my search to understand the bigger picture

Monday, December 31, 2012

Do It Now by Berton Braley

"If with pleasure you are viewing
any work a man is doing,
If you like him or you love him, 
tell him now;
Don't withhold your approbation
till the parson makes oration
And he lies with snowy lilies on his brow;
No matter how you shout it
he won't really care about it;
He won't know how many teardrops you have shed;
If you think some praise is due him
now's the time to slip it to him,
For he cannot read his tombstone when he's dead.

More than fame and more than money
is the comment kind and sunny
And the hearty, warm approval of a friend.
For it gives to live a savor,
and it makes you stronger, braver,
And it gives you heart and spirit to the end;
If he earns your praise-bestow it,
if you like him let him know it,
Let the words of true encouragement be said;
Do not wait till life is over
and he's underneath the clover,
For he cannot read his tombstone when he's dead."

i cannot remember where i found this little piece, but i have fallen in love with it.  we live in a world that is aching for a word or act of encouragement.  never hold this back from people.  let's be people of encouragement.  let's be people of love.  

Friday, December 21, 2012

Precious Moments

today has been a day that zoey and I have looked forward to for some time now.  she doesn't school today, and hadley did have preschool, so it's just zoey and me for the morning.  we don't get much time like this anymore, just zoey and i.  honestly, i don't make the time for it.  but after today, i'm hoping that will change.  

first order of business was dropping hadley off at preschool.  i could tell she was a little jealous of zoey, but hadley and i get to hang out every friday afternoon until zoey is out of school, so i know she'll get over it.  after we dropped off hadley, zoey and i headed to panera.  i had a gift card from my birthday, so i treated us to hot chocolates and a chocolate chip cookie.

we had an amazing time of hanging out, talking, laughing, and spilling hot chocolate.  i'll let you decided who spilled...............

after panera we headed to church so i could get a few hours of work in.  a co-worker and i developed a new game a few weeks ago called cuppies, and zoey took to this right away.  she'a already a much better player than i am.  here's the set up.......

basically you wad up pieces of paper and try to "shoot" them into the coffee cups.  lots of fun.  zoey has been bugging me to play all morning.  so we take little breaks.  she also took up playing tag with my friend Scobar.  if you're in the market for some sweet gear, check out his website.  

oh, and we partook of a new film released recently by Kilian Jornet.  Actually, we only partook of the trailer.  I want to purchase it, but am going back and forth between the much cheaper download version or the hard copy.  to check out the trailer go here.  trust me, it's well worth the 2 minutes, even if you don't enjoy ultra running.  the scenery is amazing.

anyways, i suppose that's it for now.  i've loved every minute of my time with zoey this morning.  i need to make this more of a priority.  she's such an amazing kid.  Merry Christmas friends!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I'm A SUCKER!!!!!!!!!!!

so, it occurred to me a few days ago, that i've been had.  this realization made me chuckle at first, as if to say "well done".  and then i began to get angry.  i quickly moved on from the anger, but the thought of this has stuck with me for a few days now, and this morning i figured i might as well try to help some of you out.  


recently a national establishment began running a deal.  collect 5 points to get a free drink. you collect those 5 points by spending a minimum of a dollar for each point.  you could spend more than $3 per point.  up to you.  now, here's the first part of where i got suckered. my plan was perfect.  i'd spend the cheapest amount possible and still walk away with a "free" drink.  

man, they got me.  so this realization hit me.  in order to collect on this "great" deal, i'd have to spend a minimum of $5 in order to collect a "free" drink with a value of around $3.  now, does that really sound "free" to you?  bottom line, i could have just spend the $3 to get the drink i wanted right away.  

the kicker is, i get these same free drinks from my place of employment every single day.  don't have to pay a dime for it.  so, i spent $5 unnecessarily to get a $3 drink free.  are you tracking with me?

this is similar to when one walks out of a store that had a huge sale going on.  "i saved so much money today!" is a comment not unfamiliar.  the reality is, said person just spent a ton of money on stuff.  they just maybe didn't spend as much as they would have on another day.  but the point is that money was still spent.  you didn't save money.  you spent it.

now, for the second part of said suckering.  when a place says they have something for "free", they don't.  it's a magic trick.  we, as americans, are suckers for "free".  anytime we see a "shortcut" we are all over it.  we don't want to work hard for anything anymore.  we don't want to earn it.  we feel we already deserve it.  

i really want to turn this into some deep, theological teaching, but i'm going to stop myself here.  this really is nothing more than a humorous story, a moment in time that i had to stop and just laugh at myself.  i do some crazy things sometimes, and then i make them seem to be more of a big deal than they really are.  

it really is fun to laugh at yourself.  give it a try sometimes.  go on.  do it right now.  laugh at yourself.  do something silly on purpose.  we've really got to get better at developing a sense of humor.  if you are struggling with laughing at yourself today, let me know, and i'll laugh at you myself.  i'll even laugh out loud.  :)

P.S.  i'm really looking forward to that "free" drink coming my way!  only one more point to collect................

Monday, December 10, 2012

What's My Excuse Again?

seriously, how many of us live in the land of excuses?  i know the temptation to have an excuse for every little thing that i can't/don't want to do.  it happens everywhere.  work.  running.  family.  marriage.  too many of live our lives dreaming of what could have been, instead of being extremely grateful for what is.

so, after watching this video, what's your excuse?  seriously?  i know, i know.  sometimes things like this just don't motivate me to actually change.  sure, this tugs on the emotional strings.  maybe a tear is shed.  but change?  that's not something normally seen by videos like this.

i challenge you to listen to this video.  don't just watch it.  in fact, turn away from your device and just listen to the message.  at one point he says, "I don't need hands to hold her heart"(speaking of his wife).  what a powerful statement right there.

do yourself a favor.  the next time you encounter a difficult situation, think about nick, and flash as wide a grin as you possibly can.  endeavor with everything in you to walk through life with a smile on your face.  don't let circumstances dictate your attitude.  rest in the assurance that Jesus loves you.  even if you don't understand the chaos around you, you can trust the one who's in control.

so, the question is, what situation will you chose to combat with a smile today?

Monday, December 3, 2012

God's Always Speaking. Am I Listening?

so i'm out running the other morning, around 5am.  actually, it was the day after my 36th birthday.  i had gotten some cash, and i began thinking on what exactly i wanted to do with it.  thoughts came quickly about the possibilities.  the impossible suddenly turns into possibilities when cash enters the picture.  it is indeed true that it burns a hole, at least in my pocket.

shoes, running products, races, books.  these are the things that make us happy, right?  if only i enter another race, then i'll be happy.  read the newest book, i'll be content.  those trail shoes that just came out, gotta have em.  there's no way i can be happy with my current pair.  

wow.  so i'm running, and happen to glance at the sky for some reason, and see a shooting star.  awesome!  i say a quick thanks to God, and almost miss it.  he's whispering something to me; something familiar.  something he's said before.

"Thad, don't you know?  Don't you know how much I love you?"  once again, this gentle reminder enters my very soul.  "Those things you're desiring right now, won't bring you happiness.  You know this."  busted.  dang, you caught me Jesus.  you're right.  what a relief to let go of those things, and begin to remember once again that only Jesus brings true happiness.  so what now Jesus?  "Just spend time with me.  Listen for my voice.  Hang out with me."

so simple.  and yet, do you know what's been the biggest battle the last day and a half?  getting some uninterrupted time with Jesus.  

yes my friends, god is still speaking.  the question is, am i listening?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

I've Put This Post Off Long Enough

i'm still not sure where this post will end up, but i've decided i don't want to sit on it anymore.  sunday evening, my family and i were putting up our christmas decorations in our living room.  we don't really do much, just set up a fake tree, plug in the lights, and put the ornaments on.  we have a few snowmen that we display throughout the living room, and actually have kept our nativity scene set up for a number of years in a row now.  

as we were setting up the tree, i began to sense a connection to this representation of a live tree, and the stripped bare, rugged, cross (tree) that Jesus was crucified on.  1 tree is utilized to celebrate his birth, the other to remind us of his horrible death.  

i allowed those thoughts to stay with me for a few days, revisiting them every few hours or so.  it's possible to take this and completely make up some outrageous point, but i don't really want to complicate this too much.  i just thought it interesting how a tree full of life, decorated with glitz and ornament is used by people of all religious backgrounds the world over during a time that's set aside as "christmas", a time to remember that jesus became flesh as a little baby.  and then there's the cross, stripped bare of life, rough, rugged, full of splinters and pain, very much a common symbol come Easter.  

it's quite possible i'm a little slow, and many of you have thought about the correlation already.  i suppose the takeaway for me, is that it made decorating our house this fall a little more special.  no longer is it a meaningless activity, something to be done after thanksgiving.  no longer will i look at a christmas tree the same way.  it will forever serve as a remembrance for me of what Christ came to do for each of us.  

as you celebrate the christmas season, as you decorate, as you wrap and then open presents, as you walk past that christmas tree many times every day, may you remember all that christ came to do.  may you remember how much he loves you today!  may you remember what a good God he truly is.  and may christmas hold a new, special meaning for you the rest of your days.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Things I Don't Need But Have Me Excited Anyways

two very similar products.  i love the concept of the bottles in the front, instead of hydration being stored in the back.  i also love the thought of no handhelds.  i've already got a racing vest, and i won't be looking to upgrade for some time, but when i do, you can be sure i'll be looking to ultimate direction and one of these bad boys.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

My Current Run Streak

today was my 49th consecutive day of running.  7 straight weeks of running, without missing a day.  i've had a minimum goal throughout this streak of 3 miles each day, and only missed that twice (one day was 1.25 miles, the other day a 2 miler).  this past week i bumped that minimum up to 4 miles, because i've been enjoying myself so much.  during that time i've accumulated 233.05 miles, for an average of 4.76 miles per day.  i purposely started out smaller to help avoid injury.  not really sure that i had a goal in mind when i started, other than to try to get to 20 days.  once i reached that i continually strive for short goal.  i will go until i no longer feel like it.  what i've enjoyed more than anything else is that the love for running is back.  for every runner there is a love/hate relationship with running i think.  there are certainly times that we love doing it, and other times that we run simply because we have to.  that's why it's a discipline.  it takes effort, work, determination.

the longer the streak has gotten, the more thankful i've become of the ability i have to run.  by no means do i have a runner's physique (5'11", 228 pounds is rather stocky).  but what a gift it is to be able to move about freely.  so many others cannot run for any number of reasons, and i want to make the most of this gift while i can.  so, i'm making this public today, that i have a goal of moving up to the 50 mile race next fall in Wisconsin at The North Face Endurance Challenge.  it's time to step it back up.  i ran Comrades Marathon 2 1/2 years ago now, and it's the proudest moment of my running "career".  but since then i've stuck with 50k's and it's time to bump it back up.

so, that's what's been going on with my running lately.  i'll head out the door tomorrow morning, getting up at 4:30 to get in day #50.  my next goal will be to get to day #60.  from there, who knows where i'll end up.

Friday, November 16, 2012


He who fears being conquered is sure of defeat.

- Napoleon Bonaparte

fear is a nasty thing.  it's the whole, "you'll miss 100% of the shots you don't take" mentality.  it seems like such a strange thing, yet it absolutely paralyzes so many, myself included at times.  why is the "fear of failure" so powerful in our society?

for me, the temptation is to think the final outcome of any event/attempt/project/etc is the final report card on me.  it feels so true doesn't it?  note this quote from thomas edison in regards to the lightbulb.

"If I find 10,000 ways something won't work, I haven't failed. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward"

if only we could get this concept.  failure is not what we think it is.  failure is not trying.  failure is not giving 100%.  failure is not taking the shot.

40 days ago i decided to try to run every day.  honestly, i didn't think i'd last a week.  my only goal was to get back to running on a regular schedule, and to learn to enjoy short runs again.  a consecutive days streak was just the means to an end.  after 14 days i was shocked, and figured it was only a matter of time.  no way i'd make it to 30 days.  and then 30 came and went, and now, after this morning, i'm sitting on 40 consecutive days.  not really sure where i'll end up from here; just gonna take it one day at a time.  tomorrow i've planned to run 10-12 miles with my friend scott.  

i just know i love running short runs again.  i love running period.  but this is just surface level.  i know that whatever i succeed or fail at, that i am loved by my father in heaven.  jesus loves me regardless.  he's already proved his love, and continues to do so every day of my life.  when i understand that, i realize that little things do not count as my final score (judgment).  my final score isn't even from my efforts anyways, Jesus took that test for me.

all that to say, if you are afraid of failure, don't be.  it's not the report card on you as a person.

get back up, dust yourself off, and try again.  

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Beer With Jesus?

i came across this video a few weeks ago, and it really caught my attention.  i've grown to really love the song, but i'm not sharing it today to get into a huge debate on whether or not jesus would drink, whether or not christians should drink.  there's a different trail of thoughts running through my head this morning.  i spent some time journaling while listening to this song on repeat today, and here's some of what i wrote down.....

"This Beer With Jesus song has really inspired me quite a bit, in the way of spending these very intimate, private moments with Him.  I need that today Jesus, I want that.  I want to spend time with my friend Jesus.  I want to include you in everything I do today.  Will you come hang out with me?  Will you spend some time with me at work today?  Will you have lunch with Tim Payne and I?  Will you maybe run some errands with me?  Will you hang out with me and the girls after school?  Will you have dinner with me and my family tonight?  Will you go on a run with me after the girls are in bed?  I want more adventures with you Jesus."

my prayer today is not only for myself.  it's for you as well.  i pray you invite Jesus into everything you do today.  ask him to go with you.  seriously.  do it right now.  i believe he's waiting for that invitation.  i believe he wants that more than anything.  share a cup of coffee with jesus today.  share a meal with him.  share your drive into work or home after work with him.  tell him your thoughts, feelings, dreams.  just spend some time with him.  it's amazing when you do this.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Good Ideas/Bad Ideas

came across this quote today as i read over some thoughts from bryan allain, who exists to "help folks find their fans, extend their reach, and build their killer tribes."  

"So don't be afraid of the bad ideas.  They don't exist to shame you, embarrass you, or make you look stupid.  They exist to help you find the good ones."  

this was good for me to read today.  too many times i struggle with fears of failure, that what i produce won't be good enough.  at some point you just gotta swing the bat.  you'll never hit the ball if you don't swing.  so, i'm gonna start swinging today.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Trail Running on my 29th Consecutive Day of Running

what a beautiful morning it was for a trail run.  yesterday i was graciously given the day off, because of all the hours worked at church this past weekend during a conference we put on.  i got a nap in yesterday afternoon, went to bed at a decent hour, and slept in for the first time in a month.  my wife got the girls ready and took them to school, so that i could sleep in and then leave to hit the trails.  what a woman!

god began to bless me even before i got to the trailhead.  one of the things i love most about trail running is seeing all the different animals and scenery.  on the drive in, i saw a flock of at least 30 wild turkeys.  i actually stopped the car in the road and just watched them for about 5 minutes.  it was awesome.  not something you see everyday.

a few more minutes down the road i saw a huge buck saunter across the street.  again, just stopped the car in the road and watched.  what a great way to start the run!

i didn't get a long run in, only a 10k which took me a little over an hour.  it was perfect.  i stopped by an inland lake about half way, felt god stopping me.  so, i took off my het, sunglasses, gloves, and stood by the lakeside for a few minutes, throwing rocks.  i knew god wanted me to stop.  could sense in my heart he wanted to say something to me.  so i waited.  eventually i got stir crazy, and began to leave, but something wouldn't let me.  so, instead of fighting it, i turned back around to face the lake.  i began to thank god for making wonderful things like nature.  i then sort of got frustrated and began to ask god out loud what he wanted to tell me.  

then he whispered, "Don't you know Thad?"  even more frustrated, i responded, "Don't i know what?"  patiently, god responded, "Don't you know how much I love you Thad?"  then it hit me.  he stopped me at the lake, persuaded me to run this particular trail even though I hadn't wanted to, made it so that i could/would go trail running this morning.  he orchestrated this entire event, this specific moment in time, to tell me he loves me.  isn't that just like god?

this put a metaphorical spring in my step.  i swore that i heard a chorus of angels begin to sing excitedly once i began to grasp what god was doing.  pretty sure i heard them singing, "Get Ready!" over and over again; dancing all over the place.  i don't really know why, but it seemed they were excited about something.  

now, some of you might be thinking this was something in my imagination.  i think this was a divine encounter with my savior, my god, my friend.  father, i hear you loud and clear.  thank you for meeting me out there today, specifically to tell me you love me.  

tomorrow will be day 30.  seems like it's gone by pretty fast, this little streak of mine.  my next goal is to hit 40 consecutive days, and then we will go from there.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Unexpected Gifts

"Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body."

~Proverbs 16:24

i received a short, quick message tonight from a friend on facebook.  nothing dramatic or drawn out, he simply wrote: Hey Bro. thanks for all you do.

i didn't know what to say.  taken by surprise was exactly how i felt.  unworthy.  so i let it sit for just a moment.  i heard the Father whisper that i was to simply accept this gift, accept this gracious word.  sentiments and gratitude was offered.  then, he gut punched me with this:  You really bless folks and work hard. Keep it up. If you ever need anything, come see me.

i almost began to tear up.  this man was speaking directly to my soul, exactly what it needed to hear.  this was something i've longed to hear.  to know, that someone sees and appreciates me.  

this is not meant as a thank you to this man tonight, as much as it is an encouragement to the rest of us.  we don't always need to make grand gestures in this world to make a tremendous impact.  we simply need to remember this proverb above, and ACT on it.  a well timed, gracious, heart felt word is a blessing that is difficult to match.  it is powerful, lifts other's up, helps them see themselves as the Father sees them.  

thank you my friend.  you truly spoke life into me tonight, provided sweetness to my soul and health to my body.

This Gives Me The Chills

East Coast Thoughts

was driving into work this morning, and heard the song below for the first time.  loved it so much i put it on repeat.  made me think of all the east coast people suffering these past few days.  then this picture popped up on my facebook feed, and i thought, "yeah, i'll share that".  so here's a little inspiration for you all today.  praying 2 Thessalonians 3:16 over everyone who reads this.  "Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way."  

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Couple of Videos that have moved me lately

it's quite the humbling experience when someone says you've inspired them.  inspiration comes in many different shapes, sizes, and forms.  these videos very much inspire me not only in running, but also certain aspects of life.  but really, recently i've been so inspired simply by reading my bible.  i've been giving more and more time to my bible, allowing God to share whatever he wants, and it's been so refreshing.  he's shown me so much by spending time in his word.  i'll leave you with this quote that i came across on twitter tonight.

Lord, grant that I might not so much seek to be loved as to love." - Francis of Assisi

Monday, October 22, 2012>check it out

here's a quick little video for your viewing pleasure.  do yourself a favor afterwards, and head right on over to and order yourself a thing, or 10.

God Hit Me Right Where I needed It

Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world.  But if we have food and clothing with these we will be content. 

I Timothy 6:6-8

This hit me like a ton of bricks this morning.  Last night I came down with a heavy dose of depression after small group.  Had the wife pray for me, prayed for myself, and man it was just a thick fog of it lingering.  Many times, with this comes on, what immediately follows is thoughts of all the material things I want but don't have.  I try really hard not to window shop anymore or dream about it, because usually it just captures my attention.  God's done an amazing job freeing me from the jail of believing more stuff will make me happy.  Unfortunately, sometimes I forget to slip back.  This was good this morning because it focused my attention on something good.  I have food and clothing.  I can't take anything with me when I die.  Thank you Jesus for reminding me this morning, that you've given me all I need already.  You are enough.  I've got so much excess in this world.  Thanks for redirecting my gaze onto you this morning.  Also, special shout out to friend Josh Bubniak.  Not sure if you'll ever read this my friend, and I know you've been struggling this morning.  But the fact that you stepped into my office, and just listened for a minute, and shared some conversation, well let's just say Jesus used you to start this change in my day.  Thank you my friend.  Also, thanks to Third Day for making beautiful music.  I believe they will be the artist of the day for me.  

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

It seems God is trying to tell me something lately.....

We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work.  Be at peace among yourselves.  And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.  See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.  Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.  Do not quench the Spirit.  Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good.  Abstain from every form of evil.

-I Thessalonians 5:12-22

I definitely feel God stirring something in me at the moment.  I'm not sure exactly what it is.  But love and the fruit of the Spirit are at the front of it I believe.  I'm reading through Bob Goff's book, Love Does right now (If you haven't done so, pick up a copy TODAY!) and in the chapter titled Ten-Year-Old Adventures, writes this towards the end,


How true is this?  I mean, we always want to know 100% of what God is up to before we are willing to move on it.  Today, I'm just grateful that He's working on me period.  If he chooses to only let me in on it a little bit at a time, I'm good with that.  Because I trust Him.  So, I'll go about today, doing what needs to be done.  I'll pay attention to what God's doing and saying.  I will love more, and better.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

This moved me today......

Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other: as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.  And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.  And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body.  And be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.  And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

-Colossians 3:12-17

Monday, October 8, 2012

this is one of my favorite passages.  isaiah 42:16 in the message.  i read this almost every day.

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Journey.........

below follows a video recently made by team world vision, an organization incredibly close to my heart that i've written about many times.  it served as a great reminder to the plight of others around the world.  it's incredibly unfortunate to think about all the stuff we take for granted in the united states.  others struggle for survival while i selfishly pursue unnecessary indulgences.  the great thing, is that to get involved and help is so easy.  organizations like world vision have virtually eliminated any and all responses or excuses.  can't afford $35/month to sponsor a child?  give what you can.  $10.  $25.  who cares.  but i'd challenge you don't do what's easy.  look at your life.  can your family eat out 1 less time each month?  that's $35.  do you need the iPhone 5 when the 4 or 4s would do?  that could free up hundreds of dollars, which would be life changing in the hands of world vision.  we've all got options.  agh, forgive me, i'm just preaching to myself this afternoon.  but then again, maybe not?  do yourself a favor, do a little more research.  check out world vision.  email me (Thad) and ask some questions.  do something.  get involved.  get in the game.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Psalm 19

"God's glory is on tour in the skies,
God-craft on exhibit across the horizon.
Madame Day holds classes every morning,
Professor Night lectures each evening.

Their words aren't heard,
their voices aren't recorded,
But their silence fills the earth;
unspoken truth is spoken everywhere.

God makes a huge dome
for the sun--a superdome!
The morning sun's a new husband
leaping from his honeymoon bed,
The day breaking sun an athlete
racing to the tape.

That's how God's Word vaults across the skies
from sunrise to sunset,
Melting ice, scorching deserts,
warming hearts to faith.

The revelation of God is whole
and pulls our lives together.
The signposts of God are clear
and point out the right road.
The life-maps of God are right,
showing the way to joy.
The directions of God are plain
and easy on the eyes.
God's reputation is twenty-four-carat gold,
with a lifetime guarantee.
The decisions of God are accurate
down to the nth degree.

God's Word is better than a diamond,
better than a diamond set between emeralds.
You'll like it better than strawberries in spring,
better than red, ripe strawberries.

There's more: God's Word warns us of danger
and directs us to hidden treasure.
Otherwise how will we find our way?
Or know when we play the fool?
Clean the slate, God, so we can start the day fresh!
Keep me from stupid sins,
from thinking I can take over your work;
Then I can start this day sun-washed,
scrubbed clean of the grime of sin.
These are the words in my mouth;
these are what I chew on and pray.
Accept them when I place them
on the morning altar,
O God, my Altar-Rock,
God, Priest-of-My-Altar."

i absolutely loved reading this today.  it's amazing to me that i don't spend more time in God's word.  i never regret it when i do.  how quickly we turn to "Christian" books to get an insight on this or that.  Father, change my perspective of your Word today.  create a longing in me to devour it day and night.  help me to see the life it brings, the peace it brings.  thank you for the gift of your Word.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The North Face Endurance Challenge 50k Race Report

in true idiot form, this trip got off on the right foot.  on thursday morning i got everything packed up, got my 28 year old pop up hitched up to the family mini van, picked up fellow idiot scott olthoff, and we were off on our adventure.  this was not my first voyage into ultra territory.  i've mainly stuck to 50k's over the years, with one 56 mile Comrades Marathon in South Africa finish to my name as well.  this would be my 6th ultra, along with 4 marathons.  i love 50k's because if you can run a marathon, then these are really no different.  it's easily wing-able.  and that's what happened this time around.  for scott, this was his first ultra experience.  even before he ran his first official ultra event (he's done 30 miles on a training run before) he caught the bug, signing up for Comrades Marathon in 2013 with Team World Vision.

about a month out i contacted scott and told him i couldn't do it.  he said, "shut up idiot.  you're going." i said, "um...........ok."  and that was that.  i did a few 15 mile trail runs, a 20 miler, and decided that was good enough.  i've had plans all year of trying to drop 25-30 pounds.  thought it might be a good idea for this race, but was never really motivated enough.

once you do an ultra or two, or really any distance, you learn what it takes mentally, and the distance doesn't remain quite as daunting.  maybe that would change if i ever challenged myself with, say a 50 miler, or <gasp> a 100 miler.  i knew i would finish, the only question would be how slow.

back to the story.  so i pick up scott, we point the van sort of north like, and take off.  the trip was going well, we stopped for lunch, continued on.  we came to a construction zone, and this is where things got interesting.  as a 4 lane highway merged into 2 lanes, i happened to glance in my rearview mirror only to see a tire bouncing down the road, cars swerving out of the way.  sort of chuckling to myself, the realization set in that it was the spare tire on the back of my pop up!  apparently it was scared of the distance and wanted nothing to do with the trails of Wisconsin.  so it headed home.  thankfully, no other vehicles tried to stop it.  unfortunately, being in a construction zone we could not stop to get it, so we ended up going to Walmart to purchase another.  good times.

at some point we encountered rain, which is always fun to set up camp in.  we finally pulled into the campground, decided we wanted nothing to do with the rain, so we unhitched the camper and drove into town to pick up our race packets.  if you've never participated in a North Face Endurance Challenge event, do yourself a favor and hit up the one nearest you.  or furthest away if you're a traveler.  i've yet to see an event more organized than these.  this year was my second one.  they get the job done.

friday was spent relaxing.  resting up for the big day ahead.  we had perfect weather all weekend long, so it wasn't difficult to relax at all.  however, by dinner time i was getting anxious.  we headed back into town for the pre-race panel, which this year included ian sharman, who boasts the fastest 100 mile trail time on U.S. soil at 12:44 and change.  this occurred at the 2011 Rocky Raccoon.  our fearless leader was there.  i think that's why ian ran so well.

we packed up most of camp friday night, and finished saturday morning before heading to the starting line.  i heard coyotes howling throughout the night friday night, and had some dreams that brought back scenes from the movie the grey.  those were awesome dreams.

as we drove to the starting area, we were welcomed by a thick blanket of fog.  it's amazing how something so simple as fog can be so beautiful.  it was friggin freezing out so we sought out heaters near the starting line.  unfortunately shortly after hovering around ours, it shut off.  we had met up with another friend of mine so we chatted for a little while.  eventually they called us to the start line, and we  were off.  it was relatively easy to settle into a nice easy pace early on, and we held that for the first 6 miles or so.  this took us through a nice white pine forest (my absolute favorite tree).

the race would have this section at the start and finish, so it was comforting knowing i would see it again.  we soon met a near 60 year old woman named christine with some amazing stories.  she was here from california on a business trip.  she actually lives on the western states course.  she has 4 arabian horses and races the same race that got Western States it's start.  we saw her much of the day before she actually pulled away from us towards the end.

i felt pretty good coming into that first aid station at about mile 6.6.  we stayed long enough to grab a handful of m&m's, some orange slices, salted potatoes, and mountain dew before bounding off.  this next stretch was literally the only time i felt good the entire day.  miles 7-12 were amazing.  we just moved right along having a good time, enjoying kettle moraine state forest in all it's splendor.  however, i knew what lay ahead.  multiple miles of open prairie.  no shade.  the temps were still cool, but i'm a pansy.  i hate running in the sun.  i'll do it because i'm an idiot, but i refuse to enjoy it.

apparently i hated it so much that i decided to take a tumble just a mile before the dreaded meadow section.  i fell good enough that dirt was rubbed all over scratches and my IRC shirt.  perfect.  now i could relax.  i uttered some unmentionables under my breath, looked back and saw people had indeed seen me fall, and did the only thing i could.  hopped right back up and started running.

the only thing i really remember from much of the rest of the race is people continually commenting on how cute they thought my shirt was.  "Idiots Running Club, aw how cute."  i literally wanted to punch them.  young, old, male, female, child, i didn't care.  i was under the false impression that we were anything but cute, until some other IRC members corrected me on Facebook a few days later :)

oh, one other thing i remember.  we crossed paths many times with 2 ladies who were friends, 1 being from florida, and the other from south carolina i think or something like that.  1 was clearly struggling, the other not so much.  it was interesting to watch as the 1 not struggling kept dealing with the dilemma of whether to continue on or stay with her friend.  she'd take off for a mile or so, and then turn back or just stop and wait.  this is what i love about ultras.  the people are world class.  everyone cheers each other on and supports one another.  we want everyone to do well.  most are just as concerned with others' efforts as they are their own.  class acts all around.

well, i finally stepped over that finish line in 6:57 and something or other, reaching my goal this year of a 7 hour finish.  last year i finished in just under 6 hours.  i felt good about this, knowing where my fitness level was.  but, the fun was far from over.

approximately a half hour after finishing, i began to get sick.  this has happened to me once before, after my first race, a 1/2 marathon.  i weighed 270 pounds at the time, and the temps that day went over 100. i ended up in the medical tent with heat exhaustion and an iv.  that was 8 years ago, but is something i will NEVER forget.  so, that feeling began to come back, but i hate needles, and made an executive decision with myself not to go anywhere near that medical tent.  i crawled off into some shade 3 times to puke up what little i had ingested over the previous 6 hours.  (after that first aid station i could only stand to stomach orange slices, pepsi, mountain dew, and water.  i knew i would suffer for it, but it was what it was)

we finally made it to the van, and i puked 2 more times while trying to change clothes and leave.  this was getting fun.  i began driving, got maybe 20 minutes down the road and had to pull over.  puked again and got rid of some waste from other areas.  at this point i decided to ask scott to drive, and he was feeling good enough that he agreed.  we had to stop one more time at a gas station for my final puke, magic number 7.  finally, i was done.  i began to feel much better after a shower, some ensure and time.  we finally stopped about an hour from home for Pizza Hut.  it was awesome!

i love running.  i love running ultras.  i love pushing my body to it's limits because it reveals to myself how tough i am mentally.  i wear this as a badge of honor that i usually only allow myself to know.  how can you not feel proud to get through something like that, to push your body to the brink, and walk away with a smile.

does this make me an idiot?  who cares.  i loved representing this little club during this run.  i've never been a part of such an encouraging group of people.  believe this, there are many more idiotic races to come.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The North Face Endurance Challenge

i leave here in about an hour and a half for my second year in a row at the north face endurance challenge near madison, wisconsin.  i'll be running the 50k once again.  last year i had an amazing time where everything went perfectly, finishing just under 6 hours.  this year, i'll just be happy to finish.  my training is not nearly as strong as last year.  but i know what it takes mentally, so i'll just hit it slow and steady and get it done one way or the other.

i've got this unsettled feeling as the time to leave approaches.  i think, in some ways, i'm actually a little nervous to spend a few days camping with my good friend scott olthoff, totally removed from what has become routine.  life has grown to be incredibly fast paced with things having to be done all the time.  i don't like this feeling of nervousness before a few days of rest.  will i get anxious?  will it go by so fast that i don't enjoy it?  etc, etc, etc.

my resolve is to not put any pressures or expectations on this weekend.  i just want to go and enjoy the moment.  i know it'll be over before i want it to be.  but that's not something to dwell on.  i want to be aware of the moment, allowing God to speak to me whatever he wants.  this is his time as much as it is my time.  rarely do i get large amounts of uninterrupted time.  so Jesus, i turn this over to you.  speak to me.  no, i just ask that you be with me.  if you want to speak that's fine.  if you just want to hang out, that's fine too.  come rain, snow, heat or cold, i'm going to enjoy this time with you.  let's develop another notch of our friendship this weekend.  thank you for gifts like this.

suddenly, i feel my nervousness turning to excitement.................excitement to spend time with my friend Jesus.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Though Provoking Quote

"It is scary how much history repeats itself.  We need more Christian leaders raised up among our younger generations who understand history enough to prevent some parts of both secular and church history from repeating itself."  --Ashley Denton, Christian Outdoor Leadership, pg.303

i'm just curious to hear some of your thoughts concerning this.  it's interesting to me that i had a similar conversation about this the other day with a gentleman who is older than myself.

Interesting New Book Coming Out In October.....

i've loved the few books i've purchased by shane claiborne in the past, so i'm excited for the chance to check this out come october.  he has a way of challenging me that i find rare in other authors.  we all have authors that really strike a chord deep within us, and shane does that in me.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Great Brand!

This brand has had an exciting beginning, and they continue to grow and improve.  I recently went back to my pair of Altra's while road running, and it's been great.  I just purchased some Saucony Kinvara 3's thanks to a friend who gave me some money towards running shoes.  I got them because I could get them much cheaper than Altra's.  But I'd love for my next pair of trail shoes to be Altra's and maybe my next road shoes after these Kinvara's.  I plan to rotate my Altra's and Kinvara's until the Altra's are done.  Figured I'd post something a little less serious since my last few posts were more of a serious nature.

Men's Ministry on my mind......

As I attempt to officially start up Men's Ministry at the church I serve at, Isaiah 58:12 continues to come to my mind.......

"You'll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew, rebuild the foundations from out of your past.  You'll be known as those who can fix anything; restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate, make the community livable again."

My heart for the men of our church is to love God and love others.  I want to see men have a powerful relationship with God, and not just weekend experiences with Him.  I want to see them lead by loving those around them.  I want us to become known as servants, those who love everyone, and those who love Jesus with our heart, soul, mind, and strength.

I want the Holy Spirit to use us to help other men rebuild their lives.  I want Him to use us to help renovate and restore men.  I want the Holy Spirit to make us a force of change in the world around us, a force of love, care and concern for the broken.

There's more to come............

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A Friend Of Mine.......

I have a friend who's in a strange place right now.  I don't want to reveal details, just that he's got some difficult choices that lie ahead of him.  And those are not necessarily his fault.

I desperately want to fight this battle for him, take his opponents head on.  They are truly blinded and don't know what they are missing out on.  However, this is his fight.  His battle.  His decision.

So how does one help a friend in a predicament such as this?  You support them no matter what.  You love on them, encourage them, definitely pray for them.  You let them know that whatever they decide, whatever happens, you will always love and support them.  

As I write this, I find this actually applies to a couple of friends of mine at the moment.  I want all my friends and family to know that my love for them is no more conditional than Jesus' love for them.  I'm there for them through the good times and bad, through good decisions and bad ones, through successes and screwups.  If Jesus loves us through thick and thin, we should do the same.  

If there's one thing lacking in today's world (actually there are many), it's encouragement, support, and unconditional love.  That's how we model Christ to the world.  We love even those who deny us three times.  We love those who are so disfigured physically that they are shunned by society, and yet we are compelled to give them a loving touch.  We draw out the gold in others.  We love those who are cheats and frauds.  Those who stink and smell.  In every person we encounter we come face to face with the handiwork of the Creator.

Yes, we should love each other so radically that the world would be blown away.  We should love when there's nothing in it for us.  

My how this post has changed gears.  I suppose the love of the Father is on my heart tonight.  My heart breaks for my friends.  And I feel compelled to love them like never before.  It's in the hardships that we need this most, the love of friends.  Whether those hardships are our own creation or that of another doesn't matter.  Love is what matters.  

Friday, August 24, 2012

This Should Go Over Well

it struck me this morning while reading a book on leadership...............while i believe reading is a good discipline to have, i began to wonder about the false sense of accomplishment reading can bring.

just because i've read dozens of books on leadership does not make me a good leader.  it doesn't make me a leader period.  the only way to truly increase my leadership abilities is by trying to lead, not just reading about it.

the same is true with any other subject.  reading only does so much for you.  at some point you've got to get out there and start doing........

the same is true about Jesus.  we can read all the books in the world about Jesus, but unless we are reading the Bible and actually (gasp) spending time with Jesus, the best we will end up with is a knowledge of Jesus, not a relationship with him.

i can read up on what my wife's friends think about her, their interactions with her, their descriptions of her, even read her own thoughts, but unless i spend time with her, i won't truly know HER.

sorry for the soapbox, but this kind of just hit me square in the face today.  if i want to be a good leader, i just need to actively lead in the areas i can.  i'll make good decisions and bad ones along the way, and hopefully will learn from them both.  if i want to be a good husband, i can't just read books about it.  i've got to spend time with my wife.  i'll make good decisions and bad ones, and hopefully will learn from them both how to be a better, more loving husband to my wife.  if i want to be closer to Jesus, i need to spend time with him.  i'll make some good choices and bad ones, and hopefully i'll learn along the way not only how to better follow him, but that i love him more and more every day.

at some point, we gotta put the book down, and start doing something.  you can't steer a parked car........

Monday, August 20, 2012

Deer, a Prayer House, and Unexpected Thoughts

the church that i work at has a prayer house that we keep for people to utilize every so often.  recently i've been going there more and more to seek insight from God about different things, and it's been great.  always nice to get away for a few minutes, just to be free from distractions and allow the Holy Spirit to share whatever He wants.

a friend was there for a good portion of the time, and we were able to share some thoughts and feelings with each other, help each other open our eyes to some things, and generally just encourage each other. always great to have friends like that in your life.  the funny thing is we haven't known each other very long, but have definitely developed quite the bond.

i also had God share some thoughts regarding an expected topic that i did not intend to give thought to. very interesting.  so, maybe that's something i'll have to revisit in future visits.  at the end of my time i locked up, walked out the front door to this:

i was able to stand around for a good 5 minutes just watching these peeps eat and walk around.  it was awesome to watch they just eat and eat.  definitely felt like a gift from God to watch them from so close.  one of the fawns had a noticeable limp and couldn't straighten it's front leg.  it was kind of sad to watch.  nonetheless, it was the perfect way to end my time at the prayer house today.  totally unexpected much like the rest of my time there.  thank you Jesus for gifts like these.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

How Great Is Our God

yesterday i took some time to be at our church's prayer house.  in part to just get away, and some to get some work done without being interrupted.  i spent part of this watching How Great Is Our God dvd, part of the Passion Talk Series with Louie Giglio.  i always enjoy watching this, and it's probably been 2 years since the last time.

this time through a quote by Augustine caught my attention that had slipped past me in previous viewings.

"Men go abroad to wonder at the height of mountains, the huge waves of the sea, the long course of rivers, the vast compass of the ocean, the circular motion of the stars.........but they pass by themselves and don't even notice."

such a good reminder for me, since i'm more apt to notice the beauty of nature than i am in people, or even in myself.  this moved me in a powerful way yesterday, so much so that i'm still thinking through this, wrestling with it, and allowing it to penetrate my mind.

Monday, August 13, 2012

When Friends Gut Punch You, and You Enjoy It!

so, i've got this friend.  serve with him at church.  solid dude.  loves Jesus with everything he's got without the "super-Christian" persona.  every once in a while he sends me these emails.  things God shared with him about me.  things he's meant to build me up with.






today, he sends me this........

Okay, you are undoubtedly a child of our father. You live like him, always lifting others up and calling them into the purpose and identity that you see in them. Your ability to see this and to call others into it is one of your greatest gifts to the church.
However, I feel like you get down on yourself too easily. I don't think it's necessarily "false humility," because you are truly one of the most genuinely humble people I know. What I think it is is that you're a person who has their identity coming from 2 sources simultaneously. You live like Christ, then you slip up and you think of yourself as no better than scum. This is what the enemy tells you, and you have to stop buying into it.
Godly humility is a tricky thing, and I think you know this far better than me. But you have Christ in you, you have the mind if Christ, and you live like Christ. Then when something arises that feels contrary to that, it feels easier to buy into that thing than to stand on who the Word and Spirit say you are.
You can't do that anymore. Spank the enemy and don't even give him a chance to make you dwell on your not-good-enoughs. You have been given the mind of Christ! Align your thoughts to that truth. And stop getting down on yourself. Godly humility allows us to walk confidently in who our Father says we are. It's not tooting your own horn (as you know), but it certainly isn't rolling around in the dust and dwelling on when it feels like you didn't perform at 100% either.
Don't move on too quickly from this. I think it's a season in which you can have A LOT of transformation if you'll let the Spirit search you.
Love you bro

this stemmed from a verse he's been chewing on as of late. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,

what he shared is no secret to me, and yet was the gut punch i needed this morning.  do you have this in your life, a friend who can lovingly speak truth to you?  

admittedly, it's not one of those things that you just go to walmart and grab off the shelf.  friends like this kinda just fall into your lap.  love how God did that with this friend.

so, if you don't have someone like this in your life, begin to pray about it.  ask God for it.  i can tell you that this friend has proved invaluable over the past 2 years or so.  

Friday, August 3, 2012

2 Videos That Are Vastly Different, But Both Are Extremely Aweserous

so here's another video in a long line of awesomeness on Kilian Jornet.  what i love about this video, and ultra trail running in general, is that many times, fierce rivals and competitors are also close acquaintances, and even close friends.  it's rare to find that in any other sport.  i'm sure there are exceptions out there, but i love the overall family feel of ultra running.  it's rare to find something like this in the world today.  people who have never met before instantly become close in races/events all over the world.  there is tremendous amounts of community in this world of ultra running.  i love how that impacted many in the running club we started at our church.  it was great to see so many come together who had never run before at our local marathon/half marathon/10k/5k back in may.  it's inspiring to see so many support each other in attempting serious challenges.  

now this next video is from a friend of mine from the good ole college days.  i've never been to one of his events, but i absolutely love the idea of going to where the people are, and reaching out to them by catering to some of their needs and desires.  you gotta get their attention somehow.  these guys have found that those they are trying to love on appreciate good music, and congregate in bars.  so, why not provide them with good music right where they are hanging?  they don't water down their message, or keep things at a surface level.  they do their thing, use the gifts that God's given them, and share truth and love with those around them.  brilliant.