Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Okay, now I can say that I lived through my first major earthquake...not really...if you witnessed the broadcast from the news agencies it was fun watching the report. Initially, they reported it as a 5.8, then about an hour later 5.6, then about four hours later 5.2 then finally in one broadcast about 6 hours later 4.8. So what was the truth...I have no clue. It doesn't really matter for most of us. Building engineers and fire/rescue people are the ones who really do care...but most of us...we get to say we lived through a 5.8 earthquake...and that sounds like we lived through something dramatic.

To be honest most of our lives are humdrum the any little excitement and we get to say we were there. So that really bad snow storm becomes the "Blizzard of 75" and the bad summer thunderstorm becomes the storm of the century. But most of us, if any of us, really are not the true survivors. Those in the eye of the storm have a different point of view and it is not one of excitement but more often of fear. So...I survived the earthquake...and it was fun.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Leaving Home, Again

I'm missing my eldest daughter(#1), who left home again this past weekend. She left home not in a bad way but in a great way. She was flying back east to start her career as an actress via way of visiting her younger sister(#2) who is still in graduate school back east.

Being a father of four talented children is scarry at times. You want them to be successful, and at the same time you don't want to be pushy and at the same time you want them to be productive and at the same hold your breath and watch them walk away into their future.

Our eldest daughter (#1) went off to college and grad school, only to return this summer to visit us for really the first time in three years. Having her at home was wonderful, and I was surprised at how hard she worked at everything. Her work ethic changed dramaticly over the past years. She spent hours and days working on her lines for the play she will be performing back east this year. She was up every morning at 4 am to work in a local coffee shop because she didn't want to have us, her parents, pay for everything. Then this past Sunday we took her to the Airport to send her off to "work."

I miss her...not being around the house, just like I miss our second daughter who is working hard in her grad school back east. (Actually in just a few weeks, I'll be headed back east again for our second daughter's graduation from grad school.) But what is really nice is to know they believe in themselves and they will be successful because they love what they are doing.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Wrong Turn

Early this morning, my daughter (#3) and I went for a long run. As we approached Trump National Golf Course, we decided to take the trail along the coast for a change. As we ran along the cliff over looking the water it was beautiful. Then we came to a folk in the road. We both knew the easier path was along the top of the cliff but we took the path leading down to the beach. It was great for the first five minutes...then the sand became soft and we started to sink with every step...greatly increasing our effort. Finally after about 10 minutes we started up the cliff face back to the overhead path.

It was tough going. The switch backs and rutted path seemed to sap every ounce of energy. I grunted out a word of what I thought was encouragement only to have my daughter snap at me in her frustration. The next miles were filled with the silence of our feet on the pavement. When we finished at home, my daughter smiled and gave me a hug saying..."That was a tough run."

The simplicity of those words expressed it all. In life we all make wrong turns that end up making life a little tougher for us and those around us. But if we can push through to the end...take the heat...let silence be there...then in the is as they say "All Good."

In my work, I see people everyday that expect life to be easy, as if it should be easy, and then when it is not they are mad at God and others. Often they are quick to blame the difficulties to the actions of others. My proposal to them and to all of us is that of Benjamin Franklin: "That which doesn't kill, instructs." It is our responsibility to push through and make ourselves a little bit stronger, smarter and improve our character.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Problem with Evil

Talk about a serious issue. Here it is a beautiful day. The temperature is perfect. It’s neither to hot nor to cold and I'm stuck inside. See that is the problem of evil in a nut shell. Actually...I'm about to head out in a few minutes for a run...but I'm walking away from a project I've been working on for the past several hours. Two choices both important depending on the way you look at it.

First View: Staying inside for the next hour and not leaving work. Finishing the project and then I'm done with it. But that means...sitting in rush hour traffic and not getting home until late. I'll feel very important, and might save hundreds of dollars, but the truth is I might, at the end of my struggle, be no further along with the project then where I am right now. And because I'll be home so late...I'll not get a run in and feel all negative about myself.

Second View: I'll take off now, beat the rush hour traffic. Enjoy being with my kids and wife. Get out with my daughter and run about 4 or 5 miles and enjoy the beautiful day. But I know that come Monday morning the project will still be here...and I'll have wished I got the stupid thing done last Friday before I left.

Temptation + Opportunity = Evil.

That's the problem in a nutshell. When we have to choose between two reasonably equal choices how do we choose?

Polkinghorne writes that scientists " with partial knowledge and a degree of intellectual uncertainty."(Quantum Physics and Theology, page 70) We, all live with that reality that all of our knowledge is limited and that there will always be a degree of uncertainty when making decisions and there is the rub. We have to act and make decisions constantly in the dynamics of the moment…and live with the consequences.

So now to make the decision, we must use our values. What is the most important thing I can do right now. Well if you didn’t read it in the first paragraph you missed it. I’m headed home. My daughter will only be with me for another year before heading off to college. Today, I have been successful with the work that I had to get done and the truth is the only reason for me staying is to make myself look like I’m committed to the job. But my brain is numbed and I’m not going to improve on what is there. In fact because I’m not thinking clearly, I may make a mistake. So as it says in Ecclesiastics…there is a time for everything under heaven…and I’m making time for my daughter and family. This work will be here on Monday.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Running or Racing

There is a big difference between running and racing. This became an issue for me when listening to a fellow marathon runner. He argued that no one should walk while running. His argument was that walking during runs negated the reasons for running.

I disagreed and here is why. 1. Walking helps runners extend the distance and time, we spend running. 2. It is in my opinion a form of interval training. Interval training is the idea of stressing the heart and allowing it to recover, then stressing it again. This helps to make the heart more efficient. 3. Finally because there are periods of rest and we know that rest is coming, we mentally will push a little harder during our run periods.

The old adage "No pain; no gain" is false. The goal for the majority of us is to exercise the body...few of us will ever run to win a gold medal in the Olympic Games.

This past year, I turned 50 and one of my goals for the year was to run 5 marathons. Please note the "run" part of that. The goal was to run...not race. What surprised me was by using this method and controlling my pace, I was able to run 3 of these in a span of 36 days. On the 27th of April, I ran the Big Sur Marathon in goal was 5 hours. Then about 20 some days later on the 17 May, I ran the Palos Verde Marathon in goal was 4:40. Finally on 1 June, down in San Diego, I ran the Rock-n-Roll Marathon in goal...4:20.

The reason was the control that I exercised by using the run walk pace really didn't change. At Big Sur, I ran 1 minute walked 1 minute cycle for the first half of the race and then I ran 4 minutes walked 1 minute for the last half of the race. In Palos Verde, I used the 4 minute/1 minute cycle through the entire race. The 20 minute difference was not because of speed but because I cut back a little on the rest. Then in San Diego, the 20 minute was again not my pace but the rest. In this last race I used a 9 minute/1 minute ratio. For more information on this method check out Jeff Galloway’s Running: A year round plan. (Pages 18-22).

Now a quick note on racing: Racing is ...pushing to beat someone or something else. It is racing when you are working to better your previous time or you are trying to beat another runner. Walking breaks maybe what keeps you from winning that battle...but then maybe what helps you win. In a short one mile or two mile race, could you imagine what a one minute walking break would do to an Olympic runner? They would be lapped by everyone else in the field, because of the level of competition. But if I'm taking a quick walking break every other mile in a Marathon race the difference maybe at the end only a matter of inches because my competitor may have hit the wall hard at 20 miles and struggled to finish...and I having that little extra, pass him in the last mile.

It has to do with personality, goals and determination. For the majority of us, our little walking breaks only serve to make us better runners. So keep on running and take a minute every now and then to smell the roses.

Sunday, July 20, 2008


This week one of the issues I have been dealing with is my mother being hospitalized. Living over 2 thousand miles away, and wanting to be home with her didn't feel very good. I love my mother deeply, and knowing that she was sick and not doing well made me want to rush to her bedside to do something. See that's a guy thing...the do something. To set and just be with something is never enough. Guys want to be involved. And I'm like that. I want to do something to take away her pain and her confusion. And not being able to do that was down right uncomfortable.

But then I go back to that EPR effect idea (Entanglement Theory). It is an earlier posting in this blog. The idea that we are connected on the subatomic level and anything that effects one effect the other regardless of their location has to have a effect. My prayers, my sending out good and healing thoughts towards her isn't a New Age, make you feel good thing. The reality is that God makes these connections so that we express and experience the best of life...both its pain and more importantly its joy.

My pain, my confusion of not being with my mother, was not so unlike her own as she was in the ICU. My prayers and thoughts supported her and with that I have no doubt. I can easily say that I was with her in my spirit...and it would be the truth.

Henri Nouwen once wrote about the creative ministry of absence. I have not doubt that absence and separation, although uncomfortable...still works.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Life in the Desert

This past Saturday and Sunday, I was traveling through the desert of the Southwest US. It was beautiful. And so full of life.

When I think of the desert, I see images of dead long horn cattle, sand and tumble weeds. But the truth is very different. The desert is full of life. Animals and plants adapted to their dry environment.

When I look at my life, I've seen periods of times were I feel like I'm living in a desert. Its uncomfortable and hard. But in retrospect those periods may not have been the most productive times of my life, but I found them to be times when I became stronger - spiritually, mentally and physically.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Future Plans

I had the opportunity today to talk with our speaker at the retreat. In our conversation, he shared the reality of ...or should I say the slim change of mine to become an educator at higher levels of education. The main thing I carried away from our conversation was there are two areas that will effect any future course of mine. The first is the things totally out of my control...such as the number of positions that maybe open and the quality of others who may be seeking the same position. The second area is the things in my control, earning a second doctorate degree and refining the area of my studies.

Later in a conversation with my wife, I came back to the old paradigm and question, is the glass half full or half empty? Much too often we limit ourselves to a pessimistic attitude that because things are beyond our control...we are better off not wasting our time. After all the glass is half empty and if we just stay as we are then at less we have something. But as a Christian, with a strong belief that God works outside of our vision that half empty attitude is not comforting. I feel that we need to step out and move...and if I'm spilling the water in the be it.

As a Christian, I plan my future by taking action in the things I can control; in the decisions I make. Those things that are not in my control...I have to leave for God to work out...outside of my vision. I believe if I have prepared myself to the best of my ability when the situation arises for me to act...I will be able to step forward and take advantage of it. If I have failed to prepare...the chance will slip by.

Mark Batterson, the pastor of National Community Church said it the best: "Work like it depends on you, pray like it depends on God."

So the pessimist may advance; "What if that door never opens?" And if it doesn't open, at less the glass is full.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


Over the past few years, I've learned that it is important to just get away from everything. I'm spending the next few days in the mountains of North Carolina at a Retreat Center. My mornings will be occupied by classes and my afternoon with hiking through the mountains. But the best part is just breaking the routine of my everyday life. It will only be for a couple of days, but the benefit will be longer. My mind, body and spirit will be recharged...and hopefully I'll be more productive when I return to work and family.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Running Easy

I got up at 6 this morning for a easy run through the hills. It was an amazing morning. The weather in the Mountains of North Carolina was typical...on the cool side but a taste of humidity that reminds you that the heat will be there later in the day.

I like everyone I know hates to get up and run, but once you have run a mile or two, the body seems to wake up and I feel you have more energy to confront the day. The day will too quickly be upon us with its problems and in the early dawn as the sun starts its ascent...the concerns of the day seem light years away.

Entanglement Theory

Polkinghorne writes: "EPR Effect (Entanglement Theory) is a counterintuitive togetherness-in-separation that implies that two quantum entities that have interacted with each other remain mutually entangled, however far they may subsequently separate in space. Effectively, they remain a single system, for acting on the one 'here' will produce an immediate effect on its distant partner."

I spent this morning with my daughter and the college recruiter walking around the campus. We visited many of the new buildings on campus and several of the old ones. As we were concluding the tour, the college recruiter asked if I heard the story about the old dining hall being haunted and if I knew anything about the old printing press workshop that was in the basement. I remembered.

I remember setting type with Dr Winship in the basement as we printed pamphlets for several different college programs and special papers. "Sign of St George" was the name of the workshop. Dr Winship passed away several years ago, so was the basement workshop still haunted by his presence? Apparently it his print shop still stands with presses covered and a layer of dust coating everything in the shop. And for this one student of his that remembered…what that workshop was like…his memory and his work was alive.

When we deal with the past, voyaging back in our memories or in visiting old haunts, the connections still binds us to things even if they have been forgotten. The entanglement theory was one of Einstein’s last major contributions to quantum physics. And yet it provides a reason for this connectiveness that makes no logical sense. Time/Space continuum is a mystery…but when one particle is effected by something it will effect its partner particle immediately regardless of where that particle is in Time/Space.

When we meet and connect with others…they leave trace residue with us…and we are connected on a subatomic level. If we allow ourselves to recognize this bond then there is a dramatic implication. Love is this dramatic implication…when we are bonded to each other. Our ability to have empathy for others helps us heal, encourage, support and strengthen them and ourselves. We benefit and help ourselves when we reach out to others.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Traveling Back

Today, I drove to my old college. I was taking my daughter (#3)to visit the school as it is one she is considering.

On the drive, we passed many places where I had run races while in college. My biggest regret from my college days was the lack of a coach. Yes, the college had a coach if you could call him that. He was really only one of the professors at the school who basicly volunteered to help us have a cross-country team. He knew nothing about developing my running suffered.

After college, I worked hard for 10 years to develop my running and did a halfway decent job...but I was self-coached. I managed a 3:07 marathon, but I was in shape to have run sub 3, but I didn't have a even in that great run...I know now I could have been even faster. The other problem with being self-coached is that you drive yourself into the injury zone by over training and not getting enough in my 30's, my body began to breakdown. So my advice: find yourself a coach. Someone who knows what they are doing. That way you can enjoy your running and improve.

(Side note: I have four children and out of respect for their privacy...and the fact that I've preached about them from the pulpit once to often will respect that privacy)

Saturday, July 5, 2008

The Three Driving Forces in My Life

This blog is for me to write about the things that drive my life. I group those things into three areas...first is my relationship with God, second my family and friends and finally taking care of myself. So...that's what I'm going to blog about. Those three big areas...or driving forces in my life.

The reason for the name "Spirituality and Running" is those are the two major elements of my life that help me cope, grow, and develop those three other driving forces in my life. So here comes nothing...or here comes something?