Thursday, May 28, 2009

Once A Runner

Once A Runner by John L. Parker.

For several years, I'd heard of Once a Runner and it's cult following in the running subculture. Being a runner for many years myself, I was excited when I learned that the novel would be released again.

The novel follows a protagonist named Quentin Cassidy during his running career in the 1970s at the fictional Southeastern University in Kernsville, Florida. (Based loosely on the University of Florida in Gainesville) Cassidy is one of the top milers in the nation with race times around 4:00 flat. In addition to his running adventures, we also follow his humorous escapades as a college student and ring leader of various mischief.

As a result of Cassidy's leadership role in an athlete uprising against unreasonable administration rules, he is banned from the track team and decides to drop out of school to pursue training exclusively while living in a cabin in the woods. During this training he further refines his mental and physical abilities to finely honed race condition. This training culminates in a race against the fastest miler in the world.

The book captures with extreme accuracy the many aspects of life as a competitive distance runner. It goes through the components of training including long runs, speed work, training logs, eating, sleeping, stretching, and race preparations among others. It additionally touches on the social nuances that runners experience in the football centric American sports culture. I found the pre-race rituals and description of nervousness as well as feelings and thoughts during the actual race to be right on target.

The book alternates between rambunctious tomfoolery college scenes and the more reflective passages of both group and individual training. The flow parallels running quite well. At times a runner will interact with the hustle and bustle of the non-running world and at times he or she will enter the separate world of running and introspective thinking.

The plot is exciting throughout with varying components of humor, drama, and heart pounding racing. Once A Runner will entertain and strike a nerve especially with the competitive runner. It's a great read for the casual runner or the person simply interested in a good sports story.

If you found this review helpful, please let Amazon know at this link.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Snow in Spring?

No silly. That's not snow they're dandelions. Each spring the park close to where I live has a massive amount of dandelions which create a great yellow base for a week or so followed by snowy white as they go to the seed phase.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Prayer: Conversing With God

Sometimes prayer is perceived as needing to be a high and lofty exercise of religion with flowery language that one must be "trained" in or spend years going to seminary to learn. Rosalind Rinker helps to dispel this perception and shows how easy it can be to have a very real and active prayer life.

The subtitle "Conversing With God" describes the main focus and type of prayer that Ms. Rinker refers to. Prayer is simply a conversation with God and not some formal theological exercise. Just as one would speak with a friend or family member, they can also speak with God. Just as a person might talk about the day with a friend, let Him know what's going on, thank and praise Him for the incredible things He's done and for who He is, and seek His wisdom for their life.

She also helps show how to incorporate prayer throughout the day and not just at designated times. In some Bible studies, people spend more time talking about prayer requests than actually praying. Rinker helps show how to structure prayer time so that it naturally flows like a conversation with the Holy Spirit prompting people to pray as they are led and as things come to mind. By making it more of a conversation, you both talk with the people in the group and with Jesus who is there with you.

She also addresses the risk of praying to impress other people or gain their approval by manufacturing emotion, fervency, or eloquent speech. This completely misses the point of prayer which is communicating with God. If one wishes to be eloquent and have people praise him or her for their great public speaking abilities, they should seek out alternate venues rather than "showing off" during times of prayer.

The book incorporates scripture passages as well as real life examples to illustrate conversational prayer. It also has a short devotional section at the back of the book which can be used to learn this style of prayer and engaging with God one on one.

The book is written in an easy to understand format and can be read very quickly. I recommend reading a chapter at a time to allow time to meditate on the chapter topic. If you would like good tips on improving your prayer life and how to communicate with God in a down to earth manner, this book offers very practical and easy steps to implement.

If you found this review helpful, please let Amazon know at this link.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Be My Everything

Today was the first time we played "Everything" by Tim Hughes at church. This week as I've been playing and meditating on it, it's been a great reminder of what is hopefully my ultimate desire, the one above all else. I love the chorus and bridge especially when singing with all you are from the heart and soul to Jesus. Awesome!

"Be my everything, Be my everything, Be my everything, Be my everything
Christ in me, Christ in me the hope of glory be my everything"

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Good Ideas vs. Priorities

There are many things that we think are good ideas. For example, hanging with friends, running/working out, reading, spending time with God, cleaning the home, practicing an instrument, getting out in nature, getting enough sleep, eating healthily, cooking/baking, writing a note to someone, taking a class, starting a small business; all of these are good ideas. However, there may be a host of good ideas but if we don't make them a priority and take steps to make them happen, they remain just a good idea.

For me, I've made running and lifting weights a priority (the former because I truly enjoy it. The latter because a skinny white boy can use all the help he can get :) and do so fairly consistently. Studying is usually a priority and the accountability of a class structure helps enforce that though it sometimes falls down the list. Getting enough sleep is both a good idea and mostly a priority though sometimes other things bleed over into sleep time. I've tried to make a more concerted effort to follow a routine in the evening to help with this.

On the opposite end of the spectrum I think cleaning and organizing things at home is a great idea but it's just not a priority for me. It really doesn't bother me that much. I generally do keep things clean but from a neatness standpoint, not so much. As long as the cave is mostly warm (or cool depending on season) and dry we here at The Wisdom of Dre are generally pretty happy.

So, I think the take away is that we should be honest with ourselves in making priorities and not confusing priorities with good ideas. Acknowledge some things as good ideas but also recognize you're living in reality and don't get down on yourself for not always living perfectly. At the same time, some of those good ideas should be priorities and we need to structure things so that they actually happen rather than sitting in the closet of good ideas gathering dust. Take them out, dust them off, and put them in action.
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