“The Hat” – Remember the Sweat

Many athletes have crazy superstitions. Routines, clothing, food … ridiculous as it seems, these routines bring some sort of confidence to otherwise sane people.  Let’s not limit it to athletes; artists, performers, business professionals, fans, and even preachers often have routines to help get them into their “groove”.  Whatever it takes to make a person comfortable can actually help their performance.  Call it superstition or call it routine, if it helps do it.  OK, a fan’s routines really have no bearing on the outcome of a game or the performance of the athletes (except for during the NCAA Basketball Tournament when it is imperative that we never change our routine as long as UK is winning!)

marathon picThis actually has nothing to do with my subject in this post although it may at first glance seem that way.  I want to tell you about my hat. It is a simple Kentucky blue cotton ball cap with a white ‘UK’ embroidered on the front. Christmas of 2007, I received this ball cap.  If you have not been able to tell from any of my other post, we are a little bit fanatical about our C-A-T-S … CATS! CATS! CATS! so obviously this ball cap became a prized possession. In January of 2008, I began my training for the 2008 Derby Festival Marathon.  The hat became a mainstay in my running apparel.  Actually, I did not wear it for every run since I trained in some sub-freezing weather (UK Blue stocking cap), but any time I could, this hat was a part of the apparel.

This does not seem all that crazy does it?  Well how about the fact that I did not wash that hat … at all.  The closest it came to being cleaned was when I ran in the rain.  By the end of my training the hat was covered in salt. Starting to sound a bit crazy now?  As a matter of fact, I did not wash this hat until I started this new adventure!  Superstition you say?  Not exactly.

When all the nation had finished passing over the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, “Take twelve men from the people, from each tribe a man, and command them, saying, ‘Take twelve stones from here out of the midst of the Jordan, from the very place where the priests’ feet stood firmly, and bring them over with you and lay them down in the place where you lodge tonight.’” Then Joshua called the twelve men from the people of Israel, whom he had appointed, a man from each tribe. And Joshua said to them, “Pass on before the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of the Jordan, and take up each of you a stone upon his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the people of Israel, that this may be a sign among you. When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever.” (Joshua 4:1-7)

One of the things that I discussed in my training journals was how much I hate to run. (Is This Fun?) It was hard, I was out of shape, and if not for the accountability of my teammates and some God given determination I would never have made it through the training.  The 26.2 miles that I ran in April was just the culmination of over 200 miles of training.  It was important when I started that race to remember all of those miles … the pain, freezing cold, the rain & snow, and all of the sweat that it was involved.  That training was my Jordan River that I crossed to escape some really tough years. “The Hat” was my memorial to the process that process that God brought me through.

A few year later, I pulled out “The Hat” for another purpose.  In the Fall of 2011 I began coaching  “The United”.  We had started together as a new team and it was my first experience coaching 11 v 11 soccer.  Few of my players had been coached in the fundamentals of soccer and were in pretty poor physical condition. We were starting from scratch.  We worked hard that Fall and made great strides, but fell short in the tournament loosing to the eventual champions.  In the Spring, we were determined to continue our progress.  We had a good season, but still had a few teams that we just could not handle.  At tournament time, I pulled out “The Hat” and explained the significance of the sweat stains and all that it represented to me.  The United took up the mantra “Remember the Sweat”.   Those guys fought hard and beat teams with superior talent to win the championship.  Not only that season, but the following Spring as well

2011 United

It is not superstition, karma, or Rafiki’s magic that brings about success.  It is the processes that we endure and the resulting character that develops us into the people we were created to be.  Unfortunately, even as we grow, it is easy to forget how far we have come and the storms we have weathered during the journey.  Forgetting often brings discouragement.  Remembering on the other hand brings hope!  What have you done to “Remember the Sweat?”

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Romans 5:1-5)

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does (James 1:22-25)

Strapping on the Feedbag

Yesterday I had a scheduled 7 mile run.  7 miles should not be too difficult at this point in my training although any day brings new aches, pains and stiffness.  In order to save time, I have taken to plotting a course home from work when time allows, so that was my plan on Wednesday.  So I changed and headed down to the street to begin the trek.  The music was rocking  and  my Nike App counted down the start and off I went.

don't walkI started out a little fast even though I was a bit stiff.  I was not feeling it!  I was having a hard time dropping into a steady pace and having a little trouble with my breath control. Running home from downtown during rush hour sometimes offers a challenge to which I am not accustomed … stopping at every corner. I hate stopping, but on this particular day I was welcoming the frequent respites.

As usual, around three miles, I finally loosened up and found a good pace … for a bout a mile.  I made wrong turn and had to improvise my route bit, but that is not that unusual when I run in an unfamiliar neighborhood. at about 5 miles the hammer fell.  Legs became lead, breathing a bit difficult, stomach queasy and every step was labored.  I pushed myself through the last couple of miles and finished completely spent.

What in the world!  A 7 mile run should not take that much out of me.  It was a little warm and I was well hydrated so why did I have so much trouble?  I just ran out of gas … bingo! I was out of fuel! I had skipped breakfast and lunch and really had nothing to burn!  I needed to strap on that feed bag.

empty

This is not the first time that I have been dragged down by my lack nutrition.  Many times in my athletic endeavors I have stumbled due to a lack of attention to my body’s needs.  I have discussed the importance of water before. (We are not Camels – Don’t skip the Watering Hole) Lack of food will not take me down quite as quickly, but it really important.  In this case, I was not prepared for the run and started out on empty. In other cases, I was prepared, but due to the length of the run, I depleted everything tank.  On long runs, I have noticed that if I don’t refuel every 5 miles or so, I will begin to feel it at around 7 miles.

In my life, I have not always been all that disciplined about strapping on the spiritual feed bag.  Even at times when I was reading and praying consistently, I still suffered from malnutrition, especially when facing grueling life battles.  I would love to have a dollar for every sermon I have heard that spoke to spiritual disciplines.  Read! Pray! Read! Pray! Read! Pray!  OK I get it!  Question … Does your mind wander when you pray?  Does you read whole chapters and not remember anything you read?   Maybe it is just me, but that is often the result of my planned out “discipline”.  for that matter, I have heard the same basic concept from secular motivational speakers and leadership gurus.  “Read to succeed”  “A Reader is a Leader” blah, blah, blah.

Before you get offended and start a rant, let me say I think study and prayer are important:  But reading for the sake of reading and praying for the sake of praying is just an exercise in futility if the we do not absorb the awesome nutrients that are contained in there.  And what about when you are out on the road?  How are you going to refuel when you are the race course?  (Yeah I know all about praying unceasingly and all that stuff)  Here is my point.  There is no nutritional value in prayer or reading the bible.  No more then there is nutritional value in a plate, a fork, or a feedbag.  The nutrition is in the food!

” Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”
 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life;whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” (John 6:32-35) 
So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.”   (John 6:53-58) 
I need to read with the intention of filling my feed bag with the Bread of Life.  I need to pray so that I can be filled with the Living Water who continually quenches my thirst.

Haystack Life – Live Undaunted

Warning: if you don’t like rock music … turn down your volume, but note the lyrics.  Then rock out in your own way! 

A few weeks back, I knocking out 9 miles late at night,  I was rocking to some Switchfoot and feeling pretty good about my progress.  As I jogged along, I reflected on some of the blogs I had read and people who have influenced my mini life-renaissance that is currently pushing me forward.  I have told you about a couple of these folks (Annie B and Bill).  I find myself in awe of their ability to utilize the gifts that God has placed within them to overcome adversity and still reach out to touch others. There are many others that I have watched impact lives on a consistent basis. I may not know their stories, but I think that it is safe to assume that they have had their share of adversity.  After all, bible even warns us that we will run into some bumps in the road.

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation… ” (John 16:33a ESV)

FB whiningSo what sets these people apart from the rest of us, who are often just paralyzed by the storms of life? (or who bemoan our “tribulations” on Facebook) How is it that some people just seem to dwell on the positive, press on, and become a light instead of disappearing into the black hole of despair?  Admittedly, some people are not as susceptible to clouds of depression and a negative outlook.  Maybe it is genetic or possibly experiences in our past, or a result of negative upbringing.  Whatever it is, maybe we should just keep reading and see what the bible says about this dilemma.

“…But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33b ESV)

Oh … take heart .. and you have overcome.  Nice …  What?  I don’t use words like “take heart”. My dark cloud of despair often throws a shadow over my faith so that I can’t see His overcoming power. I am just not getting this!

I am not usually a fan of using the Amplified Bible. (The same reason I don’t read much Charles Dickens … to many words for my tiny brain)  In this case, I like it. (I check it out whenever I run across phrases I don’t normally use)

“In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]”

Undaunted! I love that!  It is better than courageous; better than confident; and more than certain.  It speaks to moving forward despite the challenge. What about that challenge?  It has been deprived of power!  The only power it has over the purpose that God created me for is the power that I give it.  He created me to accomplish some things in this life and He has deprived the storms of life (pain, physical abilities, sadness, loneliness …) of the power to stop me from accomplishing all that He has for me.  I am the only one that can do that.

What am I doing with this abundant life of mine? Sure, I know I have raised 7 awesome children that are making a their own mark on the world.  Admittedly, I have a touched a life or two with my coaching and mentoring., but out of the 52 years of life that I have lived, how much of that time has progressed toward a goal that is worthy of Him whom I purportedly serve?

Have I been moving forward undaunted by adversity?  No, I have lived a “daunted” life.  I allow myself to become easily discouraged and stagnated by circumstances that do not go as planned.  Well … at least as I planned.  Are God’s plans daunted by troubles?  Of course not!  I think it is about time I realized that every moment of every day of this gift of life that He has given me is part of His plan if I choose to be a part of it.  It is about time that I start seizing every opportunity to be a part of that plan.

“Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”  (James 4;13-17)

Haystack

Rhythm of the Run

This past Saturday marked a key point in my training. I completed 13.2 miles so technically, I am half way to my goal.  For me, the real accomplishment was finding a rhythm in my stride.  My per-mile-pace varied by no more than 10 seconds during the entire run.  As an added bonus, I ran about a minute per mile faster than my average runs through out my training.  (only 27 seconds from my goal pace of 10 min/mile)

Based on the work that I have put in, this does not make sense. I have not been consistent in my training (Up-Downs), workouts have not included “speed work”, it was raining during my run, I could not find my phone arm-band or my “CAT Sweat Hat” (More to come on this in a future post), forgot body glide on my feet again … in other words, conditions were not optimal for a great run.  So what could possibly have made that kind of difference?

Rhythm …

During my initial recovery, one of the major goals of my physical therapy was to walk without a limp.  Hmm … Have you ever thought about what is actually happening when you limp?  More specifically, what is causes a limp when there is no pain? Although I had suffered multiple ankle sprains, broken toes, and muscle pulls, but once the pain was gone, the limp was gone as well so I never really thought about what caused my limp.  Since I was limping significantly, yet was not in pain, I had to ask, “what in the world is a limp?”  Mark my physical therapist admitted that no one had ever asked him that, but that it was a very good question (He was probably just humoring me)

thegaitcycle

So let me “sum up”.  My left leg was more weak and less flexible so my left leg “push-off” could not propel my body as far forward as my right leg.  Basically, the length of my stride was different.  Not only was the length different, but the amount of time between steps (beats) was different. So “stepstepstepstepstepstep” became “stepstep,stepstep,stepstep”.

As I learned to walk again, I concentrated on that “push-off” to even out my gait.  My limp became nearly imperceptible when I was walking.  I could still notice it when I was tired, but for the most part, I seemed to walk pretty normally.

IpodIn the past, I did not run with music. I ran in the quiet of the morning with just my thoughts and the rhythm of my breath and my the pounding of pavement to keep me company.  As I began my training several months ago, I decided that I would join the ranks of millions of other runners and stick in those headphones.  I formulated a good rock & roll playlist and off I went.  For those who do not follow my runs of my Running with the Footman FB Page, let me provide a sample; “today’s run was hot and slow, but I made it through”.  I have struggled with my pace and my endurance with the exception of two runs; a 7 mile run with Travis and an 11 mile run with Eric from TeamLLF.  Both of those runs went well because I allowed them to set the pace. (both are musicians and Travis is drummer who runs to a geeky click-track).

Last week as I began ran without the headphones when I ran late at night by myself and listened for the first time to my breathing and foot strike.  I was disappointed to realize that although there was a rhythm to my gait it was not correct.  stepstep,stepstep,stepstep.  This was not good.  I went back to my music and realized that my playlist had no consistency. Obviously this video  is not the answer to finding my muscle memory.  How was I going to get back into my running groove?

Amazing stuff this internet.  I was able to find a playlist made for my target pace!  It is a very eclectic mix, but I found that with very little effort, I could orchestrate my left foot push-off into the mix. Wow … what a difference a good kick drum can make (again this video link is not an example of a good kick drum).

mixingIn one of my other lives, I sit behind a live sound mixing board.  After 20 years of trying to mix musicians, I have found that if that rhythm section is not tight, nothing else can pull together that band.  That drummer and bass player are the glue that holds everything together and they can make or break the set.  An like the video at the top, the tempo that they set and maintain is crucial to the mission of the band.

I find myself out of rhythm and “limping” through much more of my life than I would admit.  Nothing seems quite right.  I know that I am going the right direction, but it does not feel like I will ever get there. Fatigue sets in early and hangs on and I can’t seem to pull it all together.  I really need a good rhythm section to hold this life of mine together and straighten out my gait.

“And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds,he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven …” (Colossians 1:17-23)

Rebekah – Born for Adversity

Navy Family

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”

(Proverbs 17:17)

Transitioning in and out of military service is a very stressful time for any family.  In the fall of 1984, I finally came to the realization after falling on my face multiple times trying to be a responsible husband and father decided that it was time to grow up.  With a young wife and two babies and no career opportunities looming, I reached out for some in finding order and enlisted in the United States Navy.  The Navy was a little leery of taking on the burden of a young man with a growing family and required several dependency waiver hearings before they approving my enlistment.   Had they realized that number three was on the way (not to mention four other ones over the coming years), my Navy career may have entered before it began. So after boot camp Lynn joined me in Illinois at that place affectionately referred to as “The Great Mistakes by the Lakes”  or Naval Stations Great Lakes and we waited for the birth of our third daughter Rebekah.   Only one of two “yankee born” children. (no Maryland and Kentucky are not in the north, both are south of the Mason-Dixon line thank you very much).


Dorothy_Sarah_Rebekah.jpgEarly Childhood
:  Her early childhood was somewhat of a blur most of the time because we were moving every 6 to 9 months and I was working very long hours and strange hours.  (Maybe that is the reason there are so few pictures of her as a baby, not that she ever noticed that fact).  Anyway, she was less than a year old when we learned her devious nature.  While living in Navy housing in Orlando, Lynn was distraught by the fact that here two good natured little toddlers kept climbing into the playpen and attacking their little sister.  Discipline was stiff, but daily she was having to be rescued from her ogre sisters. Then … one day … Mommy finally saw it in the reflection of the sliding glass door.  Her innocent little child stood up in the playpen, reached out, grabbed her sisters hair, yanked and then immediately sat down, thumb in mouth,  like nothing happened.

RebekahElementary Years: She was always quiet and shy in public.  My sister called her Little Cindy Lou Who because of the way she always looked so shy and innocent with her thumb in her mouth and her index finger twirling her hair. School brought on great amounts of anxiety.  Although she was actually a pretty high achiever, areas in which she struggled brought many tears. (As did not having her hair done quite right)

C & BAlthough she was a bit timid, she was not weak by any means.  She developed a love for sports and was the first to play on an actual team and introduced us all to the beautiful game.  She was not much into the girly things and went through a phase were she and her brother Charles became best friends through of their love of sports.  Together they actually developed their love of all things UK while I was away at sea.  Maybe it has gone a little beyond fandom and they have indoctrinated their youngest brother into the ridiculousness that is Big Blue Nation.  (Could not be more proud)


Middle / High School:
  Rebekah ‘s life had always included being a “Navy Brat”.  As she entered her teen years, that all changed.  A family that had never had roots, suddenly was planted.  New friends, new experiences, even the extended family had changed since we were closer to Lynn’s family and my mother had just passed away.  It is amazing how change drives us to find our core values.

Youth Group with Stephen Blandino brought stability and direction. She began to develop a love for order and leadership.  Little by little she became less of a follower.  It was so awesome to watch her blossom into a confident young woman.

AwfulBut some things never change.  That little girl that pulled her sisters hair and acted all innocent … oh yeah … she was still there.  The most notorious practical joker in the family.  Her delight in scaring people (especially her mother) is a wonder to behold.  Her craftiness, patience, and skill even exceed my own.  Her evil cackles are spine chilling.

Speaking of evil … No one plays a better human video devil than Rebekah.  Her interpretation of an evil puppet master with her friend Kara as the puppet was creepy.  I am still bitter about the score they were given at the fine arts festival.  That was one of the best performances I have seen.  Grrrhhhh!

FriendCollege & Beyond:  The once shy and timid little Cindy-Lou-Who was no more.  Once away at school, this little girl began to “live deep and suck the marrow out of life”.  She threw herself into college life and made the best of the community living out her passion for communication and leadership.  She developed a personal walk with the Lord that is inspiring.  She has developed a wisdom that allows her to be a real friend and be compassionate and yet speak tough love.

She can be serious one moment and having you dying in stitches the next.  I will never forget the one production she was in while in college.  She played a very strange character and made me laugh so hard just by taking a bite out of a cucumber.  She has poured in the lives of her siblings in ways that they do not even know.

Dad & BWriting about Rebekah (or Aunt “B” as she is now affectionately known),  is very difficult for me.  Although she me may not like it, she is the child that is most like me which makes writing about her is sort of uncomfortable.  I am not sure that I have ever been this jointed in my writing.  Every time I start to write something, something else pops into my head.  I think that Romans 12 describes well the woman that  Rebekah has grown into. She is the epitomy the word ‘friend’.

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. ” (Romans 12:9-15)
 I will close it out with this … I am honored to not only call Rebekah daughter but also my friend  I love you sweetie.

We Are Going to do Up-Downs Until …

Coach Boone: What did you say?

Blue Stanton: Said, we need a water break.

Coach Boone: A water break? Water is for cowards. Water makes you weak. Water is for washing blood off that uniform and you don’t get no blood on my uniform, boy you must be outside your mind! We are going to do up-downs, until Blue is no longer tired, and thirsty.” (Remember the Titans)

(if you did not know that was from Remember the Titans, we can’t be friends)

I love this movie and this is one of my favorite lines.  I remember football practices similar to this during two-a-days in August. (Maybe not this bad)  I don’t advocate withhold water, but suffering to a certain extent does develop strength. Whining and complaining reinforces weakness.

My first 2 weeks of Marathon training this time have been a series of “Up-Downs” .  First day … great, a little sore but OK. 2nd run … woke up late and only go in 2 of 4 miles.  With the intention of making up miles the next day, I allowed circumstance to overtake my week and well  … that was week #1. (only 6 of 15 miles).  I did get in some workouts, just not running.  Week 2 – run #1 … woke up late, but ran home from work and it was good (4 miles instead of 3)!  Run # 2 – Again ran home (4 of 4  miles).  Run #3 (3 miles)  is still pending, but definitely in the cards at this point & run #4 (7 miles)  is scheduled for Saturday with some accountability on this one (It is Facebook Official). I think training is going to be a series of “Up-Downs” until  either I get more disciplined or race day.  I am OK with that because either way, I will be getting stronger.

for the righteous falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity.” (Proverbs 24:16 ESV)

Often, I think my life is just a series of Up-Downs.

  • Sometimes I am knocked down by circumstanced beyond my control. “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation…” (John 16:33a ESV)
  • Sometimes I just trip and fall over my own two feet   “…the sin which so easily ensnares us…” (Hebrews 12:1 NKJV)

Tripping

The Bible is full of examples of people getting knocked down or tripping.  Sometimes circumstances dictate the fall like Joseph (Genesis Joseph) or Job (Job in umh … Job).  Other times (like most of the time) it is sin that trips them up like David, Peter,  etc.  In a few cases it was the whole nation that messed up and landed on their faces.  Remember the whole wandering in the desert for 40 years thing?  “Water makes you weak … water is for cowards”  (Maybe Denzel should portray voice of God in the next version of the “Ten Commandments”.)

How awesome is it that  it does not matter how we end up on the ground.  God has a plan to get us back on our feet … if we will let him.  Those verses that I referenced up there, yeah … they were incomplete.

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 ESV)

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)

First Marathon Finish

God’s plan for me is not to grovel in the ground.  He has a plan and I am a part of it.  He wants me to perform at my very best.  That means he has to turn my weakness into strength and yield my strength to His strength.  When I end up on the ground, it is His plan for me to get back up. So … I may have to do Up-Downs until … I am no longer tired and no longer thirsty and I enter His rest have been completely filled with the Living Water.

My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor detest His correction; For whom the Lord loves He corrects, Just as a father the son in whom he delights.(Proverbs 3:11 NKJV)

The Time Has Come – A Fresh Start Running & Blogging

Walrus and Carpenter “The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things:
Of shoes–and ships–and sealing-wax–
Of cabbages–and kings–
And why the sea is boiling hot–
And whether pigs have wings.”

(This has nothing to do with my post, but anytime I say “the time has come”  I think of this line from Lewis Carroll’s The Walrus and the Carpenter.)

I have made attempts ever since my knee surgery (Injury & Recovery Wandering & Purpose) back in early 2011 to:

  1. start training for another marathon
  2. start writing consistently and seriously

Physical TherapyRehab & Running: I was diligent in the rehab of my knee; that is until my ‘official’ physical therapy was complete.  Once that accountability was removed … performing calf raises and single leg balancing and stretching exercises just did not seem that exciting.  I tried running a few times and even got into a routine … sort of … only to have lifeprioritiesdistractions, laziness move me in another direction (generally toward the couch).

I think I have attempted 4 restarts the last being about a year ago.  I did pretty well for a month or so and then vacation, summer chores … the couch played their dirty tricks on me.    Each restart had it’s own list of excuses.

 

Writing: My writing tends to follow a similar process of deterioration.  My motivation to write is pretty much directly proportional to the passion I am showing to some other part of my life.  When I am hot & heavy into coaching or training hard for an event, I have no problem finding subject matter and time to write.  When the passion for life wanes and writing becomes nearly impossible.  (I do not find it easy to write from the couch.)

couch-potato

Why now and what makes me think it will be different this time?

Back when I was writing consistently, I started following a few blogs.  I could at least follow these blogs from the couch even if I was doing nothing else.  The first blog that I followed was Unshakable Hope.  Although Bill does not post very often, his writing always lift me up an reminds me that we serve a God that has a plan for each of us no matter that circumstances tin which we find ourselves.  Additionally, between his blog and the experiences of a friend of mine (Silver for my friend) I have developed a need to help in the fight for a cure for ALS. About the same time I started following Kenny over at Morning Story and Dilbert.  His blog has been my devotional when the couch has overcome my desire to spend time in the God’s word.

Those two blogs have been instrumental in keeping me uplifted over the past few years, but is another blog that has continued to kick me in the teeth just when I needed it.  I remember the first post I read should not have grabbed me.  How many men would be not only moved by, but been able to relate to an article about … wait for it … menopause?  But Annie at Eyes Wide Open had me from that first post about “Brain Fog”.   A few weeks back I was catching up on Annie’s posts.  Her transparency about her feeling while battling Fibromyalgia convicted me and when I read about her desire to run again in “How Fibrmyalgia is Helping me to Know God Even Better” I knew that I could not let the call of the couch keep me from fulfilling the plan for my life.

That very day after dropping a comment to Annie, I registered for the Air Force Marathon on September 20th.  Am I even close to ready? Absolutely not! I realized though, that I needed a goal and some accountability (I do not intend on paying an entry fee for something I do not participate in!). I was not ready the first time I ran a marathon in 2008, but with a goal in front of me, I knew that it was impossible (Why a Marathon).

It is not easy and I am still having some stop and start issues, but if it is God’s plan, I will be running 26.2 miles on September 20th in Dayton.  If Annie can get on that treadmill when it every movement is causes pain and Bill can continue to encourage others when he his body has trapped his mind in a non-responsive body for over ten years, then I can resist that seductive sofa and press on. I should have plenty of subject matter for this here new self-hosted blog.

So why a self hosted blog?

For the same reasons that I signed up for a marathon.  I am by no means a professional or accomplished writer. My writing is raw and unpolished and I am too impatient to spend time proofreading.  Still I have been contemplated this for quite a while.  If I shell out the investment to pay for a domain and hosting,  I better get serious about this writing thing.  It is time to hone some skills, meet some needs and find a niche.

I have soaked up a bunch of information and encouragement from Amy Lynn Andrews (If you are serious about writing or blogging on line and not subscribed to her site … don’t right another thing until your have checked it out! Start here) Of course being impetuous and impatient, I have jumped in and skipped quite a few steps (sorry Amy), but if I put it off and wait … well … those cushions still have the impressions of my backside.

So if you followed me over at crazyoldmaraman.wordpress.com switch those bookmarks and follows to runningwiththefootmen.com

My random thoughts and daily training babble will be posted on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RunningWithTheFootman

Pressing On – A Letter to My Youngest Son on the Occasion of His Graduation from High School

First let me preface my letter with a word about all of my children.  For 31 years, Lynn and I have lived a life that has centered, for the most part, around our children.  At times, having a large family has stretched us close the breaking point.  Not because of them, but mostly due to our own weaknesses and shortcomings.  As a Navy family with for a significant number of those years, finances and time together were not optimum conditions for raising a large family. Still, we had raised a loving a family that has endured many trials.  Each of our children are unique, talented and caring.  I am proud of everyone of them and have never expressed it well.  Over the last year or so I have been trying to right that ship through blog entries on their birthdays, but my inconsistent nature has tripped me up a few times.  So I am pressing on.  I missed Josiah’s birthday so I figure a graduation is a great time to reflect. (C, R, & E I have not forgotten you)  Being the last at home, this is not only a graduation for him, but it is a graduation of sorts for Lynn and I as well.

Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Jedidah the daughter of Adaiah of Bozkath. And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and walked in all the way of David his father, and he did not turn aside to the right or to the left.” (2 Kings 22:1,2)

Josiah,

01_JTF_NewbornThe Year of Your Birth:  1996 marked events that would change my life for ever. The year started stress-fully enough with your eminent birth in January.  I had never missed the birth of one of our children, but it was not looking good. I was preparing to head out to sea for 3 months and you were fighting hard against being born in a timely fashion.  Although I missed our shakedown trials, we were able to coerce you into entering the world before I left for sea. My little 3 month voyage was cut short by maybe the saddest event in my life.  My Mom, your Grandma, passed away that spring. Grandma would have adored you and I wish you could have gotten to know her.  She would have been so proud of all your accomplishments, your drive to succeed and she would have learned to love soccer. (yes, you missed out the best clothing provider ever)  07_JTF_Cats I do not think that it was a coincidence that the Cats won their sixth national championship the year you were born.  They must have known that a rabid Cat fan had entered BBN that January.  I have enjoyed sharing your love for the Cats with you these 18 years

FamilyFamily:  You are the youngest of 7 siblings and no child could ever have been more loved by his brothers and sisters.  This made parenting easy with so many older sisters and brothers to help out.   Your three oldest sisters were there at your birth and became surrogate mothers for you as a baby and I think still feel that way at times now.  You always shared a special bond with the youngest of your four sisters.  In our need to classify the  family it was always “The girls”, “The boys” and “Lizzy and Josiah”.  You started public school together and shared all of those struggles together.  Your brothers (and Rebekah) made sure that you did not forget that you were a boy and instilled a love for competition and sport in your being. As they slowly drifted out of the house, it was painfully obvious how much you missed them and how much you valued your family.

“And the king stood by the pillar and made a covenant before the Lord, to walk after the Lord and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people joined in the covenant.” (2 Kings 23:3)

graduationSchool:  In fifth grade, after being home schooled for your entire life, you entered public school for the first time.  After being surrounded by siblings for ten years, you had to enter a new world without them.  you were terrified, but overcame your fear to excel at every turn.  It was the first that we observed of your steeled determination. As the years went on, we watched as you worked hard to prove yourself academically.  You never had to be reminded to study or do your homework.  Failure was never an option and although at times you struggled, you always conquered the tasks set before you.  To be accepted at every college that you applied is no small feat.

02_JTF_FirstGame
First Soccer Game

Soccer:  Watching your soccer career has been one of the most enjoyable and yet painful periods of my parenting.  To watch you overcome physical and mental challenges as well as major disappointments has been an inspiration for me.

It is not your accomplishments that have filled me with pride, but your diligence and persistence that make me such a proud Papa.

Josiah’s Highlight Video (Musically Enhanced by Switchfoot)

The Future:I could not be more proud of the man that you have become.  You have brought joy into my life that I did not know I could feel.  I look forward to watching you strive for the dreams that are before you.  Your love for your Savior is apparent in everything that you do and for that no father could be more proud .

15_JTF

 Before him there was no king like him, who turned to the Lord with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses, nor did any like him arise after him.” (2 Kings 23:25)

 

I love you more than you will ever know.

Dad

Remembering the Sacrifice – ETC(SS) Hill

21 Gun NavyHonoring the heroic comes so naturally to most of us. The soldier who sacrifices his life to save the life of his comrade is a no-brainer for the average American with any heart at all.  Those who return home from overseas at Dover AFB in flag draped caskets leave an image that draw us all in and helps us to memorialize those who have fallen to protect our freedoms.  We will wince at the report of seven rifles fired three times and the haunting tones of Taps at the graves of those killed in training accidents and un-explainable murders while on duty receive on their home soil.  We rightly honor these service members and acknowledge the their sacrifice.

I have only personally known one individual who died while on active duty.  It is for him and all who have fallen at the hands of an enemy that attacks every service member that has chosen to put on the uniform and served his country in peace time or on the battle field.

Fouled AnchorETC(SS) Hill (Alias) reported to the USS Albany (SSN753) during our post-commissioning shakedown period.  A newly frocked Chief Petty Officer reported to take the reins of the Reactor Controls division.  Chief Hill arrived at a major cross roads in his career and his life.  He was a young ambitions submariner who had risen quickly to join the “Goat Locker” (Chief Petty Officer Mess) at the earliest opportunity. Add to this that he was one of the few nuclear trained black submariners in the fleet: It was obvious that he was a star on the rise.  Unfortunately, he was also making a transition that any career sailor is forced to make – transition to a non-deploying command.  Although not quite shore duty, we were home most nights.

To most, this would be perceived as a great opportunity to reconnect to the family.   To a sailor, this is often the most stressful time in their career.  Life for the service member while deployed although difficult and sometimes wrought with danger is “comfortable”.  Each day is filled with structure, focus, and purpose.  He is doing exactly what he has been trained (programmed) to do.  Yes … he misses his family and the life that he left behind, but that is something he does not have any control over so he loses himself in duty.

What about his family while he is gone?  They have to go on without him.  The spouse takes over the tasks in their marriage that he would fulfill if he were at home.  Mom’s become both Mom and Dad.  Yes … the family misses the service member and they acknowledge the hole that has been left, but that is something they do not have any control over so … they loose themselves in their duty.

CasketDuty changes everyone.  Often times, the end of deployment finds strangers reunited without common purpose.  Chief Hill found himself locked in a battle between family and duty and there is rarely a winner in this battle.  He and the stranger that had once been in love with could not find enough common ground to rebuild; divorce was eminent.  A young, intelligent, and intensely proud man could not bring himself to surrender to defeat and succumbed  to the enemy of our soul.  Without note or notice, Chief Hill took his own life.

Chief Hill represents a casualty of war that is a constant threat; not only to those who put on the uniform, but for those that take up the duty of the military family.  No service member walks away unchanged.  Under the best of circumstances, one may endure and discover renewd strength through the experience, but in too many case families are destroyed and in some cases lives are lost.

No shots will be fired.  Taps will not haunt our dreams.  Heroes rarely are counted in their ranks. But as I reflect today I chose to memorialize the service members and families that have been sacrificed to serve you and me.  The ones who have fallen before the true enemy and author of all war.  I ask that you pray for those that are serving today that they will be stronger and better prepared than Chief Hill to face the unseen enemy of our souls.

Fair winds and following seas ETC. Rest in peace

Navy Bugler

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12 NIV)

Here am I … Sam I am

Sam & Sarah KissLynn and I stood on across town on Hampton Blvd in Norfolk after another post-due-date prenatal visit.  Since this was our fifth overdue pregnancy, we were not really surprised.  It was a nice day and we could not get hold of our ride, but we new her route so we decided to start walk toward the house.  5 miles later, we finally got that expected ride.  The following day, with Lynn exhausted and in pain from our little stroll, Sam decided to grace us with his presence.

9 days later we were back in the hospital.  Spinal taps, little baby IVs and sleepless nights, oxygen tents and quarantine.  (Maybe this is where he got his love for camping)  Sarah had had some health issues, but Sam was trying to catch up quick.  Turned out to be RSV (A relatively new diagnosis back in that day).  This began two years of non-stop ear infections, respiratory issues and camping at the clinic.  Good thing he was the only sick child … oh wait … there were four others, including the also plague ridden May baby Sarah.

Sick child equates to miserable pitiful bed ridden child …NOT!  Sam was everywhere and into everything. He was Ninja (mysteriously appeared on top of the refrigerator) and a miniature mechanic (Removed every nut and bolt from my wheel barrow without it falling apart … until I went to use it). He was a good natured little boy, but pretty non-verbal and hard headed.  He seemed to not listen to a word you said … unless he was looking at you. Wait could that be a symptom of something?

Sam i amSam – I – Am.  At two years old, it was finally decided that antibiotics were not the answer to these constant ear infections.  Let’s try tubes.  Did I say non-verbal. Overnight he went from non-verbal to very verbal.  Enter Green, Eggs & Ham.  If you would like … I can quote the whole book to you right now.  If you asked Sam his name, was Sam-I-Am.   Am would talk non-stop for hours.  He did not really care if you listened or not.  I am not sure if liked to talk or just liked to here himself since for so long he could not.

Silence of the Sam: As much as one might think that the constant noise would be a problem, it probably saved his life on occasion, because when the noise stopped, we knew that there was a problem… the silent alarm.  Silence in the back yard – the shed is on fire.  Silence in the living room – crayons in the VCR.  Silence on the stairs – beautiful pictures on the wall.  You get the picture.  We loved Sam’s voice.

The ears were better, but the lungs were not quite right.  After another hospital stay, the doctors finally concluded at age 4 that Sam was asthmatic.  So this non-stop little boy was forced to succumb to the nebulizer several times a day. Five or ten minutes might seem like a short period of time, but to Sam it was an eternity.  He had had about enough.

Faith of a child: In 1994, shortly after moving to Georgia, we were attending a Sunday evening service at church.  Pastor Jim asked if anyone wanted to be prayed to be healed.  Before we knew it, Sam had jumped out of his seat and run up to the alter.  He told Pastor Jim that he was tired of having asthma and wanted it gone.  Prayer was given, prayer was received, asthma … gone.  Coincidence … change of climate … or the faith of a small boy believing in a big God.  All I can say is that we have a nebulizer in the attic that has not been used since that day.

“The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (Matt 23:11,12)

Sam & MalakaiServant: Born with a servants heart, same has always wanted to be a helper.  From the nursery (when he was in it), to JBQ, to youth group and missions trips to Nicaragua and Mexico, and now to the friends, Sam will often work for others and neglect even his own needs at times.  I have often been angered by those that have taken advantage of him and hurt him at times.  People have stretched him beyond his ability to give at times.  Obviously, saying ‘no’ is an option, but it is really not in his nature.  He is happiest when he is helping and feels a part of success.

If struggle makes us stronger, than my boy is strong beyond measure.  He has been fighting and overcoming from the day he was born.   I often envy his determination and drive to learn despite the many difficulties he has had to overcome.  His optimism, although often dampened by circumstances always shines through.  I look forward with great excitement to great things that are in store for this young man of God.

Sam & DadSam, you have been an encouragement to me for years.  God has used you to change me.  Your faith and enthusiasm have bolstered my own faith on many occasions.

I love you Bud and look forward to pressing on with you.

“Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the Lord is a God of knowledge,and by him actions are weighed. The bows of the mighty are broken,but the feeble bind on strength.” (1 Sam 2:3,4)

“And the Lordcame and stood, calling as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant hears.”( 1 Sam 3:10)