Friday, November 28, 2008

The Weather Channel Half Marathon

Some people are born to run...they've got chicken legs, a fast metabolism, and no body fat. Some people are born to run to the front of the line at the Pizza Hut buffet...tree trunk legs, a lazy metabolism, and Homer Simpson's upper body do not a runner make. I'm pretty sure I fall into the category of the latter, but my sister had the idea for her, my dad, and me to sign up for the Weather Channel Half Marathon in Atlanta on Thanksgiving Day...and being one for crazy ideas/overzealous goals, I decided to give it a shot. The race started at 7:00AM...and if you know me, you know I'm not a morning person, so getting going that early was going to be a challenge in itself, so I decided that while I was running, I'd make mental notes as I ran and do my best shot at a running here we go!

5:00 AM: Wake up feeling sorta cocky
5:30: Eat 2 bagels and drink coffee
5:35: Read that eating a breakfast high in fiber the morning of the a half marathon is a bad idea...
6:00: Understand why it's a bad idea
6:30: Get dropped off at the race site along with my Dad and Sister(both running) by my brother in law...who has planned to go immediately after to a place called "Grandma's Biscuits"
6:45: Angie asks us what our favorite Thanksgiving dish take our mind off the fact that we're freezing...Dad and I both have an answer involving gravy.
6:46: Wonder if gravy is a typical pre-half marathon discussion topic.
7:00: Suddenly want a "Grandma's Biscuit
7:08: The race starts! (maybe I'll get warm)
Mile Marker 1: Feel like the 1st mile went by quickly...also I'm amused by the people all around me who wore layers and are now throwing them on the side of the street
Mile 2.5: a Waffle House to my left and a Dunkin Doughnuts to my right taunt me with scents of hash browns, filled doughnuts, and waffles....I must really like high fiber breakfasts...
Mile 2.6: McDonalds follows and I remember the time I finished second in a cheeseburger eating contest...I then mentally curse all the fast food burgers I've ever eaten for adding this extra weight...especially the 13 I ate that day (yes, I'm mad I didn't win)
Mile 4: A bunch of Marines pass me...they're wearing boots and carrying flags...I feel like a pansy
Mile 4.3: Inexplicably, I catch the Marines...I feel less like a pansy
Mile 4:4: Realize that they slowed down because one had to pee...then they all pass me and speed off...I feel like a pansy
Mile 5: Finish a climb up a's the only one of the day...I feel great!
Mile 6: They're giving away some sort of energy jelly beans...I like free stuff, so I grab em.
Mile 6.1: Wonder how in the world I thought I had gone up the only hill as I stare at the base of what seems like Mt. Kilimanjaro
Mile 6.3: The hill is not my friend and realize that I'm only halfway through.
Mile 7: Finish the hill and remember I want to climb Kilimanjaro one I throw a jelly bean up in the air and catch it in my mouth on the run...secretly I hope someone saw me
Mile 8: high five a giant chicken
Mile 8.5: A little girl whiffs me on a high five...
Mile 9: loving my ipod shuffle..."Viva la Vida" finishes and "Bad Day" starts...draw your own conclusions...I was too tired to do so.
Mile 9.5: have stopped all humorous thoughts
Mile 10: start to hate running...its concept and its practice
Mile 10.5: realize that my shoes were tied too tight...I quickly blame every one of my flaws, all the current pain, and the economic recession on that minor fact.
Mile 11: want to knees are toast and my ankles feel like toothpicks connecting my legs to my feet.
Mile 11.5: fat guy passes me...I'm impressed
Mile 12: Tom Petty's "The Waiting is the Hardest Part" starts...he's right.
Mile 12.4: see Olympic rings ahead at the finish...holy crap...I just might finish this thing
Mile 12.6: pass the fat guy
Mile 12.7: wonder if the fat guy just thought "hey, that fat guy just passed me"
Mile 13: pass the Olympic rings and see the finish line
Mile 13.1: wobbly legged, sore, but all in all feeling good, finish in 2:14:33
9 minutes later: Dad finishes...60 years old and he just whooped a half marathon...I thank him for inherited good genes/stubbornness/determination
7 minutes after that: Angie was her idea...I thank her for the great idea/motivation
10:00 AM: we climb in the car and ride home...someone suggests Krispy Kreme...I don't object :o)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

National Missionary Convention- Tulsa, OK

Hey guys,
I spent 5 days last week/weekend at the National Missionary Convention in Tulsa, OK. Every year, NMSI has a booth at the convention where we spend time networking and recruiting. Since my new role is Director of Summer Internships, it was important for me to be at the NMC to meet potential interns. I was blessed to have a lot of great conversations with missionaries, potential missionaries, friends, college professors, and pretty much everyone in between. From your typical productivity standpoint, the conference was great considering we had a large amount of people interested at NMSI. However, the way NMSI measures productivity is different from the way most of us do. Growth is not a core value of NMSI. Let me say that again…growth is not a core value. We do not exist to grab people and send them on the mission field. We exist to help people realize the dream, vision, or ministry that God has given them. This philosophy is a big reason that I am here. We’re not in competition with other mission organizations either. If someone is better suited with another organization, then great. We want them to go work with the other group and be blessed in their endeavors.

For example, a man approached me and asked what we were about. After a brief discussion, he asked “Are you a Christian Church mission?” I responded that we consider ourselves a New Testament ministry, and I am from a Christian Church background, but we have affiliates that are from a wide variety of denominations. Visibly irritated, he simply said “so you’re interdenominational…” and walked off. So, NMSI isn’t the place for this man…though I didn’t entirely appreciate his response, I (and the rest of us) want this man to find a place that is a good fit for him, and wish him the best of God’s blessings. So I’m proud to represent NMSI…and the NMC was a great venue.

Since the NMC was in Tulsa, I thought you might appreciate a few random facts/observations.
*Tulsa is the 45th largest city in the US
*Tulsa has the nickname “Oil Capitol of the World”
*Trying to find food or convenience items in downtown Tulsa is like trying to find a penguin in Florida
*The Doubletree hotel gives you a free cookie when you check in…they will also give you more of these check in cookies if you’re nice and smile
*Tulsa’s wind can stop you in your tracks
*Tulsa is called the “Buckle of the Bible Belt”
*The new BOK center is state of the art and looks like a place where a NBA team should play
*We were not in the BOK center
*We were in the Tulsa Convention Center
*The Tulsa Convention Center has seen better days...

Hope you enjoyed the random facts! I’m running a ½ marathon on Thanksgiving…you’ll hear about that soon!

Happy Thanksgiving y’all.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Lights will guide you home, and ignite your bones

It’s not everyday that one of the world’s biggest bands plays a concert 2 hours away. Also, it pretty much is everyday that missionaries are without the expendable $100 or so to go to such a concert. So, you ask, what is the solution to this quandary? How bout we go for free!
Determined, 4 of us set out to Fort Lauderdale to find cheap tickets for Sunday night’s Coldplay concert. In the past, I’ve had great luck getting into football games by purchasing tickets from people outside the gate (with the notable exception of Steelers vs. Bengals in 2005), so we figured we’d give it a shot.
After a few fruitless hours of scaplers saying things like “You’re not getting in for under $150...this ain’t the Grateful Dead,” or more harsh words like “you may as well go home,” we finally caught a few breaks. The opening act was almost finished and tickets were still selling for absurd amounts…it looked bleak…and then my buddy Ryan hit the jackpot. First, a man who was late, and in a rush to get in sold his extra pair of seats for $40. Moments later, another person handed him 2 tickets, and as he wrote on a piece of paper said “hey, check out website.” (it happened to be a concert review site)
So there it was…4 tickets to Coldplay for $10 each. Let me say the obvious…they rocked. I don’t know what it is about British guys, but they always seem cooler than those of us who aren’t. If something is said in a British accent, I tend to give the statement immediate credibility. (sort of the opposite effect of my accent)
Anyway, for nearly 2 hours, Coldplay was flawless…their driving chord progressions, insightful lyrics, and varied instrumentation mesmerized 20,000 people. I’m convinced that “Fix You” is the most uplifting sad song ever. Viva La Vida was brilliant as well…it wonderfully depicts the futility of man’s adoration of other men.
Getting to go was great…but “nobody said it was easy.”
Back to deeper thoughts soon…

Friday, November 7, 2008

Election thoughts

I'm not a terribly politically charged person. I'm a person who has strong opinions, but at the same time, I don't see the world as entirely black and white. You'll never hear me say that I'm a Democrat...nor will you ever hear me say that I am a Republican. (That statement is probably enough to keep me from ever being elected to public office)

That being said, I've been truly surprised by much of the reaction I've seen regarding the results of our election (from both sides). I don't care who you voted for. As a former pastor/current missionary, I feel some sort of unspoken obligation to have a firm stance supporting one of the two candidates...and not only that, but I feel like I should have specific Biblical convictions making the choice black and white. However, here I see no black and white...I see positives and negatives on both that unspoken obligation is not fulfilled.

Anyway, here is what saddens me:
Christians saying that Obama could be the anti-Christ.
Christians saying that Obama is the savior.
(and other statements of similar nature to each of these)

Each are usually said tongue in cheek, but I've come to learn that if you say something with sarcasm, it's what you really mean but don't have the guts to say.

Do we feel like our political party (either one or neither one...follow me?) is the one that sides with God? Do we feel that our nation is the one that God prefers?

So here's what I think...I think we have a little too much American pride. Let's not forget that Nationalism is caused 2 world wars and countless smaller ones. Essentially, the thought that "our culture is better than yours" has caused countless deaths, injustices, and atrocities.

I remember one night in Kenya, sitting around a fire and talking to another guy in his early twenties...I knew him only as "Ole'." We talked for a while about America, Africa, their differences and their similarities. He said he felt like Americans thought they were better than everyone else. I immediately took offense and told him we didn't...and specifically that I didn't. His response resonated with me "It's because you follow Jesus," he said. "That's why you don't feel that way."

Maybe it is.

Let me say that I'm not dissing our country here...not by any means. I'm saying that our ties to Christ must be stronger than our ties to our nation or our political parties.

So there's my soapbox. If you follow Christ you should feel ok...because God ultimately has the future in his hands. Amidst economic disaster, natural disaster, and global disorder Christ is supreme.

Jesus is our only savior, and may we only boast in Him.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Back home and back to FL

First of all, sorry I have not posted in a while...I'd say I was able to see a good number of those of you who read this during my 10 days back in Tennessee. But if you're not among that group (or even if you are), I thought I'd let you know what I've been up to.

I spent the 10 days home in Tennessee, working toward getting 100% support. I was privileged to speak in Knoxville at Thorn Grove Christian Church, at Oakwood Forest Christian Church in Kingsport (where I grew up), and at Life Bridge Christian Church in Kingsport.

My friends and the congregations were very supportive and took genuine interest in NMSI and my ministry within the organization. Each meeting was a blessing, and I left feeling encouraged.

While I was home, two things truly stood out to me:
1. I have a great family
2. I have great friends

I know that for some, the idea of getting together with family does little more than cause frustration and create ulcers. With my family, it's not that way at all. I'm blessed by parents, siblings, nephews, and nieces that I truly love...and love me back. We may all not agree on politics, church, or some other issues that tend to divide...and the great thing is, that's ok. Whether or not we love and care for each other has nothing to do with opinion or action. Love is deeper than difference. Maybe this is some bragging, but really...I'm blessed to see good marriages modeled by my parents, and each of my siblings and their spouses. So I can't wait til Thanksgiving!

My friends are great. Maybe this is more bragging, but I really am blessed by a great/eclectic group of friends. During my time back in Tennessee, I was able to spend time with a variety of friends. I just want to take a moment though to talk about one of my best friends, Chris Morgan. Chris and I go way back...I mean, we were in church Christmas plays when we were kids, we played high school football together, and I was proud to be the best man in his wedding to Emily. A few months ago, Chris found out he had a malignant brain tumor which required an operation. I encourage you to check out Chris's story at this website:

My thoughts on Chris, his friendship, his recovery are another post entirely, but for now I merely want to say that Chris is doing so well, and being able to spend time with him while I was in Tennessee was great. We were even able to go to the Tennessee-Alabama game last week. Even though the Vols aren't so good, we had a blast...and it was great to spend time with my friend...who by the grace of God is getting better every day!

Thanks again for checking up on my blog...I'll have some election thoughts tomorrow. They probably will not be what you expect!