Friday, December 20, 2013

Why He Came

There was once a man who didn’t believe in God and was vocal about it. His wife, however, believed and raised their children to have faith in God and Jesus, despite his disparaging comments.

One snowy Christmas Eve, his wife was taking their children to a Christmas Eve service in the farm community in which they lived. She asked him to come. He refused, adding, "That story is nonsense! Why would God lower Himself to come to Earth as a man? That’s ridiculous!"

A while later, the winds grew stronger and the snow turned into a blizzard. The man sat down to relax before the fire. He then heard a loud thump. Something had hit the window. Then another thump. He looked out, but couldn’t see more than a few feet.

When the snow let up a little, he ventured outside to see what was hitting his window. In the field near his house he saw a flock of wild geese. Apparently they had been flying south for the winter when they got caught in the snowstorm and couldn’t go on.

They were lost and stranded on his farm, with no food or shelter. They just flapped their wings and flew around the field in low circles, blindly and aimlessly. A couple of them had flown into his window, it seemed.

The man felt compassion for the geese and wanted to help them. The barn would be a great place for them to stay, he thought. It’s warm and safe. There they could spend the night and wait out the storm. He walked over to the barn and opened the doors wide, then watched and waited, hoping they would notice the open barn and go inside.

But the geese just fluttered around aimlessly and didn’t seem to notice the barn or realize what it could mean for them. The man tried to get their attention, but that just seemed to scare them and they moved further away. He went into the house and came with some bread, broke it up, and made a breadcrumb trail leading to the barn. They still didn’t catch on.

Now he was getting frustrated. He got behind them and tried to shoo them toward the barn, but they only got more scared and scattered in every direction except toward the barn. Nothing he did could get them to go into the barn where they would be warm and safe.

"Why don’t they follow me?" he exclaimed. "Can’t they see this is the only place where they can survive the storm?"

He thought for a moment and realized that they just wouldn’t follow a human. "If only I were a goose, then I could save them," he said aloud. He had an idea.

He went into the barn, got one of his own geese, and carried it in his arms as he circled around behind the flock of wild geese. He then released it. His goose flew through the flock and straight into the barn--and one by one the other geese followed it to safety.

He stood silently for a moment as the words he had spoken a few minutes earlier replayed in his mind: "If only I were a goose, then I could save them!" Then he thought about what he had said to his wife earlier. "Why would God want to be like us? That’s ridiculous!"

Suddenly it all made sense. That is what God had done. We were like the geese – blind, lost, perishing. God had His Son become like us so He could show us the way and save us. That was the meaning of Christmas, he realized.

As the winds and blinding snow died down, his soul became quiet and pondered this wonderful thought. Suddenly he understood what Christmas was all about, why Christ had come.

Years of doubt and disbelief vanished like the passing storm. He fell to his knees in the snow and prayed his first prayer: "Thank You, God, for coming in human form to get me out of the storm!"

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Thursday a.m.

Good morning! It's 41 degrees to start the day, which is nice. Yesterday was beautiful. Unfortunately I did not find the time to make it outside on the bike. Oh well. I did get another pain-free run in the early morning. It was on the cool side, in the 20s.

Yesterday was busy with all kinds of activities and things. It included a trip to Jasper to see someone in the hospital there. I enjoyed that and the drive there and back.

Rebecca is home, so our house dynamic is considerably different. She enjoys having her friends over, so there is a lot more activity than usual. Lots of laughter and girl giggling, even as 20 year olds.  Luke and Lydia are coming home this weekend and will be with us through Christmas, which will be nice.

Today is prep for Sunday day, and I have a meeting or two. It should be a good, enjoyable day. I hope you have that kind of day yourself. Thanks for stopping by.

Be in that Number

Why do I like to number things? I’m not really sure. I think it’s because I like numbers and data.

I can tell you exactly how many miles I have run this year and how many miles I have ridden my bike and exactly how many hours it took, thanks to GPS technology. Hey, some of us like are like that!

God is into numbers! There are numerous examples of it. There is even a whole book called "Numbers."

Matthew 1 has an interesting genealogy of Jesus, as does Luke. Matthew sums his up in a rather tidy numerical way.

Matthew 1:17 — Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Christ.

More interesting to me than the number is who is in that number. There are lots of flawed, deeply flawed people, people who did some really terrible and terribly immoral things, yet they turned back to a God who loved and loves them.

Matthew’s genealogy, strategically placed before the birth of Jesus, invites all of us, no matter what we have done, to understand God has come to us and is with us. Immanuel. Jesus came to save us from our sins.

Lord, I want to be in that number!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Wednesday a.m.

Good morning! Looks like a nice day ahead with bright sunshine. Isn't the sun amazing?

Yesterday was good. I ran early, as daylight was arriving. It was 30 with a light wind. I really don't mind those conditions at all. The run was slow but good, so I think I am ready to get going again. I signed up for this Strava Challenge. This is just about perfect for where I am and will be a good little test and motivator for finishing out the year.

I did not ride yesterday, so the daily average I need to reach my top goal of 3120 for the year went up by a few miles. I don't want to settle for the secondary goal of 3000 yet, though that would be a decent accomplishment for me. My running goal was 1560, but I am going to fall way short of it, due to Mr. Hammy. My new goal for running is 1200 miles.

Yesterday I spent a lot of time living in the future. I worked on several things that will happen in 2014, including a series of sermons regarding the Joseph story, found at the end of Genesis. It is such a powerful story of patience and providence. I am really looking forward to it.

I am also looking forward to 2014. From a personal/family standpoint we are anticipating some major highlights: grandbaby, 30th anniversary, Ben's graduation, Luke's wedding, Honduras trip, Kedra's teaching job (hopefully), Ironman, and all the holiday fun of November and December.

Hope your day goes well today.

Christ Was Love

A few years ago a school in California was having its "Winter Program," performed by the kindergarten class. One mother, Candy Chand, described what happened.

Each class, accompanied by their teacher, sat cross-legged on the floor. Then, each group, one by one, rose to perform their song. Because the public school system had long stopped referring to the holiday as "Christmas," I didn't expect anything other than fun songs of reindeer, Santa Claus, snowflakes and good cheer.

So, when my son’s class rose to sing "Christmas Love," I was slightly taken back by its bold title. Nicholas was aglow, as were all of his classmates, all adorned in fuzzy mittens, red sweaters, and bright snowcaps upon their heads. Those in the front row, center stage, held up large letters, one by one, to spell out the title of the song.

As the class would sing "C is for Christmas," a child would hold up the letter C. Then "H is for Happy," and on and on, until each child holding up his portion had presented the complete message, "Christmas Love." The performance was going smoothly, until suddenly, we noticed her, a small quiet girl in the front row holding the letter "M" upside down, totally unaware her letter "M" appeared as a "W."

The audience of 1st through 6th graders snickered at this little one’s mistake. But she had no idea they were laughing at her, so she stood tall, proudly holding her "W." Although many teachers tried to shush the children, the laughter continued until the last letter was raised, and we all saw it together. A hush came over the audience and eyes began to widen.

In that instant, we understood the reason we were there, why we celebrated the holiday in the first place, why even in the chaos there was a purpose for our festivities. For when the last letter was held high, the message read loud and clear:


He still is!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Tuesday a.m.

Energy Lab Fun
Good morning! The radar suggests it is snowing or sleeting out there? It is moving very quickly, so hopefully it will not create any problems on the roads this morning. Yesterday's sun was a bit of a surprise and helped with the melting process. Today doesn't look as helpful for that.

Yesterday was a really good, above average, perhaps. It was one of those days where my mind was clear and I got a lot accomplished. I had some good meetings and talked to some great people. I believe I'm ready to finish the year strongly and to take on the beginning of 2014. I'm excited about some of the projects I/we have in the works.

Yesterday was a really good day on the endurance front as well. I got a nice run done early in the day. The only problem was a few slick spots, but I managed to stay upright. Mr. Hammy very quietly reminded me of his presence, but he was content not to disrupt anything. I wish I could get Tim G's hammy to talk to mine. His is being pretty mean right now. Hang in there, Tim!

After a good long day and a good supper, it was time to burn some of the that energy in the Energy Lab. It was a pretty busy place last night, which is exactly what I need when I am on the bike trainer. The mostly useless banter sure helps pass the time. I was on for an hour and am now above 2900 miles for the year.

After the spin I headed out to the pool for the 8 p.m. swim. I cranked out a 1000 yards, which was good after missing all of last week, due to either snow or travel. It would have been easier to stay at home last night and watch TV. As I was leaving last night, I told Kedra what the guy who started Ironman Florida said before he fired the gun.

Everyone was standing on the beach waiting for 8 a.m. to arrive, nervously watching the big waves crashing in. As the starter/announcer was filling the time, he said something like, "All those lonely laps in the pool will now pay off." That stuck with me. Ironman training, like most of life, is about being faithful day to day in the small things, anticipating something in the future. Daily discipline rooted in a long term goal seems to me to be the key.

Have a good one!

What's in a name?

What parents name their babies interests, and sometimes amuses, me. My wife and I were careful in naming our four children. Three of the four share the name of Bible characters but also of someone significant in our extended family. One of four is named after a great grandfather who was great.

Recently I saw the list of the top names for 2013. The most popular names for boy were: Jackson, Aiden, Liam, Lucas, and Noah, and for girls it was Sophia, Emma, Olivia, Isabella, and Mia.

The same website also posted a list of the most unusual names. It was fairly long, so I’ll just share a few that caught my eye.

Girls: Blip, Duda, Ezgi, Kukua, Nyx, and Zona.

Boys: Ajax, Baobao, Cheese, Chow, Hurricane, Rocket, and Tintin.

Alrighty then! You have to wonder what impact a name has on the child’s behavior. Watch out for Hurricane!

In God’s Story, naming people is significant. That’s a good thing to remember at this time of the year.

Matthew 1:21-23

She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"—which means, "God with us."

Monday, December 16, 2013

Monday, Monday. . .

Good morning! How are you on this new day? I hope you are ready to roll. It's a crazy time of the year, maybe the most wonderful time of the year. I like it.

I guess we dodged a weather bullet over the weekend. That's fine, even though I like snow. I am ready for the one on the ground to go away, especially off the roads. Our road still has lots of ice patches, thick ones. I have visions of riding my bike outside sometime this week, so all the icy patches need to go.

We had a good trip south. We left Thursday evening and had a late dinner in Nashville with some friends and some family. It was very nice. Friday we too off for Huntsville, arriving in time for a late breakfast at Gibson's, which serves one of the best breakfasts you'll ever eat.

After that yummy breakfast, I headed over to the Rocket City Marathon packet pick up. I picked up my very expensive shirt. I also picked up Bill's. He was supposed to run, too, but in the end neither of us did. My hamstring kept me out, and he qualified for Boston at Indy.

Arriving at Kedra's parents, I changed into my running clothes and made my way out to see what I could do. It was nice running weather: 50, still, cloudy. I was pleased to be able to run 7 miles. It was slow and ugly, like me, but, hey, it was the farthest I've run since mid-September. I think I am on my way back now.

On Friday night we had "Christmas" with Kedra's folks. Luke, Lydia, and Rebecca all rolled in just in time to eat and celebrate. Unfortunately Lester had to work, so he and Maddie could not make the trip.

Saturday we got up, ate breakfast and began the trip home. We stopped at Lipscomb for Rebecca to finish up some of her duties as an R.A. After that we were homeward bound. It was an eventful trip, which is just what I like.

Yesterday several of us hopped on our bike trainers for an hour or more, racking up a few miles while listening to the Colt's game. I have 2,887 miles for the year. One of my endurance goals for the year was 3,120. Hmm.  Fifteen days and 233 miles. That works out to be a pretty big challenge for me. Not sure I will make that one, but I'll keep looking at it.

Lots of stuff going on, so I better get going. Thanks for stopping by.

No Time for That

Christmas Day was drawing near, and a young mother was moving quickly from store to store in a stressful way. Suddenly, as she juggled bags and boxes, she became aware the little hand of her three year old son was no longer clutched in hers.

In a panic she retraced her steps and found him standing with his little nose pressed against a window. He was staring intently at a manger scene. In his excitement, he missed his mother’s frantic tone.

With innocent excitement he shouted, "Look mommy! It’s Jesus, baby Jesus in the hay!"

Missing his joy and wonder, she impatiently jerked him away saying, "We don’t have time for that!"

Friday, December 13, 2013

It's Possible

Letters to Santa Claus are pretty common at this time of the year.

"Dear Santa, you did not bring me anything good last year. You did not bring me anything good the year before that. This is your last chance." -Alfred

"Dear Santa, there are three little boys who live at our house. There is Jeffrey; he is 2. There is David; he is 4. And there is Norman; he is 7. Jeffrey is good some of the time. David is good some of the time. But Norman is good all of the time. I am Norman."

I’m not Norman. Are you? You might relate more to the next story.

A boy was asked by his teacher, "What do you want to be when you grow up?"

"I want to be possible," the boy answered.

"Possible? Of all the things you might be, why do you want that?" the teacher asked.

The boy replied, "Because my mom and dad are always saying I’m impossible."

Every feel that way? One of the beautiful reminders of Christmas come from the angel’s words to Mary, recorded in Luke 1:37.

"Nothing is impossible with God."

God makes possible dramatic change and salvation for any and everyone, including you. The result is peace and joy in the midst of a world that is often chaotic and destructive.

This is the message of Christmas.

Thursday, December 12, 2013


Good morning! Cold enough for you? I wonder how many times we'll hear that question today? We need to come up with some clever answers. I am going to have to rely on you, because I am just fresh out of clever right now. Maybe I will get some for Christmas. It's coming soon, you know. Two weeks from today it will be over.

Yesterday it hit me that we are going to be grandparents fairly soon. Maddie is due January 15, but at an appointment yesterday she learned the baby appears to be ahead of schedule. Little Cora Jane already weighs 6.5 pounds and evidently has hair. The color was not determined. ha ha.

At the recent toy sale, I bought little Cora Jane a swing for the yard. Buying an outside swing in the midst of all the snow and cold takes some faith and imagination. I have found that getting older gives me the peaceful perspective of how things change and cycle through. The seasons pass so quickly, so there is no point in getting too worried about the weather. Enjoy everyday as a gift from God.

Endurance athletics shortens seasons also, especially when you are focused on training cycles. The weeks get away fairly quickly. For a marathon I usually look at a 13-18 week training cycle. I have probably read at least 20 books about Ironman and training for it. The training cycle for it is considerably longer, up to 30 weeks in some programs. I can already feel November approaching, even though "official" training won't start until spring. It's all good. I know soon the snow will be gone and temps rising.

We are headed to Nashville this evening, where we will eat and spend the night with our friends, the Lavenders. Rebecca and her friend will join us for dinner. Luke and Lydia had something else they had to do. Tomorrow we will go on down to Huntsville to spend some time with Kedra's parents. Rebecca, Luke and Lydia will join us there. We will return Saturday. Looks like we might come home in the snow?

OK, I better get going. I have lots of things to do today. I am going to spin first thing this morning. That should be a little warmer than running outside.

Don't Miss the Point

In December 1903, after many attempts, the Wright brothers were successful in getting their flying machine off the ground. Thrilled, they telegraphed this message to their sister Katherine:

"We have actually flown 120 feet. Will be home for Christmas."

Katherine hurried to the editor of the local newspaper and showed him the message. He glanced at it and said, "How nice. The boys will be home for Christmas." He totally missed the big news -- man had flown!

We often do the opposite. We focus on flying through this time of the year with all of its activities and miss the point of Christmas. How about we take some time to remember and reflect about the Incarnation of Jesus?

John can help out with his words found in chapter 1.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


Good morning! It's on the chilly side this morning. Kedra and Ben are headed back to school today, but they are on a 2 hour delay, as are most of the schools in the area. The roads are still covered in lots of places.

I got up early today, like 3 a.m. early. I tried to fight it for a while, but I have found I might as well get up and get something done. It's going to make for a pretty long day, since this is the long day in my week. It's going to be a fairly active day, which is good. If I try to study too much today, well, ZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzz

Some of Ben's friends came over late in the afternoon. They brought back lots of memories for me. Let's just say it involved snow, lots of guns and shooting stuff, and the Bronco, which has no brakes presently. Who needs brakes anyway?

I hope you have a really good day!

Can you hear me now?

There’s a painting by Holman Hunt that hangs in the British National Gallery in London. You probably have seen it. It shows Jesus gently knocking at a door, a door that has not been opened for a long time. Notice the weeds. The painting is an illustration of Revelation 3:20.

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.
A little girl was standing in front of the painting with her father. "Daddy," she asks, "why don’t they answer the door?"

The father replied, "I don’t know why."

After a moment’s pause, the little girl said, "Maybe they’re making too much noise to hear him knocking."

I wonder, especially at this time of the year, if we are so distracted we fail to hear the message of the God’s entry into our world?

Immanuel, God with us.

I need to take time to be still and think about what all this means. Again.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


Energy Lab
Good morning! Tuesday. Snow day! Again. I had my suspicions this was going to happen, when I went to bed. The radar showed considerable snow coming. It came, and it looks like it left quite a bit behind. Oh well. Might as well enjoy its beauty. Cursing it, as some will, won't make it go away.

I ran outside early yesterday morning, and I didn't fall down. Almost. A few times. It was a challenge. I may get back out again today, but I'm not sure until I can see what is going on.

Last night I went to the Energy Lab--a top secret training location--to spin with some others. It sure helps pass the time spinning in a group. There is always the on-going useless but fun banter.

The swim was cancelled, due to school being off. I'm not getting as much pool time as I would like, but Ironman is still 10.5 months away. Still, I have an awareness that swimming 2.4 miles in the Gulf needs my constant attention now.

Yesterday was a good, fairly productive day. Today should be the same. I have an unusual challenge today. I am smoking a brisket at some point. For a silent auction fund-raiser, a few months ago, I offered to smoke a brisket. The highest bidder is now ready for it. This will be an interesting smoke.

OK, be careful out there! Thanks for stopping by.


The Cold Within

Six humans trapped by happenstance
In bleak and bitter cold.
Each one possessed a stick of wood
Or so the story’s told.

Their dying fire in need of logs
The first man held his back
For of the faces round the fire
He noticed one was black.

The next man looking ‘cross the way
Saw one not of his church
And couldn’t bring himself to give
The fire his stick of birch.

The third one sat in tattered clothes.
He gave his coat a hitch.
Why should his log be put to use
To warm the idle rich?

The rich man just sat back and thought
Of the wealth he had in store
And how to keep what he had earned
From the lazy shiftless poor.

The black man’s face bespoke revenge
As the fire passed from his sight.
For all he saw in his stick of wood
Was a chance to spite the white.

The last man of this forlorn group
Did nought except for gain.
Giving only to those who gave
Was how he played the game.

Their logs held tight in death’s still hands
Was proof of human sin.
They didn’t die from the cold without
They died from the cold within.

                                             -- James Patrick Kinney

Monday, December 09, 2013

Monday a.m.

Good morning! Monday, snow day for lots of people. Ben and Kedra are still in bed. I think they have mixed feelings about snow days in December. It means more time in school in the spring. Oh well, it will be what it will be. Sounds like we may get a little more tonight. I hope the schools can meet tomorrow.

I have used the snow as an excuse or reason to really slow down on a lot of my endurance training. I did spend some fun time working on my bike.  I will get back to training today. I am hoping Mr. Hammy is just about healed now. I will give him a try around daylight.

We had a busy end of the week and weekend. The forecast added a little extra excitement to everything. We had to make some big decisions. In the end, we decided to press on, regardless of the weather. We "moved" the ReGeneration Store to our church gym for the huge toy sale.

The sale went really well. We sold more on Saturday than last year. We have so much left that we are going to keep the Store open in the gym today and tomorrow, hoping to sell lots more. What we don't sell will go to Santa Joe.

We also had our coat giveaway on Saturday. It went really well also. We estimate we gave away around 250+ coats, and we know many more folks will show up this week and beyond to get coats. We are ready. We had a couple of other churches join us in the work. Woodville brought hats, gloves, etc., and Tulip Street brought in a bunch of shoes. It was a great day of blessing people who needed help. We have a great group of service-minded people working on Saturday.

This week should be good! I am looking forward to it. I hope your week goes really well!

Life Lessons in Poetry

Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bile. It has more verses than 14 Old Testament books and more verses than 17 New Testament books. It is a 176 verse prayer celebrating living by God’s word.

Psalm 119 is an acrostic, a feature we miss in our English translations. The Hebrew alphabet has 22 letters, so Psalm 119 has 22 stanzas, one for each letter. Additionally, each verse in each stanza begins with that letter. For example, all the verses in the A (Aleph) stanza begin with A.

Here is one of the stanzas (He). It’s a great prayer for the week, by the way!

Psalm 119:33-48 (The Message)

God, teach me lessons for living
so I can stay the course.
Give me insight so I can do what you tell me—
my whole life one long, obedient response.
Guide me down the road of your commandments;
I love traveling this freeway!
Give me a bent for your words of wisdom,
and not for piling up loot.
Divert my eyes from toys and trinkets,
invigorate me on the pilgrim way.
Affirm your promises to me—
promises made to all who fear you.
Deflect the harsh words of my critics—
but what you say is always so good.
See how hungry I am for your counsel;
preserve my life through your righteous ways!

Friday, December 06, 2013

Do You Believe in Magic?

A doctor and an engineer entered a chocolate store. As they were busy looking around, the doctor stole 3 chocolate bars.

As they left the store, the doctor said to engineer, "Man! I'm the best thief ever, I stole 3 chocolate bars and no one saw me. You can't beat that."

The engineer replied, "Okay, you wanna see something better? Let's go back to the store and I'll show you real stealing."

So they both went up to the counter and the engineer said to the shop boy, "Hey, would you like to see some magic?"

The shop boy replied, "Yes!"

The engineer said, "Give me one chocolate bar." The shop boy gave him one, and he ate it. He asked for the second, and he ate that one as well. He asked for the third, and finished that one too.

The shop boy asked, "Okay, what are you trying to pull here? Where's the magic?"

The engineer replied, "Check in my friend's pocket. You'll find all three bars."

* * *

Hey, it’s Friday and a good day to smile a bit. This story did make me think of this verse.

1 Timothy 5:24 — The sins of some men are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them.

Thursday, December 05, 2013


I really enjoy endurance athletics for lots of reasons, but one of them is learning about perseverance. Participants really learn how to keep going when they feel like quitting, especially when they feel like quitting. Perseverance. What drives them? Amongst several things, the reward of finishing.

One of my favorite passages is Hebrews 12:1-3, where the image is about persevering in running. The writer wants his readers, who are struggling and wanting to quit, to know many are cheering them on, encouraging them to persevere.

Ultimately he holds up Jesus as the example. Because he knew the reward of finishing his course, he was able to endure the pain of the course. Here’s Hebrews 12:1-3

Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!

My prayer for you today, especially if you are in the midst of giving up on something you shouldn’t, is you will find the strength to continue. Listen to those around you encouraging you to continue, and look to Jesus. Persevere!

Thursday a.m.

Leaders of  GT4
Good morning! Here we go again on a new day, another gift from God. I've got 2 cups of coffee in me, a better night's sleep behind me, and the day before me. I think I'm ready. Now we wait for life as we know it to end. Wow, the hype is amazing. It does sound like a significant even is on the way, but we'll see.

We have a lot going on this weekend. Our big coat giveaway is going on at church on Saturday. We expect to give away 400-500 coats, along with hats, shoes, etc. We have 2 other churches coming in to help us. It is one of best things we do all year. I hope the weather doesn't stop it. We have some great people organizing and planning everything.

In our gym on Saturday we have the big ReGeneration Store toy sale. Last year we sold $5,000 worth of toys! That's crazy, since most of them are very low priced. Over the last 2-3 days we have moved 3-4 big truck loads of boxes into the gym. Now all the work of set-up begins. We are hopeful the weather will not keep us from having a big day on Saturday.

Yesterday was a really good day. Lots of good things happened, and the weather was amazing. I ran early, and then later in the day, before supper, I got on the bike and cranked out another 22 miles. It was rough heading south into the wind, but I paid the price. The payoff was 9 miles straight north, where it was quite easy to average well over 20 mph. That may have been the last outside ride for quite a while, possibly the rest of the year. I hope not.

Today is prep day. I've got a few other things going on as well, as usual, but it's all good. Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Wednesday a.m.

Race start from finish line

Good morning! How are you on this fine day? It's day before life-as-we-know-it comes to an end. Snow. Ice. Cold. It's all on the way! It could create quite a mess for all of our big plans on Saturday. We have a coat giveaway, probably around 500, and we have the ReGen toy sale in the gym, which attracts 100s and 100s of people. I guess we'll see how all this plays out.

Yesterday was a good busy day and a day off from endurance athletics. I needed it. I had in mind a ride, but the weather and time just couldn't come together for it. That's OK. I am looking at December as pre-Ironman training, just staying in touch with all 3 disciplines and working on core and upper body strength.

Today is going to be a pretty active day, and it's the long day. Right now I am in a sleep pattern that I don't like too much. I am going to sleep around 10:30 and then waking up around 4:30. I think I am sleeping pretty hard between the two, but I would like to have another hour in there, preferably split and added to both ends. I know you are fascinated, intrigued, and relieved to finally hear me talk about my sleep patterns and problems. You can breath again.

Thanks for stopping by!

Your Body

It seems to me most people do not like their bodies. What do you think of yours? Most of us probably have a few things, a few spots we wish were different.

Let’s think about it in a different way.

Our bodies are wonderful things, and as one who enjoys endurance athletic events, I am amazed at what bodies can do. Truly, to use King David’s words in Psalm 139:14, we are "fearfully and wonderfully made."

Henri Nouwen has some great thoughts about our bodies, specifically encouraging us to respect and to take care of them.

"In so many ways we use and abuse our bodies. Jesus’ coming to us in the body and his being lifted with his body in the glory of God call us to treat our bodies and the bodies of others with great reverence and respect.

God, through Jesus, has made our bodies sacred places where God has chosen to dwell. Our faith in the resurrection of the body, therefore, calls us to care for our own and one another's bodies with love. When we bind one another's wounds and work for the healing of one another's bodies, we witness to the sacredness of the human body, a body destined for eternal life.

1 Corinthians 6:19,20 — Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

Honor God with your body. I like that.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Tuesday a.m.

GT4 getting ready to start
Good morning! For some reason, I am running behind this morning. That's OK with me. I hope it's OK with you. I have a pretty long, busy day ahead, so I am going to pace myself carefully today.

Yesterday was good. Had some good meetings and moved some significant projects along. December is a lot like May. Both months are full of activity, and most of it is good. I like December. I know you are glad to know that.

I managed to squeeze a triple in yesterday. I ran early and it went fine. Right after school I got on the bike for a little over an hour, 22+ miles. That's a bit of tricky time to ride. High school drivers. Enough said. I ended with night with a 1000+ yards in the pool.

Alrighty! Time to get going again. Thanks for stopping by.

Seldom is heard

Home on the Range is the state song of Kansas. Did you know that? I didn’t.

I like the chorus:

Home, home on the range,

Where the deer and the antelope play;

Where seldom is heard a discouraging word

And the skies are not cloudy all day.

"Seldom is heard discouraging word." I like that, and I’d like to live there. You too? Where I live, some would say, "Seldom is heard an encouraging word."

Discouragement tends to dominate and draw the most attention. A while back someone told me discouragement always has Satan as its source. After thinking about it for a long time, I believe that’s right.

Encouragement is rooted in God and his goodness. Encouragement seems in short supply at times, so let’s make sure we are a part of the solution. Encourage someone every day in a meaningful way. You might just find that some of it comes back your way.

Hebrew 3:13 — But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.

Monday, December 02, 2013

The Albert

The Hammer!
Albert Mesarosh Long Run Award 2013

The Albert Mesarosh award is given to a runner who has accomplished many things in his or her running career. It’s named after our remarkable runner Albert Mesarosh. Previous winners include Albert and Charlotte Gerkin.

This year’s winner is a remarkable man, a great runner and a great man. He might not be the world’s most interesting man, but he is a pretty interesting guy.

He is a published author. He writes clean romance novels. This is unusual for a guy who studied at Purdue and graduated with a degree in chemistry. He worked for many years at Crane.

He is a HAM radio operator who still uses Morse Code.

He has given 25 gallons of blood.

He is a leader in his church, teaching classes and leading the singing.

He overcame prostate cancer back in 2004.

He is probably best known for his running. He started running when he was 37 years old. He was gaining weight and getting overweight. He knew his family had a history of various health problems which could threaten his life, so he decided to do something about it.

His first race was the Limestone Classic, which back then was a 6 miler. He trained a total of 2.5 weeks, ran it in Converse high tops that were tied so tight he had bruises. He finished 188th, which was nearly last.

That was probably the last time he finished near the last. This year’s winner, like Albert and Charlotte before him, has a long list of accomplishments. I think the remarkable thing, beyond his longevity, is the fact that many of his PRs happened in his mid to late 50s.

Age    Distance    Time
56      5K             19.13
57      4 miler       26.25
58      13.1           1.30.14
58      26.2           3.32.55

How and why did this happen? At the encouragement of other runners, he started doing speed work. If you are looking for dramatic improvement, then his example is worth considering.

Our winner over the years has been a regular on podiums everywhere. He has won his age group at the Louisville Mini Marathon. He also won his age group in the Papa John’s 10 miler.

Our winner is 75 years old, and while presently off for a little while, still runs. He can often be seen on highway 37 around Oolitic. Our winner this year is Larry Hammersley, also known as The Hammer!

Monday a.m.

I only direct so I can wear The Vest
Good morning! How was your long, long weekend? I hope it was all good. From my standpoint, and please know this is not a complaint, there wasn't much of a break. We had a great race to take care of and all the usual Sunday stuff got pushed, again, to Friday and Saturday, which was all fine.

The Give Thanks 4 went off without a hitch. We had 177 registered and 170 finished. Some did not show, presumably due to the cold. And it was cold! I think the start was probably around 20, but the wind was light. I didn't really hear any complaints.

As usual we had amazing volunteers, about 30 of them, that made the race go so well. Everyone seemed to have a great time. In a lot of ways, for me, the highlight was the Albert Award, which I will post about separately. The race grew considerably this year, our 4th year. I believe next year we will see 200 runners.

The rest of the week was filled with family fun, food, work, food, play, food, and then we ate some. It was all good. It was so nice having Luke, Lydia, and Rebecca around most of the week. I always have a bit of sadness when they leave, but I know they are doing well. I just miss them a lot.

On the endurance front, I had a good 5 mile run Saturday, the best I've had since Mr. Hammy decided to be the boss of me. He got a lot quieter Saturday. I will see what he says this morning. I also had 2 really good rides outside, one Saturday with Bill and one yesterday with six other guys.

Bill and I rode 31 miles Saturday afternoon and the six of us, Dan, Bill, Troy, Scott, John, and James rode an easy 21.5 yesterday. It was fun. It also allowed me to reach one goal for the year: to ride outside every month. I'm glad to have that goal met. Now I am looking to reach the 3000 mile mark; less than 200 to go.

OK, a busy but good week awaits. I think I will get started. Actually I already started, so I guess I will continue. Thanks for stopping by!

What do you want?

I am reading through the Bible this year, using Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase, The Message. Sunday’s New Testament reading was from 1 John and included verses 15-17.

Don’t love the world’s ways. Don’t love the world’s goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world—wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important—has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out—but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity.

When I read this, I smiled at the timing of it. Here we are in the middle of the crazy commercialism of Christmas, where so much is driven by unhealthy desires to get or to gain something. All of that stands in tension with the "reason for the season."

We are simplifying again this year. Less gifts, no debt, and more focus on family time around the table. The stuff of this world is fleeting, but the relationships we strive for, modeled after the one God desires to have with us, will last. It’s also what we will remember as we grow older.