We Did It!!!!

We were way too tired last night to create a slide show, but here is a quick pic to prove we actually did it!

We will have the full story, and more pictures, up soon!

Here We Go!

Sorry for the late notice, but we wanted to let you know that you can follow us throughout the race at the Country Music Marathon website. Just click on the Live Results section, enter in our names and it will update you as we pass certain mile markers.

We woke up to rain and thunder this morning, but we are hoping it passes soon. We are bringing our camera and as long as it stops raining, we hope to have pictures up this afternoon!

Pre-race Jitters

The half marathon is 6 days away.  We got our Thomas Nelson team shirts, got some good shoes, have a sitter all lined up, and we will pick up our numbers and timing chips Thursday night.  We are excited and little nervous.  We are excited about being there and having the experience, but nervous at the 13.1 miles and the fact that we never did our long walk (10 miles).  Based on our training history, we think we will be just fine, but it will definitely challenge us (which, I guess, is the point). The goal this week is to do some moderate walking every day to stay loose and do a LOT of stretching!

Here is a link to all the course information, in case you are curious.  Supposedly, the day of the race, you will be able to track our progress online and see where we are at certain mileage markers.  Since we are walking those stats won’t update quickly, but it may be fun to check in on us!  I don’t have all the info on how that works yet, but I’ll add another post as soon as I get it. We have to be downtown around 5 am, and based on our starting position, probably won’t even start until around 8 am.  Assuming we finish in four hours, we will be done around noon. We plan to hang out at the Thomas Nelson tent for a little while and then go home – hopefully with completion medals in hand!  If anyone around Nashville would like to cheer us on in person, there is information about all the places you can do that here.  We would love to see you!

Pray for us this week, and on Saturday.  Pray that we have energy to sustain us through the course, that we would finish injury free, that we will be able to move on Sunday(!), and most importantly that we would have a whole lot of fun!

Social Networking Parts II and III

Part II – I took my social networking experiment a step further.  I added an application on Facebook called Ustream.tv.  It allows you to stream your webcam to the world so anyone can see you any time that you are broadcasting (yes, you control it).  Now anyone can click on the little Facebook application and, if I’m on, can see me and what I am doing.  Most of it will involve sitting and staring (I do a LOT on the computer – email, research about ministries, etc.) so it won’t be that exciting, but I am curious as to the response I’ll get. I did choose to keep the sound off.  I’m not ready for the world to hear everything just yet!.

Part III – I had a meeting in Memphis yesterday at a well-known ministry to kick off a project we are working on together.  I met a lady there who opened with “How are Melinda and the kids?”.  I stood there a little taken aback (at first I thought she was talking to someone else and it was a major coincidence) while I scrambled to search the file folders of my brain to see if I knew her (I did grow up in Memphis).  Before I could say anything, she told me that she knew I went to Memphis State around the same time she did, and mentioned a previous Memphis-based employer I had worked for.  Now I was really starting to panic, thinking how did I know this woman?!  I think she saw the confused look in my eyes, because she put me out of my misery and told me she had found my LinkedIn (a business networking site.  There’s a link to my profile to the left) profile and had read this blog.  After having a good laugh about the whole thing, I thought about my previous post.

There is a LOT of information about me, out there for anyone to see.  Could that ever be used against me?  I try to keep things above reproach, so I’m not concerned morally, but it’s a little disconcerting to have perfect strangers know all this info about me and use it causally in a conversation at our first meeting!  Now, the lady I met was extremely sweet and I would never question someone like her having the information she had.  But what about not so well-intentioned folk?

Again, I don’t have the answers, and I’m not ready to remove my digital footprint from the web, but maybe I can end with this challenge – have you ever Googled yourself?  You should try it and see what information comes up about you!  If nothing comes up, and you want to keep it that way – great!  If nothing comes up and you are a little disappointed, maybe it’s time to venture out into cyberspace a little further.  Start a blog or get on Facebook.  The internet is here to stay, and you can either hide from it, or jump in with both feet. Just remember to have fun, and always look for the good in people and not assume the worst about their intentions.

What a week…

This week was sales conference week at Thomas Nelson.  We have sales conference every quarter, and it is always long.  We listen to hours of presentations about hundreds of upcoming titles.  It can be tedious and, frankly, boring at times. The publishers do their best to make it as interesting as possible, but it gets difficult. Sometimes they will try and bring the authors themselves in to talk about their books. That can be very “hit and miss”, but this week was nothing short of a home run.

This week, I had the privilege of listening to some amazing people.  On Monday we heard from Mike Flynt. You may remember Mike from making headlines last year as being the oldest player ever to play college football.  At 59 years of age, he went back and played the final year of football that he missed because he was kicked out of school.  Because of his age, and the fact that he was going back to play his last year, his book is called The Senior.  It is an incredible story of overcoming obstacles, never giving up on your dreams, never letting anyone tell you that you can’t do something, and, in a lot of ways, a story of redemption.  Look for this inspirational story to hit bookshelves this fall.

On Tuesday Marcus Buckingham spoke.  Marcus is best known for writing the book Now Discover Your Strengths.  This book has helped countless people put into words what they have known all along – I am really good in this area, I just don’t know how to express it.  Once your strengths are known, you can then work from those strengths rather than buying into the misconception that the only way to succeed is to focus on improving your weaknesses.  Marcus’ new book is called The Truth About You and will be just as revolutionary. Simply, it’s about finding out what you really like to do, not just what you are good at, and excelling in that area.  For example, at work you may be given a task to do over and over again because you happen to be good at that task. However, for you that task is a horrible, draining experience.  You can’t stand to do it, although you are good at it.  According to Marcus that is a weakness, not a strength.  Anything that makes you feel horrible is a weakness.  He will help readers identify the things they love, and show them how to work in that sweet spot.  For more on this, check out Oprah Winfrey’s show on Friday April 18th.  Marcus will be on the show with the results of five months of coaching several women in this concept.  Should be interesting!

Wednesday I had the chance to listen to someone that for most needs no introduction – Dr. John MacArthur. John has a new book out called A Tale Of Two Sons, and is basically a commentary on the parable of the prodigal son found in Luke 15:11-32.  Dr. MacArthur challenges the way we think about this oft-told parable.  He examines the original language closely and based on the evidence found in the text feels this parable isn’t all that it seems to be, and the way it is usually taught isn’t quite right.  It’s a fascinating take, and I can’t wait to read it.  This book is out now.

At the end of sales conference, Thomas Nelson did something unique and hosted an Open House for Christian retailers.  They brought retailers to Nashville and held special events, concerts, and seminars – all to help them with their business.  Like many other things Thomas Nelson is trying to do right now, this event wasn’t Thomas Nelson-centric.  It was all about the retailers and all about encouraging them and helping them re-think their business in an ever-increasing hostile economy.

I wish I could have attended the seminars on Friday, but Melinda and I did get to go to the kick-off event on Thursday night where we got to worship with people like Travis Cottrell, Jaci Velasquez, and Sandi Patty among others.  The highlight of the evening was listening to Max Lucado speak on 3:16, his latest book.  I’ve read the book, and heard Max speak on this before, but it is always a thrill to hear someone as eloquent as Max tell me how much God loves me, and the lengths He went to to save me from hell.  I must admit, though, that one of the best parts of the night was the date I had with Melinda – sans kids!  The night was inspirational, and an excellent way to cap off the week.

Once again, I am floored that I can describe all of the above to you and it be a work week!  I love where God has placed me, and I love the career I have with Thomas Nelson.  I just passed five years of “official” employment with them.  I’ve actually worked there, freelance and employment, for almost six years.  I count each day I have with them a blessing.

How Much Social Networking Is Too Much?

Social networking is all the rage, and I must admit that I got into MySpace for a little while.  I burned out pretty quick, though.  Too many advertisers (to describe most of them as “inappropriate” would be a grand understatement), too loose moderation, and the fact that it was really hard to update it left me feeling like it was more work to keep up than it was worth.

Then I got onto Facebook and social networking became fun again.  I know you still have to be careful in cyberspace, but Facebook does an excellent job at keeping most of the bad stuff hidden.  The applications are fun and, for the most part, easy to use, and the pages are clean and inviting.  It’s been great to find and keep up with people you haven’t seen in a while, at same time getting a glimpse into the daily life of the people you talk to almost every day.  Melinda and I both have Facebook pages and have a ball with it.  We haven’t let Jessica get on it yet, but she is still learning about cyberspace and we don’t want to throw her in too soon.

So where is the line?

I just started using a service called Twitter.  I had seen it around, but had a few minutes and decided to check it out.  Twitter allows you to let your friends (and the whole world) know what you are doing at any given moment.  You can update Twitter on the web, via instant message, or through a text message from your phone.  You can Twitter as much or as little as you like.  If want to let everyone know your every last move, send it to Twitter.  Update it a couple times a day and let people know what a typical day looks like for you.  Random thoughts, activities, schedule, Twitter is your stage and the world is watching your every move.  They even have a public timeline that will show you everybody’s Twitter updates all in a row.  You can follow the lives of people you know, don’t know, and may not want to know.

I took it one step further and connected Twitter to my Facebook page and now every time I update Twitter, it updates my status on Facebook.  It will probably get really old for me (and for my Facebook friends), but I at least wanted to experiment with it.  I want to see how ridiculous it can really get.  For example, I just updated Twitter (and therefore Facebook) with an entry that I was writing this blog post.  And that brings me to my point…

How much is too much?  First, does anyone really care what I am doing at any given moment of the day?  If so, what do people care about?  Do they want to know activities, thoughts, actions, or all of it?  Or none of it?  How often?  How detailed?  Do they want to know who I called, or just that I am making a call?  Where does it end?

And then there’s the work factor.  Much has been written recently about social networking and its impact on productivity.  For example, I am writing this blog entry at work.  Since I updated Twitter and Facebook with the entry that that is what I am doing, could that be used against me to say I’m not “doing my job”?  There has been a lot of press lately too about potential job seekers being denied jobs because of what they have on their MySpace or Facebook pages.  Should that be considered “private” although it’s out there on the web for all to see?  You heard it here first, expect a lawsuit over that issue soon.  Don’t believe me?  Remember the Duke lacrosse players, and the swift judgement America made on them because of pictures of them partying on their MySpace profiles?

Of course, the absolute best policy is 1 Thessalonians 5:22 where we are exhorted to not even give the appearance of evil.  However, most people have different standards of what evil is, and therefore I could take just about any picture or statement from some of my most conservative Facebook friends out of context and make them out to be a villain.  Should that be used against them, or change your opinion of who they are?

I certainly don’t have answers, and I do enjoy social networking, especially as a way to keep up with long lost, and/or far away friends, but the book isn’t closed on social networking and it’s effect on the world.  New technology will continue to emerge, and people will continue to expose their lives for all to see.  Some will be responsible and others won’t.  In the meantime, like an ice cold Coke, know that while water is the better alternative, no one will judge you for enjoying the Coke unless you chug the whole 2 liter down in front of everyone…

3 Weeks Until Race Day!

Yesterday, Melinda and I received all of our race info (starting position, number, etc.) for the Half Marathon. It was timely because we had gone to the Y Monday night and we both walked and neither of us felt like we were behind at all after our relapse. That made us feel pretty good, and we are more and more excited about the big day!

We are both still able to maintain 15 minute miles or better, so we have all confidence that we will finish in under four hours. The other participants at Thomas Nelson are all abuzz and everyone is comparing workouts, times, and overall progress. It has been a lot of fun preparing with a group. I’m not sure it would be as fulfilling going at it alone.

Of course the best part is how we look and feel! I forgot to weigh myself at the Y Monday, but I have had several people comment that I look like I’ve lost weight. And we both feel so much better! I’m sure a lot of that is healthier eating, but the exercise alone has been great. Here’s hoping we have developed some good habits that will carry us past race day.

We’ll keep you posted as we round the training corner and, of course, will have the full story and pictures of the big day on the 26th!

Five Outside!

After not walking for a couple of weeks, we finally made it out yesterday. It was a sunny day, although slightly chilly, but we decided to head to the park and walk there while the girls played. A half-mile in, Melinda started having a lot of trouble with her asthma and had to stop, but she graciously let me continue. Melinda ended up doing a couple of miles, but I had my longest walk so far at 5 miles. I was supposed to be up to 8 yesterday, but didn’t want to push it after being off for so long. Here are my splits:

  • 15:04.234
  • 14:43.640
  • 14:55.603
  • 15:00.804
  • 14:54.913

The best part? I felt GREAT! I think I experienced a “runner’s high”. I was a little winded until about mile 3.5. After that, I just kind of zoned out and didn’t even realize I was walking. I looked at the frisbee players, the trees, the path, and listened to the iPod. I felt good, and the next couple of miles went by fast. The one drawback was that mile 4 was my slowest time, a by-product of the “zoning” I’m sure, but I picked it up in the end.

I am very pleased with my time, and the five miles. I am more excited now than I have been in a while about my ability to finish and finish well.

Thomas Nelson Marathon Kick Off

We had the official Marathon kick-off meeting at Thomas Nelson yesterday. As you can see from Mike Hyatt’s blog, the company reached its goal of have 25% of the work force participating in either the Dallas or Nashville races. It was a great meeting with a lot of great information for first-timers like me. I learned more about rashes, chafing, and other potential problems than I care to admit! Melinda and I both are still WAY behind on our training. When I last posted we hadn’t walked in a week or so, and then the whole family (except Anna) got sick, then I was busy at the NRB convention. So, here it is Friday and we still haven’t walked! I was supposed to have walked 7 miles this past Sunday, but I have only done 3.5. We plan to get back on track this weekend and hit it hard over the next month. I am still confident that we can fisnish, since our goal it still to “just finish” and not push ourselves too hard the day of the race.

All in all, we are excited about the actual race. We still need to work out someone to watch the girls for us, and hopefully bring them down to the finish line (we would love to see them at the end!). We also still need to get shoes and socks. Otherwise, we can’t wait to complete this monumental undertaking and feel the sense of accomplishment that comes with finishing!