20 miles. So I stopped running and used the elliptical machine at the gym in place of running to finish out the training.

By race day I had tapered off of the prednisone and the leg was feeling good. I was ready for this. My parents came up for the race and Patty and Shannon were there too as well as friends from church. Started off great but by mile 4 of the 26.2 mile distance, I felt something pop in my lower right leg. It was back. So I was sort of limping while running the remainder of the race. By about mile 18 I was in so much pain I was ready to quit. But the Lord sent an angel my way. While I was contemplating calling it a day, I heard this "thump, thump, thump" behind me. This man, no, this BIG man ran by me. The thumping sound I was hearing was his artificial leg. His leg had been amputated at the knee. He stopped a ways ahead of me, took his leg off to wipe the blood off of his stump, put it back on and continued. This motivated me enough to keep on going.

I finished the marathon. My wonderful mother ran almost the last mile with me. It was one of the most emotional moments in my life. I belong to the forum online at Runner's World and found out about this man that ran past me. He is attempting to run a marathon in all 50 states was 2/3 of the way there already. They had to give him a 2 hour head start so he could finish before they took everything down.

I learned a lot that day. I did too much too soon. John Bingham has a famous quote that I love to use. "The miracle isn't that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start". I will be 44 years old in September and since I started running in 2000, I have finished 4 half marathons and 2 full marathons. I don't take myself too seriously about it anymore. I just have fun. I had the wonderful priveledge of running the Tucson Half marathon with my wife Patty a year and a half ago in her very first distance race. We ran across the finish line holding hands. We also did the R&R Half last January in Phoenix. We will do it again this January with a group from the Vineyard. I will also run the full marathon again in February using Jeff Galloway's run/walk method.

I have found that running has become a habit for me. But this is a healthy habit. I enjoy the serenity it brings me and when I am out for one of my longer runs, I find myself talking to God. It is my prayer time. Happy running folks. I hope you enjoyed my story. Godspeed to you all. Peace out!

My Broken Filter and Why I Started Running

I mentioned in an earlier post that I would tell you about my "broken filter". I've mentioned this to some, but not everyone really knows my story, so here it goes.

My broken filter has to do with drugs and alcohol. The drugs were illegal, but the alcohol was not. I guess my problem with alcohol started when I was around 14 or 15. I don't really recall the exact time. I do remember the first time getting so drunk that I passed out and that was at my friends lake lot when I was about 14. I was so sick that whole night and next day. I experimented with most any drug you can imagine with the exception of needle dope. I never stuck a needle in my skin, but if you could drink it, smoke it, swallow it or snort it, I tried it.

The illegal drugs I just sort of gave up on my own. I think the last time I smoked a joint was in Omaha Nebraska right before my daughter Shannon was born. The heavy drinking started when I was about 18. I drank pretty heavily on a daily basis until Sept of 2000. There were some rehab stints where I abstained but it was pretty much 20 years of heavy boozing. I'm amazed at what the Lord has done for me in that my liver is not damaged or diseased the way it should be. I put it through hell.

I am NOT condemning the use of alcohol here. I came up in some churches that preached you were a sinner if you even had a beer. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having a drink as long as you are responsible and it doesn't control you. Your alcohol filter is not broken if you can drink responsibly. The Bible does have something to say about drunkeness, but it does NOT say that you cannot enjoy a beer or two, or whatever your alcoholic beverage of choice is.

I guess I could write a book about this but I'll try to be brief. After several attempts to stay sober through rehab programs, AA, just drinking beer instead of the hard stuff, it all failed me. My life was in shambles. I almost lost my family, my friends, my job, and I very likely could have lost my life several times. The one thing I never really tried was giving it all up to the Lord. I spoke yesterday of brokeness. I was so sick and tired of being sick and tired that I had nowhere else to turn. The Lord took me, and molded me into what I am today. He is the Potter, I am the clay. Anyhow, I have walked with HIM ever since that day. It was Sept 28th of the year 2000. This September 28th I will have not had a drop of alcohol for 5 years. Praise God for His saving grace. My wife stayed with me through what was a living hell. My parents prayed for me and I know others were too.

It was during those first few weeks of sobriety, where I was praying to God continually to save my marriage, save my job, save my life, that I stumbled across an add in the newspaper advertising the inagural Lost Dutchman Marathon. I will continue this story in my next post. For now, everyone that is training for the PF Changs run, keep GITTIN R' DUN folks.

Sunday, August 28, 2005


That was the sermon topic that Pastor Mark gave this morning and the text was Psalm 51. This Psalm is about David crying out to the Lord in repentance and asking for forgiveness with a broken and contrite heart.

A lot of times we carry around a bunch of excess baggage in our lives that is only weighing us down. There is healing that needs to take place. But only if we are willing to truly repent and let the Lord take that weight of the extra baggage off of us. Once we honestly ask Him to forgive us with a repentant heart the Lord becomes our bellhop, removing all of that excess baggage that we are carrying. Have you honestly given all of your past hurts to Him? You may have done something in your life that still bothers you to this day. It shouldn't, if you have given it to Him.

Awesome sermon this morning. Lord I pray that healing took place in lives this morning and is continuing right now. I pray that those that went up for prayer and personal ministry this morning are new people. Healed from whatever extra baggage they were carrying. I pray that they laid it down and let You take over.

After church we grabbed a bite to eat and then headed out to Sunsplash with my family and Patty's sister's family. Had a good time but we left kind of early as Patty and I were on the Salt River yesterday so we were pretty beat. We sort of celebrated Labor Day Weekend early since I had a 5 day weekend from work. I start 7 swing shifts in a row beginning Tuesday so I'll be working over the entire holiday weekend. But what the heck, the pays good on holidays.

A crazy day at the River

I've been told that tubing down the Salt River on a weekend can get pretty crazy. Well crazy it was indeed. It was kind of like Mardi Gras on water. Spring Break in Lake Havasu. Girls gone wild video.

Like I said before, I had organized this as an office outing. Well the turn out was very poor. There were 6 of us all together, and that included 2 spouses, so only 4 employees. So picture this, 6 of us floating down the Salt River on a day that the temperature is 110 degrees outside. We are employees of the Phoenix office of the National Weather Service. A Heat Advisory has been issued, and we are warning people about the dangers of the heat in the products that are coming out of our office, and here we are floating on innertubes down the Salt River. Is that an oxymoron or what?

Fun was had by all though. Those that didn't make it missed out. We were all smart and drank lots of water and had lots of sunscreen. But for some, this morning is going to pretty hard to get out of bed. We saw it all on this day floating down the river. The highlight was a floating kegger and all of the craziness that goes with it. Did I mention girls gone wild videos? Let's just say it was, only it was live, and not on video. I've never been to Lake Havasu on Spring Break but I'm told it is even crazier. I went to Spring Break once on Padre Island when I was in the Air Force years ago. Crazy stuff man! I must say, they were having fun. They were a bit loud and obnoxious, but they were not really bothering anyone. I am sort of glad that Shannon didn't go with us though now that I think of it. To make a long story short, if you like all of this craziness, go on a weekend. If not, choose a weekday. The last time I floated down the Salt River, which was also the first time I did it, it was on a weekday and was much more a family like atmosphere. So take your pick.

Well I'm going to get ready for church. After church we are heading to the local water park with Patty's sister. Should be a fun time. Happy Sunday to you all.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

A very Hot Day

Well I woke up pretty early this morning but not in time to join the crew that went running at 7 am. I don't think I'm quite ready to run outside yet as it is still a bit too warm for me. The heat really bothers me a lot. It only gets worse as I get older. They say you get used to it. Well I've been here for over 10 years now and I'm still not used to it. As a matter of fact, it bothers me even more.

Anyhow, I headed to the gym at 8:30 and got in a run on the treadmill. I had a very good run and felt pretty good the whole way through. Gonna step it up again Monday. More running, less walking. I'm getting my legs back now and can really feel myself improving a bit.

So I went on my office webpage and see they have posted a Heat Advisory for today. Well I had planned an office get together. We are meeting at The Salt River Recreation area and tubing the Salt River. I'm bringing LOTS of water and definitely lathering on the sunscreen. We'll see how it turns out.

Patty's sister has free passes to the water park so we will be doing that whole thing tomorrow after church.

Our search for a puppy at The Humane Society yesterday was fun. But we didn't find one that fit us. So we're still looking. Patty wants another cockapoo. Anyone else out there know of any cockapoo puppies available?

G'day to all. Stay cool out there today. It's gonna be a scorcher!

Friday, August 26, 2005

Good night at the Drop-In

Well I counted almost 40 kids last night. Awesome! There were a lot of BMXers there and the track is looking really good. Well we are taking a break for a month and coming back strong in October with lots of special events for these kids. Opening night will feature free pizza and root beer and then on Halloween we will have lots of special things going on. A velcro wall they can jump on and stick themselves to, sumo wrestling and other fun stuff set up in the parking lot. I believe this will all be going on while the smaller kids are enjoying the Harvest Festival.

Well, my lovely wife has the day off today as do I so we are going to spend a nice day together today. I'm gonna head out for a quick run right now, then we're going to go to The Good Egg for some breakfast (I love a big breakfast). After that we're going to head to The Humane Society to see if we can find a nice dog we can adopt. Good day to you all.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Face the music

Face the Music:
Sacred Vs. Secular

A debate is raging between parent and child, friends and even (perhaps especially) within ourselves. It boils down to this: Should Christians listen to music that was written for or by nonbelievers? Should we allow only songs that praise God and ponder His ways to alight on our ears?

Some of the very Scripture verses opponents of secular music use to “prove” their point actually support the converse. In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he says, “If anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things” (Phil. 4:8, NIV). Nothing about “things done only in God’s name.”

Like it or not, God bestows talent—the ability to create excellence—on unbelievers. One reason He does, I believe, is for the benefit of His saints, so that we can enjoy their handiwork. When we see an excellently crafted painting or hear an excellently crafted song, something inside us recognizes the true Author, and we appreciate it (and Him) all the more.

To the Colossians, Paul wrote, “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things” (Col. 3:2). Certainly, this mandates discretion. But its topic is godly values, which non-Christians have been known to espouse, which in turn can encourage Christians to pursue these virtues.

When a friend’s marriage was on the skids, I played for him “I'm So Happy I Can't Stop Crying” by Sting. The sheer anguish of the divorced dad in that song made my friend redouble his efforts to keep his union together. Maybe his inspiration should have been Scripture, but I have no doubt God chose to speak to that man through Sting’s song.

Hardest to swallow are the arguments against secular music that center on reasons other than content. What does it matter who wrote it or why if God wants to use it for good in believers’ lives?

I can’t begin to tell you how Felix Mendelssohn’s overture to “A Midsummer Night's Dream” makes my spirit soar; and, yes, it does get me thinking about God’s majesty and how wonderful He is to adorn our lives with such beauty.

George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord” has turned many believers’ thoughts to Jesus, even though as a Hindu Harrison’s lord is not our Lord. Knowing Harrison’s religion should not demean the power of his lyrics to those who feel closer to Christ when they hear them.

Similarly, New Age music—that is, contemporary, light instrumentals—while perhaps helping to facilitate a meditative mood for Shirley MacLaine types, also does a fine job relaxing believers, and even providing a peaceful milieu for quiet time and prayer.

Content is another matter altogether. Unfortunately, a lot of secular songs condone violence, sex, drugs and other immoral endeavors. Modern love songs seem not to distinguish between romance and sex, or married and unmarried.

This is the kind of music Christians need to avoid, lest the wrong seeds get planted. But some inappropriateness is not reason enough to insulate ourselves from the splendor of all the other music that can edify and inspire, whether or not it was written by or for Christians.One of the most spiritually moving verses I’ve ever heard emanated from a secular country radio station. It’s part of “You Don’t Count the Cost” by Billy Dean:

It happens all around us
Each and every day
Someone's giving all they've got
For someone else's sake
If you ever doubt it,
Just think about the Cross When it comes to love,
You don't count the cost

It’s not going to effect everyone the same way, but it turned my mind heavenward then and does still. I’m glad I was tuned to that station at the time.

What some people don’t like about secular music, particularly rock, is its beat or rhythm. That’s a can of worms best handled with the same litmus test believers should apply to all music—secular or Christian, lyrical or instrumental, rock or classical: How does it make you feel?

Does it inspire you to reflect on God and His values, or does it incite you to think of worldly vices? It’s true that certain gyrating rhythms can connote sexuality, and grating “musical” chaos can agitate depression or aggression.

At what point music crosses the line between inspiration and incitation differs from person to person. So, sure, choose wisely, but feel free to select from all of God’s creation, not just the parts with convenient labels.

-By Bob Liparulo for New Man magazine.

The Next Step

(Continuing excerpts from John "The Penguin" Binghams book The Courage to Start for those of us at The Vineyard preparing for the PF Changs Rock & Roll Half Marathon)

When I started running, my goal was to be able to run a mile without stopping. Since I couldn't run more than fifty yards at a time, a mile seemed like the ultimate achievable distance. After a few months, when a mile was no longer an unthinkable distance, I set my sights on running three miles.

I measured a mile and a half away from my house and made a mark in the road. This would be my sword in the stone. If I could run that mile and a half away from my house, I would have to get back. And when I did, I would have covered three miles with my own two feet.

I didn't make it to the mark the first time I tried. I didn't make it the second or third time either. It just looked too far. And if it looked too far going out, imagine how far it would have looked coming back. Still, that mark was out there, beckoning me to run past my fear.

Eventually I pushed past the point of no return. I ran until I could see the mark. Then I ran to the mark. The first time I made it, I stopped for awhile. I wanted to savor the moment. I wanted to celebrate-not the distance, but the victory over my self-imposed limitations.

Running back, knowing that every step was taking me deeper into unknown territory, I was overcome with an odd combination of joy and anxiety. I was happy that I was running farther than I had ever run, but I was worried because I didn't know what I would do next.

Sooner or later it happens. Sooner or later the unthinkable becomes thinkable and the undoable is done. In time, a distance that was beyond the imagination becomes routine. In time, a pace that was elusive becomes ordinary. When that happens, for better or worse, we have to find new goals.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

1 Corinthians 9:19-27 NLT

19 This means I am not bound to obey people just because they pay me, yet I have become a servant of everyone so that I can bring them to Christ. 20 When I am with the Jews, I become one of them so that I can bring them to Christ. When I am with those who follow the Jewish laws, I do the same, even though I am not subject to the law, so that I can bring them to Christ. 21When I am with the Gentiles who do not have the Jewish law, I fit in with them as much as I can. In this way, I gain their confidence and bring them to Christ. But I do not discard the law of God; I obey the law of Christ.
22When I am with those who are oppressed, I share their oppression so that I might bring them to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone so that I may bring them to Christ. 23I do all this to spread the Good News, and in doing so I enjoy its blessings.
24Remember that in a race everyone runs, but only one paerson gets the prize. You also must run in such a way that you will win. 25All athletes practice strict self-control. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal praize. 26So I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step. I am not like a boxer who misses his punches. 27I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.

In verses 22-23 Paul gives several important principles for ministry.
1)Find common ground with those you contact.
2)Avoid a know-it-all attitude.
3)Make others feel accepted.
4)Be sensitive to their needs and concerns.
5)Look for opportunities to tell them about Christ.

Verse 27 to me is probaby the most important. When Paul says that he might be disqualified, he doesn't mean he could lose his salvation but rather that he could lose his priveledge of telling others about Christ. It is very easy to tell others how to live and then NOT take our own advice. We must be careful to practice what we preach.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

How's Your Filter?

This was posted on Praying Mantis' Blog today and I thought this was EXCELLENT! He's a fantastic Youth Pastor at The Vineyard and also a pretty darn good teacher too. It blessed me so I hope it blesses you too. I will share a story soon about my broken filters when I have the time.

How's Your Filter?
(The Cracks are everywhere)

Knowing what your limitations are is a good thing.

Some people can not handle eating sweets because if they have one they want to have a million, so for them there sweet filter is broken. For others, their alcohol filter is broken so they can't have a drink or even be in the company of people who drink because their filter which allows them to stop once they start is broken. For others, they need to stop television all together because they are unable to turn off something that is useless for them, or they get addicted to it and watch it until all their time has been wasted. Some people have broken boundary filters - where they get used by everyone around them because they do not have the ability to tell others "no," or to say to them, "I need some time away from you because you are just driving me is my problem, not yours, so forgive me and give me a little time." For some, they may not be able to read books like "Lord of the Rings," cause instantly they are trying to be too macho, or slicing their little sister with their plastic swords. For others, they can not read books like Harry Potter, cause instantly their broken filter causes them to start investigating witchcraft.

Being sensitive to other people's broken filters is a good thing.

Encouraging others to participate in activities where they filters are broken is to be a stumbling block to their life progress. The Bible warns us teachers of the young to be even more cautious of causing the young to stumble - because the punishment for doing so will be harsh. So when we speak to friends about "God making wine to make glad the hearts of men," and when we speak of Paul Admonishing Timothy to take a little wine to make his heart glad...and when we speak of freedom in Christ to have cable tv and the internet...we speak such things to only those who have filters in place that work because we are not the filter fixers...God is. And until God decides, and he might fix their filters...then we would be best to just be quiet when we know that our brother and sister's filter doesn't work in a certain area. I do not believe it is our job to set them free of something they already wish they could be free of, but somehow can not seem to manage. Love our weaker brothers and sisters - by encouraging them, praising them, gentle rebuking them while acknowledging your own broken areas...cause we are all pretty broken - the cracks are everywhere.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Pickin' it up this week!

Well I went to work today and afterwards headed to the gym. Had a very nice run. After what all happened yesterday, it really made me feel better. Patty is taking it really hard. Please keep her in your prayers. She did go to the gym with me which was good.

I hope you all are enjoying the tidbits from John Bingham's book. I know a lot of you will be running in the half marathon this January, many for the first time. I just think his writing style is encouraging, and even humorous at times too. Keep pounding that pavement folks.


The Road to Discouragement

For the most part, moving our bodies feels good. Even with a few aches and pains, even with the strange sensations that overtake our bodies, even with the sounds of our lungs struggling to get in enough air-it still feels good. We know that this is the right thing to be doing.

Unfortunately, the joy doesn't always last. All too soon the thrill of our own success is replaced by our need to compare ourselves to others. No longer satisfied with the miracle that is occurring in our lives, we begin to look at our relative place and pace in the running world. Our best is no longer good enough.

this shouldn't come as a surprise. We are told from childhood to do our best, but we know that our best is rarely good enough. We learned quickly that there was always a goal just beyond our reach that someone else had accomplished already, that we could reach if we really did our best. When our best fell short, as it often did, we were consoled by "Well, at least you tried."

We should remember that before children are taught that it is possible for them to be better or worse than someone else, they generally are quite content with their abilities. They accept, without complaint, the frustration of trying to learn to talk, crawl, walk, and use the bathroom. A young child is completely unaware that he/she is two weeks behind the normal developmental schedule. Children know only that the process is occurring at a pace that is suited to their needs and desires.

The road to discouragement begins with a single word:SHOULD. As soon as the word "should" appears in our thinking about our running, we are in trouble. When we think we "should" be able to run faster, or that we "should" be able to run farther, we have often taken the first step on the path to frustration and failure.

Sometimes it begins when a well-meaning friend, often a seasoned runner, begins to outline a training program and introduces the new runner to the word "should". Armed with the accumulated wisdom and expectations of a hundred running books and training guides, this friend explains just how far and how fast the new runner "should" be running everyday.

When people ask me how far or how fast they "should" run, I ask them how far and how fast they "can" run. The secret to being successful at a running program is to take how far and how fast you "can" run, ask yourself how far and how fast you "want" to run, and then learn to live with narrowing the gap between what you "can" do and what you "want" to do.

Ask yourself how far you can run today. Be honest. It may be a quarter of a mile, it may be a marathon. Whatever it is, that's where YOU are as a runner. It doesn't make you a better or worse runner. It just tells you where you are as a runner.

All of us are somewhere. Like a good friend used to say "Wherever you are, there you are." If you don't like where you are, it's better to accept where you are and decide to move toward where you want to be than to berate yourself for where you are. I know very few runners, either recreational or professional, who will tell you that they are happy with where they are. Even if today is your first day as a runner, you share one quality with runners everywhere. You want to be better.

By starting with where you are and deciding on where you want to be, you can avoid the pitfalls of the "should's". You can avoid, from the very beginning, giving yourself feedback that is either falsely positive because you can exceed the "should's" or falsely negative because you can't meet the "should" standards. The alternative to accepting where you are and seeking only to improve is that you set yourself up for failure.

(From John Binghams book The Courage to Start)

Sunday, August 21, 2005

The Rainbow Bridge Poem

Well I just got back from work today and the dog was just suffering too much. This is the second time I have had to do this and I can tell you that it wasn't any easier this time. As a matter of fact I think it was harder. I took Heather in and had her put to sleep. Anyhow, the reason I am blogging so soon is I wanted to share this poem that they gave me at the vets office. So here it goes..............................................

The Rainbow Bridge Poem

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.

There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. Her bright eyes are intent. Her eager body quivers. Suddenly she begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, her legs carrying her faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyuos reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life, but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together..................................

Author Unknown

Unconditional Love

I finished Blue Like Jazz last night before falling asleep. One of the chapters was talking about Love. The author, Don Miller, was writing about a time in his life when he had lived in the Oregon woods for a month with a bunch of pot smoking hippies. He went on to explain the unconditional love that these hippies showed to everyone. They didn't really care who you were, what you were like, whether or not you believed in God, whether you smoked pot or not. They showed love to EVERYBODY! Unconditionally. He then went on to explain what he had seen in several churches that he had been in. How people looked down on others who were not "like" them. If you did not subscribe to their way of life, or their "rules", you were an outcast.

Let me ask an honest question. How many times have you snubbed the homeless guy on the street? The punk rocker with all of his piercings, colored hair and tattoo's? The person that has different political views than yourself? Are we as Christians guilty of this? If I had to answer for myself, I would have to honestly answer yes. But I am going to strive to treat others the way Jesus would.

The homosexual, the girl who had an abortion, the drunk, the homeless, the drug addict, the couple living together outside of marriage. How many of them have attended a church only to be "rejected" because of the way they are. Too many churches are so proactive in holding protests against homosexuality, same sex marriage, abortion clinics, etc. It is my personal opinion that these protests are wrong. Why can't we just love these people that are hurting? Love them the way Christ does. Would he be out there protesting? A person commented on one of my previous posts. He said he heard an interview where Josh McDowell was interviewing young women who had gone through an abortion. The one common denominator in their answers was that they felt the abortion clinics were the only ones reaching out to them. Even the Christians in their lives had turned their backs on them because they had gotten pregnant out of wedlock. Would they have gotten an abortion if these Christians in their lives had shown them love and compassion instead of screaming at them and rejecting them because they were pregnant out of wedlock? I don't know, I can't answer that. But my guess is that maybe they would not have gone through with it.

One thing I really like about The Vineyard is the way they try to love people where they are at. I love the Drop-In Center which is where Patty and I serve the kids on Thursday nights. They are a bunch of unchurched kids. Skater's, BMX'ers, punk rockers, whatever. They cuss, some smoke, some probably use drugs. But we love them and try to show them Christ's love. We are there to "serve" them. True Servants. I stood in awe this past Thursday night while the Youth Pastor gathered them all around at the end of the night and prayed for them. He prayed for their safety, that they would do well in school. He prayed for their families. He truly loves those kids, as do Patty and I and all of the others who serve at the Drop-In Center.

Well I have rambled enough. The running is going great so far. I am building up my stamina again and my endurance. It feels good. I step up again this up coming week a bit as far as more running and less walking and the mileage will go up a bit too. Please pray for our family as we will be putting our dog down this week. Patty is not taking it so well. It hurts to have to do it, but it will be the right thing to do to end her suffering.

Lord, help us as Christians to love people who are different than us. Help us to show them your love. Help us to not have self righteous attitudes. Let us take the punks, the skaters, the homosexuals, the homeless, the drug addicts and love them like You love them, and try to bring them into a true relationship with You!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Lord Forgive Me

I had a lot of hard feelings when we left our previous church. We were there for 10 years. We have some wonderful friends that still attend there. I was reading Blue Like Jazz last night before I went to bed. I was convicted of something that I am guilty of. I am guilty of being judgmental of the church I used to attend. Although I disagreed with a lot that happened and was hurt by it all, it was my choice to stay or go. They do preach the Gospel. Father God, I ask for forgiveness in my attitude about what happened. I ask You to restore me and help me to not be judgmental about them.

It was very ironic when Patty and I attended a service at the Vineyard together for the first time. I had already been to a couple of services there by myself. The sermon that was given that morning was titled "Characteristics of an unhealthy Church". Hmmmm! Coincedence? Or a word from the Lord?

Needless to say, we are attending the Vineyard now and have been since Thanksgiving. It is our church family now and is full of great people. One thing I admire the most is that they accept people wherever they are at in their walk with the Lord. They love people and truly have servant's hearts. Thank you Lord for bringing us restoration.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Running with the body you have

Everything changed the day I understood that if I was to become a runner, I would have to run with the body I had. The day I started to accept that my running goals would have to be accomplished with my feet attached to my legs, breathing air with my lungs, and pumping blood with my heart, every aspect of my running became more pleasurable and more satisfying.

This may sound obvious. Maybe it is to those who are much smarter or much less stubborn than I. But the truth is that, from the beginning, I believed that by dieting and exercising, in whatever form, I would get a different body. I believed that sometime in the middle of the night my old body would be replaced by a new one.

I would feel sillier about believing that I was going to get a different body if I didn't think that so many other people share my delusion. There is an industry devoted to promoting this illusion. There are machines and devices that are designed to convince you that you can have someone else's legs, or arms, or abdominal muscles.

There are television shows and infomercials that take advantage of our insecurities with our bodies. They go to great lengths to convince us that if we will do something for five minutes a day, three times a week, we will actually have someone else's body. I may have been silly, but I was not alone.

Eventually, I began to look at my body less as an object and more as a tool. I began to ask myself not what I wanted my body to look like, but what I wanted my body to be able to do. I stopped looking so much at the shape of particular parts of my body and instead started considering their function. I discovered that, indeed. my body was a well-designed, fully functioning machine.

My legs were neither too short nor too long. They were fine. They were attached to my hips. They had knees, which allowed them to bend. And my feet seemed to fit rather nicely on the ends of my legs.

Not only did my legs work, but, as it turned out, the rest of my body worked well, too. My lungs drew in air. My heart pumped blood. Every system in my body worked in concert with the others. I just needed to give my body a chance to function like a machine.

As I began to use my body, as it began to respond to the physical demands I was placing on it, I saw that change and improvement were a never-ending process. I finally understood that getting in shape wasn't something that you did. It was something that you are always doing.

I watched in amazement as my body began to refine itself into the product of my effort. I was stunned when I realized that it was my body that was bringing so much pleasure into my life. Rather than being my enemy, my body was trying to reestablish the friendship that I had long ago abandoned. Rather than sending me messages of despair, through fatigue and pain, my body was sending me messages of hope and exhileration. My body was reasserting itself. My body was taking control.
(By John Bingham)

Well I'm off for a 2.5 mile run. catch ya on the flip side folks.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

My Moment of Truth

This is from John "The Penguin" Bingham's book titled The Courage to Start. I will try and post excerpts from the book on a regular basis as time allows as sort of a motivational tool for all of us that will be training in the coming weeks. I highly recommend this book also.

My Moment of Truth

People ask if there was a particular moment of enlightenment that caused me to change. They are surprised to learn that there was no moment of epiphany, no blinding light. There was only the relentless march toward middle-age.
There was one incident, though, that maybe would pass for an epiphany. I had been invited to a fancy dinner party and needed to rent a tuxedo. The salesperson measured my out seam. Forty inches. Then she measured my waist. Also forty inches!
I had become a cube! I had the measurements of a decent-sized throw rug.
And so, at age forty-three, when I found myself standing in my garage with a pair of new running shoes, I knew that it was my moment of truth. Surrounded by the mechanical witnesses to my folly, I stared out at my driveway and and into my future. Ahead of me lay forty yards of driveway. Behind me lay forty years of bad decisions and broken promises.
I'm not sure how long I stood there. I was paralyzed by fear and more frightened of starting than I was of not starting. I knew that this was it. I knew that this would be the last time I would have the courage to start.
With a primal scream I started down the driveway, at a full sprint. Arms flailing and legs pumping, I ran at full speed toward tomorrow. For about thirty seconds!
That's as long as it took for my legs to hurt, my lungs to hurt, and my ego to hurt. I stopped dead in my tracks. Thirty seconds! That was as long as I could run. I was overcome with my own arrogance, and I started to laugh. After years of working hard and playing hard and living hard, I couldn't move my body for longer than thirty seconds.
It never occurred to me that I would stick with it. Why should this time be any different from the others? But I found myself putting on my running shoes, heading out the door, and waiting for the urge to quit to overcome me. As the days passed, and then weeks and months, I became perplexed. Surely I would quit. I always had in the past.
This time, though, something was different. Even now I'm not sure what made the difference. Running-well, okay, waddling-was becoming a part of my life. It may just have been the absurdity of it that kept me interested-the complete incongruity of "John the Runner" living in the body of "John the Couch-Potato".
(To be continued so stay tuned)

A day off is good for the soul

Well I finally have a day off from work. I'm gonna read some more of Blue Like Jazz and just relax today. I had a great run yesterday before we went to the vet. After the vet I left for work. The run really helped me unwind from some of the stress we have had dealing with our dog's health problems.

Speaking of the dog, she is still with us. The vet drained some stuff off of her lymph nodes and sent them off to the lab. She is doing a little bit better today. We should get a call sometime today or tomorrow to find out what exactly the problem is. It could be cancer, or it could just be a nasty infection. I guess we'll know soon.

I am so glad I have a couple of days off. I like working evenings when there is active weather, and the afternoons and evenings is when the weather is active around here during the monsoon. But I hate the evening shifts for family reasons and when I work evenings I can't go help with the Youth on Wednesday nights or the Drop-In Center on Thursdays. But this week I get to be there.

To all those training, keep pounding the pavement, one foot in front of the other.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Time to step it up

Well a new week starts now. Time to step it up in the jogging department. This week I will run for 5 minutes and walk for 2 and a half minutes for 4 cycles. Probably around 2.5 miles in 30 minutes. I'll run Mon, Wed, Fri and Sat. Then step it up again the following week. After taking a month off from running, I'm learning that you lose a lot of aerobic fitness during that time off. But I needed the break. From what I've read, you really start losing a lot of aerobic fitness after just 2 weeks off. Sounds like a lot of folks from The Vineyard are going to be training for the PF Changs Rock & Roll Half Marathon. This will be fun.

I just got home from work after working a pretty active weather night, especially out west near Blythe and Parker and some Flash Flooding in Southern Gila County. The Metro missed it all again tonight. I was pretty bummed about an event that happened in Blythe though. They had a wind gust to 61 mph at the airport but we did not warn for it. Myself and one of the other guys on duty were absolutely shocked because on the radar it did not look that bad. Oh well, can't win them all.

Patty is meeting me at the vet office tomorrow. Our dog is not doing so well. Patty is taking it pretty hard. I am too. It's just that I feel totally helpless because there is nothing I can do to help her. I'm seriously afraid we are saying goodbye to her. But it will be the right thing to do to end the suffering for her. I would rather not talk about this anymore.

I am currently reading Blue Like Jazz. What a cool book. I've only read the first 2 chapters. My good brother Praying Mantis gave it to Patty and I. Thanks man! It's awesome.

To all that are starting out the training for this half marathon, I wish you all happy trails. I look forward to getting to know some of those that we don't really know all that well yet. But the Vineyard is full of great people so I know it will me an awesome experience to run with some of you. Keep on truckin'.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

An Ode to our Dog!

I remember the day that Patty and Shannon went to pick up our dog that Shannon named Heather. That was about 8 and a half years ago. Some friends of ours had a neighbor that was moving and they were looking for a home for their dog. Heather was an 8 month old cockapoo and I don't think she had been groomed since the day she was born. She looked like a mop. I'm not kidding you. If you could have stuck a mop handle in her mouth, I swear you could have mopped a floor. After getting her groomed, she looked pretty good. Although I still did not really take a liking to her at that time. It turns out though, that in time, her and I got to be pretty good friends. She is one of the most lovable dogs I have ever had. She did not have a mean bone in her body, so a watch dog she was not.

Heather supposedly had Valley Fever. Well after about a month of meds and her condition worsening, we took her in to see the vet again for a followup appointment. The X-rays did not look good. Her lymph nodes had enlarged even more. A call a few days later brought us the news we did NOT want to hear. That now we would have to put the "C" word, yes Cancer, near the top of the list of possible causes. We have an appointment with an internal medicine specialist Monday afternoon. Yes, they even have specialists for animals too.

In my heart I can sense the end is near for her. As much as we love her, I cannot stand to let her suffer anymore. But I guess we will not really have to make a decision until Monday after see this specialist.

Lord, I just pray that you would comfort Heather, that you would not let her suffer, and that if it is in your will, that you could heal her. I pray for peace and comfort for myself, Patty and Shannon as it may be time to say goodbye to our beloved pet. Thank you Lord for the comfort and peace that we can only get from You!

On a good note, work has been busy the past few days with all of the storms going on. I have been working the radar during some active weather and that has made my job much more fun. I have started building a base again in my running after taking a month off. I'm feeling pretty good about the progress I am making. Still haven't decided about doing the Jr. High group yet. Still praying on it. Please keep Patty and I in your prayers as we seek direction in this area.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Gay Bashing

Well here goes a rant. I check my personal email on a regular basis. I still receive emails from some folks at my old church. Today, I get this email from a guy wanting me to sign a petition against Allstate because they are homosexual friendly work place. I used to work with a guy that was homosexual and he was one of our better employees before he retired.

This is another GREAT reason why I left this church. I even replied to the guy stating the reason I would NOT sign this petition. I believe that we as Christians should love everyone just as Christ loves everyone. I may not agree with homosexuality and I do believe that the Bible clearly states that it is wrong. But where in the Bible does it say we are to petition against them? I think many Christians are way too proactive in bashing abortion, bashing homosexuality, etc. While I believe these things are wrong and are clearly sin, why be proactive against them. We can disagree with them in love but still love them correct?

If you were out witnessing to a group of people on the street and found out they were homosexual, what do you think their response to your witness would be if they found out you were petitioning Allsate because they are a "homosexual friendly" work place?

Rant over! Peace out!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

And the thunder rolls

What a night! I just got home from work and the adrenaline is still flowing. Lots of severe weather on my shift tonight. East Mesa got pounded. It was mostly a Flash Flood event with copius amounts of rain in a very short period. On a down note person and possibly two lost their lives due to the weather. An older gentleman tried to cross a flooded wash in the New River area and never made it out. Apparently the rescuers found him still seatbelted in inside his overturned truck. Another little girl was swept away by floodwaters in the Cave Creek area and is missing.

Well I'm heading downstairs to grab a bite to eat then will hit the sack. I'll go for a short run on the treadmill at the gym after I get up and then I get to go to work and do it all over again.

Lord, I ask that you be with the families that were affected by the tragedies that occurred earlier this evening. Comfort them and may they find comfort in you during this difficult time. Thank you for healing Patty's migraine. I ask that you let her get a good nights rest and wake up feeling refreshed. I pray for Shannon and all of the other kids that start school in the morning. That you would walk along right beside them throughout the school year. Amen!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

A Time to Kill

I was watching a movie last night titled "A Time to Kill". It was based on a black man that killed his daughter's rapists and was then tried on murder charges. I fell asleep before the end and don't know what happened. Anyone out there see this movie before? Fill me in please.

On another subject...I have been mentoring a friend of mine for quite some time. He has an addiction problem and has stuggled with it for some time. I spoke to his wife today and he seems to be struggling again. His wife is really struggling in dealing with him but it is not her problem. It is his. Please pray for them and also pray for wisdom for me in how to speak to him. I have been where he is at one time and I can truly understand his struggles but I also know there is light at the end of the tunnel. You just have to want it and reach for it. The Lord did a miracle in my life and my prayer is for a miracle for my friend. Lord, please speak to him and let him seek your love and peace and grace that you offer to all who ask.

Patty has a migraine again. Please pray for her. Father, I ask that you touch patty right now and let her be set free from these migraines that she suffers from.

Well it's off to work this afternoon. I hope for rain and stormy weather. It makes my work fun. G'day and blessings to you all.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Not so good news from the vet

Well I just got back from Open House at Mesquite High and walked through Shannon's schedule with her. At least she does not have a class in any of the portables this year. She has a pretty good schedule and I hope she does well this year. She will be a Junior.

Earlier this afternoon we took our dog back to the vet for a follow up appointment. They did another chest x-ray and the vet did not like what he saw. The lymph nodes around the bronchial tubes were swollen and squeezing the airway shut. He told us that if the Valley Fever treatment does not work then it may be a cancer. Something like lymphoma in humans. It was pretty evident to Patty and I on the x-ray that it had enlarged quite a bit since the last time. We will just continue to pray for her and keep giving her the medicine and hope for the best.

Well it's back to work for me tomorrow. I get to work some evening and radar shifts. I like these shifts when there is weather going on and that seems to be the case this past week. But I hate the hours. Oh well, it pays the bills and I am blessed to be in a job that I am really interested in. Til next time, Ciao!

A rainy day

Here I sit at home on a rainy day. It is nice though. I enjoy the rain and how it cools things off here in the desert. I love the sound of the thunder as it rolls through the sky. My dog sits at my feet as I blog. She has Valley Fever and is not doing so well. Patty and I are taking her to the vet at 330 for a follow up appointment. I believe that the Lord cares for the little animals on this earth also. Lord I pray that you will touch Heather (our beloved cockapoo) and heal her body Lord.

Patty and I are also praying real hard about taking over the Jr. High group at the church. We so enjoyed being the Youth Leaders at our old church but were hurt very badly there. We attended there for 10 years. We felt that there was too much legalism in that church and that it had almost taken over a dictatorship type of leadership. When we no longer had the support of the pastor we felt it was time to move on. We found a wonderful church called The Vineyard that is full of servants that want to love the people and kids where they are at. Lord I pray that you will guide Patty and I and direct us where you would want us to serve you. I thank you for new friends that have been made. Ben, Robert, & Obie. I see in their hearts that they serve you and love these kids. I pray for the youth that they will grow in you and that leaders will step up and disciple their peers in walking with You!

After taking a month off from running I am building a base again and will start training in another month or so. I am planning on running the RnR Half Marathon with Patty in January and then will run the Lost Dutchman full Marathon in February. I pray that I will be diligent in my training and will stay healthy and focused.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of going out to dinner with my wonderful wife Patty as we celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary. We went to Claim Jumpers. I had never been there before. WOW! The food was great and the portions were HUGE! I look forward to many more years with you Patty! I love you.

My first blog

I am new to this but hope to get the hang of it. I will update my thoughts as much as possible. Til next post...see ya!