MAR 1, 2017 WAWA: “The Big 4-0…..days NOT years!”

This Wednesday, March 1st, not only marks the beginning of another month, but also the beginning of another church season….the season of Lent!  This week’s run-focused workout will be a simple, easy run:  20 minutes out, and 20 minutes back.  I’ll reveal the run route on Wednesday morning…but it’s one everyone will be able to easily do.

So, in honor of Lent, this week’s workout is appropriately focused on the number “40”.

Meet outside The Cornwell Center, ready to stretch at 5:40 am.  Weather will be in the low 60’s and dry!

20 minutes out….20 minutes back!  Then go get your ashes!

See you then!

WORKOUT LEADER:  Mike Lenhart

DEVOTIONAL LEADER:  Mike Lenhart

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FEB 22, 2017 Devotional: “Being the Bigger Brother”

I get asked often where I come up with the content for these weekly devotionals, a question that is completely flattering and humbling on its own merit.  I’ve never thought of myself as a writer and truth be told, I kinda was hoping someone much more talented than me would have stepped up by now to write or “preach” these weekly montages that I label as “devotionals”.  This week’s devotional published on the WAWA website marks number twenty-six….and if you include the many, many weeks I delivered some message before making the decision to begin publishing  them to the site, then perhaps my run stretches over a year.  And if you’re one of those individuals who considered “stepping up” to give me some relief, but decided against it…..thanks, I suppose, for making me put together some thoughts on a weekly basis with the hopes it might be meaningful to at least one other person, besides my wife and my mom who, by the way, always tell me “it’s great” no matter how much they might think otherwise!

But seriously, there are some weeks where the writing just pops from my brain, to keyboard, to Internet without much thought ahead of time.  And there’s the opposite weeks where maybe some central themes have been bumping around in my head, just waiting to be launched.  This week’s message was one of the latter.  Let me explain….

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about a single word…..”Brotherhood”.  Everything sorta came to a head earlier this week when I came home to eat leftovers for lunch.  I had a late cancellation of a noon-time, meeting which allowed me to take the short 10 minute drive from South Park to my home…and feast on some leftover pork tenderloin that my mother-in-law had brought over the night before.  And I had been thinking about it all morning….!

I removed the tenderloin, slapped some angle-hair spaghetti….also leftover….to the side of a plate, nuked it in the microwave for 3 minutes…and my meal was ready.  I propped myself up on one of the kitchen stools at the center island and dug in.  I wasn’t in the mood for watching cable news, so I instead scrolled through my news feed on Facebook.  Something caught my eye, a video clip about a Navy SEAL who was recently awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroic actions in Afghanistan.  In speaking to a packed audience at the Pentagon, Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator Edward Byers, talked about the three things that helped him endure several deployments to multiple combat zones.  Those three things were his family, his faith, and his brotherhood.  Arguably the first two were somewhat obvious to those in the room listening to that speech, and also to me listening during my lunch hour.

The brotherhood portion, however, reminded me of those thoughts that had been rattling around in my mind.  Years ago, I remember hearing a sermon by the senior pastor at Peachtree Presbyterian Church, Vic Pentz, talk about heroic actions soldiers would take especially when taking enemy fire.  Were their actions for God and country?  Many times, the answer was no.  Instead, soldiers recounted that they did things because of the men on their left and right; they did things for their buddies.

As I listened to Byers speak, he was echoing the same thoughts.  And, like many who have received prestigious recognition of bravery and valor as Medal of Honor recipients, he spoke humbly about how his actions were no different than the ones his “brothers” would have done if they too were in the same circumstances.  I’ve read many accounts by Medal of Honor awardees over the years, and the comments are remarkably similar.

What takes me back, however, is that where did we come up with the term “brotherhood”?  I grew up with a younger brother…just three years shy of my own age.  We fought more often than we hugged, I’m certain.  And now as the father of two boys, I see the same actions in them.  They are constantly at each others throats, one putting the other in a headlock, or lobbing a sucker-punch from the cheap seats when the other sibling wasn’t looking.  I ask other dads….”Do your boys fight too”.  “Oh yeh…like cats and dogs!  It drives us crazy,” one dad might lament.

Then I think back to my own experiences as a “big brother”.  Yes, while my brother and I would fight, you didn’t want to be someone from outside the family who was picking on “younger brother”.  No way!  It was okay for me to inflict punishment…but never okay for anyone else.  Those other dads shared similar stories.  “They fight like cats and dogs…but stand up for each other on the playground….”.

So perhaps that is what’s meant by the term brotherhood.  It’s the looking out for one another.  It’s the willingness to defend the family honor…the team’s reputation…or even the nation’s highest standards of freedom.  Scripture tells us in the Gospel of John, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (King James version, John 15:13).  Dr. Pentz preached that Sunday on this very verse of scripture…when telling the story of soldiers in combat.  How they did things…often acts of heroism, for their “friends”…for their brothers.

Last week, I gathered at Fort Benning, Georgia, with nearly 30 of my “brothers and sisters”, all graduates from our same class at West Point, as we bid farewell to a fallen classmate.  The memorial ceremony was beautiful and nearly all of us were seated in several rows.  Not sure if that was by chance or on purpose…but we bonded together in brotherhood; prayed together, cried a little bit, but not showing any of those tears to anyone to the left or right!

The world needs a little more brotherhood these days, in my opinion.  It’s certainly what Jesus taught us…..and I’m certain, it’s something we’re all a little more familiar with than we may realize.

And as for me, this weekend I’m going to call my “little” brother, give him one of those virtual headlocks over the phone, but remind him how much he means to me.

Won’t you join me in doing the same in your own family, neighborhood, church, or anywhere…..?  Be the “bigger” brother…..

 

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FEB 22, 2017 WAWA: “Two Peaks Fitness Challenge”

Lace up your running shoes again this Wednesday as I’ve got a new workout planned!  Bonus…. Running AND strength focused!  Less running this week, I promise!

Here’s the general framework.  We’ll meet outside the Cornwell Center at 5:40 am, ready for a quick stretch.  Then we’ll run across the street to the Queens University of Charlotte “taller and newer” parking deck.

We’re planning a total of 8 sets.  Each set will take us UP the newer stairwell, then directly back DOWN.  Exit the stairwell and run to the “medium-sized” and older stairwell, and run UP that stairwell.  Exit the stairwell at the top to the parking deck.

At that point, since it’s SET 1, we’ll complete 8 exercises as shown in the table below, 10 reps each.  Finally, we’ll run down the parking deck ramps, exit the deck and gather at the base of stairwell #1 for the next set.

Each set will drop the number of exercises by 1, but the number of reps might increase.  For example, SET 2 has 7 exercises, SET 3 has 6 exercises, …. SET 8 has just 1 exercise.

For the accountants and bankers in our group, each set has fixed exercises (stairwell #1, stairwell #2, and running down parking deck) and variable exercises as explained above!

wawa-feb22-chart

See you at 5:40 am!

WORKOUT LEADER:  Mike Lenhart

DEVOTION LEADER:  Mike Lenhart

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FEB 15, 2017 Devotional: “We can always hope……”

My devotional last week was a tribute to a West Point classmate who passed away suddenly.  The memorial service for him will be this Friday at Fort Benning, Georgia, and I’m fortunate to be able to attend.  Thank you for all the continued prayers for his family.

This week I want to focus more on “hope“.  For some of you who did the running workout at this morning’s WAWA, “hope” was you saying….”Lord, get me through this run” or “How many hill repeats did he say we have left…“??  When I think about last week’s message, there were times when I was having my own questions about “hope”.  Recall the piece of scripture where Mary famously asks the angle,  “How can this be….?”  The world will continue to present us with challenges and things will happen which appear to be without explanation to “we” humans.

It’s Valentine’s week and forgive me if I share with you what some would call a “love story”.  Others might call it something else….but I’ll go with “love story” if only for the reason that it’s how I met my wife, Janelle.  There’s a lot of hope in what I’m about to share.

In October 2010, while living in Atlanta, Janelle accidentally dropped a tower computer system on her bare foot.  The injury barely scratched or broke the skin, but she did think maybe she had fractured the top of her foot.  She went to the hospital to have the injury checked out but doctors told her she was fine.  Off she went back home with not much concern.

Now, it was not only October, but it was Halloween week.  If you know nothing about Janelle, then realize that Halloween might as well be a national holiday for her!  She loves everything about it and was excited to share the holiday with her two young sons.  But just nearly three days past the accident, Janelle’s foot wasn’t healing.  In fact, it was seemingly getting worse to include heat that appeared to be radiating around the foot and up her leg.  Her condition was further complicated due to what were  flu-like symptoms causing her immune system to be lower than usual.  Her body was trying to fight off whatever strange illness was plaguing her.

The pain was intense and Janelle was rushed back to the hospital, this time by ambulance in the middle of the night.  Barely able to speak, Janelle was told by the on-call physician that she had a very serious bacterial infection, possibly something called “necrotizing fasciitis”, more commonly referred to as a flesh-eating bacteria.  The infection was spreading very quickly and doctors had to rush her to surgery in order to perform life-saving measures.  Later her father would tell me the story of talking to the surgeon on the phone as they were already racing from Charlotte after getting an urgent call from the Atlanta hospital.  The doctors were telling her parents, “We’re going to have amputate her leg to stop the spread of the bacteria.”  Her parents, shocked as you might expect, asked the surgeon, “Can you wait until we get to Atlanta to talk about this?”.  To which, the doctor replied, “Sir, we’re trying to save your daughter’s life and time is of the essence.”

Noodle on that conversation for just a minute, especially if you have children of your own.

Janelle spent 40 days in the hospital… a number of days that some might consider a “biblical” reference in itself.  Her family decided to move Janelle and her boys to Charlotte where they could help take care of the children while Janelle learned to live with her “new normal”.  Things did not look good by any stretch and there was probably not a lot of hope to be found.

Back in Atlanta, I did not know Janelle but her story kept coming up from many who did.  Friends would ask me “Have you heard about this woman named Janelle who just lost her leg?  Maybe she could be a good candidate for one of our upcoming sports camps?”  This sports camps referenced was through a non-profit organization that I had started called The Getting2Tri Foundation or “G2T” for short.  G2T would put on sports camps once or twice a year for individuals who suffered from limb loss or paralysis.  The “Tri” was short for “triathlon” and G2T would used the three sports of swimming, cycling and running to create opportunities of confidence for physically challenged individuals.  Janelle, who was formerly a novice runner, might be ideal for an upcoming camp in May 2011, was what many thought.

Janelle’s sister, Melissa, knew my sister, Michele, through their efforts at the Junior League of Charlotte.  Michele even approached Melissa saying, “Janelle should meet my brother who runs a non profit to help amputees.”  Honestly, Janelle’s family wasn’t doing much thinking about sports camps for her.  They really wanted to help adjust everyone back to normal.  It was a slow process.

Enter Charlotte resident, Cadie Jessup.  Cadie was herself a recent amputee…an above-the-knee (or “AK”) amputee, who had previously attended a G2T camp in Atlanta.  Cadie had heard about Janelle’s story and offered to come by and help mentor Janelle and her family.  Janelle was living at her parent’s house along with her two sons.  Now, if you’ve ever planned a visit to her parent’s house, you know that you need to plan on staying a while.  They’re just so welcoming and minutes can easily turn into hours.  Such was the case with Cadie’s visit, which she had planned for one-hour but actually turned into six hours without much thought.

Somewhere during that conversation, Cadie mentioned this organization in Atlanta that put on sports camps.  Janelle wrote down the words “G2T” into her pages of notes.  What a coincidence??  Maybe she should check this camp out.  She and Melissa could go back to Atlanta to attend the camp and, well, if they decided the camp wasn’t for them, then they could hit the shopping malls in Buckhead.

So guess what happened on the way to the training camp?  Well…..Janelle loved the camp; loved meeting like-minded individuals both with and without disabilities like herself; and found confidence that she could not only “fit in”… but could do some of the things she like to do before her accident, like take 3 mile runs, play in the backyard with her boys….and slowly get into a normal lifestyle.

And there was this guy named “Mike” who didn’t set off any fireworks in her mind….yet….but was developing slowly into a very good friend, occasional “pen pal” through email exchanges, and someone she felt comfortable asking questions about living her new normal.

Emails and conversations led to lots of visits to Janelle in Charlotte.  The visits became more frequent….nearly every weekend eventually.  Closest girlfriends of Janelle began referring to me as her “special friend”.  Fast forward several months… three years to be exact… and in March 2014, I asked Janelle to be my wife.

Fairly tale ending?  Maybe.  Time will tell and everyone will be their own judge.  For me, the somewhat broken path that zig-zagged my way into Janelle’s heart and into her life continually reaffirms my faith.  Was it the path I would have chosen?  Absolutely not.  Not even close.  However, it’s the path of hope that when I sit back and think about everything that happened, I can connect the dots all along the way.

I don’t claim to know why things are perceived to happen good for one person and awful for another.  I do believe that God works for the overall good in mankind and it’s up to us to be patient and faithful that His hand remains in the driver’s seat.  Maybe better said is that one man’s hopelessness is another man’s hope.

We read in Jeremiah 29:11 the following:

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord.  Plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you hope and a future.

Amen.

 

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FEB 15, 2017 WAWA: Over the River….through the Woods “Hill Repeats”

We’re watching the weather closely but the latest forecasts have rain coming into the Charlotte area around 7:30 am ET on Wednesday morning.  That means we’ll be FINE for an outdoor run.  Planning on an easy 5.0 mile run that includes just under a mile’s worth of hill repeats!

You can do this!

We’ll cross over a bridge into Freedom Park …. “over the river“….

Then we’ll follow the Greenway (“through the woods“) along Freedom Park….eventually exiting the park at Princeton Avenue, and picking up our normal route to Hillside Drive.

Hill repeats will start at the intersection of Croyden and Hillside….and end approximately 1/10th of a mile near Selwyn Avenue.  5 time ups….4 times down.  After the 5th hill repeat, we’ll turn left and head down Selwyn back to The Cornwell Center.

In the event it does rain, I have a contingency plan that takes us to the parking deck across the street at Queens University.

Detailed route instructions:

  • Cornwell Center right onto Selwyn Avenue
  • Left onto Radcliff
  • Left up Queens Road West (QRW)
  • Right onto Wellesley, crossing over QRW
  • Right onto Maryland
  • Left into parking lot for Junior League of Charlotte
  • Cross bridge into Freedom Park behind the Junior League
  • Turn left off bridge onto Greenway path
  • Follow path all the way to Princeton
  • Left onto Princeton, then right onto Jameston
  • Right onto Westfield
  • Left up Hillside, stopping at intersection of Croyden/Hillside.  Route is approximately 3 miles at this point.

Hill repeats…..5 times up, 4 times down.  Tack on another 0.9 miles at this point!

  • After 5th hill repeat, gather as a group and head left down Selwyn, running approximately 1 mile back to The Cornwell Center.

Total distance is approximately 5 miles!  Well done….!

WORKOUT LEADER:  Mike Lenhart

DEVOTIONAL LEADER:  Mike Lenhart

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FEB 8, 2017 Devotional: “A Warrior’s Last Rise”

David William Bottcher seemed larger than life in the summer of 1986 to me and nearly all of the other 1,400 new cadets gathered in a loose formation at the River Courts athletic fields near the banks of the Hudson River during pugil-stick training.  We were in the final weeks of what West Point calls “Cadet Basic Training” which is the 6-week period of time before the start of the academic year.  Most graduates of the Academy have another name for it however….Beast Barracks!  The purpose of “Beast” was to prepare new cadets entering West Point for the school year ahead.  The cadre, made up mostly of rising seniors, had taken their mission very seriously and most days it seemed less like we were getting prepared for the school year, and more like we were being broken down from high school punks to men and women of discipline.

“Bottch”, as many would call him, was one of us, but he was physically bigger, stronger and in some ways, a lot faster, especially when it came to pugil sticks.  Bottch was a recruited heavyweight wrestler for the Army team, but like all new cadets, he still had to go through Beast Barracks with all the rest of us.  His wrestling prowess was testimony to his superior skills at pugil sticks.

Now, if you don’t know anything about these “sticks”, then let me explain.  Imagine a long wooden bar, probably about 4 feet long with two cylinder pads wrapped around each end.  When assembled correctly, the sticks looked more like giant Q-tips than anything else.  When doing the training, which was designed to replicated having to fight one’s enemy with just the bayonet attached to the end of a rifle, we were also suited up with helmets and gloves, as if that might give us more protection and a little more courage.

Bottch didn’t need any more courage.  He was 120% courage.  The cadre set up a bracket completion of sorts for all the cadets, gender-specific, of course.  And when Bottch literally crushed all the other new cadets in the summer camp, the cadre picked their biggest, strongest, and fastest representative to take on Bottch.  We broke formation but none of the upperclassmen seemed to care and the two competitors were quickly encircled forming a make-shift ring.

It wasn’t even close.  Bottch crushed the cadre member with three or four powerful strikes.  Immediately, Bottch was a hero to the class.  He was one of us and he took out one of the bad guys!  The defeat of the cadre member made things a little tougher on all of us that evening with more yelling, more hazing, and more tasks.  But we didn’t seem to mind.

Bottch’s legend continued through his cadet career, after graduation while he served the Army, including combat tours in Iraq as an Infantry officer.  Our paths would crossed sparingly over the years, mostly at Infantry officer schools at Fort Benning, Georgia, or at class reunions at West Point.  Bottch always filled the room with his giant personality yet gentleness of ease.

His nickname for me was “Lenny” from our early days at school.  But every time I ran into him over the years, hearing him yell that nickname always put a smile on my face.  This giant of a man was human, after all, and that made him much more of a leader and friend.

Last week, classmates received frightening news that Bottch, recently retired as a Colonel, was in the hospital near Fort Benning fighting an enemy that even he struggled to defeat.  Dave had been working in the yard of his home the weekend prior near Pensacola, Florida, and had gotten several scratches on his legs.  A consulting job with the military took him to Benning a couple days later and when he was feeling uncharacteristically sluggish, his supervisors suggested he visit the doctor.

There at the Army hospital on the base, Bottch was given the shocking news that he had contracted some form of bacterial virus from the yard work scratches.  Though he was under excellent medical care, Dave’s health declined extremely quickly, leading to kidney failure, and having to be put on a ventilator.

Yesterday, Dave’s family made the decision to remove him from life support after realizing that he would not be able to recover from the catastrophic illness.  No one saw this coming and as a very close group of graduates, we are all stunned and saddened beyond belief.  There are no words to explain our grief nor condolences enough to heal David’s family and friends who are heartbroken.

Today, I’d ask that you join me and others in prayer for Bottch and his family.  Over the past week, there’s been a tremendous outpouring of love and support.  Classmates near and far came to his bedside in the days leading up to yesterday’s decision, even though Bottch was unresponsive and not awake.  I think the words from the family put it best when describing David as a “warrior” who was going home for the last time.

Often times, I’ve read about soldiers who’ve “fallen” in battle.  Not sure if that is ever appropriate.  I am ever more convinced that my friend, my classmate, my hero has not fallen…but he has risen, even if for one final time.

Going through an experience like West Point is like no other.  Bonds of friendship are tight like a brotherhood.  Years can go by, but bonds tighten over time.

This week, the Academy’s “Long Gray Line” was weakened a little bit in the loss of our warrior.  God’s shiny fortress in Heaven just became a lot stronger, however.  Maybe God needed some help with pugil sticks too.

Carry one, faithful soldier.  You are missed, my friend.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.  For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.

-Romans 8:18-21

 

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FEB 8, 2017 WAWA: “The Ups and Downs of a Good Stair Workout.”

Heading back to our “new” stairwell this week…minus the dumb bells!  Whew!

To compensate for the lack of weights, however, we’ll have some sets inclusive of laps around the track, and others inclusive of running down the parking deck.  And, just for fun, we’ll throw in one set of “push-pull” jumping jacks!

Meet in front of the Cornwell Center ready to go at 5:40 am.  Weather will be damp from overnight rain, but no rain expected during our morning workout.  Temps should be in mid-50’s.

The WORKOUT:

Light stretching then jog over to Queens University; we’ll take Wellseley Avenue to the west stairwell of Byrum Parking Deck.

6 SETS of stairs:

Set 1:  Run up the stairs then back down.  Repeat 2 more times.  After final turn, exit the stairwell and make one lap around the track.

Set 2:  Run up the stairs then back down.  Repeat 2 more times, except after the third climb, exit the stairwell at the top and run down the parking deck to the bottom.

Set 3: Run up the stairs then back down.  Repeat 2 more times.  After final turn, exit the stairwell and make one lap around the track.

Set 4: Run up the stairs then back down.  Repeat 2 more times, except after the third climb, exit the stairwell at the top and run down the parking deck to the bottom.

Set 5:  Run up the stairs, 10 “push-pull” jacks, then back down.  Repeat 3 more times.

Set 6: Run up the stairs then back down.  Repeat 1 more time, however exit the stairwell at the top and run down the parking deck to the bottom.

Once Set 6 is done, we’ll head back to the Cornwell Center for cool down & devotional.

Workout Leader:  Mike Lenhart

Devotional Leader:  Mike Lenhart

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