Wednesday, April 29, 2009

LexSHOUT Video! Take a peek!

Our LexShout video is up! Take five minutes to hear greetings to our troops from the Bluegrass! Go to!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

LEX SHOUT Lexington's Shout Out to the Troops!

In just one month, STEPS to HONOR officially begins. I have a lot to do to get the word out about this awareness program. I have to keep my focus and keep running everyday. Sometimes when I have a lot to do, I want to skip my workout. This program is keeping me accountable. I hope it will do the same for many others and bring about a new awareness of gratitude for those that serve and sacrifice on our behalf.

Before I close, I have to tell you about LexSHOUT - Lexington's Shout Out to the Troops! Several of us at Military Missions got together and put together a greeting for our deployed soldiers. We are sending care packages in May with a theme called "Greetings from the Bluegrass". We hope to send mementos of Kentucky and fill the packages with Kentucky postcards which have personal notes from our fellow Kentuckians. We plan to have our deployed military log onto our website and see our LexSHOUT video. We ran around Lexington yesterday taking crazy pictures at different city landmarks. We also took our video camera along and recorded messages for our troops. If you have an extra 5 minutes, you should watch our video greeting. If you know someone that is deployed, be sure to send them the link. We want all of our deployed troops to know that Kentuckians are grateful for what they are doing for all of us. To see the LexShout video with greetings to our troops, go to Please share the video with all of your military friends!

Journal Entry - Fri 4/10/09

Well, I took a break from the running after the Veteran’s Run last November. I went back to the elliptical machine and walking through the holidays. On January 1, I found myself trying to figure out what I was going to do to keep myself motivated to exercise everyday. I had accomplished becoming a member of the “500 Mile Club” at the YMCA in 2008. I knew I didn’t want to try to walk another 500 miles in 6 months. It was taking up too much of my day to set such a high goal. I also knew that if I didn’t set a goal that was difficult, I would probably quit. My mind returned to running. Now that was definitely a challenge. After all, I hate running. I thought about the satisfaction I had felt when I participated in Run for the Fallen and the Veteran’s Walk/Run. I decided that my goal for 2009 was to become enough of a jogger that I could participate in events without difficulty. My husband has always been a runner so it would be nice to do these events with him.

I started out running just one mile. Each week I slowly increased my distance. Doing this gradually kept me from experiencing a lot of muscle soreness. Today, I am happy to say that I run three miles daily. I usually walk another mile or two depending on how much time I have to spend at the YMCA. I will be honest. I still don’t enjoy running but I don’t struggle until I am in the middle of the third mile. My biggest struggle with the third mile is fighting the desire to stop. I’m hot and sweaty and somewhat tired, but the reality is that I don’t have to stop so I force myself to keep going. I remind myself that my heroes don’t quit when things get tough so I can’t quit either. The reward is reaching the end of that third mile and knowing I didn’t give into my lazier side. If I wasn’t worried about people in the gym thinking I was crazy, I would probably scream and throw my arms up at the end of each day’s workout!

Journal Entry - Wed 3/18/09

I reflect back to Veteran’s Day in November, 2008. Our community held a 3K to honor our veterans. I decided that I would participate in this event too. This time, the weather was very cold and damp. I believe it was in the forties and it was very windy. I had not ever run more than one mile so running a 3K was a stretch. It wasn’t quite two miles, but it was more than what I was used to jogging. I started out fairly strong. I probably ran about halfway before I really started struggling. It was hard to breathe in such cold weather. I also wasn’t sure how to judge how far I had run or how far I had to go. I was used to looking down at the mileage on the treadmill. I was always able to tell how far I had gone at any given moment. At some point, I was really considering walking to the finish line. I debated for a couple of minutes and then I found someone passing me. As the runner passed, I noticed that he was running with an artificial leg and he was wearing a shirt that indicated he was a veteran. I guess you know what happened next! I saw that man run by and realized that he had served on my behalf, lost his leg, and was still out here in this cold weather running in this 3K. Needless to say, I knew I couldn’t quit running if he had not quit giving for Americans like me. I managed to finish the event and had a faster time than most the people in my age group. The day after the Veteran’s Run, I found myself with some pretty sore shins and thighs. It probably took me about a week before I could comfortably walk down the stairs. Like I said earlier....I really do hate running!

Journal Entry - Tues 3/17/09

Since that day back in August, I have worked slowly to build up my endurance and ability to run. I spent the first 48 years of my life avoiding running so taking this feat on at this point in my life was not easy. Because I have a physical disability, I have to work on everything in baby steps. I knew I could run at least a mile so that is where I began. I worked through many different pain issues as I strengthened muscles that had never been expected to carry me at more than a walking pace. I had setbacks and even went through a period of time where I had to settle for walking. Most days I ran about a half a mile and did about 5 miles on the elliptical machine at the YMCA. Two things kept me going....the first, I realized that I was actually getting much stronger and therefore, this exercise stuff was allowing me to make positive changes in my life. The second.....I was very motivated to dedicate each mile to someone that had stepped up to serve on my behalf. I had to come up with six names a day, one for each mile, and that was causing me to think beyond the people I knew personally. I was now interested in finding out about others that served for me even though they have never met me.

Journal Entry - Mon. 3/16/09

For the past 5 or 6 months, I have been working on the STEPS to HONOR program. It is a dream of mine to get an awareness program started that will motivate people to purposefully set aside time each day to honor our American heroes. I’ve given the program a lot of thought. The program isn’t about who can run the fastest mile or who can run the longest distance. It is simply about honoring those who selflessly serve for you and for me. It has to be a program in which anyone can participate. It can be as easy or as difficult as you choose for it to be. I see two benefits from participating. The first benefit - you will be forever changed if you really take the time to honor our heroes. The second benefit - you will get in better shape!

The reason this program is called STEPS to HONOR and not something such as RUN to HONOR is because not all of us are runners. I can personally tell you that I hate to run. Until recently, I had never run more than a mile without stopping. I had not ever had the interest to push myself in that way.....until I participated in Run for the Fallen last August. As I mentioned earlier, I had begun an exercise program earlier in the year. I had been walking at the YMCA and taking a few exercise classes in an effort to strengthen muscles and better cope with a permanent disability with which I live. I had gotten in the habit of exercising about 5 days a week so I was much more prepared to run a mile than I had been in years. I decided that I was going to participate in Run for the Fallen, and I was going to actually jog rather than walk.

August 24, 2008 was a HOT day in Lexington, Kentucky. As the group headed out to run the mile long trek, I immediately noticed that it was a lot harder to run in the heat than it was to jog in the A/C on a treadmill. About 1/4 of a mile down and I was beginning to think I was crazy! I refused to quit and kept on running. At the half mile point, I was really hot and ready to stop, but I was determined that I would not quit. The last half mile was extremely difficult, but I kept telling myself that I could do this. Certainly the men and women that have served on my behalf suffered much more than I was suffering.....and they had made the ultimate sacrifice on my behalf. There was no way I was going to stop running until I got to the finish line or dropped dead trying to get there! Somehow, I managed to make it to the finish line. I had struggled, but somehow I did make it to the end. The entire time that I was suffering, I was reminded of the names written on my racer’s bib. As I ran and struggled to breathe, I spent time thinking about the individuals I was honoring with my run. I prayed for their families and asked God to give them what they needed to keep on going in this world without their loved one that had made the ultimate sacrifice. I thanked the Lord for His grace and the blessing of living in a land of liberty and for those that had made that possible through their service.

Journal Entry - Wed 9/3/08

Each day as I am running, my mind is racing with ideas. I am wondering about all the other people that walk or run on a regular basis. I am thinking that most of these people would enjoy the idea of honoring someone while they exercise. Basically it is all about awareness. We aren’t really aware of what others do for us because it doesn’t seem personal. Let’s say I live in the USA my entire life and never personally know one individual that serves in the military or law enforcement. I could very possibly go through my entire life never once considering that these people serve for me. The wars are usually fought on foreign soil. The crimes happen in someone else’s neighborhood and the fires strike someone else’s homes. Does this mean that none of this service stuff relates to me? I think that is how many people see it. I’ll step out on a limb here and say that many people may think police officers work just so they can catch us speeding and give us a ticket! Have you ever had that type of thought?

Why does something have to be up close and personal in our own lives before we realize it exists? Why do most of us have to benefit from something or have it sneak into our lives through someone else before we actually consider its value? I can recognize this indifference because I am guilty of it myself. I grew up in Northern Virginia. Most of my friends were military kids. Their parents worked at the Pentagon or Ft. Belvoir and they came home from work everyday wearing a uniform. Most of them moved away every three years at which point someone else would move in, enter my circle of friends, and another three year cycle would begin. During these years we were at peace at war against no one. Perhaps that is why it never struck me that military service was any type of sacrifice, or perhaps it was because I was so young and couldn’t see past my own self.

Reality hit me on the head when my oldest son made it clear that he was enlisting in the USMC. He had no interest in my plans for his college education. He has always dreamed of serving in the military and it was assumed that he would attend college first. He was 15 years old when the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were hit. It was on that day that his world changed and his plans to join the military took a shorter path. He researched every branch and finally decided that he was best suited to be a US Marine. He spent his 16th year begging us to sign the forms so he could enter the Delayed Entry Program at the age of 17. After much thought, lots of arguing, and even more prayer, the papers were signed and our son was enlisted before his senior year in high school had even begun. He spent his senior year working at the USMC recruiting office. He learned as much as possible to help him be ready for boot camp. He was on the bus to Parris Island, SC one short week after high school graduation. He turned 18 at boot camp, and celebrated his 19th and 20th birthdays while deployed in Fallujah, Iraq. The service and sacrifice of our military was no longer something for “other people”. It was real and it was rocking my world! The day my son got on the bus with his infantry platoon and headed to Iraq for his first deployment was the day that my world was forever changed.

Journal Entry - Tues 9/2/08

I’ve been thinking about those that stand in the gap for me lately. I always think about the military. I will be honest and tell you that I used to think most about the Marines. Since my son joined that branch, I am naturally drawn to any words that remotely resemble Marines or Semper Fi. As I begin to look past me, myself, and I, it becomes apparent that there are soldiers, airmen, and sailors. If I look even farther outside of my own little world, I start to realize that there are people right here in my hometown that are standing in the gap for me 24/7. My house may never catch on fire, but if it does, there is someone waiting and ready to answer my call for help. That person is ready to answer the call for any of us at any given moment. Most of us don’t need their help, but everyday someone calls our firefighters. I may never be in an accident or become the victim of a crime, but if I do find myself in those circumstances, there is someone already prepared to come to my aid. Even now as I sit safely in my home, there are people working in local law enforcement to make sure that I am safe. Everyday our police officers say goodbye to their families and step out of their homes to protect me and you. Not only are they willing to protect us in the most dangerous circumstances, but they are also ready to humble themselves to direct traffic. I imagine that if you asked most police officers if they joined the force so they could direct traffic, they would quickly say no.....but they often find themselves doing jobs such as that to protect us from ourselves. How many of us consider the other guy when the traffic gets backed up? Something as simple as our lack of patience can become a danger. Our law enforcement officials are there to keep things safe so we can go about our lives normally. So today I am picturing myself as the mother of a police officer or firefighter rather than that of a Marine. The idea of my son going out every single day with the real possibility of facing a dangerous situation is causing me to feel a shortness of breath. It is one thing to worry for a few months during a deployment. It is quite another to live with that fear every single day. Suddenly my mind fills with numerous scenarios....I watch enough TV to have plenty of great ideas....and I wonder how anyone lets their spouse, child, or parent out the door to face the eminent danger lurking around the corner. It occurs to me that it isn’t just the members of the Armed Forces that make serve on my behalf, but it is also those who work as fire fighters and in law enforcement. I have a lot of people to which I am grateful and I figure I will never meet most of them in this lifetime.

Journal Entry - Fri. 8/29/08

As I run today, I start to pay attention to the many people running on the other treadmills in the room. Hmm...wonder what they are thinking about right now? Are they watching the televisions strategically placed on the walls? Are they singing along with the music playing on their headphones? Are they praying? Planning? Worrying? I wonder if anyone even realizes what they are thinking about right when they run. Until a couple of days ago, I honestly couldn’t tell you what went through my mind while running besides thoughts such as “I am so hot” or “I need some water” or “I should just stop now”. “I can’t breathe.” “I hate running.” “Why is it so hard to get in shape?” Does everyone hate running or is it just me? My husband loves to run but I can’t understand why. Perhaps this understanding will come to me later.
Journal Entry - Monday, September 1, 2008: Today I am running once again for the fallen heroes that were in some way connected to my son. I have decided that I really like this concept of honoring someone and need to start making a list of heroes that I can honor each day. My mind starts to consider the many people that have served in our military over the course of our nation’s history. Imagine the number of men and women that have stood in the gap over the years. What about those that serve willingly that were not called to make the ultimate sacrifice? Shouldn’t we honor them for their service? After getting a small glimpse into what my own son has gone through over the past five years, I realize more each day that military service is difficult and challenging to say the least! Must we wait for one to be injured or killed before we are grateful for their service? We often forget about those that are serving on bases right here in the USA. Once you enter the military, your life is no longer your own. You can’t decide to take a day off, call in sick, or sleep in. You always take a turn spending a major holiday on “Barracks Duty”. The year my son had duty on Christmas Day he told me it was the loneliest Christmas ever! He said he would have preferred to be in Iraq because at least he would have been with his buddies. What about the pressure to make sure you get back from your 96 (4 day weekend) in time to get through the traffic at the main gate and get in line to get your regulation haircut before the barber shop closes? And what about those inspections? I often wonder how I would feel if someone came to my house once a week to do an inspection. Would everything be straight enough or clean enough? Unlikely! I am starting to really appreciate the daily sacrifice made by our military. They really don’t have lives of their own for the time they serve and they are doing that for you and for me!

Journal Entry - Thurs. 8/28/08

Participating in Run for the Fallen has given me a lot to consider. Just yesterday, I was pushing myself to run a mile on a very hot day. Today, I am back to running on a treadmill inside the air conditioned gym. It occurs to me that I might just run today’s mile for one of my fallen heros. I typically run 1 mile, walk 2 miles, and do about three miles on the elliptical cross trainer. I quickly came to the realization my daily six miles could be used to honor six heroes. I walked in honor of the six men that I had worn on my bib yesterday during Run for the Fallen. I found that the time went by much more quickly. Instead of looking down at the display to see how much farther I had to go, I was filling my mind with thoughts of gratitude for what these Marines had done for me. I thought about their funerals, and their families.....which led me to pray for their loved ones. How difficult each day must be for them! Before I knew it, I was on the next mile and my thoughts switched to the next hero on my list. It was on that day that I found a new reason to run. I honestly hate running, but I was interested in the idea that I could spend the time honoring someone that had made the ultimate sacrifice for me. I have decided that to honor someone’s sacrifice with a little bit of suffering really causes me to think. Whenever I feel like stopping, I just remind myself that the hero I run for didn’t stop when he was tired. He didn’t stop until God called him home. It’s hard to be a quitter when you think like that! I’m coming back tomorrow and I am going to run in honor of a few more heroes that served on my behalf.

Journal Entry - Wed 8/27/08 - Run for the Fallen

Last weekend I was invited to participate in Run for the Fallen. I have been working out a lot lately, and while I am no runner, I figured I could run a mile for a good cause. The concept was simple. Join others across the nation and run in honor of a fallen hero. A group of people actually ran from Ft. Irwin, California to Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, DC. They began their journey on June 14 and finished on August 24.

I don’t recall the actual temperature on the day we ran, but I do know that it was HOT! Not only was it hot, it was humid! My goal was to run the entire mile, but as we headed out, I wondered if I was being realistic. The only time I run is inside the YMCA where there is a nice padded track and a working air conditioner. I typically run distances less than a mile, so I was definitely taking on a challenge.

As I continued, I started thinking about the list of fallen heroes I had pinned to my shirt. I was wearing the names of six fallen Marines…..all who had some sort of tie to my own son, a USMC Sergeant who happens to be deployed.

I became more and more tired, and more and more hot, but as I pondered the lives of these heroes, I realized that my efforts on this hot August day were really not much of a sacrifice. I think about our military everyday. I think about them 24/7. My son is on his third deployment as I run this mile in honor of his friends. I can read through the list of fallen heroes and I can say that I have met a number of their family members….but do I honestly stop and really consider what these did for me in more than just a passing thought? Do I think about how difficult it must be for the family members that must go on without their fallen hero? On most days, the honest answer is no. Most days, I am busy living the American Dream just like everybody else. As I run, I realize that every single man listed on my bib not only endured heat and fatigue far worse than what I was experiencing in this moment, but these men had also made the ultimate sacrifice by giving their lives! Each one sacrificed for people like me, unknown to them. Each one sacrificed for the good of our nation. Each one had a life here in the USA that they did not have to give up to serve others. Each one was loved and cherished by family and friends....each a brother, sister, son, daughter, wife, husband, parent, friend, and neighbor.

As I continued running, with each step, the thoughts of fatigue were replaced with the excitement of knowing that I was pushing myself beyond my comfort zone to make people more aware of our heroes and their sacrifice. Not only was this effort making others more aware of their sacrifice. It was making ME more aware of their sacrifice!