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! .

Monday, May 30, 2011

War is ....Well, You Know

29 miles last week. It's been a while since I hit that. Now granted, before my slump, I was doing over 30 every week, but I'm gradually getting back there. This week should be just as good since I have NO SCHOOL (mini-celebration dance) to worry about and I should have a little more free time. I already ran 10 yesterday before church, so we'll see if I can hit that magic 30 mark. I dreamed last night that I was running a half-marathon and was in the lead. Then I got confused and took a wrong turn and had to quickly turn around and catch up. Not sure what that means, but I could make a spiritual lesson out of it. But I won't. I've got another below.

Sooooo close. Baseball season is done. It was a GREAT season and experience. At our party Friday night, I told them team that coaching this season was a definite therapy for me and I know that God gave me this to help me get through the loss of our son. It kept me busy, focused, and happy, and I needed that. They played hard and fought like champions but we came up a little short. Saturday, we played the Rangers to get to the championship game. We made some mistakes. The other team didn't. We still only lost 10-9. Sooo close. So then we had to play the Braves to get back to the championship game. We made less mistakes and almost rallied, but they played strong and beat us 12-7. So we got third place in our division. Not bad at all. For a first time together team, I'll take it. I'm so proud of these boys and I hope I get to see them next year. I loved coaching and I plan to do it again.

So today is Memorial Day. Happy Memorial Day to you all! I've always loved this holiday....for the wrong reasons of course. I've loved it because it meant school was over and summer was beginning. I've loved it because it usually means a party or a get-together with friends. And I think those are fine, but I most importantly need to love it and respect it for what it is. It should be a time to remember, honor, and thank those who served for us. So many soldiers have died for our country and I know that I (and probably many others) so often take it for granted. I have an uncle that insists every time we pray to pray for our military, and we should so that we don't forget.

They are fighting right now. Stop and remember them today. And every day.

Thinking of them and thinking of today makes me think of war. War is....scary, bad, evil....well let's just face it....it's probably the closest thing to Hell we will ever face and so that famous quote is pretty dead on. I believe that war is sometimes necessary, but that doesn't make it less scary. I remember being scared of war as a young boy....(dream sequence music back to childhood)

I teach about Russia each year and I tell my students each year how I remember when I was in 6th grade being scared of that country. Of course it was the Soviet Union then and for some reason I was scared of them. I remember that they were communist (didn't know what that meant but apparently it was bad). I remember that they were big and we didn't get along well with them. Anyone else remember being scared of them or was it just me? I remember when we fought in our first war of my lifetime....the Gulf War. I remember the big word "WAR" across the newspaper (that I still have by the way). That scared me. I was 15. I got really worried about being drafted if the war went on for while. Today I would gladly fight for my country if asked. I'd be scared but I'd do it. Back then, I honestly didn't want to. I love my country, but I was scared of war. I was scared of dying. Not anymore.

My grandfather fought in World War II. I attended his military funeral a couple of years ago and it was very special. I was more proud of him than I ever had been. Instead of going to Griffin's grave yesterday on my morning run, I tried to find his grave instead. But I couldn't. It's at the same location but across the street and it's just such a big graveyard. I'll have to try again soon. My dad fought in Vietnam. Boy have I heard the stories and seen the slides. We have all seen the slides. Many times. That's a big family joke. Any time we are together as a family and start thinking about old times, dad always seems to say "Why don't we look at the Vietnam slides?". We all groan. It's an inside family thing but the truth is, now I would kindof enjoy them. I know dad enjoys telling his stories and they interest me being a history teacher. I had to interview my dad when I was in 11th grade as a school project and it was pretty interesting. The point is, there are 2 right there that put their lives on the line for our country. There are so many others that risk and even lose their lives. That's scary. The "not knowing" if they're going to make it is difficult.

Again, like so many other things, it makes me long for Heaven where there will be no wars. The war against Satan has already been fought. It makes me long for the place where we won't have to worry about having to fight. Satan has been beaten so there will be no enemies, no threats, no drafts, no death. Hell will be a different story. Constant sadness and pain, just like a war. Why would anyone risk going there? Why would anyone continue in sin knowing that it could mean constant war? I had a long, tough week last week and I messed up. I'm not perfect and I confess sin in this post today. That's scary to me because I don't want to disappoint my God and jeopardize our relationship. But thank God for grace and forgiveness. I can get right back on the path to Heaven. And that's what I'm doing. That's what I'm committing to God today. I don't want to go where there is constant war. I'm going to Heaven so I can experience peace, no fears, no death, and a reunion with my precious son. What about you?

I love Griffin and I love God.

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


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Is 13 Really Unlucky?

I've run 20 miles so far this week and it's only Thursday. I am planning to run at least 2 of these last 3 days. Would love to hit 30 miles. We'll see.

The baseball team plays this Saturday at Noon. We found out last night that we play the Rangers. They beat us during the regular season due to one bad inning of fielding on our part. That was a while back and I am hopeful that our improvement since then will help us prevail. If we win, we play in the championship on Sunday. If we lose, we play earlier Sunday afternoon and will have to win a triple-header to get the championship. Uggh. Go White Sox!

So I've heard 13 is an unlucky number. Why is that? No 13th floor in hotels. I always thought that was weird growing up. I mean I understand superstitions, but skipping an entire floor name?? That seems extreme. Maybe the reason 13 is unlucky is related to a certain creature that emerges every 13 years. Say it with me......the CICADAS! Now, if you are reading this in another part of the country, you have no idea what I'm talking about. But down here in this here South, we got 'em. And we got 'em big. There always seem to be more each time they come. I've heard a few people say they don't remember them from 13 years ago. But I sure do. In fact, I remember them from 26 years ago. It's funny, my son is in 3rd grade this year - the first time he is experiencing the Cicadas. And I was also in 3rd grade the first time I did as well. I remember...

I was 9 years old. I remember playing on the playground, the same playground I now often supervise. I remember being scared of them but very curious as well. Carter is the same way. He is terrified if one lands on him, especially anywhere near his face. (Max on the other hand isn't scared at all. He would probably jump into a vat of cicadas if I asked him to). I remember picking them up on the playground, pulling their heads off, throwing them at friends, basically the same things my sixth graders are doing now. But I also remember being at a church dinner outside (why we had a dinner outside during cicada season I'll never know). I was sitting at a table eating when I felt something strange inside my nice Sunday pants. You guessed it - one was crawling up my leg and he had made it to the knee area. I freaked. I remember wanting to smash it but I didn't want cicada guts all inside my pants. My dad had to quickly roll up my pants to get it out but there may have been some tears that day. Skip ahead 13 years.....

I remember my 2nd encounter when I was 22 years old. I remember mowing my parents yard and hating it. The mower was like a cicada-love-shouting-machine. They flocked to me. They landed on me. One crawled up my pant leg......AGAIN! 9 year old church dinner memories came flooding back. This time I had to get it out myself. By the way, I did say pants. I was wearing long pants, long-sleeve shirt, a hat, and a scarf of some sort, all trying to keep them off my body. It was 95 degrees. I looked like an idiot. But I hated those things. Skip ahead 13 more years.

I'm now 35 and this is my 3rd visit from those red-eyed pests. But you know what's weird? They don't bother me this time. Yes, the noise is annoying and yes they are taking over our 3 new trees given to us when Griffin died (trying to keep those trees alive - we love them.) But I don't mind them landing on me anymore. The other day I was driving when I felt something crawling up the back of my neck. 9 year old or even 22 year old me would've crashed right then and there. (I guess 9 year old would crash anyways being that he's 9 driving a car). But not 35 year old me. I just simply reached back, grabbed him and threw him out the window. No big deal. I guess I've really grown up in these last 13 years. Well, I guess not in some ways, but in cicada handling I certainly have. But I've seen lots of posts and heard lots of comments about how some people hate them. And I understand why. They can be annoying. So I have to ask the common question.....Why?

My wife Susan has always said when she gets to Heaven, she's going to ask God about mosquitoes. Why? What is the point in that little creation. Have to agree with her there.Mosquitoes are nothing but annoying although I'm sure they serve some purpose. Just can't find it. I guess we could all ask the same thing about cicadas. Why God? What's the purpose? Wouldn't it so much nicer and certainly quieter without them? One answer, although I don't think it's the main answer is what I read in the paper a few weeks ago. The cicadas do aerate the soil around the trees helping them to get nutrients and oxygen they need. Also, their eventual dead bodies provide great fertilizer for the trees. I've also read where some people eat them and they are nutritional. (No thanks from this guy.) The best of all for me? They make great bearded dragon food. My students have loved feeding them to my classroom pet, Jack. And he LOVES them! So I've got free food for him for several weeks. So they are technically saving me money. But I still don't think any of those reasons are the main reason why God created them.

I think he created cicadas to show his power and if you think about it, they certainly do. How amazing is it that these things live in the ground for 13 years and come up all at the same time. How amazing is it that they all chirp together and even increase volume together. How amazing is it that they know exactly what to do even though they only live 6 weeks. How amazing is it that there are millions of them right now and in a couple of weeks, there will be none. I like cicadas because they remind me of God. They remind me that He's in charge. When I'm at Griffin's grave and am just "being still and know," I hear them and I hear God. I mentioned that in a previous post and had a great talk with a friend that says she now loves their sound and thinks of God every time she hears them. I do too.

God is amazing. God is powerful. God is in control and I want to completely surrender to him and let him take over my life. I don't always do a good job of that. But I always try and I encourage you to do the same. I like cicadas this time. I think they are fascinating and they don't bother me. And they keep me focused on what's important. Now you don't have to like cicadas. God doesn't care. But He does care about you and He wants you to surrender to Him. Will you?

I love Griffin and I love God.

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


Monday, May 23, 2011

Lessons from Little League

So I only ended up with 13 miles last week, but I'm planning to do better this week. Summer time is about to officially begin and hopefully I'll have just a wee bit more time. Probably not. I ran 10 Sunday morning and it felt good. It was pretty hot for early morning but I made it fine. I ran 4 last night so I'm already past last week. I'll try to run tonight also. Cross Country will be here before I know it and I need to get back in shape to keep up with the boys (and girls).

One of the reasons I haven't been able to run as much lately is my new obsession which has totally consumed my life......and I love it! Baseball. No, I'm not playing. Wouldn't want to embarrass myself all over again. One hit in two seasons as a little leaguer wasn't the best batting average. I'll never forget when I finally got that hit in my 2nd season of baseball as a 7 or 8 year old. It was toward the end of the season. And I was that kid - you know the kid...the one kid on the team that can't hit it....the one that shuts his eyes to swing. Yep, that was me. In fact, that's me in the picture right up there. In two years, I never saw a ball go by me at the plate. I developed a really good sense of hearing and could hear them go by but see them....naaah. You couldn't have pried my eyes open with the jaws of life. I guess I was just really scared that the ball was going to hit me and subsequently kill me. Literally. But that one day toward the end of the 2nd season, I swung and heard a different sound....kindof like a pop. Not a swish like I usually did as my bat cut through the air. Then I heard another sound....screaming. Loud screaming. I opened my eyes to see the ball about three feet in front of me. In front. Wow! That was new. Everyone was yelling at me to run. I think even the other team was yelling for me to run. They knew my reputation. So I ran as fast as I could. It took a second to get started as my legs had never felt this before. In the meantime, the pitcher had run up and gotten the ball and thrown it to first. It was then all in slow motion. I hit the plate about the same time as the ball. The world went quiet as everyone eyes went to the man in blue. "SAFE," he yelled. And the world cheered. Coaches hugged. Parents fainted. The newspaper was called. "Little Albert got a hit!" The world had changed. Ok, so maybe that's a slight exaggeration, but that's how I remember it. And one hit in two years is absolutely true....an unintentional bunt, safe at first. What a day!

But back to the obsession at hand. I'm totally engrossed in coaching a little league team of a very similar age, playing on the exact same field where "Albert's Miracle" occurred so many years ago. I am a brand new coach this year of a 9-10 year old team which includes my son Carter and 12 others. I absolutely love them all. It's a great team and they all get along very well. They all have done so well this season and I really don't want it to end. We are currently in the post-season tournament where we've won 2 games and if we win our next game (Saturday), we will play for the championship. I reluctantly accepted the job of head coach at the beginning of the season having never coached a baseball team. I had assisted with a couple of others but that was it. But I love it. I don't know how good I am at it, but it seems to be going well and I'm really enjoying it. I love the other coaches I work with. I love the parents and of course I especially love the boys. I'd adopt them all if I could. I've learned a lot this season about coaching. The rules. The procedures. The practices. The excitements. The disappointments. Winning and losing. I've learned a lot about baseball. But while I expected to learn more about the sport and how to coach it, the most important lessons I've learned have been the ones that were unexpected.

Story 1 - The other night, we were playing out at Seven Oaks park. We were playing a double header - 2 teams from a different league....the RBI league (Reviving Baseball in the Inner City). We played the Braves first and it was a great game. We kept it close and beat them in the end. Our team made some great plays. It was a fun game. But then the storm came. We faced the Lightning that is. When we had told a couple of people before the games that we were playing the Lightning, they just turned their heads and laughed. Apparently the Lightning were an outstanding team that had gone undefeated all season. Nobody had or could beat them. They were well trained, well disciplined players and nobody gave us a chance to beat them. They came out and warmed up and all we could do was watch with wide, unbelieving eyes. They were nearly perfect....their throws, catches, hitting, fielding, was all dead on. We were in trouble. I thought, 'how great would it be if we could be the first team to beat the Lightning'. What a great motivator and season highlight that would be. Well, I'm happy to say that we didn't disappoint.....their perfect record that is....they still have one. We got creamed. 11-2. (I think that was the score...I lost count...I was just happy we scored 2 runs against them!!) They lived up to their reputation and talent. I know a few of the parents were wondering why we had scheduled this game in the first place. I was kindof wondering the same thing although I knew if nothing else, it would be good practice for our tournament. The teams we were gonna play would be a piece of cake compared to the Lightning. But here's the thing.....it was their coach. I could tell their coach was tough. Constant yelling. Strong, sometimes harsh encouragement. Almost like a drill sargent. Perfection was expected. He was a little scary and when we went to shake hands with the other team, I wasn't sure what he was going to say. He could've said "Ha Ha we creamed you" or "we just wasted an hour and a half on you guys." or "Coach? Seriously?" but here's what he said......"Stick around on the mound for a second." So we did. I didn't know what he was going to say or do. He began by stating that they were glad we came. He had his team clap for us and thank us for making the trip. He then asked if we could all join hands and thank God for the evening. I was surprised and humbled. I never expected this inner city, hard-driving, yeller of a coach to lead us in prayer. But he did. And it was great. He wants his team to strive for perfection and what he did was perfect. It summed up the game, the night, our whole lives. Baseball is nothing compared to the big picture. And thank God for having this man show us what it's all about. I just love the fact that he led us in prayer and that my boys got to join hands with a team from the other side of the tracks to share something we all believe and trust in. God. My respect for that team and coach went up 100%.

Story #2
I've had a really good team this year. The boys work really well together and encourage each other. I've got several great hitters and several great pitchers. So we were all excited to start the tournament. We drew the Mets first. That was good news and bad news. The good news was we had beaten them during the season. The bad news was we only beat them by 2 and it was a tough game. I had watched them play on a couple of additional occasions and knew they were good. It was going to be a tough game. We hated to lose our first game and move immediately to the losers' bracket. So we got ourselves ready to play and pumped up for our first tournament game. We played last Saturday. The game was close the whole time, each team going back and forth for the first few innings. Then it happened. We had a bad inning in the field and they went up 13-8. Five runs!! We would have to score five runs just to tie them. And we only had two more innings to do it in. We got up at the end of the 4th and scored zero. Nothing. No runs. What? I had just given a motivating speech right before we batted. I really believed in this team and we got nothin'? Really? To be honest though, I still believed we could do it. My hopes were not as high as they had been, but I never lost hope completely. Apparently, my boys didn't either. Luckily, we only let them score one additional run in the top of the last inning. 14-8. So this was it. The bottom of the last inning. Also luckily, we had flipped for position and had won home team which meant we got to bat last. I thought about giving another speech as they came in from the top of the inning, but decided against it. Like I said though, I still had some hope.......that was until I saw where we were in the batting order. We were ready for our bottom 5 hitters. Now everyone on my team can hit, but let's be honest, every team has great hitters and just average hitters. And it was time for the average ones. I didn't lose hope altogether but I knew it was going to take a lot to win this thing. Their coach already had the win on his mind. I don't want to be mean, but he took the comments and mocking a little too far so I hated to lose to him.....know what I mean? Batter Up! First batter. Who is it? Oh yeah, my son. Carter. The first of the bottom five. Carter can hit but he's had a slump lately. I was just hoping for anything. A walk even. That's when it happened. He nailed it. He ran to first and was told to keep going. That doesn't happen to Carter. He went to 2nd and stopped but we were yelling as loud as we could to keep going. I think he was in shock that he was being told to go to 3rd. He made it. A triple. A triple!?!?!? Carter Thweatt? Was I dreaming? Long story short - too late - of the next 4 batters, 3 of them got on base and we went to the top of our order with only one out. That's when I started to get excited. My top batters went into victory mode and all hit. Then with the bases loaded and down by only 2 runs, Tyler hit another triple. 2 runs scored and we won the game 15-14. I lifted Tyler off the ground - my hero. They were all my heroes. I haven't felt so excited in a long, long time. I think I literally jumped 4 feet off the ground when he hit that ball as did the rest of the coaches and parents. We won and here's why... My boys didn't give up. I never did either. I'll be honest and say my hope was low, but there was still some there. It was such a great feeling to see my boys so excited, cheering each other on, and not giving up. It was a great game, but more importantly, it was a great lesson in life.

There will be times when our hope might get lower. We may think we're beaten. But because God is on our team, winning is never out of the question. There's always a chance and hope of winning. I love this verse that I recently found:

2 Chronicles 15:7 "But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded."

My hope is high right now. For baseball? Yes. But more importantly for Heaven. I'm going there. And I won't ever give up. Will I get down or have moments when I'm "behind in the ball game"? Absolutely. Had a big one recently. But I'll never be completely defeated and I'll never give up on winning the game and collecting the tournament trophy in Heaven. I encourage you never to give up. No matter what comes your way. You can always win the game. Keep striving. Keep encouraging others to join you.

See you on that Heavenly field. I call home team! But it doesn't matter. That game will never end!

I love Griffin and I love God.

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


Friday, May 20, 2011

Footprints (take two)

So the world ends tomorrow, huh? May 21? Isn't that what the billboards say? Can't say I believe it but who knows? Oh well, if it does, I'm ready. Are you? Truth is, it could end while I'm typing this. We have to always, ALWAYS be ready. I'm excited and ready. Anytime.

This hasn't been a good week for running. I've only done 13 miles so far and am not sure if I'm going to get another one in. It's just been an extremely busy week and I feel like I can actually use that as an excuse. There really has been little time to run, that is if I wanted to sleep. And I did prefer to sleep. Hopefully I'll be able to have a little more time next week with most school days being 1/2 days.

On to the topic......Here we go again. Since this crazy web hosting blog company thing deleted my post last week called "Footprints," I'll try to recreate it here, but I know it won't be exactly the same. Don't you hate when something good you've written gets deleted?? Every once in a while, our home computer will shut down the internet and it always seems to happen when we've typed this long email to someone. It's so frustrating to have to try and recreate it. So that's what's going on here. It's frustrating, but worth it because I think it was a good thought. If you read the first one, feel free to let me know if I left out anything.

Right after Griffin died, we were told about a company called "Precious Prints" that makes imprints of childrens' hands and feet. We were told they also do it for babies, even ones that have passed and so we gave them a call. We met the owner named Mary, who turned out to be a wonderful, caring lady. She immediately went to the funeral home and got an imprint of Griffin's hand and foot. She heated them, colored them, and turned it into two ornaments similar to the picture here. We received the finished product last week and it was sad but also very comforting to be able to touch Griffin's foot and hand again. The footprint even has his name on the front etched in the clay. It will be a wonderful reminder of our son for the rest of our lives. The lady, Mary who created it did a wonderful job and even did it for free. She told us it was her ministry. She was a true blessing and we so much appreciated her kindness and generosity. We received that on Wednesday night. Thursday morning I was at Griffin's grave having my daily time with God. It was especially peaceful and I really felt God's presence. I was thinking about the hand and footprints and about Griffin when I opened up the book I've been reading. It's called "Grieving the Child I Never Knew" and was given to us by my awesome sister-in-law, Beth Greeson. When I turned to the page I was ready for, I noticed it was a page about suffering and included three writings, a poem, a quote, and a scripture. The scripture was very appropriate (Romans 5:3-5 - look for an upcoming post about that one). The quote was good too. But the poem....the poem was called "Children's Footprints". That's the absolute truth. Tell me God is not working in my life and speaking to me. I'll print the poem below, but it was so meaningful being that I had just touched Griffin's footprint the night before and was now sitting by his grave. God is amazing.

It also made me think about one of my favorite writings called "Footprints" which I'm sure many of you have read. I'll print it below as well. I love how at the end, the man realizes that God has been carrying him. God has certainly been carrying me these last several weeks. But it also made me think about my "footprints" or my impressions being left behind. Where have my footprints gone? What impression do they leave to others? What about yours? Your footprints each day either move closer to God or away from Him. Every decision you make does the same. How many times have your footprints led to someone in need, especially someone who needs God? When your footprints leave a room, what do others say about them? About you? I know it shouldn't matter what others think but if your influence leads them away from God, it does matter. We should be leading others closer to God by our words, our actions, our mannerisms, our behavior, and our example. Think about where your footprints take you each day. Are you really moving closer to God with every step, every second of every hour? If so, great! Keep going. Bring others along. If not, change directions. Watch your footprints carefully. The path is narrow (Matt. 7:14). Stay on it! I'm trying my best each day to do the same. Satan's powerful and can push you off that path, but get right back on. It's NEVER too late. I'm staying on to see my God, my Savior, my family, and my son.

I love Griffin and I love God.

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

-Albert (2 writings below)

Children's Footprints

By: Doreen Sexton

Some children come into our lives and go quickly.

Some children come into our live and stay awhile,

All our children come into our lives and leave


Some oh so small;

Some a little larger;

Some, larger still,

But all have left their footprints on our lives;

in our hearts,

And we will never, never be the same.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

"Survivor"ing - Part II

Boy did I run yesterday! We took the 6th grade to Sevier Park for their "good conduct reward day" for this final grading period. We spent the whole day there. And I spent almost 2 hours playing Ultimate Frisbee with them. I don't know exactly how far I ran, but I think it had to be at least 3 miles - probably more. I love that game and I had a blast. They really got into it. We played that last year too. I'm hoping it becomes tradition. Only 4 full and 4 half days left. I'm ready for Summer. I've enjoyed another year of teaching, but am always ready at the end of the year for a break.

Ok, slightly different kindof post today. Just a follow up on Monday's post. Not too much spiritual message in this one. Here's the deal - I had some good response from Monday's post on Survivor. And one friend in particular disagreed with my thoughts on Rob deserving the win. I won't mention this friend's name but it starts with a J.J. and ends with a Dillingham. Since we're not friends anymore after our disagreement, who cares if I mention his name. :) Totally kidding - we had a fun back-and-forth email about our thoughts. We agreed it was all in good fun and we also agreed to disagree. But it made me think and wonder if I'm wrong. You may have to read the post below if you haven't yet, but basically I said that the show is just a game and any strategy (even lying and deceiving others) is acceptable. My friend disagreed. He thought that how you played was how you lived and even though it's a game, you should always act how God expects you to. (Feel free to comment "friend" if I mistake what you said)

After considering his opinion and thinking a lot on the subject, I totally understand his point. Nothing should keep us from acting like Jesus at all times. We should all have morals and live the life that God calls us to live. However, I still feel like in a game situation that is not "real life," we are allowed to do whatever it takes to win. Unfortunately some players in Survivor take the game to be real life (especially when they get voted out) and they shouldn't. It's a game. I know I keep saying that but they should go into it knowing that someone might deceive them to get further in the game. If they think everyone's going to be nice and be totally honest the whole time, then they shouldn't play. That's how you play the game. That's how you win. It's one of the almost-necessary strategies of this game.

Now, that being said, did Matt do that? No, he didn't. And that's admirable. I think it's possible to win and keep your morals, but I think it's more difficult for sure. I just think if we're going to put our best and our all into winning a game, sometimes we have to act differently then we normally would. Case in point - I'm a quiet guy. Anyone want to "amen" that? However, last Saturday, I actually ran onto the field towards an umpire to yell after a ridiculous call against my team. (sorry team if I embarrassed but it actually felt kindof good) But here's the point - That's not me! I don't do that. But I wanted to win and I wanted to win fairly. And he was being unfair so I did something I wouldn't normally do. Now, I realize that I didn't lie or deceive, but those things aren't needed in baseball. If those things were allowed and needed to win baseball, I would do it. It's a game. (there we go again) You take whatever strategy needed to win. It's not like Rob broke the rules of the game. The producers or whoever made up the game of Survivor know that those things are part of the game and they expect them.

Finally, the big question......What would I do??? That's a tough one. If I were on Survivor, what strategy would I take? I already said last time that I wouldn't hide my faith. And I wouldn't. Not anymore since God has recently changed my life. I admire Matt so much for proclaiming God. He changed lives. However, I also wouldn't forbid myself to lie if needed to protect myself in the game. I would see it as a part of the game and wouldn't feel guilty about it. And if I got back-stabbed, I would be upset to be out of the game, but not upset at the others. I would congratulate them on a game well-played. I honestly think God would understand that it was all in the context of a game.

But again, I could always be wrong. I'm not a perfect person and I make mistakes - a lot. But again, this is how I feel on this one. I would love to hear other opinions on the subject.

It looks like my missing post (Footprints) isn't coming back so I'll try to recreate it later in the week.

Have a good Wednesday!

I love Griffin and I love God.

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


Monday, May 16, 2011

'Survivor'ing in this World

My last post is gone. Say what????? I posted a looooong writing called "Footprints" on Thursday and it's gone. Turns out that Blogger (the company(?) that hosts blogspot and all these free blogs) deleted everybody's posts from Thursday because something was wrong with the site. They made an announcement that it would all be back, but mine ain't come back yet. And I'm bummed. I kinda liked my "Footprints" post and I don't have a copy of it anywhere. I think I could kindof redo it but it wouldn't be exactly the same. I guess I'll have to start making a backup copy of my posts. I'm gonna hold off trying to redo it for now in hopes that it will come back, but if not, I'll try to recreate it towards the end of this week.

I ran 10 miles yesterday morning. Yay. My longest run in a few weeks. It felt great. Very cool (53 degrees) and a little misty to help cool me off even more. It was pretty much perfect running weather. I ran to GG and back (that's Griffin's grave in cast you're wondering). Exactly 5 miles from our house. Ran there. Talked to God a little. Felt Him there once again. I don't know why but I always feel God so much stronger when I'm there. It's just so beautiful and peaceful there. It's like I'm one step closer to God when I'm there and I like it. I know a lot of parents who lost children would be uncomfortable or sad to be at their child's grave, but for some reason, not me. I need to be there. I need to talk to my boy and my God and it's just easier there. Is that weird or strange? Should I be sad there instead? Maybe so, but since it's working for me now, I'm planning to keep it up unless it changes. Anyways, I ran 27 miles last week. 7 more than the week before. Running is starting to feel normal and good again. I'm getting it back which makes me very happy.

So did anyone else catch Survivor last night? Season finale. I've watched every episode of this show for 11 years. Excessive? Probably. But it's my show. I remember hearing about it on the radio about 6 months before it began (I even remember where I was when I heard it - how creepy is that?) and I thought 'that sounds like a good idea. I think I'll watch that show'. So from season 1 and Richard Hatch (didn't like him) to season 22 and Boston Rob (I do like him), I've seen them all. Even if you don't watch or didn't watch, keep reading because I'd like to make a couple of points from the show.

First of all, a point that some may disagree with. Rob definitely deserved to win last night. He did play the best game I've probably ever seen. Was he deceiving, back-stabbing, lying, etc.? Absolutely. But IT'S A GAME. I honestly don't find anything wrong with that since it's a game. It's not real life. There's a stinkin' camera in front of them at all time for crying out loud. Rob said it best on the reunion last night when he said something to the effect of...."when you get back to real life off the island, then it changes and that's who you really are, but on the island it's a game and sometimes you have to play that way." Did I want Rob to win? No. I wanted Matt to win. More about him later. But when Matt lost his chance, I was for Rob. He came in with a strategy and played it brilliantly. It's a game. It's not real life and I'll always see it that way. And anyone who complains about people having no morals on the show and not playing fair....I would just remind them that what matters about those people is how they act off the island and until you know how they really are, you don't know them. Feel free to disagree. I'm not perfect and not always right and I could be off on this one. But that's how I feel.

Ok, now to the main point. The above is just for some heated discussion (if I get any). I really really wanted Matt Elrod to win. And not just because I taught him and know him. Even if he was from another state and I had no idea who he was, I would've been for him. Why? I have never seen someone so openly profess their faith in front of a national audience. I am shocked (but pleasantly delighted) that CBS and the Survivor producers allowed so much to be shown and highlighted. But Survivor this season slightly turned into a part-time plug for Christianity and I loved every minute of it. I am so proud, impressed and humbled by what Matt did out there. He is a true hero in my book. And for that, for doing what all of us as Christians should do, I wanted him to be rewarded. (I do think Rob should've been disqualified from winning fan favorite since he won the whole thing. I was very disappointed that Matt didn't win that.) From the first season of Survivor when Dirk (I think) proclaimed his faith and it ultimately meant his ouster, I have often thought how I would act if I was on Survivor. I am very ashamed once again to say that a few months ago, I would've decided to hide my faith thinking that the game has nothing to do with that (like this blog a few months ago). I wouldn't have wanted to offend anyone and would've probably kept my prayers and belief in God private. But like I said a few posts back 'shame on me'. Matt did absolutely the right thing. He kept God first in his game. He gave the game to God which is what we as Christians should do every day.

We are not all playing the TV game of Survivor, but we are all trying to Surviv(or) in this world. Satan makes this life a game. We have to play it right or we don't win the ultimate prize of Heaven. And it's a hard game, much harder than the TV version of Survivor. It's a constant challenge to stay on that narrow path to Heaven. And Satan knows how to make us throw in the towel, give up, and settle for a much easier life sitting on the beach around a fire. But don't lose your motivation. Get up and play the game like Matt. Give the game to God. Keep Him first in your strategy to win. That's what I'm trying to do. One of the reasons Matt went so far was not only his faith, but the fact that he was alone on Redemption Island for several days. He was away from the "evils of the game (world)" and was able to survive with just God and himself. We need to all realize that while this world seems fun and happy (and it often is), it is also Satan's territory and so it's evil. It's not home. We need to all spend alone time with God and ask him to protect us from the world. And we need to encourage as many others as possible to do the same.

One final Survivor lesson - did you notice that everyone in the vase challenge last night lost when they took their eyes off it, even Matt. If you take your eyes off what's important (God), you will lose too. But that's another lesson......and I think you can figure it out for yourself.

I want my boys to be happy and to have a good, successful life. But I want more for them to realize that life is so short. What happens here is really not important as long as you know God and believe in the reality of his son, Jesus Christ. I want my boys to be one of the few on the narrow path to Heaven (Matt 7:14). One of my boys already made it.

I love Griffin and I love God.

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


Saturday, May 14, 2011

Techinical Issues

The blogger website went down Friday and deleted my Thursday post called "Footprints". They say it's coming back. If not, I may try to retype it but I won't get it exactly the same. Hopefully it will come back soon. I will wait to post another one for a few days in hopes it will restore it.

Sorry for the delays.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Abigail's Doll and the "Other Mother"

We're studying China in my 6th grade History class and one of my students brought in fortune cookies as a surprise this morning. Now, I don't put a lot of stock or belief in the fortunes but it's fun anyways. My fortune this morning (and not kidding about this) - "You will obtain your goal if you maintain your course". How cool (and true) is that? That's what this blog and my life are all about. I've never wanted to obtain a goal more than I do with Heaven right now. And I will maintain the course. It won't always be easy. This world offers some fun things but a lot of them are on those side roads that I just don't need to take. I've got to stay on course. Thanks fortune cookie for the reminder this morning.

Ok, now to the topic at hand. So I was reading a book the other day called "Grieving the Child I Never Knew" by Kathe Wunnenberg. I can't remember who gave it to us, but I like it. It's a daily devotional book focusing on scripture and Biblical studies dealing with grieving or loss. The most recent one I read discussed one of my favorite Biblical stories - Solomon, the two women, and one baby. I teach this story in Bible each year in 6th grade as we study I and II Kings. (It's in I Kings 3) I also was assigned to teach this story about 15 years ago when I taught 4th grade at my church. Now I'm the kind of teacher that likes visuals. I like to grab the kids' attention. So I figured if I was going to teach about the two women with one baby, I would need to have a baby doll. Being the manly boy that I was, I didn't have any dolls, but my little sister Abigail did. She had about 72 of them in her closet. I figured she wouldn't miss just one. So I stole it. I tried to get one from the back of the closet that I didn't think she'd miss. Then, I went into our garage, grabbed a saw, and went to town. I sawed that doll in half. In Sunday school class the next day, we discussed the story and I showed the 4th graders a doll. When we got to Solomon's decision, I asked them what he said to do. When they said "cut it in half", I pulled the doll apart. You can just imagine those kids' faces. Classic moment. A little psychotic on my part, but classic. I then put the doll back together and explained how luckily that didn't happen and how the correct mother got her baby back. I have now used "Baby 2-piece" (that's his name) each year in my 6th grade class. Baby 2-piece is a great way to get the kids' attention and they remember him throughout the year. Just ask one of my 6th graders. By the way - disclaimer here - I'm not a violent person. Don't be scared of me because I once sawed a doll in half. I just like the shock and awe examples.

Anyways, back to the book. The writer made a point from that story that I have never thought of before. It was simply "What about the other mother?" The bad one - as I imagine we often call her or think of her. We never, or at least I never have thought about her point of view. I just assume she was bad or evil and am so happy that the rightful mother got the baby. But for one second, look at things from the other mother's perspective. She woke up in the middle of the night to check on her new baby. Maybe she woke up because she didn't feel him moving or hear him breathing. Imagine her horror, shock and sadness when she realized what she had done. She had killed him. Her baby was gone. It had been an accident. She didn't mean to do it. But imagine her pain. Then she looked over to the other bed. There was a perfectly healthy baby sleeping. Maybe she quietly picked him up and felt his warmness. Maybe she smelled him and he had that perfect new baby smell. Maybe he looked up at her and smiled or made that new baby sound. So in her grief and extreme sadness, she made a choice. She switched the babies. She just wanted her baby to be alive again. She wanted the nightmare to go away. I know how she felt.

Now, I'm not condoning what she did, and neither was the author of the book. She did wrong. She sinned and obviously the baby belonged with the rightful mother. But was she really evil or did she just make a bad choice in a time of devastating loss? I can tell you and I've certainly heard and read that trauma and unexpected tragedy can cause people to think and do some strange things. Maybe that's what happened here. Should we have any sympathy for this woman or just see her as evil? I don't know the right answer, but I can tell you how I feel. When looking at it from her point of view, it makes me see her in a different way and I do have some sympathy for her. Yes she did wrong. Yes, she made some strange statements while before Solomon ("Yes, cut him in half"). And yes, she should've probably been punished (although we're not told what happened to her). But was she grieving? Most likely. Did her grief cause her to do something she wouldn't normally do? Maybe.

What's the point? The point is that I see this woman differently because we're still grieving our loss. We miss our son terribly. Not long after our loss, we went to Cracker Barrel and were seated at a table where a newborn baby was right in my sight throughout the meal. That was not easy. Part of me wished it was our baby. When I'm out or at church and see a baby or a pregnant woman now, it's a mix of emotions. I am very happy for the family and I wish and pray for health and safety. I don't want anyone to go through what we did. But I have to be honest and say that there is a part of me that hurts all over again for my son. It's a strange feeling. It's a definite mix of emotions. Now I've always loved holding a baby, and I still do. I especially love holding my niece, Amelia (Abigail's real doll ). I think it's good for me and it's a therapy of some sort. However, it also makes me long so much more to hold my son once again. I absolutely cannot wait to hold him again. And I truly believe I will get to. I just have to stay strong in my race to Heaven. I can't slow down or stop. And I can't veer off the course.

Is there someone you want to hold, hug, or see in Heaven? There has to be. While this isn't the only reason we should long for Heaven, it is certainly one of them. But don't you want to see these people again? I do. I have many that I want to see. And I truly believe you can and that you'll get to hold their hand forever. What a wonderful reality that is!! Don't miss out on your chance to experience the glory of our Father in Heaven. Heaven will be forever and it will be more joy and happiness that you could ever imagine. I can't wait. Please come with me. Griffin is waiting for me there.

I love Griffin and I love God.

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


Friday, May 6, 2011

Motivation is a BIG Word

I really appreciate the positive response to starting up this blog again. I got so many good comments, not only on here, but on FB as well. It's so nice to know I have so many people running this race along side me. Running is just more fun with others. Don't quit.

I really feel like God is calling me to write on here. You know, after Griffin died, we had several people who had been through something similar tell us we ought to journal. I've never journaled before except for on here about running. Well, I take that back. When I was in 5th grade I started keeping a journal (NOT a diary - "Journal" sounds more manly.) I think I kept it for about 2 weeks. I wrote down what happened each day at school. It was pretty boring as you might imagine but I enjoyed it. But then I think my older sister found it and made fun of me for having a "diary". So that was the end of that. Thanks a lot Allison. That could've been the start of a writing career. :) But I do think journaling is one way I'm using to cope with loss. It's helpful for me (but not everyone) to express thoughts and talk to others about struggles.

Motivation. Big word. Not necessarily in length, but in meaning. That's been one of my biggest struggles all my life. And Satan knows that about me. He knows that I am easily distracted and uses that to lure me away from what's important. In the five weeks since Griffin's death, I have lost the motivation to run each day. I probably averaged 5-6 times a week before his death. But recently it's been 1-2 times per week tops. I'm just not motivated. Running is a skill. It takes discipline, patience, hard work but especially motivation. I've found that it's a lot easier to go out and run if I have a goal in mind. I have to know that there is a race coming up that I need to train for. I think the fact that I have no race on the horizon coupled with the tragedy of our loss has put running way down on my priority list. But I'm slowly getting it back. I've run 3 times now this week for a total of 16 miles. (I hope to run today and tomorrow as well.) That's nothing compared to what I used to do but it's much better than what I've been doing. I still love running. I love how it makes me feel and what it does for my health. I want to get a race in the works to help strengthen my motivation. Maybe I will.

I think our relationship with God is the exact same way. At least it is for me. I often lack the motivation to spend time with Him. One year ago at this time I had almost no relationship with God outside of church and my job. I had no personal relationship. I didn't spend time with Him each day. I wanted to but I just couldn't find the motivation to do so. I justified it by saying that church and chapel at school were enough. And there are other things too. I mean we pray before meals. We read to the boys before bed. I go on youth retreats. I follow the rules except for the occasional mistake. I'm fine. Right? Wrong! It's not enough. I think it's vital to have personal time with him. Every day. I finally figured that out and tried it. It's not easy. Life gets in the way. Satan makes other things more appealing. Television, movies, naps, books, family, friends, fun. I enjoy all those. But none are more important than God. Nothing is. We all know this, but do we live it? I had a good friend tell me that he made a "date" with God every night at 9:30PM. He spends at least 30 min to an hour (sometimes longer) reading scripture, praying, reading a spiritual book or practicing other spiritual disciplines. And nothing would keep him from keeping that date. I tried at night. Doesn't work for me. I've always had trouble staying awake at night. So I tried in the morning. It works a lot better for me. I'm not perfect yet. I miss occasionally because Satan gets in the way. He makes a TV show or extra sleep seem more appealing. But I'm averaging 5-6 times per week. I have simply set my alarm for 30 min. earlier. What's 30 minutes of sleep compared to eternity? I use that 30 min. each morning to pray, read, think and focus. All for God. It has done amazing wonders for me and I feel closer to Him. If the weather is good, I'll do it at Griffin's grave. It's the perfect spot to find God. I'm there each morning at 6AM. It's becoming a habit. I love that.

I encourage you to do the same. Make daily time with Him a habit. Find the right time and make it a date. And don't let anything break the date. Nothing! It will change your life. God will change your life. He's changed mine. This morning, I sat at Griffin's grave and saw God. I saw Him in the sunrise, the clouds, the birds, the breeze. I saw Him and felt Him. I longed to be with Him in Heaven. I can't wait to be with Him. Please come with me.

I love Griffin and I love God.

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


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

5 Life-Changing Weeks

I'm back. I didn't think I would be. I even told some friends this past weekend that I was done with this blog stuff. What's the point? I enjoy running but I've done a lot of races. How can I possibly top Chicago or Disney? It's going to be quite the challenge to get PR's anymore. I think I've gone about as fast as I can go in all distances. Maybe not, but what else do I write about on here. Nothing interesting in the world of running is happening to me. I'm tired of searching for running topics.

However, something else has happened to our family recently and is still happening to an extent. You see, when I started this blog, it was meant to simply cover my running adventures with a little family stuff mixed in. That's it. Now, I have always been a devout Christian and faithful member of the church, but I didn't feel I would mix in a lot of that because that wasn't what this blog was about. And to be real honest, I didn't want to turn anyone off to this blog by being too preachy or "holier than thou". So I didn't mention much about my faith. I think I mentioned prayer a couple of times, but that's it. I kept my faith and my spiritual thoughts to myself. That's the kind of guy I am. Or was.

5 weeks. Exactly 5 weeks (10:00AM). 5 weeks ago right now I was in the church at a funeral. I was on the front row. That's where family sits. Just a few days before, I would've never dreamed I would have been at that funeral. I was happy, excited, so ready for the next exciting phase of my life. I was gonna be a father again. 3 sons. My dream had come true. But God had other plans. Most of you reading know what I'm talking about but for those in other places who might be reading - my son Griffin was buried 5 weeks ago today. He was born dead on March 27. I won't go into details today. Maybe another time. But it's safe to say that we weren't expecting it. It's changed our lives. We don't even know how much yet. But I know it's changed and will continue to change mine - in many, many ways and more to come. The biggest? I'm much closer to God. I want to spend more time with him. I want to see him and be with him. I also want to be with my son. I miss him. He's happy now so I'm happy. But I can't wait to see him one day and I will.

And I want as many others to join me there. I'm going to Heaven. Are you? Shame on me for hiding God from this website. Shame on me for trying to hard not to offend. Shame on me for not having the courage to proclaim my belief in a loving, forgiving God. God has called me to come to Heaven and bring as many people as possible with me, so that's the new point of this website. I'm still running. More about that later. But now I've found a race that will top Chicago, Disney, even Boston (though I'll never get there). I'm running the race of life and at the finish line is Heaven. The ultimate prize. AND I WILL FINISH THIS RACE.

This website will now be used to try to influence others to join me in this race and to finish. You may have noticed the title and logo change. Running here on Earth is still important to me and I will keep at it and talk about it on here. But no more daily miles posted (only weekly) and no more running goals. Instead, I plan to talk more about my race of life. If that doesn't interest you, don't read. If it offends you, I'm truly sorry, but that's who I am. I won't deny my God anymore. I won't be scared to shout his name. He is real. I've got so much to say, but I'll save it for another post soon. This is my attempt at an introduction to my new theme. We'll see how it goes.

I got to hold my third son for about 3 hours, give or take. He was perfect. He was wonderful. He was mine. In that time, although not nearly enough, I fell in absolute love with him. I cannot wait to hold him again. And I know this is how God feels about me.

I love Griffin and I love God.

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


Tuesday, May 3, 2011