"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Flying Through Life!

Airports and air travel have always amazed me.  I find it so intriguing to watch people.  Some are in a hurry -- some are in a tizzy -- some have no clue what to do or where to go -- some act surprised when they suddenly have to get on a plane or show someone an ID.  It's funny how unprepared some people are and then how over-prepared others are!  I find it amusing to watch all aspects of what happens on the inside and outside of these "meccas" of flight.  From the time you get to the building until the time you walk out of your destination airport, it is always an adventure.

We hardly ever pay attention to the miracles that go on around us in and around an airport.  We don't stop to notice things like the soldier coming home meeting his family at the airport.  We don't marvel at the miracle of thousands of pounds of metal lifting us off the ground and propelling us to another city somewhat akin to a time machine!  We don't feel the sense of wonderment that you see in the eyes of a child when they get to look into the cockpit with the pilot or are handed a "wing badge."  We miss it because we are in such a hurry and we are consumed with our own wants, wishes, and desires!

We could paint an analogy of life with the things that happen in a airport.  We don't care about others enough to slow down just for a moment to ask, "How are you today?"  We don't stop and "smell the flowers" of the grand time machine that God has given us --- LIFE!  We grow up and lose the faith, simpleness, and hope that only a child can exhibit.  We simply go about life with a badge of entitlement pinned to our heart and mind.  We want "what we want" and we want it NOW!  Everything is too slow -- nothing can keep up with our demands -- if it's yesterday's news, it's not worth anything to us!

I don't believe God wants us to live our lives that way.  I believe that He wants us to savor every moment.  I think God's desire is for our life to be filled with excitement, challenge, hope, and love.  I cannot imagine that God would want us to live our lives as if we "lived" in an airport!  So, slow down and be a kid today -- embrace the fullness of God's love around you -- look for hope in the miracles that happen in front of you each and every single day of your life.

Seat backs and tray tables up!  Fasten your seat belt!  Expect the ride of your life each day -- God wouldn't have it any other way!

Under HIS Grace...


Monday, October 25, 2010

Happy Birthday, KIKI!

Happy Birthday to my wife, best friend, and the love of my life!

An Angel Who Rescued My Heart
From GRACERUNNER - FAITH ON THE RUN - Published January 2010

Just a few short years ago, I had pretty much given up. Even though I knew that God would take care of me, I just couldn't come to grips with what was going on in my life. In my mind, I had lost everything. I had been through a divorce that was devastating. I was suffering with health problems that seemed to worsen by the day. I didn't know how I was going to make it through each day.

Because of my faith, I turned it over to God and asked Him to show me what to do. Then along came Kiki, who is now my wife. She was, without a doubt, an angel sent from God to rescue my heart. Without question, she is one of the primary reasons for the success of TEAM 413.

Kiki is an absolutely amazing person. She is so very sympathetic to other people's feelings. She is empathetic as she tries to understand what others are going through in their personal lives. She is compassionate by doing things for people who will never know she helped. She is the most beautiful person that I've ever known, both inside and out.

I can best describe Kiki as being full of energy, extremely positive, and extraordinarily dedicated. Her energy is contagious. She does everything in her life with a zeal that is a model for all of us. She is upbeat even in tough situations. She keeps her head up, tries to make other people smile, and encourages them with her words in more ways than I can explain.

She is loyal to her family, her friends, her employer, and associates. She simply gets things done and finishes any task that has been entrusted to her. She is a gift and a blessing to many people. She is wonderful!

Everyone who meets Kiki remembers her. At first, I thought it was because of her name. But, it's not. It's because of her smile, her cute squeaky voice, and the way she approaches people. They remember her because her goal is to make someone smile, to make someone laugh, to brighten someone's day, to cheer someone up, to lend a helping hand, to help someone in a time of need, to deliver on a promise.

Kiki is special for so many reasons. She is a wonderful wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend. She has a contagious personality that instantly wins you over. She is intelligent, but still sees the world though the eyes of a child. She is in wonderment of God's creation in nature, in people, in life.

Kiki is one of the most talented people that I've ever known. She can do just about anything. She is a gifted athlete. She is a great worker. She can figure out stuff that makes me scratch my head! I love to sit back and tell her that she "can't do something" -- she'll prove me wrong every time because it motivates her. She can do and be anything!

My wife is the most genuine, wonderful person I've ever met. Hold on, did I write that already? Well, she is!!! I am a very lucky man to have her by my side in good and bad times. I am blessed to be graced with her presence each day. I am a better person because God sent her to make my life whole again.

Thank you, Kiki, for loving me, caring for me, and never doubting me! You are an angel!

Under HIS Grace...


Friday, October 22, 2010


Jeff Galloway

I am happy to announce that Jeff Galloway will become the official training program provider of TEAM 413.  Jeff commented, "I am honored to be the official training program provider for Team 413. Following the instructions in the program has reduced injury rate to almost zero -- while increasing the fun."  Jeff, a US Olympian and author of GALLOWAY TRAINING PROGRAMS is a pioneer in marathon training and we are thrilled to work with him. 

Jeff has helped me in immeasurable ways through my years of running.  I cannot think of a better person to help us achieve our running goals than Jeff Galloway!  Pleas check out Jeff's website and training programs at www.runinjuryfree.com

Stay tuned for additional details.

Under God's Grace...


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

God Uses the Simple to do the Extraordinary!

"In the midst of the thunderstorms of life, people seek shelter in the hope that only Christ can give.  As Christians, we must be there for these people to offer support, love, and a caring heart.  We have to allow our faith to show through so others will see Christ in us!"

This past weekend at the IMT Des Moines (Iowa)  Marathon I had the privilege of speaking at the expo speakers series.  On Saturday afternoon a young lady took her seat as I was about to step up to the microphone to begin my presentation.  As I began to share my personal story and the story of the founding of TEAM 413, tears ran down her face.  The more I talked about how Christ had been glorified by a simple verse on a simple running shirt all over the world, she began to cry.  She eventually composed herself, but she remained somewhat emotional during the entire talk.  I was able to speak with her afterwards and learned that she had lost her mom not too long ago and was having a tough time.  She was going through a "thunderstorm moment" in her life.  She told me that the words of encouragement really helped her.  I was moved beyond measure because God had allowed me to help someone in a way that I could not have imagined.

Frank Shorter, me, Jeff Galloway, and Dick Beardsley at 2009 Bass Pro Shops Marathon

Later that evening I had the honor to introduce the keynote speaker, Jeff Galloway, at the pasta dinner.  Jeff and I have been friends for quite some time, but he didn't know the depth of his influence in my life...of how his run-walk-run method had gotten me through virtually every race that I've ever finished.  He had never heard my entire story and this was my opportunity to say thanks to him and to introduce my friend, my coach, and the father of the run-walk-run method of training to this audience.  When Jeff took the stage he thanked me for the kind introduction and then told the audience that TEAM 413 was making an impact on people all over the world, that we were helping to change people's lives.  Once again, I was in awe of God's power -- of how he could use a simple messenger to help spread His good news and now we are accepted by the worldwide running community.

After the pasta dinner, I had the privilege to meet, Stacy Sparks, a cancer survivor who had shared her story at the expo.  She introduced herself and we chatted for a bit.  She went on to tell me how TEAM 413 folks had helped her get through some races and that she had never stopped by our booth at an expo but was glad the she could meet me one-on-one so that we could share our stories.  Once again, I was inspired by someone who God used to lift my heart -- to know that we truly are making a difference.

Finally, on race day, I felt great.  I eventually would complete the Des Moines Half Marathon in my fastest time in several years.  My time still wasn't great but it was several minutes faster than I've run in a very long time!  I was pumped because even though it's not really about the time any longer, I had become somewhat discouraged that I couldn't seem to get over the hump.  But on this day, I was able to achieve a little more than I thought I could.  God shined down on me on this cobalt blue sky day in Des Moines and I will never forget the people who I met along that journey through the streets of the city.

There is much work to be done and we need your help.  Look for some major announcements coming during the next few weeks.  TEAM 413 is coming to a city near you soon.....

Under HIS Grace...


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

It's not about me -- It's about Him!"

On Tuesday, October 12,  I posted the following quote as my status update:

"I don't run as fast as I once did.  I used to care about where I finished a race in my age-group.  That stuff is not important anymore.  God planted different reasons in my heart.  Now, I run to celebrate God's miracle of grace in my life - that I can run against all odds - so Christ will be lifted up through each step I take - so others may see Christ in me.  Quite simply, it's not about me -- It's about Him!" 

Frankly, I was astounded by the comments, emails, phone calls, and other feedback I got from this simple quote.  Some of the comments were:

"Since I have only recently started back running, it is by His grace that I can take the next step, deepening the understanding that His grace is providing each step, not just when running but each and every step throughout the entire day."

"I so agree with this and love it! Just got home from The Chicago Marathon! It was so hot 88 degrees. We have always known our camaraderie was most important, but during this race, it was ever so evident. God's grace was upon us and we were able to extend it to others. We finished hold hand and smiling."

"Your post says it all for me as well, after a knee scope that left me bone on bone and in need of a knee replacement, it is no longer about the time. It's about the fact that with God all things are possible and I can do all through Him, we just have to keep going so others will see this!"

"Beautifully written Chris! I ran behind two ladies that were wearing, 'I can do things through Christ who strengthens me' shirts at the Portland marathon...brought a smile to my face and heart."

"You said exactly how I feel!"

"I had never thought about running with that perspective....thank you for that. It takes a lot to change an attitude. Your post just did."

The thing about this status update that is so amazing is that I had a couple of days off as we were on fall break at Samford University, where I teach.  I was on my way out the door for a run when I realized that I had not posted my daily status update.  I sat down at my computer and went totally blank!  I had no idea what to write!  I said a simple prayer, "God, give me words to touch someone today."  Those words were what He delivered. 

As soon as I finished typing and posting the words, a "like" came up on the screen, then another, then more, then comments!  My run was delayed for a few minutes while I responded.  I sat on the sofa as I thought about how God had entrusted me with something that belonged to Him.  It as a very emotional time -- Possibly one of the most "in tune with God" times that I've ever had. 

I eventually walked out the door and my planned 2 hour run turned into 3 hours.  My brain was in overdrive and my heart was full of emotion.  I thought about all the things that I've been able to do while we've been involved in this thing we call TEAM 413.  God gave me thoughts for the future -- a plan for some things that you'll hear about soon -- a clearness of focus that I've longed for.

God's simple words became a sermon to me!  It's now a challenge for me to live up to what God expects of me.  It has challenged me to do somethings that will be, to say the least, "outside the box."  

Hang on folks!  The best is yet to come.  God is at work in the lives of people all over the world because of His ministry -- TEAM 413.  We'll be coming to a town near you soon!  Want to be involved?  We can use you as we continue to celebrate God's goodness and ensure that He is glorified in ALL we do!

Under HIS Grace...


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Less is More!

Very few things in my life have been as frustrating as "trying" to raise funds for our non-profit ministry, TEAM 413 - GRACERUNNER Ministries. It's time consuming, tedious, gut wrenching, and yet, still a blessing! Even though very few people actually participate and give to the ministry, those who do are such amazing people and I am a better person because of their impact on my life. 

I've found that those with the most, give the least and those with the least, give the most. It's truly an extraordinary thing! The wonderful folks who can least afford it give each month. Every time we need people to step up, they are the ones who give. They never judge us for asking for funds to continue this wonderful ministry, they just participate in our events and tell us that they are praying for us! 

God has used those amazing people to touch my life in immeasurable ways. He has taught me many lessons through their steadfast support. God has blessed the dollars that they have given through the years. He has multiplied the gifts to expand His Kingdom!

When I've asked and asked and asked again --- and the dollars don't come in as timely as I think they should, God shows up through one of these folks and blesses my heart.

To those of you who give, thank you so much for having hearts of servant-hood and for believing in our efforts!

Under HIS Grace...

Monday, October 4, 2010

Cobalt Blue Sky Day in My Heart!

My run on Sunday, October 3 was supposed to be a normal medium long run. It was not supposed to be "life changing" or anything extraordinary. It was to be an opportunity to log the miles -- to enjoy the coolness of the first crisp fall day of the year -- to finish the week of training with a good run. Plain and simple, I was out to finish the drill -- nothing more, nothing less. God had other ideas!
The clutter of all the "brain chatter" in my head quickly became much, much more. On this run my senses were really awakened for the first time since the spring. Running in the heat during the summer always takes a tremendous toll on my body. And, suddenly on this day, it seemed to be all gone. My legs felt fresh. Me mind became clear. My pace was faster. My breathing was easy. On this day, things changed for me even if for just one day!
I noticed the cool breeze on my face. I saw squirrels celebrating as if they were little kids out playing in the park. Leaves blew across my path for the first time since last fall. But, the biggest thing that caught my attention was the noise that I kept hearing in the distance -- it was the flapping of our American Flag in the wind. This flag atop a pole at the highest point on the running trail at Veteran's Park in Alabaster, Alabama was dancing in the wind. It could be seen and heard from any spot on the trail on this day. When I looked up, it also had the backdrop of a "cobalt blue sky" -- A color that cannot be described adequately except to say that only God could conjure up something so beautiful and breathtaking!
So, here I was running on a "cobalt blue sky day" -- the flapping of the symbol of freedom echoing in my ear -- the wind against my back or in my face -- the freshness of a cool day! It was a snapshot moment in my heart -- a sensory overload that was sorely needed! I had an amazing 10 mile run for my body, mind, heart, and soul!
We live in such a frantic, fast paced world and we rarely slow down to capture the simpleness of the complexity of God! We don't notice the wind, the wildlife, the sky, the coolness of the air, or the freedom we have. We argue the point "in God we trust" but we don't really live like it or appreciate it until someone tells us that they want to take it away from us!
Sunday's run opened my senses in many ways. But, more importantly, it opened my heart to seek His goodness in all of life....to capture the reality of each precious day....to savor the marvelous beauty of His handiwork....to cherish the freedom that I have to live, to love, to worship, to share my faith!
Have you noticed God's "cobalt blue sky day" moments in your life lately. If not, look around. You just might be missing a blessing straight from the heart of God!
Under HIS Grace with a "Cobalt Blue Sky Day" in my heart...

Sunday, October 3, 2010


My first book, GRACERUNNER - FAITH ON THE RUN, came off the press last week. We sold the book for the first time at the Walt Disney World Marathon Expo in Orlando. We were pleased with the number of books that we signed and sold at our first ever book signing. The feedback on the book has been good and we believe that this book will turn out to be a major fundraiser for TEAM 413 - GRACERUNNER Ministries.
The book is filled with stories of God's grace. I did my best to capture stories of the people, places, and things we have come in contact with during our seven year journey with TEAM 413. Some of the stories will make you laugh, some will make you cry, and some will make you turn your head like a Golden Retriever! God gave me the words of this book as He captured my heart with His goodness. The writing of this book was a labor of love for all of the people who have invested in the lives of others by sharing their faith during their "running" journeys through life.
The cover of the book was designed by my oldest daughter, Morgan. The foreword was written by Dick Beardsley, a legend in the running community. I have dedicated the book to those who have truly made a difference in my life by giving of themselves in order to help me grow. I am very pleased with the final product. Although, I'm certain it is not perfect, I can assure you that it will touch your heart and make you think about what is important in your life.
If you would like to help TEAM 413's fundraising efforts, please consider purchasing the book, reading it, and then passing it on to a friend. Writing it changed my life --- I hope that reading it will change yours.
To purchase a signed copy of GRACERUNNER - FAITH ON THE RUN, email me at chris@team413.org. We'll respond with instructions for payment and then send you a copy pronto!
Under HIS Grace...

Friday, October 1, 2010

Self-Less-Ness in Action!

Tonya Williams in a recent race -- Notice the man behind her. He's reading her shirt!

Once in a while you meet someone that truly "gets it!" It feels like they are totally instep with your own dreams, beliefs, and faith. They care about every aspect of your life and you can depend on them in any situation. People like this come along very few times in your lifetime. One of those people who has been so special to Kiki and me is Tonya Williams. Tonya, who is pictured above, is a bundle of energy. She is a personal trainer, fitness instructor, friend to many, and a valuable TEAM 413 Ambassador. By the way, I'm not sure I'd want Tonya to work me out -- might not be able to walk the next day! I believe that her motto is probably "JUST DO IT -- OR ELSE!"

The characteristics that I have noticed most about Tonya are her genuine empathy, sympathy, and compassion for others. She is "self-less" and always puts others first. When Kiki had her knee surgery a few days ago, she wanted to make sure that I kept her posted on how her "sista" was doing. She has become a friend and confidant to us and we cherish her friendship so very much.

Tonya loves to run. She loves to compete. She loves to finish the drill! Yet, she loves the Lord more than anything and is not ashamed to tell anyone. She makes no apologies for her faith in Jesus Christ and she will introduce Him to others at any opportunity that she finds. Her zeal for doing the right thing is contagious. You want to follow her lead because you know that she is going to do the right thing!

One interesting fact about Tonya is that she probably owns the largest collection of TEAM 413 shirts (other than me) in the world. Well, that's not exactly true. The truth is that she has probably owned more shirts than anyone else in the world ONE at a time! She gives them away when someone is hurting -- when someone needs some inspiration -- when someone accomplishes a goal -- or just because she wants to share her faith with someone. Then, she calls Kiki for a replacement or two or three! Tonya is "self-less-ness" in action!

Tonya Williams is a mess, a person who truly "lives" life, a friend, a sister in Christ, and a "sista" on earth. She is one of a kind and we wouldn't want it any other way!

Thanks, Tonya for making us smile -- for cheering us up when we are down -- and for stepping up to serve when you are called upon! To ALL OF US, you are a gift straight from the heart of God!

Under HIS Grace...