Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Day 25 - Don't Let a 'Good Morning' Ruin Your Day !

Maybe its just me...maybe I am just a little too sensitive, but it seems as though people are becoming colder and colder as the days go by. I am not talking about the kind of cold that makes you shiver, but I am talking about the coldness of heart that I seem to find on the trails these days. Maybe its just symptomatic of these 'perilous times' that Timothy said would be characteristic of the 'last days' before the coming of the Lord, but it seems difficult just to get a 'hello' or a 'good morning' out of people as I pass them on the trails. Its almost like people feel if they say 'good morning', they will lose something of themselves or they will open themselves up to being robbed. Or maybe people are just so content to being in a 'bad' mood, that they don't want anyone to interrupt their view on life. I don't know, but as you can see, it irks me to 'feel' how cold we have become toward one another.

I consider myself a people person. I enjoy being around people and talking with people. I think being 'neighborly' is the least of things that I can be toward my fellow human beings who, if they are like me, have to deal with the myriad of stresses that attack us on daily basis. A smile, a wave, a 'good morning' can go a long way in someone's day. Its a real simple gesture that acknowledges the other human being and reminds them they are not alone. When someone goes out of their way to 'wave' or say 'hello' to me, it makes a statement that transcends it's simplicity.

I don't know if its too much Hollywood, television, radio, news, or what...but has our society become so engulfed in fear or distrust toward one another that we can't even say, 'hello' anymore? We can't even greet one another as we cross paths on the trails? I mean...its not like I am running toward the person with a gun in my hand or a full regalia of SWAT team assault weapons and riot gear. More often than not, as I approach a person on the trails, my 'Good Morning' is greeted with a forward stare of nothing in return. Now, I can understand a woman being a little more fearful on the trails than a man. There must be a certain amount of inner turmoil for a woman if she is running the trails alone and I try to 'disarm' her (or anyone for that matter) by trying to make eye contact. Yet, many times, they just give a cold blank stare ahead without any acknowledgement of any kind.

Have we as a nation become so fearful that we have forgotten how each of us are human beings of similar qualities? I mean, which one of you reading this blog are not full of a myriad of emotions. Full of fears about the economy, and keeping our homes and families safe, and our jobs secure. Though all of us are fragile and many of us are hurting inside, we have seemingly been hoodwinked into believing that any human being outside of our little circle is 'evil' or not to be trusted. Long gone are the days where we could leave our houses unlocked or our windows down in the parking lot while we go into the store. The neighbors are no longer neighborly. We eye one another with distrust, wondering about each others motives and desires. I have neighbors that won't even wave to me. As a matter of fact, I can be standing in my driveway and they won't even lift an eye toward me to acknowledge I am even alive or in their presence. I am saddened even as I write this... we moved into this neighborhood about ten months ago, and NO ONE, not one person has gone out of their way to introduce themselves to me and my family. I have had to go out of my way to greet the neighbors, and I am still sandwiched between two neighbors who don't wave or say 'hello'. Its bad enough that my four year old daughter wondered why one of our next door neighbors can't say hello to us.

Like I said, I don't know if you feel the same coldness beginning to permeate throughout our society, or its just me, but I refuse to be cold. I refuse to let this world stop me from acknowledging my fellow humans on the trail or in the store or on the phone. Believe me, I understand the 'safety' issues and not being so overly friendly and open to be taken advantage of, but at the same time, not everyone is a criminal. It used to be we were looked upon as innocent until proven guilty, but now this principle has been turned upside down and we have been taught to distrust and believe all are guilty first and must prove their innocence later...well...that is if they are ever given a chance to do so. So as for me, don't expect me not to give you a 'good morning' or a wave as I pass by you on the trail. As far as I am concerned, you and I have far more in common than we have differences, and I refuse to let the coldness of the outside world stop the warmth I feel toward my fellow man!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Day 15 - The Victim Under Your Hood

"God gave us two ends - one to sit on and one to think with. Success depends on which one you use. Heads you win, tails you lose." ~ Unknown Author

Sometimes it takes people to become sick and tired of being sick and tired of being sick and tired. Many people are definitely tired and many people are sick, but most of them have not come to the place of being sick and tired or they just don't see the connection between the two. It seems that sickness has become this idea that it just hits you. Like some invading enemy from out of the blue, sickness invades your body and pow! you are sick. Whether it is cancer or the common cold, most seem convinced or just accept the idea that it just happens. These things are just a part of life and when they happen you just deal with as best you can. We learn to cope with our sickness, both natural and spiritual, rather than overcome and conquer them!

It blows my mind how most people don't see or are blind to the understanding of the simple cliche I was taught in my youth. "Garbage IN, Garbage OUT!" The principle is simple, whatever you put into your body will produce a similar effect. It is the idea there is a cause and then an effect that was created by the cause. Like a rock or a stone thrown upon a pond, its energy is catapulted into many layered effects. The ripples from the stone surge outward in a surrounding radius of waves and depending on the size of the stone will also impact on the size of the effect. Then there is the unseen side of the rock hitting the surface of the pond and what happens under the surface of the pond. The rock hits the surface and we see the surface effects, but what happens after it leaves our sight, is and could be a whole different story. Maybe it hits a fish or some other organism. Maybe it crushes a home of one of the organisms. Maybe the rock or the stone had some micro organism on it that causes the nearby water it hits to be contaminated. The overall effects are unknown, but they will eventually reveal themselves in the harvest somewhere down the road.

To think the average person today eats over processed foods and dead foods and actually expects or doesn't believe they will face repercussions down the road is a tell tale sign of a very manipulated society, or dumb downed as some have termed it. Maybe its just human nature just to be irresponsible. It seems to be a prevalent mindset through out our culture to NOT have or desire to take any responsibility for what happens in one's life. This victim hood mentality has enveloped our society and woven itself into the fabric of the mental make-up of our way of life. It is far easier to blame something outside of yourself for where you are than to have to 'eat crow' and take responsibility for your condition. Whether it be a spiritual issue or a physical one, the blame game shares equal footing for both. Sophocles said, "It is a painful thing to look at your own trouble and know that you yourself and no one else has made it."

Napoleon Hill said, "If you do not conquer self, you will be conquered by self." Just because we may choose not be accountable for our actions does not omit the fact that we responsible. Though we may live by the motto, "Out of sight, out of mind" does not mean we don't reap what we sow! Abraham Lincoln put it this way, "You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today." Its one thing to be ignorant, its a whole different thing to be 'willingly' ignorant. Denis Waitley said, "A sign of wisdom and maturity is when you come to terms with the realization that your decisions cause your rewards and consequences. You are responsible for your life, and your ultimate success depends on the choices you make." The blame game only works for so long. After awhile finger pointing must be fixed to the real culprit! YOU! "Peak performance begins with your taking complete responsibility for your life and everything that happens to you." (Brian Tracy)

This pervasive trend of playing the victim is easy to 'fall' into and latch onto, especially in a culture seemingly centered around the superficial and lacking the depth of discussion which is truly needed for honest growth. For true growth to take place in our lives, we must be willing to take responsibility for our choices. We have to accept the consequences of every deed, word, and thought throughout that have occurred during our lifetime. "Within each of us lies the power of our consent to health and sickness, to riches and poverty, to freedom and to slavery. It is we who control these, and not another." (Richard Bach) On a daily basis, we give consent by the choices we make. I know it may seem like sickness just appears, but you cannot evade the consequences of eating fast food and junk food plays havoc on the immune system.

But in spite of all this 'eating crow' it must be made known to you, that God allows U-turns. The beauty of coming 'clean' with yourself is this fact...YOU can change. You can turn your ship around and sail to a different port. Only when the finger pointing and blame game stops, can true maturity and growth begin to take place. "The best job goes to the person who can get it done without passing the buck or coming back with excuses." (Napoleon Hill) You may not be able to change the circumstances, the wind, or the seasons, but there is one thing you can change...YOURSELF. Today, you can step up to the plate like never before and take charge of yourself! No more excuses. There are no more if's, and's, or sitting on your butt's about it anymore! Today you are going to hold yourself to a higher standard than the masses. Today, by taking responsibility of your all your decisions, past and present, you are going to refuse playing the victim and begin a determined pursuit toward becoming the victor!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Day 12 - Finding Balance

“Just as your car runs more smoothly and requires less energy to go faster and farther when the wheels are in perfect alignment, you perform better when your thoughts, feelings, emotions, goals, and values are in balance.” ~ Brian Tracy
Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. ~ Phil 4:5

One of the biggest mistakes I see people make when they begin to exercise again is they try to do too much too fast! In their excitement to 'get after it', they end up over exerting themselves or trying to accomplish more than what their body's are able to give at that moment. Not only can this lead to injury but this can also be very dangerous. Euripides said, “The best and safest thing is to keep a balance in your life, acknowledge the great powers around us and in us. If you can do that, and live that way, you are really a wise man.”

In our zeal, we seem to forget we are not where we once were, nor are we as young as we use to be. There is something about the human condition that causes us to not be honest with ourselves. I am not sure if we just don't think we have aged or if we just believe we will forever be 'young'. So we make up our minds to exercise and think all things are as they used to be. This 'knee jerk' move back into exercise is a common issue I have witnessed over the years. Our minds are still seemingly functioning as an eighteen year old, but our bodies have lagged a little behind (no pun intended here)! The challenges of life have kept our minds mentally exercised, but in the meantime we have slacked bodily. Therefore, when we finally decide to 'move', we still think we have the body of an youthful teenager and we begin to match our bodies to our mental enthusiasm. Obviously, when this happens, I have witnessed a common cycle amongst all who endeavor to match the body to the mental...its called 'Crash and Burn'.

Part of the problem is definitely a 'nature of man' issue. All of us are engineered to look for the 'easy way out'. Most of us want and look for what I call the 'magic pill solution'. Its part of our human makeup and its also a part of this instant gratification culture we live in. After twenty years of doing nothing, we want immediate results. After years of inactivity we burst back onto the scene with this idea that we are going to blast our way back to those 'buns of steel' and a six pack of abs!!! We jump on the treadmill with an excited tenacity to finally get 'back in shape. Mentally and physically, we feel good. We have finally conquered this demon of laziness. In our newly awakened zeal, we push too hard, do too much, and over do it! Then comes the inevitable completion of the 'crash and burn' cycle. Though we feel good after getting off the treadmill, we wake up the next morning, feeling, well, to put it lightly...rough. Our muscles are sore. Our bodily pains seem to send very clear signals to our once excited mind and the signals are not nice. The inner voices rise up and the body begins to preach a message entitled, "What Was I Thinking?". Then to top it off, you are already scheduled your next exercise routine to do it all over again! Now spiraling out of control, its far easier to fall back into your old excuses and habits.

One of the most difficult things for people to do is to find a right balance. Its seems like the extreme is the fashion of today. Its an all or nothing attitude, but if the real truth be known, the victory lies in your patience. You have to balance reason with passion; reason keeps you open, passion keeps your adrenaline going. There is a principle called the failure-dichotomy principle and all of us must deal with it...Failure is good. Failure is not an option. In exercise and life, we must continually balance this dichotomy in our brains. Today, I implore you to start SLOW! The goal is to build a strong base and a strong base can be your spring board into a new you! Don't let the moment get away from you and allow your zeal to be misused. Think LONG TERM! Think slow, not fast! Remember, it took you a long time to get into the condition you are in right now, and it will take some time to garner the results you desire to see. Be sure to keep your program fun and you will not have to enter the cycle of crash and burn.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Day 11 - Adversity...Sure...DNF...No Way!

"Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit." ~ Napoleon Hill

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. ~ Rom 8:28

I have always said the greatest nation on earth is ‘Imagi - nation’ and when adversity hits our lives, our imaginations are sure to paint our pictures with very broad brushes. Maybe that’s why you can’t spell painting without pain and that’s also why you cannot live this life without enduring adversity. I want to use Horatio G. Spafford today as a picture of coming through adversity and what was birthed in what had to be horrific inner turmoil. The life of the hymn writer, Horatio G. Spafford, suffered incredible tragedy in his life. He lost his business to the great Chicago fire and his son to disease. Then, if that weren't enough, he sent his wife and four daughters to England on an evangelistic tour and, on the way over, the boat sank in a storm. All four of his daughters drowned. Only his wife survived. Spafford left for England immediately. As his ship passed over the spot where his daughters were lost, Spafford wrote his most famous and inspirational verse: "When peace like a river, attendeth my way / When sorrow like sea billows roll / Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say / It is well, it is well, with my soul." Wow! In the midst of what looked like crushing defeat and adversity came one of the most loved and admired hymns of our day, “It is well with my soul”!

Though I don’t want to make light of the past or act as though your hurts and pains do not matter, but far too many times we are pulled in by our imagi-nations and rather than finding the good in the adversity we end up building a shrine to adversity. We set up homage in front of it and worship the hurt and the next thing you know rather than we defining the adversity, the adversity begins to define us. Thomas Paine wrote a pamphlet called, “Common Sense’. The colonies were facing the greatest force on earth and the life as they knew was on the verge of catastrophic change. In the beginning of Common Sense, Paine wrote, “These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated.” And again, I say, Wow! “The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph!!!” If only we could ‘see’ that right now! If we could look past the PAINting the imagi-nation is brushing through our minds right now and ‘see’ how glorious the victory will be after we come through the adversity!

As a marathon runner, I have experienced what all marathon runners experience and that is called, “hitting the wall’. The dreaded ‘hitting the wall’ is the make or break of every runner. It is the point where every runner must face himself. Every book writes about ‘hitting the wall’ and every book tries to describe what ‘hitting the wall’ is and what it feels like. But there is nothing like ‘hitting the wall’ yourself. When a marathon runner ‘hits the wall’, it is exactly what the saying sounds like. You feel like you have run into a brick wall. Usually between the twentieth and twenty-third miles, your body runs out of sugars, energy, and nutrients. A sweeping adversity begins to hit your body as it cries out in pain for nutrients and energy. Every thing within you says to quit. Every voice is negative and your imagi-nation runs (no pun intended) wild! The advice given by those in the know, who have experienced ‘hitting the wall’ tell you, that this is the time to remember all that you have learned. To remember that you have trained for this and you were given the knowledge and understanding necessary to bring you through. This is the place where mind overcomes matter and you move forward with a vision that surpasses the momentary adversity that you are feeling. You must ‘see’ into the future and see yourself crossing the finish line long before you ever get there. If the marathon runner is swept away in matter of his imagi-nation, more than likely he will fail and by his name will be the three dreaded letters that every runner hates, DNF, which stands for DID NOT FINISH. If the marathon runner can muster up enough strength to come pass ‘hitting the wall’, the crossing of the finish line is even more glorious because of the hardness that was endured.

Today... it is time to quit sulking in your adversity and allowing your situation to define you. Tear down that ‘idol’ shrine you have allowed to be set up in the corner of your mind. Its time to ‘see’ the finish line long before you get there, because once you have come through this adversity, there will be a more glorious you and in the end, you will be a better person than you were before the adversity hit your life!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Day 10 - Enthusiasm !!!

"There is real magic in enthusiasm. It spells the difference between mediocrity and accomplishment." ~ Norman Vincent Peale

But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel
. ~ Ps 22:3

What excites YOU? I mean, what really gets your inner man churning and stimulates your creative juices? What fans the fires of your heart? Is there anything that fuels your zest for life? It seems many of us are locked into this realm of 'just being alive' or barely making it? When you wake up in the morning, do you say, "Good Lord, its morning!" or do you say, "Good morning, Lord!"? It would seem if we are discontent with life or the life we live, then everyone morning is a challenge and life itself is waning within a meaningless hue of emotional atrophy. When this begins to happen, we are like a person sitting on death row. It has been said the only difference between a rut and the grave is the depth! To me, the rut seems far worse, because you are alive and you still have the power to choose, and yet you remain stuck in the many wrong habits of living.

Personally, I believe one of the ways out of this rut is a little word called enthusiasm. Walter Chrysler said, "The real secret of success is enthusiasm." Enthusiasm is a lively interest or a feeling of excitement. Why aren't you excited about life? Where is your excitement to live life to its fullest? Has it become framed into this concept or idea, that now you are an adult and 'mature', life can no longer be exhilarating or fun?

All of us have heard of the cliche, 'Birds of a feather flock together.' There seems to be a tendency within our nature that like attracts like. We draw to us what we inwardly feel. If we are a negative person, then it doesn't make sense that we would attract positive people toward us. The way we hold ourselves within and without attracts the same kind of person toward us. A positive person does not want to be around a person who sees life as negative and vice versa, the negative person is looking for someone who will affirm their negativity about life. Norman Vincent Peale made an interesting statement, "If you have zest and enthusiasm you attract zest and enthusiasm. Life does give back in kind."

Within myself, I have found the way I think, affects the way I feel. You can't be thinking negative thoughts and have good feelings. And again, you can't be thinking positive thoughts and have negative feelings. If we are not careful, the WAY we think can become a habit, which in turn, can then turn into a stronghold in our minds. If we are continually negative in our view of life, then sooner or later, this WAY of thinking takes a STRONG hold on all we do. Negativity strangles everything we do and smothers our ability to escape its clutches. I can remember growing up and watching 'Lost in Space' or some of these other shows. There was always a Dr. Smith in the background saying, "It will never work!" Always fearful. Always afraid. Always dreading the next move. And this is the stronghold in our minds. The enthusiasm and zest for life is smothered by an overwhelming negative view of life.

Jesus said, "Where your treasure is there shall your heart be also." There is a direct connection between what you count worthy of your attention and your emotions. Maybe that is our problem. We are putting our hopes in the wrong place(s). If our hearts are full of negativity, then maybe we need to look to see where our treasure is! Is it possible we have bought the lie the world has sold us? Maybe, we have lived and followed after the lie for so long it has now become a stronghold in our lives. That childlike excitement toward a new day has been squashed under the pursuit of 'happiness'. While chasing down the abundance of things we have lost the power to live an abundant life.

Paul J. Meyer said, "Enthusiasm is the yeast that raises the dough." Today, I want you to take some time to regenerate the excitement of just being alive! Look around you! For a moment, I want you to stop the clamoring negativity of your mind and thoughts! Slow down. Take a deep breath. Breath. Capture the beauty of your spouse, your children, and the majesty of life itself! Remember, the choice is yours! How you perceive the world around your is choice. YOU can begin to tear down the strongholds that wrap you in the cocoon of negativity or YOU can once again capture the exuberance of living! If you don't like what you are doing, then do something else. If you like what you do, then step into it with a renewed enthusiasm! As Mark Twain said, "Let us endeavor to live so that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry."

Monday, June 6, 2011

Day 9 - Breaking Through the Impossible Possibilities

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I... I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference." ~ Robert Frost

Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. ~ Matt 7:13-14

"The four-minute mile: This was the barrier, both physical and psychological, that begged to be broken." Neal Bascomb Many told Roger Bannister his goal was "impossible." For many years, the scientific and athletic communities thought that it was impossible to run a four-minute mile. The event was regarded as something more than a sports record to be broken. This 'impossibility' was viewed by society as an epochal barrier that could not, and, more amazingly, should not be broken. Many people believed if a man to run a mile in less than four minutes the result upon breaking the tape would be instant death.

In his 1935 article entitled "The Ultimate of Human Effort," British track coach Brutus Hamilton had listed the "perfect records beyond which man could never go" for a number of track and field events. He declared that the fastest mile possible would be 4:01.6. By the spring of 1954, Gunder Haegg's world record of 4:01.4 was nine years old, and Hamilton was still insisting no one could run any faster.

"Whether we liked it or not, the four-minute mile had become rather like an Everest -- a challenge to the human spirit," observed Bannister in his newly-reissued autobiography, "The Four-Minute Mile." "It was a barrier that defied all attempts to break it -- an irksome reminder that man's striving might be in vain. The Scandinavians, with their almost excessive reverence for the magic of sport, called it the `Dream Mile.' "

History now reveals that Roger Bannister was the man of this moment! On May 6, 1954, this 25-year-old medical student, committed runner, ran a mile at Oxford University's Iffley Road Track in the time of 3:59.4. Its no wonder Roger Bannister could say, "The man who can drive himself further once the effort gets painful is the man who will win."

Louis. D. Brandeis said, "Most of the things worth doing in the world had been declared impossible before they were done." How many times have we hesitated to venture out of our cocoons and risk what all those around us have determined to be 'impossible'? Peer pressure, societal norms, and traditions keep us stagnant and uncommitted from taking steps toward our dreams. It seems far easier to stay in our comfort zones than to step off the shore of familiarity. "Do not attempt to do a thing unless you are sure of yourself; but do not relinquish it simply because someone else is not sure of you." - Stewart. E. White

Now let me be clear. I am not talking about venturing out to do evil or following after illicit ways. The Word of the Lord says we should not follow after the multitudes to do evil. So our venturing should be within the context of doing what is right for our families and giving back to our communities. All of us have had to endure the snide remarks of another who makes comments from their worldview of impossibilities. Family members, friends, and co-workers are quick to squash any attempt to step out of the known and into the unknown. Fear of failure grips us and leaves us frozen in a frightful fit of all the things bad that could happen! The comfort zone feels good, warm, and fuzzy, but such a zone zaps us of real growth and living up to our full potential. Rather than attempt something new, we are consoled in our complacent progress of staying put in our uncharted waters of a well known shoreline. "The person who goes farthest is generally the one who is willing to do and dare. The sure-thing boat never gets far from shore." - Dale Carnegie Will Rogers said, "Even if you are on the right track, you will get run over if you just sit there."

The God of possibilities continues to call us out of the fleshly ground of impossibilities! He is not a God who waits for us to make a mistake, but He is a God who is calling us UP and out of carnal living of fleshly boxed in comfort zones! Who knows how many God given talents have been locked up on the carnal shores of our earthly vessels? God has called us to take our talents and grow, not to hide them away in fear! Vaclav Havel said, "Vision is not enough, it must be combined with venture. It is not enough to stare up the steps, we must step up the stairs." If you want to eat the fruit, you have to take the risks that come with climbing the tree!

As the years pass, it seems we are more disappointed in the things we didn't do than by the ones we did do. How many times have we looked back on our lives and said, "I wish I would have!"? We are experts at making mountains out of molehills! How many times have we finally found the nerve to step out of our comfort zones, only to find that the mountain of fears we had created in our minds was lower than we originally had created?

There is no doubt in my mind, if you are reading this today, there are dreams you have locked away on some distant shore of apprehension. One of the greatest college basketball coaches, John Wooden said, "Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do." Today, I want you to re-examine those dreams and goals that were once the emblem of your vision. Its time to raise up the anchor, throw off the bowlines, and sail away from the safe harbor of complacency. There is a 'rushing mighty wind' awaiting to fill your sails and push you into the Hands of the One who holds the key to ALL possibilities!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Day 7 - The Strength of My Weakness

For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. ~ 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (KJV)

To be able to admit weakness is a difficult thing to do, especially in this day and age where pride shows itself in an abundance amidst a world that feeds off the superficiality of shallow images. It seems one must continually show himself strong or face the onslaught and attack of those who count weakness as the greatest of all human evils. Yet, the Apostle Paul, said, 'When I am weak, then am I strong." This is a man who encountered a plethora of elements in his life time, that if we ourselves would have had to confront, we more than likely, in this powder puff age of easy living, would have crumbled to the ground and begged for mercy.

The weakness Paul seems to speak of here is not a weakness of strength or of character, but one of humility. It seems weakness is connected with the abundance of pride that comes with being a human being. It is very difficult for a man or a woman to admit they need something outside of themselves. To admit you need help is very close to admitting you are a failure. To admit not being able to do something is a humiliating event and tarnishes the pride of our egos.

Though I am still learning, after fifty plus years of contending with my ego, I am learning our greatest strength comes from our weakness and not just from our weakness, but admitting there are just some things we don't know and we need help. Thomas Kempis said, "The acknowledgment of our weakness is the first step in repairing our loss." Surely there are areas in our lives where we are strong, but in no way can we be strong in every area of life. To be able to admit we don't know everything is not a sign of weakness but of strength. Truly, if admitted, the only way a weakness can be turned to a strength is when we decide not to cover that weakness up with pride or superficial coatings of shallow images. We must be able to say, 'I need help' and in turn admit our shortcomings. "It is a sign of strength, not of weakness, to admit that you don't know all the answers." ~ John P. Loughrane

There is no doubt we are weak, in body and in mind. "Man's biological weakness is the condition of human culture." ~ Erich Fromm Though we would like to 'think' ourselves strong in body, it is quite evident we can only do so much. If you think this to be a false statement, get up from where you are right now, and go lift up the front end of your car. With this point made, its not being made to magnify your weakness, but to allow the transparency of the need to step out from behind the shadow of your pride. All of us have needs. All of us are frail and need things that transcend our capacity of humanness.

True growth begins when we are able to accept our own weakness. Maybe this is one reason why I enjoy running. It seems every day, I am confronted by my own weakness. Every step brings me in contact with my inner self. As I run, I hear the voices of my body reminding me of my weaknesses. Sometimes I am able to overcome and do well on a run, and, well...sometimes I fail to achieve what my ego had promoted and I end up meeting my weakness face to face. Which is a good thing because it is in these moments I am humbled to know my limitations, and yet at the same time, challenged to know that I still have more to attain to.

A man by the name of Nathaniel Summers said, "The strength of a person is often weighed by how they deal with their weaknesses." As I near my mid-fifties mark of living within this human shell of thoughts and emotions, both great and small, strong and weak. I have learned that there is strength in my weakness. It is there in the effort of a run, I hear my breath, feel the pounding of the path beneath my feet, it is there, I am confronted by the simplicity of the moment and the solitude of my needs. I am not promised my next breath nor my next step...I am a man of needs and herein lies the strength of my weakness!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Day 6 - Hocus Poke-Us Where's Our Focus!

The main thing is keeping the main thing the main thing. German Proverb
How many times have we looked back in life and said within ourselves or aloud...’If I had only paid attention!’ Rather than being caught up in youthful lusts and petty cliques we would have concentrated on the more important getting an education! Oh, the power of being able to focus on the task at hand! If there is one thing we seem to lack in this day of multi-tasking is FOCUS! The ability to remain steadfast on a thought toward a goal seems to be lacking in our culture. In college I remember a professor saying World War III started immediately after WWII. He said it wasn’t the a battle of tanks and guns, but it was a battle for the mind! And when I take a look around, this statement seems to stand true. Look around and its not very difficult to see how scattered we have become. Running to and fro, here and there, and heltered skeltered. Whether we are just trying to make ends meet or keep up the Jones’s down the street, life has become one hectic ‘rat race’. From video games to cell phones, our lives are inundated to something and anything to take our minds off the task at hand! Lately, it seems, if we just get through the day, we count ourselves a success. Our minds have become so scattered and removed from any calmness of focus, to pick up a good book is difficult because our minds are forced to become calm and to a racing mind, calm seems abnormal!

I have heard the first rule of focus is this: “Wherever you are, be there!” Wow! Simple but seemingly difficult to implement in this hectic fast pace multi-tasking day and age we live in. It is difficult for us to concentrate on concentrating. When was the last time you were someplace and you were just there, focused and concentrating on the one task at hand. It seems wherever we are we are not there, but we are somewhere else! Yes, physically we are there, but mentally, we are paying the bills, going over our ‘to do’ list, or worrying about what may never happen. Its no wonder we always feel like ‘we are spinning our wheels’. We are too busy mopping the floor to turn off the faucet. We are so caught up in the trivial we have lost sight of the target and it is more than likely the problem lies in the fact that we have lost focus on where we are going and are wanting to go, leaving an overflowing of trivial problems in our lives. Is it possible if we were to re-obtain our focus that many of these problems would no longer hound or hinder us?

Its time we clean off our tables and clear up our minds of mindless fodder and refocus on the true purpose of life. Long ago, you had a sense of purpose and direction in which you were heading. What happened? You used to shoot your arrows at a fixed target, but today you don’t even shoot your arrows, let alone draw back your bow! No life ever grows great until it is focused, dedicated and disciplined. Not only is the fool known by the multitude of his words, but the immature mind hops from one thing to another. It is only the mature mind that has the ability to focus and seeks to follow through. I know we have hurts, pains, and discomforts, but how many of those have been caused because we lost our follow through? How much refuge is in our lives now because our attention has been lost while pandering to the inconsequential. To move forward, we must shake ourselves and step out of the ‘rat race’ and back into ‘that place’ where the target is in view! We must not just get our aim right, but once again put forth the energy needed to draw back the bow of purpose, by no longer letting what we can’t do interfere with what you can do! The past is the past. Mistakes and disappointments are building blocks and should be used to refuel our passions and stepping stones into the future.

Haven’t we have learned that if we aim at nothing we are sure to hit nothing! The secret of our strength lies in our ability to concentrate. King David said in the Psalms, “My heart is fixed!” Was it not our Lord Jesus Christ who ‘for the joy that was set before him endured the cross!’ When all others and even his disciples tried to convince Him the cross was NOT where he was going, he rebuked them, and how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.’Anthony Robbins said this, “Most people have no idea of the giant capacity we can immediately command when we focus all of our resources on mastering a single area of our lives.”

Only that day dawns, to which we are awake. (Henry David Thoreau) A new day has dawned and there you sit in your swivel desk chair. What are you going to do with this day? One of the greatest generals of all time, George S Patton said, “No good decision can be made in a swivel chair.” Stand up. Stretch and push that swivel chair aside. Today is a new day! Today is the day of salvation!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Day 5 - A Beautiful Run

May the sun bring you new energies by day, may the moon softly restore you by night, may the rain wash away any worries you may have. May gentle breezes refresh your soul and all the days of your life, may you walk gently through the world and know its beauty. ~ Unknown 

Today's run was beautiful! Most people would find this statement to be a little difficult to comprehend, especially if they don't run or exercise. To them, an eleven mile run is tantamount to being executed mafia style. You can see by the expression on their faces after you tell them how far you ran, that they think I am a weirdo to make such a statement. They get this contorted and twisted look that says...'This guy is crazy! How can he think running eleven miles is fun and beautiful?' 

Confucius said that ‘Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.’ To capture the ‘reality’ of his statement may be difficult for us. The questions immediately begin to spring up from within and pour forth out of our minds of how anything can be beautiful when all THIS is happening to me? The lists of ‘bad’ things... from financial distress to sickness racking the body pumps diligently out of our hearts. The ‘pain’ of life seems to be enduring and blots out the reality of any beauty to behold around us. It just seems in this day and age our brains are being constantly bombarded with bad news. The negative surrounds us in an all encompassing act of blanketing the beauty of life. Bad news and the ugly represses the beauty of life and living, and pushes it into some dark corridor of our hearts. As though the only time we had to enjoy beauty was some long lost day of our youth. When we could roll in the grass, dash through a spring meadow, or lay on the ground in wonderment of a midnight starlit sky of a billion stars. No, we say to ourselves, those days are gone and are cloaked beneath a label of ‘in the past’. Beauty then, is categorized and placed on the shelf of a our past and relegated to as something being below our mature minds of adulthood.

Yet, deep inside each and every one of us, there resonates this inner fight to return. Oh! To be young again and to feel the cool grass crunch beneath our feet or grab a seeding dandelion and blow the white fluffy parachutes into to the wind and watch their loops and sways as they travel in a warm summer time breeze. We yearn for a moment of beauty and yet when the moment comes... when we are confronted with beauty, our minds either ignore it or we are thrown into some cognitive conflict. Like the man in the scripture who could not be tamed. Who, when he saw the Lord in the distance, all at once fell down in worship and yet tried to repulse him with his words, ‘What have I to do with thee?’ Caught in the crossfire of his torments, on the one hand he worshiped the Lord, but in his next breath, he tried to push him away. Is this not a picture of the modern day us? We look out and ‘see’ something of beauty and yet we quickly remove the thought of it as though it has no redeeming value. Just like the man of the Gadarenes, out of the tombs of our present day mind set, comes the cry, “I don’t like it. It’s too beautiful!’

The renown art historian, Herbert Reed, reminds us, “It is not so often observed that the same forces that have destroyed the mystery of holiness have destroyed the mystery of beauty.” So many of us, if not most of us, if not all of us... are so busy, we think we do not have time to appreciate beauty. Like the sun hiding behind the clouds, we know the warmth of beauty is out there somewhere, but we push if off as though the warmth is not for us but is reserved for ‘another day’ or for someone else who has the time to stop and ‘smell the roses’. To take time to enjoy beauty is tantamount to committing death by robbing oneself the pleasure of a moment. How often in our time-constricted schedules and burned out spirits, do we pass unknowingly by a lovely flower, fail to hear the symphony of the roaring tide, stop and smell the fragrance of a cool spring breeze, or even forget to see the glory of God in our own humanness? The list of not just seeing the beauty of life around us but perceiving that beauty is even there could probably go on and on. The point here, is not to degrade or tear down, but to once again gently shake that lust for life that each of us have within us. To remind us that many of the fetters and chains that seemingly have us bound are of our own doing. We are either handcuffing ourselves or allowing someone else to handcuff us into a jail cell of their own creation.

Often time the Lord would leave the ‘rat race’ of the multitudes and visit the garden of Gethsemane with His disciples. Leaving the hectic pace of ‘modern’ life, the Lord was moved to a place of beauty. Yes, we know he went there to pray, but is it possible He went there to remind Himself of ‘life’s beauty’. I find it interesting the Lord did not confront the pains of his inner turmoil in the market place, the financial district, or in a theater. It was here in the garden of Gethsemane where He really met himself and it was there where He came to face to face with the truth.

You know you want too... you know you want to touch it again. You know you want to smell it again. You know you want to be refreshed by it again. You know you want to hug it again. So today, I want you to stop and find a garden of Gethsemane, and breathe a breath of beauty and maybe, just maybe, you may find the answer you have been seeking as you unlock the beauty of your day.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Day 3 - The Matrix

Reality hides behind appearances. ~  Greek philosophers

From what I gather, the movie The Matrix is about a computer hacker Neo who is contacted by underground freedom fighters who explain that reality as he understands it is actually a complex computer simulation called the Matrix. Created by a malevolent Artificial Intelligence, the Matrix hides the truth from humanity, allowing them to live a convincing, simulated life in 1999 while machines grow and harvest people to use as an ongoing energy source. The leader of the freedom fighters, Morpheus, believes Neo is "The One" who will lead humanity to freedom and overthrow the machines. Together with Trinity, Neo and Morpheus fight against the machine's enslavement of humanity as Neo begins to believe and accept his role as "The One".

There is one scene in the movie that is well known and that is the scene of Neo trying to decide whether he should take the blue pill or the red pill...see the clip for yourself!

The definition of a matrix is 'an enclosure within which something originates or develops (from the Latin for womb)' With that said, All of us are enclosed with the wrappings of our humanness, and therefore, all of us have our own matrix to deal with. Each and every one of us is enclosed within this cocoon called the flesh.

There is an outer man and an inner man. The outer man is fleshly and whimsical. It wants everything for free. It always wants something for nothing. The outer man looks for the way that takes the least amount of effort and follows the path of least resistance. The outer man lives for the moment, never really looking beyond the superficial feelings of the moment to the consequences that are inherently contained within every decision we make! The thoughts of the outer man are like ripples on a pond, the impact of a thrown stone has far reaching effects, yet the outer man, the fleshly carnal man, only sees the excitement of throwing the stone (fulfilling a thought) and stimulating effects of the splash. But beyond the surface our fleshly desires, deep within the matrix of every one of us, there lies an inner man. An inner man that knows better and not only knows better, but wants better. We know there is more. We know we don't really want to eat that piece of cake or stay in bed.

Deep down, I believe all of us want to be healthy and dislike falling prey to the lies of the outer man. None of us desire to be sick. Not one of us is or can be happy when the sickness of eating the blue pill engulfs our bodies. We know the only way...the real way to victory lies in NOT giving into the outer man. Of not taking the blue pill. I believe, deep down, many of us are tired are swallowing the blue pill of doing the same old thing the same old way. There are many of you that are reading this blog and are tired of swallowing the same old lines of the outer man and believing the deceptive ploys of his imaginations. I know this because if you weren't tired of the blue pill's powerful doping affects you wouldn't be reading this article in the first place!
Yet, all of us know, the red pill means change. We know to consciously accept and follow the desires of the inner man, means life as we know it will take a drastic step in a completely new direction. A one hundred and eighty degree turn toward a new way of life and 'seeing' things. We know there will be a battle. We know there will be a fight. We know the strength of our bad habits will continually try to pull us back into the ruts of the outer man. We KNOW this and many times in the past, the outer man has used this against us. While we yet reached for the red pill, the threat of a bloody inner spiritual war, made us hesitate, and then pull back from our true desires and once again settle into the lull and dullness of the blue pill.

But today...TODAY...I want you to know...YOU...YES YOU!!! have far more power in you than you ever thought you had. You can go further than you have ever thought you could. You have far more potential than you believe you have! But none of this will ever be realized until you swallow the red pill. Until you make the commitment to once and for all, never go back to eating the lies of the blue pill. You be saying...what makes me so sure that I can make such a statement to you. Well, because I have been there. I have felt the long term affects of habitually eating the lies of the outer man, but I have also experienced the powerful effects of entering the matrix of my inner man. I have battled and waged war against the outer man to come up with my hands raised in victory! I have trained for weeks on end and have waded into the depths of my being. I have confronted the 'I can'ts', the 'I don't want too's', and all the other voices of how to quit without a fight. I have confronted the enemy, met him in the mirror, and I have won enough times to know how he works. After completing nine marathons, I have met the enemy on the battlefield and I can say I won!

Does the outer man ever quit his antagonizing ways? NO, but it gets easier because there is nothing like overcoming the voices, and there is nothing more rewarding than feeling the power and strength that comes from truly becoming who the Lord has called you to be! Today, you have the blue pill of same old, same old OR grab the proverbial bull by the horns and take a ride into the matrix of your mind, body, and soul. You won't regret it...but then again...the choice is yours!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Day 2 / Sense-sational

The unexamined life is not worth living. - Socrates

Sense-sational! That's all I have to say about this mornings run! After it rained the proverbial 'cats and dogs' last night, it seemed the world around me had awakened with an array of sights, sounds, and colors. Now, I understand this could just been me wiping the sleep out of my eyes and finally waking up after the deadness of long night's sleep, but it seemed to be different this morning. The trees looked greener. The smell of flowers and fresh lilacs filled the air with its delicious aroma. My senses were stimulated. My soul was uplifted. It was one of those mornings where you thought to yourself, 'It's good to be alive!" To be able to run is one thing, to be able to run and enjoy the run is a whole different story.

We, by nature, are creatures of habit. We tend to get methodical in our daily routines, which in turn, can make not just our runs but life itself, well, somewhat dull and boring. The trappings of our ever so technologically oriented world seem to enclose us within a cocoon of sense deprivation. We live in sealed houses of recycled air conditioned or furnace pushed air. The sounds of life on the outside are excluded to world that is created for us in the inside of our homes. Sometimes the closest we get to nature is viewed through the Discovery Channel or some National Geographic documentary of some weird pigmy tribe in the Amazon Rain Forest. Leaving us with a fairly tempered view of the real world and nature itself.

I can remember as a young boy ( not too long ago... :-) ), that being inside the house was tantamount of being locked up in a prison cell. Our daily lives, especially when summer break was at hand, was spent outside. The woods down at the end of the street served as our playground and our 'new world' of exploration. We lived, breathed, and died to be in those woods. From tree forts, to bike trails, to playing army, those woods were home to countless memories. It was there we played our first 'Truth or Dare' games. It was there we shot our BB guns. It was there we powered through the trails on our bikes in a imaginary motocross race as the summer breeze blew through our seventies style shaggy hairdo's. It was there in the woods we experienced our 'first kiss'. It was was there we could leave our homes of parental tension and escape to a land of awe and wonder. It was there, in those woods, we spent nights around the camp fire, telling scary stories and spooking one another to death. It was there we laughed, and played, and even cried til the sun went down. It was in those woods, we shared our dreams, our hurts, and wondered about who or what we wanted to be when we grew up.

Those woods, the woods of my youth, though long since removed in the name of progress and subdivisions, still exist in my mind. I can, to this day, vividly remember the sights and sounds of many happy moments with my best of friends. There is no doubt in my mind that these memories of my youth are some how, some way a part of my love for running. There are moments during a run, like this morning's run, that will jog (no pun intended) a memory loose...a flash from the past will incredibly flood my mind. It could be the smell after a spring rain, the fresh fragrance of lilacs, or high stepping it past some squirming worms that stimulates my mind, and the next thing I know, I am lost in one of those childhood moments. Suddenly I am there, back in the woods with my friends, enjoying the 'freedom' of my youth. Sometimes the memory is fleeting, it may last but a moment, and I quickly find myself back in the here and now, and yet, sometimes the moment captures me and the next thing I know, I am lost in the memory as it floods my senses and infuses my mind. The next thing I know, without realizing it, a mile or more of my run has passed.

No doubt, this is a part of the reason I have come to enjoy running so much. Its here, where I remember, what I told myself way back then in my childhood that I never wanted to forget. The freshness of life through the eyes of a child. A time and place where the world was mine to behold and anything and everything seemed possible! Maybe this is why, when I go out for a run, that something within me secretly wishes for one of those threatening clouds to open up and pour out a gully washer in the middle of run. When I was young, walking home in the rain or splashing through the puddles was something I didn't try to avoid, but it was something I couldn't wait to do. Now, as I approach the age of fifty, I am relearning to enjoy these moments again...I am learning its good to have a cloud burst open to wash my mind clean from time to time!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Day 1 / 50 Miles or Bust!

But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. ~ Matthew 24:13

     Well, here we are...finally! We are 90 days out from my first personal 50 mile ultra marathon. Over the last few weeks I have been spending time learning about Ultra Marathons and of the handful of men and women who have ventured to take on such a journey in mind and body. From reading books written by ultra marathoners themselves to watching documentaries, I have been trying to glean as much as I can to prepare both physically and psychologically. With this said, I can honestly say, this morning I am full of apprehension and do not enter this event with rose colored glasses. As a matter of fact, after learning and reading about the adventures of those who dare to go beyond the marathon, and run into the dimensions of an ultra, it has definitely sobered me up. Which I am sure is a good thing.

     I remember my first marathon like it was yesterday. As I write this blog an influx of memories arise within me. Like a digital clip, each memory is as real as the day I ran the 2003 Bayshore Marathon in Traverse City, Michigan. The nervousness of an early morning start. My fellow runners, along with barefoot runner, who I thought was crazy as a I passed him, and then not so crazy as he passed me near the end. The rain that fell near the end of the race. The blister on my right foot. The first time, as a runner, 'hitting the wall'. The incredible pain of the last few miles. Coming to mile 24, tears began to stream down my cheeks, not because of the pain, but because I knew at that point, without a doubt, that I would finish this thing. Then, the euphoric feeling of crossing the finish line. The tears, the joy, the elation...all bottled up in a sea of emotions called this human body. I can also remember, saying, "I will never run another marathon again!" You see, those memories reside within me. They have become me and who I am.

     A fellow runner, Jerome Drayton said, "To describe the agony of a marathon to someone who's never run it is like trying to explain color to someone who was born blind." And after running and completing nine marathons, I can definitely ascribe to the part about the pain. During the 26.2 miles of a marathon, there are places your mind and body take you. Places of euphoria, and then there are those places of pain. Sometimes the pain is in the body and sometimes the pain is in the mind...and yet, sometimes the pain resides in both, body and mind! Like the old Wide World of Sports intro I watched as a youth, when the announcer says, "The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat!", I have been to some of these places.  On the one hand...I have 'hit the wall', I have 'bonked', and after sixteen weeks of hard training, I have had my marathon fall apart at mile 16. Then I have also felt the elation of meeting my goals, from qualifying for the Boston Marathon, and even finishing all nine marathons. Every marathon I have run in holds a place in my heart. I remember every marathon. Each individual marathon run has taught me about me. In the depths of a marathon race I have confronted the enemy, and the enemy was me...and it was here I found out who I am and in some sense, who I want to become.

     So then, I have wondered, if a marathon holds such a 'place' of contradiction in body and mind, THEN how much more does an ultra hold? All the stories read and told of ultras talk about the confrontation of self. It doesn't matter what place you come in or where you finish, it is about finishing! To confront yourself, to battle the voices, and to exercise dominion over the inner demons seems to be where the victory truly lies. It is the ultimate confrontation, like the Lord's prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. He knew what laid ahead for Him. He knew the torturous pain of the cross, and He prayed, 'Not my will, but thy will be done.' All runners, whatever level of running they are at, have to pray this prayer...'not my will be done'. Because if we were to follow our will, many trophies with the word, 'quit' would populate our shelves and mantels.

     Herein probably lies the key to why so many people run marathons or for that matter, end up 'enjoying' running at all. When everything says 'quit', 'stop', 'don't go one more step forward', the runner must make a decision. He must consciously confront himself and then take full responsibility for the decision he makes...whether he quits or runs on, he must live with that decision, because it is his decision and his decision alone. Maybe in its purest of form this is a picture of life. Maybe because it seems so many of these decisions or choices have been removed from our lives or have been made so fuzzy by an ever encroaching society, that running becomes one of the few places we are able to say, 'we made the choice'!

     "There are as many reasons for running as there are days in the year, years in my life. But mostly I run because I am an animal and a child, an artist and a saint. So, too, are you. Find your own play, your own self-renewing compulsion, and you will become the person you are meant to be." (George Sheehan) So today, I choose to commit my body and my mind to train for an ultra marathon. I don't really know what lies ahead, but if its anything like training for a marathon, I know one thing, I will learn about life, and there is no doubt, I will learn about me. Not just the superficial me of who I think I am, but I will confront me in the deeper depths of me and who I really am, and who I long to be. So in the words of Jeb Dickerson, "My feet have several thousand meetings scheduled with the dirt on a trail not far from here. Who am I to keep them waiting? Time to run."

Friday, May 27, 2011

Why Run?

"The miracle isn't that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start." ~ John Bingham

Why run? Over the years this is a question many have asked me and to be quite honest, sometimes, I have even asked myself! When I try to answer the question, I cannot say or pinpoint one specific reason. Nor has there been some surreal epiphany of some sort that directed me to purchase running shoes. Seeing that I have only been 'running' just a little over decade, I can't say that I loved running, and have been trying to reconnect with my youthful track days. I was a wrestler, not a runner and running was NOT my favorite thing to do. Running was just a vehicle that helped to condition me to become a better wrestler. Back then, our wrestling practices started with running, and ended with running, but it was more of a drudgery and a way to lose weight than a love affair.

So, again, the question, "Why run?", begs an answer! But the answer to the question is just as elusive as it is concrete. I have found the act of running itself has produced a plethora of mind boggling and even life changing answers to this question. Some of the answers are easy and yet, some of the answers are contained only within the act of running itself. There is a 'freedom' that can only be enjoyed and explained within the actual act of running itself. To a certain extent, running is a paradox. It is a self-contradiction of extreme opposites. On the one hand, running is not fun, but it is enjoyable. Running can be painful, but also euphoric. Running causes mental anguish, and yet it clears the mind! Ahhhh, the 'joys' of running!

If the truth be known, maybe, somewhere in the origins of the movement of running are the seeds of understanding life itself. Running is a metaphor of life and life is a metaphor of running. Running is a parable of life itself! There are so many physical attributes of and in running that relate to the spiritual dynamics of life itself. From hydration, food, diet, and nutrition to the more ambiguous principles of perseverance, consistency, dedication, and habit...these can all be understood in a deeper spiritual sense through the 'act' of running. Maybe this is why the Apostle Paul said, "Run, that you may obtain"! He didn't say sit and meditate. He didn't say chant and light candles. He didn't say watch television and eat ice cream to obtain, but he said, RUN, that you may obtain the prize!

There is no doubt in my mind the human body was built to move, to exercise, to run! Yet, most of us, live a very sedentary life of little or no amount of movement at all. Many people, when they hear about my running adventures, they laugh it off with a remark about how they 'run' to the mailbox and back, and thank God its me doing the running and not them. I am quick to laugh with them and I too understand their perspective of me as being a 'little crazy' for running so much, because I once had the same attitude. In the past I once laughed and wondered at what could be so beneficial about running. I too would think, "Why in the world would anyone want to punish themselves like that?" But now, when this dialog occurs between my friends and others, I feel a certain prick that wants to tell them about the great things that transpire when I do run, but I also know, how difficult it is to relate this message to them unless they actually decide to run for themselves! So...I run on...hoping the example will be inspirational enough to compel them to lace up a pair of sneakers one day and set off on their own road of run-elation!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Running From Insanity (pt 2)

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, ~ Hebrews 12:1 ~

We are by far some of the most impatient people on earth. I don't know if this is just an American dilemma, or if it is just a naturally occurring trait of the human being. I am more apt to believe the latter than the former. Our impatience toward the nature of life itself, has moved us to create a pseudo world of unreality. In our attempt make life 'easier' we have seemingly wrapped ourselves within a cocoon that we cannot get out of. Our minds have been so polluted with convenience that it is difficult to believe what used to be normal and sane now looks crazy to us. If we cannot get it easy or quickly into our hands (or mouth), it is deemed too difficult a task. The word exercise has become a curse word to our psyches. To walk somewhere let alone run, well, that is just way too crazy. Everything, it seems, from the cradle to the grave, has been crafted for the convenience of the flesh. From microwave buttons to drive through fast food joints, the path of least resistance has been paved with the golden bricks of 'progress'. If we have to work too hard for it, then something must be wrong. To put it simply, what once was sane now looks insane, and the insane now looks sane.

This blanket of convenience has shrouded us in a cocoon of darkness that hinders us from truly seeing, not only the need to get back what we have lost, but the depth of how far we have fallen from this need. If you were to take an honest peek outside the safety of your covers you may just see that all the glitters is not golden. Go ahead, just flip back the cover a little and it doesn't take much of a look to comprehend the magnitude of our situation. Look around and take a peek at the land around you. Obesity, disease, and sickness are plaguing our culture. The overwhelming facts of study after study are littering the landscape with their truths. Yet, we remain docile in our comfort zone of denial. Living in the land of shadows and rowing down the river of denial, it is far easier to justify ourselves with the death at distance attitude of "Oh that will never happen to me!"

It's time to pull back the covers of our insanity! But only YOU can do this and the point is...YOU CAN DO THIS! It's time to get off the 'yellow' brick, magic pill road of impatience and hit the trails of your life. Running speaker and writer, John Bingham said, "The miracle isn't that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start." Today is the day you start toward a new you. It has been said the journey of thousands miles begins with the first step. Today is the day you take that first step out of insanity and back into the race God has called you to run. If the truth be known, we were not built to live a sedentary life of ease and convenience. We were built to work and there is no true satisfaction in this life until this purpose is met head on.

You don't have to accept the insanity. You don't have to lay in the comfort zone of excuses. Shake yourself and look in the mirror. There is no straight jacket holding you back or fetters tying you down. Today is YOUR day to begin anew.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth.

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

(Robert Frost)

The choice is YOURS! Think about it! Isn't it time you get off the beaten path of insanity?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Running From Insanity

Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. ~ 1 Corinthians 9:24

I am an avid runner. I haven't always been a runner, but in the last decade running has become a part of who I am. I am not an elite runner, nor am I sponsored by some million dollar Nike contract. I am just a common man who likes to run. Over the past fifteen years, I have been blessed to run and complete twleve marathons, including the Boston Marathon in 2005 and on my fiftieth birthday I ran a fifty mile Ultra Marathon. 

In high school I was a wrestler. I ran, not because I loved or enjoyed it, but because I had too. As a wrestler, running was a vehicle used to make me a stronger wrestler on the mat. Today, I love to run. I enjoy running! You may be thinking (as many have asked the same question over the years), ARE YOU INSANE? People who don't exercise or run, are quick to 'see' only the pain or uncomfortable aspect of exercising. "You ran how many miles???" Yet, if the truth were to be known, running has helped me to become more sane. In this crazy, rat race world of going, going, and going, if there is one thing people need, it is an escape from the 'insanity' of it all. Running has helped me to momentarily step outside of the rat race and look within the reality of myself. While running, the Lord deals with me and through running, the Lord has helped me to 'see' things concerning the issues of life I never would have received in the comfort zone of my life before running.

Albert Einstein, rightly stated the definition of insanity when he said, 'Insanity is doing the same behavior over and over but expecting different results' It seems, at least to me, that we are looking for answers to our dilemmas of life through rose colored glasses. So entrained within the comfort zone of our bad habits, we seem convinced that real change will come by doing the same things the same way we have always done them. We seem content to pursue 'change' only if it remains within the comfort zone of our lifestyles. How many times have we bought into the advertisements that promise phenomenal weight loss WITHOUT EXERCISE? Under the spell of what I call 'the magic pill delusion', we pull out our wallets, and shuck out the cash, all in the hopes of true change taking place without any changing of our habitual ways of thinking and doing. Only after the money is spent, and we are left stranded in our old habits, do we realize we once again bought into the lie of the delusion.

It has been said 'the only place success comes before work is in the dictionary'. There is no way around this principle. If we want success, in anything, we MUST work. We cannot remain steadfast in the beliefs everything will get better, while pursuing the art of laziness. Life is an adventure, that is, if you are willing to get off the couch. Don't you think its time YOU begin to run from the comfort zone of the insane idea that your life will get better by doing the same things you have done...well...for most of your life now. Its time to get off the couch of easy living, and step outside the door. No, better yet, why don't you RUN out the door and away from insanity and come run sane with me!!! What do you have to lose...but the weight of your fettered insanity!