my search to understand the bigger picture

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Act of Valor

I've been looking forward to this movie for a really long time now. I am really looking forward to the day when I get to view it for the first time. A good friend of mine wrote a post a day or two ago, and mentioned something in the movie that has really grabbed ahold of me. As I understand it, this was a quote from a letter once of the men in the movie wrote to his son.

"When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song and die like a hero going home."

WOW! Powerful words. This got me thinking simply about how I live my own life. When I die, will I sit there on my death bed, wishing I could go back in time and risk a little bit more, love a little bit more, give a little bit more?

I refuse to live this life with regret. I wish that were true. There are so many things I already regret, but this thought process is one that's gripped my heart. I don't want to live my life looking back over my shoulder, wishing I could have acted differently. Life should be lived by taking advantage of EVERY moment, going full speed ahead to advance God's Kingdom. That seems so far from where I'm currently at. Philippians 3:13-14 states "Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us." I want to look forward to what lies ahead.

Saturday, February 11, 2012


South Mountain, Phoenix, sunrise
South Mountain, Phoenix
South Mountain, Phoenix, & Michigan Awesome
Jeff Hunt atop Camelback Mountain, Phoenix
Me on the Hermit Trail, Grand Canyon National Park

It's kind of difficult to not have a very good time in Arizona, especially when visiting friends. This was a much needed getaway at a much needed time. My friend Jeff moved out to Phoenix a year ago, and we haven't seen each other since. We've had a unique tight knit friendship for many years now. We've had some years where we would see each other almost daily (his office was located in the same building I worked), and then other years where we might see each other once a month or so. But, none of that mattered. We have very similar views on most topics, and when we did talk or get together it was just like old times. We've got lots of great memories, including 1 trip to the Grand Canyon, working together, countless mornings at coffee shops, countless late night manly movies, UFC pay per views, you get the point.

So, in many ways, this was a dream come true to visit him and his family. I flew out on a Wednesday night, and we stayed up late eating pizza and catching up. Thursday morning we got up early to begin hiking South Mountain in the dark, so that we could catch the sun coming up over the mountains. One of the most beautiful sights I've seen in nature in a long time. This was a great way to start the day! Afterwards, we headed to a local coffee shop, and got McDonald's breakfast before tackling Camelback Mountain.

Camelback was a much different climb, with much steeper sections, and many larger rocks to climb up over. There were even a few steep sections where handrails were installed. This was incredibly challenging, but the view from atop was breathtaking! A 360 degree view of the city. After lunch at Samurai Sam's we headed back to relax for the rest of the day. We contemplated hiking one more mountain, but didn't have quite enough time, or energy.

Friday we got up early again and began the 3+ hour drive to the Grand Canyon. As I mentioned before, we hiked there a few years ago, but in a different section of the Canyon. On this day we were going to hike part of a trail neither one of us had been on before, Hermit Trail. Driving through Flagstaff was amazing, and created a huge desire in me to want to live there one day. Maybe I'll have to settle for another visit in the future. It was really cool to see some dramatic storm clouds descend on Snowbowl, the local mountain in Flagstaff.

We finally got to the GC, and after catching some of the touristy scenic overlooks, we were able to spot some elk on the side of the road. This was my first time seeing them, and they are MASSIVE! I'm hoping to add some pictures from my digital camera as soon as I can get new batteries put in it (the pictures above are from my cell phone).

Hermit Trail was a lot of fun, with about 1/3 of it covered in snow and a little ice. It was pretty narrow at times, which made it all the more fun and exciting. We definitely had some good conversations while hiking that trail. Afterwards we stopped in the General Store so I could get a few things, and then headed back to Flagstaff for Bun Hugger, a local hamburger joint.

In the meantime, Denver was getting hammered with a snowstorm, and I was supposed to have a connection there on Saturday. Rumor was that they had shut down the airport, so I didn't really enjoy my food all that much while on hold to check on my flight status. We finally got ahold of the airline and found that everything was still on schedule.

Interestingly enough, on the way back to Phoenix we got stuck in what must have been a 6 mile traffic backup. More good time to chat. We finally got back to Jeff's place, had some more food, and hit the hay. Saturday morning, I got packed up, and we said our goodbyes as he dropped me off to meet up with another friend.

Roomie picked me up and we were able to spend about 4 hours together before he dropped me off at the airport. "Roomie" is Russ Funk, my roommate the entire time I was in South Africa with Team World Vision back in 2010. It was so great to see him and catch up on life! We had breakfast at a local joint, walked around ASU campus for awhile, went to his house to meet his family (I had already met his son Rusty on a few occasions, and also went to South Africa with him) and then we went to a local brewery for lunch.

Even though I've used a lot of words in the post, it's truly difficult to describe just how much this trip meant to me. I couldn't have pulled it off without my wife Emily and money I got for Christmas from my parents. I don't know when the next time is that I will see my friends. I'm so thankful in situations like this for social media, cell phones, and email because it makes it so much easier to keep in touch. To Jeff, Shannon, Cassidy, Cade, and Roomie, thank you so much for taking the time to hang with me.

Idiots Running Club: Rocky Raccoon IRC Style

Idiots Running Club: Rocky Raccoon IRC Style

Good stuff by a few idiots. Check the blog at

Change-Random Thoughts That Will Be A Complete Waste Of Your Time

I'm someone that likes change. Controlled change. Change that I create. Not significant change mind you, meaningless change. Like facial hair. For awhile I decided to grow out my goatee, and ended up with somewhere between a 3-4 inch long goatee. Wednesday night, just before it was about to get really cold for the weekend, I decided to trim it down to almost nothing. Weird.

Hair. I had been keeping it pretty close, but not completely clean shaven. I decided I wanted the clean shaven look at the same time I trimmed my goatee. Odd.

Weight gain. I spent the first three weeks of January 2012 not running because of a minor injury. I decided I got bored with just weighing over 200 pounds, so I decided to eat like a horse and put on a few, or 20 pounds. Yikes! Don't need that kind of change.

Running. I'm an ultra runner. I don't care to attempt anything shorter than a marathon anymore. And even marathons, I pretty much only run now to help someone else finish. They are a training run to me. While I still have some pretty awesome trail ultras I'm planning on doing this year, I'm thinking of switching gears ever so slightly. More details to come.

Bible. In the past, I've really enjoyed not being strapped down to one plan in order to read it every day. I liked just picking something out and reading. But, lately, I haven't been good at reading it. So, this year I choose a reading plan to get me through the Bible in 1 year. There are days when I mindlessly rip through the daily assignment. However, more and more I'm beginning to really enjoy reading my Bible again. It's getting to be a priority again.

This blog. I just switched a bunch of junk on here, and really just wanted to post something for no particular reason at all. Have a nice day.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Steve Jobs biography

Finished up Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson this afternoon. What an intriguing read! At 571 pages plus notes, index, etc this was a monster. I'm normally good with smaller books, especially those with a lot of pictures. But something inside of me wanted to give this a go, and I'm glad I did. It was a very interesting piece, with peculiar insights into the mind of someone who helped shape the past 30+ years and beyond. I remember being very moved by one quote in particular.

"Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything--all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure--these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart."

I'm someone who constantly struggles with the wall of fear. 9 times out of 10 I allow it to cause me to step back rather than forward. I take very few risks in my life, and the few I do take are always extremely calculated. It's the fear of failure and all that. However, reading this gave me new perspective today. And I'd like to take it a step further.

Not only does that knowledge that one day I will die do this, but even more so, being fully confident in my identity as a child of God makes me confident enough to take some risks. Knowing the love my heavenly Father has for me means I no longer have to be afraid of letting people down, of failing, of screwing something up. That doesn't mean God will stop loving me. He loves me regardless. There's nothing I can do to earn his love or favor. He just gives it. Period.

So, truly, there is no reason not to follow your heart. Because one day we are all going to die? No. Because we have the love of the Father. Unconditionally. Whether we "succeed" or "fail". Now, THAT is life-altering!