COVID-19 A Turning Point

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October 29, 2020 will be a day I won’t forget. First, it was my 55th birthday. My birthday in the midst of a pandemic. The previous four days were busy. I went to church Sunday morning October 25. We had a great church small group meeting that night. 12 of us in attendance. We had food. Spent time in the Word. And finished the night watching The Chosen.

That week was going to be busy. I’m the president of Keys for Kids Ministries. Thursday, November 12 was our biggest fundraiser of the year. I had TONS of video to shoot. Many details to iron out. Matching funds to raise. Monday and Tuesday were spent in an out of the office. Wednesday, I decided I would shoot my part of the video at church. All went well. Then, I get a call from my office. “Are you coming in today? We’re having a surprise birthday party for you and if you’re not here all this pizza and cake will go to waste.” So, I traveled to my office for some festivities. We did a lot of laughing. That night, I went back to church for my men’s Bible study. I lingered a little while afterward talking to friends and delivering special Harvest edition Keys for Kids devotionals to people who wanted to hand them out to trick-or-treaters. I went to bed and all was well — until I woke up on my birthday.

I woke myself up coughing in the early morning hours. I typically get a cold this time of year. Usually, however, it starts with a sore throat, lots of congestion, then it settles into my chest for weeks of coughing. THIS time is STARTED with a productive cough and nothing else. Because it was my birthday, I took the day off. My plan was to run six miles when I got up. But, I just didn’t feel right. By noon, I had an irritating head ache. By 7:00pm I had a 102 temp. And, the coughing was worse. I was sick. Was it a cold, or COVID-19? Not feeling TOO bad I had my birthday dinner at home. Then, I went to bed — freezing cold.

Friday, it was worse. Chills, cough, fever, headache. My wife said, “Maybe you should be tested.” I agreed. The soonest I could be tested was Saturday, October 31 at 5:20 pm. When I arrived at Zeeland Community Hospital I was directed to drive to a white pop-up tent where the samples were taken. They stuck a long Q-tip type swab in my nose, stuck it as far back as they could, swabbing the very back part of my sinus. It seemed endless. I kept thinking, “This is not fun. Are you done yet?” It was finally competed and I was on my way.

My symptoms kept getting worse over the weekend. I lost taste and smell on Saturday. I was coughing like crazy. It was keeping me wake at night. My fever was up and down. The Tylenol was keeping the fever at bay. But I felt terrible. By Monday November 2, I was feeling bad enough that I called the doctor. They suggested I go to Urgent care because my coughing was so bad. Since my test hadn’t come back yet, they treated me for my symptoms, NOT COVID-19. I received an Albuterol inhaler, a prednisone steroid, and cough medicine. Then, they sent me home instructing me to go to the ER if my breathing become labored, my fever went over 103. That night I discovered I was COVID-19 positive.

My fever went away November 3, election day. I was only able to vote because of an emergency absentee ballot request. Because I was feeling a bit better, I thought I was recovering. I was feeling well enough to work from home. Since we had a major fundraising event I HAD to finish some logistics up so we could be ready for it. Each day I felt like I was improving. I had self-quarantined myself upstairs. My wife downstairs — sleeping on the couch. I allowed myself to go into the kitchen, but I had to wipe EVERYTHING down before I left. We were extremely careful. My wife NEVER got it.

Fast-forward to Saturday, November 7, I was a mess. I was coughing SO HARD I was seeing stars and I had pulled a muscle in my stomach. I felt so out of breath. But still no new fever. Since Ann was visiting the other side of the state to stay away from me so she wouldn’t get it, I drove myself. Long story short. O2 levels were good. Heart was fine. Breathing treatment was required and sent me home again.

Again, I rallied all weekend. I was doing better each day. I had enough strength to finish the fundraising video for our November 12 event. Things were moving forward. But Monday, November 9th the wheels. I was just SO lethargic. Light headed. Coughing continued (that never stopped). I just kept getting worse. The fear was so intense. For the first time in my life I was depressed. I told God that if He wanted to take me He could, but I wasn’t going to do it. The anxiety that filled me was so great. I felt like a huge dark cloud was going to smother me with oppression. I couldn’t see any way out.

What got me out of it? Friends and family pointing me to Christ. With the incredible emotion I was feeling I posted my prayer need on Facebook. The responses to my request for prayer on November 13 was phenomenal. Here was a portion of my post that day:

What a journey this has been. For those that don’t know I contracted covid-19 symptoms on my birthday, Oct 29…Coughing has been awful. Yesterday was the first day I could say “I’m starting to feel better.” This has been a butt kicker. I’m still having a few coughing fits. I hope I’m turning the corner (as I type from my bed). Emotionally I’m a mess. I’m an utter mess. I could really use your prayers. I am lonely, sad, frustrated, scared, and emotionally spent. To think we won’t have thanksgiving with my family has me heart broken (I love family get-togethers). Yet, I’m thankful that God has gotten me this far in the recovery. He’s spared me from so much worse. So, I post all this to ask you to pray for me. Any words of encouragement would be so meaningful right now. Thank you friends!

And people responded. Some called me. 280+ people left comments. What I would have done without those comments? I don’t know. But I know God used them to help start me on a journey. I could hardly stop crying, I was so distraught. Why? Because God was using COVID-19 to reveal the idols in my life. I came to grips with sin in my life that needed to be addressed. It also uncovered a lack of grief for unsaved people. It exposed my lack of passion for discipleship — especially in kids and teens. AND I believe God revealed to me a HUGE hole we have at Keys for Kids Ministries. That is the lack of any training material to help train parents how to lead their families to Jesus and help them grow in their faith.

I remember the turning point like it was yesterday. I was sitting in my home office, looking out the window, and I could hardly see because the tears in my eyes. I was so full of grief because of my exposed sin (lack of faith), the lack of urgency to lead friends and family to Jesus. Why wasn’t I more concerned about that? Why didn’t I have a plan or strategy? Why was I even the president of Keys for Kids Ministries if I wasn’t more grieved for lost people and more passionate about discipleship? Out of that remorse told God, “I don’t want to live like this anymore. I want to be as grieved about lost people as I am about those dying with cancer. I want to be as passionate about discipleship as I am about strategizing a strategic plan for Keys for Kids Ministries. And, I want to love people better. God, I JUST WANT TO KNOW YOU MORE! MORE, AND MORE!”

That’s when I started digging into to the Word and really studying it. That’s when I made a list of people I need to share Jesus with. They’re dying without him. They NEED to know Him. I started thinking through how Keys for Kids Ministries can help parents be better discipleship coaches of the kids. And, began strategizing and planning for what training material will look likes as we attempt to train parents to evangelize, disciple, and lead their families in the walk with the Lord.

I wouldn’t wish COVID-19 on anyone, unless you’re anything like me and you needed it to rock your spiritual world. I needed it. I needed the fear. I needed the anxiety. I needed God’s discipline in pointing out my sin and how it keeps the Spirit from working effectively in my life. It uncovered flaws in my character that I need to address. And it revealed something I wasn’t looking for. But now its clear.

Moody Radio Grand Rapids was interested in my COVID-19 story and did an interview with me. My side of the audio is a little strange. I sound like I’m in the witness protection plan.

https://www.moodyradio.org/programs/morning-shows/perry-and-shawna/2020/12/2020.12.11-re-creation/

COVID19: uncertainty or opportunity

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COVID-19These are uncertain times. The Coronavirus has upended our entire lives. Many people aren’t working. Kids are home from school. Church services have been cancelled. We’re now having virtual church services. On the positive side we’re now spending more time with our families than ever before. The words “I’m too busy” are absent from our vocabulary.

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High school seniors are struggling with the rest of their senior year cancelled.

High school seniors won’t be going to prom, awards ceremonies, and graduation. Athletes were forced to give up their winter tournament schedule. Their spring schedule never got started. They’re scared, angry, sad, and some are depressed because their senior year is NOT what they expected. College seniors are facing similar frustrations. Spring term was cancelled. Their room and board fees aren’t being refunded. They don’t have enough credits to graduate, so that cancelled or delayed commencement ceremony doesn’t mean much after all.

Fear and anxiety can be debilitating. It can cause us to just to silent – praying all this will come to an end. Guess what? This too shall pass. “What”, you say? Yes, this season of our lives will come to an end and we’ll move on to the next problem. The question is, how will the Coronavirus crisis define us?

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Family spending time together reading God’s word.

As followers of Christ, we can’t be silent during these times of uncertainty. Ignoring these situations means forgoing an opportunity to share Christ. I’m not talking about sharing Christ with the people across the street, or around the world. I mean sharing Christ with OUR KIDS. They’re struggling to make sense of it all. They’re afraid. Anxiety is running rampant. Our top priority should be to make Christ followers of our kids. That’s discipleship. Our kids must be our top priority.

I can’t help but be reminded of the Old Testament story of Queen Esther who God used to deliver the Jews from genocide. Esther 4:14 are the words of Mordecai, Esther’s uncle and mentor. He counseled her against keeping silent. “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS?”

Keys for Kids and Unlocked

Keys for Kids and Unlocked devotionals available at https://www.keysforkids.org/

I’m the President of Keys for Kids Ministries. We are here for such a time as this — providing tools for parents and grandparents when you don’t know what to say. Our Keys for Kids devotional for kids ages 6-12 and our Unlocked devotional for high school teens in print can help with that. If you don’t want to wait, download the apps. Search for Keys for Kids or Unlocked devotional on the app store. 

We also teamed up You Version to create a seven-day devotional called Conquering Fear. Search for that on the You Version app. We’re also providing Activity Packs with coloring pages, stories, journal, and power pages to let us know how to pray for you. You can find that at keysforkids.net and follow links.

These are uncharted waters. They’re full of uncertainty, fear, and anxiety if you’re looking through the world’s eye. They’re full of opportunity in God’s eyes.  

Christmas In the Air

It’s hard to believe it’s been almost a year since I posted anything on this blog. I guess I’ve been involved in other things that are more important. I guess the Mission Network News website redesign has taken most of my free time. My family has taken the rest. And, so has my recovery. Let me explain.

Last year, about this time, I was trying to get my knee into good enough shape so I could go to the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. I made it. Unfortunately, though, me knee was pretty damaged. I completely tore a ligament in my knee, the medial patellofemoral ligament. That’s the thing that keeps your knee cap from sliding to the outside part of your leg. Despite the fact that it was torn, I eventually started running on it again. In fact, I was getting close to running as fast as I was before my injury. Unfortunately, though, I had to wear a brace to keep the knee cap in place.

GregKnee09-2014So, On September 16 I had another surgery. This one was the medial patellofemoral ligament reconstruction where the doctor takes a piece of your hamstring tendon, the screws it into your femur and knee cap. This surgery was a little different, in terms of recovery. 1. The doctor didn’t limit my weigh bearing on my leg. As soon as I could feel it, I could put weight on it as long as I had my knee brace on. 2. I could bent it up to 90 degrees right away. 3. Therapy started pretty quickly.

I started therapy two weeks after surgery and continue working on it. I am making progress. Today, nearly three months after surgery I am riding a bike and on the elliptical riding at least 30 minutes on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays. I’m also lifting weights and other exercises. I’m hoping by January to be running again.

Okay, why is this about Christmas in the air? It’s because it is. It’s December 11 and I can’t wait until we can get together as family and just hang out together. In the mean time, I love the smells of homemade hard candy, the snow and the music.

This year, our church – Grace Community Church in Hudsonville, Michigan is having a great concert feature the Annie Moses Band.

Our church choir will be singing with them. On one hand I’m excited about being a part of the concert, but disappointed that I won’t be able to hear them as well.

If you live in West Michigan, I hope you’ll join us. Tickets are only $15 at itickets.com.

Progress is being made, but…

On Saturday, December 21 it will be four weeks since I dislocated my knee while trying to be safe while running in Johnson Park in Kent County, Michigan. It’s funny how I have played the scene over and over again in my mind. I keep asking myself, “how could I have avoided this injury.”  The more I think about it, the more I realize this wasn’t an “accident.”  This was planned. It wasn’t MY plan, but God’s plan.  I’ll explain that in a minute.

My knee December 19, 2013

My knee December 19, 2013

Today marked my fourth physical therapy appointment. I have made some significant progress. I’m now bending my knee to 130 degrees, I’m doing step-ups, leg extensions, squats, and other exercises. The swelling is still there, but it’s much less than it was 10 days ago. What is the goal? According to my physical therapists, “it’s to get you to Sochi, Russia.”  At least that’s what she said today. I said, “I thought it was to get me running again?”  She’s pretty cut and dry. She said, “Do you want your knee going out before you leave, or while you’re there?  Don’t plan on trying to run until you return.”

What does that mean for my recovery, or the possibility for surgery? It means I’m going to continue with therapy until I have to leave for the Olympics, hoping the strength in my quadriceps improve to where I won’t need surgery. The knee cap isn’t as stable as I would like right now, but it’s making progress. If I was allowed to, I could jog and run up stairs. But, I am only allowed to spend as long as I like on a stationary bike. I enjoy that. I’m finally working up a sweat.

Why do I think God planned this for me? As I look back on the past four weeks I’ve been forced to slow down. Instead of focusing on make my mileage goal for the week or month, I’ve been focusing on my family. I’ve spent more time keeping the holiday traditions alive. I actually made Christmas candy this year. I’ve spend more time in God’s Word than I have in a long time. I’ve been forced to trust the Lord more.

What are my plans? I plan to work hard and run again. While I may not be  able to start running again until February, I may be forced to run the 10K at the Fifth-Third Riverbank Run, rather than the 25k. But, we’ll see.

 

Life is a constant curve-ball, isn’t it?

It has been nearly a week since my misfortune, or God’s sovereign plan (whichever you choose call it in this instance), hit me. I dislocated my knee as I was running in Johnson Park. I took two days to try and get the swelling under control. With it being Thanksgiving Week, I had to get to work to help write ahead so we could take Thursday and Friday off for Thanksgiving.

IMG_2018[1]Today, was a discouraging day. I woke up with pain in my knee that I haven’t had until now. I’m beginning to wonder if indeed I’m going to need surgery. This isn’t something I want or have time for. It doesn’t look like I’m coming to terms with God’s sovereignty, am I? I’m trying to wrap my arms around it, but I’m feeling more like Solomon than Paul. In other words, I’m believing more and more that all is vanity. I woke up to my knee looking like this. While it doesn’t look too bad, maybe even a little bit better, I now can only bend it about 80 degrees. That means it difficult doing anything — dressing, taking a shower, getting out of cars, sleeping (I sleep on my side in a ball — at least i did)anything that requires me to bend my knee.

In 2010 when I injured the same knee in about the same way it required a very painful surgery. They don’t do arthroscopic surgery. They have to open up the whole knee to repair the patellofemoral ligament. It is so painful that they planned on keeping me overnight. The second and third day after surgery is horrible. Then, no weight bearing for almost a month. Therapy is intense. The first step is getting the knee to bend again, while at the same time doing a little strength training. It took a long time. I had the surgery in March and didn’t start exercising on it until June or July.

The last six days have been frustrating for a number of reasons:
1. I only have 45 miles to hit my goal of 700. I have all but come to the conclusion that I won’t be hitting that goal.
2. I’m supposed to travel to Russia to cover the Olympics in February. If I have to have surgery, I won’t be going. That’s so disappointing.
3. I have worked so hard to lose 30 pounds running and cross-training. To think I’m going to have to start over from square one is deflating.
4. I was hoping to run in the 5th 3rd River Bank Run (25k) again in May 2014 and if I need surgery, that won’t be possible.
5. If I have surgery, I won’t be able to drive.

I know, all of this seems selfish and childish. I’m sure there are many others who have much more difficult issues facing them. Issues that are life threatening, debilitating, and scary. For me, I’m just wallowing in self pity, even though I’m scared trying to figure out what’s ahead for me. The stupid thing is, I haven’t even seen the surgeon yet. He may say I don’t need surgery, in which case I’ll be working my tail off trying to get my knee back into shape so I can run again.

All of this takes me back to Scripture. I Peter 5:7 “Casting all your cares upon Him for He cares for you.” Is just one verse that’s a little convicting. Or Matthew 6:25-34 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” Or how about, “It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. Lamentations 3:22-24.

I know all these things in my head, but understanding them with my heart is tough right now.

So, what do I do? I just keep plugging along re-reading and re-reading Scripture that I know is true and reminding myself that I DO believe it, which I do. I’m just being a little hard headed.

Setbacks and trials

It’s amazing what can happen even when you’re being careful. Let me explain.

Saturday is typically the day I run long distances. I try to run between 14-20 miles a week, depending on how I feel and if I’m training for something. Yesterday (Saturday) was an easy day. To stay on target, I needed to run five miles. I decided to over-achieve and run six. It was cold. I believe the temperature was in the 20’s. The windchill was in the teens. It had snowed, but there wasn’t any snow on the road. So, I decided to head to Johnson Park to do my running.

When I arrived, there were few runners. But, I headed out anyway. It was a difficult run. The first time running with winter gear is always hard. I made it to the 1.5 mile mark and noticed a little patch of ice. I found the shortest distance across it and gingerly tip-toed across it — only slipping a little. I ran out to the bridge across the Grand River and started heading back. At one point there is a spot where you can choose if you want to run on the road, or take the trail. I decided to take the trail because I figured it would be more protected from the wind. As I approached the icy spot I decided I would walk across the ice, just to be safe. So, I started walking. I put one foot on the ice and the next thing I know my right foot is slipping out to the right and I felt this incredible pain in my knee and fell in a heap.

I landed hard on my hind-end and my knee cap slid over to the outside — dislocated. The exact same injury that required surgery in 2010 that took a year to heal. The pain was so intense. I was in the middle of nowhere with nobody around. I quickly reached down and pulled my knee cap back in place and sat there in pain wondering how I was going to get back to my car 1.5 miles away, or be found by someone who could help me.

I use the Nike+ Iphone app to keep track of my runs. I quickly turned off the app and tried calling my wife. In God’s providence, Ann was calling me. She doesn’t typically call while I’m running because I don’t typically pick up. I told her I was hurt. I had fallen and dislocated my knee again. The problem? I was on a trail, in a valley, away from the road. How would she find me?  I knew I was near Veterans Memorial Park Road, but not really sure where. So, I told her I would try to get to the road. I said, “Go to Johnson Park. Drive by Johnson park and at the first right, turn right. You’ll run into me.”

I made it to the road. A few cars drove by. I tried flagging them down, but none of them stopped. I just needed a 1.5 mile ride to my car, so I could either get home or go to the emergency room.

SwollenKneeNov23-13Unfortunately, I was now in the teeth of the wind — sweaty and in pain. I decided I needed to keep moving or I was going to freeze. So, I started walking. The pain was intense. I tried keeping my right leg as stiff as I could. Ann finally found me. Isn’t it amazing how God works these things out? My wife drove me to my car and I INSISTED that I drive myself to the Sports Medicine Clinic, which I did. They took x-rays and made sure nothing was broken, which there wasn’t. But, as you know x-rays don’t show soft tissue damage. Now, I’m waiting for the swelling to go down to figure out what’s next.

Now, however, I’m dealing with frustration. I have been working so hard to stay in shape, keep the weight off and take care of my knee. I have been lifting weights, working out and doing everything I thought I needed to do to avoid having to have surgery again. I wanted to reach my goal of running 700 miles for the year (I’m about 40 miles away with five weeks to go). I’m pretty sure that’s not going to happen unless I have a miraculous healing (which could happen).

I’m also asking the ‘why’ question. Which, is very frustrating to me. I keep thinking, “Thanksgiving is coming. We need to get our Christmas tree. We have a lot going on. I have to go to Russia in February. Surgery just isn’t part of MY plan.

MY plan. I wish MY plan was God’s plan sometimes. In my head I know that God does everything for a reason, or as my friend Steve says 10,000 reasons. Some we may not even know about. For whatever reason He has me side-lined physically. I’m praying that through this new season of uncertainty, that God would make himself even more real to me — especially at this time of year.

But, I’m also praying for quick healing. I don’t want surgery again! Pray with me, would you? I’ll keep you post.

Completed The Crim — But Disappointed

Greg just before the start of The Crim

Greg, without his glasses, already looks like he’s run 10 miles, but really he’s thinking about running 10 miles and wonders if he’ll finish because of his cold and nagging cough.

After I ran the Fifth Third Riverbank Run in Grand Rapids, Michigan in May, I needed motivation to continue running. So, I set my sights on the Crim 10 Mile Road Race in Flint, Michigan. I grew up in the Flint area. In 1982 I ran The Crim. At 16 years old, not much of a runner, I ran 10 miles in 1:17, that’s about a 7:40 a mile split. I was 2, 224 place. That was better than half, I guess. That was 30 years ago to the day.

Well, I’m not 16 any more. And, I’m probably 50 pounds heavier. But, I competed and I finished!

On Saturday, August 25 I was hoping to finish at 90 minutes, or a 9 minute mile pace. Unfortunately, I had a couple of things going against me.
1. I have been battling an upper respiratory infection and my cough has prevented me from training the last 10 days.
2. I’m older, and I had forgotten about all the hills on this course.
3. My will to push on this day was — well — NOT THERE.

I started my day with little sleep. My cough from my cold kept me awake. I maybe got five hours of sleep, if that much. An hour here, 90 minutes there, not very restful. I woke up tired, not very excited, and worried whether or not my body would let me run, let alone meet my goal.

My dad dropped me off on the U of M, Flint campus and I walked the rest of the way to the starting line. There were surprisingly few people there one hour before the race. I watched the wheelers start, then the 30 year runners, and then it was our turn.

I was in wave C, based on the pace I had select when I registered. So, about three minutes after the front runners started, our wave was allowed to start. I actually felt pretty well. My fist quarter mile spit was about 2:15. My first mile was 8:50ish. And, no coughing at all. I made it to mile four and I was still at about a 9 minute pace. Then at mile five I hit a gradual hill. Then, turned a corner and there they were — the dreaded BRADLEY HILLS. This is a section of the race course that has a series of three hills that climb about 100 feet in about three quarters of a mile or less. These hills kicked my tail. When I saw them, my goal was to run up all oft them.

I did it! But, I was spent.

I got to the top of the last of the three hills and there was another one — a gradual one — but a hill none-the-less — and WATER. The last four miles of the race my body kept saying, STOP, walk a little. So, at each water break I walked through them. It was so frustrating. I had trained all summer to RUN the Crim, not walk it. Not just run it, but do it at 90 minutes.

So, how did I do? My official time was 1:41:44. Not what I was hoping for. 11 minutes and 44 seconds slower than I had hoped.

But, I did finish and I did my best. Next year, IF I run it again I will do a couple of things differently.
1. I will do more hill training.
2. I will do everything in my power NOT to get a cold.
3. I will conserve a little more for the dreaded Bradley Hills.

I will say this, going back to where I grew up was kinda sad. A town that used to call itself, “Buick City” or “Vehicle City” isn’t much of a city anymore. Most of the GM plants have been completely torn down. The home of the famous Sit Down Strike is gone. GM and the Unions have pretty much destroyed a city that was once a bustling city full of hope and pride. Now, the main focus of downtown Flint, colleges and universities.

I’m glad I was able to do my part to give this city a boost. If you remember to, pray for the city of Flint. It really needs it.

Finishing the Firth Third Riverbank Run

What an experience. Two years of work came to a conclusion this weekend. What a weekend.

It all started about two years ago when I blew out my knee playing basketball. After surgery ended my basketball playing days. I began strengthening my damaged knee. Elliptical, bike and the running on a tread mill were the tools used to get me to even consider running. I worked hard. I worked my way up to 3 miles each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. In January, my sister Laura challenged me to start running a little further. Then she started talking about running in the Fifth Third Riverbank Run.

In January, we run four miles. A few weeks later five miles. Then I thought, Hmmm, I might be able to do it. So, I started training for the 25k.

Laura and Greg finish Fifth Third 25k

Laura and Greg finish Fifth Third 25k

Thanks to Patty Riva at CU Radio, she was able to get me a complementary registration and I registered for it. I ran four times a week…running up at 13.5 miles in preparation for the race, which is the largest 25k in the United States.

The day before the race, my sister and I picked up our registration and took a tour of the course.

Then, on Saturday May 12, we ran. And, ran, and ran. 15.5 miles later, we finished the race together. It’ll be something I’ll never forgot. An overweight 46 year old guy was able to finish 15.5 miles. Not too many people can say they did that.

I just thank God for allowing me to do it. Pretty cool stuff. Even though I still hate to run — I loved the discipline that came with it. It’s really taught me a lot.

Will I do it again? If my body holds up, absolutely!

I would like to thank the hundreds of volunteers who gave up their Saturday to help give us water, Gatoraid, Oranges, and ice.

It was an amazing day. Hard to believe it’s over already. I can’t hard wait to get back to running 9 miles a week. That sounds so much better than 25 to 30.

Knee Surgery 2 – Learning more

It’s been four days since my latest surgery to remove a rather large piece of cartilage from my left knee. You may have read that I had knee surgery on my right knee in March. So, this has been a few months of painful knees. I hurt my knee February 26. So, I’ve been dealing with some kind of knee pain for three months. Pain is good, however. If you think about it, when were some of the greatest moments of spiritual growth in your life?

For me, spiritual growth came during incredible times of pain. They may not have been physical pains, but they could be spiritual pains.  Mental pains that are brought on by situations in our lives. Perhaps they’re circumstances brought on through our family situations. All of these things have helped form the person I am spiritually.

This latest knee issue has actually been kinda interesting. Many friends have asked, “How can you do this again? What next?  Aren’t you frustrated? Are you depressed? Are you asking God why?

The interesting thing is, I feel incredibly blessed. If you believe God is sovereign (which I do), He allows these trials in our lives. It’s in His plan. If He thinks it’s important enough for me to go through these ‘trials’, shouldn’t I look for Him through them?  It’s interesting, though. I don’t look at this as a trial. I seems more a like a time out. You know, something you do in the middle of a big basketball game. Things are going great, you’re winning, time is running out — but the coach wants to make sure everyone’s on the same page. So, he calls a time out and talks it over. That’s how I view this. God wants me to take a moment, listen to Him and get ready to finish the task ahead.

I have a funny feeling that there could be a lot of ‘time outs’ because I have so much to learn.

The verses that keeps coming to mind are 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 which says:

3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 5For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. 6If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. 7And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.

It’s strange talking about my knee being ‘trouble’ because it isn’t something that was caused in persecution or attacks, but something God has been allowing me to go through.

So, what the ‘take away’ value from this?  I turn to James 1:2 “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials fo various kinds.”

Here is a recent video I made on Saturday. If you don’t like blood or swelling, don’t watch it.

Disappointment, but progress made

April 1st is one of my favorite days of the year. It’s kind of MY official beginning of Spring. It’s also a day that’s full of practical jokes, which is quite fun. This year I wasn’t able to do any practice jokes because of my knee surgery. However, I was able to accomplish a couple of things today.

Today also marked my second post-op doctor appointment. Today I was hoping to get word that I could start physical therapy on my reconstructed knee. However, the appointment didn’t go completely as planned.

Since I still can’t drive, my wife took me to my appointment. We were on time.  But, the doctor office WASN’T on time. That’s a great way to get me irritated. We sat for nearly 30 minutes waiting to get in to see the doctor. With no where to put my leg up, it was very uncomfortable.

However, I finally made it back to see the doctor. First, they removed my brace. Then, the staples that have been in my knee since March 17. Then the doctor came in and gave me the news. He told me the healing is looking pretty good, “But, let’s go another 10 days. You can start putting a little bit of weight on your leg. Don’t throw away the crutches yet, but start putting weight on it. And, by the time I see you in 10 days, hopefully you’ll be able to put all your weight on it.”

I asked, “Can I start doing leg lifts?”  Doctor Dean said, “No, not yet. That’ll put too much pressure on the repair. Just start putting a little weight on it. Don’t bend it yet. And, we’ll get you into physical therapy after that.”

That’s NOT what I was hoping for. I was really hoping I would be able to start therapy. I actually teared up a bit. I was so ready to start working hard a my recovery. Now, I just have to do more waiting.

Then, I thought to myself — “Self, why don’t you just start working hard to putting weight on your leg. Work hard at that and NOT over do it.” That was all I needed to get me motivated and out of the dumps.

I’ve found this whole process has been a roller coaster of emotions. When I first started out, I was bound and determined that I was NOT going to feel sorry for myself. When I did, I was going to focus on others who were worse off than me. I was going begin reading the Bible and try to make it all the way through the Bible in a month. I was also going to be encouraging to as many believers I met on Facebook or other social media websites. You would think those would be easy goals, right?  Well, I haven’t been very successful.

In the first three or four days of my recovery,  I read all the way through Numbers. But, for whatever reason, I just STOPPED. Every time I started feeling pain, or emotionally uneasy, I would start praying for friends who were worse off than me, or Christians who were facing incredible amounts of abuse because of their faith in Christ. But, when I started thinking about WORK and politics — I just stopped. I feel like such a failure.

Then someone pointed out to me, “Greg, God gave you a great gift. He gave you the desire to seek after Him. You had four successful days. Four days you hadn’t sought after Him before. Now, you just need to start over.”  He’s right. I never thought of it that way.

So, what does all this mean? It means I’m two weeks into my recovery. It sounds like the doctor believes it’s going to be at least another six weeks until I’m not feeling much discomfort. I have four days of searching after Christ, under my belt.  So, that mean I’m WAY ahead of where I was.

If you want to see what went on at the doctor’s office, watch this YouTube video below.