Monday, August 10, 2009

Way to Go Chris!

Most of you know my brother Chris. What some of you don't know though is that this year he has accomplished some great things regarding his health. He made a commitment to becoming more healthy and has stuck with it. First he won a "Biggest Loser" contest at work where he lost 40lbs and has continued to lose since.

Although, I'm proud of him for that I'm even more proud him for his accomplishment in running. In late 2007 Chris told me he wanted to run the Country Music 1/2 Marathon. Given I had already ran the Full Marathon I was game to go along and do the 1/2 with him in 2008. Although he finished, he struggled in that race with a time of 2:48:35. (Sorry Chris I know you want to forget but I have to make a point.) He spent the next few days on crutches because he had some intense foot pain which may have been plantar faciitis (I'm not sure). He told me then he was sticking to 5ks and less. Chris doesn't exaggerate too much so I was pretty sure I would never get him into another 1/2 marathon.

To my surprise and delight he told me back in the spring that he was going to try it again and run the Chicago 1/2 marathon. Fittingly, he started his new journey at the health fair for the 2008 Country Music race. On August 2nd, Chris ran in the inaugural Rock n Roll Chicago 1/2 marathon and finished in 2:07:35 erasing over 40 minutes off his time from just over a year ago in Nashville. You don't have to be a runner to understand how remarkable that is. Further, he sent me a text asking me to run in a 1/2 marathon with him in Clarksville in November. Of course I said yes. Great work Chris and keep up the training. I know you are going to break 2 hours in the next one.

On a side note my cousin Shannon is going to run with us in November. A true family affair. Chris says she is obsessed as much or more than him. Wish us all luck. I can't wait.

Friday, July 24, 2009

In the words of Chandler Bing, "Could I be more proud?"

For those of you who know how big of a baseball fan I am. This blog does not require words. Enjoy!

video

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Is appearance everything?

On the radio the other day I was listening to one of my boring talk shows. I'm a dork but I love them. More importantly I was listening to a atheist's show. He consistently makes me angry when he gets on his soap box about religion, for some reason I continue to listen anyway. Well the other day he had a couple of ladies on his show that were trying to slap him into believing in God. We all know that never works. He then asked the age old question, "Will there be good people in hell and bad people in heaven?" Unfortunately I didn't like their answer for him and almost violated my cardinal rule - only listen, never call. They of course continued their all non-believers are stupid approach, which as some of you know makes me just as angry. Think about it, would Jesus insult someone in an effort to get them to follow him?

Well this event made me think of the story of the fig tree. It is a great way to answer the host's question. Yes, there will be good people in hell and bad people in heaven. In Matthew 21: 18 -19 Jesus (to his disciples' amazement) condemns a fig tree to never bear fruit again. Why did he do this? Well first we have to understand a little about the tree. During the off season a fig tree not only does not have fruit it does not have leaves either. This tree was bearing leaves but when Jesus looked for fruit it was not there. Jesus was using the fig tree as an example that merely appearing faithful is not good enough.

You see there are many who go through life living morally sound. On Earth they are well respected and our true pillars to society. Some even claim to be christian and believe in Jesus Christ and I'm sure they do. Remember even the Devil believes in God. Appearance, however, is only deceiving to those of us on Earth. You not only have to believe, you have to trust in the Lord as well. Lay down your life to him as he laid his down for you. My brother's favorite message to give (and its a good one) is that faith is nothing without works. James tells us that we must back our faith up with works. The works are what help us bring others to Christ. The fig tree is showing us that the works are also nothing without faith. Jesus is not interested in appearances, he is interested in what you believe in your heart. That my friends is faith. If you continue to read the passage Jesus tells the disciples with faith you can do anything, without it you can do nothing. There are many good people without faith and it is up to us with faith to provide good works so that they will also have eternal life. Without that there will be many good people in hell and as a Christian that hurts my heart.

There are many people that live a life that is not so morally sound. They may steal, murder, lust or any number of things. They struggle with their addiction to sin. They go through life living for themselves instead of the Lord. However, when it all comes to a breaking point and they can't seem to move forward. They come to the Lord, lay at the foot of the cross and plead for his forgiveness. We have a loving God and he does so. From that point forward they turn over their life and their name is written in the Book of Life. However, here on Earth we still label them as "bad". Those bad people will be in heaven and as a Christian that pleases my heart.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Whoops!

Just thought I would share a funny story. You should all get a good kick out of this. In my last blog I mentioned getting into trail running. Last weekend my friend Jimmy gave me a little taste of that. He took me up to Raccoon Mountain and we met one other runner and hit the trail. It was awesome. Great views, good running and just an all out good time. So this morning I decided I had to do it again.

Well running on a trail is not so hard when you have somebody who knows the trail telling you where to go. Today I set out on my own to run part of the Cumberland trail on Signal. It was only 2.8 miles from my house so I just ran to the trail head. Then I was going to run a 2 mile trail and then from the other end back to the house. All in total about 7.5 or 8 miles. Since it was only 2 miles of trail I studied the map online and thought to myself no need to print it out I'm not going far. Ignoring all the warnings of the trails not being marked well. You may see where this is going.

So I started out on the trail and everything was going fine. The trail followed along the edge of the mountain bluff over looking the Tennessee River Gorge. The view was amazing but the trail was a little rougher than the one on Raccoon Mountain. No big deal except I was running along and noticed that I didn't see trail markings anymore. I looked all around and didn't see any markings. That's when the panic suddenly set in. Below me a huge slope down to the river, behind me forest and the same in front, and above a rock wall of about 15 feet high.

I thought, well if I just keep going the trail should pick back up. I knew it followed along the gorge. However, the briers and fallen trees just got more numerous. I finally came to a spot where I could climb up on top of the bluff and look around. However, when I got up there (and here is the funny part) it was somebody's back yard and their friendly dog (yes luckily he was friendly). So I thought well I could return to the woods or run through the yard up the driveway and get on the road. I chose the second option. Luckily it was early enough that they were not awake yet. I was only lost for about 20 minutes but that seemed like an eternity when I was thinking of all the stories you here about lost hikers.

When I got back to the house and told Jessica the story. She first gave the generally accepted compassion by saying I'm glad you are alright and you found your way out. Then she followed up with what could be the best five words of relevant advice, "Next time, take the map."

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A must read

In my blog links you have to click on "Out of the Box, The Survey Says". I can't say it better myself.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Back to running

So I've got back to running in the past couple of weeks. Out of advice from my doctor I took a rest for a while because an x-ray showed a crack in my knee cap. It was a good news/bad news type of statement. The good news, "Surgery isn't necessary and after some rest it shouldn't effect your running and biking." The bad news, "Your knee will always hurt."

I have some great goals over the next couple of years for my new found past time. I'm not ready/bold enough to make those public yet. Right now I'm just happy to be able to get out on the road (I plan to graduate to trails soon too). For me a nice long run allows me plenty of time to think, reflect and release. Two years ago when I ran my first (and only) marathon it was one of the proudest moments of my life. In a car 26.2 miles doesn't seem too far but on foot it can be like the oasis you see in the distance of the desert. If there is one thing I've learned in my short life span it's that nothing worth having comes easily. A completed marathon takes hard work, dedication, and as many people have told me, "A little bit of craziness." But the feeling of accomplishment afterward is unfathomable.

This year I plan to compete in my first full distance triathlon. I've never possessed a great ability to swim so I have to admit I'm slightly nervous about that part. I completed a couple sprint distance races last year but they only had a 1/4 of a mile swim. I basically panic swam through those, I'm not sure I can do that for a full mile. Luckily I have a wife who is a great swimmer and I'm relatively certain she will guide me through it. Any advice you may have will be welcomed also.

I'm not sure what it is harder, the training for these races or a 3 hour wrestling practice both can make you want to lay down a die. However, just as when I won the region championship my senior year in wrestling, finishing a long run within your goal time makes you feel like you can do anything. So as the song goes "I can't wait to get on the road again, going place I've never been."

Thursday, January 8, 2009

You Can't Always Get What You Want

Now that I have everyone singing I will be cliche and finish by saying, "If you try sometimes you'll get what you need." Jessica and I went to a new church this past Sunday. We both thoroughly enjoyed it. The minister was wonderful and his message was superb.

Just a side note. Reed also had a life changing experience. (Can you have one of those at 14 months old?) We dropped him off at the nursery and he never looked back. I think I actually heard him say, "New kids, new toys, c-ya mom and dad." Little did he know that in just a few short moments he would be whisked outside in his first ever fire evacuation. Turns out it was a false alarm but none the less all the kids were moved to a new location. However, the mass hysteria that I'm sure ensued didn't seem to bother Reed. When we went to get him he was happy and wanted to stay with the little girl he was playing with instead of coming with us.

Anyway, back to my point. Sometimes it seems that God will actually pick you up and sit you back down right where he wants you to be. The minister started the sermon with a joke about a marriage not being about getting the love you want but wanting the love you get. It was one of those opening lines that slaps you in the face and says, "Perk up -- something good is coming."

The sermon was based on Philippians 2: 1 - 11. In this passage the focus was more on verses 6 - 8 which speaking of Jesus reads:

"Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death even death on a cross!" (NIV)

Paul was explaining to the Philippians that before his days on earth Christ enjoyed complete equality with the Father yet he laid that aside and came to Earth. Knowing he would be persecuted, beaten and crucified, he still gave up his glory and took our place on the cross. Jesus humbled himself so that we may be glorified.

As some of you know, the current economic situation has directly impacted Jessica and I. Jessica was laid off at the end of November and because of that we had to rethink a number of our expenses. Actually something we should have already done anyway. Some things we were really excited about getting to do we now cannot. A little budgeting has never hurt anyone and that is all we really have had to do. I'll confess though -- until hearing that message my own bitterness has kept my stress level high. Fortunately, Jessica has taken a higher road on the positive side. Ironically the one of us that should have been bitter has kept us sailing by stepping into the role of "wanting what we get" instead of "getting what we want." The sermon though showed me that we have to approach these tough times that way. It couldn't have come at the right time because this week has been full of bad news at my work. On Tuesday we started the day with an e-mail notifying us that my company would not be giving raises this year and they would be cutting 1,100 jobs. Then just today one of my co-workers became victim to this cut back. Luckily it wasn't me but without this message I'm not sure my stress level could have handled it.

What I do know is that I have a loving, hard working wife, a wonderful rambunctious little boy and a sweet little baby girl on the way. We have a roof over our head, heat to keep us warm and food to keep us nourished. All things that not only do I need but I definitely want.

Later in the passage I mentioned above we are explicitly charged with confessing that Jesus Christ is Lord because he earned that respect through his humility. Inexplicably, Paul is telling us to humble ourselves just as Jesus did. If we do, we may not get what we want but if we try sometimes God will make sure we get what we need.