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, March 28, 2012

A Great Day Came

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

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

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

I love my family.

A great day came.

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

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


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

There's a Great Day Coming!

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

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

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

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

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

There's a GREAT DAY coming!

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

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


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Bread Crumbs

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

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

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

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

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


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Small World.....Small Path

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Saturday, March 3, 2012

Should I Feel Bad?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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