“I am so excited to see that Lisa is allowing God to use her difficult experiences to reach out to others.

I have been involved with the Seeing Eye, where they train dogs to guide blind people, and as a graduate of the The Seeing Eye have on many occasions shared the podium or stage with Lisa. She was always engaging, clear, often utilizing humor to keep the interest and focus of the audience.
I know that she will be used by our Lord to help others to come to grips with any similar or shared experiences. Lisa will be able to show how God can heal, comfort, and rebuild broken lives, no matter what the experience.
Perhaps, most importantly, how the Holy Spirit can bring real forgiveness into the lives of victims and abusers, tuff as that is to envision.
My humble prayers and best wishes go with Lisa, and to all that she may encounter, and that the healing will be real!”
John D. Hollenbach, Mayor
Perkasie Borough, PA

“We at Pinebrook Bible Conference recommend Lisa Radcliff as a speaker for a Bible Retreat type of speaking engagement. She has spoken during at least one of our Ladies’ Retreats in the past and was well received by the guests and received great feedback for the personal experiences and teaching she shared. We give her a great recommendation to be used at any future retreats at Pinebrook Bible Conference & Retreat Center and any other gathering of the Retreat speaking kind anywhere she is asked.
Thanks for considering this recommendation.”
Charlie Bomgardner
Director of Marketing
Pinebrook Bible Conference & Retreat Center

The Abortion Debate

Social media has been inundated with protests over new, strict abortion laws. Several states have adopted new laws making abortion almost impossible. This was in reaction to the new law in New York that allows for abortion up until birth and the comments from Virginia law makers that babies born alive during an abortion should be left to die.

Some of the arguments from the pro-choice side are creative but flawed. I have seen several different posts that boil down to “men have no right to make laws regarding a woman’s body.” Following that logic, shouldn’t Roe vs Wade be overturned immediately? It was made law by seven male justices. The real reply to this argument is that the US has a representative form of government. Our legislators are elected by the people, men and women, to represent them in congress. Being male or female doesn’t qualify or disqualify someone from making laws. If a constituent doesn’t like the way their representative is legislating, they can use their vote to make changes.

One of the most disturbing protest was a meme saying, “an 11-year-old cannot buy a mature-rated video game (and other things) but will be forced to carry and give birth to a baby.” Somehow, they don’t understand that having an 11-year-old go through an abortion will be traumatizing. For an 11-year-old to be pregnant, I assume there was trauma involved. It would be a cruel mistake to add another trauma to a young girl. I’m sure the proponents don’t think abortion is traumatic, but that is not the reality. Counseling centers are full of women trying to deal with the fact they killed their baby. For some, it is a life-long struggle. Yes, having a child carry that baby to term and give birth will not be easy, but it is not a permanent situation, and there would be plenty of support for that 11-year-old. Pro-choice advocates assume that a young girl in a crisis pregnancy has no support. Again, that is just not the case. If her family can’t be supportive, there are so many others who would be: Crisis Pregnancy Centers, churches, counseling centers, not to mention adoptive families.

“I’m not pro-abortion, but it’s none of my business what other women do with their bodies.” The problem here is that the baby is in the woman’s body and needs her body to survive, but it is a separate person, with its own body. So, what these people are actually saying is they would not interfere with a mother killing her baby. Would these same people turn a blind eye to a mother abusing her child? I’ve seen the news reports of infants who were killed by their parents, and they bring outrage from the public. What’s the difference between a newborn and an unborn baby? The answer is a few seconds and a few inches. My youngest grandchild was born seven weeks premature. It is now legal in New York for a mother to abort a baby that age. My grandchild needed a few weeks of NICU care. Would she have survived without the NICU? I don’t know. But that is exactly what the governor of Virginia says is OK – give the baby no treatment and let it die. Unbelievable! How did our country get to this point where we think it is okay to kill the most innocent and vulnerable among us, and otherwise rational people say, “It’s none of my business?”

What makes a baby alive? The protestors would have us believe an unborn baby is not a baby unless it is wanted. That’s ridiculous. As I read these posts, I remember sitting with friends and family members who have lost babies – not a potential baby, an actual baby. Their grief is real. Some of them lost older babies—their pregnancies were in the third trimester. Those poor women went through labor and delivered their deceased babies. It was tragic and heart breaking. But others lost babies at eight weeks gestation. The families still lost their baby—not their clump of cells, not a part of their body. And their grief was just as real as those who could hold their babies and say goodbye.

I was an unwanted baby. It didn’t change the fact that I was a baby – a life that had value, not just a heartbeat. I am so thankful my mother delivered me and gave me up for adoption. I’m sure it was hard. From what I have learned of her circumstances, I think, had abortion been legal, she would have chosen to end my life. It would have been easier and “better” for her. But she didn’t have that choice. Thank God! A combination of my birth mother, the hospital staff, foster care, and adoptive parents gave me the ability to live. Failure of any of them to care for me, from the time I had a heartbeat, would have resulted in my death. It is the business of all of us to do all we can to protect children at every stage of their lives.

Jesus said this about children and those who harm them: “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” (Matthew 18:6 NIV)

Love is a Scrub Brush

Next week, my husband and I will celebrate our 34th wedding anniversary. I have been blessed beyond measure by having Doug as my husband. He loves me so well! There are lots of ways he shows his love. Sometimes it’s the smallest ways that mean the most. Take the case of a long-handled scrub brush to wash dishes. That might not seem like a good way to show one’s love for his wife, but in my world, it is.

We had been visiting our son’s family in California. They had a long-handled brush for their dishes. After using it a few times, I said to Doug, “I think this brush is easier for me to use than a dishcloth. My hands don’t hurt after doing the dishes with it.” I didn’t say anymore about it. But a few weeks later, upon arriving home from another trip, I found a long-handled brush in my little dishwashing tool bucket. What I saw when I found the brush was that he heard me, and he cared enough to take the time to find one and buy it for me before I got home. (There were beautiful flowers, too. He’s still a romantic.)

Something so small speaks volumes. Since symptoms of my illness have grown, making my hands weak and painful, Doug has taken on many responsibilities that were once mine. I didn’t have to ask him to take on these things, he just saw that I was having trouble and stepped in. That’s love.

It’s great to have a husband who sees a need in my life and does what he can to meet it. Sometimes he can’t do anything but be there with me. He does that. No matter how long his day has been, he takes time every night to rub my feet and legs so that I can sleep better. Most importantly, he prays for me every morning before leaving for work and checks how I’m doing every evening when he gets home. I think that’s how he assesses what he’ll need to handle each night. These last three years of dealing with my illness have been hard on him. Because he loves me, he hates seeing me in pain. But I am so thankful he has been by my side.

We started out our marriage much the same way. I was in a serious car accident two days before our wedding. The day we were married, I was in pain. There was a moment in our wedding ceremony where we had to kneel. When the time came, I looked at Doug and said, “I may need help.” He took my arm, and, with eyes full of love, gave the firm support I needed. He’s been doing that ever since.

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. (I Peter 3:7 ESV)

Dodge Charger vs. Holy Spirit

Some days I wish the Holy Spirit would be as insistent with me as my car is. No matter how hard I try, my car will not allow me to do something stupid – lock the keys inside. Most recently, I learned that I cannot lock them in the trunk either. I tried. Several times.

I was attending a conference. At the end of the first day, I pulled into the hotel parking lot, quite ready to unpack and get some rest. Parking near the front entrance, I pulled my suitcase, leftover lunch (that I couldn’t wait to eat for supper), laptop, and conference notes out of the trunk. With my purse and laptop hanging from one shoulder, leftovers in the opposite hand, and pulling my suitcase, I made my way to the front desk. Discouraged doesn’t fully describe my mood when I learned that my room was in another building, which I would have to drive to. I dragged everything back out to my car. In an effort to get there as quickly as possible, I threw everything into the trunk. That’s when my car took over.

I closed the trunk lid, but it popped open. Thinking I didn’t push hard enough, I tried again. Pop! What is going on? Pushed it down again even harder. Pop! I looked for something blocking the latch, rearranged a few things, and slammed it shut. Pop! I slammed it again…and again…and again. Pop, pop, pop! Then I looked around for someone filming me. This had to be a joke. Where were the cameras? It was then I noticed my purse in the trunk. Could it be that my trunk wouldn’t lock because my key was in my purse?

Retrieving my purse, I tentatively closed the trunk and waited. It stayed closed. Shut the door! My car knew locking my keys in the trunk was a bad idea. I hate when inanimate objects are smarter than me, but it happens all the time. Between my computer, cell phone, and now my car, I’m not very bright, but I don’t need to be. They’ve got my back.

The problem is, the Holy Spirit doesn’t behave like my car. He lets me make bad decisions and do things that cause me grief. Sometimes it’s just some little, annoying thing. Other times it’s a bigger, more dramatic thing that has serious consequences. There are times when he does keep me from doing something harmful, and I am very grateful for that. It helps when I am sensitive to his leading. But I often don’t take the time to figure out why He seems to be holding me back. I just keep slamming the trunk.

Unlike my car, which is simply programmed not to lock the key inside, the Holy Spirit cares about me personally. It matters to Him that I grow in my faith, whether that happens through His intervention or allowing me to make a mistake. He’s definitely not like one of those self-driving cars. When the mistakes happen, He is there to pick up the pieces and restore my joy. I wouldn’t want him to behave like the artificial intelligence all around me. I need his prompting, His care, and His comfort. And I’m thankful that He doesn’t always allow me to slam the trunk.

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. (John 14:26 ESV)

If I Had a Superpower…

It is supposed to be the “Endgame,” the last in the series of Avenger superhero movies, but we will see. With this latest saga set to come out this week, I got thinking about what superpower I would want to have.  There are some good ones – invisibility, super strength, super speed, suits that do super-cool things (like flying). I’ve always wanted to fly. And there are some superpowers that I wouldn’t want to have – spider webs that fly out of my wrists don’t do much for me. And I don’t want anything to do with bats (I know Batman not a Marvel character, but a superhero nonetheless).

Then, while my husband was massaging my neck and not quite hitting the right spot, it came to me. I would want to be able to feel what someone else is feeling. Not only would I be able to find the exact spot where my husband’s back needs rubbing, but I would also know how he’s feeling emotionally. Think of how super that would be!

But I want this super power to do a little more. When I touch someone, I want them to feel what I’m feeling, but only when I want them to, not every time I touch them. This would help me tremendously when I’m trying to explain to a doctor where my pain is, what it feels like, and where it falls on the scale. My semi-smiley face is someone else’s near-death frowny face. But if the doctor could feel it, it would be an unbiased, objective, consistent, face-value opinion.

I would also have an inner circle of people (of my choosing) who could share their feelings anytime, anywhere, no need to be close enough to touch. Just think of the good I could do. If someone is worried or afraid, I could reassure them. If someone is lonely, I could be there. If someone is overwhelmed, I could help carry their load. Weeks wouldn’t go by before I find that they needed help. I would know and react on the spot.

Maybe I am drawn to this superpower because my natural tendency is to be oblivious to the needs around me. Thankfully, there is One who has this superpower and exercises it regularly and liberally. He doesn’t hide his identity. His name is Jesus. He promised to be with us always. He sent His Spirit to live within us, so we are never separated from Him and His power. And he knows and understands everything about us. Before a word is on my tongue, He knows it. (Psalm 139:4 ESV)

Last week we celebrated Good Friday. I wonder if Satan thought it was the “Endgame” of all time, and he had won. How shocking it must have been to him on that first Easter morning. Jesus not only defeated Satan, but death itself. Now, there’s a superpower! And he offers to share immortality with all who will believe in Him. Looks like I do have a superpower. And it’s a superpower to end all superpowers! Thanks to Jesus, I will live forever. Wow! Step aside, Avengers, even you can’t beat this “Endgame.”

Sight Unseen

Today is bittersweet. The new book, Chicken Soup for the Soul: Grandparents, is released. It’s my first time contributing to a Chicken Soup book, but I hope it’s not the last. The bittersweet part: I wrote about meeting my grandmother (my birth mother’s mother), but she passed away last week. I don’t have the life-long memories shared by the rest of her family. But we did share some special moments.

I visited her twice last year, in January and May. I’ll never forget that first meeting. She took my hands in hers and stared at me, saying “It’s my Jeannie” (her daughter, my birth mother). It was amazing to spend time with her and hear stories of my mother and the rest of her family. My grandmother’s own story was quite astounding. She was one of fourteen children, had my mother at age fourteen, worked at the Navy yard on the USS Missouri (Mighty Mo) while her husband served overseas, and opened a restaurant that bore her name. Her favorite thing on the menu also bore her name, the Janet Burger.

You never know what will happen, what emotions will surface, when members of a birth family meet the adoptee. I was nervous about this meeting. But she was so warm and welcoming, as have been all the family members. It seems that at 92 years old, she was trying to make a good impression on me. I understood she was quite a character. I heard stories of her cursing and causing an uproar in public places when things didn’t go her way. But the woman I met was kind and patient, without a single curse for anyone. Her family suggested I hang around her more often.

Although it would have been great to spend more time together, I am so thankful for the time we had. I never thought I would meet any members of my birth families. But I have been blessed to meet so many. All of them have been open to knowing me. Perhaps my family warned them that I often say the wrong thing at the wrong time. I’ve been told my super power is making people mad (not exactly those words, but I had to write appropriately for a public blog). Maybe I have a little of my grandmother in me. Together we were on our best behavior.

All my life, if there was one feature about me I could change, it would be my neck. It’s thick with no chin. Certain ways I turn my head, my face disappears into it. I even looked into plastic surgery several years ago. But last year I found out where that neck came from. Looking at me, it’s easy to see my mother. And my grandmother was so thrilled when she finally laid eyes on me. She said it was like having a little bit of her Jeannie again, who passed away eighteen years ago.

Although my grandmother is gone, she has left me with aunts and uncles and cousins and a brother and so many more relatives. It’s so cool to have a brother! I look forward to getting to know them better and hearing more stories of this grandmother who loved me sight unseen.

How to Spoil a Grandchild

It comes naturally. Precious little ones look at their grandparents with those doe eyes and anything they want is theirs! We joke that, as grandparents, it is our right to spoil our grandchildren. Our children should just expect it. After all, they were spoiled by our parents. It’s our turn. But instead of spoiling them with candy and toys, I suggest we spoil them with time.

My kids had grandparents who did the same thing. Sure, they had candy on hand, but they also had special things to do, games that were only played there, but mostly, they were spending time together. I knew that whenever we asked the grandparents if they could have the kids for the day or overnight, they immediately made sure all of the kids’ favorite things were in the house and their favorite games ready. My kids have vivid memories of camping trips, wiffleball, and endless games of Hang on Harvey.

The specialness of the time spent with their grandparents was never as obvious as to me as the day my three-year-old took off for Grandmom’s house—on his own. I didn’t have time to read to him, so his three-year-old brilliant brain knew who did have time: Grandmom. He packed his books in a backpack and left. I was busy making a special dinner for overseas guests and didn’t notice that he was missing until I got a call from the Wells Fargo a few blocks away. The gentleman said, “Do you have a son named Nate?” My first thought was that Nate won a $100 CD or something. But no. After I confirmed I did have a son named Nate, the man said, “Well, he’s down here in front of our building trying to cross Broad Street.”

“What! Keep him there. I’ll be right over.” I arrived outside Wells Fargo just after the police. Nate had invoked his right to remain silent. I explained to the officer that I thought he was with his older brothers. They each thought their baby brother was with the other one. We were let go with a warning to pay more attention to his whereabouts. Whew! That day I looked forward to the time of life that I could drop whatever I was doing to read to my grandchildren. That day is here!

It is my great joy to spend time with my grandchildren. Yes, they know when they come to our house there will be candy and chocolate milk. But they also know that they will read books, bake with Mom-mom, and tackle Pop-pop. It’s a great season of life—when we can spoil our grandchildren with the gift of time.

“For everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven” Ecclesiastes 3:1 (ESV)

Sisterchicks in San Diego

It’s always a blast when the Sisterchicks get together. But the frivolity is unsurpassed on our epic trips. Our latest adventure took us to San Diego, California. We boarded our flight in cold, dreary Philadelphia with the promise of flowers, flipflops, and fun.

This trip did not disappoint. Once we were settled into our bay side home-away-from-home, we strategically planned the events for the week. We had a lot of options and ideas: a harbor cruise, La Jolla, Coronado, the desert, Old Town, the zoo, and of course, lots of great food. The trick was plugging them into the days and times that would work best.

We decided to start off with a trip to the desert. San Diego had experienced an unusually wet fall and winter, resulting in the best wildflower viewing in nineteen years. After packing provisions consisting of water, apples, peanut butter, and celery (in case we got lost in the desert), we set our GPS for the Anzo-Borrego Desert Park.

We first saw the mountains we would cross just north of San Diego. Did they have snow on them? Maybe it was just rocks. The foothills were littered with boulders, which we decided could use some boulder holders to keep them in place. But that was only a half hour into our two-hour trek. We were definitely going over the big mountains in the distance. And they were definitely covered with snow. This really was going to be an adventure.

We turned onto a road that ran along the bottom of the mountains and something crossed our path. What was that? A small deer? No, it was a mountain lion! A real, live, not-in-a-zoo mountain lion! As we screamed, “It’s a mountain lion!” it stopped on the embankment and turned and looked at us. I imagine it had never seen Sisterchicks before and was not familiar with the different calls they make. Unfortunately, we were so excited and busy screaming, no one got a picture of the elusive cat. It took off up the mountainside.

On we went, a spectacular, but harrowing, ride up and over the snow-covered mountains, especially for one chick who is afraid of heights. It wasn’t much more than 4,000 feet to the top. And then 4,000 feet down. Sweaty palms and irregular heartbeats aside, it was no problem. Our bravery was rewarded with a desert covered with wildflowers. And we regaled the park volunteers with tales of our mountain lion encounter.

But we didn’t stop there. We wanted to see “the slot,” a section of desert that has narrow passages for about a mile. It’s always a different hike because they have three to four earthquakes a day there, which causes shifts in the rocks, ledges, and openings of “the slot.” Let me say, they always have earthquakes there. It was nothing the Sisterchicks did. We started our hike and knew immediately that we must be crazy. I am claustrophobic. Another chick is not fond of tight spaces. The other two were downright reckless. But Sisterchicks can do anything, as long as we work together. “Working” together usually means making each other laugh. The slot was no exception. I wished they had carved a bathroom into the rocks. Just saying, middle-aged women laughing while hiking; bad things could happen. We made it through our first day, without even needing our provisions, and were rewarded with a beautiful sunset at 4,000 feet.

I am so thankful for these ladies who help me get through life’s ups, downs, and tight spaces with laughter and renewed confidence. They are priceless and precious. And I can’t wait for our next adventure!

“As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” Proverbs 27:17 (NKJV)

Selfless Love and the Sea Dragon Drop

Yesterday’s trip to Sea World in San Diego gave me a warm feeling. It wasn’t the sun, which was out and was warm. It wasn’t the impressive animal shows, although they were impressive. It wasn’t watching my granddaughters delight in their experiences, which were thoroughly heartwarming. It was the joy on the faces of two little boys and their parents.

I was sitting on a bench in one of the kiddie-ride sections, waiting for my granddaughters, as they moved from the Sea Dragon Drop to the Aqua Scout. As they exited the Sea Dragon Drop, I noticed two wheelchairs at the exit door, each holding a young boy. A man (I assume their father) spoke to the attendant. After a short discussion, the parents of the boys started undoing all the restraints and safety features of the wheelchairs. They lifted the boys, probably around eight years old, out of the chairs and stood by the exit.

After the last group of Sea Dragon riders exited, the parents carried the two boys onto the ride. They buckled them in and then took their seats next to each boy. I have been on that ride with my granddaughter. I know those “adult” seats are not much bigger than the “kid” seats. These two parents squished themselves into those seats so their children could have fun, like every other kid at Sea World. The ride started. It shot up to the top and then began the incremental free-fall drops. With each drop the boys giggled. Their faces lit up in pure joy. Their smiles covered all the space between their ears, and they squealed with delight. The parents smiled too, although I’m sure they were thinking sixty seconds was longer than they anticipated, being scrunched into those seats.

The ride came to a stop. Mom and Dad unwedged themselves from the seats. Each lifted a boy out of their seat and carried them back to their wheelchairs. Their smiles were still stretched across their faces. For sixty seconds or less, they were free. No wheelchairs. No significant restraints. Just that feeling of free falling that causes your belly to catch in your throat. Their smiles didn’t fade, even as their parents replaced all the wraps and braces that kept them safe and secure. Then they were off to the next ride to repeat the same process over again.

I wondered about those parents. Were they as excited when they woke up yesterday as their children? Did they think about how much effort it would take to get those boys in and out of their wheelchairs for each ride they wanted to try? Did they consider how tired they would be at the end of the day, pushing wheelchairs for miles and lifting the boys over and over again? Or did they wake up only anticipating the joy their children would experience in a day at Sea World?

Those parents inspired me. Their selfless love for those boys warmed my heart. A few tears may have escaped my eyes. Or it could have just been a reaction to all the flower pollen that my Pennsylvania eyes aren’t used to in February. Whichever it was, it brought me back to Jesus, as acts of selfless love often do. The Bible tells us that “looking to Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father.” Hebrews 12:2 ESV

Jesus endured the shame and agony on the cross that should have been ours. The joy that was set before him was our salvation. He did it all for us…for me. His pain brought about our peace with God. Now he sits on his throne, waiting to welcome us to the place he has prepared just for us. What selfless love!

Snow Day!

A snow day! I loved snow days when I was a kid. Mostly because I didn’t like school but also because I loved change. The routine of school, every day the same, was boring and drudgery to me. I liked anything that changed the routine, from field trips to film strips to snow days.

When I was a kid, we’d watch the news the night before the storm, hoping the meteorologist was right (or wrong, depending on his forecast). We’d awake in the morning and run to the window to check the snow amounts. Then came the moment of truth: listening to the radio for the magic words, “North Penn School District, closed.” The wait was excruciating. It went in alphabetical order. At least we weren’t in the Wissahickon School District. When the magic words were heard, there was a moment of glee, followed immediately by a return to a nice, warm bed.

After an extra hour or two of sleep, it was time to take advantage of the reason for the snow day, SNOW! We lived only a few blocks from the local park, which just happened to have the best sledding hills in town. Bundling up in long johns, extra socks, sweaters, snow pants, coats, hats, scarves, and gloves, it was a wonder we could walk the few blocks to the park, dragging our wooden Yankee Flyer sleds.

Arriving at the park, we found our friends, and the snow day shenanigans commenced. Our park had everything from gentle hills for the younger or less adventurous kids to some seriously steep hills for the older, crazier kids. And one notorious run dubbed “The Nutcracker” that had a jump between two trees. Only the craziest kids attempted that one. Sledding was the main event, but you could also expect to build a snowman and participate, however unwillingly, in a large-scale snowball fight. After several hours of playing in the snow, we would make our way back home, hang our wet clothes on the line in the basement and lay the gloves, hats, and scarves to sizzle on the dining room radiator. Finally, we would sit down in front of the TV with steaming cups of cocoa. That was a good snow day.

As an adult, I still look forward to snow days. When my kids were young, snow days weren’t much different than the days of my youth. But now that my children are grown, snow days are very different. I woke up this morning to a snow day. My morning meeting was canceled because the local school district was closed. Nevermind the fact that there was no snow on the ground and only a few inches expected in the late morning, changing to rain before school would end. This would never have qualified as a snow day when I was a kid. But, whatever, it’s still a snow day.

Nowadays a snow day does not include sledding or snowball fights. For me, a snow day means no makeup, hair gets to do whatever it wants, sweat pants, and work (tapping away on a computer is not affected by snow—real or imagined). There is still something about not needing to go anywhere and changing the routine that appeals to me. I started my day with a hot, Epsom salt bath, while finishing up an online class. Good thing I can see them, but they can’t see me. I’ll get a lot of writing done today, which will make me happy. And my day will probably end with a cup of steaming hot cocoa—some things don’t change. It’s gonna be a good snow day, albeit, minus the snow.

Foam Glow, Bubbles, and Color Bombs??

What in the world is a Foam Glow 5K? Whatever it is, it shared space in my inbox today with a Blacklight Run, Bubble Run, and Terrain Race. Clearly, they are all 5K races with some crazy twist that the organizers hope will get me to sign up. I mean who doesn’t want to run through massive amounts of bubbles? Maybe they should combine the foam glow and blacklight runs. That could be cool. Real runners might think this kind of gimmicky running is stupid. But people like me need a reason to run—something other than being chased by an ax murderer.

I’ve never done a 5K that was a straight road race, running for the sake of running. I need the gimmick, something to make it fun. I won’t run if there’s no fun involved, and I question the mental health of those who do. So, I’ve done color runs and mud runs, had fun, and even brought home medals. The best part was doing them with friends. You hardly realize you’re running when you’re giggling with friends and helping each other conquer obstacles. If you go it alone, who will tell you there is a clean spot on your back that is begging for a purple color bomb? We didn’t care about technique or bettering our times. We were just there to have fun and complete a 5K covered in color or mud. In fact, we felt more accomplished by the amount of color or mud than our finish times.

I can’t run anymore. Part of me is sad about that and part is relieved. I never really liked running. I liked the accomplishment I felt as I met or exceeded personal goals. I liked the feeling of pushing my body beyond what I thought it could do. The actual training-type running (you know, out of bed early, just me, my iPod, and step counter), though, was not “fun.” It was hard work. Dodging color bombs with friends made it fun. Making an arduous task fun is worth the effort (and the entrance fee) every time.

The Bible often uses running as a picture of the Christian life. We are to run to God (Proverbs 18:10), run to win (1 Corinthians 9:24), run and not grow weary (Isaiah 40:31), and run unencumbered by sin (Hebrews 12:1). Paul says that because of Christ we do not run in vain. If Jesus Christ did not live and die and live again and save us, then our running would be in vain. Trudging through life’s mud and obstacles would serve no purpose, with nothing to exalt in at the finish line. But because Jesus does live, and we do have new life in him, we run this race as the best race of all—color, bubbles, crazy terrain, obstacles—all of that plus the help and fellowship of friends running with us. This life is the greatest race we could run, but the finish will be even better. Jesus will be there personally to put the medal around your neck and say, “Well done.”