Monday, April 29, 2013

It Is Necessary

“They strengthened the spirits of the disciples and exhorted them to persevere in the faith, saying, “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22)

That word “necessary” really leaps out and grabs your attention, especially when what is being called necessary is the undergoing of hardships. I don’t think that the Marketing Department approved this message. It’s certainly not a point that would win votes for a politician.

Christ does not promise an easy path for those who follow him. He does not invite us to claim the blessings of wealth. What he invites us to do is to take up our cross. Paul and Barnabus seem to be telling the Christians of Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch that the cross and the invitation go together. We can’t say yes to Jesus, but no to the cross

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Plantar Fasciitis

After a winter spent running in circles at the YMCA (16 laps to the mile on the elevated track), it seems that I’ve acquired a case of plantar fasciitis. This is how describes the condition:

Plantar fasciitis (say "PLAN-ter fash-ee-EYE-tus") is the most common cause of heel pain. The plantar fascia is the flat band of tissue (ligament) that connects your heel bone to your toes. It supports the arch of your foot. If you strain your plantar fascia, it gets weak, swollen, and irritated (inflamed). Then your heel or the bottom of your foot hurts when you stand or walk.

There are, I am told, some things that can contribute to the development of plantar fasciitis – things of which I must admit guilt.

1. Heel stike. When I run, I land on my heel and roll my foot forward. The “experts” advise that I should shorten my stride and adopt a mid-foot strike. Shortening my stride will definitely make me run slower, and might make me look like a ridiculous. Striking with the mid-foot, on the other hand, sounds awfully similar to what I call running flat-footed. I’m not going to try to change my natural gait. What I will do is make a conscious effort not to land too hard on my heel.

2. Overweight. Who are you calling fat? Sure, I tip the scales at 220 lbs, but at 6’4”, this is 220 lbs of pure muscle (except for the soft part just above the hips)! Last year, I trained for and ran a mid-September marathon. At the Oktoberfest 10K three weeks later, I still qualified to run in the over 220 lb category. I might be carrying some extra weight, but it’s not coming off without taking a lot of muscle with it, and I’m not into being hungry all the time.

3. Worn out shoes. I’ve been running in these shoes since early November. I retired my last pair after the Oktoberfest with over 700 miles on them. My current pair has about 500 miles, but I haven’t worn them for a single race, and the tread still looks good. Those “experts” say that shoes start to lose their cushioning and support after about 300 miles. What’s more, the crushing weight of my massive frame probably counts as an extreme duty cycle.

So what you’re telling me is that, if I want my heel to stop hurting, I have to run like a dork, lose about 30 lbs, and get a new pair of shoes. Maybe I can look at some new shoes.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


One month ago (or ten, if you want to measure from conception), I became a father to yet another child. When I run through the names of my children, it seems pretty natural, but when somebody asks me how many this makes, and I have to say the number, “Eight,” it suddenly turns into a brood. I’m not sure why that is.

I am fortunate to live in an area where eight is not so far out beyond the statistical mean that people gasp in shock. I am also fortunate that those who welcome many children into their family are not, for the most part, socially irresponsible and dependent upon government support. I have received no negative comments (at least not to my face) following the announcement of our latest addition. Nevertheless, I am aware that there is a prevailing cultural bias against large families, and I try to nip those discussions in the bud.

One gentleman at work asked how many this made, and I replied, “Eight,” and then added, “spread out over nineteen years.” He arched an eyebrow and queried (as if it was any of his business) whether this child was a “mistake.” I just grinned sheepishly and said, “No, not really. We know what causes it.”

I recently went to the hospital, where my 86 year-old father was being treated for a heart ailment. A high school classmate of my wife took my dad’s EKG. We chatted a bit about the new baby, then she noted that my dad is 43 years older than I am and assured me that I need not worry about having a child in my forties. So I asked my dad how old my grandfather was when he got married. He was 43. My dad was the fifth of ten children. Granted, my grandfather died when my dad was still young, but I didn’t share that. I intend to live a longer life than both my grandfather and my dad (I’m looking forward to celebrating my eleventy-first birthday by quoting Bilbo Baggins).

I might feel old many days, but I have plenty of years left to raise this child (and any more that might come our way) to adulthood.