Monday, April 30, 2012

My Weakness. His Strength.

Post-Race Summary – Eugene Marathon – April 29, 2012

Running is strange.  Some days you have it.  Some days you don’t.  The Have It Days make you think nothing – pace or distance - can stand in the way of your dreams. The Don’t Have It Days make you question why you run and the fact that you ever thought it was fun.  April 29, 2012, - the day of the Eugene Marathon - was a Don’t Have it Day for me.  My mind showed up, but my body didn’t.

In the past four months, Carissa and I have logged twenty double-digit training runs in preparation for April 29, 2012.  We watched in awe as our bodies adjusted to the intense schedule and got faster with each run, in spite of increased mileage.  We set race goals based on our training that seemed feasible and entered the three weeks of tapering with great excitement.

At the Expo
But as we began to taper, Carissa’s leg started bothering her.  There was a point last week where she questioned whether she would even be able to race.  The night before the race we stretched and prayed.  Prayed and stretched.

We woke on race morning at 4:45 a.m. and headed to the kitchen for breakfast.  My brain doesn’t function early in the morning, but I felt compelled - to the point of urgency - to make sure I read my Bible while we ate breakfast.  The assigned reading was from Second Corinthians chapter 12.  The brain fogginess fled as I read the passage where Paul talks about battling a nagging illness.  Convinced God had given me this passage for Carissa, I read it out loud.

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.  But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  

I had just enough time to write this in my journal before we headed to the start:  “Race morning!!!  Four months of intense training for this moment.  It’s crazy.  Really crazy!  I read II Corinthians 12 again this morning.  Verse 10 says, ‘For when I am weak, then I am strong.  I delight in weakness, in hardship, in difficulties…’  Today won’t be easy, but God will you allow me to boast in my weaknesses and in your power be made strong?  Not to us – but to YOUR name oh LORD goes the glory and praise.  Amen!”

I had no idea how prophetic those words would be or that the compulsion to read my Bible was because God had a message for me that I would desperately need as I raced.

Before the race - with our incredible friend and fellow Sole Sister, Tanya
Our friend Tanya drove us to the start of race where Carissa and I hooked up with my “non-biological” brother, Jon.  We lined up at the start, ready to run our third marathon (Jon’s fourth) and huddled for one last quick prayer. Our race strategy was to find that tricky balance of a pace that was fast, but comfortable enough to maintain for the entire distance.  Jon, who normally runs six-minute-miles, was acting as our pacer and encourager. 
waiting for the gun to go off
The first ten miles came fast and furious.  We were running about ten seconds per mile faster than we planned, but it felt good and steady.  We were setting ourselves up to run a REALLY fast race. 

At mile eleven, I started feeling off.  My breathing was regulated, my pace quick, my legs strong, my mind engaged.  But my body just felt weak.  I told Jon, “I don’t know what’s going on, but I’m struggling a bit right now.”  We slowed our pace by about 5 seconds per mile, but nothing changed.   I felt progressively worse and worse.  Nausea – something I have seldom experienced when running – made nutrition challenging.  I knew I needed to eat and keep my body hydrated but the only thing I could tolerate was water. 

Shortly after the 15 mile marker, I watched Carissa and the 3:25 pace group gradually pull away and there was nothing I could do about it.  I knew in that moment that I needed to reorient my goals for the race if I wanted to finish.  I mentally let go of my goal to finish in the 3:20 range.  In spite of feeling terrible I was running fast enough that if I didn’t get any sicker, I still had a shot at 3:30 finish time.
that smile is really forced
I didn’t get better.  I couldn’t get on top of the nausea.  The longer I ran, the more quickly and intense it came.  I downshifted my goal to just wanting to finish and marveled that in the moment, I didn’t care about my time.  “Jesus – just get me across the finish line.  PUHLEEZE!!

By the grace of God, I stayed in it mentally.  The more my body shut down, the sharper my mind became.  Jesus kept bringing me back to the passage I studied that morning. “Jodi - if you boast, boast in your weakness.  It’s in your weakness that my power gives you strength.  That passage wasn’t for Carissa.  It was for you.  I love you so much.”  I prayed.  And prayed.  Laid my weakness at the foot of the cross and begged Jesus to replace it with His strength.  And He did.  Jesus carried me.

When I wanted to quit, I thought of what I wrote just two days earlier in anticipation of this race.  “If you’re really lucky, you get emails, phone calls, and text messages offering encouragement and prayer from family and friends who joined you on the crazy journey of training.  When you toe the line on race morning, you are not alone.  You run with an army of loved ones pushing you toward the finish – some of them even out on the racecourse screaming your name.”  I knew I couldn’t quit.  YOU were praying for me.

Curt and the kids, Sarah, Tanya, and Kelly were the faces out on the racecourse screaming my name. God knew I would need their encouragement to keep going.  Tanya acted as our chauffer on race morning.  The rest of my Lovelies got up at the crack of dawn and drove the hour-and-a-half down to Eugene.

Jon and I saw Kelly and Sarah somewhere around mile 16 and then again at mile 23.  They held signs that said, “Not to us O LORD, not to us – but to Your name goes all the glory for your unfailing love and faithfulness.” 

Sarah and Kelly
We found Curt and my precious kiddos at the 17-mile-mark.  Their hugs, kisses, and “GO MOMMY” couldn’t have been more beautifully timed.  I blubbered like a baby for the next half-mile, running off their love.
Worst family picture ever - but the best of the bunch
Tanya chased Carissa and I around the racecourse, wearing a hand-made T-shirt declaring our partnership as friends, runners and sisters in Christ.  She found Jon and I at mile 25.5 and rode her bike alongside me yelling encouragement and quoting out-loud the verses she knew I was meditating on – claiming them as truth over me when I could barely lift my head.

Each time I saw one of my loved ones it gave me the mental fuel to keep going.  Through their love, Jesus gently encouraged, “My grace is sufficient for you.  Jodi, my power is made perfect in weakness!”   

Jon was incredible.  He knew I was hurting, but didn’t let me give up.  He consistently offered up, “You’re doing great.  You’re going to do this.  You’re going to hold a pace and qualify for Boston.  I’m so proud of you.”  Toward the end of the race, I think we both knew he was lying.  I was NOT doing great.  
Jon shielded me and encouraged me the entire race.  What a kind man.
At the twenty-mile marker, we figured out that I could still hit a 3:30 finish if I maintained a low 8-minute-mile, and all of a sudden I cared about my time again.  Jon asked me if I had it in me and I said, “Let’s go for it.”  I mentally traced my 10k training route in my mind and gave myself a pep talk.  “I can do this.  I run this body.  I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”  But my body would not cooperate.

My pace slowed every mile for the remaining six miles.  The last two miles were the worst.  I was light-headed and had to keep stopping to take sips of water to avoid vomiting.  The 3:35 pace group – one I had been more than ten minutes ahead of for most of the race - passed me with seven-tenths of a mile left in the race.  I would have cried, but I didn’t have the energy. 
tears flowed freely at the finish
It was as if time stood still.  My watch kept adding seconds and minutes to my time, but my feet felt glued to the pavement.  Jon and I were within sight of the stadium where the race finished and I had to stop to take a drink and ride out another wave of nausea.  He saw my dream of qualifying for Boston slipping through my fingers and desperately encouraged me.  “You can’t stop now.  We can see the finish.  C’mon!  Finish strong.  I know you have it in you.” 

We entered the stadium together at the 200-meter mark.  It was filled with spectators cheering on their loved ones and our images appeared on the jumbo TV in the center of the field.  Jon was shouting encouragement and literally pushing me toward the finish.  I heard my family scream my name and could barely turn my head to acknowledge them.  When we were steps from the finish Jon pointed to the clock and hollered, “You did it!  Jodi, you qualified for Boston!”  I watched the clock ticking toward 3 hours and 37 minutes and could not believe it.  A surge of energy filled me and I pumped my fist in victory before stumbling across the finish.

The next few minutes were a bit of a blur.  I remember two volunteers in red shirts grabbing my arms and half carrying/half guiding me to the medical tent.  They helped me onto a make-shift bed and someone elevated my legs.  My legs were involuntarily shaking and someone wiped down my face with cold water. I was really out of it, but I remember being overcome with gratitude that I was no longer running and so grateful that I was able to finish the race.

When I sat up, I realized just how lucky I was.  Very fit athletes were sobbing, shaking, and one woman was wheeled into the tent clearly drifting in and out of consciousness.  It was sobering.  I realized just how much you have to respect the marathon.  The distance can defeat even the most well-prepared athletes.
completely wrecked from this race
When I felt well enough to walk again, I reconnected with Carissa, Jon, and my family in the reunion area.  We were all pretty emotional.  What a crazy day! 
Across the finish.  Thank you Jesus!
God totally answered our prayers for healing for Carissa’s leg.  She ran strong the entire distance, without pain, and finished in a blazing 3:27:05!  Jon and I had an official finish time of 3:36:34.  Not the sub 3:30 I wanted, but still a Boston-qualifying and personal best time for me.  Christ’s power in my weakness.
What a great friend!
I would never choose to have a run go the way my race did.  But I know it was the race God wanted me to have.  If I would have been able to run the full 26.2 miles at the pace we trained at without much difficulty, it would be tempting to take credit.  But instead, I was humbled.  Brought back again to the beautiful fact that without Jesus, I am nothing.  My weakness.  His strength.  Now that’s something to boast about.  Thank you Jesus! 

…and for those of us who like statistics, here are my stats.  The splits tell the story.

Mile 1: 7:25
Mile 7: 7:39
Mile 13:8:04
Mile 19: 8:43
Mile 25: 10:17
Mile 2: 7:34
Mile 8: 7:39
Mile 14: 7:51
Mile 20: 8:46
Mile 26: 10:03
Mile 3: 7:35
Mile 9: 7:51
Mile 15: 8:08
Mile 21: 8:19

Mile 4: 7:39
Mile 10: 7:54
Mile 16: 8:07
Mile 22: 8:35

Mile 5: 7:37
Mile 11: 8:00
Mile 17: 8:17
Mile 23: 9:16

Mile 6: 7:35
Mile 12: 7:44
Mile 18: 8:17
Mile 24: 8:44

Friday, April 27, 2012

Top Ten Indicator The Marathon Is Three Days Away

Race day is Sunday.  That's THREE days friends.  AHHHHHHH!!!!  I think the combination of nerves and excitement has caused me to lose all brain function.  Here's proof...

Top Ten Indicators The Marathon is Three Days Away
10.  You start checking the weather for race day a week in advance even though you live in Oregon where the weather changes from minute to minute.
9.  You realize your current pair of running shoes have too many miles on them so you buy new shoes and then wear them EVERYWHERE to try to get a few miles on them before the race.
8.  You forget about the hair appointment you've looked forward to all week long.  The same hair appointment you've rescheduled not once, not twice, but THREE times already.
7.  You single-handedly eat an entire sheet of fresh-baked monster cookies and consider it to be effective "carb loading."  (Hey - they have peanut butter and oatmeal in them.  They're practically nutritious.)

6.  You try on running outfits and take pictures of yourself wearing them to make sure it looks coordinated for race day photos.
5.  You lose sleep about the sudden change in the weather and rush to the store to buy a new pair of running shorts - just in case it's unseasonably warm - and then it starts with cold and rain the next morning.
4.  You have no idea what to do with yourself when the training schedule says "rest" two days in a row.  Rest Day One:  You lay out your yoga equipment neatly on the family room floor, ignore it all day, and put it away before the kids come home from school.  Rest Day Two:  You take the dog for a walk and indulge in the luxury of exercise without excessive sweat even though you're supposed to be at the hair appointment you forgot about.
3.  You're tempted to cross off the three remaining boxes on the training chart early.
2.  You worry if eating a big burrito the night before the race will cause digestive issues and a gas cloud for any racers unfortunate enough to be running behind you.
1.  If you're really lucky, you get emails, phone calls, and text messages offering encouragement and prayer from family and friends who joined you on the crazy journey of training.  When you toe the line on race morning, you are not alone.  You run with an army of loved ones pushing you toward the finish - some of them even out on the race course screaming your name.

I am one of those lucky ones.  THANK YOU to each of you who has offered encouragement to me in the past four months as I've chased down this dream.  A huge shout out to my incredible husband Curt who shuffled our schedule around and watched in disbelief as I crossed off every single box on that silly training chart.  Your support and love blesses me  Plus you're easy on the eyes - BONUS!

To my beautiful kiddos - Sarah, Grant, Katie, Alli, and Paige - for giving me fashion advice on my running clothes, riding your bikes countless miles alongside me while I trained, and for being proud of new running shoes that are "just like Mommy's." (be still my beating heart!)

To Carissa, my running partner in crime - for goading me into this race and this training program and for seeing potential in me that I don't see in myself.

To Kelly, Sarah and Tanya - the fact that you're getting up early and chasing us around the race course is a testament to the loyal friends you are.  Your gift of race day encouragement means more than I can express.

To Krista Maffia and Pete Schaller who battled cancer with endurance, strength and dignity.  You have often been my inspiration when I wanted to quit on a long training run.  Thank you for living your lives to the fullest and for being my friends.  You will not be forgotten.

I came across Psalm 115:1 in my quiet time this week.  It says, "Not to us,  O LORD, not to us, but to your name goes all the glory for your unfailing love and faithfulness."  This verse captures how I feel about running the marathon on Sunday.  I consider running to be an incredible gift from God.  One that still amazes me almost every time I tie on my shoes.  God's unfailing love and faithfulness mark my life and make me who I am today.  To HIM be the glory!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Setting Intent for the Eugene Marathon 2012

The Eugene marathon is in nine days.  17 weeks of intense training will come together in the few short hours of one 26.2 mile race.  All the blood, sweat, tears, achy muscles, chaffing, hours spent training, shoe buying, toenail-losing, fist pumping, strategizing, and dreaming will culminate at the finish line on the track at Hayward Field.  It’s terrifying and exciting and nerve-wracking all wrapped up in one. 

Carissa and I recently reminisced about the day she presented Hal Higddon’s Advanced 1 Marathon Training Schedule to me and suggested that we follow it.   It was a week after Christmas.  I hadn’t run farther than 8 miles in several weeks.  I don’t like to be told what to do or when to do it.  Following a rigid training program that required running six days a week for eighteen weeks with very specific mileage and pace suggestions did not sound fun to me at all.  But Carissa insisted that if we followed the schedule we’d emerge on race day fit, fast, and equipped to accomplish our time goals.

I agreed to try it for two weeks but told Carissa not to hold her breath that I’d stick with it.  Begrudgingly, I took an entire evening to enter the complex schedule into my calendar and then taped the paper copy of the chart inside my cupboard door by the coffee where I was sure to see it each morning. 

The first two weeks were the hardest.  Never in my life have I run six days a week.  Starting the second week of January in the cold and the rain made it even tougher.  The mileage on the training plan was ruthless.  In the first week, five miles was a mid-distance run and the long runs started at 11 miles.  I remember thinking, “It’s only going to get worse from here.  Do I really want to do this?” 

But somewhere around ten days into the schedule something changed.  A schedule took the guesswork out of whether or not I should run.  Each morning I stumbled into the kitchen, poured my coffee, opened the cupboard and checked the distance/pace of the required run for the day.  Knowing Carissa was doing the same thing in her kitchen gave me the accountability and encouragement to make sure I was ready to run when I saw the kids off on the bus.

In the end it was the boxes that roped me into committing to the training schedule.  I’m a little OCD about recording my workouts.  Since 2008, I’ve recorded every workout in an ugly little Log Book that I bought at the Dollar Tree.  I write the date, the type of exercise, the distance covered, and the pace.  If it is an exceptionally memorable run, I write a comment or highlight it for easy spotting.  Line by line, one page at a time, that ugly little book has recorded my journey to fitness and good health.   

Following a training plan gave me a Log Book AND a chart!  I envisioned the completed chart on race day, each box marked off with a little X, and I KNEW I had to mark off every single box.  The boxes taunt me when I want desperately to skip a workout.  After all, I can NOT scrapbook a chart with an unchecked box.  

I have spent the last 16 weeks, chasing down the dream of fully checked-off chart.  I never knew I could be so dedicated to something so rigid or so driven to finish what I started.  I’ve run with Carissa, Ruth, Danielle, Tanya, and Julie.  I’ve run by myself.  I’ve run with Curt, Sarah, and my Little People on their bikes.  When Carissa’s adorable toddler joins us for our Monday morning runs, we switch off every mile pushing the stroller.  Stride by stride, mile by mile, each box has gotten checked off.  Now there are only nine left.

Carissa was right about the schedule.  We are in the best shape of our life and running faster than we ever knew we could.  We are equipped to cover the distance and excited to see how our bodies handle the challenge.  Now that we’re tapering, I’m setting intent for this race.

The atmosphere on race day is always electric, but this one will be really special.  Carissa and I will toe the line with our friend Danielle and my step-brother Jon.  Jon can run circles around us, but he’s choosing to run this marathon for fun.  This week he told me he intends to run with me the ENTIRE distance.  I almost cried when I read his email.  What a gift to have a companion the entire race.  My friend Julie and I both lost our friend Krista to cancer in October.  Krista battled bravely for two years and is a major source of inspiration to both Julie and I.  Julie is running the Eugene marathon – her first – in Krista’s memory.  Talk about an emotional day!  Goal number one is to soak in the excitement of race day and have fun.

Goal number two is to beat my previous personal best marathon time of 3:43:57.  If I don’t do this, I will be really disappointed.

Goal number three is to qualify for Boston.  I ran my last marathon in 2010 and since then, the time requirements for Boston have gotten faster.  I will need a 3:40 time to qualify which means averaging an 8 minute 23 second mile over the course of 26.2 miles.  Based on our training runs, this should be attainable.  If I don’t hit a 3:40, I will be disappointed.

Goal number four is to finish in 3 hours and 30 minutes, which averages out to an 8:01 minute per mile pace.  When we started training in January, this time never crossed my radar screen.  But Carissa and I have watched our pace per mile get faster each week, even as the mileage increased.  A 3:30 finish time will require a nearly perfect race, but I’m optimistic enough at the possibility that I’m saying it out loud.  My dream for this race is a 3:30 finish time.  That would THRILL me!

Goal number five is any finish time that shows my average pace per mile with a 7 in front of it.  It’s a total pipe dream, but a 7:59 pace just sounds so much faster than an 8:01 pace, don’t you think?  Now that I've said it out loud, I'm motivated to leave it all on the course and see how many of these goals I can accomplish.

Training for this race has awakened in me a need to dream.  And dream big.  Joy has come as I learned the discipline needed to chase each dream down, one sweaty mile at a time.  I can hardly wait for race day!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Gideon - From Coward to Mighty Warrior

Today I read the story of Gideon (found in the book of Judges chapters 7-9).  I was struck by how God picked a coward to lead His people out of oppression and into peace.

The story starts with the Israelites at the breaking point in their dsyfunctional, cyclical behavior toward God.  They had broken covenant with God, abandoned Him, and as a result were suffering the consequences and devastation of disobedience.  This time the devastation was being inflicted upon Israel by the Midianites.  "Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the LORD for help."  Why is that we wait to ask God for help until we've exhausted every other avenue?

Our hero, Gideon, is first seen in our story cowering in fear.  Scared to death of the Midianites, he was hiding in a winepress threshing wheat.  It was in this moment of weakness that the angel of God appeared to him and greeted him, "The LORD is with you mighty warrior."  I had to laugh at the irony.  A mighty warrior hiding in a winepress?

But God didn't see a coward.  He saw a mighty warrior, one that would save Israel out of Midian's hand. How true is that in our lives?  We see our weakness.  Our vulnerabilities.  Our inadequacies.  But God sees something entirely different.  He declares what He sees as truth then nudges us (sometimes gently, sometimes abruptly) forward into making that truth a reality.

Gideon wasn't too scared to lash out.  He challenged the angel, "If the LORD is with us, WHY has all this happened to us?  Where are all his wonders?... But the LORD has abandoned us..."  We do this.  Life overwhelms us.  Death.  Disease.  Financial struggles.  Relational problems.  In our darkest hours we often cry out, "God, why me?  Why now?  Where are you in all this?"

The angel doesn't let Gideon wallow in self-pity or insecurity.  He tells Gideon, "Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian's hand.  Am I not sending you?"   But Gideon doesn't buy it.  He neither believes that God is with him or that he is a good leader.  He backs this up by dashing off a laundry list of every inadequacy and flaw he has that disqualify him from both leadership and following God.

But God, in his compassion, keeps pushing back.  He reassures Gideon, "I will be with you.  You WILL strike down all the Midianites."  Then He displays His power to renew Gideon's faith that God is big enough to do what He says He will do.  As soon as Gideon's heart starts getting on board with the potential of leadership and freedom from oppression, God gives him an assignment.  Tear down the altars to the false gods the Israelites had been worshipping and restore the LORD as the God the Israelites were to worship.

I thought it was interesting that Gideon obeyed, but in a cowardly way under the cloak of darkness.  The Israelites had to hold a "careful investigation" to figure out who had defied the god Baal and set up an altar to the LORD.  We do the same thing.  God lays out a task that seems impossible and requires great courage.  We timidly take wobbly baby steps of obedience and try to embrace this new identity and future that God is laying before us.  The more we practice obedience, the more confident we grow in our ability to follow God and in His capability to lead us. 

The same was true for Gideon.  As the story unfolds, his confidence in God and in himself becomes apparent.  He rallies the Israelites and calls them to arms.  Then Gideon gets cold feet and secretly asks God for not one - but two - miraculous signs that God is truly with him.  God grants Gideon the miraculous signs.  And then stretches Gideon by weaning his army down from 32,000 soldiers to a mere 300!  Throughout the process God continued to affirm to Gideon, "I will be with you.  You will strike down the Midianites.

The evening of the battle comes.  God wakes Gideon out of a sound sleep and says, "Get up, go down against the camp, because I am going to give it into your hands.  If you are afraid to attack, go down to the camp and listen to what they are saying.  Afterward, you will be encouraged to attack the camp."   How compassionate of God!  He knew both Gideon's desire to obey and the insecurities that stood in his way.  God addressed both and equipped Gideon with EXACTLY what he needed to lead the Israelites into victory.

Gideon gathered his tiny arm of 300 men and laid out a bizarre battle plan.  He instructed his men to surround the enemy camp in the middle of the night.  Once they encircled the camp and at Gideon's signal, the men would blow their trumpets, shout "For the LORD and for Gideon!" and smash their torches.  The last instruction was the craziest.  The soldiers were supposed to just shine their light into the darkness and stand still. 

Gideon had enough courage and faith that God would deliver the Israelites, that his men obeyed.  As they held their position around the camp, the Israelite warriors watched the Midianites run, "crying as they fled!"  God demolished their enemy.  All Gideon had to do was be courageous and obey.

This compassionate, enemy-crushing God is the same God who sees us.  He knows our fears and our pain.  He knows our desire to follow Him and the insecurities that stand in our way.  So He whispers and nudges and boldly declares, "I am with you!  Do not be afraid.  Follow me into victory.  Be courageous and obey!"  Won't you follow God out of oppression and into peace?

Monday, April 16, 2012

My Brother - Guest Post by Alli Stilp

CRAZY family
Sorry for the delayed absence from my blog.  This is the busiest time of year for our family.  Three kid birthdays in nine weeks.  One kid playing water polo.  Two kids playing softball on two separate teams with two separate schedules.  Peak marathon training schedule.  Field trips times four kids since theoretically the weather is supposed to be improving and outdoor picnics should be feasible.  And a new one this year - I'm assistant coach for Alli's softball team.  I've written many posts in my head when I'm running, but none have made it to paper yet.  I keep telling myself, "It will slow down soon"but really it won't until school's out.  And then I won't remember what I was going to write about in the first place. C'est la vie!

Grant and Alli have always had a special bond, from the day we brought her home.

Alli, (who turned eight three weeks ago and I'm happy to report DID get her typewriter), has been on a writing streak.  Some with her typewriter.  Some with her hand.  She wrote a story called My Brother - complete with illustrations - and then read it to her class before bringing her masterpiece home to share with us.  Of course I thought it was hilarious and decided share it with you.  Here is Alli's story - exactly as she wrote it.

Grant's Rock Star Band - circa two years ago

My Brother
by Alli Stilp
8 years old, 2nd grade

Grant is my brother.  He is anyying sometimes. He is handsome in my opinion.  His full name is Grant Andrew Stilp.  He was born April 20th, 2001.  He was born in the Hopsial.  His anishals (intials) are G-A-S.  Which spells gas.

He listens to music alot and chews lots of gum.  He is a total Rock Star.  I mean He isn't a real Rock Star, but he is like one.  He is a shortish longish haired boy and he can really wip his hair back and forth.

My brother loves Jesus.  He reads his Bible a lot. He even has a chart for it.  He prays every night with my dad or my mom.  He is a big fan for Jesus.  He goes too church with the rest of the family.

I love my brother a lot.  he is a funny head.  he laughes all the time.  he has a tickel spot.  If I tell you, will you promise to not tell anyone.  It is his neck.  My brother is a very hard worker.  He does jobs for the naighborrs.  I love him.  He is awesome.  He has blound hair and blue eyes.