Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Caaamper's Fitness Challenge

I recently had a new idea for expanding my blog some. I’ve been thinking about carrying around my camera and taking occasional photos to post. I like photography, and despite being an amateur, I think I take a good shot now and again. You can look for some of those in the coming weeks and months. However, an interesting thing happened today when I finally got around to firing up my little Sony Cybershot…I found some shots from my personal fitness challenge in 2009; the SFP Challenge.

I had forgotten that I had those pictures. In fact, in the blur of my last year recovering from a torn Achilles Tendon suffered in a softball game about a month after “The Challenge,” I had almost forgotten about the big bike ride altogether. However, looking at the pics, it all came flooding back.

That was a tough day.

The deal was that in 2008, I had gained a bunch of weight. I tend to do that from time to time.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve gone through this weight gain/weight loss roller coaster. One year, I go up. The next year, I go down. Each time I go down, the effort to do so gets harder and harder. So, as 2009 rolled around, I was looking for a challenge that would push me to work on my health and fitness, and be something I would actually enjoy doing. After a little bit of thought, it occurred to me that I had never ridden a century ride.

For those of you who aren’t into cycling, a century ride is to ride your bicycle 100 miles in one day.

As with photography, I fancy myself as a pretty good amateur cyclist. Not a great cyclist by any means, but not bad when I’m in shape. That said, I’d never done the century. I’d done 75-milers, but not a 100-miler. It was one of those milestones that I hadn’t done, but that I did just want to do. It was something I liked, but would be a definite challenge that I would have to work to get ready for.

To make the challenge even harder to back out of, I made it a big public thing. I started telling everyone I was going to do it. I even announced it in front of the whole church where I worship and serve. I wanted it to be so embarrassing to quit that I’d be sure to suffer through whatever physical pain was necessary to complete the task.


All done

Ultimately, I didn’t find an organized century ride that fit my training plan and schedule well enough, so I opted to ride the 100 miles alone, but on the Cardinal Greenway near Muncie, Indiana. The completed portion of the Greenway at the time was 27 miles long running from Losantville on the southeast side of Muncie up to Gaston on the northwest side of Muncie. To do 100 miles, I would need to ride the full length up and back…twice. The total mileage of the journey was 108 miles.


I completed the challenge on September 19, 2009. I started at about 8am, and got off my bike at the end at about 6:45pm. 108 miles done. It was a long, HARD day. A special thank you goes to my wife who spent the day driving our car ahead to each rest stop to meet me, encourage me, refill my water bottles, and make sure that I ate something. It had to be a boring day for her, but her help was a tremendous factor in my completing the event.




Then, one month later, I tore the Achilles Tendon. Surgery. Cast. Walking Boot. Months of recovery. Regained weight. Now, I’m back at the top of the roller coaster.

 Time for a new challenge.

It was a wild-haired idea!

Introducing the Mike DeCamp 2011 Challenge. I’m going to complete 2011 miles in the year 2011 by either walking, running, or biking. If you do the math, that would be almost 6 miles every day of the year! Obviously, there will be days when I am sick, traveling, or otherwise cannot complete the necessary miles, so I added the biking to help me catch up during the cycling season. I haven’t worked out all the details and rules for myself yet. You can look for those in the coming few weeks leading up to January 1st. However, there will be both an activity aspect and a nutrition aspect. I’m going to cover both bases.

Wish me luck, and if you want to join me in the challenge, let me know.  I'll be blogging on my progress.

(You can see more pictures from the 2009 SFP Challenge on my Facebook page.)






Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving Thoughts

Another holiday season is upon us.  Turkeys and mistletoe, cranberry sauce and fruitcakes, pilgrims and Santa Claus.  Ahhhh, the sights and sounds of the season.  The day after tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and I'm looking forward to a feast!  I know many of you are too, plus football and long naps.

But, you know, it isn't called THANKSgiving for nothing.  Besides the pecan pies and pigskins, it is a time to reflect on how we've been blessed.  Sooooo, here's my feeble attempt.  But, before I go too far, I have to make a deal with you.  If you read my list, I want you to do me a favor and post ONE comment... (okay more if you really want)... one comment about something YOU are thankful for.  You can leave it anonomously if you prefer, but I like comments and I want to read what you have to say.

Before the list, a story:

A few years ago, I tried to establish a tradition in our home where we would go around the table and share about one thing each of us was thankful for before we ate our Thanksgiving feast.  I think I'm the only one who had much enthusiasm for the idea.  It could be because when we're trying to do that there's a hot, delicious, crispy bird with all the fixin's sitting right under our noses. 

I will tell you one story though.  It was funny to us...maybe it could be for you too.  We were all gathered in our living room, my family and my nephew's family.  We were going around the circle sharing what we were each thankful for, and when the turn came for my nephew's oldest boy to share (he was in about sixth grade or so), I could have sworn that he said:  "I'm thankful for violence."

Huh!  What?!  We all turned and looked at him like he was some sort of giant fruitcake.

"What did you say?" I asked as calmly as I could.

"I said I was thankful for violins."

Giant sigh of relief.  He's not a psychopath...he just appreciates classical music.  Well, when you grew up on the south side of Muncie, that could seem pretty crazy too, but we were all feeling much better about his thoughts anyway.

Enough with the stories, and on with my list:

I am thankful for...

1.  Nancy Elaine DeCamp--A wonderful wife, an amazing mother, and a close friend.
2.  Angela DeCamp--A beautiful young woman with a brilliant mind and an even more brilliant talent  for art.
3.  Andrea DeCamp--Another beautiful young woman with a heart that knows no bounds in its love and loyalty.
4.  My employer--It keeps us under a roof, clothed, fed, warm, and is a company with integrity.
5.  My church family--They have embraced my family, given me new depth, and put me to work.
6.  God--His patience with my faults, His Grace in forgiving me, His willingness to make me useful.
7.  My fellow elders at Southeastern--They are all very different from one another, but seem to complement one another nicely.  I think our Father has assembled us for a very good reason.  They sometimes frustrate me, but mostly they humble me and support me,...and sometimes give me a good-natured hard time.
8.  Dale Robinson--We became fast friends about five years ago, and I always enjoy spending time with him.
9.  Greg York--This friendship was slower to develop, but has recently been a real joy to me.  (Thanks for the long talks after our meetings!)
10.  Physical Health--Last year, I tore my Achilles Tendon and at Thanksgiving I was in a cast and on crutches.  Over the last few years, I've herniated a disc in my neck, had a stress fracture in my foot, and torn the Achilles.  Each of those events has made it more and more clear to me just how precious physical ability is.  I am way out of shape right now, but I'm on the mend and will soon be back in the action.

I could go on and on...my boss, other friends, folks I work on committees with.  I have much to be thankful for.  I guess I should also say that I'm thankful for Google Blogger.  It's given me a nice outlet.

How about you?  Share one for me please.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Mike's Bucket List

I’m sure that thousands of folks have done this, and some will say I’m too young myself, but I’m sitting here watching The Bucket List on TV, and I’m thinking that you can never be too young to recognize the primary things that you’d really like to get done while you can get things done. After all, no one is promised tomorrow. Should I wait until I retire or get a terminal illness to start? I think not. Time slips by so fast, and the older you get, the more you know that that fact is true.

So, here goes…my “bucket list” as it stands today…in no particular order.

1. Spend at least one night on each continent.

2. Hike to the lowest Everest base camp.

3. Bungee jump in New Zealand.

4. Become a published author of a novel.

5. Spend a week hiking the Appalachian Trail.

6. Circumnavigate the United States by car.

7. Preach a sermon at a major church conference.

8. Drive to Alaska, all the way to the north coast.

9. Witness the finish to the Tour de France in Paris.

10. Ride in the team car at a mountain stage of the Tour de France.

11. Explore the ruins of Machu Picchu.

12. Take a week long horseback adventure into the Rockies.

13. Take an African Safari.

14. See Hudson Bay.

15. Ride a boat on the Sea of Galilee.

16. Raft the entire length of the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon.

17. Spend a week at a fly-in cabin in the Canadian Boundary Waters.

18. Take a bicycle tour of Scotland.

19. Visit each country in Europe.

20. Take my grandchildren hiking in the Grand Canyon.

That’s enough for now. I’m sure I can come up with more as I consider it further.

A couple of things have occurred to me as I’ve written this list. The first is that it is likely a pipe dream to think that I could actually accomplish all of the items on the list, but just attempting it would be a huge adventure in itself. The second is that the list is made up of a large number of items that are largely selfish. There are other things that are really more important in the big picture.

For example:

A. Building a life-long relationship with God.

B. Grow a family to be proud of—DONE!

C. Use my life to help others.

D. Be an influence for good in all of my interactions and relationships.

E. Be true to myself and act with integrity with others.

I could go on, but you get the point. The two lists aren’t mutually exclusive, but to me the second takes precedence over the first. What good would my life be if I accomplished everything on the first, but failed in any significance on the second?

I’m going to chase the first, but no compromise on the second! Now, which drop do I plop into the bucket first?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Treasures on a Speck of Dust

Treasures on a Speck of Dust

Mike DeCamp


 
I have spent much of my life

Wallowing in the depths of self-pity,

Wishing for riches I did not have

And yearning for the roads I did not take.



How amazing it is to awaken,

And step out from among the oblivious

To see the true blessings of life.



To love and be loved,

And to have a life worth living

Are the purest of treasures.



These enrich my life,

Though I am only a speck of dust

Residing upon a speck of dust

In God’s great universe.

Salvation-All About the Relationship

It’s been an uncomfortable week. I’m not sure which is worse…trying to sleep on a bed of broken glass, or trying to sleep with a chest full of congestion. I’ve experienced the second this week. Last night, I fell asleep in my chair until around 2am. When I got up out of the chair to go to bed, my chest was full of….well….stuff. I think I woke up the whole neighborhood trying to clear it out. Nasty is the only word that I feel comfortable using to describe the experience. Here’s to hoping that I’m finally on the downside of this thing! If this post seems a little “out of sorts,” you can blame it on the cold.

Wednesday night, I taught a class at church on the topic of Salvation. Ten minutes before the class was due to start, I had zero voice. Then, just as we are ready to begin…there it was…back in my throat where it belongs. I made it though the class, and then was worn out. I don’t know if the class was any good, but it seemed to go okay despite my ailment.

One aspect of “Salvation” that we discussed on Wednesday is how we so often focus on the negative in order to try to convince someone to follow Christ. Like the billboards say: REPENT or PERISH! So many times, people become Christians in order to avoid Hell rather than to embrace the relationship with the Father that so wants to be in their lives. Other times, they appear to choose God, when in fact the appearance is all there is. Other factors, like family or social pressures drive them to make a commitment that isn’t true to their inner choices.

The bottom line to the whole salvation thing is: God is all about the relationship!

You don’t enter into a relationship to avoid something. You don’t develop lasting friendships by focusing on what you can get out of them. Has anyone really every felt close to someone that they were pressured into spending time with?

If we use those motivations to try to convince someone to come to God, we are only creating a fa├žade that won’t last. Negative motivators usually become de-motivators. You can only scare me into doing something for so long before I will have had enough of it.

The LORD is my shepherd. He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul. Psalm 23 is one of the most beautiful examples of how God wants to be there to bring us peace, restoration, and fulfillment. Take a look at verse 6: Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.


Isn’t that the fulfillment that we all desire. That’s what a relationship with God brings…and, He’s all about the relationship.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Saying of the Day

Be the person today that will lead you to be the person you want to be tomorrow.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Waters of Encouragement!

I had one of those days yesterday. It was one of those days when you just feel like a rain cloud is hanging over you…even inside the house…, and you feel like hanging up your cleats and retiring from participation in this mutual game of ours called life. I felt like just going inactive; like maybe just starting to let life happen instead of trying to have some impact on it. I had joined the major leagues of discouragement!

Why?

It had been a rough week that was capped off by a bumpy Saturday morning. I mean, I’ve got my hands in a lot of activities, and I had begun to feel like I was wasting my time. I just didn’t see much “return on the investment” so to speak. I wasn’t sensing much impact from my efforts. Thus, I began to feel empty, useless, and weary.

I wish I could say that I handled that feeling perfectly. I wish I could say that I didn’t get too introspective; that I didn’t withdraw into a mini bout of depression. If I said it, it wouldn’t be true.

So, what did I do? Well, I took a long shower and poured my pain out in prayer while the water poured over my shoulders. I couldn’t really explain my feelings, so I just asked God to read my heart and make it clear what I needed to do, and where I really stood.

Then, I took a walk, and as I walked down the street, praying, thinking, moping, and pouting, I crossed a small creek. I glanced down its length through the brush and noticed that it had no water flowing. The creek was dry. It occurred to me that it was a good metaphor for how I was feeling. My creek was dry. My spirit had evaporated.

I asked myself some questions while walking. Am I not relying on God enough? Am I trying too hard? Should I just stop trying so hard, and let things flow the way that they will? Should I back out of my responsibilities and quit?

Other than the first question, I really didn’t have any answers. I definitely haven’t been relying on God enough…a personal weakness. But, remember, when I was in the shower, I asked God to show me where I stood and what I should do.

I think that’s what He did.

First, I went to a 1st birthday party for a son of some of our friends, and made a new friend of a young person with a mutual interest in writing. It lifted my spirits to sit and talk about something that I really enjoy doing with someone who is so obviously full of enthusiasm for the same craft (Thanks, Andrea).

When I got home, I had a message from a friend who had started his own blog. He told me that I had inspired him (Thanks, Scott).

Later, we had the Young Adults over from our church, and I sat until late at night talking with some of the guys. I had taken it as a personal project to get this group off the ground, and it has been slow to really get going. It was weighing on me that it wasn’t as successful as I had hoped. Some of my spiritual water had flowed into this program and seemingly had dried up. However, while talking with the guys, one of them told me that his spiritual life had changed 180 degrees from last spring, and he attributed it to the establishment and activities of the group (Thanks, Logan).

After they left, I went to bed. In one of my dreams, I was in a worship service at church and it was obviously a rousing, enthusiastic experience. I looked over, and there was a guy who is a regular attendee, but is not a member, and who is usually stoic in our meetings. He was standing, and worshipping with all his heart, and inspiring and encouraging everyone around him to give praise to God. Here’s the interesting thing about that…our worship is another area that I have been laboring in to try to spur more heartfelt and genuine, enthusiastic, overflowing praise. It has felt a fruitless endeavor. Was God telling me to keep going; that I was affecting people in good ways that I just could not see? I don’t know, but that’s how it felt.

Finally, I went to church this morning, and had two more reinforcements.

First, I was sharing with a friend who is a former elder that I had been feeling useless and that my efforts were wasted. I have a great deal of respect for this man, and I consider him a mentor. He just looked at me and said, “You know better than that. You’re doing a lot of good.” (Thank you, Keith.)

Secondly, I had a guy who has been helping me with the Sports Ministry, which I had established as a means of building fellowship and as an outreach tool, stop me to let me know that we “have a success story” from our ministry! He shared that one of the guys in our football league, who has some troubles, as many young guys often do, was showing some real interest in coming to our church. My spiritual co-worker was excited that we were making an impact. (Thank you, Greg)

Inside, without really forming the words in my mind, I think I finally turned my mind to God and said: "Okay! I get it! I’ll keep going!"

(Thank you, God!)

The Bible says to spur one another on toward love and good deeds. It says to encourage one another daily. Thank you to those of you who have encouraged me. I have needed it the last couple of days. I can’t say the water is rushing down my spiritual creek yet, but it is flowing again. I appreciate you all.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Where Did We Put Our Awe?


I didn’t intend to make this blog all about spiritual things. In concept, I was going to speak my mind on all sorts of controversial subjects; religion, politics, societal change, and any other topic that crossed my path. But, I guess faith seems to have become the dominant source of my inspiration because here comes another one.

Last Wednesday night, I was teaching a class at church…about church…when I came across a line in scripture that resonated with me. Acts 2:43a It says: “Everyone was filled with awe,…”

AWE

Interesting word. I imagine standing with my mouth open; speechless. I imagine feeling small and insignificant. I imagine being overwhelmed by marvel and wonder; sort of how you might feel when standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon.

In the context of the verse, we have a brand new thing. It had just come into existence. It was a new brand of faith that did not yet have a name. There were no Catholics or Baptists; no Methodists or Churches of Christ, and no Lutherans, Episcopalians, or Greek Orthodox. It was just a saving Lord and a group of His followers. No creeds. No divisions. Just people gathered around a new hope. On this particular day, the group had suddenly surged from 120 members to an astounding 3120…all at once…and, they were in awe.

So, here’s my question for you: Where have we put our awe?

On Sunday…in church…our congregation sang the song “I Stand Amazed*.”

I stand amazed in the presence
Of Jesus the Nazarene,
And wonder how He could love me,
A sinner, condemned, unclean.

Chorus:

O how marvelous! O how wonderful!
And my song shall ever be:
O how marvelous! O how wonderful!
Is my Savior's love for me!

I sometimes wonder just how much we think about the words of the songs we sing. Do I really stand amazed? Do I really feel like I’m in the presence of Jesus? Do I feel the wonder? Do I marvel at the Savior’s love for me?

Maybe I’m just suffering from a touch of negativity, but it seems that we Christians have lost our awe. If we have it, why does it not overflow into our voices as we sing? We should be struggling to contain our zeal! If we are marveling at the wonders of God, why do we struggle to share it with others? How can we NOT talk about Him?

Do you believe that in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth? Do you believe that He parted the Red Sea? Do you believe that He brought Daniel out of the lion’s den? How about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego? Did He stand in the fiery furnace with them? And, even more importantly, did God recognize our hopeless, merciless existence and orchestrate all of history to bring us back into a relationship with Him? Do you believe it? Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God…that He died on the cross…that He was buried in a tomb for three days…and ultimately…astoundingly…He ROSE FROM THE DEAD? Do you believe it?


If you do, you must be filled with awe! You must stand amazed!



Where did you and I put our awe?



*I Stand Amazed was written by Charles H. Gabriel