Sunday, August 21, 2005

Milestone of the Century!

I did it! While in Maine, I took my first Century, or 100 mile, bike ride. Up to that point my longest trip had been a 67 mile ride I did alone, from Midland to Pine Mountain and back.

In five hours and forty-five minutes I pedaled 103 miles and did over five thousand feet of climbing! The only stop was 5 minutes to refill water bottles at mile 60.

My riding partner was my nephew, Ron, a semi-professional cyclist. Ron and I are very good friends and I have looked forward to riding a Century with him since I started cycling a few months ago.

The toughest part of the Century was between miles 55 and 60. We had to do a series of 3 difficult climbs. Each climb got steeper and longer. On the steepest, longest climb I didn't think I could make it. I got dizzy, couldn't seem to gulp enough oxygen, and my legs were screaming in pain. Ron coached me through it, "Find a rhythm and just keep moving forward." I literally put my head down and began to pound out a one-two-count. I pedaled, inhaled, and exhaled, in harmony. Finally, my revolutions began to pick up speed and I was at the top. The last 40 miles were exhilarating and believe it or not -- easy!

Ron said it was a challenging course and that I earned my stripes.

As I rode into camp, I yelled at the top of my lungs -- "The Milestone of the Century -- I did it!"

Monday, August 8, 2005

Last First Day

Our oldest son called me at 6 a.m. (he does so routinely, he knows I am an early riser). He is changing jobs and has two suitors. He wanted some more advice before he committed. I had just finished talking with him when Meagan spoke from the kitchen, "Dad, this is the last time I will have my first day of school at Columbus High." Our baby girl is a senior! It doesn't seem possible.

Immediately, it turned into a meloncholy moment. Where has the time gone?

Meg and I talked as she packed her lunch into one of those little brown bags. She wanted to know what my senior year was like (I graduated from a class of 32. No! Not the class of 32). We talked about the friends she has made and upcoming decisions about college. We made plans to go out for dinner tonight.

Before she left we stood in the garage and prayer together -- for the last time on her first day of of school at Columbus High.

Friday, August 5, 2005

Living As Mist

Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you should say, " If it is the Lord's will, we will live . . ." James 4:13-15

I didn't see the big green utility box that sits on a concrete slab. I should have, but I didn't. I was mowing my neighbor's lawn. It's just something I do from time to time; he would do the same for me. My left front wheel hit the slab the box sits on; the tractor bounced and then climbed up the face of the utility box. In a split second, the tractor went over backwards. The only thing that kept it from flipping over on its back -- and on top of me -- were the grass catchers on the back of the tractor. The baggers sprung the mower forward; the front wheels perched precariously on top of the box. I got off, put it in neutral, and pulled it back so that all four wheels were back on the ground.

In seconds, my mind went back to an incident a couple of years ago; a man in our church was killed in a similar accident. It reminded me to pray for his wife. I also began to recount what I had done with the day; what my last day on earth might have consisted of . . .

I began the day with a great time in God's Word; I journaled and did a lot of reading. Then, I went over to the office and had a meaningful conversation with one of our students who will be going off to college; we talked about walking with God. Our project manager for the new parking lot came by and we tried to take care of a minor glitch. Earlier, my oldest son called me for advice; he has two new job offers and is trying to decide which one he should take. I told him how proud of him I am. I called our Minister of Education to rib him about his "pot" problem; we had a good laugh. Josh and I made plans to go rock climbing on Saturday. Miss Meagan and I talked about soccer decisions; she is being courted by two club teams.

I am not trying to piously frame myself as a Super-Saint; I have had days that would have made an embarrassing last day. But today, I was reminded of how important a single day can be. I want to live each day well.

"You are like a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes . . . If it is the Lord's will, we will live . . ." If today was your last -- what would it have looked like?