What can I say? I love to run. I've run 4 full marathons and 6 halfs. But I love God more and I'm determined to run this race of life for Him to receive the ultimate prize of Heaven. I'd like to share my thoughts with you. You can agree or disagree. Comment or don't. You can read or not read. But it's here if you want it. Enjoy! .

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Sunday Is Coming

What follows is a true story as far as I know. I heard it when I was in high school. It was told to me in a pretty detailed account. I hope I'm getting all the details correct......

Five friends. Five good guys. For the most part. Not perfect, but generally speaking....good Christian boys. Seniors in high school. Saturday night. Hanging out together. Went to a movie. 9PM show. Got out at 11. Maybe 11:30. Plans to spend the night together at one's house and get up and go to church together the next day. Heading home in small 4 door sedan. 2 in the front, 3 in the back. Drove for about a mile. Talking. Laughing. Having fun. Good guys. Then it started....

The driver of the "good guys" noticed flashing lights in his rear-view mirror. He also noticed that the car behind him was tailgating. Too close. "What is this car doing?" he said. They all looked. The car sped to the side of them. Another group of guys. Not such good guys....they would soon find out. The other guys were laughing....swerving....yelling....following. "Who are they?" the good guys wondered. "Maybe they're drunk......just drive.....get away from them." Easier said than done. The good guy driver drove faster. They followed. He ran through a yellow light. They followed. He ran through a red light. They followed. Faster. Too fast. He turned..sharply. They followed. Wait.........2 cars following now! A car AND a truck following. Full of guys. Bad guys. 10 probably. 10 versus 5. Not good odds. What do they want? Faster. THUD! "What was that?" They had thrown something at the good guys' car. Bottle maybe. It hit hard. It was starting to get serious.....not fun anymore. Was it ever? It wasn't a game. One of the good guys in the backseat looked over to see one of the bad guys flashing a knife. Heart beating a little bit faster. Fear. It was getting scary now. "We have to get away from these guys," they said. U-turn. Sharp. They followed. Even faster. The bad guys then tried to sandwich in the good guys' car. One got in front...the other in back. Trying to make them stop. Almost worked, but good guy driver kept going around. Still driving. About 5-6 miles total. Sharp turn on dark residential street. Speed limit 30. Driving 80. Gotta get away. "You have to slow down. We're going to crash" said one of the good guys in the backseat. "Let's just stop and see what they want," said the same. Bad choice, but maybe it seemed like a good one after 15-20 minutes of the dangerous driving. Just had to stop.....avoid crashing. Stopped on a very dark winding road. Pulled over under a dim street light. Bad car and truck pulled up very soon after. 10 guys jumped out. Start kicking good guy car. Good guy driver gets out. Defending his car. Good guy who suggested to stop also gets out. Holds up hands. "We don't want trouble." Too late. 2 good guys begin to get punched, kicked, beaten, battered. 3 good guys still in car. Doors closed. Car begins getting destroyed. Pipes. Bats. Whatever. Windows breaking. Lights breaking. One bad guy on top jumping up and down. Roof caving inside on 3 good guys. Beating 3 guys inside through broken windows with pipes, bats, whatever. Back door opens. One good guy gets punched in nose. Broken. Bleeding. 5-10 minutes of this. Then they left. All 10. They just left. Five good guys in shock. What just happened? Bruised. Bleeding. Robbed. Scared. Confused. Car totaled. They ran to the surrounding houses for help. It's 12:30am. Maybe 1:00. Nobody answering. They see a car coming. They think it's the bad guys coming back so they hide. It's not. It's a park ranger from a nearby state park. They flag him down and he calls the cops. 5 police cars come. Maybe 6. Each good guy gets into a car. They tell their story. Their parents come. They go home. It's over.

It's been almost 20 years. November 6 (and early morning on the 7th) 1993. I remember it like yesterday. You probably figured it out. How else would I know so many details? I stretched the truth a little. I did hear the story told. But I also told it. I was one of the good guys. I was in the front seat. Not the driver. The passenger. I stayed in the car. Scariest moment of my life. Up until last March, also the worst moment of my life. I'll never forget it. I still get that feeling in my stomach when I drive that final road. Otter Creek Road in Brentwood, TN. Close to Radnor Lake State Park. I'm not ashamed to admit that when we were waiting for the police after the park ranger showed up.....I cried. I cried like a baby. It hit me what had just happened. And I was scared. We got counseling at school over the next few weeks, maybe months. During one session I remember her asking "At any point during or after the event, did any of you wonder if you were being punished? Maybe God was trying to tell you something through that event?" We all responded with a resounding "NO". We weren't being punished. We were being protected. It wasn't the negative. It was the positive. My friend did indeed see a knife. It was 10 versus 5. We could've been seriously injured or killed but we escaped with cuts and bruises. God wasn't punishing. He was protecting. While I wasn't ashamed to admit I cried that night, I'm also happy to admit that we prayed that night. While we were waiting for the police, the same friend that saw a knife suggested we pray. We did. We huddled and we prayed. We were good boys. God watched over us. We were safe. It was a happy ending.

Two thousand years ago, there was a happy ending. Friday was tough. He had to die. On a cross. With pain and suffering. There were tears. There was sadness. The world seemed to end. But then Sunday came. And it was a happy ending. He arose. He won. He was alive. He still is. He died and arose so that we never have to die. That's right....we don't die. We just pass from one life to another. A better one. All because he did die. But then He arose. And we celebrate that. Easter can be about bunnies and eggs and candy and baskets. That's fine. My kids love it. And that's great. But for me, it also about what He did. It's about the happy ending. It's about Sunday coming. And we celebrate it today. And every day.

As I've said many times, life is tough. It will be. We're promised that. Bad things will happen. But there's a happy ending waiting for us. It will all be worth it. There's a new life waiting if you'll accept it. And it's gonna be amazing.

I went home that night and stood in my room. I took a deep breath. I looked at the clock. It was 2am. My mom was out of town, but my dad came in and gave me a hug. "I'm glad you're ok, buddy. I love you." "I love you too, dad." It was 2am. It was Sunday morning. Sunday came and everything was ok. The story had a happy ending. My story in 1993. The story of Christ two thousand years ago. Even though there was pain and fear, they both had happy endings. And our lives can too.

It may be Friday here on Earth. But hold on. Sunday is coming.

And what a great day that will be!

I love God, Griffin, my Girl, and my Guys.

Keep runnin'. The PRIZE awaits. (Php. 3:14)


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Their Eyes Were Opened

First of all....a thanks. We received so many emails, cards, gifts, etc. etc. etc. on Griffin's Heaven Day last Tuesday. We could never give enough thanks for the blessing of so many friends and family. It really did turn out to be a special day and I won't forget it. I have so many blessings and gifts from God in my life and I have no reason to be unhappy. God has been so good and I know He will continue to be. He will never leave me or forsake me. (Deut. 31:6)

He gave me another blessing last week. I got to take my oldest son, Carter to his eye appointment!!! I know what you're thinking.....not quite the blessing you were expecting me to share. How is an eye appointment a blessing? Believe me, I didn't think it would be. Not that I don't enjoy spending time with my son, but taking him to the eye doctor wouldn't be my first choice of activities. And to be honest, when planning this trip, I probably wouldn't have guessed the word "blessing" would play a role because I knew what was coming......it was time for contacts. Yep, we decided that this was as good a time as any to try contacts for Carter. He's worn glasses for 2-3 years now. We knew we wanted him to try contacts eventually, especially because he's pretty active in sports. He's worn sports goggles in football, basketball, and baseball but they're almost more of a hindrance than a help. The problem.....every time we mentioned contacts to him, it was like we were telling him his birthday was cancelled. Needless to say, Carter wasn't very excited about it. The thought of having to touch his eye made him more than a little nervous. We would even practice to try and make it easier. Susan would try to slowly touch his eye. Another unfun family activity. He would cringe and blink at a rate of about 400 times a second. So....needless to say, I was slightly dreading taking the plunge and going to the doctor for contacts. But it was time. Or so we hoped.

We started out as usual. Normal checkups, tests and eye exercises. Checking his prescription. Reading the charts. Blah blah blah. Then the moment came....."Carter, I'm going to put this contact in your eye." I saw the look on Carter's face. It was like he heard, "Carter, I'm going to chop off your arms now." He had been dreading this moment for a long time. At that moment he almost let the tears come, but he took a deep breath and held it together. I was proud of him. So the doctor put one in.....not too bad....went pretty much right in. Then the 2nd one. We looked at him. We waited. Then it happened. My favorite moment. The unexpected blessing I mentioned earlier. I saw another look on his face. I wasn't expecting this look. He could see. It was a look of "wow" met with a smile. For the first time ever, he could see well....near perfect.....without glasses. I've never worn glasses, but I'm told that glasses don't cover everything. Your peripheral vision is still blurry. But not with contacts. They cover your whole eye so everything looks clear. And I got to see that moment.....the first time Carter saw everything. And it really was a special moment. He very quickly fell in love with contacts. We had been right. It was time.

We weren't done yet though. The rule is that you can't leave the office with contacts unless you can put them in and take them out.....TWICE! Say what now? He's got to put these things in himself? And then he has to reach into his eye and take them out? Why don't you just ask us to sprout wings and fly to Neverland? That might be easier. But we agreed to go ahead and try the training session. We were given a specialist who agreed to sit with us for as long as it took.....and I have to say....we got the best. She was wonderful with him. She was so patient and encouraging. And it wasn't without tears. It wasn't without frustration. It wasn't quick. It was 45 minutes. But he did it. After 45 minutes, and numerous tries, he finally was able to get them in and out.....twice. We were going to get to take them home. He was thrilled. So was I. I was again proud and excited for him. But like I said....the best thing was the look.....the look on his face when his eyes were really opened for the first time.

Scripture uses that phrase......"eyes were opened" on several occasions. Here are some of my favorites:

1. In 2 Kings 6 Elisha prays that his servant's eyes will be opened so he can see the army of the Lord behind the Syrian army. The 2nd time the servant goes out, his eyes are opened and he sees God's protection. He knows everything will be ok.

2. In Luke 24, after the resurrection of Christ, he walks on the road with two disciples. They don't know who he is, but after breaking bread with Him, it says their eyes were opened and they knew who He was. They then went and told the other the good news.

3. One of my favorites is the story of Jesus healing the man born blind in John 9. Jesus makes mud, puts it on the man's eyes and tells him to go wash. Then his eyes are opened and he can see. He is overjoyed and it even causes him to believe in Christ and change his life.

I teach this last example every year to my 6th graders and I always stress with them that this man had never seen. I try to get them to imagine never being able to see. Imagine what it'd be like to then, unexpectantly be able to see....for the first time. What a amazing blessing that would be. I know it's not exactly the same, but I got to witness a small version of that blessing with Carter at the eye doctor. It was a great reminder to me that even though I've been blessed with two good eyes, I still need to remember to open my eyes every once in a while. Too often, I tend to focus and only open my eyes to what's wrong.....

What am I worried about? How many things do I have to do today? What do I want that I don't have? Why isn't God answering this prayer? Why am I so busy? Why is life so hard sometimes? When will I get to rest?

I could go on. But instead, I need to take more time to just stop, take a breath, and open my eyes. Not just my physical eyes, but the eyes of my heart too. I need to look for God. When you really take the time to look, it'll be obvious that He's here. His works and blessings are all around. We just have to take the time and effort to open our eyes. He'll show them to us. When I actually remember to do so, it's always a blessing and a reminder of what my life's purpose really is. I encourage you to make time to just stop and open your eyes as well. Let God show you who He is and what He will do and what He has done.

Many of you have seen this, but if you haven't, take a look. This says it better than I can.


Allow God to open your eyes and the eyes of your heart. You'll get that same look on your face......a look of "wow" mixed with a smile.

I love God, Griffin, my Girl, and my Guys.

Keep runnin'. The PRIZE awaits. (Php. 3:14)


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Great Day Came

Just a quick post to say that yesterday, Griffin's birthday (or his Heaven day as some have suggested.....love it) turned out to be a great day. A recap if you're interested.....

I woke up bright and early at 5am. It's what time I always get up so no big deal. Got dressed and waited. Didn't think to go outside and check the weather. It was COLD! Should have checked before I put on shorts and a t-shirt. My running buddy came a little after 5:30. He was in long sleeves and jogging pants. Smart. We took off around 5:45 toward Woodlawn Cemetery. One thing to note.....it is SO much easier running with someone than without. The 5 miles seemed like nothing. We talked through some of it. Some was quiet, but it's just easier when you are with someone else. And I'm so grateful he decided to run it with me. The furthest he'd run was a 5K, but he made it fine. In fact, he led me some of the way. I had to keep up with him. Nice job, Ben. We made it to the cemetery around 6:30. Five miles in 45 min. Not too shabby for the first time in months. My parents were there. A few other friends came....nine in all....to pray together and watch the sunrise. It was beautiful. God gave us a great show. I knew He would. My parents brought flowers and birthday balloons....4 white ones and 1 colorful birthday one. They said we could do whatever with them. I left them there for the moment. Wasn't sure what to do yet. They drove me home just in time to take the boys to school. "What are you doing here, dad?" They didn't expect to see me coming in the door at 7:15am. I told them I was just going to spend the day with mom. The boys knew it was Griffin's birthday but for them it was mostly just a normal day. That seemed best. We took them to school and then ran a few errands. Susan's uncle had sent us a gift card to go get new flowers for Griffin's grave. So we did. Got a beautiful arrangement and took it there. We picked up the balloons. Susan thought the boys might enjoy them. We went home and enjoyed lunch together. Watched the Brady Bunch. My idea of a perfect lunch. After lunch, I got out Griffin's box. I had posted about this earlier. It's a fairly large tub full of letters, notes, and "Griffin's things" from the hospital. I was amazed once again at how many letters and cards were in there. Hundreds. I looked at all of them. This is when my only tears of the day came. And it's funny, I didn't cry when reading all the cards from our friends or family. Those were encouraging to me and made me feel happy. It's when I read what my boys wrote and what I had written to Griffin.....that's when I cried. But it was quick. It was needed. It was fine. After that, I went on a hike. Just me. Went to Radnor Lake and walked about 3 miles on the trails. Stopped along the way, about every other bench, and let God talk to me.....and sometimes talked to Him. Listened to some spiritual music. It was a great "date" with God. Saw creation. Saw beauty. Saw Him. Came home and took a short nap. It was then time to pick up the boys from school. The day flew by. Why does it go so slow when I'm here teaching and so fast when I'm not? Funny, huh? Max had a baseball game and Carter had practice. Those went well. Lost the game but it was a lot of fun. Max did well. Got home and did homework and got ready for bed. Susan then gave each of us a white balloon. She took the colored one with her too. We went out in the driveway and Susan said we would send them to Griffin, one at a time. Both boys wanted to go first. We decided youngest to oldest. Then, my favorite moment of the day......Max asked if he could say a prayer before he let it go. We said sure and bowed our heads. Nothing. No words. He was praying silently. A few seconds and he let it go. Carter followed and wanted to do the same. Me next (Susan's much much older than I am.....ok, a year or two). I talked to God once again....had been all day........and sent Griffin my balloon. Then Susan. We then all held the colorful birthday balloon and I talked to God for all of us out loud. I thanked Him for the day. I thanked Him for Griffin. I thanked Him for taking Griffin to Heaven. I told Him we couldn't wait to see Griffin again. We let the balloon go. Together. We watched it for a few minutes. Then we went inside and went to bed. I love my family. It was a great day.

There's a great day coming. It will be the best of all. But in the meantime, God gives us great days along the way. Some days aren't as great. Some days are tough. But every day is great in the sense that it's a gift and a blessing. Yesterday was a great one. One of my greatest. It wouldn't have been without my family.....my wife, my boys, all 3 of them, my Savior and my God.

I love my family.

A great day came.

I love God, Griffin, my Girl, and my Guys.

Keep runnin'. The PRIZE awaits. (Php. 3:14)


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

There's a Great Day Coming!

I saw three planets last night. Did you? Back up a few days......we took our sixth graders to the Adventure Science Museum last Thursday and the worker there told us to look into the sky that night. I forgot all about it. I had already noticed the two bright "stars" before we went but didn't know what they were. Then, the lady at the museum mentioned that if you looked into the western sky, you would be able to see two planets that stood out. They are pretty obvious I must say. I thought they might be planets, but she confirmed that the brightest one is Venus and the less bright one is Jupiter. She also told them that if they looked into the opposite sky, you could see a "star" that appeared to have a reddish tint. That would be Mars. Sure enough, I went for a 3 mile run last night.....saw Venus and Jupiter immediately and then looked across the sky directly opposite of them. There it was. The redness jumped out at me. It was so obvious that it was a planet and not a star. I just said a quiet "wow" under my breath. I showed my boys too. Check it out tonight if you haven't seen it. It's pretty amazing to be able to easily identify three planets at once. It just once again shows how awesome God is. I love being wowed by His creation. Can't wait to view it from Heaven one day. What a perspective that will be!

Speaking of......heard some great lessons on Heaven recently at our church. Our preacher did a short series on what Heaven will be like, what happens when we die, etc. It was a well prepared, very interesting series, and I learned a lot. But I noticed something when he concluded it last Sunday night. We sang an invitation song after his lesson as we always do. This is the song to encourage any that need prayers or want to give their life to God to come forward. The song Sunday night was "There's a Great Day Coming." Know that one? It has three verses and we sang them all. There's a Great Day, a Bright Day, and then a Sad Day. Nothing against our song leader here. He does a great job so no offense meant, but when we got to the last verse, he slowed it way down. So we ended the song singing very slowly and somberly "There's a sad day coming....." I'll be real honest here....it was depressing to me. It felt like we were all singing at our own funerals. I'll be honest again.....I've never liked that verse of the song and I really don't like that it's last. I've always thought the writer got it mixed up. The happy and positive verse should've been last. I don't like ending on the sad verse. In it, the words continue on and say...."a sad day coming by and by....when the sinner shall hear his doom 'depart I know ye not'." I know the verse is based on scripture and it's true. Some will hear those words one day, but I just don't like that it's how the song ends. It's depressive to me. I would much rather end with the verse about it being a great day or bright day. Actually, if I had my way, I'd probably take out the sad verse altogether. Just my opinion. Some may like it or think it's needed. But I like to try my best to focus on the positive instead of the negative. That's what I'm planning the last day to be....a great and positive day....not a sad and negative one. Not sure when that day will be, but I do know a day coming up that could be great or sad depending on how you look at it.

It's less than a week away. Next Tuesday as a matter of fact. March 27. It will be Griffin's birthday. Or is it death day? I've struggled with what to call it and thought about it a lot. Because technically it's both. But I think the same question applies here as well. Do I give it a positive or negative name? I like to choose the positive. It's his birth day. Not just the day he was born here in our world, but most importantly, the day he was born into Heaven....into the loving arms of Jesus. So I choose to call it his birthday. The question of great day or sad day applies one more time as well......how will I approach and treat this day?

I've wrestled with this one too. Everyone can choose to treat it however they want. But after much thought and prayer, I'm choosing to once again treat it as a great day. Don't get me wrong...of course there will be some sadness. Can't help that. But I'm going to try my hardest to make it a great day. A day where I remember the great things that happened because of March 27, 2011. Like what you ask? Well, it's the day a child of God came home. It's the day I and my family grew much closer to God. It's the day we realized just how many friends we truly have. It's the day that my eyes were opened and I realized just how important Heaven is. It's the day I also realized how wonderful God is in allowing me, a sinner, to join Him and my son in Heaven one day. So yes, while there are some painful memories and some memories of tears will resurface, I choose to focus on the good things....the great and bright day it will be....instead of the sad day. So what do I plan to do? First of all, a dear and loving friend has offered to sub for me that day so I'll be taking the day off of teaching to spend with my family. Another wonderful friend has offered to run with me to Griffin's grave early that morning as I mentioned in my blog a while back. I offer again....if anyone else wants to run the five miles with us...feel free. It'll be early. 5:30ish. We plan to get there by sunrise which is around 6:45 that morning. If anyone else wants to meet us there to watch the sunrise, feel free again. I know that's early so no pressure, but it is a beautiful spot to see it. We'll spend some time watching, praying, remembering.....not sure how the morning will go.....we'll just let God lead. After that, I plan to come home and spend the day both with my wife and maybe some time alone. At some point during the day, I plan to pull out Griffin's box.....this is a box of letters, notes, hospital papers, etc that we collected from the days, weeks, and months after his birthday last year. To my knowledge, it hasn't been opened since last summer, but I'd like to go through it and use the hundreds of letters of encouragement in there to help me through the day. Many of you reading this are included in that box and I want to thank you in advance for encouraging me once again and helping me through. This may sound strange....but in a weird way, I'm kindof looking forward to the day. I'm going to use it as a spiritual recharge day, kindof a retreat with God, and I need that. I need it often, more than once a year for sure, and I'm excited and anxious to see what God will do with me on that day. The main point is, I am choosing to make it a great day, not a sad day. That's what I want it to be. And that's what I want my life to be as I anticipate Heaven.

I guess the day Christ comes back will be a sad day for some, but not for me. It'll be the greatest day ever. And I can't wait. I wish it would come today. I pray it comes soon. In the meantime, I'll try my hardest to make each day a bright and great day. After all, each is a gift from God. Even next Tuesday. Griffin's birthday. So I'll treat it like the gift it is. It'll be a great day. And when it's all over, I'll be one day closer to seeing Griffin again. And seeing my Father.

There's a GREAT DAY coming!

I love God, Griffin, my Girl, and my Guys.

Keep runnin'. The PRIZE awaits. (Php. 3:14)


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Bread Crumbs

So I have a new favorite TV show.....not that I can watch it. At least watch it live that is. We don't have cable anymore nor an antenna yet so we don't really have TV right now. And you know what? We're not missing it at all. Haven't even thought about what I'm missing. We still watch a DVD now and then or catch a show on Hulu.com, but I think we'd be fine without even an antenna to watch local shows. But my wife and I do still love a current show so we do watch the episodes a day or two late on Hulu. It's called "Once Upon A Time." Anybody else watching it? Somebody is because it's doing fairly well from what I read. It's an extremely clever show.....very entertaining and intriguing. Basically, there's a town up North and every person who lives there is a fairy tale character. They just don't know it. Or some don't. Some might. That's part of the mystery. Each week we see what's happening in the town and a flashback to a certain character's fairy tale. And they are all connected somehow. Anyway, I probably made it sound confusing, but it's really not. It's a great show. A few weeks ago, the story was Hansel and Gretel. We watched the classic fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel while also watching the same 2 children's story in the modern day town. If you remember that story, part of it includes Gretel (or is it Hansel?) leaving a trail of bread crumbs so that the two can remember their way home. Unfortunately, the birds eat the crumbs making them useless. Also reminds me of that Brady Bunch episode in Hawaii where Bobby leaves a popcorn trail after the three boys get lost trying to return that cursed statue. Remember that one? Ok, I'm getting off subject.

So let me go another direction for a second. About a week ago, I went out for a run. Yes, I'm still running. I've done 3 miles several times now. Haven't made it to 4 yet but soon, this weekend perhaps. Foot is great. I'm coming back. Praise God. Anyways, I went out late one night last week and got about 1/4 mile from home when I noticed a car stopped in the middle of the street with its lights on. That's happened to me before and I always wonder what I'm going to come up on while running. This time it was a man out of his car holding one gigantic dog and trying to leash another of the same size. He was using his car lights to see. I almost ran past because he didn't look to be in the mood to chat, but I decided to stop and ask if he needed help. He told me he thought these two dogs were lost. He had seen them wondering in the neighborhood and didn't know who they belonged to. They were nice, big, healthy dogs, but no ID tags, only collars. He had gotten one of them, but the other was very hesitant to come close. I asked if he wanted me to hold the one while he tried to get the other. He said yes and thanks. I held the big black one. It was almost bigger than me. I watched him attempt to get the other. He had food and was slowly luring it closer, but it always backed up and away at the last second. I took my eyes away for one second to pet the one I had and talk to it a little. That's when I felt the 2nd one nuzzling the back of my legs. Apparently my talking had lured it to me. It wanted petting and attention too. So I grabbed its collar. I had them both. The man ran over quickly and put the 2nd leash on it and thanked me again. He said he would put them in his car and keep them at his house until the owner was found. I started to run again as I watched him head toward his car. Small problem - those big dogs weren't getting into his small, hatchbacked car. No way. He asked me how far I was planning to go. I narrowed my eyes, wondering the intent of his question, although I was pretty sure I knew. He then asked the inevitable question......can you run these dogs to my house while I drive home? Did you really just ask me that? Of course I said yes. I wasn't going to leave this poor man alone with 2 Goliath dogs and one teency car they wouldn't get into. So I ran. With 2 dogs. Not easy I must say. But I did it...for another 1/4 mile or so to his house. It actually went better than I thought it would. I wondered while I ran.....what if this man takes off and leaves me with these dogs? What if he's nowhere to be found when I get to where his "house" is? I saw in my mind the look on my wife's face when I brought home these two beasts......'he better be there,' I thought. Luckily, he was. I gave him the dogs and headed on. What an adventure. It just goes to show you never know what's going to happen while out running. That's one of the reasons I love it. I told my wife the story when I got home and I honestly never thought I'd hear about the dogs again. Skip ahead to the next day. I am teaching one of my classes when an email from a co-teacher pops up on my screen. Her son and daughter-in-law are missing their 2 dogs. She describes them and asks me and a few others to keep an eye out as they live close to us. Wow. Small World. Again. Long story short....too late I know.....I told her my story, she told her son and daughter in law, they go to the man's house, the dogs are back home safe. They found their way home. What are the chances that I go running at that time, take that route, stop and help that man, work with that teacher, live in that neighborhood, get that email, and it's the same dogs. All coincidences? I don't know. It sure was a lot to just fall into place. I think maybe God had a hand in making sure those dogs got back home safe. And he used me in the process. I know it was just dogs some would say, but I know for a lot of people, dogs are family. And there may have even been prayers going up to help those dogs get home. And they did.
So....to tie it all together........the dogs, Hansel and Gretel, the bread crumbs......it all reminded me that we can always find our way back to God. He never leaves us or forsakes us. (Deut. 31:6, Hebrews 13:5). One of my favorite stories in the Bible is in Luke 15....the Lost (or Prodigal) Son. I love that story because I am that lost son. I write today confessing sin. I am a sinner and God knows it. Even though I want to be perfect and I want to do good, I mess up, sometimes in big ways. I often feel so guilty and wonder how God could ever forgive me again. He's already done it so many times. Will this one be the last? But there is no last. He always forgives. (I John 1:9). And no that doesn't mean I can keep sinning (Rom. 6:1). But when I slip up and am sincere in asking for forgiveness, He forgives. Always. NO matter how far I stray, God always leaves a trail of bread crumbs to find my way home. No matter how far the lost son traveled from home and how far in debt and depression he got, he knew he could always go home. And his father welcomed him. And our Father welcomes us. Those bread crumbs won't be eaten by birds this time. They won't disappear. They will lead you back to God every single time. And just like the father in the parable, He'll be there with open arms. Isn't God great?!

We serve a loving, forgiving God. And I don't know about you, but I want to follow Him and do right for Him.....simply because He loves and forgives so much. If you're lost, don't stay lost too long. Find the bread crumbs. Find God. He's waiting.

I love God, Griffin, my Girl, and my Guys.

Keep runnin'. The PRIZE awaits. (Php. 3:14)


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Small World.....Small Path

Wow. Didn't see that coming. At all. I got an email from my mom just last night. I would've never guessed what she said in it. Hard to believe. What a small world.

I didn't know him. Although I feel like I do now. I've heard so much about him in the last four days. He must have made a huge influence on a lot of people. He must have been a great person. It is so obvious from all the reports I've heard and seen that he was a strong Christian with a servant heart. He's being remembered as a hero. As an example. As the kind of person that every set of parents dreams their child will be. I wish I had met him. I think I will. One day. His name was Ty.

If you haven't heard about him, you either don't live here in Middle Tennessee or you've been living under a rock for the last four days. Here's an article from the Tennessean....(click here). Read about him....although I'm sure the article doesn't do him justice. I first heard about him last Saturday night when I read a Facebook post that asked for prayers. I clicked on the post and it took me to a blog asking for "prayers for Ty" and explaining some of what happened. I didn't think much about it really. I said a quick prayer and hoped Ty would pull through, but honestly didn't think I'd hear anymore about it. Boy was I wrong. The next morning, Sunday, I read another post that Ty had passed. I hated that, but again, I didn't know him and didn't think I knew anyone that knew him. Boy was I wrong....again. I kept seeing more and more posts. My friends. My former students. All posting about Ty. I had to ask "Who was this guy?" That morning in church, they announced his passing and the fact that he went to Harding University, attended a local church where I do know a lot of the members, and the fact that several of the guys at our church roomed close to him and knew him well. It was all becoming a little clearer. A lot of people I knew did know him, but it was becoming even clearer that this guy was something special. His passing and who he was became the topic of so many conversations that day. After hearing so many talk about him, I started feeling worse and worse for the family. While I have a small sense of what they are going through....losing a child.....I know it would be much worse losing someone you knew and loved for 18+ years. I don't pretend to know what that's like. It's impossible to imagine. There are no words to make that pain go away. Only the hope of the future. It seems pretty clear that Ty was a godly young man, and I feel certain that he's joined our Father and is now having the time of his life. And again, as I've said before, I'm planning to join him one day. So I do hope to meet him and let him know that he obviously made an impact on a lot of people. But why write about him here? I didn't know him. He didn't know me. We had no real connection, right? Actually, wrong. Back to mom's email.

I was informed last evening by my mom that Ty's great grandmother (Nell Carver Grimes) and my great grandfather (Roy Carver) were brother and sister. Ty was my cousin. A distant cousin, yes, but he was family. In fact our two grandmothers, who are first cousins, spent a lot of time together growing up and still keep in touch. I had no idea. It came as a little surprise, a shock, and it made me hurt a lot more for this family. What a small world. God has created this huge planet with over 7 billion people, but it's really so small. I'm filled with mixed emotions. On one hand, I am humbled and honored to have been related to such a wonderful person. On the other hand, I am deeply saddened that I never got to meet him here on Earth. But another part of me realizes that this world is not the end. This world may seem small sometimes when in reality it's large in size, but the fact is that this world is nothing compared with what lies ahead. Jesus tells us in Matthew 7 that the way to get to what lies ahead is small. It's a small path and we have to stay on it. The other way is large and easy, but trust me, you want to stay on that small and narrow path. Ty did. He was a servant. I've seen pictures of him on mission trips. I've read that he donated his organs and had that wish made clear on his license. And it wasn't just what he did. It was who he was. That's obvious from what I've heard about him. He did what it took to be on God's small path and he knew where he was going.

There's room on the small path. Stay on it with me. So that we can see Ty. So that we can see Griffin. So that we can see Jesus. So that we can see our Father whose grace and love makes it all possible.

I wish I had known you Ty. I just found out you were family. But you know what? You were already family. You were my brother in Christ. And I'll join you one day so you can introduce Him to me.

I love God, Griffin, my Girl, and my Guys.

Keep runnin'. The PRIZE awaits. (Php. 3:14)


Saturday, March 3, 2012

Should I Feel Bad?

So yesterday was an eventful day!! I knew storms were forecasted even Thursday and all indications showed they would be bad. But I assumed the day would go on like normal. I just figured I would get wet going to my car after school since the storms were supposed to hit right at dismissal time. I noticed yesterday morning that a few school systems had already decided to let out early due to the forecasts. "Only in Tennessee," I thought. Only here do kids get out of school for rain or wind or forecasts or fog. But that's always public schools. It's never us. We wouldn't get out of school if a tornado sent a car through my classroom window......or aliens landed their spaceship on top of my classroom.....or if the sun suddenly exploded. We just don't get out. So imagine my shock when I got an email while teaching my 4th period class yesterday. "We have decided to dismiss school at noon today." Say what??? For real? Because of a forecast? It must be a really serious threat, I thought. Needless to say, I was excited. But for two reasons......

First, I was excited to get out of school early. Not that I don't love my precious little sixth graders and long to spend every waking minute of my life with them, but it was Friday. It's been a long week. I was ready for a break. An early start to the weekend was a blessing no doubt. But I was also excited for another reason and I don't know if I should feel bad about it or what. But I love storms. Maybe I'm weird. I know....there's no "maybe" about it. But I really do love them. I get excited when I hear forecasts like yesterday's. My wife is quite the opposite. She hates and dreads them. And I know many others that do as well. But I actually look forward to them. Now please don't get me wrong......I don't want anyone to get hurt and I hate that people suffer because of storms. I don't wish harm on anyone. But there's just something about storms that gets me excited. When my family heads to the basement, I usually head to the window. I want to watch. I'm also a radar fanatic....looking at it constantly to know when the storm is over our house. I know, I know...one of these days this is going to get me in trouble. But it truly does remind me of God's awesome power. Watching the rain, lightning, wind and hail.....listening to the thunder.....it reminds me that God is in charge and that he can do anything. In a strange way, watching all that makes me feel safe. It makes me happy and proud to serve such a powerful, almighty God.

Recently, one of my favorite Bible stories has become Jesus walking on the water in John 6. I love the fact that He was was alone on a mountain praying as His disciples got into the boat. Oh how I would love to be alone on a mountain praying watching a storm roll in. I had the pleasure in 2007 of visiting the Sea of Galilee and we went to a high point where we could see most of the sea. I imagined Jesus in that same spot, pouring His heart out to God while watching the clouds get darker. Maybe he could see a little boat on the water in the distance with his disciples in it. I just picture that scene and it makes me feel good. That's where I want to be. That would be a dream of mine. It would be a reminder that my Father in Heaven through His Son is watching over us in every storm. He "walks on the water" to us and protects us in everything. Yes, bad things happen and storms can be scary. But for me, it's reminder of His protection, power, creation and love. So sorry if it offends, but I love storms and look forward to the next one.

Yesterday was also eventful because I ran 3 miles for the first time since I started running again. I ran right before the storm hit. It was windy, but it was beautiful outside......hot even. But it felt great. I'm gradually trying to get my mileage up again. So far, the foot is handling it just fine. My goal is to get to 5 miles by March 27. I want to run 5 miles on that Tuesday morning. Why? It's exactly five miles to the tenth from our house to Griffin's grave. And I plan to run there that morning to remember and celebrate his one year birthday. If anyone wants to join me on that run that morning, I'd welcome the company. But I plan to start that morning with the run and spending time in prayer there at his grave thanking God for His plan and for bringing us through this difficult year. If you'd like to join me there for prayer, I'd welcome that too.

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend. The sun is already shining as I write this and I can tell it's going to be a beautiful one. God is good.

I love God, Griffin, my Girl, and my Guys.

Keep runnin'. The PRIZE awaits. (Php. 3:14)


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Every Positive Has a Negative

What's this? Twice in February? Two posts? Call the news.....Albert's posting twice in the same month.....even in the same week!! This puts me on track for three posts in March. Watch out. No, I made a commitment, and I intend to keep it. I've also committed to something else.....running! I've run three times now and it's wonderful. I ran my third run last night. The weather was perfect.....cool and clear. The music was blarin'. It felt great......I could've run 10 miles I think. But I chose 2. I'm going to play it smart and very gradually get back into it. I'll do 2 all this week and even take a day or two off. Don't want to overdo the foot. But for now, it's feeling ok. I love these inserts.....they are called "Powerstep" FYI and I think they are working wonders. I love the support I can feel all day. I also love that I'm not having to do the elliptical this week which is freeing up my mornings to focus on God more. Needless to say, this week has gotten off to a great start. Now if I can just figure out the television thing.....

What now? So here's the deal. We got rid of cable this weekend. Huge step. Didn't think we'd ever do it, but it was time. It's too stinkin' expensive! Cable TV is robbery, hands down! Comcast should be ashamed of themselves. They are robbing poor people....like 6th grade teachers named Albert. So we cut them off. Actually my wife did. She made the call.....and no, I didn't make her. She volunteered to do it. The guy on the other end was upset. He asked why. He said if it's price, we can try to lower your bill. No thanks. Too late. We had made the decision. We weren't really watching that much of it anyways. We were paying close to $100 to watch a couple of shows on cable a week, if that. Not worth it for us. So we're going local only. Still haven't done that. Gotta get an antenna I guess. We also decided to give Netflix a try. We got on their site and did some reading....sounded like a great deal. $8 a month to watch so many great movies and TV shows streamed live to our computers, Ipad, and TV through the Wii. What a great deal!! They even had a free month trial. We signed up almost immediately.....on Saturday. Then we started planning what we were going to watch that night. Would it be old Brady Bunch episodes? Old game shows? A new release movie we had been wanting to watch? We started typing them in. The first one came up and said "not available for Live Streaming." Hmmmm, that's strange. Oh well, let's try another. Same message. After about 10 tries, we were starting to see the catch. Isn't there always a catch? So apparently with Netflix, there are a VERY limited number of shows available to stream live. You have to instead pay more and order DVD's in the mail. Arrrrrrrgggggggghhhhhh! Why can't it just be easy? Yes, it's still a lot cheaper and yes the DVD's are easy to send and receive, but the negative was discovered. There's always a negative. You know the old saying.....when something looks too good to be true......So now we aren't sure what we'll do. We ordered one DVD. It's still free during this first month. Not sure if we'll keep the streaming, keep the DVD, keep both??? I guess time will tell. But it got me thinking. Every positive does indeed seem to have a negative. I guess it's called balance. But think about it. Is there anything on this Earth that's always positive? Everything that brings you joy will at some point let you down whether it's your job, sports, your hobbies, even your family. I love my boys and that wife lady more than anything in this world, but they let me down sometime....and I know I do them as well. Another thing that brings me joy and happiness.....Food! I love food. I love to eat, but what's the negative? I can only eat a certain amount. I have to stop. I don't want to. But I know if I don't, I'll be unhealthy and my face will get rounder. Every positive has a negative. It's just a fact. Get used to it. I'm trying to. There will always be a negative coming along at some point. Well, not always.....I can think of one thing that will have no negatives.........

In Matthew 19, a man came to Jesus asking about Heaven. Jesus said, "If you want to be PERFECT, go and sell everything so you will have treasures in Heaven."

Psalm 16:11 talks of "eternal pleasure" in Heaven.

Matthew 5:48 says that we should be perfect just like God is perfect.

If God is perfect, Heaven must be as well. We are all on the road to Perfect. There will be no disappointments. There will be no sadness. There will be no grief. No mourning. No worries. No fears. NO NEGATIVES. Cable will be free in Heaven. There will be live streaming of everything. Free. No catches. No hidden fees. No stress or worrying about what to pay for and what not to pay for. It won't even matter because we'll be "live streaming" God, His Son, and praises to Him all day long.

I can't wait for the day when every positive has NO negatives. It's coming. Stay on that narrow path and meet me there.

I love God, Griffin, my Girl, and my Guys.

Keep runnin'. The PRIZE awaits. (Php. 3:14)


Saturday, February 25, 2012

We All Need a Fresh Start

I ran! It's been over 4 months, but I ran today. It felt so good. We'll see how my foot feels when I wake up in the morning but I'm cautiously optimistic. I heard about some great shoe inserts from someone else who had suffered from Plantar Fasciatis so I decided last weekend to go get some of them and just to get some new running shoes while I was at it. It had been a while anyways. The guy at Fleet Feet (still love that place) was awesome....so helpful and informative. He recommended I break the inserts in a few days but then try a run toward the end of this week. So today was the day. I ran 2 miles. It hurt a little, mainly in my lungs with the breathing, but I loved running again. I have missed it so much. And I like it so much better than that stinkin' Elliptical. I've been faithful on that thing for four months, maybe longer. And it's ok, but I'd rather be moving somewhere. I'd rather be on the road. I'm hoping this is a new beginning for me. Please pray for continued healing in my foot.

Speaking of new beginnings......I've been in a funk lately.....if that's still a word. Even if it isn't, I'm in one. I've been a little blah. Not sure why. But I haven't been motivated to do some important things.....like this blog for one. And I've even gotten lazy in my Bible study. Since it's been so cold, I was doing my Bible study in my car in the morning. But the heater, the darkness, the reclinable seat.....it was too easy just to close my eyes and wait for the gym to open instead. I chose rest over study for several mornings and it's just not working out for me. I need a new plan and a new start. I think Bible study and a personal relationship with God can get blah and stale in life just like anything else. For me at least, it's something that I have to work really hard at. I have to be creative and look for ways to make it fresh and new and motivating. So I'm working on that. I'm hoping this warm weather is here to stay because I'd like to get back outside for my daily time with God. That's helpful for me. And if I can start running again, that would actually help me as well because it would free up my mornings which is when I like to spend time with Him. But I'm here confessing laziness and pledging to do better. I'm making this new week a new start and I'm excited about it. I also plan to keep up this blog better. I know, I know....I've said that before and I could use the busy excuse one more time, but it comes down to laziness too. And one post in January and what will probably be one in February isn't much. But I really do plan to do better. I received a very encouraging email about the blog recently and it made me want to get back into it regularly. So it's part of my new plan as well.

There are times in life where we all just need a fresh start. Any time is a good time. I typically sign off this blog with a verse....Philippians 3:14. The verse before it states that we forget what is behind and push on to what's ahead. I could sit here and dwell on my laziness and feel sorry for myself for my lack of motivation. I could sit here and spout out numerous excuses for why I've gotten so lax in my personal relationship with God. But I think instead that I'll forget that and press on. I think instead that I'll make a fresh start and get back on track. I think I'll look to the future and focus on what my future holds. That's more fun to think about anyways.

Do you need a fresh start like I do? It's never too late. God is always waiting for us to turn back to Him.....

Deut. 31:6 ........6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

I love God, Griffin, my Girl, and my Guys.

Keep runnin'. The PRIZE awaits. (Php. 3:14)


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

BCS Champ......not BAMA!

Well, I've been lazy. It's January 18th and this is my first post of the new year. Sorry about that. I could say that I've been busy which is true, but it's not really an excuse..... I still could've found time to write. I still often debate if I want to keep this blog up or not. I enjoy it once I get a post done, but it's figuring out what to write about that's hard for me. That alone stifles my motivation to do it. Plus I sometimes debate if it's worth it. Not sure how many are reading. But then I keep going back to me.....not to be self-centered, but the fact is that even if nobody is reading, I think this is good for me and my spiritual relationship with God. It's just one more tool to keep me close to Him and to keep my life on track where it should be. So I plan for now to keep it up. I have grown so much closer to God in the last year and I don't want to become stale. I think this blog keeps me from being stale.

So about a week ago, we all watched the BCS championship. Unfortunately, my least favorite team in America won the whole thing. "Bama".....just typing the word makes me cringe. Can't stand 'em. What kind of Auburn fan would I be if I could? I was rooting for LSU....not a big fan of them either, but would've been much better than the alternative. Unfortunately, LSU's offense didn't show up for that game. I can honestly say that it was the most boring game I've ever watched. There was no action 'til late in the 4th quarter. I honestly wish Oklahoma State would've gone to the title game just for some more scoring. I think there would've been a lot more.....by LSU that is. But Bama was the better team....apparently....they did win. So they can enjoy their title....again! Hopefully next year, my Auburn Tigers will do a little better, although they did have an impressive bowl win. War Eagle!

Speaking of BCS.....is there anyone that actually likes that system? Every person I know wants a play-off. It's just the obvious answer and I'm not sure why they don't get that. I keep hearing that it will happen one day, but I've been hearing that for a looooong time. I hope I'm alive to see it. But for now, just like with Bama, I can't stand the BCS. So while I wasn't impressed with this year's game or the whole system for that matter, it did remind me of something......

BCS reminds me of Heaven. Say what? How is that now? It does....and I'll tell you why. Before I get to that.....Carter said something surprising to me a few days ago. Not sure how it came up, but we were just talking and he said, "Dad, my friend _________ told me that his dad said we won't know each other in Heaven." That surprised me, but I immediately replied with "Carter, I disagree with that." I told him that I absolutely believe that we will know each other in Heaven. He said he thought so too. After he went to bed that night, it got me thinking....how do I know that we'll know each other in Heaven. It's what I've been told....in fact, the night Griffin died, I asked my preacher that very question. I wanted to know if I'd know my son when I got there. He assured me I would and it gave me some peace. But I just took his word for it. I don't remember ever studying this before and seeing what God says about it. So what does He say? Will we know each other? I decided to look into it a little. A couple of stories come to mind....

1. In Matthew 8, a centurion comes to Jesus and asks Him to heal a man at his house. After Jesus did so, He talked to the people about Heaven. In ch. 8, verse 11, Jesus said....
11 I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.
So in Heaven, we are going to feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Now while He didn't say we would talk to them, I can't believe we are just going to sit there and stare at each o
ther. I imagine that we'll know who they are....that we'll get to ask them about their great stories. So if we know them.....

2. In three of the four gospels, we read about the Transfiguration of Jesus in which Moses and Elijah appear with Jesus. It doesn't say that Jesus introduced the two men to each other. It appears they most likely knew each other even though they lived at different times. So if they knew each other.....

3. When Abraham died in the Old Testament, it says he was "gathered to his people" (Gen. 25:8). This seems to indicate that he was among his family and ancestors in Heaven. So won't we be as well?

There are other passages we could look at but I also have to mention the obvious.....Heaven is going to be wonderful! We are told this many times. It will be more wonderful than we can ever imagine and so I have to believe that part of that "wonderful" will be reuniting with loved ones. I just believe that's something God will do for us as part of our reward. And I'll be honest with something else.....I believe some of these "bright light" stories are true.
I mentioned in an earlier post that I read "Heaven is for Real" and I believe it. I believe that boy saw his sister and knew her. I think that book, among others is just another way that God shows us how great Heaven will be. Believe what you want, but the point is I believe it's true..... I have faith that we'll know each other AND will get to meet many others that we don't know. It will be an awesome gathering of family and friends. So what does the BCS have to do with it????

Those letters represent the three I am most looking forward to seeing and knowing.....

B - my Brother. I can't wait to see my brother who is my Savior, Christ, and Sacrifice. I want to see Jesus, talk to Him, know Him, and thank Him. I want to ask Him questions. I want to touch his hands like Thomas did. I want to sit for hours and let Him teach me like He did so many others in the gospels. I want to listen to Him, follow Him, and be in His presence. For all eternity.

C - my Creator. My Lord, my Father, my God. I want to also be in the presence of the Holy, Almighty Lord and Father of Mankind. I want to see Him. I want to sing praises to Him. I want to worship Him. I want to know Him. I want to humble myself completely before Him and thank Him with all I have for choosing me and giving me the 2 ultimate gifts.....His Son and my salvation. I want to bow face down to the ground before Him and worship Him. For all eternity.

S - my Son. It's no secret that I want to get to Heaven to see my son. My child, my love, my Griffin. I believe I will know him. I know I will know him.....and he will know me. And 3rd only to my Father and Brother, he's the reason I will strive for the rest of my life to get there. I absolutely cannot wait to get there. I am willing every second to go. I'm ready. I understand and believe that God has use for me here for now, but I wait in eager anticipation for the second He decides my time here is done. I want to see and hold my son again.

So that's what the "BCS" means to me. It reminds me of why I'm living. It reminds me of my purpose. I want to be the BCS champ.....and get to see my B, C, and S. One day I will.

I love God, Griffin, my Girl, and my Guys.

Keep runnin'. The PRIZE awaits. (Php. 3:14)


Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Deer for the New Year

One hour. That's all that's left until midnight. I'm sitting here in my comfy chair watching some guy about to jump a snowmobile over a lake. At least I think that's what going to happen. I'll let you know. The lengths some people will go to for attention!!??! Maybe I'm going the wrong direction. Maybe I should quit my teaching job and practice jumping my rusty bike over my Honda in the driveway. Not sure I'd get the same attention, but the neighbors would probably be entertained. Not sure if I'll stay up 'til midnight tonight or not. Normally, I probably would, but we're getting up early for church tomorrow and I need my beauty......well, I need sleep. So I may celebrate the new year a little early. Ok, he just jumped....with a motorcycle beside him or something. I'm not sure what just happened. I joined in late. I wasn't that impressed. Maybe I should be. Anyways......

We did end up going fishing a 2nd time yesterday, but I didn't catch squat.....again! Not even a trashy plastic bag. My youngest son caught a fish....all by himself. He was quite the happy camper. But we did have a great week with family down in Georgia. We're home now and it's always good to sit in your own chair and sleep in your own bed. It's nice to be able to ring in this new year at my own house.....even if I do ring it in through my dreams tonight.

So I thought I'd take just a minute here as 2011 is coming to a close and reflect on 2011. What a year! I mentioned in a post back in September that it has been the best and worst year of my life. And I stand by that. I will never forget 2011. There are parts I wish I could forget. I have to purposely stop remembering some things some times. It's just too hard. But the good news is that there are some things I never want to forget. Despite the fact that 2011 was the most difficult of my life, I got to experience some wonderful things as well.....the best and most important being my relationship with God growing in ways I could never imagine. I don't want to forget that or for it to stop for that matter. I want to continue to grow closer to Him. I want to continue to have those special times with Him. I want to continue to worship Him in ways I never have before. And I want to continue to soak up His Word and read it for what it is and what it means for me. I'm looking forward to this new year. I have a feeling that God is going to bring great things in 2012. I have a feeling that it will be a special year for me and my family and I pray the same for your family. I pray and plead with God that He will use me this year as He's never used me before. I want to be His instrument and His servant. One thing I know is that with this new year, I will be one year closer to Heaven and that brings me more excitement than I could ever ask for. I know God will continue to bless me and my family this year as He always does. He already blessed me today......He sent me a deer. Quick story....

When we got home from Georgia today, my wife suddenly realized that we missed the deadline. There was an ornament waiting for us that we were supposed to pick up by Dec. 30 and we had forgotten. This ornament was at the Woodbine Funeral home and it was made in honor and remembrance of Griffin. We had gotten a letter about a month ago saying that they would have an ornament for him on their Christmas tree and that we could come pick it up after the holiday. She quickly called the funeral home to see if it was indeed too late. They were so kind and told us that of course it wasn't too late. We could come pick it up anytime. So I headed there this afternoon after getting unpacked and resting a bit. Along the way, I put in a new CD full of spiritual songs that was given to me. I was dreading a little what I was doing simply because going back to the funeral home would bring back some memories. But the music put my mind at ease and God actually gave me great peace as I drove there. When I got there, the parking lot was empty. Guess they don't plan many funerals or visitations for New Year's Eve. I parked my car and got out. That's when I saw her.....a beautiful deer only a few feet from my car. The funeral home is not exactly in the woods. There are a small amount of woods around it but it's basically on a main road. But yet here was a deer very close to me, staring at me and not moving. It was just a beautiful sight and I think God was again trying to bring me peace and happiness through His creation. I watched the deer for a minute or two before heading inside. There was nobody in the lobby so I walked around the corner toward the rear of the building. As I rounded the corner and looked down the hall, I saw what was probably the most beautiful Christmas tree I had seen all season. It was a huge tree covered with white lights and angel ornaments. As I was staring at it, one of the workers there came out and asked me my name. He got Griffin's ornament off the tree and was very kind. When I went back outside, the deer was still there. She had moved a little and was heading toward the woods, but her eyes met mine one more time before she gently walked away. I couldn't help but remember Psalm 42:1 as I watched her for a couple minutes more....

1 As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.

I got in my car and the music came on. It was a new song for me that I'm really enjoying called "Oh You Bring." These lyrics were playing over and over again.....

All honor
All glory
All praise to You

God had turned what could have been a sad, sorry for myself, "woe is me" moment into a beautiful reminder and praise to Him. God gave me a wonderful end to 2011 and reminded me that all is not lost. He reminded me that He is in control. And He reminded me how much I am longing for Him. He deserves and receives all honor, all glory and all praise. My soul, filled with His Spirit, longs to be with Him for all eternity and I'm filled with such joy and happiness just thinking about it. So I thank God for the deer, for the song, for the angel ornament, and for the reminder about who I am, whose I am, where I'll be one day. God is SO GOOD! Praise His name! May your 2012 be filled with the blessings of our Father and may you allow Him to use you to your full capacity. Make every effort to give every day of this year to Him. He deserves our constant praise and devotion and love. God bless you all!

I love God, Griffin, my Girl, and my Guys.

Keep runnin'. The PRIZE awaits. (Php. 3:14)


Thursday, December 29, 2011

More Fish and No Trash

I appreciate the positive response I had to my last post. I was a little worried about the subject as it can be a touchy one. But I've had so many positive comments both public and private. Most have agreed with me....actually all have. The encouragement I have received has meant a lot and I thank those of you who said something. It was a great Christmas and I pray you all had as wonderful of a holiday as I did. I'm now really enjoying this week and relaxing until school starts next week. Arrrrgggh. :)

Two more days! That's all that's left here in 2011. Hard to believe. It seems like yesterday we were celebrating the new year and now we're about to do it again. We've spent the week with my in-laws and we're having a great time. Today, my father-in-law took all of us fishing at a local pond. The boys had a great time despite the fact they didn't catch a thing. We may try again tomorrow. Susan struck out also. My father-in-law caught two....even though he was casting in exactly the same spot we all were. How does that work? I think he had some secret live bait or something. Myself......well I hadn't caught a thing either. I had felt a nibble and thought I had something but wasn't having much luck. I thought it was going to be zero for me too, but then I felt it. I cast out as far as I could and had this feeling that something was going to bite this time. I was going to pull in a huge bass or a catfish or a shark....I just knew it. I started slowly reeling in the line in great anticipation of what was about to happen. Then I gradually started reeling a little faster. That's when I felt it. I got something.....and it was heavy. It was pulling hard on my line. I could barely pull it in. 'Wow', I thought. 'I got the big one of the day. Everyone is going to be amazed at what I'm about to pull in. There going to take pictures and clap and send the pictures in to the newspaper. I'll be the town hero. ' At least that's what quickly went through my head. I'm not too old to dream, right? "I got something!", I said. My family paused to look. I finally got it right under my pole and used my strength to pull it up out of the water. It was huge. It was heavy. It was a bag. A dirty..... yucky..... dripping..... disgusting....stinkin'.......old plastic bag. It was trash. It wasn't a fish! It wasn't alive. It was dead....just like my dreams. There would be no pictures. No glory. No cheering. There would only be a quick laugh and everyone went back to fishing. So that's it. That's all I caught today. A bag. The only glory I got was from making the pond a little bit cleaner. I wanted a fish, but I got trash. Kindof like life. Huh? You knew a spiritual point was coming, right? So here it is.....

It's resolution time. New year. Resolutions. They go together. I usually make them. So why should this year be any different. But I just have one this year. I want to catch what I set out to catch...and I don't want to settle for trash. Jesus approached fishermen first. He told them to stop catching fish and to start catching men. What an honor! For the rest of their lives, they got to bring others to Christ. That was their job, their mission, their life's purpose. And I want it to be mine. I want to catch others too. In the past, I've said I would do it and I've wanted to do it, but I haven't really put my mind to it. I've done ok, but many times I've made excuses. I've said that praying was enough. (Don't get me wrong, prayer is great, but it often takes more than prayer. It takes words, actions, effort.) I've often given in to fear and discomfort. I've depended on others to spread God's Word and haven't put 100% effort in to it like I should. Like I'm expected to. Like I want to. I've set out to catch "fish", but all I've caught was "trash." From now on, I want to catch what I set out to catch. My resolution is to go out and catch others and I'm praying God will give me the strength, courage, and opportunities to do that. So no more being satisfied with dirty plastic bags. I want fish. I want a lot of fish. I'm planning on going to Heaven and I want to bring as many with me as I can. What about you? How many fish can you catch in this new year?

Let's cast our nets on the other side this time and get a full load. I pray God makes 2012 the best year ever....a year I can look back on and be proud of what I've caught.....a fish, several fish, many fish.....and no yucky bags.

I love God, Griffin, my Girl, and my Guys.

Keep runnin'. The PRIZE awaits. (Php. 3:14)


Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Part 2

Well, did I ever predict it incorrectly!!! The boys went to bed last night around 8:30 or so. I had said they'd be up by 4 or 5. Wrong! We had to wake them up at 6:10. They were BOTH snoozin' away. They slept fine. It was ME that couldn't sleep. Not sure why...but I slept absolute zero last night. And yet I'm still awake here at noonish on Christmas day. I must be runnin' on adrenaline or something. Anyways, Susan woke up Max and I woke up Carter. Carter's first words when he woke up...."Dad, is my arm bleeding?"....."Ummmm, what?" Wasn't quite the Christmas excitement I was expecting. Apparently he was dreaming. Once I fully woke him up and assured him his arm was blood-free, he was excited, as was Max. We did Santa and parent presents in about 27 minutes and headed for Waffle House. Got there around 6:45am to a sparse crowd. Very friendly workers and lots of "Merry Christmas!" shouts all over the place. We had a great breakfast and got home in time to get ready (quickly) for early service at church. It was a good morning and another great Christmas with the family....both immediate and Christian family. God is good! As is His Son, our Savior!

I mentioned our Savior, Jesus in the last post and said I wanted to mention something about Him. Here's the deal. I'm just going to be honest here and state my thoughts. Feel free to disagree. Some may and I repeat that I'm not perfect. I'm trying but will never get there. But let me share for a minute or two.... When I grew up, Christmas was never a spiritual holiday. Christmas was about family and joy and presents and Santa Claus and it's still about that stuff to an extent. But as I'm growing older, I'm realizing that all of that is not the main focus at all. Family is still in there pretty dominant, but there's something else. I'm starting to see it as more of a spiritual holiday. That definitely goes against what I was taught in my family and in my church, even today, but I'm questioning it. And I'm changing my opinion of it. Just mine. Not trying to change anyone else's. I was taught that we don't know Jesus's birthdate. And that's true. I was taught that the Bible doesn't give any authority to celebrate his birthday. And that's true. I understand those things and I agree. We don't know the day and God doesn't tell us to celebrate his birthday, but does that mean we can't? Besides God my Father, Jesus Christ is the most important thing to me. He is the reason I live. He is the reason I didn't give up several months ago when the world came crashing down around me. He is the reason that despite my many many faults, I still know I'm going to Heaven one day. He gave His life for me. For me! He hadn't even met me. I was waaaay in the future, but He knew me and died for me. He is, was and will be the greatest man that ever walked the Earth and right now, I believe He is waiting for me up in Heaven holding my son on His lap. So considering all that, can I not try to repay Him in a small, tiny proportion and celebrate his birth? Can I not just pick a day and celebrate the beginning of the greatest man ever? How about December 25? How about April 25 or July 25? I don't care. I just want to make every effort to honor and celebrate this incredible man who loves me more than I could ever imagine. Some will say that if we pick a day and celebrate, then we won't celebrate the birth all year long. We'll forget about it the other 364 days of the year. I don't think so. I could never forget. But here's the part that really bugs me.....not only was I taught to not celebrate the birth on Dec. 25, I was also told as a Bible class teacher not to even mention it during the month of December. I have a problem with that. I can't even talk about it!?!? I'm sorry, but I can't believe God's happy with being told not to mention a very important part of His son's life.....at any time of the year. I know there were many churches across the country today that were celebrating Christ's birth during their worship this morning. Do you honestly believe God was looking down and shaking his head in disgust? Do you honestly think he was ashamed and thinking 'I wish they wouldn't celebrate the birth and life of my Son."??? I just don't see Him doing that. I think He would much rather we celebrate than avoid it. The bottom line is....since I lost my son, I've grown closer to God and I am trying my hardest and doing everything in my power to acknowledge Him. I'm trying to be a shining light to the world. I'm trying to make every second of my life about Him or at least as much as I possibly can. That's what I believe He expects of me until His return or my eternity begins. So why in the world would I avoid a very prominent part of God's Word....at any time...during December or July or January or whatever?? I wouldn't and I won't. I'm proud to say that my family read Luke 2 last night before bed. We talked about Christ's birth. I told my boys that we don't know when His birthday is but there is nothing wrong with celebrating it. I'm sure we'll read that same story several times during this new year. And one of those times will be next Christmas. Personally, I'm glad the world celebrates. I'm with them. Is that so bad? Personally, I see more good than bad. A lot. Just my thoughts. Don't have to be yours. Regardless.....Merry Christmas to you all. And may the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Christ be celebrated all year long. He is the reason for the season.....every season....even Christmas.

I love God, Griffin, my Girl, and my Guys.

Keep runnin'. The PRIZE awaits. (Php. 3:14)


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Part 1

One hour and 25 minutes until Christmas. The boys are nestled and snug in their beds. They should be up in about 5 hours, give or take. If tradition holds true again this year, our boys will wake up again around 3 or 4AM. They get too excited to sleep. They have explicit instructions to stay quiet until 5AM. And I guarantee that at 5:00:01 (by Max's new Chick-Fil-A watch) they will come running into our room. That means our Christmas will be over by around 6AM and we'll be ready to go to Waffle House for breakfast....one of our Christmas traditions that I love. We'll be home by 7AM and ready to get dressed for early service at church. Needless to say, I may need a nap tomorrow. But I don't mind the busy, early morning. I'm glad my boys look forward to Christmas and enjoy it so much. It reminds me of just a few years ago when I was the same way. I would wake up at 2 or 3 am and just wait. As I got older I would try and sneak a peek in the living room to see what the big guy had left me. I'm proud of my boys. They deserve a happy Christmas...especially after what they did today. I have to share and brag on them just a bit....

Susan and I decided to take the boys to Opryland hotel today to look at the Christmas decorations there. We really enjoy going there from time to time to just walk around. It's a blessing to have such a place here in Nashville. When we told the boys about it this morning, they were very excited. They asked if we could ride the boats. They have a boat ride in the Delta area of the hotel and the boys always enjoy riding it. We've done it several times. We told the boys that we probably weren't going to ride it this time as it's a little pricey and we had just planned to walk around and look at decorations. That's when they decided to give us a gift. They asked if they could pay for the ride. Max said he would pay for he and Susan and Carter said he would pay for himself and me. They have their own money that they get from their grandparents and they wanted to use it on us...all of us...to enjoy the ride together. Susan and I were very impressed with their unselfish idea and told them they could do it if they really wanted to. When I told Carter to go get his money, he came back from his room with an extra $5. He asked if we could look for a homeless person on the way to give the money to. I told him that was nice but $5 was a little much. I told him he could just get $1 instead. He said he'd rather give $5. He said, "It's my money dad and that's what I'd like to give." Who was I to argue? My shallow mind thought $1 was enough but he taught me a lesson. Wasn't it Christ that told us to give all we have....He praised the old woman for doing so. Shouldn't we be willing to do the same? We had a great time at the hotel and really enjoyed the boat ride. On the way home, as we were getting off the interstate, sure enough there was a young girl there with her dog. Her sign read "trying to get home for the holidays....anything will help." Carter opened his door and gave her the $5. She appeared to have tears in her eyes as she said "Merry Christmas." The old me would wonder what she was going to do with that money but I'm trying very hard not to care anymore. It's not what she does with it, it's what my son did that counts. He served. He gave to someone in need. What a lesson he taught me. So again.... I had to brag a little....sorry about that. But I'm a proud father....proud of my boys for demonstrating Christ today.

Speaking of Christ.....tomorrow is Christmas and I want to say something about that. But I'll wait until tomorrow...which is now in 48 minutes. Guess I better try to get a little sleep tonight....very little I'm sure. I'll post part 2 some time tomorrow. Until then.....Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!!

I love God, Griffin, my Girl, and my Guys.

Keep runnin'. The PRIZE awaits. (Php. 3:14)


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Books for Bonus

Well, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all. I have 2 more days of school. 2 MORE! Yahoo. I am really looking forward to the break. Can't wait for another Christmas with the family. The parties have already started and have attended several holiday get-togethers and meals already and there are many more to come. I'm also excited about getting to see my wife's family which we don't get to see very often....once or twice a year at the most.

I bought a sock. Actually my wife bought me a sock. One sock. Not for Christmas. That would be a little strange. She found a sock online that is supposed to help this Plantar Fasciitis I have. It looks like the picture there. I wear it every night and it supposedly keeps my toes pointed up which will help my heel to heal. I've worn it five nights now and it's ok. I sleep ok in it but my toes are always asleep and numb when I wake up. Not sure if that is good or not. I can't tell a difference....yet. It says I should wear it 3-6 weeks. So I'm hoping with time that this will do the trick. It does force my toes up so when I get up in the morning, I'm forced to walk out of bed on my heel which hurts. But I can't take it off in bed because it's vel-cro and I don't want to wake Susan up. So I still hobble. Maybe I should get a roller skate and roll out of the bed room in the mornings. That might be fun.

So my wife is great. Have I said that lately? Well, she is. And no, I'm not trying to be extra nice here around the holidays....I'm being serious. She never ceases to amaze and inspire me. Last week she came running in my classroom while I was teaching. It surprised me a little. She doesn't normally do that. But she came in and headed straight in my office to my computer. I thought it was a little odd but I just kept on teaching. When I finished that class, I went into my office to see what she was doing. She was typing me out some information on the computer. She told me how there had been an article in the newspaper that morning where someone had stolen a trailer. Inside the trailer had been over 2000 books to be donated to the poor. It touched her heart and inspired her. She wanted to help and try and replace some of the missing books. She asked what I thought about asking my students for any used books they might have. I told her I would and that I thought it would be a great idea. So I sent out an email. It went to all my 6th graders and their parents. As an incentive and to spark some interest, I offered a set amount of bonus points on the kids' upcoming Social Studies exams if they brought in books. I even put "bonus points possible" in the subject line of the email. I figured this might get them to actually read it. They did. The response has been amazing. But I got an unexpected response as well.....

Most responses were very positive. Many parents told me what a great cause this was or how bad they felt that someone would steal books from poor kids. Many parents told me they were grateful for the bonus points or what a good idea it was. But I got one negative one. Just one. One parent emailed me and in a nice way told me that he disagreed with giving bonus points for service. He made several points but his main one was that we should give and serve because it's what were told to do, not just for a reward. Now, he made some good points and I did stop and think about it for a while. And I appreciated that he approached it in a kind way, not mean in any way. But after thought and prayer, I have to say that I disagree for a couple of reasons....

1. I have gotten close to (if not over) 1000 books from my students. I would have NEVER gotten that many if I had just simply sent an email with no incentive. To me, that's reason enough. If giving a few bonus points means getting a lot more books for those in need, so be it. I really don't care about giving away a few points.

2. While I agree that we should serve because it's right and not to get a reward, I don't think there's anything wrong with getting a reward. We have to learn and teach that rewards shouldn't be our main motivation and cause, but if one happens to come, then we should enjoy it and consider it a blessing from God Himself.

I looked it up......There are more than 100 verses in the Bible that talk about rewards. Galatians 6:9-10 says..

9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

God even tells us that if we do good, we will reap a reward. Does doing good deeds alone save us? No! I don't think so. Our faith, obedience, love, lives, AND deeds save us, but deeds is part of the equation I believe. And I'll be honest....the reason I try to live my life for God everyday is because I want something. I'm motivated by a reward. I do good and try not to sin so I can get Heaven one day. Do you? My guess would be that most Christians are motivated by that reward whether we should be or not. I love this picture. Can you see both words?

Every year, the church youth group that I work part-time for goes on a "reward trip." It's a trip to an amusement park for those who have helped with 7 or more service projects. I think it's a great idea. It gets the kids involved in service. Are they doing it just to get the trip? Maybe some are at first, but I think most see the good and right of serving and don't just do it for a reward. But even if they do, think of all the good that gets done. That's the point. That's the bottom line. The learning to serve because it's right will come with time. So I will continue this week to give bonus for books and I'll leave you with one of my favorite verses talking about a reward or gift God will give us all.....

Romans 6:23 reads.....23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in[a] Christ Jesus our Lord.

I love God, Griffin, my Girl, and my Guys.

Keep runnin'. The PRIZE awaits. (Php. 3:14)


Friday, December 2, 2011

The NFL - Never Forget Love

I'm not running anymore. Just thought I'd throw that out there because (1) this started as a running blog and (2) people keep asking me how running is going or when my next race is. I haven't run in probably close to 2 months. I just can't shake this foot (heel) pain. I haven't given up completely. I'm hoping the pain will go away one day. But I've resolved to the fact that my running days may be far away or possibly even over. I do miss it. Every once in a while I get a strong urge to run a race. Call me crazy, but I remember what it felt like to get up at 4AM and run 20 miles and I actually miss it. I honestly hope I can do it again but we'll see. Right now, I'm in the habit of getting up early and going to workout. I do 30 min. of elliptical and then 30 min. of lifting. I love it but I still miss the running and the races.

Christmas decorations are up. I actually got the lights on the house about a week ago but everyday something has gone out or not worked right. I think yesterday I finally fixed all the problems. I even had a friend donate one more huge inflatable and it's perfect. Our lawn is the gaudiest it's ever been and I love it. Went to an awesome concert at Lipscomb Univ. the other night to start off the Christmas season. Amy Grant hosted and it included an amazing group of singers, including my son in the 4th grade chorus. I actually thought he was the best one but I guess the others were pretty good too. :) They sang a lot of my favorite songs and it was a lot of fun....especially for a free concert!

So I love the NFL. I like sports in general but I love watching football more than anything. Every Sunday we gather around the TV and watch the Titans game.....just the four of us. I love that time. I enjoy keeping up with the other teams too and watching the playoff race. I also enjoy watching the stats for my fantasy football team. Yes I have one....make that two.....make that four in the family. Carter and Max each have one. I used to think fantasy football was silly. People asked me why I didn't play and I said I didn't care about it. The truth was that I really didn't know what it was so I assumed it was something silly. I was wrong. It's a lot of fun, especially if you're in a league with people you know. However, I have to admit that last year, my first year, I got a little too addicted. How my team did would actually affect my mood. If I lost, it would get me down and I'd dwell on it. I finally had to tell myself to get a grip. It's fantasy!! This year I decided I wouldn't let it affect me. And I've done much better. Sure, I like winning and I try to, but if I don't, it's no big deal. I'm not going to worry about it. I'm trying to instill the same in my sons. It's not easy. They're both very into it. I'm glad they have a passion for something and it's fun to watch them and work on it with them, but I don't want it to become their main focus. But the point was....I love the NFL. I love college ball too, but there's just something about professional football. There are lessons there. I was truly inspired by one this week.

You may have already seen it. The article right there? To you left? Read it if you haven't. In college, Tim Tebow was at the rival school. I've never liked Florida. I'm an Auburn fan. So we don't like Florida. But I couldn't help but admire Tebow. Even in college his spiritually shined. The verses on his eye black.....his post game comments.......it was obvious where his faith was. Then he came and spoke here at Lipscomb. I wish I could've heard him but I didn't get to go. Heard it was great. When he moved to the NFL, I was curious to see how he would do. To be honest, I'm not a huge Broncos fan, but I'm really glad they are doing well since he started 5 games ago. He deserves it. So I already admired him, but after seeing this article......Wow! That's a hero in my book. I'm actually jealous. I wish I had been able to say that to the media. I wish those were my words published nationally. That is exactly how I feel. I don't always show it or live it, but I feel it. And isn't he exactly right. I know what NFL stands for, but maybe in this case it stands for Never Forget Love....as in God's love or Christ's love. Or don't forget to show others that you love Christ like Tebow said. We should all take every opportunity we have to proclaim that we love God for all He's done. We should look for each chance we get to tell of Christ's amazing love and his ultimate sacrifice for us all. I love his analogy to loving your wife as well. Sometimes our love becomes stale and although the love is there, we don't always say it or show it. It shouldn't be that way, especially with God. I'm going to try my best to proclaim my love for God and not be ashamed of it. Like Tebow, I'm going to take advantage of any opportunity I get to give God the honor and glory he deserves. And I won't apologize for it, even if it's criticized. I think that's what expected of me. I know it's what He deserves.

I love God, Griffin, my Girl, and my Guys.

Keep runnin'. The PRIZE awaits. (Php. 3:14)