Saturday, December 31, 2016

New Years; Getting Up One More Time

New Years Eve: I have failed at getting to the start of the ironman many times, yet as I listen to the fireworks out there in the night, I yet have hope, and I yet have the will to keep trying. God just won't let me quit, Somehow, I still find it inside to keep training: to keep hoping. I get older and older and fail and fail. Yet, in the end, I somehow still hope. That Hope is more than I could muster on my own. I like that quote: "The miracle is not that I finished but that I had the courage to begin." So this New Years Eve I am thankful and feel blessed that I have been given the courage to begin and begin again and begin again, and again. Tonight I am thankful that God pushed me to simply have the will, the hope, to get up one more time, to have the courage to hope. In the process doubt and fear had to be dealt with and overcome and all the arguments for mindless moderation must be argued down. To me it sometimes seems that the world would level us off into clones of one another. And if we are not "acting our age," or following some less courageous predetermined pattern, it is as if a violation of the natural order has been committed.

So my resolution is to be myself. To hope where there doesn't seem to be a reason to; to keep getting up to reach for more. Who knows. I might just inspire someone else to step outside the preordained prescription for their lives. You never know who is watching or reading this post; someone waiting for inspiration; waiting to see if I will get up yet one more time than I get knocked down, and finish the "race set before me."

Monday, December 26, 2016

The Cable in the Dirt

At first the thought was sort of frightening. Then fear evolved into something else, and I knew I must do it. Almost three months ago I had gotten off my bike to relieve myself and fell crossing a cable across a dirt road. The fall broke my hand and I had not biked outside until today. I had driven by this spot several times in my automobile to see the cable across the road that had taken me down. I must climb over that cable. This was stupid. Why? I just need to do this. Crazy, but there is something in the back of my mind that says fears should be faced; and if possible, overcome. Yeah, I know. It doesn't make sense.

Up ahead I could see where the little road entered the road I was on, and there was a slight quickening of the pulse. I will not fall this time. Yeah, let's do this. However, when I stopped my bike and successful got off, I could see there was no cable across the little road anymore. It had been there just days before; what? Just like before I pushed my bike to the dreaded spot. There lying impotent in the dirt across the little road, was the cable that had disabled me. There was no barrier to cross. It had been laid down for me. I didn't have to reach down and overcome the trepidation of crossing the cable safely; the cable had already been taken down. It was as if God was clearing my path; making my way for me. I know I read a lot into this but couldn't help thinking that maybe this time, maybe this time, I will be at the starting line for my ironman. After all my failures,perhaps, God is making a way for even me. Yes, even me, this no talent ancient.

And I thanked God for the cable in the dirt; thanked God that I had come through the injury intact; thanked God for the opportunity, the thrill, the adventure, and the opportunity to serve Him in my journey. But, even in my gratefulness, I became aware that the cable was not removed from my path, but it was just much lower now, there in the dirt. It can easily be raised again. I can be injured by this or any other cable thrown across my journey. But, the cable in the dirt tells me that God is with me, and I must continue to nurture and maintain a grateful heart to begin and finish my journey for Him: Ironman Texas.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Birthday Grip on Life

Tomorrow is my birthday. Last year at this time ironman training was skidding from slow to stop. It was a tough time. Back pain, muscle and joint pains in various places made me unable to train without the session being a suffer-fest. But my greatest concern was that I might soon be physically disabled. A few weeks with very light, and finally no training had no effect. The pain was awful. It was a somber birthday and Christmas. Finally on January the 5th, I agreed to go to the doctor.

An X-ray of my back revealed that I had the back of a twenty five year old, but blood tests revealed that the statins I had been taking were having huge side effects. The doctor suggested I take another kind of statin that he thought might not have as bad of side effects I considered it, then gave the pills back to him and went on a plant based eating plan. After a week or so off the medication, I could tell the pains were lessening. Hope began to creep in. Could I still train for Ironman Texas, even yet? I had had so much down time; missed so many workouts. But, why not at least try? What was there to lose that I haven't felt the loss for already? Sure, this was too much too soon, but six months or a year from then would I regret pushing hard and failing or would I regret more that I settled for less and played it safe? What would God want me to do with this renewed grip on life? No brainer: I tried. I piled on the training volume. The scary back pains subsided. Yeah, I was pushing the limit, but I was out there, alive, not disabled, only beat up from the training. Eventually though, my old injured knee began to feel the strain of the too rapidly increased training volume. In spite of all I could do, the ramped up volume took me down. My bad knee took me as far as it could; until I could barely walk. However, when it was all over, I still had my smile. I had had my time.

Now a year later, no meds, plant based eating and my blood numbers are good without any medication. I am running and biking without pain. I am recovering faster from hard workouts better than ever. And, I am entered in Ironman Texas 2017. I have my grip on life back, and I can only thank you God for that. So, whatever happens with Ironman Texas; as far as I take it, all the struggle, all the pain, all the success, all the glory is for God. Take me out of the loop Lord; this journey is just for you.

Below is last year's birthday post -

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Hardships With Gratefulness

Hardships with Gratefulness; seems a contradiction. This holiday season is the first since the loss of my Mother: a hardship. Dig deep within and find the gratefulness for having had her for so many holiday seasons; grateful for the love and warmth she brought to that room I made for her in my life; grateful that I could love so deeply, hurt so much, and from all receive this feeling of being alive: alive in God.

Hardships with Gratefulness in the ironman quest; seems a contradiction as well. Grateful for the deep fatigue which means I have empowered purpose, that indeed, I have purpose; grateful for the setbacks, grateful for the failures which have made me more humble and yet grateful for the great workouts which have fueled hope and confidence; Grateful to know that this quest - for a no-talent such as myself - would never have been possible without being given the strength to endure from above. My prayer is to keep moving forward with gratefulness to the honor and glory of God.

Draw from Him the strength to endure. No one has the ability within himself to endure hardships with gratefulness. Only by relying on the Lord can believers go through adversity with an appreciative heart.

Now, think about that circumstance you would like changed, and with a new mindset, offer this prayer to God: "Lord, I accept this situation as coming from You. In faith and trust, I place myself under Your loving authority, and draw from You the strength I need to endure with gratitude."

Charles Stanley

There is a testimony behind the storm you are going through.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving Day - In the Beginning

Thanksgiving 2016: Bittersweet. First holiday without my mother. We always took her Thanksgiving lunch to the nursing home and she so appreciated the meal and the company. Now, that is not needed anymore and there seems a hole that I can't seem to fill.

But, there is another first on Thanksgiving. Thirty four years ago today, I began my endurance sports journey. I tried to run. It marked a new beginning much like holidays without parents do. But, the running, the biking, and swimming bear no pain of remembrance; only joy. Those memories bring a smile, even now, to these old lips. I was blessed to have parents that I loved so much and I have been blessed by thirty four years of a wonderful life in endurance sports. Thanksgiving ... I am giving thanks to God for it all.

Below is an excerpt from my book, "I Hear Footsteps," accounting that groundbreaking Thanksgiving so many years ago.

Prologue: In the Beginning

Several times when I was young I came close to dying from asthma, pneumonia, or the medication itself. Many times I really wondered if I was going to be able to take that next breath. In those days treatment options were quite limited. Consequently, prolonged bouts with this stuff seemed to keep me in an emaciated physical state. At age fourteen I weighed just seventy-eight pounds and was four foot, eleven inches tall. There were many nights in my life spent sitting up in bed just trying to breathe. My back grew bowed and one side of my chest protruded out much farther than the other. I looked deformed and I guess I was. For me, playing sports was quite limited. I was always the last one chosen for a team.

After adulthood and years of treatment, my health improved somewhat. Eventually, I grew out of my deformed chest; but still, I was occasionally besieged by bouts of severe asthma attacks. It seemed that being an asthmatic was my lot in life, my own piece of hell, a curse from which I would not be set free.

Thanksgiving morning, 1982 found me once again suffering from an asthma attack. Having been up most of the night trying to breathe, I was a man much out of sorts. Somehow though, on this one day in time, a whole lifetime of frustration seemed to culminate right then and there on that Thanksgiving morning. I was just fed up. I was just angry—very angry. For some reason, I just wanted to run. Absurd as that reasoning might sound, I just wanted to make my lungs suffer, to strike back at something, at anything. “Enough is enough!!” I thought. If I were going to be gasping, struggling for breath, and wheezing, well by golly, I might as well have a good reason for it. I was going to run! What was I thinking? It was crazy, I know. Could be I was just a little bit over the edge at the time?

I had no shoes to run in so I laced up my hunting boots and started a slow jog down the dirt road in front of my house. I was going to run the quarter mile to the end of that road if it killed me. It very nearly did. In fact, after only a few moments, after less than a hundred yards, I was bent over with my hands on my knees, seriously struggling for air. Asthma had beaten me again, I thought, as I walked slowly and dejectedly back to the house. Surprisingly though, sometime later after I had fully recovered, it seemed that I could breathe a little better than before. And some of that anger—no, a lot of that anger—was still in there bubbling, simmering around inside. I would have another go at it the next morning. This wasn’t over.

The next morning I got a little farther down the road than the day before, but it was still a suffocating experience. Beaten again. But, I had gone a few feet farther. It wasn’t much farther but there was some small satisfaction in it. Afterwards, I again found I could breathe a little better than before my run. The next morning and the next and the next found me making similar attempts and being met with similar defeats. But, with each effort I was getting a little farther down the road. Anger had matured into firm resolution. My mind and spirit now had “missile locked” on someday getting all the way down that road, the whole quarter mile. Finally, one day I just hung on, suffocated more than I ever thought I could, and made the whole quarter of a mile. No, it wasn’t an Olympic finish. No bands were playing. No crowds were cheering. No one cared, but I knew. It was just my own ecstatic experience, a private victory on a little dirt road in the middle of nowhere.

No stopping me now; I had tasted it. My asthma was getting better almost daily. Finally, one morning I ran all the way back to the house—a half mile. I was elated! Then the day came when I ran a whole mile. Like a prisoner breaking out of his jail cell, breathing fresh air for the first time in a very long time, there was no containing me. I was out of control and still am, I hope. Thank God!! I traded my hunting boots for slip-on deck shoes and, when my long runs got to around three or four miles, I finally bought real running shoes.

The rest of the story is about longer runs: 5Ks, 10Ks, Half Marathons and, in 1987, my first marathon. Sometimes, even now, having completed over thirty marathons and many triathlons, it is still hard to fully comprehend. To think that I did all that, yet knowing all the time I am really nothing special, just a no talent, ordinary person who hung on. I am so grateful! I feel so blessed!! May I never lose that childlike wonderment at all this. May I never forget that first frustrating Thanksgiving morning in 1982. But even more importantly, may I never forget to give God the thanks, that I can run!!

Friday, November 11, 2016

Moments: Fix It

Moments: Fix It: Visits to my aged mother are tough duty now. One factor is that it drives me out of feel-good, rah, rah and forces me to confront the truth... (more below)

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

More Steps

The broken hand is being dealt with. It's not pretty but, I am glad it's not worse. So I'll take this and deal with it. Training is going on as best as I can manage. Last week: 30 miles running and 112 biking. And, the spirit is strong. Hope is abundant. I am at peace about this because I sense God's purpose in even the broken hand - although I can't see the end of it. My job isn't to know but to just keep taking steps forward toward the goal, for Him, through Him - amen

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Broken Hand - Taking Next Steps

Hard to type well with a broken hand. I will get better. Healing time is six weeks. My half ironman distance event is in five weeks. Swimming is out. No hand around the handle bar or jolts on the bike Indoor biking seems to be the order of the day. "Cast down but not destroyed" the scripture says, and seems appropriate as to how I feel towards this predicament. A new challenge now awaits; a next step to taken on the journey. Whatever. I am in this for God anyway. My calling; my job, is to just keep taking next steps toward the ironman.

My new ride for the next few weeks.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Today - I See Only the Silver Linings

Rose City Triathlon - 9-11-16. This would be my 50th triathlon and the morning came to me with promise, fresh and alive. The sun peeking over the eastern horizon revealed a few clouds with the dark threat of rain on their bottom side. Yet, above the darkness the cloud shown brightly like they had silver linings. Today, I could feel, was special. I saw only the silver linings. Something in this day had already made my heart light.

Yes, it could have been the friendly participants and spectators, or the peaceful setting from which the national anthem was sung on this special day. Or, it could have been the huge flag being raised up by the firemen. Or, it could have been that opening prayer. It could have been a little of all that. I just know that I felt God had blessed me this day more than I ever imagined or expected.

I got out of the swim warm up with a smile. The 650 yard swim to start the event was fun.
The bike ride and bike course were great. The beautiful winding run course along the lake's edge made for a great running experience. The volunteers and other participants were so awesomely friendly; almost other-worldly. The finish was a celebration of life at its best, seeing and believing only the silver lining of this day.

Almost to the day 15 years ago I began my triathlon experience. Now 50 events later, having come full circle, I found myself as excited, hopeful, fulfilled, and thankful as I was at that very first event.

And, the renewal of my first experience brought a renewal in my commitment to live life to its fullest with a deepened gratitude that one this aged can find such joy, such hope, such enthusiasm for life and its challenges. I thank you and praise you God for all You are, and all You are in me. Among the storms sure to come: keep my focus, keep my vision, keep my belief only on the silver linings

Thursday, August 18, 2016

I'm In

And again, I am in: Ironman Texas, April 22,2017. In the past signing up has been a slow process to crash and burn: failure. Ironman registration seems to call out the dogs of war upon me. I seem to always find a way to fail at this, and I've gotten so good at failing, that I am not as afraid of it as previous years. But, given my history as an ironman failure, why did I sign up again? This is expensive stupidity. Seriously now, I am too fat and too old to be an ironman rookie. I am an asthmatic with one crooked leg and the other one perpetually injured: my run times stink; I walk with a limp. I will be competing as a 74 year old. Seriously now, where is the wisdom which is supposed to come with old age?

However, I am still drawn like a moth to a flame to the ironman experience. Lately several people in my circle of family and friends have died. As Jon Blais said, "This is it: your life. This is not a dress rehearsal." Pragmatic reasoning can be turned around: it is not that I shouldn't attempt another ironman because I am old, but it is because I am old that I should. Time and vitality are in short supply. Why not? I am already good at failure. Besides, no one expects an old geezer to do all that well anyway. There is a extremely high "Did Not Finish" percentage among my age group. There is not much to lose anymore. If I fail yet again; so what? No surprise. At least I didn't fail by giving up. If, by the Grace of God, I did finally succeed: wonderful, amazing, marvelous, off-the-charts.

But it is even more than that. The struggle toward the previously thought impossible is the centerpiece of what is ironman. I think of Elizabeth Thompson, coming back from a serious stroke to learn simple life skills, to finally doing an ironman. Or, Teri Griege, mother of 2, full time nurse, going through chemotherapy for stage 4 colon cancer and training for an ironman. And there are the older people like Lew Hollander, Sister Madonna Budder, Harriet Anderson who defied age and finished ironman events in their 70s and 80s. And, of course, there is Jon Blais, doing an ironman with ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease). I like what he said: "It doesn't interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, and the adventure of being alive." Yeah, I guess I will risk looking like a fool again. How can I not with all that has been overcome by others to not only dream the impossible dream, but to live it out as well.

And perhaps, fail or succeed, this old relic just might be someone's inspiration to keep trying following failure after failure; to keep getting up each time knocked down. I have taught my grandchildren. "What's the first thing you do when you get knocked down?" Their answer: "Get back up." Living out my own creed is a great opportunity to inspire. Maybe someone is watching?

But there is an even greater reason not to give up. God called me out for this and He isn't through with me yet.


And if I don't make it. Or if the training or the event should spell my end, it will still be well with my soul. For, I have an inheritance, which cannot pass away, cannot fade away, "reserved in heaven.." (I Peter 1:4) Yes, I have reservations for this event, a place to go, a place to stay. I am in.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Why Not?

Why not sign up? You have already embraced failure at this ironman thing three times, haven't you? You should be tough skinned to failure by now, shouldn't you? You have practiced failure enough to be good at it. So what's the deal? You can do this: fail or succeed, can't you? You were called to this; weren't you? You said you were. Were just making that up? Who knows?

Perhaps now the fruit is ripe and the time of harvest has come, finally and maybe things will be different? Some things are already different this year:
1. The event date is about three weeks earlier in the year: less heat on the run.
2. The bike has been changed and should be faster, giving me more time for my slow run.
3. The swim could easily be wetsuit legal, giving me more time for my slow run.
4. I have learned how to run with a brace for my bad knee helping out my slow run.
5. I was able to book rooms right on the course and at the finish. My wife will be OK.

And there are some normal negatives too:
1. My knee isn't anywhere near 100% and I still walk with a limp. My wife said so.
2. My hamstring to hip has been sore for a while and could get worse.
3. I seem terribly fatigued and motivation to stay long is not as good as it once was.
4. The biggest negative is that I AM SCARED! Yes, scared of getting seriously beaten up
5. And I am scared of failing again.You see, I really never got comfortable with failing

Still, considering everything, I am hanging back; waiting for a sign this time; not going on my own whim and what seems right to me. I have failed at this so many times that I am not going into this unless God goes with me.

The decision was made about a month later: I AM In

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Get Back In the Boat

Yesterday, my 102 year old mother died. Yesterday, hotel rooms close to the finish line for Ironman Texas were available. And so, the "yes or no," "stay or go" prayers begin in the midst of grief. As my role as caretaker ends, perhaps this is another beginning; a respite from the dwelling on the past?

I remember how I took her fishing all the time until she fell and broke her hip. Her mantra, her prayer, was to heal, recover, and get back in the boat to fish again...She did.

This could be the "take away": heal, recover, and get back in boat, throw your lines in the water, fish fervently again. She would want that for me and all her loved ones.

Saturday, June 18, 2016


It was February 1987; the Woodlands Marathon, my first marathon. It was all new and about as hard as I thought it was going to be - no piece of cake. Of course I wasn't prepared. My wife, my mother, my sister, and my two nephews were there at the finish; a great experience; my baptism into endurance sports.

When I began doing real estate in 1984, my first sale was two city lots to began a church on. It was a tough closing, but somehow it was accomplished. When I got out of real estate, the last thing I closed was property for a church to build upon: bookends to a career. Today, both churches are flourishing and I feel good about them when I drive by and see all the activity.

Today, I received a Father's Day discount for the Woodlands Marathon in March 2017. If I were to do it, it would be thirty years, since I did that same marathon; bookends again. Have I reached the age of one last hurrah and then tone down life to what is appropriate for one my age? It is tempting.

But I like what God told Joshua when Joshua got old. "Now Joshua was old and stricken years; and the Lord said unto him, thou art old and stricken in years, and there remaineth yet very much land to be possessed." Joshua 13:1

I read this to mean: Yeah, I know you are old, and so? There is still much to be possessed. You still have your calling and your quest. That is what I take it to mean for me as well. I am still hanging fire on yet another attempt to do Ironman Texas and it could in the same time period as the Woodlands Marathon. I have my calling and there is YET much land to be possessed - Amen

Sunday, June 5, 2016

My Plight and My Prayer

Its been raining for days; large amounts of rain. Outside - when you can get outside - is wet; soggy underfoot. The mosquitos are taking over the world, it seems. The grass is growing and cannot be mowed. My Mother is in hospice care and doesn't know who anyone is, and training has to be forced. Nothing comes natural anymore except the rain and mosquitos. All I want to do is sleep and, with the steady rains, that is a nice option.

One of my few visits to a fast food restaurant happened today. What a world. What a lifestyle. Somehow, I am going to paddle my way out of these doldrums until I find my place where the wind blows full in my sails, pushing my craft off into the pursuit of life as it was called to be.

This is my plight and this is my prayer on this mile of the journey.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Discount Store Ironman

The morning that I was supposed to do my ironman found me limping around a large discount store. About the time I should have been stepping out of the water from the 2.4 mile swim, I was stepping around boxes in the crowded, narrow aisles. Discount store life was going on unaware and unconcerned that there was an ironman in progress. I felt out of place; like I was outside looking in to the store and me in it. There it is: outside looking in; feeling that I am in a place that on this day, I don’t belong. It was as if the train had left the station and the struggle, the challenge, my passion left me behind to mindlessly drift life away in a large discount store. In the midst of the crowd and the noise, I felt alone.

Discount store life might be great stuff for many. The thrill of finding a bargain, the aisle fellowship with part time friends and complete strangers; a community of like-minded. I certainly understand that. In principle it might not be much different than the sense of community sometimes felt in an endurance sports crowd, pre or post event. Discount store life is a little less demanding though which is probably why it is so popular. You don’t have to train, or get in shape for it. Consequently, the stars of discount store life come in many different shapes and sizes. On another day other just watching all this might be entertaining. But, my ironman was going on without me.

Thoughts drifted again to the event. About this time I might have been about to begin the bike portion of the ironman. I could almost feel the wind in my face and push of the pedals. I could almost hear the yells from the crowds. Instead I was trying to get to the check-out line so I could get out of this place. What am I doing here?

The crowd got worse and I felt claustrophobic. Finally, I asked my wife if she could check out. I just had to get out of there. She understood. The knee hurt from all the standing around as I hobbled across the parking lot to find my vehicle. I didn't feel ashamed I wasn't doing the ironman. Physically, I couldn’t have done the event. I knew that. But, being in a large discount store buried in crowd of unlike people, at the very time my passion was going on without me was a little much. It just seemed like piling on. Enough.

There has to be something in this besides my regrets, some lesson God wanted me to learn from all this. And despite my pretense at wondering, I knew the answer: I really have no choice. There is no going backwards. Painful knee or not, there is nothing to do but keep after it, keep being me. To me, discount store life is a sort of personal hell, a place I might go, a person I might be if I gave up. For me, breaking down at an ironman event and being carried off on a stretcher would be better than settling for a life like this. So I resolve, for me, there are no bargains in any store. My best deals will be found by responding to this calling within and living out the passion God has placed upon me.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Lost Passion ??

Last night was toss and turn, trying to deal with the pain in my left knee. Walking was difficult after getting out of bed. The ironman is just days away. Yet, there is no remorse. And it makes me wonder. Am I losing my passion for this sport? Am I finally agreeing to be old as often suggested I should? Is it time to start acting my age - and do old things?

Let's look at the evidence. Bad knee and all, I did over 200 miles on the bike last week not fast enough, but I did them. I run even if it hurts; not far, but I run. I am picking out races to go to, as if I had good sense; as if I had two good legs. I train somehow almost every day, even when it hurts; like today. When I get up from this computer I intend to go limp around on a sweaty little so-called run. It seems I am just not ready to give those pictures up that I have of myself in my mind. Yes, I want to be an ironman: I am an ironman but just haven't proven it yet. I think it was Vince Lombardi that said his time never lost a game; they just ran out of time - Today, I still have the passion, and time hasn't been called - but more importantly: God hasn't said quit yet.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Bogged Down

"Don't look back. Something may be gaining on you," were the words of Satchel Paige. Such is life. The photo on this page is of a portion of my dry pond bed in 2011. As long as one would step quickly and lightly, and kept moving, the bed could be traversed. However, if one stood still too long, the thin surface would give way. The feet and legs would sink into a couple feet of black mud. The going would get slow, very tough, and nasty. You can't go too far like that. You can't go far in life, bogged down.
After almost two weeks of limited training, I seem a little bogged down - like the mud is sucking at my ankles. More and more each day passing, I want to get on top again; to step lightly again, and cross this bad patch more quickly. I think God is shaping me still for something besides being stuck in the mud. I think that is always the case. And little by little, day by day, I feel the spirit building again for stepping quick and light again, moving on with the journey.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Inside Empty

Sometimes the journey seems to grind to a halt. After a week and a half of almost no training a lot of stuff on this ancient frame got healed, but left a sort of inside empty feeling. Is it a journey if all you are doing is wandering without focus, without a beginning, without a plan, without a destination. Is motion, effort, and travel, by itself, a journey or does it possess all the focus, purpose, and direction of a dog chasing its tail?

The word "journey," to me, conjures up much more. It is purposeful travel, often with hindrances and obstacles that have to be overcome along the way. "Journey" suggest a quest, a theme, a focus, a destination, a goal. It is to enliven and enrich life - like I like to say make you live with "your hair on fire." Thoreau wrote that "the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation." My opinion: that might be because "the mass of men" are not focused, don't know where or why they are going. They are desperate for a true journey.

After this time of inactivity, I can feel this indescribable need. And I wonder do others feel that need to go on with their journey? Do others sometimes get that same empty inside feeling that I have with aimless living? Then again, maybe it is me. After thirty one plus years of endurance sports, have I seen too much to be satisfied with being a good husband, father, grandfather, citizen? These are all good things, and the world needs these roles to be filled, no doubt. But there is more, I have known it; seen it up close: it is out there. Yeah, that's it for me, life is not to be lived in mindless, desperate circles. Circles leave me inside empty.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Revelation of Reality and Acceptance

Another morning of tentatively getting out of bed and trying not to fall. My left leg; knee, hamstring, calf just want to buckle in pain with me. It takes some stretching to get moving to the bathroom. This has been going on for a while in silence. It was my plan not to give air to the pain, and perhaps it would eventually go away. A foolish notion, I know. But, the idea of an ironman is a foolish notion to begin with, and what is one more foolish notion? This was not meant for me and I can accept that. I think I have been preparing for that acceptance for several weeks now: with every painful planting of my foot.

Plus, the last minute bike course situation has only ushered that acceptance along; made it easier. Speaking only for myself, there is something lost, when this close to race day, there is only silence as to what the bike course will be or whether there will be an event at all. There has always been something special about ironman, an aura to it, a wrongly given status of semi-holy. For me, ironman came crashing to earth: feet of clay like everything else except God Himself. I put ironman in the clouds; on a pedestal. Now it is resting on the same turf we all walk upon; where I should have placed it all along.

But, even without that revelation, I cannot finish that ironman without seriously, perhaps permanently, injuring myself. That is a fact. So I have to face down both the revelation of ironman reality and the reality of my own physical limitations. This ironman is over for me, regardless, but I don't regret a thing. I poured the training on after medications I was taking almost got my ironman back around Christmas. There is a peace knowing I gave it my best and gave this one to God, but He starting closing doors. That's OK. "Nevertheless, not my will by Thine be done." Now to getting healed and enjoying the prospect of the next adventure with myself that God might put me into.

Friday, April 8, 2016

The Incredible Power of Recovery

A half mile into the swim and I bonked: just had nothing to go on; felt anemic, weak, and terribly fatigued. Over the decades there have been many times on runs, and bikes, when I just didn't have it to go on. It is a scary shutdown making one realize how vulnerable we are, how human after all. Yes, I have spent some time, humbly sitting on the side of the road waiting, hoping, to get my stuff back. This is the first time I had sat in the pool and waiting and hoped - new experience, even at my advanced age. Twenty minutes or so passed with me enjoyed the quiet, soothing water surrounding my body - I was the only one in the pool. Little by little, I could feel I was coming to myself again. Why not try again? Why not keep moving? Why not complete the course?
It began and at the end of the all, I found that I had swam another mile.

Amazing how I can recover. Amazing how, when all looks like weakness and fatigue, given time and rest, I can find the strength to go on. And, in that process I grow stronger. As I grow stronger it gets easier to not believe the moment, and have faith in the incredible power of recovery, of renewal.

So too, I can be renewed no matter how many times I have failed, and failed myself, or failed God. "Failure isn't final with the Father" and no matter: there is forgiveness and restoration built in by God to fix my spiritual bonk at the foot of the Cross.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Other Side of Wisdom

Woke up to a beautiful morning here in the country, and in the "sound of silence" I prayed for wisdom. It seems that the prayers for a sign, a hint, an intimation of what I should do, have lead me, not to the solution, but to the right question. This is the last day to drop out of Ironman Texas and get any of the entry returned. I need the ability to make a wise choice: I need wisdom. And so I prayed.

Limping to the bathroom on my bad knee should have told me it was wise to drop this whole thing. Remembering my pathetic running pace should have evoked a wise decision to quit. Considering the expense of this most likely failed venture should have added wisdom enough to back off from all this. No, really, I think the odds are very long that I will finish within the time cut off for the event. The 70-74 year age group results Of ironman past are littered with participants my age who didn't make the cut. Is it wise to go through all this; put my family through all of this, to only add my name to the list of those my age who did not make it? Wisdom would seem to say let this go.

So I went to this computer to officially ask for a partial refund of my entry, but I just couldn't do it. My first thought was that is not wise. Drop the ironman. Couldn't do it. Strange. Then I pondered that perhaps I was be accessing a God-given wisdom, greater and more ultimately wise than that the practical and logical could ever afford. In spite of my fears that run rampant about the pain to be borne and the probable failure of it all - yet, I couldn't withdraw. It didn't seem wise.

So now Wisdom tells me to take this as far as I am carried. There is some rough training to be done yet. My first goal is to just make it to the starting line; to step out into the water for the swim, like Peter stepped out of the boat to walk on water to Jesus. And if I finish the swim on time; finish the bike on time, get through all the highs and lows in between, I will be so thankful. On the dreaded run: however far I get before being taken off the course, will be a blessing. At the end of that day, my hope is to have stepped out in faith, run the race set before me, looking to God for strength, and did the best I could, for Him. That sounds wise to me. I think my prayer for wisdom this morning has been answered.

Use me God, show me how to take who I am, who I want to be, and what I can do, and use it for purpose greater than myself.
Martin Luther King

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Can I Stand That Much Normal?

Questions - as decision time comes closer, the more questions, the more doubts. In the past few days several things have come up that could negatively effect an ironman effort and consequently, effect my decision to try to do this ironman.

A supposedly accurate reading of my running speed shows it to be pathetic. If this is correct, to finish before the time cut off, I would need bike and swim performances I presently am not capably of doing. Can I improve the bike and swim enough in the period of time remaining? Questions.

My support for the event is in question. Can I do this event without support? Questions. And, on the other side of the big question: can I afford not try to do this ironman? If I don't at least try, will I, at the end of the day, find enough self-respect to sustain a life without regrets? Questions.

My fear is that without "some war to fight," I might just shrivel up as a person. Would so much seem mundane. Could I look myself in the mirror and be content with being someone normal, knowing nothing anymore of victory or defeat? Can I live with all that normal ho-hum without gagging. Can I age quietly and obediently? Can I go peacefully into the night, to die at the appropriate time and proper manner? More questions.

Yeah sure, there is not much chance of me making the cut-off, so maybe I should give this ironman thing up; now and forevermore? But, can I stand that much normal? Down deep I know though, that there is no better question than "what does God want?" And then I found this quote: God didn't create any of us to be average. He didn't make us to barely get by. We were created to excel. No, I can't stand that much normal: I want what God wants.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

The Decision to Try

I am tired; a little sore in places; fifteen mile run done on slick and muddy trails. Tonight - a little brain-dead, but even brain-dead, I am thankful for progress. A little over two months now that I went off the statin drug and went on a plant based eating plan.

Recovery hasn't come immediately but I continue to improve. It wasn't that long ago that I tried could not run a mile without lots of walking thrown. It had been too painful to enjoy. I missed the joy and the enjoy of training but it seemed I was done and the life I loved would become would be relegated to life rocking chair type existence.

But, the longer off the medication the more I started feeling better. It wasn't all at once but the pains diminished little by little. One day I ran three miles, then the next, four miles without walking. With this encouragement, I went on my fast-forward training plan to catch up on my ironman plan. The ten percent per week increase rule was thrown overboard. I had nothing to lose. What was the worst that could happen? I would be injured. I had done safe and prudent training, taking my medication per instructions, and had stayed injured for two months. How could I mess that up? But more than all that, I prayed, and I prayed. That brought me a lot of peace, but it brought me to the decision to try. Sometimes that is the only decision ones has to make; just try. Take the step. Amazing things can happen sometimes if we just trust and try before we give up. And so, today, trying and grateful for this opportunity, and this redeemed life

Today's 15 miler was not nearly as hard as my first 8 miler on my fast track training plan.

Right now it is not certain if I will make it through Ironman training , but as I try, each hurdle seems to get cleared. This has been a big week of training. Right now a warm feeling - total body fatigue - is creeping in on me. That feels like peace; peace with myself and peace with God. And, it feels like love; the Love of God, taking me to, and bringing me through, now and evermore.

PS 5/26/16 - the accelerated training and the increasing training volume, ultimately caused the old bad knee to go bad again. I didn't quit until I could barely get out of bed without falling down. But, I am thankful for the decision and opportunity to try.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Another Good Mile; Following After

Six hours on the bike trainer indoors yesterday, and not feeling worse for wear today. Funny, but I never think I am getting in shape, when I do great workouts. I think I am just learning to tolerate the discomfort; that I am really the same in fitness as I was before all this training. Weird thinking, I know, probably spawned by some deep seated insecurity I have not been able to exorcise.

But, whether mentally more capable, physically more capable, or both, I'm becoming more capable. I'll take that, regardless from what source it springs. What does it mean long term? Not sure as far as the event, but I am sure of one thing. Great days of overcoming make me happy, bring me to a peace. So before this good feeling of yesterday starts slipping a little, I want more and will try for more. I think it makes me grow. And, I believe that is what God wants of me; and perhaps why he put me following after these miles of the journey.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Finally Fatigued

Finally fatigued and with the fatigue comes an assault of logic, giving lots of good reasons not to do this; don't waste time, life, money, and effort to try. Do I really want to do this anyway? Even the coffee this morning was bad and my stomach doesn't feel that good to go out and train. The skies are gray, the wind is blowing, and rain is promised. There is no beautiful day to call me out; no gleam in my eye of what might be; no spring in my step at all. OK, here it is. I knew you would show up. Did I expect anything else? Did I really think this was possible with only my own old body, bum knee, and limited resolve?

Maybe today, with my spirit mired in the mud, maybe this is where my ironman training really begins. These are the times, the training, that I either get past or I won't. God will either pull me out of the mire, and put me on paved streets, or He won't. It is well with my soul either way.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Pushing Back the Fog

What does it mean that the 90 mile ride beat me up a bit? Could it mean "too much, too soon/" Could it mean "too old, too late?" could it mean early; too tell?" Yeah, I got off the bike and the old bum knee was on strike for better working conditions. My neck and shoulders were burning from the six plus hour ride. Is all that enough to run from?

This morning there is a fog and though I can see a hundred yards or so, still, I can't see all I would like to. That pretty much describes it. There are no answers and I can't see as far ahead as I would like to. Then the thought: in order to see farther ahead when vision is limited to a hundred yards, keep moving forward. With each step into the fog, vision is increased. In a sense, by moving forward, the fog is pushed back.

I need a run today. And, I will be stepping out into the fog to see as much as God would have me see today of this journey.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Momentum of the Moment - The Left Turn Said Yes

The feeling could not be denied. Could it be a message? That 13 mile run attempt would be the deal maker or breaker for my ironman. I didn't recent it. No, I welcomed some closure on this one way or the other. My training has been testing limits of training load to catch up from all the down time and I still wasn't quite where I needed to be. The 13 mile run on my schedule seemed to be the teller of the tale.

The day before I did a one mile swim and that afternoon I did a 5 mile tempo run. Not the best prep for a long run, but in an ironman the run is done after a 2.4 mile swim and a 112 bike ride. So this is about running on tired legs. Can I do this?

I didn't sleep that well the night before. Starting out I was slow and sleepy. My legs seemed sore and tired. The energy level seemed like I was about to bonk at 3 miles. Ok, this is my story. This is my song. It looks like this just isn't meant to be. I could not imagine pushing on for another 10 miles. Ok God. I think I got it. This was all for some reason I am not sure of, but I am sure you know the truth about it. Good enough for me God: no ironman.

I was coming up a hill on my trail that lead back to the house. Good enough, it is over. Half way up the hill, there is a junction where the trail I usually run on turns to the left. This time I would go straight and end this quest. As I neared the junction of the trails, I felt a sort of pull like on a car has when one front tire is flat. The momentum of the moment was changing from "take it home" to "take a left." There was little time to think; I turned left. Someone would not let me quit. Soon, the momentum of the moment had me in my zone, running a little quicker. The miles eroded away and I even began to feel better. My speed actually improved, and the last two miles were my best. I had done it! And, God had pushed me into a corner with this, as if to say yes, you are to do this. Yes, you are to keep on. Yes, it will be a beating. "Pay attention son. The left turn said yes." Now it is up to me to say YES to God.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Decision Day

In most stories, movies, and such there is one point in the plot when there is a high point upon which the story hinges. In Rocky I, for me, it was when he got up off the canvas after being bombed by a vicious uppercut. From then on it was all Rocky in the story.

Today, feels like the pivot point for me in my ironman training. After trying hard to catch up on my training after being set back by medication, I have come to the point where the day seems to say: "this will tell if you can be ready in time." It is the day of my thirteen mile run. Previous long runs have left my knees hurting even when I walk. I know I don't have the time in on these legs but I wonder if they can get up off the canvas in time or should we just wait for a rematch. Today will tell. I just know it. I don't know how, but I just know it.

So I go back to the beginning. "In the beginning God-----" It is all through Him and for Him. This run will either be blessed or it won't. I will either go on or I won't. But at the end of the day, I think I will know. Amen.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Depth of Gratitude

I am so glad I keep records of all this. This blog is like a record, if for no other purpose than to remind me who and where I have been along my Miles of the Journey. But today I reviewed my records to see how far I was down from that back and hip problem. Records show it was a good six weeks of it: not pretty. If I had not found out that the problem was medication, I cannot imagine where I would be right now with my health - what other medicines and procedure might I have tempted by in order to get relief? I dodged the bullet this time - praise God!

What I am left with is good health, and a body of ever increasing fitness, but most of all, I have been left with immeasurable gratitude - a thankfulness that makes me almost giddy to consider. It seemed that I was in a downward spiraling free fall into a sort of abyss. But, as deep as I fell, is how high I must climb to get out of this hole. And, the deepness of this hole I feel into is the depth of the gratitude I now have for the strength and the will to be climbing out of it. It is beyond me to feel anything but blessed. If it all falls apart tomorrow I thank God for today.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Forty Days: Chasing the Dream

It doesn't seem that long ago: forty days. Forty days ago I took myself off all medication. For forty days health, capability, motivation, and attitude have been going in the positive direction For forty days, my training has increased dramatically in an effort to make up the distance in my training between where I should be and where I am after the setback. So far so good. But, I am not where I should be yet, and I am not sure I can pull myself in line in time. Could be that I have lost too much time.

However, I am not sure. At the very least I am having a great time feeling this great; chasing this vehicle called fitness that seems to get closer then pull away. It is great: still chasing; still chasing the dream. Does it get any better than that to be chasing a dream at this age? Life has gotten richer the last forty days. The other day I went out on a long bike ride; came back and my wife had my recovery drink ready, a great meal prepared, and the bed made and coffee pot set up for when I wake up from my post-ride nap. The positive is contagious. I feel so blessed by all this. Perhaps this is my time: a special time to remember and smile about when "can" deteriorates to "can't" again.

It is ninety days until the event. Will I make the training? Not sure, but I am sure of one thing: God is in this. And, wherever He takes me, I will follow. After all, it is all about Him to begin with.

"Get your fire back. It's not over until God says it's over. Start believing again. Start pursuing what God put in your heart."

Monday, February 8, 2016

Bonking Before Breakfast

There have been better days. After my best and hardest training week in 10 months; after 25 straight days of training; I woke up beat; bonking before breakfast, you might say. Things often come around, but today, not so. The bonk got worse. My fatigue could not be massaged into feeling more energy, and my appetite could not be satisfied. OK: time for a day off. Good time to go see my one hundred and two year old Mother in the nursing home.

A different world there - residents having to be fed like infants again. My Mother was at a feeding table too. When I came up they put us at a regular table and I fed her, bite by bite - feed, wipe, feed, repeat. In the creases of the aged face I could imagine the years of care that face had expressed to my childhood. Now, the eyes and the hearing are practically gone. The once quick mind that could respond to my poking fun at her, can now barely hold a thought for a moment.

Back in her room she sat in her wheelchair looking down, or looking about the room like it was the first time she had seen it. Conversation was impossible. We just sat there many minutes in silence with me looking at her and her looking about the room. I noticed the hands: discolored, frail, and drawn now, the same hands that for years did much work. Yes, the same hands that I reached for in the night as a child when I was afraid. Now these precious hands lay impotent and fragile on her lap. My bonk seemed now much worse. Even after I left, that picture of my Mother sitting helpless in her wheelchair kept doing reruns in my mind. Training seemed far away, senseless, and unnecessary.

At home the hunger was finally satisfied, but the fatigue seemed to have moved in and brought friends. It was not the best of days. After this a day off like this one, I wondered where I will get the energy and the motivation to train tomorrow. I knew I would have to re-find the reason; revisit my purpose; envision my goals, but mostly I will have to ask God to get me through from all this to a better, brighter day.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Thanks and Priase.

So far as training goes this has been an incredible week thus far. In a way it is sort of surreal. Is this me? Why am I not more tire, beat up, and sore? Maybe I am not training hard enough?

The week started badly with my old bum knee giving me the blues. I couldn't finish the five mile run. But, I didn't get the blahs, the blues or get mentally beat up by it. If I am supposed to do this, it will happen; if not, it won't. Seems as if I finally have that one down, and it sure makes life easier.

The next day, the next, the next and the next were massive training days for me at this juncture of training; almost like a reward for a faithfulness finally attained. But, now the problem is going to be overconfidence and self-congratulation. Now, I find the sense creeping in that I am doing this all myself. It isn't true. Flattery of the self is so hard to turn away. I can feel that I have put praise on a back burner. For me, this is precarious place to be. "I need thee every hour, oh Precious Lord," the song goes. It is easy to pray in desperate times, but in times of plenty, in times of success, it is just as important to pray to praise. So today when I go out to do my ten mile run - a scary proposition - I want to lay myself and what I think I have accomplished aside and assume an attitude of thanks and praise. It may be that many athletes don't feel led to do all this, but I have been rescued countless times and given much more than I will ever deserve. So - "of whom much is given, much is required."

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Back to New Normal

Was this feeling great spurt over with? For the first time in two weeks I felt serious fatigue in my legs. My want-to was taking a hit. Back to normal?

But, when I lay down I could not sleep. After Ten to fifteen minutes of feeling the legs absorb the rest, I got up. Soon I found myself behaving more like the old self. Push, pull, lift, chop - I could feel I was back; not back to the easily fatigued self, but to a refurbished version of myself without medication.

Life quality is such a fragile affair and I think we don't protect enough. Sometimes I find I have treated my body, mind, and life, much worse than I would my vehicle or a pet. We just have to be aware of what we put into our minds and bodies, and what we have invested ourselves in. Personally, I think I owe it to God to take care of this marvelous equipment and awesome capabilities with which He has blessed us all.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

That Was Hard

That was hard. My eight mile run was not that much fun. Some pains came back. It was hard to hold on when confronted with the demons of "don't hurt yourself," or "you can try this again next week. "Keep going." Sure, I knew this was going to be rough: the longest run in six weeks; only one run this far in three months. There was no gradual ascent; no time for that considering the time already lost. This run reminded me of someone riding a bull and trying to stay on for eight seconds. I was trying to hang on for eight miles. I survived, but that's about all. Almost everything I have is sore. Yeah, I will go on for now, but this first challenge doesn't look too promising. Lots of doubts were raised about f\ enduring the much tougher training yet to come.

Unscathed though, is my peace with it all. However it turns out, God's got it, and I will be okay. Yeah the peace within hasn't changed, because it was given by a changeless God.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Just Before the Music Stopped

"It's not over until it's over" is the old saying. The last post on this blog spoke of pulling the plug on this ironman effort. The pain and the amount of disability were just too much for any serious triathlon training. After years of injuries and failed ironman attempts, I had finally made peace with it all. God had stilled my heart.

Then there was a doctor visit for a check up to get my cholesterol prescription renewed - yes, I had high cholesterol in spite of eating good, and exercising like fury - high cholesterol runs in my family. And too, I wanted the doctor to check out my hip and back. Perhaps he could x-ray the hip and back to see how bad it was and what my prognosis would be. But too, there was the remote chance that the cholesterol medication I was on could be causing the back and hip pain. I didn't think that was the case, but, no harm checking it out.

So there I was getting my X-ray results and wondering how much of myself I would have left for the rest of my life. I do a lot of physical stuff. Lots would have to change if I didn't have a good back anymore. Other people might have to do simple things for me like changing the water bottle in the water cooler or carrying in an arm full of firewood. Things didn't look that good but I was ready for it. Sometimes I would see photos of people running or biking and think that they don't know or fully appreciate how blessed they are. Of course, until this, I appreciated the ability, but I had had no idea how precious that ability was. I thanked God for all those great swim; those great rides, the runs, the events. Praise God, I had been so richly blessed. Now, I was ready for the other-life.

But just before the day faded and the music stopped, Light came into my room. The doctor told me that my back and hip were fine. There was no skeletal damage. That made me feel a lot better. The disability and discomfort might now be managed and relieved eventually. Good news.

A few days later my blood test came back showing that it could be the side effects of my cholesterol medication that were causing the pains I had had for almost two months. Immediately I got off the medication and went totally whole food, plant based on my diet. I had been mostly plant based, but now I took the "mostly" out of the equation. And, I took simple sugar off the table as well. My training had been so light and sporadic for past weeks that I felt pretty sure that it was too late to catch up on my ironman schedule . Besides, for a few days, I was still hurting.

But, day by day the pain began to abate. I could sleep all night again. I could walk without a certain amount of pain again. I could do certain exercises again, I could change my water bottle again, bring in firewood again and The lights got brighter and brighter and starting to wonder and even hope again. After a week and a half, I noticed I had more clarity in my thinking, shorter recovery time between workout, less overall fatigue, and an unexplainable baseline joy. I was beginning to feel very good.

Now, two and a half weeks without cholesterol medication and I feel great! I guess I had accepted the way I felt for years as good and forgotten how feeling really good can be. I feel better than I have in ten years or more. Funny, ten years is about how long I have been taking cholesterol medication. But, I can't be sure about any of this. I just know, praise God, nothing hurts and I feel good and capable. I have trained for the last eight days and I don't feel unduly fatigued. Now I can swim, bike, and run again. Again, I am one of those people that I envied a few weeks ago. Oh sure, this could all be is just one great big head game, a placebo of sorts. But I don't think so. I have done head games before and this feels like the real thing. And besides, who cares? It's working. I am living "the life I have imagined" and praising God for it.

Now what? I prayed. He has taken me to this place. Where do I go from here? What do I do? Do I take the different cholesterol medication the doctor is prescribing, or do I hold on to this wonderful place I am at and take my chances on having a stroke or heart attack? Research I found suggested that intense exercise may just exacerbate statin side effects. If that were the case, taking stains and training intensely might not be a good idea.

I prayed. He answered. For the next four weeks I am fast forwarding my training. I know it is not good training theory but so what? What do I have to loose? Two and a half weeks ago, I was injured and disabled and ready to quit. And, to take on this challenge to catch up on my ironman training would be quite the challenge and adventure both of which lights my fire. The goal will be to get back to the original schedule by the 5th week. So far my endurance and fitness has been fine, but I don't know how it will be in the longer sessions to come. I will stay off the cholesterol medication until then. If I can't get the fitness back to the level the schedule requires by four weeks, I will give up on this ironman. If I can reach the level to do the ironman training on that 5th week then I will continue on into ironman training. I will stay off the cholesterol medication until after the event. Then, I will get my bloodwork done again and make a prayerful decision then on the medication.

For these moments, these days of hope in my heart and for the health and vitality in my body, I thank God. And when these days are finally over, I will praise Him for all the close moments like I am having right now.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Pulling the Plug

Today I have about decided to pull the plug on ironman this May. In fact, I will probably pull the plug on triathlon for the next six months at least. A fire is built in the fireplace. It burns hot and bright, crackling with noise. Over time the fire burns down and the ashes become only faintly warm. My triathlon spirit is only faintly warm right now. I want to get well.

Yesterday, my back strain came back with a vengeance. As I write this I am squirming in my chair under a certain amount of pain. Is it time to pull the plug? Is this God's plan for me, after all? There is not much that could have been done to get me off this journey except to break my back. Maybe that is it.

There is so much else to be done that I don't think I will mourn too much the loss of this quest. I have been on this quest for years, and let so many things go. I have a book or two to put together and finish. Serious training often leaves me tired, about half brain-dead, and not very creative.

Yes, here it is, embracing another failure at ironman, but this time it doesn't hurt as bad and I think the peace with God and His will for this time in my life, has made failure a success.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

To Fan A Flameless Faith

Pain and a pending doctor appointment the next day had me in funk. Finally, after over 28,000 miles running in this lifetime, I come to the place where I can't run anymore. Oh, I can, but the pain is bad enough that I don't want to. Times like this all I know is take it to God. So I went off in the woods, built a fire, sat by it and prayed and prayed.

My prayers seemed to echoe empty back to me. I sensed no answer, no understanding, no resolution. I could not seem to reach God. Walking out of the woods to home I noticed I didn't have my glasses on. Perhaps I took them off when I took my cap off to pray? No, I didn't remember taking my cap off. Maybe I should have.

I searched the woods, the roads, my house, and everywhere I could think of where I might have taken off my glasses. Nothing. My wife joined in the search, as did my two granddaughters. Nothing. I had bought these glasses only a couple weeks ago. Now several hundred dollars has been lost; about the amount of what it would have cost me to do my ironman. My inability to run anymore along with lossing my glasses settled it for me and ironman. This ironman stuff is done, I thought. I prayed this time: "Lord, please help me find my glasses." I looked some more for the glasses. Nothing. I gave up. However, in giving up and giving in, there was an element of peace that came. So I went back to the woods to stoke the fire, sit by it, and pray. This time I will take my cap off. More than ever, I needed to hear from God again.

After putting some wood on the embers, I sat down beside the smoking pile of wood waiting for it to ignite. There was so much smoke; so little fire. I took my baseball cap off to fan the embers. Praise God, and with the first wave of the cap to fan the embers to flame, the missing glasses came flying off my cap and fell among the leaves. They had been on my cap the whole time I had been looking for them. My wife and grandchildren had not seen them on my cap though they had been right in front of me many times. And how could I have thought God wasn't near. God had been there all the time. It makes me think that these times God seems so distant, perhaps He is closer than we can ever imagine if we but "be still, humble ourselves, "take off our cap, and fan our smoldering faith to flame.