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! .

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

How Much is Too Much?

I'm having some weird dreams. I don't know why, but lately I've been having very long, very detailed dreams. I've always dreamed, but they seem to be so vivid and involved lately. Not sure why. Last night I dreamed that I was helping to make a commercial or advertisement of some sort. I was the camera man and my friends and all were participating in some type of contest. Our video was really good, but way too long and involved (just like the dream). I also dreamed that I broke the law with some friends. I can't remember now what we did but we were running from the police. We got caught and one at a time got arrested. I remember feeling so disappointed in myself but also relieved to have been caught and free of the guilt. Now, let me assure you that I have NOT broken the law and have no plans too. And I don't feel guilty about anything at the moment. So what does it mean? Why are my dreams so vivid lately? Just curious. Anybody else have weird dreams?

My boys are changing. They are growing up quick. They are now 9 and 7. My oldest, Carter is growing taller as we speak. I could tell he was getting taller and several have commented the same. Apparently he's going through a growth spurt. He's very excited about it. I have mixed emotions. If he gets taller than me, I may have an issue. My youngest, Max is not growing taller but he's just growing more rebellious. He doesn't want to cut his hair. He's Samson apparently. We told him that we're going to the beach soon and it's going to be hot, but he still doesn't want it cut. We've agreed he can keep it long through the summer, but he's beginning to look a little Fabioish. He also has 4 tatoos. They are stick-on or wet-on or whatever, but he wanted to be like the big boys on the mission trip last week and put on tatoos (thanks big boys!). Actually, he's always liked those things. Last night, he had a basetball game and so he had on his tank-top style jersey. When I asked him if he wanted to wear a shirt under it so nobody would see his tatoos, he said, "No, I want them to be seen so I can look like real basketball players." Great! My little Rapunzel also wants to express his body-art. When did I lose him?

I want to go to Heaven. Have I mentioned that on here? Maybe once or twice. After all, it's the theme of this whole blog. But I really want to go. Like, I can't wait. My wife posted on her FB page a note last week. I read it while I was on my mission trip. It was beautiful, heartfelt and I loved it. I told her how much I enjoyed it. But I did slightly disagree with a point she made and we had a good discussion about it. We are waiting on the grave marker for Griffin to be made. It will be a triple marker with all 3 of our names on it. Susan mentioned that she doesn't want to see her name. She doesn't want to be reminded of her own death. She wants to live a long life watching her boys grow up. I understand. There is a part of me that feels the same. It can be very gloomy and depressing to think of your own death. And I also want to see my boys grow up. I want to hold my grandchildren one day. I want to continue to experience life with Susan and grow old with her. But....and let me just stop here and say that what I'm about to say may sound really weird and abnormal. Maybe it is. Maybe I'm crazy or irrational. But this is how I'm feeling. The thing is.....there is another part of me that doesn't want that stuff at all. There is a part of me that is ready to die.

I won't mind seeing my name on that grave marker. For me, it will just remind me that this life is only temporary. This world with it's fears, worries, troubles, tragedies, and death will be over soon and forever will begin. Maybe part of it is because we lost Griffin, but I'm ready for that forever. I know I'm going so I want it to start. I honestly wouldn't mind if my life ended tomorrow. I can't wait for Heaven. Now, is that too much? How much is too much? I don't want to be selfish. I don't want my family to grieve. I know my boys need their dad and trust me, I'm not suicidal or anything like that. I don't want to leave my boys or my wife, but if that's God's plan for me...to leave tomorrow....I'm ready for it. I'll trust Him that when it's time...it's time. And I honestly don't care when that is. So I've recently been asking God and myself...is there such a thing as wanting Heaven too much? Should I be having these thoughts and feeling this way? Should I ask God to come soon or even to take me soon as I've prayed a few times. Maybe I'm wrong, but again, it's how I feel.

I don't know what my life holds. I don't know how long I'll live. If I had to guess, I'd say that I'll live for a long time....80 or 90 years. I'll watch my sons get older. I'll watch their children and maybe their children. And that's fine with me. That would be a wonderful blessing from God. But I'm also fine if it all ends tomorrow. I'm so excited and ready for Heaven to begin anytime. I want to see my Griffin again. I want to hold him. But most of all, I want to see my Father, my God, my Lord, my Savior, my Jesus. I want to talk to Jesus and touch his nail-scarred hands. I want to sing praises to God while I look upon His face. I want to hold Griffin in my lap while I do so. I want that so badly. Is that too much? I hope not.

I love Griffin and I love God.

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


Monday, June 27, 2011

Practice Makes Perfect

I'm home. Back from Heaven. Back from the Raddison. Back to my normal house with a regular mattress (and I don't even get a bed to myself....there's some girl there who says she's my "wife") , a regular breakfast (actually no breakfast - by choice), no fitness center, no big bucket of snacks, no giant TV, and no perfect shower. I'm home. And I love it. :) ............It was so nice to get back home to Susan and Carter. I really missed them. Yes, it was nice to have a taste of luxury for a few days, but it wouldn't be special if I had it all the time. I'll take my home over anywhere else. Every time!

So you may notice over there that I didn't run at all last week. I haven't run in almost 2 weeks. My heel is just too sore. It's healing....I think.....but very slowly. I have been doing the stationary bike and mainly the Elliptical machine instead. I'm actually enjoying those. But I do want to get back to running....eventually.....when I have no heel pain. I've also been playing tennis some lately. Yep....tennis! Susan had some friends encourage her to begin playing and so we've kind of taken it up as a family. I'm loving that too. Susan and I used to play a little when we first got married but we haven't played since....10 years ago. Needless to say, we're a little rusty but it's still fun and quite a workout.

Speaking of workouts, I am about to begin my 2nd season as head coach of the Cross Country team at the school where I teach. I'm very excited. I have 28 boys and 16 girls signed up as of today. TSSAA rules prohibit me from coaching them until the end of July. I sent them a letter advising them what to do and encouraged them to train in groups this summer if possible. I also put my seniors (all 3 of them) in charge of leading the practices and encouraging them to participate. My seniors have done a great job. They've created a Facebook group and the team is communicating pretty well. However, after talking to one of my seniors, I have been told that it has been pretty difficult to get a lot of the team to respond and practice with the group. Only a faithful few have been there every day. Most have excuses, trips, camps, work, or TV watchin' to do. This is not a new problem. Getting these kids motivated to run is like getting a cat in a bathtub. Once we start the season and the official workouts begin, then they run. They have to. They're being watched. But it's pretty easy to tell who has been running during the summer and who hasn't. Some of them just don't get it that practice indeed does make perfect. They also don't understand that you can't get results, especially good results if you don't put the practice time in. That goes for anything in life, even our spiritual life.

While I didn't invent the saying "practice makes perfect," it's not entirely true. We can never be perfect at anything. Nobody is perfect. We can always get better whether it's a physical activity or sport, a mental challenge or excercise, or even in our spiritual walk. We'll never be perfect.....on this Earth that is. Practice DOES make perfect when we leave this life. Heaven is perfect. Last night at church, we had a singing and I was so excited to find out that most of the songs seemed to be about Heaven. I know worship isn't for me, but I do love singing songs about Heaven. I get so excited thinking about it and I can't wait to go (as I've mentioned many times). It's so wonderful to think about a perfect place with no worries, sadness, troubles, sin, or temptation. But here's the thing....it takes practice too. Some people want Heaven without the practice it takes, but it doesn't work like that. God didn't design it like that. We have to practice to get the perfection of Heaven. We have to follow God. We have to give our lives to Him. We have to keep our relationship wtih Him strong. We have to abstain from sin or anything that keeps us away from God. We have to practice those things throughout our lives if we want the "perfect." I want it. How about you?

Luckily, I have enough runners that will put in the work. They'll get it together and we'll have a good season. But I wish all my runners would put in the practice necessary so they could get as close to perfect this season as possible. But more than that.....if they don't run one minute this summer....my prayer is that they practice for Heaven every day. And they'll know that I want that from them.

So I encourage you to put in the practice. And please pray and encourage me to do the same.

See you in Perfect.

I love Griffin and I love God.

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


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Just Wait!

Still in Heaven here....a.k.a.....Raddison. Only one more night. How will I be able to leave? When you've found paradise, how can you possibly go back to normal? Actually, I'm being a little dramatic. I miss my wife and son a lot!! And I can't wait to see them. It's been a good trip here in Durham, NC, but home is always a great place to go back to. I've really enjoyed using the Fitness room here at the Raddison. It's very nice. I've been doing 2-a-days. It really makes me want to join a gym of some sort. I'll have to talk to the wife about that one. Max has really enjoyed being here too. He told me yesterday that he really loves the church here and when I asked why, he said because they have the softest carpet to run around on. He told me our carpet at our own church is too hard. I'll have to talk to the elders about that. Glad he loves being here for the right reasons. :)

Today we visit Duke University. Excited about that. Get to see the famous gardens, chapel, the football stadium and the baseketball gym. Really excited about that one. We also get to go to a Ronald McDonald House....not for lunch, well maybe....but one of their places of service. I've certainly heard of them, but ashamed to say I've never been to one. We are supposed to visit with some who are there as well as do some work such as cleaning and possibly baking. Think I'll stick to cleaning. Actually, the Ronald McDonald House has led me to a race in the fall. I've committed to running a 5K for the charity in September. For now, that's my only race on the agenda. I'm excited to have something out there.

I've got a weakness. Actually I have several but we don't have to get to them all today. But I have one that became evident to me recently. I'm impatient. When I get my mind set on something, I want to get it done now. Or if I have a question or want to know some information, I have to find it out now or as soon as humanly possible. I struggle sometimes with decisions. Even as I type this, there are things that I along with my wife and family are trying to decide. I've learned to talk to God and ask Him to lead me in the right direction. In years past, I would just go with how I felt. I would make decisions quickly and often without prayer. Now I definitely discuss major decisions with God. I want Him to guide me. I know He ultimately lets me choose, but I still need His help to see every angle and consider the consequences of both possiblities. And I want every decision to lead me closer to God, not further away. But what I recently realized is that I don't want to wait on God's decision or guidance. I want God to choose A or B. I want Him to just say, "Albert, you should pick this." I want the answer now. That's not how I should be.

I think there is a very good reason that PATIENCE is a fruit of the Spirit. It's something we need the Spirit to give us. We often talk about the "peace that passes all understanding." I received that from the Spirit after Griffin's death. There's no way I could've made it without that peace. But while I still need that, now my prayer is for the patience that passes understanding. That has to exist as well, right? I'm asking God for the patience of the Holy Spirit today. I need to understand that God answers all my prayers but according to His plan and on His time. And He might have an answer I'm not even thinking of. He may have a total different direction He wants me to go that's much much better. I realize that I can't understand every decision God has for me or why things happen the way they do. The Bible says that just as the Heavens are above the Earth, so is God above me. I could never understand how He thinks and operates. I could never understand His plan. So I trust in Him to lead me to what's best on his own time, NOT ON MINE. This is something I'll have to continue to work on and talk to God about. But I know it's what He wants me to understand. I'm thankful that He's taught me this recently.

I love Griffin and I love God.

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


Monday, June 20, 2011

The Line

I am in Heaven! Well, actually not yet but I'm pretty sure I'm in the closest thing this side of the real Heaven. I'm in a Raddison. The hotel. And it's U-N-B-E-L-I-E-V-A-B-L-E! Max and I are on a church mission trip this week in Durham, NC and somehow we got a really good deal at a Raddison hotel. Not only that, but the church here and the Raddison apparently were so excited we were coming that they've gone all out. Here are just a few of the fine amenities we are enjoying (compared with some of the slightly less than fine amenities of the past on this mission trip in our Super 8 hotel when we went to Black Mt., NC)

1. Huge buffet breakfast every morning/no charge - tip even taken care of. We're talking sit-down service with waiters in tuxes. Tuxes! (At the Super 8, it was a bag of bread and some cereal that I'm pretty sure was made in the 80's. And tuxes? I don't think so. You just hoped the food got replenished by someone wearing appropriate clothing.)

2. Sleep Number beds!! Let me say it again.....Sleep Number Beds. Like you get to pick your number. The bed moves. It inflates. It deflates. It's incredible. My number is 45 for those interested. Max has half his bed on 5 and half on 15. Dont ask. (At the Super 8, it was regular mattresses and they were only deflated, not inflated.)

3. When we arrived, the church had arranged for these huge buckets to be sitting in our rooms full of candy, chips, gum, snacks with 12 canned soft drinks as well. At first I told Max to stay away...those things will be $10 each. But NO, they are free. As in no charge. Arranged by the hotel and church. (The Super 8 had ice buckets.)

4. I could live in the shower. It is by far the BEST shower I've ever been in as far as pressure and comfort. When I went to turn off Max's shower this morning because he said he was finished, he was sitting on the ground in the shower just getting drenched and loving it. I understood. It's that good. (The Super 8 had a shower at one point but time had taken its toll and the water wouldn't quite all make it to the shower portion. It was now a half bath, half shower. It was a bower.)

5. Huge fitness room. I spent an hour in there this morning. I'm not going to run at all this week. I'm just going to go to this room. HDTV's at every machine. (The Super 8 had a fitness room, but there was a guy named Bubba standing in front of it. He was 350 pounds and said "Get Out of Here!" every time you came near.)

6. Huge flat screen TV's in the room....that I'm not using, sweet wife who's reading this. (The Super 8 had a big window in your room and there was more action outside than would ever be on any TV show.)

7. USA Today on the floor under our door each morning. Love that. (The Super 8 had sour milk on the floor each morning which smelled up our room all week. Not kidding.)

I could go on but I don't want to brag or anything. Actually, I guess I do a little. Let's just say it's a little nicer than the Super 8 where we've stayed the last 10 years. In fact, if this hotel is Heaven, then the Super 8....well, I won't go there. (I have to say that we loved Black Mountain, the place and the people and the experience, but the hotel was just another story.) When we get home, I'm going to ask Susan if we can sell our house and move to a Raddison. Oh yeah, I think we're going to do some mission work while we're here too. :)

By the way, meant to talk about the hail in my last post. The biggest hail I've ever seen in all my life. I was at church last Thursday working and I knew it was about to storm, but then I heard what sounded like gunshots on our roof. I ran to the window to see that it was hailing. Small at first but it gradually got bigger and bigger. When it reached golf ball, I was already thinking that it was the biggest I've ever seen. But then it got even bigger. I kid you not I saw 3-4 pieces that were BASEBALL size. We all stood at the glass doors of the church watching. I was amazed and awed by the size and power of the storm but at the same time I was looking at my car and thinking....'this is gonna leave a mark'. It did. Several marks. And a shattered sun roof. My car will be in the shop for 6 weeks. 6 weeks! Apparently they are backed up. But it was an awesome storm. One I'll never forget. God is so amazing and I'll take a busted car to see His power, might, and control.

So yesterday when we arrived at the Durham church, we began with class time together. The teacher of the adult/teen class was a very nice man named Mike. I have gotten to know him best this week and have really enjoyed his kindness and conversation. He's very funny and animated, but also very serious in his discussion and easy to talk to. He did a great job with class, was very easy to follow and had a very interesting topic. I agreed with most everything he said and appreciate the time he put into the class. But he made a point that made me think and I'm not sure I agreed with his viewpoint on this one item. His topic was "Worship"...what is it and what should it be? This is a touchy subject sometimes I know, but I find myself exploring it pretty hard as I don't think I've ever done it correctly. I've definitely been getting so much more out of worship and giving so much more to God lately than I ever have, but I still want to improve. Anyways, at one point, Mike was talking about how we typically in our churches don't want to be too showy or try to entertain or try to push the line and cross into pleasing people instead of pleasing God in our worship. I agree with that. But another gentleman spoke up and said something along the lines of.....but don't we sometimes go too far the other way. Don't we sometimes worry so much about "doing things wrong" or "being too showy" or "offending others" that we don't give God enough and we hold back what we could be giving to Him? I thought this was an excellent question and was a little disappointed when our teacher polietly brushed it off saying he didn't want to discuss it. The only thing he did say was that if the line is there (pointing on the ground), I tend to want to stay way back here and not even approach the line. This is what I disagree with.

Personally, and some may disagree (I'm sortof waiting for some disagreement and good discussion.....one of these days. :), I think we often worry too much about the "rules". We don't like change and don't want to do anything different than what has been done for so many years. And while I agree 100% that we need to worship the way God wants and instructs in His Word, I think there are many ways to do that and we don't have to worry so much about how others do it and offending too many people. Now I realize the Bible also says not to offend, but here's the bottom line.... Worship serves 2 purposes in my mind. 1 - to glorify God and 2 - to grow closer to God ourselves and strengthen our relationship with Him as we pay Him His due reverence and honor. There is no purpose that we are to please ourselves or to make us happy. If it offends, maybe we're focusing too much on what we want and not enough on God. There is nothing wrong with change as long as it follows His guidelines. I don't think it's wrong to approach and explore the line. I just don't want to live my life "being scared" of offending and worrying about whether it's right or wrong, offensive or non-offensive. I just want to worship God. I don't believe any church has it exactly right. But arguing about it isn't right just as much as refusing to discuss it isn't right either. Sorry - this is very jumbled and probably doesn't make sense. I know. But my main point is that for too long, I and I tend to think many others have worshipped in fear, worrying about things that just don't matter. This is just my opinion and I need to explore it some more. Like I said, it's something I've really been focusing on lately as my relationship with God has changed for the better. I'll continue to think and pray on it and may come back with a follow up later. That's all for now.

I love Griffin and I love God.

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


Friday, June 17, 2011

I've Got the JYO?

I just rearranged my office. The one at church. Not the one at school. Although that's on the summer agenda. It'll take a week. It's a mess. This one only took a few hours. It looks pretty good if I do say so myself. Now I guess I should do some work in it. But I'm enjoying just sitting here looking at it right now. It's nice to change things up every once in a while. Get a fresh start. Maybe that's true in some areas of life too.

I haven't run much at all this week. Only 8 miles. I've been trying to heal my heel. I plan on doing about 5 tonight but that'll be it for the week. I'm also going to take it easy next week as I'll be on a mission trip. Hopefully the two light weeks will help. It's still pretty sore. Still trying to lose a little weight but it's hard when I'm not running. Always trying to eat better but that's a challenge. We seem to eat out more in the summer and eating healthy is something I always say I'll do when I'm not hungry but when it's meal time, I'm all about the carbs. I did eat blueberries yesterday for the first time ever (not in a muffin). Not too bad. Heard they're pretty healthy. I love strawberries and spinach. Heard those are good too. But part of me likes eating what I want to eat. That's one of the reasons I run....so I can eat!

I'm remembering a lesson and song from my childhood. I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart. Where? Remember the lesson you also heard as a kid about JOY...how it stands for Jesus, Others, Yourself.... That's where our priorities should be. While that's true to an extent, I'd like to propose that it might should be JYO. I've got the jyo in my heart? Doesn't sound quite as good. But here's my reason....For so long in my relationship with God, that's how I've lived my life. I've always tried to put God and Jesus first which is where they should be. But after that, I've tried to please others. I've tried to make others happy. I've worried about what others think. I've put others second, just like the lesson. And while that's probably normal for a lot of people and good in some ways, I've often forgot about myself. I've never really focused on myself and my own relationship with God before. At least not to the extent I've been doing in the last few months. Ever since Griffin died, I've been taking a lot more alone time with God to build our relationship, to discover his plans for me, to get to know Him, His son, and the Spirit, to find out who I am, what God expects, and where I'm going. I'm getting to the point now where I personally think it's more important to get one's own life right with God FIRST before going out and spreading it to others. How can we tell others about God and what He can do for them when we don't even know ourselves? How can we share with others about the relationship they can have with God when our relationship with Him is less than strong? If I can get my relationship with God to a healthy status, then I can spread it to others. And actually, when I do get to that point, I will naturally affect and influence others and everything will fall into place.

Once again, God reassured me in this point. I was already planning to write about this and I just "happened" to read something along these lines. God is amazing! Here's how He spoke to me this morning.... I'm still reading the book "Grieving the Child I Never Knew" and the devo. this morning was called "It's Pitcher Filling Time". The author talked about that in her own grief, she was so worried about others: family, friends with needs, job, activities, etc....that she forgot to take time for herself. She forgot to fill her own pitcher so that she would be able to pour it out on others. Now she was approaching it from the standpoint of taking time for one's self to relax, read, study, pray, do activities she enjoys and those are all good and important. But I am just focusing solely on getting myself right with God first, before trying to teach and affect others.

By the way - it's working. These last few months have been such a mix of emotion. Sad for obvious reasons, but so happy in the fact at the good that has come. I have never felt closer to God and it's because I'm taking the time to focus on Him. I'm seeking Him and what He wants. I'll never stop doing this. But now that I feel at a better place, I am starting to feel ready to move on to the O of JYO. This is why I enjoyed last Saturday (FaithWorks) so much. This is why I posted last time that I do want to be used more. I feel good with God and I want to share it. So go ahead. Put Yourself 2nd. Then put others 3rd.

Maybe it SHOULD be JYO? What do you think?

I love Griffin and I love God.

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


Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Click HERE for pictures of the FaithWorks day I talked about in the last post. Especially check out the muscular fellow laying sod in the orange hat in picture #18. :)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Where Should I Scatter?

My youngest boy is 7 today. I can't believe he's seven years old. Wasn't he born just a couple of years ago? How can he be 7!?!? I still think of him as my baby boy a lot of the time. I know, I know, I gotta quit that one of these days. Maybe when he's 18. In all seriousness, Max is a true joy and I am so honored and blessed to be his dad. Nobody makes me laugh like Max. He's also a hard worker and has a very caring, Christian heart. Just like his mom. Happy Birthday to Max!

My heel hurts. Lately, I've had a pretty bad pain in my left heel, especially when I wake up in the morning. It's hard to even walk on it then. How many times have I had a pain like this that hurts in the morning and goes away as the day continues? Lots. It's never been the heel before though. The pain does subside when walking, but if I put pressure on it, I can feel it. When I run, it hurts a little at first but then goes away. I didn't do a long run this past weekend b/c of it. I am trying to give it some time to get better, but hate to let up on too much running. I'm finally starting to get my running back where I want it. But I hope it heels soon. Ha! You knew that was coming.

So this past Saturday, I experienced something truly wonderful. It was one of those days that I won't forget for many reasons, not the least of which in how it strengthened my spiritual life. So I'd like to share it. There is a wonderful man at our church that has recently begun organizing a group called FaithWorks. It is simply offering volunteer work for someone that has a need. There have been several "FaithWork" days here in the last several months, but I've never been able to participate due to conflicts. Saturday, I had a conflict, but my loving wife took care of it for me so I could get involved for the first time. The plan was to meet in Murfreesboro at a church family's house to assist with their landscaping. Their home had been completely destroyed by a 2009 tornado and they have struggled a lot with getting their new house built (Insurance, etc. uggggh!) Landscaping, needless to say, was way down on their to-do list so it was decided to help them out with this service day. A simple email was sent asking for any volunteers to assist. I had no idea what to expect, but I honestly thought maybe 20 people would be there. There were over 70 people there!! Men, women, and children. Our job was to sod their entire yard and to plant bushes/flowers all around the front and sides of the house. We got it all done in around 3 hours. The yard was completely transformed quicker than you could imagine. The dedication everyone gave and the sheer speed of everyone's work was simply amazing. It was probably a "you had to be there to understand it" kind of thing, but I'll just say it was wonderful. It was God at work and I was so proud of my church, my friends, my brothers and sisters. It definitely made me want to do more things just like that as it gave me a spiritual boost.

That leads me to my question above. Where should I scatter? Our Summer Series speaker last Wednesday spoke on the parable of the Sower. It was a great lesson and one of his points was that the sower had little regard for where he spread the seed. He spread it everywhere. He spread it on good ground, rocky ground, traveled ground, etc. He just scattered seed not caring where it went. We are called to do the same. We need to be scattering God's Word and His message ALL OVER. We don't need to just pick those people we are comfortable talking to. We need to get out of our comfort zone and share with all types of people. Mark 16:15 says preach to "every creature" or "all creation". It doesn't say to just talk to those you know or like. We are often told to spread God's Word every day in our workplace. My excuse has always been (and still is sometimes) that I work at a Christian school and I work part-time at our church. Who in the world do I need to spread God's Word to? Everyone I work with is a Christian and a believer in Jesus Christ. Many of them are even further along in their spiritual life that me. So who do I scatter my seed to? That's a real issue for me.

I'm simply sharing today that I want to do more. I want to lead and serve and help and teach and bring others to God. I want to tell the wonderful story of Jesus to other people and how God has changed my life, especially in the recent months. But I struggle with how to do that. I don't want to get in a routine of just doing what I'm doing. I don't want to be satisfied with my life just because basically I'm a good person and a good example. That's not enough! I want to take it a step further and make a difference. I want to be like Jesus. I want to scatter my seed somewhere I've never scattered before. I am so impressed and slightly jealous of my brother who started these FaithWorks days. That is scattering seed and being the servant we are called to be. I'm thrilled to be a part, but I want to do more. My prayer to God today is that he give me more opportunities to serve, more chances to tell others about Him. This is what we are all called to do and I confess I need God's help to lead me in that direction.

You may choose to ask God the same. Where is He leading you? What is He calling you to do? Are you listening....answering....following?

I'm asking myself these same questions.

I love Griffin and I love God.

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


Saturday, June 11, 2011

A Bottle To Chew On

I got my first swim yesterday in our sweet and non-attractive pool. It was wonderful. Felt so good after working in the yard all morning. Then I laid on our deck and just soaked up a little sun. I love summer and everything about it. I get to be with my wife and boys. I get to work outside. I get to cool off in a redneck but effective pool whenever needed. I'm definitely a summer over winter kind of guy. So many more benefits of summer. Yes, it's hot, but so what. I would much rather be hot than cold. Except while sleeping. Then I'm the opposite. I love getting under the covers on cold winter nights. Ok, enough season/temperature talk. On to more important news....

The fish are dead. Yep.....dead. As in floating on top of the water. They're gone. Flipper Lipscomb Thweatt and Swimmer Griffin Thweatt went to that big bowl in the sky Thursday. The same brand new fish I posted about just two posts ago. The same fish we were given at the carnival/fair about a week ago. The same fish that we went all over town looking for a bowl for. And the same fish I was sure Susan would eventually grow to love them. Well, I don't think she will anymore because she didn't have time! They're dead! Isn't there a week warranty on these things or something? I was just starting to get attached. Their stinkin' food container is still completely full! What kind of pet lives a week???? The answer.....fish from a carnival. Oh well. The boys were fine. When Susan told them, Max wanted to see them dead and Carter asked if we could now get a ferret. True story. We're not getting a ferret and we're going to wait on more fish. Maybe at the end of the summer. The boys didn't care. Susan and I were taking care of them anyways....well for the 7 days we did. So allow me a brief eulogy......So long Flipper and Swimmer. Thanks for touching our lives for those couple of minutes or so. I'll always remember the times we had together, you know like when I fed you those 2 times and when I changed your water once. Oh yeah and that time that Flipper looked at me and then swam away. That was great. May you rest in peace on the train tracks behind our house where I threw you. And may your bowl finally dry out in the sun and be rid of that smell. You guys stunk. But you lived a nice, short life as a prize at a carnival. Oh the stories you could tell, if you could remember them.

Ok, enough of that. On to the topic at hand. I'm a runner. I exercise regularly. And I would love to say that I also eat healthy on a regular basis. But that would be a lie and I try really hard not to do that. I do, as a runner, try to drink a lot of water especially with these hot summer days. However, I've never been too big of a water drinker. I can drink it with meals if I have to and after runs of course, but to just drink it....when I'm not really thirsty.....not so easy. That is until about 2 months ago when I noticed that a bunch of my students were bringing water bottles to class. It was a lot more than usual and not only were they drinking from them, they were chewing on them....and sucking on them....and enjoying them a little more than I've ever seen. So I had to ask about them. It was a little distracting to see such affection for a water bottle. The answer.....Camelbak. Anyone else have one? I asked one of my students and he told me they were great. "Mr. Thweatt, they force you to drink water. I've drank 3 bottle fulls today!" To bad it didn't help him with his English. But I asked him why and he told me about the special rubber tips. He said you have to bite them open to drink and they are fun to chew on. O......K...... I thought it was a little strange at first, but then I thought 'I need to get me one of those' I am always needing to drink more water and if it "forces" you.......plus I like chewing on things even though I'm 35 years old. So I gave in and bought myself a Camelbak water bottle. And I love it. It IS a fun water bottle. And I am findiing myself drinking more. I try to keep the chewing to a minimum.

The point is....I had to have one just because all my students had one. I had to try it for myself. I find myself getting caught up in that sometimes. I want to have what everyone else has. I want my own. I want to show it off a little bit. I could talk about materialism, but I won't. I would rather talk about being the same versus being different. I often want to be like everyone else. I want to wear the same clothes or buy the same running shoes or the same chewy water bottles. But when it comes to my relationship with God, I want to be different.

With God, I don't want to be like everyone else. I want to stand out so that people want to be like me. I don't know who bought the very first Camelbak water bottle, but it started a chain and everyone wanted to be like that person. I want to do the same in my spiritual life. I want to be an example that others want to follow. I want to be so on fire for God and so open and honest in my relationship that others take notice and maybe even say, "He's different." No, I don't want to show off or seem any better than anyone else, but I do want to lead others closer to God. That's what we're all called to do.

So it's ok to want to be like someone else in some ways. We all have people we look up to or want to follow. It's ok to buy a water bottle just to be like others, even sixth graders. But when it comes to God, start your own trend. Be a leader, not a follower. There are many great Christian examples you can look toward, but in the end, be your own servant for Christ. Be different. My prayer for God today is for Him to give me more opportunities to teach others....more people to lead.....give me a different and special relationship wtih Him so others see and want to be a part. I want to start a revival with the saved and evangelize the lost at the same time. Anyone care to join me? There's nothing to chew on, but it will "force" you on that narrow path to Heaven. Sounds good to me.

I love Griffin and I love God.

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


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Geocash...Geocech....Geocache......Looking for Hidden Treasure

It's hot and you need a pool! Gotta love those old Watson's commercials. Anyone else remember those? The truth is... It IS hot and so we put out our pool. Last year we bought one of those cheap, above-ground, slightly redneck (who am I kidding? Very redneck) pools. And we LOVE it. We don't care. It's too hot to care how unattractive and Sanford and Son it might look. Yesterday was opening day. We had a mini-celebration ceremony and the boys jumped in. It's perfect. For now. Last year, we had great luck at the beginning of the summer but as the summer wore on, and we were gone for missions or vacation, the pool suffered. It got cloudy beyond repair. It was pretty much a swamp by August. I'm going to really try to keep it looking purty longer this year. There is only one week (not 3 like last summer) where we will all be gone on vacation (and I'm not telling when that is due to all the robbers and theives that read this blog). Otherwise, someone will always be at our house so hopefully we can keep it looking nice. I can't wait for my first swim.

Had a great 4-mile run last night. It's still hot around 9PM but doable. It felt good and then I enjoyed cooling down by sitting on our deck and just talking with Susan. I love Summer nights. Susan has been doing great with her walking. She has gotten up at 6AM every morning to walk. I couldn't do it. I like my sleeping in too much. She walked 6 miles this morning. Very proud of her. She's a trooper.

So last week we hear about this new thing called Geocaching. Maybe it's not new. Maybe it's been around a while, but it's new to us. We have some friends who do it all the time and they introduced it to us. There's a website (Geocaching.com) where you can type in your zip code and get clues, including coordinates, to hidden treasures. Now, when I say "treasures" I just mean a random item you are looking for, not gold and jewels. You use your GPS device, plug in the coordinates and go a-looking. We decided to try it. We found on that was titled "Overton" which we assumed was Overton High School. When we read the clue, we realized it was Overton Road which is very close to us. We plugged in the coordinates and went for a drive. It led us to this gate on Overton Road that is at the entrance to the huge electrical towers/radiated horses field. We started looking around this gate for treasure. I'll admit I wasn't as into it as my family. I didn't even know what I was looking for and felt kindof silly looking around this random gate. Then I heard it. "I found it!"

It was Susan and she was holding it. It was a screw. Yep, that's it. A screw. Like a bolt. Like a thing you put wood together with. She had a huge smile on her face and was holding a bolt. The boys were all excited saying "let me see it". Did I miss something here? When did a bolt become exciting? And why is this treasure a bolt. So here's my family jumping up and down holding up a big screw and I'm off to the side trying to find the hidden cameras from the "Candid Camera" show that went off the air about 30 years ago. "That's it?" I said. My wife then explained how she knew that was it because this bolt was attached to the gate with a very small magnet which we then found. "O........K.......," I slowly said. We had also been told by our friends that if you unscrewed the top of the bolt, you would find a piece of paper. Say what? That bolt is too small for paper inside. But it was true. We took off the top and extracted a very small piece of paper that had last names on it. These people had all found the "treasure" and written their name. So we wrote ours as well. Now I have to admit that part was pretty cool. I started liking this "Geocaching" a little more. Apparently they are all over Nashville and some are boxes, cans, containers, screws, etc. But you know it when you find it. And now my family, and even me want to go look for another one. We actually did go look for one at a CVS but didn't find it. We'll try again soon.

Last week, Marlin Connelly spoke at our church. He always does a good job. He spoke on the parables of Hidden Treasure. The man finds a treasure in a field and sells everything so he can buy the field. And a merchant finds a valuable pearl and sells everything to buy it. It's fun to find hidden treasure. My boys get so excited when they find a penny on the ground. It's a real treasure to them. Apparently they also get excited to find a screw magnetized to a fence. But it was a treasure. They set out to find something and they did. It IS exciting. Heaven is a treasure. Actually it's THE treasure! It's worth more than any treasure that will ever be found here on Earth. And it's available to all of us. We don't have to look for it with coordinates or clues. We know where it is, but we do have to follow directions to get there. Bro. Connelly made the point how in these parables, these two people gave EVERYTHING away to get their treasure. How willing are we to give literally everything away? Would we give up all earthly possessions, materials, and relationships to gain the one eternal treasure?

The world was supposed to end on May 21. It didn't. Some believed it would and sold everything they had in preparation. Now, they were following a false teacher, but I have to admire their willingness to sell everything and trust in God. If I KNEW Christ was coming tomorrow, could I do the same? The truth is, I do know Christ is coming. Oh, I don't know when and nobody does, but I should be ready every second. I don't think God expects us to literally sell everything and lie in wait. But I do think he expects us to be ready at all times and never put importance on "things". Who cares how much I have or don't have here on Earth? As long as I have a strong relationship with God, I'm getting the treasure.

I can't wait for my family to huddle around Christ in Heaven (instead of a screw) and jump up and down because we found the treasure. One son already is. I'm trying my best to get myself, my wife, and my other sons there.

Feel free to join in on our jumping when you get there.

I love Griffin and I love God.

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


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Anyone Remember Mr. Ed?

I meant to include a quote I heard from a fellow teacher on my last post that had to do with Suffering. In a teachers' only chapel one day, this teacher told us she had heard the following:

"All sun and no rain makes a desert."

So simple, but so true. Sometimes we complain about the rain. It messes up plans or cancels activities. (I don't think many would complain about it right now as hot as it's been.) But the truth is, we need the rain. It would be a desert around here without it. In the same way, we need (and again - should rejoice) when we have "rainy" days in our lives....when Suffering occurs. We can't just have sunny, happy days. We need the tough times to make us long for Heaven, to make us strengthen our faith in God, and to remind us that God is in control and has a plan. So don't expect or even hope for all sunny days. It won't happen. Rejoice on rainy days.

So we now own 2 fish. I also meant to tell this story on the last post. When we went to the fair/carnival last week for the 2nd time, some boys came up to us and handed us two bags, each containing a little goldfish. They had won them in the "get-the-ping-pong-ball-in-the-bowl" game and didn't want them. They offered them to me. I made a split-second decision and took them. Then I slowly turned around to see the look on my wife's face. I knew I'd get "the look" and I did. We had talked about getting Max a fish for his birthday which is coming up because he had mentioned wanting some, but we were far from a decision or conclusion. I probably shouldn't have taken them, but my first reaction was 'wow, so easy, we don't even have to go buy any, it was meant to be, God wanted us to have fish so he sent these boys to give us 2 fish...just like in the feeding of the 5000, it's Biblical, where are the 5 loaves?' Of course, in that split second of thinking I forgot about a bowl and food and discussing proper care with Max first. But my wonderful, beautiful wife finally relented and said we could keep them. The boys were excited. So was their dad. We had to go to 3 stores that night to find a bowl. The boys immediately named them the next day with middle names and all. So now we own Flipper Lipscomb Thweatt and Swimmer Griffin Thweatt. I'm sure Griffin is smiling down and so happy that we named a goldfish after him. I think Susan secretly likes them....she just won't admit it.

Mr. Ed? The talking horse? Old school. Very old. Even too old for me. I never watched the show although I've seen a re-run or two somewhere a long time ago. That's not the Mr. Ed I'm talking about. I'm talking about a man at our church who is the most amazing servant I've ever seen.

The tornadoes recently across our country have been unbelievable. I can't believe some of the pictures and videos I've seen on the news or internet. I've always been fascinated by tornadoes and storms. I'm one of those idiots that stands at the window and watches while my more intelligent family goes to the basement like they should. I've never actually seen a tornado or experienced any damage from one, but I know those who have and I've seen damage first hand. It's terrifying and heart-breaking, and it's also one of those things where I foolishly say "it won't happen to me." Shame on me (again). It's a part of life just like any suffering. We could ask God why all day long but it's just another one of those mysteries that we're going to have to trust Him with. But back to Mr. Ed.

When the tornadoes hit Alabama and then Missouri, our church did the normal thing. We prayed. We took up a collection. What else can you do? Mr. Ed did more. He immediately went to Alabama and looked for any way he could help. He didn't hesitate. He then went to Joplin, MO to do the same. He's still there! He just forgot about anything else and went. He's now living there until his work is done. By the way, Mr. Ed is not a young man. He has grandkids. And he recently had surgery as well. But that's just him. He's always looking for ways to help, encourage and serve others. When he came to our church as a new member, we didn't have a chance to get to know him because he got to know us first. And I absolutely love talking with him. He is so kind and encouraging to me and my entire family. He is the true definition of a Christ-like servant. Mr. Ed is one of my heroes and mentors. I want to be just like him. He has the spirit of Christ inside and uses it effectively. I often get way too comfortable with my routine and feel that prayer or sending money is enough to help others. But I, like Mr. Ed, need to look for other ways to serve. What can I physically do? Who can I help? That's what Jesus did and we should all do the same. I vow today to start doing a better job of this. I use Mr. Ed and several others at our church as an example. Not because I'm hoping for a reward or "points with God", but because it's what Jesus would do. And look at the opportunities Mr. Ed has to share Christ with others while he's serving.

So thank you Mr. Ed for your example. Thank you for showing me and so many others what a true servant is. May God richly bless you and your family.

I love Griffin and I love God.

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


Friday, June 3, 2011

Rejoice? Really?

Went back to the carnival last night. Back! Did I not learn my lesson? Did I not read my last post? Am I asking myself questions? Have I lost it? Probably, but actually I did learn my lesson so I only rode one thing last night. We went back because we had a great evening with some great friends. We ate dinner and then decided to let our kids and their kids do the carnival together. However, this time, I sat out. We did have tickets for one ride left over and Max really wanted to do the bumper cars but had to have an adult. So I agreed. It was a blast. No queasiness. The bumper cars are still a go. Glad I'm not too old for those......yet.

So I've been meaning to post on this topic for a while. Not sure why I put it off. It's an important one and relates directly to our family's ordeal over the past 2 months. It's on the topic of Suffering and what God says about it.

I had never been through anything too bad. "Had" is a key word. But honestly, my life has been a pretty happy one I must say. If I think back to childhood and unhappy times, the list is pretty short. Here it is:

1. We got robbed once on vacation when I was about 5 years old. I remember my mom and sister crying. Our car had been broken into. But I was too young to really comprehend. I think they took my clothes and some of my favorite underroos, but I didn't feel like it was a big loss.

2. I was in a wreck one time when my grandfather was driving. It was a little scary because it was dark and I think rainy, but we weren't hurt and Wendys gave us free Frostys so again, not too bad to me. (side note - love Wendy's Frosty-Cino. Anyone else? So good.)

3. We ran over our cat on the way to a LU basketball game one time. That was sad. Even though the cat and I had never had a super close relationship, I hated to see it suffer.

4. I did have an incident when I was a senior in high school where 4 of my friends and I were mugged (long story) and up until a couple of months ago, that was the worst thing that had ever happened to me.

Not anymore.

But none of those, or any other event in my life were unbearable or life-changing. They were hard at the time but nothing worse than anyone had ever suffered. I even remember thinking in the past how my life was very happy and blessed and how good God was to me. And I think I got very comfortable with that and got into the mindset that 'nothing really bad will happen to me. It only happens to other people.' I should have realized my time was coming. It comes for everyone.

John 16:33 says that we will have troubles in this life.

I Peter 4:13 reads 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.

I also read a passage a few weeks ago that spoke loud and clear to me.

3 More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. -Romans 5:3-5

Look at the first part of that passage. We should "rejoice in our sufferings"? Really? (hence the title of this post). I mean I can read the rest of it and see that it produces endurance, character, and hope. All good things. I understand that we all have to suffer, but we should rejoice? I say again....Really?

The answer is absolutely. We should rejoice. I know - much easier said than done, but here's why we should. It means God is with us. It means he is testing us. The Bible does say we will be tested. (I Peter 1:7) I honestly believe that the reason we lost our son (among other reasons) was a test. It was a test of our faith. I had never really suffered and God wanted to see how I would handle it. I hope I'm handling it well. I feel like I'm doing the best I can. I hope I'm pleasing him in my suffering and throughout my test. I realize I'm supposed to rejoice. That has taken some time but I'm there now. I do rejoice that He tested me and I hopefully passed. I do rejoice that my sufferings mean that I'm following the right path. Do I wish the suffering could've been done another way? Of course! But that's for God to decide and I accept it.

One more verse - Php. 3:10 - 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.

I've heard some conflicting discussion on this passage and the song that accompanies it. Do we really want to share in his suffering or even participate? I do. If it's part of God's plan and it will lead me close to Heaven then bring it on. Not saying it's easy, but it's necessary and it's God's will. And his will is perfect. I won't question it.

So I rejoice that through my recent suffering, I have grown closer to God. I have a much deeper relationship with Him. I rejoice that He cares about me so much that he wants to test me and have me suffer just like He said He would; and that means He wants me in Heaven. He wants me to pass the test. He wants me to be like so many others that suffered for his name - Paul, Daniel, David, Peter, JESUS!

So remember this when you suffer, and you will. Most of you already have. It never ends.....until it ends forever. How I long for that great day!

I love Griffin and I love God.

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


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Permission to Get High

Man! Talked about Hell in the last post and now telling people to "Get High". This blog may have to get a PG rating soon. But I promise it's all innocent and there is a point. Keep reading.

Just finished running 5 miles tonight and it felt great. It wasn't quite as hot tonight as it was a couple of nights ago. Ran 4 on Monday night and it was just plain hot. That was tough. Tonight, I actually thought it felt good. I've got 19 so far for the week.

Went to the carnival last night. That's right - the good ole' Cool Springs Mall parking lot carnival. We spent a couple of hours there, got the unlimited ride bracelets and rode everything. And sitting there with my family, laughing, having the time of our life, I realized something very important. I'm too old for that stuff! I got sick on the 3rd ride. And then it was downhill after that. Even the ferris wheel was making me queasy. Max begged me to ride the kiddie roller coaster with him and I reluctantly agreed. Mistake! When we made the loop, I was so happy to see the station but the coaster kept going. I almost shouted, "For Crying Out Loud, Let Me Off This Thing!" We got back to the station a 2nd time and you guessed it. 3 times! Let us off! Let others ride! I was going to jump if we went a 4th time, but luckily it stopped and I was done. For the night. Maybe forever. But I loved watching my boys ride. They had a blast. Great carnival!

So I got high today. Actually, I don't know if this counts as getting high. Here's the deal. I hate the dentist! Well, I don't actually ate the man. He's a nice guy, but I hate going to the dentist. I've always hated it. And since I've become an old adult that can't ride kiddie coasters, I hate it worse than ever. I can't stand the scraping. They usually scrape for close to an hour. Now, I know I don't have the prettiest teeth in all the land, but they can't be that bad. I brush. I'm not perfect, but they can't need that much scraping. I honestly think they scrape them down to nubs each time and then rebuild my teeth. I hate it. After last time, I told Susan that I wasn't going back to the dentist. I didn't care if I pulled a George Washington and built my teeth in our garage, but no more dentist for me. Then I heard some good friends mention how they loved the dentist because they got Nitrous Oxide (N2O) each time. Laughing Gas. The Gas! Why I have never used it is a real mystery. I think my older sister has been using it since age 4. Why was it never offered to me? So I reluctantly agreed to go back to the dentist ONLY if they used the gas. So today, I got it and HO.........LEE.........COW!!! I love it!! Is that wrong? Should I feel guilty? Well I don't care because I felt more relaxed than I think I ever have. It was such a wonderful weird feeling. I knew what was happening the whole time but I didn't care in the least. She could've pulled out all my teeth with pliers and shoved them up my nose and it would've been just fine. I honestly didn't want it to end. I was thinking 'scrape those teeth, nursey, scrape them good.' So, I don't know if that is officially "getting high" but I did feel higher than the clouds. Can't wait for 6 months!!

I think a good word to describe how I felt today was "Euphoric". Always liked that word. There have been a select few times in my life when I felt that way. Today was one. I felt so relaxed and happy and content. I've felt that way while running before. It's called "runners' high". It's when you get that 2nd wind and you can't run fast enough. It usually happens to me toward the end of a run when the finish line or my house is in sight and there's a great song playing on my IPOD. It also happened to me right before our wedding started. I remember looking in the auditorium door, seeing all our family and friends and just feeling so good. It was euphoric. It's happened a few other times, but I'll tell you when it's happened the most....with God. I love "getting high" on God.

There have been times in my life that I have felt so good and content about my relationship with God. I have felt really close to him and felt like I was doing what I was supposed to. Sometimes it happens in worship or during youth singings. Sometimes it happens when I've heard a great lesson or seen a great spiritual movie. It has also happened when I'm in my car alone, listening to a spiritual song at full blast. I love those times. As I've mentioned before, Griffin's death, although tragic, has brought me closer to God and it's given me that euphoric feeling stronger than I've ever had it. And I don't intend to let it go away. There are days when it weakens or I let something get in the way. But I'm trying really hard to keep it going. It feels really good, even better than laughing gas.

If you can develop a relationship with God like this where you feel like you are on track and doing the right thing.....where you feel like you know you are going to Heaven and you are giving your all to God....if you can get to that euphoric feeling, that's when you realize what's important. That's also when you realize the fact that God is in control and nothing else, not even teeth scraping, matters.

Find that feeling. If you have it, don't lose it. Let's all encourage each other and pray for each other to keep it and share it with others.

I love Griffin and I love God.

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


P.S. Don't do real drugs.