All Saint’s Day

574797_3631959845175_594874501_nEven though I am a day late writing this, I wanted to share it with anyway.

November the first is All Saint’s Day. This is a religious holiday that was created as a response to All Hallow’s Eve, or Halloween as we know and celebrate it. All Saint’s Day commemorates those who have attained sainthood as a response to the commemoration of the dead (and presumably evil spirits) which happens on Halloween. Unless you are Catholic, you probably have no idea what this holiday is about.

November 1, also happens to be my mom’s birthday. I was afforded a special treat and had her at my house on her birthday this year and I was able to celebrate it with her. I don’t recall the last time I was in her presence on her birthday. Before you brand me a bad son, keep in mind we live 500 miles a part. We had a joyous time joking that the day is called All Saint’s Day thanks to her being born on that day. We tried our best to make her feel special and celebrate her.

What I want to share with you, is not thoughts on Halloween or All Saint’s Day… I want to share a few thoughts on my mom. As most sons will tell you, their mother is the best mom and I am no exception. She is the best mom I could have hoped for or wanted or deserved. I’m not sure how she put up with me all these years, because if as a child I was anything like I am as an adult I am sure I was challenging. There are many things my mom has taught me, but three things stand out to me.

  1. She taught me to never give up. This may seem simple, but it really isn’t. There are many times throughout our lives where we will want to give in, to throw in the towel, to just give up. I have seen my mother deal with some very difficult situations and to take on responsibilities that are very heavy and overwhelming to her. But each day she never gives up. She continues through the difficulty, through the hardship and through the toughness. My mom taught me, that no matter difficulty or obstacle is in front of you you must overcome it, you take it head on and you must not give up.
  2. She has taught me the power of enjoying the little moments of life. No matter what is going on around you, there is never not enough time to enjoy those you love. There is always time to share an experience, to snap a photo, to slow down and enjoy the little things which bring joy to those around us. Enjoying the little moments keeps us from getting uptight and upset about trivial details which don’t matter anyway. She taught me to not get hung up on little inconveniences when they result because we allow kids to be kids.
  3. She has taught me above all else, never stop trusting God. Each of us have experiences and encounters which lead us to question and wonder where God was in the midst of our pain. Why would he allow us to suffer? Why wouldn’t he step in and stop this from happening? Why? Despite these questions and pondering, we must not stop trusting that he is our father and that he loves us and that is still in control of the things happening around us. She has been an example of trusting God through the good times, the easy times, the bad times and the utterly difficult and unthinkable times.

My mom is an unsung hero in my life. These aren’t the only things she has taught me… it would be impossible to write everything I have learned from her. But these highlight the character and essence of who my mother is: a Godly woman, a woman who is able to find joy amongst the whirlwind and a woman who will never stop. These are characteristics I try to cultivate in my life and hope to cultivate in lives of my boys.

I love you, mom. Thanks for being who God created you to be. Thanks for being my mom.

Leg 2 – Roan Mountain State Park

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As we prepared for Father’s Day this year I was excited to be able to spend it with my dad – I can’t remember the last time I did that. We had roast beast for lunch and I enjoyed being able to see my dad on Father’s Day. After lunch, we loaded up the car and headed out of town for the camping expedition.

It was not without excitement.

What should have been a 4.5 hour trip turned into a 6 hour trip. We only got lost once. My consolation in getting lost, was that my dad also got when he came to meet us on Monday. We finally rolled into the campground a round 10:30 Sunday night.

Our new tent went up without incident and we were setting up camp like pros. We got camp organized and ready to go for Monday. We went to bed, electing to set up the canopy over the table when we awoke the next morning.

Yep, it rained during the night. Yep, that means everything got wet. Chairs, table, canopy, everything. Not too worry, it never got warm enough Monday to dry stuff out. It’ll be ok, it’s suppose to rain more on Tuesday.

Our canopy went up easy as well and we had a good day. Dad showed up a little before supper and we got things going & grilled steak. Its time to wind down and get ready for bed. We have one last run to civilization to make to get a cell signal to check on our house situation and post this.

Lesson for today – it is fun sharing your childhood with your kiddos.

Leg 1 – Athens

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Well we made it.

Friday saw us completing the first leg of our journey and rolling into Athens, Ga. We left, later than we planned, on Thursday and made it most of the way stopping in Ashland, Ga. for the night at a hotel. Ronda as pretty adamant about us stopping and not going the whole way to Athens due to how late we left Thursday. We got to the hotel at around 1 am, after I had been withholding judgment as to whether we were going to stay somewhere or not. I would have gone the whole, if I had thought I was able to stay awake to get us here. Around midnight, I decides it was going to be a better move to stay the night. So we did. As it turns out, Ronda was right.

So we got up Friday morning and the boys and I ate the continental breakfast while Ronda got ready to go. We grabbed her some Waffle House to go and headed to my parent’a house arriving just in time to eat breakfast for lunch. Honestly, it was considerably better than the breakfast we had eaten. We hung out at the house enjoying my mom & dad, my bro & his kids and one of my sisters.

My parents live about a half mile from my elementary school, and it has trails behind it in some woods so Ronda and I squeezed in a brief trail run before supper. These woods hold a special place in my heart because I used to walk on them while a student at the school and after undergrad we used to ride our mountain bikes back there. There was a crazy storm Thursday that obliterated several of the trails. I always enjoy sharing my history with my wife. It was great fun to run with her back there.

After the run, we enjoyed mom’s famous tacos followed by a fire & s’mores. After baths, we headed over to Ronda’s sister’s house for the night. I got to hang out with my bro in-law, Justin, and my bro some more.

Now it is way past my bedtime and I should be asleep, but I am sharing my journey with you. Tomorrow, we are going to a park I used to frequent whirl growing up in Athens. So far, this trip has lived up to my expectations & hopes of being epic… and the camping hasn’t even started yet!

Good night.

A Family Vacation of Epic Proportions

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Our family trip last year spanned 11 states in 8 days and covered 3000 miles. This year’s trip is planned to be a little more manageable. We are going to be staying put a little more, with our stops being a longer each place. Our travel will take us through less states, with us stopping to stay in only 2 – Tennessee & Pennsylvania. This in no way effects the epic-ness of it.

We are going to camp for 5 days at Roan Mountain State Park in East Tennessee. My family used to camp here when I was my boys’ age. Yep, we gotta get a week’s worth of camping gear up to Tennessee from Florida. We are talking about taking our kayaks too. Wow. We are an adventurous, audacious lot aren’t we?

Today we are cleaning house, going through our gear and beginning to pack up. This pre-travel day really counts as the first day of the trip since we are gearing up. My plan is to post daily a journal of our trip. Each day will no doubt bring its challenges, excitement and adventure.

I can’t wait!

Epic 30 Day Challenge

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In June last summer I started a challenge to myself – I challenged myself to write, read the Bible & some form of exercise everyday for 30 days. I did this as we were gearing up for our family vacation.

Today, finds me doing the same thing – gearing up (literally) for a 10 day trip that involves multiple states and camping for about 5 days. I’m not sure if I’m embarking on the same challenge I made last year, but I do know this is a good excuse to starting writing again… I can at least journal our epic trip and share with you my experiences.

Get ready to join with us as we travel!

My Bucket List is a Little Lighter

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I don’t know if I have an ‘official’ bucket list. But if I do, there are two things I have removed from it this year.

The first was making a Jehovah’s Witness blush.

And the second was running a 1/2 marathon. Yep, that’s right 13.1 miles.

My cousin gave me the inspiration to run an ‘unofficial’ 1/2 marathon this year when he did so on his birthday. Since then, I have been looking for a good day to do it and yesterday seemed as good as any.

I realize at 35 there is still a few things in my life that I seek my father’s approval for, and running is one of them. My dad was down, so I thought he could share in this accomplishment if I ran it while he was down.

I also realized that 13.1 miles is about as far as I want to run right now.

I have been running for the last week or so a 7.25 mile loop. I thought to myself, I can run most of that twice and get 13.1 miles. So I did.

Prior to yesterday, 7.5 miles was my longest run of the year and 10 miles was the longest run I have ever run. I was pleased to break both of those yesterday.

As I thought through my running over the last 14 days, I see that I have logged some good miles: 42.1 miles in 5 runs. I am satisfied with that.

After I completed the run, Ronda was like are you going to run that again next week. I quickly replied no. But as I sit here and write this, I feel like running it again before the end of the year isn’t out of the question. I could do it again. Running is beginning to reclaim its place in my life as something that is valuable and must be done. For several years, running was my preferred method of therapy. Counseling gets expensive after awhile and running is cheaper. So I ran. Over the last several years, running has been there when I needed it most.

In January when I started making goals for running for this year I would have never envisioned running a 1/2 marathon this year. Now I have. And next year, won’t be safe from me challenging myself to run more than on 1/2 marathon. Beyond all my expectations, a full marathon may not be out of the question.

It’s only 26.2 miles.

That’s not that far…

Skinned Knees

I have realized as a parent there are at lease two responses we can have when our children hurt themselves.

First, we can yell at and berate them for not listening to us and thereby injuring themselves. Because we know that if they had just listened to us then they would not have hurt themselves. If they would realize that we are actually looking out for their good  they would see that we only want the best for them.

A second response is to pick them up and cuddle them until they stop crying. It doesn’t matter they didn’t listen, because what does matter is they are hurt.

I’m not necessarily arguing for one response over the other, but I am arguing for a loving attitude versus one that belittles the child making them feel worthless. It is very easy for us as parents to think we are parenting constructively, but in reality parent deconstructively and in a hurtful way.

Our kids need to know that it is safe in our arms. It is safe for them to be hurt in our arms. It is safe for them to run to us when they are hurt. I often wonder what message I am sending to my children. Am I letting them know it is ok to get hurt, even if they do what I have warned them not to do? Or do I communicate, they are stupid for getting hurt?

There is a time and a place to remind our children that if that had not done what we warned against they would not be hurt. But it needs to be done in a loving, caring sort of way. Not a ‘well if you had listened this never would have happened kind of way’. That may be true, but does it help the learning experience in the moment? Probably not.

I am trying to ask myself with each response to my kids, am I loving on them or making them feel little? I don’t always measure up. But I want them to know I love them, even when they don’t listen. Especially, when they don’t listen and get hurt.

Skinned knees are a time to love and heal not belittle and put down.

HMW Run 3

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High Mileage Week Run 3

As you may remember, I am attempting to complete four 7.25 mile runs between 12.4 & 12.10.

I have completed 3 of them.

Today’s stats:
First mile: 8:18
Slowest mile: 8:42 (mile 5)
Fastest mile: 8:09 (mile 7)
Total time: 61.23
Average pace: 8:28/mile

This is a unique time for me and running. In the last 9 days I’ve run 29 miles with another 7.25 mile run planned on Monday. That will make five 7.25 mile runs in 11 days for a total of 36.25 in the same time.

This is significant for a few reasons.
1) this is the first time I’ve run that far this consistently.
2) the four runs in December will be inside a 7 day period which will make for the most miles I’ve ever logged in a week. My previous high is 26.5 miles, a distance I will beat by 2.5 miles. That may not impress you, but it does me.
3) this mind of mileage puts me on track to have the highest mileage month of the year.
4) I can still salvage this year and have decent mileage overall. As of today I have about 560 miles for the year. My initial goal was 1000. Then I backed it off to 750 (realizing I haven’t run consistently for about 2 years). Then I sorta just hoped to get 500 (after the summer my running took a dive and Aug.-Oct. sucked mileage wise). I should be able to log at least 625 miles for the year and with any luck I may get 650. I would be happy with either of those numbers.

Now you know more about my running than you cared to. It’s not my fault, you’re the one reading this!

End of Era

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2 weeks ago I ended an era.

I sold Mad Max…

I sold my motorcycle.

It was months in the coming. In the last 9 months at least, I can only remember one time that I rode the thing and at that it broke down on me.

It needed tons of work, it leaked oil in my carport and it was unreliable.

It was a symbol more than it was a motorcycle. I clung to the symbol of a time that didn’t exist anymore.

What does this mean for you? For a time, there will be no posts about motorcycles. I have removed the ‘motorcycles’ page from the site. You can still read all the posts on motorcycles I have written, just the motorcycles category and have fun re-living the glory days.

Don’t lament for me (I feel an uncontrollable urge to burst into a Madonna-Esque rendition of ‘Don’t cry for my Argentina’ right now).

In coming months/years when financial stability affords itself to my family another bike is in the works. Back to the bike that captivated my soul and stole my heart… a Sportster. The last time I had one, Ronda called it my mistress. I’ve got my eyes set on a particular model of Sportster and I’m already scheming the mods. It will be glorious.

Anyway, enjoy these last two photos of Mad Max I will ever take (the one above and the featured photo you don’t see in this post).