Archive for the ‘life’ Category

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.

 

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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

Posted: November 24, 2013 in Health, life, my day, spiritual
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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.

(more…)

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. President George W. Bush is getting bum wrap when it comes to the poor economy that many claim was given to President Barak Hussein Obama. Here’s why.

Here’s an email I received the puts much more clearly than I ever could.

The day the democrats took over was not January 22nd 2009, it was actually January 3rd 2007 the day the Democrats took over the House of Representatives and the Senate, at the very start of the 110th Congress. The Democrat Party controlled a majority in both chambers for the first time since the end of the 103rd Congress in 1995.

For those who are listening to the liberals propagating the fallacy that everything is “Bush’s fault”, think about this:

January 3rd, 2007 was the day the Democrats took over the Senate and the Congress.
At the time:
The DOW Jones closed at 12,621.77
The GDP for the previous quarter was 3.5%
The Unemployment rate was 4.6%
George Bush’s Economic policies SET A RECORD of 52 STRAIGHT MONTHS of JOB GROWTH

January 3rd, 2007 was the day that Barney Frank took over the House Financial Services Committee and Chris Dodd took over the Senate Banking Committee. The economic meltdown that happened 15 months later was in what part of the economy?
BANKING AND FINANCIAL SERVICES!
Unemployment… to this CRISIS by (among MANY other things) dumping 5-6 TRILLION Dollars of toxic loans on the economy from YOUR Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac FIASCOES!

President Bush asked Congress 17 times to stop Fannie & Freddie – starting in 2001 because it was financially risky for the US economy.

And who took the THIRD highest pay-off from Fannie Mae AND Freddie Mac? OBAMA And who fought against reform of Fannie and Freddie? OBAMA and the Democrat Congress. So when someone tries to blame Bush. REMEMBER JANUARY 3rd, 2007…. THE DAY THE DEMOCRATS TOOK OVER!”

Budgets do not come from the White House. They come from Congress and the party that controlled Congress since January 2007 is the Democrat Party.

Furthermore, the Democrats controlled the budget process for 2008 and 2009 as well as 2010 and 2011.

In that first year, they had to contend with George W. Bush, which caused them to compromise on spending, when Bush somewhat belatedly got tough on spending increases.

For 2009 though, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid bypassed George Bush entirely, passing continuing resolutions to keep government running until Barack Obama could take office. At that time, they passed a massive omnibus spending bill to complete the 2009 budgets.
And where was Barack Obama during this time? He was a member of that very Congress that passed all of these massive spending bills, and he signed the omnibus bill as President to complete 2009.

If the Democrats inherited any deficit, it was the 2007 deficit, the last of the Republican budgets. That deficit was the lowest in five years, and the fourth straight decline in deficit spending. After that, Democrats in Congress took control of spending, and that includes Barack Obama, who voted for the budgets. If Obama inherited anything, he inherited
it from himself.

In a nutshell, what Obama is saying is I inherited a deficit that I voted for and then I voted to expand that deficit four-fold since January 20th.

Why is it that nobody is talking about this, not even Fox News? It’s quite frustrating to hear the Democrats saying that we’re better off than we were four years ago. I’m not. I’m not only making less money than I did in 2008, but I had two years of retirement taken away, I’ve been paying more for health insurance, and I’m paying double for energy including gasoline, home heating, and electricity. Also, food prices have doubled.

Another issue for me is religious freedom. Today, we have less religious freedom in the United States than we had in 2008. If you remember, both houses of Congress passed Hate Crimes legislation that adds sexual orientation to the list of groups under the protection of the federal law. It also gives states and local jurisdictions federal help in prosecuting hate crimes. This law could be the law that prosecutes Christians for preaching what the Bible says about homosexuality — calling it a sin.

The bottom line is I don’t feel better off than I was four years ago. 24 million Americans who are currently unemployed (and millions more who are under-employed), the 40 million plus people who now receive food stamps, and the 1 in 5 million Americans who are now living in poverty certainly aren’t better off.

So, the question remains, if President Obama was a CEO of any major company in the U.S. or around the world would he be fired? Would his contract be renewed with five trillion in debt, 8+ percent unemployment, and four years without a federal budget? If he would have said, “you can’t blame me, the former CEO left a mess” they wouldn’t have cared very much.

So, if you are a democrat and plan to vote for President Obama, pretend you’re a stock-holder. Pretend you’re evaluating his performance as a CEO. Is there enough evidence to renew his contract? Is there evidence of quality leadership that has taken our nation to the next level, or has his leadership been divisive? Has he been one to lead through international calamity? Has he helped lift democracy in the Middle East? Has he led in these situations from the front, or followed from behind?

Michelle Obama said it well Tuesday night. She said, “Being president doesn’t change who you are, it reveals who you are.” It certainly did in President Obama’s situation. It revealed he’s divisive, can’t unite, can’t budget, and can’t lead.

Elizabeth Warren has it totally wrong. She’s demonizing corporations who HIRE people. To demonize them cripples the corporations who hire people.

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.

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.

Christmas, a time to tell THE story

Posted: December 15, 2010 in life, spiritual

It’s 10 days before Christmas and I just got a strange feeling in my stomach.  I have been so excited about celebrating Christmas that I have not be strategic in telling people about the WHY of Christmas.

So, I’m being VERY strategic in the days ahead.

Many of my friends on Facebook and around me in West Michigan ARE Christians — they have a profound relationship with Christ. However, a few of my friends don’t really KNOW the meaning of Christmas and why it means so much to us as Christians. So, I’m starting to tell them.

It’s amazing the media that’s out there to help tell the story. I just ran across a cool video from Ron Hutchcraft. So, I posted that on my wall. Do a search for Ron Hutchcraft on Facebook if you’d like to post the video on your Facebook wall.

Without the most important story — the story of God becoming man — a perfect man to be with us on earth — he wouldn’t have become our sacrifice on the cross.  That’s truly Amazing Grace.

Greg

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.

What a great day! This morning I went to my physical therapy for my right knee. I bent my knee to 131 degrees. Not much progress on the bending, but great progress on the strength. I was able to bike 2.2 miles in 10 minutes on the bike, I did 30 squats with no pain. I actually saw my quad flex and bulge (bulge is a relative term).

Then, I went to the hospital for my second knee surgery. This one was on my LEFT knee. I injured it in 1992 (yes, playing basketball). But, back in April I noticed, what appeared to me, a second (but much small) knee cap.  The doctor had thought it was a bone chip, which he thought had broken lose from a bone spur.

Well, that’s not what it was. Through an arthroscope, the doctor was able to go in and identify a very large piece of cartilage. He told my wife it was about the size of a golf ball. So, he removed it and we’re good to go.

In terms of recovery?  He said it’ll be about a month until my knee is ‘happy’ again. But, I’m supposed to bend it and do straight leg lifts and keep it iced for the short term.

When I arrived home I started icing it, propping in up on pillows and walking a little. It felt (feels) pretty good. But, I noticed some blood soaking through the ace wrap. So, I call the doctor and he told me to stop doing any bending and walking on it and just allow it to heal a little. Tomorrow should be better.

Here’s a video of my day.

At around 7:30 pm tonight I noticed a rather large blood spot on the ace bandage outside my knee. This really surprised me because with my open knee surgery, I didn’t have hardly ANY bleeding. So, I called the doctor’s after hours service. He called back and told me to put more packing around the knee to help stop the bleeding and keep ice on it. I’m doing that. We’ll see what happens.

I’ve taken a little video about my day today, but nothing graphic this time….unless you don’t like the sight of blood.

Keep praying for my recovery.