2015 New Year’s Resolutions

Looking Back

2014 has been a milestone year in my life. God sovereignly transformed my life sometime around Easter in the biggest way possible… He saved me from my own self-righteousness and unbelief. What I had previously thought was the Christian life, was really a false sense of hope and a works-based religion. You can read about that in My Personal Testimony.

Consistent with being a “new man”, my desires have changed radically this year. I spend a lot of my free time reading about Theology or watching sermons online. I have endeavored to “catch up” on the meat of Christian faith that I have missed out on, and it has been good. I have read God’s Word more consistently and with more fervor than ever in my life. I am truly thankful to my Lord and my Savior, Jesus Christ for this year.

A Different Kind of Resolution

My wife read an article about closing out the year writing letters to Jesus and placing them in your stockings before packing them away for the year. We thought it would be a good tradition to try out, so we all wrote letters of resolution to Jesus. In that letter I wrote my sincere commitments to serve and know Christ. It included overall statements, such as the desire to serve God with all of my heart, soul, mind and strength. I also wrote practical things, such as continuing my daily time of reading the Bible, praying and studying.

So my public New Year’s Resolutions this year look more like changes in habit that I would like to implement in my life.

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How Fast We Fall

I slammed on the brakes and threw the minivan into park. In moments I was kneeling on the side of the road holding onto the guard rail as I would a life preserver. My only thought was, “Oh God, I’m going to pass out and crap on myself. What is my poor wife going to do?”

WARNING: This post contains personal information of a “bodily functions” nature, so proceed with caution.

Continue reading How Fast We Fall

2013 New Year’s Resolutions

Bilbo-The-Hobbit

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door. You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to.”
J.R.R. Tolkien (The Lord of the Rings – The Fellowship of the Ring)

I thought it appropriate to use this image and quote taken from the works of J.R.R. Tolkien (The Lord of the Rings – The Fellowship of the Ring) and the recent release of the The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey for my New Year’s Resolution post. My wife, kids and I went to see the movie together and thoroughly enjoyed it. Anyway, each year has the potential to hold something new, perhaps something adventurous. While I don’t particularly feel that it will at the moment, the future is unknown and as Bilbo stated, “there is no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

Continue reading 2013 New Year’s Resolutions

Breaking In Boots

Blackwater River State Park - Juniper Trail

Pre-AT Hike

This past Sunday I went for a decent sized day hike in the Blackwater River State Park in Florida. I was joined by my father-in-law, my son and another young boy. We hiked approximately 8.5 to 9.0 miles down Juniper Creek Trail taking somewhere around 3 hours and 15 minutes.

The terrain was flat and winding overall and mostly in the shade. Mosquitos were a bit of a problem when we stopped to break, but that was if you stood in the shade; they weren’t as bad in the sun. For the first part of the hike Juniper Creek was fairly close to the West of us providing some pretty scenery. The trail is well kept and there weren’t any highly technical challenges. If you are looking for a hike around this distance I would heartily endorse this trail. Though, you may want to check the recent weather. There are parts of the trail to the South that were low-lying and would most likely be marshy with much rainfall.

The purpose of our hike was to do a little practice/preparation for an upcoming hike on the Appalachian Trail. Me and somewhere between 5 to 8 other guys will be hiking for 3 days in North Georgia. I’m really looking forward to getting up in the mountains, experiencing nature and challenging myself.

Boots

So what’s with the title? What boots? Well, I recently purchased a new pair of Merrell Phoenix Mid Hiking Boots. They were extremely comfortable on my feet and provided just the right amount of support in the ankles. I don’t like feeling like I’m walking around in a cast, but I do want a little support and these shoes struck just the right balance for me. I had to tighten the laces after about an hour of walking, but I think that’s because it’s the first real wear they’ve seen since I bought them. I guess they loosened up a bit.

Backpack

I also took my new backpack out. It’s a Camelbak 2012 Vantage FT – 33L capacity with a built-in 3L hydration system. The pack road very nice and I have no complaints about the adjustments on it. I didn’t have it fully loaded, so we’ll see if that holds true on later expeditions. As for the hydration system, you could definitely tell it was a Camelbak. Easy to fill, easy to drop into place, easy to drink… and easy maintenance. I’m glad a spent a little extra and went with the brand.

* Header Image Source: OutdoorGulfCoast.com

New Orleans Marathon Recap

икона за подаръкХудожник2012 Rock-n-Roll New Orleans Start

I finished my second full marathon this weekend in New Orleans at the 2012 Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans. These are just a few highlights from the trip and the race. Thanks to everyone who supported me in training, life and virtually on Facebook and other social networks!

Sleepless Night

After a yummy (and pricey) dinner at Borgne Restaurant, inside the Hyatt Regency Hotel, we settled into our room to relax. The rest of the evening was fairly uneventful. We watched some television and remembered how much we do NOT miss the commercials and I got all of my things together for the morning. We had a room with two queen beds and had planned to make a palet on the floor for Gavin and let the girls sleep in the bed. Unfortunately the extra blanket that was in the cabinet of our room turned out to just be an extra pillow. The hotel was extremely busy so a call to housekeeping revealed that we would not be getting extra blankets anytime soon. So, three kids in a bed with Avery in the middle. They complained a bit but fell to sleep pretty fast, considering their discomfort.

Kids On The Bed

Aubrey and I talked for a bit and finished up plans for the morning, but since we were in the same room as the kids who were trying to sleep we decided to retire as well. I can never really sleep that well the night before a race. I usually wake up several times in a panic thinking that I’ve overslept. This night was no exception, plus I had to go to the bathroom several times. Sometime around 1:00 AM in the morning some kid in a room nearby proceeded to scream as if someone was peeling his (or her) toenails off, one at a time. This continued on for what seemed like an hour, but it was probably less. At any rate, sleep was not plentiful or good.

Early Morning

5:15 AM comes way to fast when you wake up multiple times through the night and are restless. I got up and got dressed and then gathered all of my running gear. Of course I should have slept a bit longer because I had way too much time before I needed to leave. So I rolled out my legs with the new Stick that I’d just bought at the expo the day before, took the supplements that I needed before the race and tried to do some light stretching. Aubrey got up and sat with me for a while and then after a potty break I said my goodbyes and headed down to the starting line.

Too Many Corrals

The hotel we stayed at was fairly close to the start of the race, so it was quite easy to just walk down. There was a flood of runners going in the direction of the starting line, so I didn’t even have to figure out where I was going… just follow the crowd. It was fairly chilly that morning, but not freezing. I got to the start and made use of the porta-potties (one more time for good measure), which involved waiting in really long lines. Then I was off to find my starting corral. I was in corral 18 and I saw signs indicating there were about 25 corrals. I walked and walked and turned a corner and walked some more and turned another corner and walked some more… sheesh, I’m going to be walking a 5k before I even begin! I guess that’s one of the costs of a marathon with with over 22,000 runners.

The actual start of the race was at 7:00 AM and then they moved the corrals up closer and closer to the start at one minutes intervals until it was our time to go. For future reference I really need to remember this because later in the race I had to perform calculations in my head to try and figure out from the race clocks what my actual time was (approximately). That was a tad irritating.

The First Half

The first half of the marathon went really well for me. I felt great and fell into a nice pace along with the crowd, which was quite large. This was the largest race I’ve ever participated in and it continually impressed me that the crowd didn’t thin out at all along the first 13.1 miles. The course took us through some really nice neighborhoods with large, elegant houses. The support along the way was tremendous with lots of people cheering us on, plenty of water stations and live bands playing music along the way. Among the runners were quite a few “colorful” characters, some dressed in crazy outfits, some dressed as the opposite gender, many with funny hats or tutus and people of all shapes and sizes. It was enough to keep you distracted from the run and the first half went along pretty fast.

I was expecting to see Aubrey and the kids somewhere aroung the 9 mile mark and the halfway mark, but neither of us had anticipated the staggered starting times so she ended up leaving before I got to her, thinking that I’d already run past. That was a little disappointing, but I could hardly blame her for missing me. I just went along and accepted the fact that I probably wouldn’t see her until the end.

Splitting Up

Approaching the halfway marks there was plenty of excitement as the signs pointed out the fact that we were nearing the end… of the half marathon. I took the merge for the full marathon and found that the crowd went from quite large, to only a few. There were about 10 people that I could count in my vicinity following the path. It was also funny that the sound died down almost instantly, from a lot of runners chattering and people cheering from the sides of the street to… nothing. I could actually hear my breathing.

The path from here was really nice as we ran parallel to the park which was the end of the course. As we wound down further the cheering groups reemerged, though there were definitely less of them.

The Wall

Jonathan at the Wall
Aubrey helping me out as I'm hitting "the wall"

I finally ran into Aubrey and the kids as I hit the portion of the race along Lake Pontchartrain. I took a break as they walked along with me and choked down some Perpetuem and Endurolytes. At this point my legs really started hurting and cramping. I took it easy until we got back to where they parked the van and then I continued on, or at least attempted to do so. My legs were screaming at this point and my hamstrings were cramping. After several yards I had to stop and sit on the side of the road for a bit and I was quite concerned that I would not be able to finish. After a few minutes of stretching and resting I got up and made myself continue. It hurt quite a lot, but after a few minutes the pain became less until finally they stopped cramping. Thank you, God! From this point on there was a lot more prayer and toil involved.

The run along the lake was nice, except for the completely open exposure to the sun and wind, of which there was much.

Crawling to the End

At around 4 miles out from the finish I really struggled to keep going. I felt like I was crawling, walking for a bit and then running a short while. At one point I started feeling dizziness and more cramping, signs that I recognized from my first marathon as dehydration and possible heat stroke. So I took some time to walk and take in a lot more fluids and Endurolytes. That actually helped and got rid of the dizziness. I can’t tell if the cramping went away or not, because at this point my entire body just hurt. My feet were crying for mercy, my legs were screaming to stop, my shoulders were knotted up… I was plain ole tired.

Happy Finish

Smiling Finish

I finally got to the final stretch, which made it’s way up to the front of a museum and then around to the back. As I turned around to the back side of the museum I saw the finish and made the final push to the end. I was hurting bad, but I knew it wasn’t serious so I was quite pleased and had a smile on my face as I made it over the finish line. The cheering was still plentiful, even though I was coming in at the back of the bus, and Aubrey and the kids were screaming and standing out from the crowd. Ah… I can stop running.

Where’s My Towel?

Aubrey and I talked about this afterwards, and I thought it was funny that one of the first things that I say to her after a big race is, “where’s my towel?” In my first marathon this was followed by a collapse, attention from medical personnel, an IV to the arm and a trip to the E.R. This time, however, I just needed to wipe the sweat out of my eyes. My goal for this marathon was to finish and not be incapacitated to the point of needing medical attention. Goal accomplished! My official time turned out to be 5 hours 54 minutes and 59 seconds. That is 4 minutes quicker than my first marathon, so I suppose it’s a new personnel best. I’m still a bit dissappointed and would really like to have a better time, but I’m glad that I did finish. I suppose I’ll just have to keep training. 🙂

A Broken Arm

Mommy and daughter in the E.R.

Ragan, our oldest daughter, had a run-in with gravity today… and gravity won. We were at Aubrey’s parent’s house today celebrating Aubrey’s mom’s birthday. It was later in the evening and the kids were out in the front yard playing in the small(ish) tree. The kids all came in yelling about Ragan having fallen out of the tree. So out we ran and when I reached Ragan she was crying and hysterical. After we got her to calm down a bit she let us know that she’d fallen on her hand and it hurt really bad. So, we got an ice pack for it and Aubrey and I took her to the emergency room (Santa Rosa Medical Center). They were very nice and got us through pretty quick. First off were some vitals, a bunch of questions and then a few X-Rays of the arm in question. A little more waiting and we got back to see the doctor.

They splinted it and gave her some pain medication and Aubrey is taking her to our pediatrician tomorrow. We were in and out in a couple of hours, which really isn’t that bad for an E.R. visit and Ragan is not feeling too terribly bad now. We were able to keep Aubrey’s parents informed via phone and texting and the rest of the world via Facebook. We thank you all for your kind words of encouragement, sympathy and of course your prayers.

The highlight of the E.R. visit, for me at least, was the old dude in the wheelchair who seemed to be either on drugs or a little off his rocker. He kept complaining that everything took too long and that the hospital needed to hire more help. He threatened to call Clinton and get him to take some action and that he new the hospital administrator. After he dropped a few profane words (no F-bombs) his wife (I’m assuming it was his wife) told him to keep it down and that there were children present. He started going on about not seeing any children when Aubrey chimed up and pointed out the fact that we were sitting there with our daughter. He was very apologetic about it, and then proceeded to bombard us with various stories and weird facts not all of which contained topics I would want to discuss with my children. I just tried to act like I was watching the television and prayed that he’d either quit talking to us or they’d call us back. The latter happened first and I was glad.

I suppose that’s not a very Christian attitude… sorry.

Status Quo… So Far

Tree Time Lapse

The gauntlet has been thrown down, the New Year’s Resolutions for 2012 made and the proverbial ball is in my court to do something about it. The trees in the picture above show a progression of the seasons and how they affect the tree. It’s basically the same, except for some surface changes in the leaf color and leaf volume. I feel like this year, so far, has been basically maintaining the status quo.

What should I be changing? Well, the main thing I wanted to change centered around putting God first… in everything. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” I really don’t feel like I’m currently doing that; I feel more like I’m just maintaining the status quo. Sure I started a read the bible in a year program, which I’m currently on track with. Other than that, though, I don’t feel like anything has changed. God hasn’t taken a larger role in my every day life than in 2011… at least not yet. I guess I’m writing this to be out in the open and hold myself accountable before the world (wide web) to never be content with being stagnant in my faith.

How are the other resolutions (goals) coming? I’m still training for the New Orleans marathon in March. I haven’t practiced any piano this year. I did, however, implement some cross training this week which will hopefully start working on the mid-section fat. Finally, we are still working on debt. We’re taking a bit of a step back because our oldest daughter just got braces today. That required a fairly large down payment, which we were able to pay without getting behind in our bills, and adds another payment to our list. I think that we are doing well in that area, though, and expect to keep striving towards the goal of being debt free.

2012 New Year’s Resolution(s)

Spock Cyclops

Ever hear that song, “The Future’s So Bright” by Timbuk 3? [Video] The catch phrase goes, “the future’s so bright I gotta wear shades.” That is a little of what I feel like looking forward to 2012. We have taken some excellent steps towards becoming debt free, I have a great job, I’m training for my second marathon, I’m growing closer and closer to God… it seems like a year of possibilities (at least at this moment).

So with further ado about nothing, here are my 2012 New Year’s Resolutions.

1. The Greatest Command

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”

Mark 12:28-31

I am not saying that I am a “law” man or a legalist. I fully believe that we are saved by grace through faith in Christ, and not from myself. It is a gift of God, not by works, so that none can boast. (Paraphrased from Ephesians 2:8-9).

However, living as Christ lived is a worthy enough goal. I’ve been stewing over this verse for the past 6 months or so and have decided that this is what I want to focus on this year.

What does it mean to love the Lord your God with all your heart? What does it mean to love the Lord your God with all your soulall your mindand all your strength? What does that type of love and devotion look like in my every day life? What does it look like in the morning before I’ve had my coffee? What does it look like when I’m frustrated with something at work? If I were to truly act out this commandment in my life, how would my priorities change or my life for that matter?

That’s it.

Don’t you think that one is big enough to be the only resolution for this year? lol I think so. I thought about listing some others here, just as a blogging placeholder, but they haven’t really changed from last year. So I’ll just list them out here more as “continuing goals” for this year. They are:

  1. Practice My Talents – More specifically, the piano
  2. Run in my second marathon
  3. Get rid of the gut – I mean it this time!
  4. Pay off debt – We are going to hammer on this one until the debt monster is finally dead!

Well, I hope you and yours have a very Happy New Year and an excellent start to 2012! God bless.

2011 Resolutions : Looking Back

Once again I find myself at the end of a year looking back on the resolutions I made at the start. How did I do? Was it worth setting any goals at all? Let’s have a look see.

Rear View Mirror

1. Die

The point of this resolution was to try to focus my attention and energies on dying to “self”. Did I succeed? Well, not completely. I don’t think this is one you can perfect during your lifetime, though, it certainly is a worthwhile goal. So how much did I grow in this area? To be honest, I don’t have any clue. I know that God promises that He will finish the work that He began in me.

…he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Philippians 1:6

I’m glad that God is control of the progress, though I do realize that I have a responsibility to live my life “in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Philippians 1:27).

2. Practice My Talents

This one centered mainly around practicing the piano. How did I do? Fail. I totally did not spend any extra time practicing, other than the time required to prepare for Sunday mornings.

3. Marathon #2

Also a fail, though not entirely my fault. Right after my first marathon I was clowning around with my kids and ended up with a stress fracture, so I was not able to run for quite some time. I was able to get back into training by April, however, the time off was more of a setback then I thought it would be. I did manage to run another half marathon, though, and am currently training for my next marathon.

4. Get Rid of the Gut

Miserable fail! I think it actually got bigger. Nuf said.

5. Pay Off Debt

Success! No, we did not pay off all of our debt. However, I can proudly announce that the only debt we have left is our student loans, the car payment and a small-ish medical debt. Once we decided to get on board with Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University and truly get focused, God came along side us and helped us to pay off way more than I could have anticipated.

Well, that’s it for last year. So long, 2011, you were good to us.

2011 New Year’s Resolutions

Happy New Year! It is once again that time; time to make resolutions, promises and goals that we’ll never keep. I’m sure all of the health clubs out there love January because of the most likely number one resolution made: lose weight. I considered skipping this year, but I’ve been doing this for several years now and have actually made good progress towards goals that I wanted to keep. So here I am once again, making my list. Without further ado.

1. Die

Yes, you read it right. My number one resolution this year is die, but not in the natural, mortality sense. I hope to work this year on dying to my self (not myself but my “self”).

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?
Luke 9:23 – 25

That was Jesus speaking… you know God incarnate, the creator of the universe and everything in it. What does that mean, “take up their cross daily”? The cross was the means of carrying out Jesus’ death sentence. So we must kill ourselves every day? In Romans it says:

…count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Romans 6:11

So what does it mean to “count yourselves dead to sin”? I’m positive that I don’t have the complete picture. I do know that I love God and want to be in His perfect will, so I will be striving to live this out in my life. How? By attempting to put myself aside. By considering others higher than myself. By serving the needs of my wife, my children, my family, my friends, my church. We humans are extremely self-serving creatures. God knows that this is destructive in our lives and He asks us to lay it aside so that He can give us life more abundantly.

2. Practice My Talents

…more specifically, the piano. God has given us all talents and we should be striving for excellence in those talents, whether that means serving people, encouraging people, administering, cleaning or playing the piano. I have realized that I play the piano every Sunday (almost) and have gotten somewhat lax (ok, completely lax) in my practice. I don’t take regular time to fine tune the talent that I use to praise and worship my God and King. I am resolving to fix that this year and make it a regular habit of practicing my instrument.

3. Marathon #2!

Yes, I completed my very first marathon this past year (November 14, 2010). That is the health/fitness goal that I am most proud of. This year I would like to repeat the feat. However, my new goal for this year will be to complete the marathon and NOT collapse at the end resulting in an E.R. visit. Of course that means I need to get back on my feet and start training again, but I’ve had some physical setbacks via my right foot being injured.

4. Get Rid of the Gut

I seriously thought last year that training for and completing a marathon (26.2 miles) would result in this stupid gut or spare tire disappearing from my midsection. Seriously! I was woefully mistaken, however, and the gut remains. So while last year I quietly included this into the “running a marathon” goal, it gets its very own resolution this year. This also means that I will need to specifically target my midsection with exercise that is not just running. Look out six pack abs, here I come!

5. Pay Off Debt

This will continue to be a resolution until it is all gone. I absolutely hate being in debt to other people and count myself as a slave to creditors, without financial freedom, until such time as I pay that last bill and shed the shackles of debt. We have done well this past year, but I plan on attacking debt with a vengeance this year. It needs to get gone!

So there you have it, my 2011 New Year’s Resolutions. Do you have any resolutions this year?