Long run to start the day

I have been in training for a 10K race in Knoxville coming up next weekend. The training has not been going overly well. While I have continued to run, and probably gotten faster, my times are pretty pitiful. I have gained a bit of weight since being home over the last year. I have to figure out a way to keep that at bay. I think I have stopped the increase, but I have not been going back down yet. A couple of dozen extra pounds are really making it hard to run.

I may still be able to PR next weekend, which was the goal of doing the race, but I don’t think I can hit the time I was going for. I am going to adjust my goal, but still shoot for a PR.

Yesterday I got a chance for a nice long run as prescribed in my training plan. This was the first time to do a long run in my home town. It was amazing to me how small the town is when broken down to an 8 mile run. I was able to make a loop out of the top left quadrant of town and do the distance.

While my speed is not great, it was fun to run around town yesterday. It was a great way to start a very busy and fun-packed day.

David and Flora Hartsfield

I spent some time with my friends the Hartsfields today. They have been part of my life for 29 years. Their retirement party is this weekend and we are able to attend.

Bro. and Mrs. Hartsfield came to Odessa, Texas to take charge of our Christian school at the beginning of the 1980-81 school year. They moved to Odessa from Little Rock, Arkansas with their 3 children. Bro. Hartsfield is now 70 and I turn 40 this year. He has been a part of my life for 75% of my time on this earth. The Hartsfields have had more direct influence at different times on me than they do now, but the indirect influence has continued for these many years, and will continue into the future.

I can’t say that they are perfect people since I know human nature and the Bible would say otherwise. But, they have been consistently faithful to their beliefs and have instilled a deep seated desire in me to do the same. Bro. Hartsfield has always been a disciplined and consistent man, and while that may not have transfered into my life completely, it has been a joy to see someone who essentially is the same man I met 30 years ago.

Recently I heard a sermon based on the book of Third John in the Bible. The pastor mentioned a character I have never really studied. But as he talked about Demetrius I immediately thought of Bro. Hartsfield. The verse is 3 John 12: “Demetrius hath good report of all men, and of the truth itself: yea, and we also bear record; and ye know that our record is true.”

Demetrius was well spoken of by men. Bro. Hartsfield has a great personal testimony. Today in Mr. Ramirez’s shoe repair shop I mentioned the retirement party to the owner, who I knew to be an acquaintance of Bro. Hartsfield’s. Mr. Ramirez said some incredibly kind words about Bro. H. Every person that Bro. Harsfield met in business or personally became a quick friend. Bro. H. conducts himself in a way that causes you to want to get to know him personally. He has always been well spoken of by men.

Then the Bible says that Demetrius had a good report from the truth itself. According to God’s Word Demetrius lived a holy and right life. Anyone who knows Bro. Hartsfield knows that just being in his presence causes others to think twice about their actions. Not because Bro. H. is going to preach at them, but because they know that if it is an activity in which he would not participate, then it is because the activity probably violates the Bible or a Biblical principle in some way. While Bro. H. does plenty of preaching, he is not one to raise his voice or lose his temper. He is one of the most fun men to be around because you know that in his presence is an opportunity to have clean comedy, games and activities.

Thirdly it says of Demetrius that the apostles spoke well of him. These were men who had been in the presence of Jesus Christ himself. They knew perfection and they still spoke highly of Demetrius. While I have seen people say horrible things about our school and turn away from the teachings of the Bible, I have not met anyone who would speak to the fact that Bro. H. and his wife were not genuine people. The people who know him best, his family and co-workers, also speak highly of him.

I will miss seeing the Hartsfields on a regular basis, but I know that the impact they have had on the lives of the many students who have passed through the school is tremendous. I am just thankful that I can be here for the retirement party and take part in this special event. It is great to be able to honour a family that has been such a blessing to so many.

A startling realization

Today we were privileged to spend time with my best friend from my teenage years. He is a pastor in Oklahoma now. I met him when I was about 12 years old and he became my youth pastor the next year. We had a great relationship with one another. He is almost exactly 10 years older than I. While we have not been able to spend as much time with one another as we would like through the years, we still love each other’s company.

There is one unique thing about him and his ministry. For some reason he tends to attract retarded people and folks with mental handicaps. I am not being mean, that is just a fact. He currently works a second job outside of the church driving a bus for the adult special ed program in the city.

At least 10% of the congregation this morning were mentally handicapped people. This attraction is not because he seeks out the handicapped; he gets just as frustrated with them as anyone else. While he loves people in general, he has not made an effort to build a special needs congregation.

But they are attracted to him. It is humorous to see how this works.

I was pondering all that while listening to him preach today. Then the startling realization hit:

What does that say about me?

Camping days of spring

Last week we took three days of our time at home to do a little camping. We had a great time at Blackwater River State Park. As much fun as the camping was, the preparation was fun too.

We were wanting to do some canoing on this trip, but did not want to pay the price of a canoe rental. I have a friend with a kayak who said I could borrow it at any time. I took him up on it and picked it up a couple of days before heading out. At church on Sunday I asked another friend who I thought had a kayak if I could borrow his. He no longer has it, but recommended another friend who had a canoe. I called the canoe friend to find out that his canoe is in disrepair. He gave me a name of another friend that might have one I could borrow.

We checked around and did not find another canoe, but the man with the busted canoe said he had a couple of kayaks I could have if I wanted them. Not just have for the trip, but have as in “take out of my back yard and don’t return with them.” Though they are not in great shape, I think I can do something with them.

The morning we were planning to leave I called another friend to borrow a couple extra life jackets. I knew he would have them. Doug has everything. He offered the use of his canoe too. Great! For a family with small kids, canoes work out better than kayaks. So we ended up with one good canoe and one good kayak for the trip.

After Dad and I got the boats to the house along with all the needed equipment we had to figure out how to get them both strapped to the top of the van. In the process we forgot to transfer the life jackets from his truck to my van. That caused a frustrated hour and a half trip to town to buy some life jackets. Took time out of our play time to do that. But we ended up good and tired by the time the afternoon was over. We probably would not have played much more in the water.

Monday we got camp set up and grilled hamburgers. That night was a great night for looking at the stars, but the trees were too tall around the camp ground area. All we could see were stars right above us. We had not explored the area well before it got dark on Monday. We did not know that there was a large parking area just a couple hundred yards from the campsite that we could have easily seen the stars from. Then, of course, the next night it was cloudy and we could not see any stars.

Tuesday we at a sausage casserole cooked in the dutch oven. A man named Bob Sharp in Utah bought me that oven as a gift about 12 years ago. We have had some good meals out of it. Lunch was sandwiches as we prepared to go to the river. For supper we had some great steak and a cake baked in the dutch oven. I am out of practice on baking in the dutch oven. I burned the cake a bit. But it was still edible.

Tuesday morning I also went running. I found a nice 2 mile section on the Juniper Creek Trail to do an out and back course giving me 4 miles. A wrong turn here and there and I ended up running almost 5 miles. I got to get up close and personal with an indigo snake too. It was about 5 feet long. They can get up to 8.5 feet in length.

Wednesday we had pancakes and went hiking. Lunch was sandwiches eaten while lounging in the hammock I made last week.

We had a great time. It was fun to turn off the electronic world for a couple of days.

Pictures to follow when I finally pull them off the camera.