Buyer’s Remorse

Anybody spend too much at Christmas? Years ago, when I lived in the Bay Area, I would get off work on the last work day before Christmas, and do all of my Christmas shopping on the way home. I would go from store to store down The El Camino until I found gifts for everyone on my list. If I were left on my own, I would still wait till the last minute to do all of my shopping and then I’d spend way too much. I get caught up in the moment, swept away by the emotion, excited to give gifts that I know will thrill those that get them. Of course, the bills do come and I have to figure out how to pay for it all. Fortunately, my wife shops throughout the year and finds great deals on great gifts and sets them aside. It’s a different kind of excitement to find out Christmas morning what I got everyone, including her.

Maybe you’ve bought a big ticket item recently? It seemed like a good idea at the time, but now you have to pay for it, and maybe you’ve started second guessing yourself. You think that maybe you can’t afford it after all. Maybe you wish you hadn’t bought it. It happens a lot. So much so that there is a legal loophole to get out of a contract. You’ve probably seen it. Anytime you buy something on a contract, there’s that little clause you sign that says you have three days to change your mind, but after that, it’s yours. It’s called the Right of Rescinder. It’s there so that if we get caught up in the emotion of the moment and buy something we really can’t afford, we can change our minds and undo it. It helps people avoid defaulting on debt and the horrible consequences that can sometimes go along with that. Although, even that does not always go as it should. I remember, a few years ago, when we bought our car. We had fallen victim to a bait and switch and ended up buying a more expensive car than we had wanted. We took it back within the three days and tried to return it, but they wouldn’t honor the 3 day right of rescinder. That was in 2007 and we still have that car. It turned out OK and that dealer has since gone out out of business. Not that that has anything to do with buyer’s remorse, but I did feel somewhat vindicated when they closed up.

So, anyway, I was thinking about this and connecting it to other choices we make and how some (many?) of those choices fall short of what God expects of us. We know we all fall short, or go astray. I was thinking about the Right of Rescinder that we have for the things we buy into that give us buyer’s remorse.

Romans 3:23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

We buy into things that we shouldn’t. Some of those things we buy into are because we are deceived into thinking that something bad is good. Some of the ways we fall short are errors in judgement, lack of wisdom, or experience. Some are actual choices we make, where we know what we ought to do, but we don’t, or we know what we ought not to do, but we do it anyway. Paul suffered the same fate:

Romans 7: 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.

Maybe you have felt that way from time to time. I know I have. In some way or another, we all buy into lies the world tells us. I think there are three kinds of lies that we may buy into at various times in our lives.

“I’m not good enough.”

We know we are going to screw up, so what’s the point in even trying? Sometimes, when I’m driving, and a police officer pulls in behind me, my thoughts go to all the potential mistakes I could make that could get me pulled over. Am I speeding? Did I come to a complete stop? Did I signal? I know I’m going to get pulled over, maybe I should just floor it and run this stop sign and get it over with. Of course I don’t do that.

The world, and Satan try to convince us that it doesn’t matter what we do because we can never be good enough anyway. Of course, like all lies, this contains a certain amount of truth. We will never be good enough, but that is where Jesus comes in and His sacrifice brings us healing and and forgiveness. Since God sees us through the filter of the Blood of Jesus, we are good enough; not by anything we have done, but in spite of ourselves and entirely because of what Jesus did.

Do you ever believe you’re not good enough? Maybe you need to realize that Jesus’ sacrifice is a gift and not something we earn.

“It’s really not that bad.”

There are variations on this. Things like, “no one will notice,” and “everyone else is doing it.” We justify things we do like, being less than honest on our taxes or keeping extra change when we get too much at the store. I have noticed, in recent years, a trend among students at school that seems to be that “anything I can take without getting caught is OK.” It has become more obvious and more blatant, but don’t we all do that to a certain degree? “Everything’s legal, if you don’t get caught.” Right? Where do you draw the line? What is too much?

The world tries to convince us that some sin is OK, or, at least, not that bad. Jesus, on the other hand, taught that we should be perfect, just as our Father in Heaven is perfect. Clearly, not possible without His grace, but it’s still what are to strive for and justification has no place in it. Jesus justifies us, in spite of our sin; we cannot justify our sin.

Do you find yourself thinking that your sin is not that bad? Have you ever thought “at least I’m not like…” or, “at least is didn’t do…?” Maybe you need to accept that any sin is enough to separate you from God.

“That’s not what God meant.”

This is, literally, the oldest lie in The Book. The serpent told it to Eve when he said that God didn’t really mean that she would die from eating the forbidden fruit, but that she would become like God. We have many ways of buying into this lie too. We say that it doesn’t apply to us because the Bible was a different time and circumstance. We claim that people are being too legalistic. We interpret God’s commands to suit ourselves.

Jesus said:

Matthew 5: 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

So, clearly, every command is of equal importance to God. He never placed any priority of one over another. Do ever find yourself interpreting God’s Word in a way that excuses or permits something, or benefits you in some way. Think about how God really intended His Word to be understood.

Jesus broke it down into two simple concepts. Love God and love others. Yet, we still find ourselves making choices that benefit our own worldly desires. We still find ourselves buying into the lies that the world tells us.

In spite of all of this, Jesus freely forgave us all. He came to give us abundant joy. He came to free us from the bondage that comes from buying into the lies.

I think Paul summed it up very well in his letter to the Romans.

Romans 8: Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

And, prior to this, in our memory verse:

Romans 6: What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?

We all make bad choices sometimes. We all have regret. The Grace provided by Jesus means that our debt is paid. That doesn’t give us permission to make bad choices, but it does mean that we can let go of our past.

Truth be told, the grace of God means that Jesus takes away buyer’s remorse for the bad decisions we make, but our challenge is still to not buy into the lies.

 

More

I’ve been thinking this week how we all want more… more time, more money, more talent, more attention, more stuff. Then a couple of things occurred to me.

First, we don’t really have anything accept by the grace of God. He alone determines the number of our days. We are born with our talents that we choose to develop or not. We, by providence or by a series of choices, are at the station in life we now are now. What we do with what we have is more significant than how we can get more, since, for the most part, getting more is not really an option.

I’m reminded of a video I saw recently (I tried to find it for this, but I can’t locate it at the moment) where a person pretending to be homeless first goes to people in a fast food restaurant and asks for food. After being turned down by those who had just bought their own food, he goes to a homeless person around the corner who has just been given a meal from the same restaurant. He asks the homeless man for some of his food and the homeless man shares it happily.

There is a lot to learn from this social experiment, but one lesson is that those with much seem to hold on more tightly to what they have than do those who have little.

In Malachi, God tells the prophet to tell the people to “bring the whole tithe into the storehouse and see if I won’t pour out a blessing that you won’t even be able to receive it.” Growing up Christian I’ve heard the claim that if you pay your tithe that God will provide for you in financial ways. You won’t get sick. You will get or keep your job. Your car will last longer. And so on. The problem is that when things go bad financially, as they can and often will, people holding on to these false promises think that God has turned against them. But God never made those kind of promises. Jesus taught that He came that we might have abundant joy. He did not promise us an easy life, good health or prosperity. He gave all that we could be free from sin and death, but He also taught that those who follow Him will suffer.

Yet, we have the opportunity to have true joy, whether we are suffering or not. Paul taught that he learned to be content in all circumstances. God makes that possible in that we can do al things through Him that gives us strength. Which leads me to my second thought.

It is only by realizing that we really have nothing, that we are able to more easily let go of that which we think we have. Realizing that God provides our time allows us to use it to serve other for His purposes. Realizing that all of our possessions are provided to us through the blessings of God allows us to use our assets to provide for others through charities and the local church. God gives us all we have and asks for us to trust Him by returning 10% to Him. Once we learn that He can do more with 90% than we can do on our own with all of it, this becomes a much easier task.

Truth be told, I have to learn this lesson over and over, because I am always wanting more, but my greatest joy comes when I trust God to provide what I need and let go of things I can’t have. Someday, maybe I’ll get it right.

Oh For The Love

steep ravine start

happy to be back on the trail

I started running to lose weight and get in better shape. I soon found a rekindled love affair with running and, especially, the trails.

Last year, I set some aggressive goals and pushed myself to try to reach them. Not only did I not reach two of my four goals, but I injured myself in the process and started to not enjoy running as much. It usually takes long distance runners years (much more than 2) to get burned out, but I could tell I was headed that direction and I didn’t want to be.

steep ravine ocean view

amazing view of Stinson Beach from the Steep Ravine Trail

Time off! Time off was a must.

I took three weeks after CIM and then an easy trail run. A 10 mile trail race a few days later and the Plantar Fasciitis returned. A lot of stretching and 18 days later, I ran the Steep Ravine 25k in Stinson Beach. I was undertrained, although the rest had done me good. But this is not a race report.

Running through the trees and in and out of the view of the coast, I found a peace that I had been missing since I could not run, due to my injury. Climbing the steep hills, although exhausting, was also exhilarating. I stopped often to take pictures and walk breaks as needed. Most importantly, I remembered what I love about running.

Steep Ravine Trail

running through the redwoods on the Dipsea Trail

Being! Just existing with nature. I find myself on the trail more than in any other place. Nothing of the troubles and concerns of life matter when I am on the trail. The people I run with, whether I know them are not, create a family-like camaraderie beyond almost anything I have found elsewhere. Above it all is the peaceful contentment I find in solitude on the trail, and the communion I find with God in the presence of His magnificent creation.

So I am returning, not just to running, but to the love of running. I have no fear of failure, for my only goal is to run. I have no time constraints, nor pace objectives. I may get faster. I may not. Of only one thing I am certain, I will run… a lot.

goat hill

part of Goat Hill on the Way To Cool course

This week I returned to my home trails. Running with many friends in Cool for the upcoming 50k. I found myself alone on the trail several times throughout the day. It was during this time that I realized what changes I need to make in my running… and in my life.

I need to do more of what I do for the love of doing it! I have always advocated doing the “right thing for the right reason,” but I am not sure I have always kept track of what “the right reason” is.

I think I may have stumbled upon it…

LOVE! Perhaps it seems silly, or something, but, as Paul McCartney once said, “what’s wrong with that?”

My greatest peace comes from three things (maybe four): running, music (I like almost everything), and nature, the forth is probably motorcycling, but that’s another blog. In fact, when I am running in the mountains, listening to my iPod, I reach a near perfect place for me. When my legs are so tired that they lose their feeling and I’m somehow still moving fast enough to feel a breeze on my face… when I can smell the trees and the near by stream, and classic rock, blues or country is thumping in my ears, I am totally disconnected from everything except where I am and what I am doing.

Why can’t I do everything I do with that love? Seriously! Why can’t I?

mountains above Cool

mountains above Cool

I don’t see any good reason. I teach because I love math and I love my students. I play and sing because I love music. I run because I love running. I write because I love writing.

Truth be told, There’s enough of hate, anger, frustration, etc. I’m not going to add to that. It won’t be an overnight transition, but I will get there. The focus of all I do will be love. Besides, what’s not to love?

One Word 2014

It has come to my attention, and perhaps you have noticed this as well, that we, as Christians, have a reputation for being judgmental. We tend to place degrees on sins, as if we could rank them from most to least significant. We tend to add sins to the list of things God would not approve of, as if we know His thoughts and are able to determine His judgment. After all this, we then take our place as judges of all that is righteous and take it upon ourselves to determine who will and who will not be getting into heaven. That’s not quite enough for some of us, so we make certain that everyone knows what judgment we have passed and that God has so instructed us to spread the word. Now, I’m certain that none of you are like that, but perhaps you know some that are.

A lot of this judgment comes from the writings of Paul and so I want to share with you some things to think about as we read his letters. Paul’s letters can easily be divided into two categories, those written to groups and those written to individuals. Pick chapter 1 of any of Paul’s letters to the churches, from Romans through Thessalonians, before the end of the second verse, every single one of them is addressed to a church or group of churches. Each of them instructs the believers in that area to be forgiving, generous, and to follow Jesus. His letters to Timothy and Titus are about leadership and are addressed to specific leaders in specific situations. In his letter to Philemon he is specifically advocating to one person on behalf of another and we learn from this about grace and acceptance. Each letter has specific correction for issues among the believers in that time and place. Each of them has applications to us in our time. However, none of them gives instruction to use those teachings to judge non-believers, or even other believers. And yet, so often, that is exactly what we do.

So, as I consider how I relate to people around me, both Christians and not, I want to steer away from the teachings of Paul and lean more on the teachings of Jesus.

Jesus clearly taught that love was the most important thing we can give. He made clear that loving God is the most important commandment, but that loving others is a very close second. Jesus expects this of us, because He has already loved us:
John 3: 16-18 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

And:

John 15: 12-14 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.

So, if Jesus did not come to condemn the world, why do we? If Jesus taught us to love, like He does, to the point of laying down our lives for others, why don’t we?

Jesus gave us a list of things we should do that go way beyond our behavior to our very thoughts and intentions. He was always focused on our hearts more than on our actions. Just to drive home the impossibility of the expectations, He commanded us to be perfect! Seriously? Perfect? Yes, just as “our Father in Heaven is perfect.” His point is that we can’t do it! We all fall short of God’s glory. Which is why Jesus taught that the only way to Heaven is through Him. We are not going to get there by our own behavior. Not one of us is good enough.

So here we are, not good enough! None of us! And we, way too often, have the attitude of, “I’m a sinner, but not as bad as that person, or that group.” Why do we insist on comparing ourselves to others, rather than comparing ourselves to Jesus?

Believers have always been persecuted to some degree for their beliefs, and it will always be so, but how much of the attitude others have towards us is our own responsibility? 70 some years ago Gandhi is attributed with saying something like: “I like your Christ, but I don’t like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” I don’t know his exact words, but that certainly reflects that attitudes of many.

Don’t you think that, maybe, it’s time we did something about that? Don’t you think that, maybe, if we acted more like Jesus, and less judgmental, that we might repair some of the damage that has been done to the world in the name of Jesus?

What if, instead of listing off what sins would keep people out of Heaven, Phil Robertson, and a lot of the rest of us, answered more like this: “It’s not my place to judge what is or is not sin, I’ll leave that to God, but I know we have all sinned and we are all in need of a Savior. It is our sin that keeps us all out of Heaven and it is His grace alone that gets us in”?

For the past several years, I have been taking part in what is called “one word.” Rather than make a bunch of “resolutions” that I probably won’t keep, I choose one word to define my year. Last year my word was “kindness.” I’m not certain I am more kind than I was a year ago, but I think I may have had more kind moments.

I am hoping that I have been more effective in building relationships, at least more of the time. I hope that I can step it up a little more and improve more at building relationships this next year. I think that Jesus’ teachings are more about building relationships than about anything else.

What if our word this year, for all of us, was “love”? What if we love like Jesus did? Forget about changing the world! How would it change your community? How would it change your school or your work place? How would it change your family? How would it change you? How would we each change if we loved first, if our primary motivation was love… all the time?

I’ll leave you with another oft-misquoted Gandhi saying: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” What he really said, I think, is even better:
“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.”

Actually, Paul said the same thing when he said “if I have all this, but don’t have love, it profits me nothing.”

In fact, Jesus said it it too when He taught us to treat others the way we would like to be treated, and when He said, “love others the way I have loved you.”

Let’s all love others as Jesus loves us!

Truth be told, I want it said of me that I loved well.

CIM 2013

Run for a Reason - BeChange

Run for a Reason – BeChange

27 degrees! 7AM. At least it’s not raining!

I expected to have a good race, although I was concerned about my training (or lack thereof) over the past 4 weeks.

2013 was to be the year of goals… of achievements… of miles and races and personal bests. Instead it was a year of injuries and frustration. On the upside, I did finish my first 50k, my second marathon, and an adventure run that took me beyond anything I thought I would possibly be able to do… ever. I had the opportunity to mentor a student through completing her first marathon and that has led to mentoring three more students in running races in 2014. I completed 17 races and some of those did have improved times over last year. I ran a total of over 800 miles (although I was shooting for 1000); that’s a lot of miles for a 3rd year runner. My injury in February slowed me down and I over-trained trying to make up for it. That probably contributed to my plantar fasciitis which has plagued me for the last 3 months.

Despite that, I had high expectations for the CIM and felt good at the start. The plantar fasciitis was sore, but not affecting my stride and not unbearable. Running with the 4:10 pace group through the first 3 miles and settling in on pace to complete at 4:30 through the half, I still felt I was on track.

I don’t know if it was the pounding of the pavement, or the cold, or the fact that I had run very little over the past 4 weeks, but the hurt set in at about mile 15. I was able to push through and still had hopes for a decent finish for the next 5 miles. Passing through the “wall” I felt I could still pick up the pace and finish strong, but the more I tried to pick it up, the slower I got. My foot was still hurting and now so were my knees and calves.

My buddy, Dave, caught me at about mile 22 and we decided we were too tight to really run and that our goals were so far out of reach that it didn’t matter any more. Quitting was still not an option and, as we often say, “keep a pace… forward is a pace.” So, after a stop at “aid station” Starbucks, we continued at a shuffle-walk until the end. We talked and hung out and made plans for how we might help next year without running and what trail races we might do.

26.2 miles in just under 6 hours. It actually turns my stomach a little and I’m a little embarrassed of my time, and a little angry at myself, but we did finish.

The most important thing is that, no matter how difficult, and painful, it got, we did not let down the kids we were running for. See, we run for a reason. We run for those who can’t, who don’t have some of the bare necessities that we take for granted every day. Things like school supplies, medical and dental care, clothes, meals, etc. What’s amazing is that this tremendous need that we run for is right here in Sacramento.

Jason Harper, founder of Be Change shared this with us, talking to all of us who ran:

 

Yesterday I met with a child who will benefit from your efforts.  Before I could say hello, he said, “How’d all our runners do? Did we do good?”  
 
He is 12 years old and I had been telling him the support he receives to get a warm jacket, a trip the dentist, or a doctors visit is because of Be Change Runners.  That is where he found love, acceptance and kindness. Its also why he said “Did WE do good?”  Because he aligns himself with you.  You are part of the only resource for life altering needs being met in his life.  On behalf of him, thank you.
 
I told him, “We did real good!”  I said that because of you.
Truth be told, I have no intention of running CIM, or any long race on roads again, but I’m glad I did it. I hope I can continue to raise awareness and money to help these kids change their circumstances. Please help me by contributing on my Group Rev page. Together we can make a difference. No gift is too small or too large and it is tax deductible.
Thank you!

The Best Part of Teaching

People frequently ask me why I like teaching high school. Often, this question comes from my students. I actually enjoy witnessing the cognitive development that takes place during the teenage years. Prior to this time in their lives the majority of their views and opinions come from one of two places: either they have heard it from their parents, so it must be right, or they heard it from their parents, so it must be wrong. However, as they get more involved in high school, expand their circle of friends and influences and begin having individual experiences apart from their families, they begin to form actual opinions on their own. For the first time they build their belief system based on their own experiences and not only those of their parents. Obviously, the influence of their parents is still most significant and gives these young people the starting point for everything they will ever believe, but now they get to add to that the influence of others and their own development.

The other day, in my geometry class, we had the opportunity to go off topic a little and discuss some current events and issues that will affect us all. Fortunately, I have created an environment of trust and freedom in my classroom where students may feel safe in expressing their opinions. I was impressed with the courtesy that was displayed and the respect that the students had for each other and their differing points of view. This was no light weight discussion. Topics moved quickly form the current scandals facing our federal government to gun control, abortion and the death penalty. We have students with polar opposite opinions and everywhere in between.

The most important task facing educators is teaching our students to boldly express themselves with kindness and respect for others and to form those opinions from informed positions.

Truth be told, some of the most significant learning happens when we step away from the curriculum and let the students express themselves and apply what we have been teaching them in a real way… and the students learn then too.

Boston Attack

Several friends from my running club are competing in the Boston

abc_boston_marathon_initial_kb_130415_wg

Marathon today, but all runners (and in particular distance runners) are joined in a fraternal bond.

Further, as Americans, and as citizens of the world, we are shocked and deeply saddened when senseless violence causes such hurt and loss.

We cry for the injured. We weep for the dead. We mourn with those who have lost family members.

It is difficult, if it is even possible, to process through the ‘why’ of something like this. It clearly happens too often. No legislation can prevent it. No amount of security can stop it. How have we, as a society, become so filled with those who hate or, perhaps worse, feel nothing?

There will be those who will jump out to grab publicity, like they did with Colorado and Newtown. They will drum up support for new ways to control law-abiding citizens. They will ignore the fact that it is not law-abiding citizens committing these senseless acts.

Truth be told, it is these publicity mongers who have the least control over these incidents. I have no idea how to make people care or how to stop hate, but I won’t let it suck me in and I hope you won’t either.

He is Risen

images-1A little over 2000 years ago the Son of God, being in His very nature God, having all the power and authority of His Father, made Himself to be one of us to show us how to live and to give us the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven. That is not what we celebrate.

During His life time, Jesus challenged the status-quot. He taught us to live out our beliefs in a way that honored our Creator through serving others. He showed us the path to Heaven. He taught us that we are loved and how to love. He taught about money, politics, sex and relationships. He showed us that faith, hope and love are the basis of everything and that love is the greatest of these… but this is not what we celebrate today.

Nearly 2000 years ago Jesus was betrayed, tried and convicted in a farce of a trial, and sentenced to die for crimes He did not commit. He was beaten and bled and died to pay the debt for our sins. This debt we could not pay because we cannot possibly cleanse ourselves of the sin we have covered ourselves in. His final word, “tetelestai” means “paid in full, completed, it is finished.” As a flawed and broken human, I am more grateful for the Grace afforded by this sacrifice than anything else I could ever imagine… but that’s not what we celebrate today.

Nearly 2000 years ago, today, Jesus Christ’s tomb was empty. The angel proclaimed; “why do you look for the living among the dead. He is risen.” No more powerful words have even been spoken. “He is risen.” Death has no hold on us. The gift of everlasting life has been give to man by God, Himself, through the person of His Son. This is what we celebrate today.

Not all believe in Jesus as the Son of God. Not all believe in God, at all. I read this week where someone said that God, nor Jesus, even exist at all. Truth be told, Jesus is an actual historical figure. He lived. He taught. He died. His tomb was empty three days later. Accept Him as your Savior, or not, but He was here and He did the things He said He would do. He continues to do the things He said He would do.

Celebrate today. Take time to enjoy what God has blessed you with. I hope and pray that you will know Him as I do.

Looking Forward Looking Back

At the turn of a year it is customary to reflect on the past and plan for the future. I am not a big fan of “resolutions” since, like most, I tend to forget about them and they fall, unnoticed and forgotten, to the wayside. I do, however, try to set some new goals and make some subtle changes that will, hopefully, make me a better person in some way.

This last year has been a year of firsts for me. I began by running my first 10k on New Years Day and since got very into trail running. I have completed 2 ten mile races, my first 1/2 marathon and my first marathon. I also climbed Half-Dome, which was both a physical and mental challenge, since I have a fear of heights. I guess I should also include the fact that I got my first tattoo, challenging my fear of needles and a general dislike of pain. My only “resolution” was running that 10k on the first day of the year.

This year started with running again, but the 10 mile course this time. I am signed up to run a 50k (31 miles) in March and the Tough Mudder obstacle course in Tahoe in September. I am considering another ascent to the top of Half Dome, but I would like to run it this time.

For the past several years, in lieu of a resolution, I have picked a word. One word to set a theme for the year. Honestly, I usually forget the word long before the year is over, but it sometimes comes back to me and I remember what my focus was to be and try to refocus and redirect. In recent years I have chosen ‘confidence,’ ‘peace,’ and ‘courage.’ This year, as I reflect on the tough year it has been in many areas of my life and the lives of those around me and on the way I have reacted to it at times, I have chosen ‘kindness’ as my word for 2013.

In choosing to be more kind, I spent time reflecting on the past, not just year, but several years. So many failures, missteps and poor choices have complicated my life. I often beat myself up about it. Maybe some of you do as well. I had an experience that may have been life-changing and was certainly perspective altering. In praying about my goals and my past, I heard an answer in my heart and mind. In that still, small voice God spoke to me and said:

“My Child, I never wanted you to sin, although I knew you would and I have already forgiven you. I wanted you to have those experiences. There were lessons you needed to learn and experiences you needed to have. You could only have them in those situations that seemed so difficult and even painful. I love you.”

Truth be told, I have already discovered that this may prove to be more challenging than I expected. ‘Sarcastic’ and ‘impatient’ are words that more aptly describe me than ‘kind.’ I usually choose words or goals that benefit me in some way. This year I want to benefit others and I hope my kindness will do that. In a conversation I had this past weekend, my friend made a sarcastic comment about my lack of compassion. I replied that I was working on being more kind and I have 300 more days to get it right.

Proposition Picks

Several of my friends and readers have asked about the whereabouts of my typical proposition recommendations. I have posted my thoughts about two of this year’s propositions (30 and 32) in my post from September 28 in detail. As usual, I have read the texts of the propositions and try to see past the ads that misrepresent to voters what they will really result in. My thoughts on the others, as far as I have them, are presented here.

Prop 30 – increases sales tax and income taxes on high income earners. The presented purpose is to support schools, however, the text of the law creates NO NEW ACCOUNT and, in fact places all of the increased revenue in the hands of the very politicians that have been mismanaging the state budget for years; in the general fund to be used as the legislators dictate. Recommendation – NO

Prop 31 – Increased accountability and forces a 2 year budget. Recommendation – Yes

Prop 32 – Stops unions from taking money from employees without consent to use for political support. CTA and other unions are trying to convince voters that this law prevents unions from supporting political causes while allowing private industry to continue to do so. The key fact is that a business owner uses his own money or money from his or her company to support what they choose, while the unions take money from employees and use it, in many cases, to support political causes contrary to the employees’ whose money they are taking. Recommendation – YES

Prop 33 – Allows consumers to change insurance providers and transfer their ‘good driver’ discount with them. Recommendation – Yes

Prop 34 – Repeals the death penalty in California. Recommendation – vote your conscience.

Prop 35 – Increases penalties for human trafficking convictions. Recommendation – Yes

Prop 36 – Modifies ‘3-Strikes Law’ to reflect the original intent. Currently, an individual with two violent convictions could get a life sentence for a non-violent conviction. The law would change to only give a life sentence to those with three violent convictions. Recommendation – Yes

Prop 37 – Requires labeling of genetically engineered food. In my opinion this is a waste of money. Recommendation – No

Prop 38 – Increases income taxes to provide funding for schools. This proposition is vague at best. It seems to be poorly written and gives more money to the politicians that have been mismanaging it. I don’t trust them. Recommendation – No

Prop 39 – Restructures corporate tax laws to require companies to pay taxes based on where their business is done, rather than where they have their corporate headquarters. Eliminates the advantage of placing the headquarters of a company outside California when their business is done in the State. Recommendation – Yes

I hope this helps you all make informed decisions. Happy voting!