Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Kiki and I leave tomorrow night for the Mardi Gras Rock 'n' Roll Marathon in New Orleans. Earlier in the week I indicated that we will have some really cool stuff going on during our time in NOLA. So, here we go ---
As many of you know, our TEAM 413 shirts are our major ministry tool but are also our chief fundraiser. Kiki really out did herself on shirt designs for this show. We'll have Saints black with gold & white print; Purple with yellow & white print; Green with silver & white print; Yellow with black & white print; Men's blue sleeveless with yellow & white print; Women's white tanks with black & yellow print; Women's V-Neck black with pink print; Women's V-Neck white with purple & black print! Awesome stuff!
During the expo we'll run some specials on some of our gear. But, you'll have to come by to see what's going on. These will be unannounced opportunities to get into TEAM 413 gear with a minimal donation.
I'll be signing copies of my book, GRACERUNNER - FAITH ON THE RUN - We hope to sell quite a few this weekend. The book is a fundraiser for TEAM 413. 100% of the proceeds of this book go right back into the ministry.
The time and place for our pre-race devotion/prayer on Sunday morning will be posted in our booth. I'll also post this on our Facebook page and website. Please join us if you are going to be in New Orleans.God bless all of you and we look forward to seeing many of you in the Big Easy!
Under HIS Grace...
Monday, February 22, 2010
This coming weekend my wife, Kiki, and I will travel to New Orleans to represent TEAM 413 at the Mardi Gras Rock 'n' Roll Marathon. It should be a fantastic event and we look forward to it with great anticipation.
So much has happened in New Orleans over the past few years. The horrors of Katrina are still fresh on the mind of people from that region. However, much has been done to repair the hearts of the wonderful people of south Louisiana and the Gulf Coast.
The New Orleans Saints won the Super Bowl but, it was more than a win. It was a referendum of hope for the community, the state, and the region. It was a healing of the heart and soul of a city. Now, another large event is being delivered to the city New Orleans in the form of the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Series. This is going to be huge for this city!
We look forward to being a part of this great sporting event. We look forward to meeting a bunch of outstanding people who have been through much but who have grown through the circumstances that have come their way. We are blessed to be part of the "recovery" of a magnificent city and people.
If you are in the Big Easy this weekend, come by and say hello at the marathon expo. We have a lot of great things planned. I'll be writing about the details in the next few days.
Under HIS Grace...
Friday, February 19, 2010
Back in January we published GRACERUNNER - FAITH ON THE RUN, our first book. This book was written as a fundraiser for TEAM 413 and tells the story of our ministry. We tell you how the ministry started and then go on to tell the stories of God's goodness and grace through the past seven years. We share stories of the people, places, and things along our journey.
I've said that it will make you laugh, make you cry, and make you turn your head like a Golden Retriever! People who know me and who have read the book tell me that it's like I was talking to them --- telling them a story. I consider myself a storyteller, so, I've taken their words as being complimentary. That's what I wanted this book to be. I wanted the words to jump off the page and grab your heart. Through God's guidance I believe that we've accomplished the goal.
We'll be signing copies at the following events from now through April:
- 26.2 with Donna Marathon Expo - Jacksonville, FL - February 2o
- Mardi Gras Marathon Expo - New Orleans, LA - February 26 - 27
- Seaside Half Marathon Expo - Seaside, FL - March 6
- Dallas RNR Half Marathon Expo - Dallas, TX - March 13
- Knoxville Marathon Expo - Knoxville, TN - March 27
- Go St. Louis Marathon Expo - St. Louis, MO - April 9 - 10
- Boston Marathon Expo - Boston, MA - April 16 - 18
- Country Music Marathon Expo - Nashville, TN - April 22 - 23
- Illinois Marathon Expo - Champaign, IL - April 30
If you are going to be in the area surrounding any of these events, please stop by, say hello, and pick up a copy. If you would like to order a book, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and she will get back to you ASAP with appropriate instructions.
God bless all of you who follow us as we make our journey around this country and beyond...
Under HIS Grace...
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Chris Gillespie & Mark Eldridge at a TEAM 413 Event
This weekend Donnie Maner and I will represent TEAM 413 as we travel to Jacksonville, Florida for the National Breast Cancer Marathon -- 26.2 with Donna. This will be our first trip to this race but it will not be our first brush with the disease. Many of the people who are involved with TEAM 413 have been touched in some way by breast cancer....so, this will be a special weekend for a lot of reasons.
The most recent person to be affected by breast cancer is my wife, Kiki. Her mom recently underwent surgery and is about to start additional treatment. Before my mom's death from a major stroke back in 2008, she had survived a bout with breast cancer. Many of our folks have stories like this. But, there is one person who is involved with TEAM 413 who has a completely different story.
Several years ago my friend went to the doctor for a routine check-up. While waiting for the doctor, the nurse noticed something unusual and asked the doctor to check it out. The physician returned to the room and examined my friend's breast. He found enough of a problem that he ordered additional tests. It turned out that my friend had breast cancer and it was the type that was very aggressive --- only a few percent of the people in the country suffer from this particular cancer.
My friend is our chief administrative officer for TEAM 413. HE is a breast cancer survivor. You read it right. HE is a breast cancer survivor. Mark Eldridge is a wonderful person. He doesn't want any of the focus to be on him. He is simply a survivor and praises God that he beat cancer through the grace and goodness of God. Through his cancer he has helped many others who never even knew about it. He has given so much to many people who never knew that he helped.
As a survivor, Mark Eldridge has given from the heart for his family -- for his friends --but, more importantly for God. He has served in many ways. I've come to know him as a very intelligent, thoughtful, and helpful administrator who keeps TEAM 413 going. He stays on top of things. He does more than is necessary. He pushes himself to be better in so many ways. But, he doesn't ask for anything in return.
The nurse that helped Mark on the day that he visited the doctor saved his life. So, he is giving back by doing things through the heart and hands of a servant. God sent that nurse to Mark on that day. Now, God sent Mark to us to help us grow under His grace.
Mark, God bless you just as He has blessed us with your friendship, with your brotherhood in Christ, and with your servant's heart and hands. TEAM 413 dedicates this event to YOU and the others who have been affected by breast cancer.
Under HIS grace...
Monday, February 15, 2010
This past weekend at the Austin Marathon Expo I met a man who made a lasting impression on me. He is a lawyer who is a strong Christian man. He told me of doing wills for clients and then explaining to them that their worldly goods were now taken care from a legal aspect. But, he doesn't stop there. He then asks them where they are in their spiritual life? He asks them what is going to happen to them upon their death? He takes the opportunity to witness to them. He exhibits true Christian character in his actions and words. We can all learn a lesson from this wonderful servant of the Lord.
Today I got an email from Scot. He wrote:
Bought shirt in Austin and ran the half in it. "Nice shirt." Was the first comment. I responded "Thanks. I'm counting on Him." That received a thumbs up. Another, "I really needed that Scripture. Thanks. " Response: "You're welcome. I'm counting on Him." The funny thing is, I have never said "I'm counting on Him." But, I am and have been for a long time. The shirt blessed me by causing me to realize that faith in Christ is as simple as "I'm counting on Him." I'm counting on Him to keep His promises. I'm counting on Him for my salvation.
For many years I've said that there is a story behind every TEAM 413 shirt. Many of you have heard this from me at some point in time. Behind every shirt, there is a story! Behind every story, there is a heart. Behind every heart is a servant who is counting on Him! Thanks to all of you for being His servants -- He's counting on you too!
Counting on Him to count on me ---
Under HIS Grace...
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Today is Valentine's Day. I'm not really sure of the real story about how this holiday started but I'm certain that it's got to be a pretty cool one! Then again, it could be that all of the greeting card companies and florists got together and decided to create a "windfall" money day!
Nevertheless, this day makes us pause and reflect. We reflect on "love -- who? -- why? -- when? -- how?" It's a day that is somewhat whimsical in nature yet, true to the heart. It's a day we should not take for granted. But, on the other hand, we should not just set aside this as the one and only day for reflection of that one true gift of love with whom we are blessed.
My "God sent blessing" came in a package wrapped up as KIKI, my wife. She, literally, saved my life at a time when I didn't think that I could go on any longer. Life had been tough and obstacles were in my way that I didn't think I could overcome alone. I needed someone to help. God sent me Kiki. There have been many times when I've referred to her as an angel who rescued my heart. Each time I say that phrase, I realize how true it really is --- she really was an angel sent from Heaven.
I never want to let anything left unsaid. I want to make sure that the people in my life know exactly how I feel. They should see and hear the transparency of my heart. So, sappy or not, that's who I am. I'm an unashamed emotional guy. For those of you who don't like it, get over it! The emotions of my heart cannot be contained for my Lord, for my family, for my friends, and for all the goodness of God's gifts!
Under HIS Grace...
Saturday, February 13, 2010
What a whirlwind weekend! The Austin Marathon Expo proved to be an incredible event for TEAM 413. We met so many wonderful people and continue to hear stories that we cannot comprehend. We'll eventually tell many of these stories in the days, weeks, and months ahead. I'm always amazed at how God works in the lives of those who are involved with TEAM 413. I am humbled beyond words!
The report from Cliff Buck and Donnie Maner who worked the Mercedes Marathon Expo in Birmingham was great as well. They said that there was so much support and interest in the ministry and that they cannot remember a Birmingham event being this busy for us. I appreciate their hard work to make sure Birmingham had great representation. I am also thankful for our other volunteers in Birmingham, Scott & Melissa Butler. They have been running under the TEAM 413 name for many years and they have the hearts of servants just like Cliff and Donnie.
I'll end this GRACERUNNER JOURNAL by describing our weekend .... exhilarating, enthusiastic, incomprehensible, amazing, beyond imagination --- but most of all, GOD WAS GLORIFIED through this simple ministry that we call TEAM 413!
Under HIS Grace...
Friday, February 12, 2010
To quote my dear friend, Forest - Forest Gump, "Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you are gonna get." As we set out on this weekend in Birmingham and Austin, we had no idea what was going to happen.
In Birmingham snow fell most of the day but the reports from Donnie and Cliff have been good for TEAM 413 at the Mercedes Expo. They anticipate tomorrow will be a big day as a lot of people stayed clear of the snow today. We pray that folks will be able to venture out tomorrow in order to go to the expo, pick up their packets, and visit the vendors.
Deep in the heart of Texas in Austin, the Palmer Events Center was abuzz today during the first day of the Austin Marathon Expo. We met people who have followed us on the web, on Facebook, and through our blog. This Social Media thing works! And, we got a chance to hang out with some folks who've been representing TEAM 413 for years. My wife, Kiki, and I set up the booth and then Josh Miner from San Antonio drove up to help us on this first day. Kevin & Sheila Beermann from South Dakota also stopped by to offer their help. They'll be back tomorrow.
Each time we go into an event, we never know how God will show up! Then, in the blink of an eye, it is revealed. Today's gift was through the generosity of people who only know us through the ministry. Folks like Josh, Kevin, and Sheila are the backbone of our ministry. They keep us moving forward. They hold us accountable because we know they expect us to be there for them each day through a word of encouragement or through prayer. I cherish those moments when God's "show up" is revealed. It makes me pause and reflect on why God has called us to do what we do with TEAM 413.
Wonderful folks like Cliff Buck and Donnie Maner make our life easier because we know that things are being taken care of back in Birmingham. We know that the gospel is being shared and that God is being glorified. I praise God for these fine people who have been placed in our path.
So, today --- we knew what we were gonna get! We got blessed because wonderful volunteers are helping us share the love of Christ from coast to coast. God bless all of you!
Under HIS Grace...
I'll be writing about our events in Birmingham and Austin throughout the weekend. Kiki and I are in Austin and Cliff Buck & Donnie Maner will be holding things down in Birmingham. Please pray for all of us as we introduce the ministry of TEAM 413 with thousands of people this weekend.
Have a great weekend...
Under HIS Grace...
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
If you have not filled out our survey, please go to the following link:
Thanks to many of you for filling out our survey. We are doing our best to meet the needs of everyone involved in with TEAM 413. But, as you know, it's almost impossible to please everyone. The survey is anonymous so, I can't address individual issues or concerns. I've looked over the responses and felt it was important that I respond to some of the common answers to our questions. You won't know unless I tell you!
Gear, Styles, and Colors that you suggested -- We currently have:
- Stickers in stock
- Technical Running Caps AND Visors are in stock
- Hoodie Sweatshirts in stock
- Unisex Shirts in Green, Orange, Marron, Yellow, & Burnt Orange
- Ladies V-Neck Shirts in Pink, Red, & Black
- Ladies Junior-Cut Crew Neck Shirts in Burnt Orange & Maroon
- Please keep in mind that we do not currently have an on-line store. It is cost prohibitive for us to keep this type of inventory. We are working on a limited on-line store and will announce details soon.
Other Items of Significance regarding Gear:
- We will be adding a sleeveless/tank for men and women in the spring
- We cannot do a razorback style shirt for women as we do not plan to reduce the size of the verse on the back. The verse will always remain the same size and font. It is the recognizable "branding" of our ministry.
- Every shirt we sell, with the exception of a cotton tee, is a wicking fabric. Each company has their own branding of this such as Dry-Fit, Dri-Tek, etc.
- Surf City, Chicago, Indy, and Houston are on our hit list for upcoming years
- We may be at R & R Dallas this year. We are currently working on this.
- We have been at San Diego & Long Beach the past few years and we were at the OC Marathon last year. TEAM 413 has a significant presence in Southern California.
Once again, thank you for your input!
Under HIS Grace...
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Paul Dillmuth has a servant's heart and hands. He is a blessing to the ministry of TEAM 413 in so many ways. We met Paul at the 2009 running of the Walt Disney World Marathon. He bought a TEAM 413 shirt and ran the race in it.....he became part of our team on that day. But, his story as a true teammate was just starting.
In late 2009, we were in the process of putting together our 2010 event schedule. We wanted to go back to Disney but weren't sure we could afford to go on our very tight budget. Paul contacted us and asked us if we were going to be at Disney in January. We told him that we were working on it. He wanted to know how much the booth spaces were and how much our travel would be. A few days later I received word from Paul that he was picking up the tab for Disney so we wouldn't have to worry about raising the funds for this event anymore! His gift was a blessing of God's grace!
The 2010 Disney race expo proved to be the most significant fundraiser in our seven year history. It was an amazing time for all of us involved with TEAM 413. However, it would not have happened had it not been for Paul Dillmuth. He basically stepped up and helped a cause that he believes in so very much.
After having suffered through a high fever last night and not feeling good this morning, I drug myself out of bed to make my way to work at Samford University. I just didn't feel normal -- a virus had made me a bit weak today. My hope was to get through at least part of the day. I turned on my computer and opened my email and there was a gift receipt and a message from Paul Dillmuth. He wants to make sure that we get to many races this year and back to Disney next year. His plan is to become a TEAM 413 fundraiser and to contribute throughout the year to make this happen. Needless to say, my day got much better. It added a little spring back into my step.
I don't heap the words "hero of the faith" on too many people. I don't use the words "servant's heart and hands" unless I truly believe that someone has achieved this lofty goal. For Paul Dillmuth, the words came easy. He fits the criteria as far as I'm concerned -- he stepped up to the plate and supported a cause that he believes in from the very core of his being.
We are blessed to call Paul Dillmuth a TEAM 413 Ambassador. More importantly, we are blessed to know him as a brother in Christ and a billboard of grace on the roads of life!
God bless you my friend!
Under HIS Grace...
Monday, February 8, 2010
Please watch this video Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yq2S04duEyk
Mark Starner is a talented young man! The video is produced by Mark who is the founder of Good News Films. Good New Films is similar to TEAM 413 - GRACERUNNER MINISTRIES in many ways. Both organizations are non-profit ministries. Both of our ministries function on "shoe-string" budgets. Nevertheless, we continue to spread the gospel! Together we will do GREAT THINGS!
Over the next few months we will be involved in a joint venture to tell the story of many of the people who run under the TEAM 413 name. Mark has a vision to put stories in motion so that YOU can see and hear some of the amazing stories of God's grace that we see and hear through the eyes and ears of our ministry. This will be a powerful way to spread the gospel to people all over the world.
Mark and I both have big dreams that God has laid on our heart. During the coming days, we'll be putting our dreams and visions into action! In the meantime, if you know of companies or individuals who would like to be a sponsor of our project, please let us know.
Greater things are yet to come....
Under HIS Grace...
Sunday, February 7, 2010
Faith, family, and football have been important to me for as long as I can remember. I can remember being an Oakland Raider fan back when they were really good. YES -- They were good once upon a time back in the days of Lamonica, Otto, Wood, and Biletnikoff. They were the silver and black, they had the mad bomber, Biletnikoff could catch anything, and they played the game like it was supposed to be played -- Fast, hard, & tough!
I remember the "immaculate reception" by Franco Harris of the Pittsburgh Steelers when they beat my Raiders. It hurt! I remember many of the Super Bowls and it seemed that we always watched them at our home -- that tradition continues today. We watch the game AND the commercials and enjoy every minute of it. It's always been an enjoyable experience. We'll wait and see if that changes should the Dallas Cowboys ever make the Super Bowl again! Kiki is their biggest fan! I'm not sure how she would handle them getting to or loosing a Super Bowl!
However, I also am reminded on this Super Bowl Sunday how thankful I am that God has given me the strength to keep my priorities in order! We'll be watching the big game today with family AND enjoying my world famous chili! However, it will not be our worship experience! It will simply be a great day to celebrate the things of life that God has allowed us to enjoy.
So, when things get crazy or don't go the way you want for your team, remember your priorities. Enjoy the moment! Celebrate your team! But, most importantly, keep the faith!
Under HIS Grace...
Saturday, February 6, 2010
"How's your enthusiasm?" A good friend, who is a well-known football coach, asks his players and other coaches this question all the time. He explained to me that he doesn't want to know if they are excited. He wants to know the depth of their enthusiasm.
There's a major difference in being excited or being enthusiastic! Being excited means that you are emotionally aroused or stirred. But, enthusiasm means that you have a passionate interest in or eagerness to do something! Big difference! Being excited only lasts for a little while and can wear off as things go down hill. However, enthusiasm has a tendency to last because of the passion that one has within them. Excitement is external -- enthusiasm is internal! So, how's your enthusiasm?
A few nights ago our little dog, Willie, was playing with one of his many toys that he has collected from all over our home. He suddenly stopped. He looked around, gazed up at us, then did something that was totally uncharacteristic of his normal behavior. He took off on a full speed sprint! He ran around the sofa three times, circled all the chairs in the room, ran from the family room to the kitchen and back, and zig-zagged through the obstacle course of the other furniture and things in the room. This went on for a few minutes and then, he sat back down and returned to playing with his toy!
Kiki and I watched Willie and when he was done, I proclaimed, "Wow! That was awesome!" Willie was excited to be playing with his toy but then he burst into enthusiasm mode! That wild and frantic display of enthusiasm came out of nowhere but he had to get it out of his system!
When we go about our daily journey through life, do we exhibit excitement or enthusiasm for God? Are we just "stirred" or are we truly "passionate" for Christ, our Lord? Being excited eventually burns out. However, being enthusiastic is not extinguished so easily! Enthusiasm is full speed -- it is no holes barred -- it has no boundaries. You have to show your enthusiasm because your passion cannot be contained!
Investigate your priorities in life. What are you excited about? Where is your enthusiasm? It's a great introspective exercise that could make a difference in the way you live your life!
Enthusiastically, Under HIS Grace...
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
God speaks to us if we will just listen. Many times it is through prayer -- through other people -- through the events of life -- in the stillness of the moment. We just have to pay attention!
TEAM 413 is on the verge of the largest growth spurt in our history. We are in the midst of a moment that we will look back on in the months and years to come and declare, "WOW! God was at work in a mighty way!" We will look back at these days as the formative days of a ministry that can only be described as a miracle of God's goodness and a gift of His grace.
Over the next year we will be placed in front of millions of people. We will be able to share with thousands of folks through our words and deeds. The people of TEAM 413 will be a beacon of hope for one person at a time as we make our journey across the United States and then to the rest of the world. The time has come for TEAM 413 to expand our borders and enlarge our territory.
Some unique opportunities will open up to us in the next few months and I'm asking you to be in prayer for TEAM 413. You'll see changes to our website soon. An online store is in the works and, hopefully, you'll be able to see the gear we have in stock on the web in the near future. A series of stories are about to be told in a unique way in order to spread the gospel. Several different projects will be unveiled one by one over the weeks to come. You'll hear about Delaney's Project, TEAMWORK 413, NEVER QUIT 413, and SIDE BY SIDE 413.
Your opportunities to be involved with TEAM 413 will grow soon -- so, stay tuned! God is doing things that we cannot comprehend! His timing is NOW and we will heed His call!
Under HIS Grace...
Monday, February 1, 2010
This past weekend we had the pleasure of attending the ING Miami Marathon Expo in South Beach. It was a wonderful experience. Tish Stropes and Leslie Toops joined me in working the TEAM 413 booth at the expo. As always, we are so thankful for our volunteers and ambassadors. Tish has been with us since 2003 and this was Leslie's first opportunity to work with us. I am so blessed!
The ING & US Road Sports personnel did a great job with all aspects of the event. TEAM 413 has become a viable part of the South Florida running community and we are grateful to all of the wonderful people from the area. We appreciate your support and enthusiasm for our ministry.
I had the honor of speaking at the ING Runner's Lounge Seminar on Friday and Saturday. We shared a "Common Running Injuries" presentation on Friday and "Faith on the Run" on Saturday. It was an awesome experience. We look forward to attending many more events there in the future.
In the upcoming weeks TEAM 413 will be at many races across the country. Here's a tentative schedule through the first weekend of May:
- Austin Marathon - February 12 - 14 - Austin, Texas
- Mercedes Marathon - February 12 - 14 - Birmingham, Alabama
- 26.2 with Donna - February 19 - 21 - Jacksonville, Florida
- Mardi Gras Marathon - February 26 - 28 - New Orleans, Louisiana
- Seaside Half Marathon - March 6 - 7 - Seaside, Florida
- Little Rock Marathon - March 5 - 7 - Little Rock, Arkansas
- ING Georgia Marathon - March - 19 - 21 - Atlanta, Georgia
- Knoxville Marathon - March 27 - 28 - Knoxville, Tennessee
- Go St. Louis Marathon - April 9 - 11 - St. Louis, Missouri
- Boston Marathon - April 16 - 19 - Boston, Mass.
- Country Music Marathon - April 22 - 24 - Nashville, Tennessee
- Flying Pig Marathon - April 30 - May 2 - Cincinnati, Ohio
- Illinois Marathon - April 30 - May 1 - Urbana, Illinois
Please keep us in your prayers as we travel across the country sharing our message that, "we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us!"
Under HIS Grace...