my search to understand the bigger picture

Thursday, June 28, 2012

VOTD-June 28

Jeremiah 17:10

"I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind."

on thursdays i meet with some quality gents who serve different capacities at the church i also serve at.  we went over this verse this morning, and it really hasn't left my mind yet.

at first, feelings of nervousness and anxiety cloud the mind at the thought that God knows every motive, every bad thought, every thing that is dishonoring to Him.  this is downright scary!

but then, as i've allowed myself to stick with this, i began to notice more of a peace, a calming in my spirit.  no longer do i feel the embarrassment of imperfection, of being found out; i feel a comfort that God knows me as i am, and loves me.

you see, i'm his child, and nothing can separate me from his love.  nothing changes the fact that i'm his; nothing changes his love for me.  nothing.

in Psalm 139 David shares "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."  i believe he's gotten to the point here where he trusts God.  he knows the blessing that comes with the Father having complete reign to lovingly mold our hearts.  it's a constant process, this molding.

i love that God doesn't ever quit on us.  he never stops loving us.  thank you Jesus for always sticking with me.  thank you that your love never fails.  thank you for searching my heart and mind, for helping me become more like you.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Great Leadership Quote From Ike

came across this today via an email i receive on a regular basis from  i really enjoyed it and hope you do too.

all too often today we see leaders that only take credit for the good that others under them have done, and blame mistakes they've made on the same people.  shameless.  a good leader always understands the importance and benefit of the team around them, and never ceases to praise them for a job well done.

Friday, June 22, 2012

My Little Slice of Heaven

this is it.  we bought this ole dinosaur last weekend, got it home, and i cranked it up the wrong way and thought i had busted it.  i was pissed.  it almost ruined my Father's Day weekend.  i finally decided that we all make mistakes; none of us are perfect.  i tried to make the best of it and begin to look at solutions.

so i have this friend.  he's the type that's closer than a brother.  we used to work together, and since i left that job we don't see each other near enough.  but when we do, we definitely make the most of it.  he's the type that knows a lot about a lot, but is humble enough that you can actually enjoy being around him.  he's awesome.

so he came over twice this week to look at it.  today he brought out some tools, and low and behold, we got it to work without having to replace any parts.  thank you Jesus!  seriously, thank you Jesus.  this was a dream come true for me, getting a camper.  my family had one when i was a kid, and those camping trips are some of my earliest memories, and fondest.

so we/he got it working now, and i couldn't be more excited.  this is awesome.  aweserous as we like to say.  WeRD.  i absolutely cannot wait to see how many hours, days, and weekends of entertainment this little beauty brings us.

thank you Jesus.  thank you Josh.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

VOTD-June 19

it's been a little while since i've done a verse of the day.  i was doing my daily bible reading tonight, and came across Proverbs 17:17.  this is so good.

"A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need."

one can't have too many good friends in life.  but a good friend is really hard to come by, especially in adulthood.  there are so many things vying for that time and attention.  you've got to be proactive; search friendship out.

i've been privileged to have a number of people i'd call good friends in my life.  they require constant attention.  many of those friends now live in other states so i find that i need to call, text, or even tweet on a regular occasion.  i've got to purpose to check in so that our relationship remains tight.

the same is true with jesus.  all too often we wonder why God isn't speaking to us, why he's not answering our prayers.  but how much effort do we put into nurturing that relationship with him?

be proactive today.  spend some time with jesus.  tune out all distractions and allow him to say whatever he wants.  chances are, you may actually find him asking how you are doing.  but, we are so quick to talk, so let's give him the chance to speak today.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

My Daddy

this is what i think of when i think of my dad.  family.  he loves getting our family together.  he loves my brother and i.  he loves our wives as his own daughters.  he loves all of our children.  he loves tickling the "grands"; well really he loves doing anything with them.  he loves Captain Sundae (don't we all).  he loves working with his hands, either gardening or woodworking.  he would do anything to help someone else out.  he's a tremendously hard worker.  he's honest.  compassionate.  caring.  loving. everything you'd want in a man.  and let's not forget, he grows a pretty fierce beard!  (must be where i got my facial hair growing ninja skillz).

but, most importantly, he loves Jesus, and he loves my mom.  there really aren't 2 things that would have been better for me to see over the years.  one of my earliest and most commons memories of my dad are that when i'd get up first thing in the morning, he'd be dressed for work, sitting on the coach, reading his bible.  i absolutely love that there are so many things that my parents love to do together.  i love that when my brother and i were out of college (had been for a few years) that the three of us were able to go hike the Porcupine Mountains together.  one of the best trips of my life!

i love that almost every year our families all gather together at my aunt's cottage.  i love sitting on the deck there and just talking for hours with my dad.  i love going kayaking with him.  i love that he'd rather sit and talk with me than watch a movie.  i love that he'd rather listen to what's going on in my life than work on another project.  i love that he desperately wants to play with my kids.

one day, i hope my own children can write as pleasantly about me as i feel about him today.  dad, i love you.  thank you so much for being who you are.  thanks for allowing us to see you walk with God in faith, even if some of those times didn't turn out how you'd hoped.  that has helped me to see that it's more about the obedience than the destination.  we develop an intimacy with jesus when we walk hand in hand with him, allowing him to guide us that we just can't have otherwise.  this was an observation you've help me see over the years.

dad, you are amazing.  and i cannot wait to see you in a few weeks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  i love you dad!

love, your son,


Saturday, June 16, 2012


so, thursday night my family purchased our first pop up camper.  it's an older model so it was pretty inexpensive, but for us it was a bit of a stretch financially.  many of our family vacations when i was a little boy were taken in a camper, and i've always dreamed of one day having one.

well, this father's day weekend, that dream came to fruition.  i was so excited to pick it up today and bring it home.  i cannot express to you how pumped i was.

and then, my world came crashing down.  i made a stupid mistake while cranking it up, and broke it.  it's got a pulley system, and i cranked it the wrong direction (should have been cranked clockwise), and now will not stay up.  so i have to begin the search of trying to find someone in town who could possibly work on it, then pray they don't charge an arm and a leg.

i'm writing this story because of what happened next.  satan began an all-out assault on my mind.  you wanna know what i heard him say?


this seriously went on for like a half an hour.  no joke.  absolute attack.  the scary thing is that these feelings felt so real.  so true.  this is just a small snippet of what i experienced.

somewhere in the middle of all this, i heard the tinniest whisper.  it was jesus, whispering into my ear.  do you want to know what he said?


did the other voices stop?  heck no.  i'm still dealing with this hours later.  but i felt i had to share, believing that someone else out there needs this same encouragement.

this is not necessarily a laughing matter.  but you know what?  we all make mistakes.  this was a silly mistake on my part.  so what.  if i allow this one event to define my entire life, i'm in serious trouble.  the good news is that it's not about me.  my life is defined by being a child of jesus.  so, now almost 2 hours later, while i'm certainly not laughing about this matter, i feel more at peace about myself.  it's gonna suck to possibly shell out more money at some point to get it working again.  but, in a few months from now, when my family has been able to enjoy this gift multiple times, will i really remember it?

take heart my friends.  satan is looking for any opportunity to try to tell you why you don't make the cut.  but it doesn't matter what he says, because if you've committed your life to Jesus, you're already on the team.  no one is ever turned away.  you can join me any time by simply accepting Jesus' love for you, and living your life for him.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Possibly my favorite ultra runner

hal koerner is quite possibly my favorite ultra runner.  not really sure why, other than the guy has major talent.  i love that in this video he says his dad played a role in getting him into running.

for me, one of my best friends, michael chitwood got me into running.  he began running i believe because of some other friends of his, and eventually our staff at youth for christ decided all to run a 1/2 marathon as a fundraiser.  i was 280 pounds at the time, and began my training by walking 1/2 mile every day.  my longest training run for that race was a little over 3 miles.  i finished in just under 3 hours, and ended up visiting the medical tent with heat exhaustion.  an iv was placed in my arm.  it was fun.  not.

but i didn't stop there.  now, having lost 80 pounds, and having run 5 ultras and 4 marathons, i'm hooked.  i'm a runner for life.

Thursday, June 14, 2012


this is something i've had my eyes on for over a year now.  i've had a strange fascination with slack lining, and obsession with watching high lining videos on youtube.  this simply looks like something that would provide hours and hours of fun, with plenty of challenge and no boredom whatsoever.

it appears to be relatively inexpensive if you keep your eyes open for sales.  not sure how many places here in east central illinois that could provide serious heights for high lining, but nonetheless, it looks like a blast.  i've even seen people doing it 5 feet over bodies of water (such as attaching to docks at small lakes).

anyways, just something fun that i thought i'd share this thursday afternoon.  after my daughters tball game tonight, we are going to look at a pop up camper.  this is a dream i've had for years, but never thought i'd see it come to fruition as we typically just don't have the necessary money for one.  but we've found an older one in really good shape that we are going to look at.  i couldn't be more stoked!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Beautiful evening

hmmmmmm, it was a perfect night to sit outside for a few minutes and listen.  i was in church this morning, and felt Jesus inviting me to some time alone with him tonight.  it's been on my mind all day, and something i was looking forward to.  so, once i knew the girls were sound asleep, i snuck outside for a few moments and laid down on our trampoline, looked up at the sky, and just listened.

honestly, it was quite difficult most of the time.  it was hard to quiet my mind.  there were things i wanted God to say to me.  there were things i'd hoped he'd say.  instead, he said exactly what i needed, for that moment, for today.

really, the experience itself of watching darkness overtake the sky, watching the clouds float by and the stars come out, watch countless aircraft streak by, take note of the numerous fire flies making the rounds, feeling the cool breeze, yeah, it was breathtaking.  and yet, it was difficult to enjoy.

that made me sad.  sad that it's much easier for me to sit in front of a computer or tv that it is to sit quietly outside.  it made me sad.  BUT, i don't want to stay there.  no.  this time tonight was well spent.  it was quality time in the presence of my father in heaven.  of laying my head in his lap and just being near him.

and difficult as it may have been, it was perfect.

yes.  perfect.

Friday, June 8, 2012


i am so pumped for our family vacation this year!  for the longest time i didn't think it would happen.  every year for the last 7 years or so we've all gone to my aunt's cottage in Michigan.  my family.  my parents.  my brother and his family.  my aunt.  we've spent anywhere from a long weekend to an entire week there.  it's a blast.  our entire family doesn't get many chances to hang out for an extended period of time like that anymore, so we really appreciate that week.  and i'm happy to say we get to do it once again this year!  i love the fact that i'm now in illinois.  if i hadn't moved here 12 years ago, i never would have met my wife, had my children, and made so many awesome friends and memories.  but, there's always a part of me that will feel like michigan is home.  those of you who grew up in a different state than you currently live can probably understand this.  it's not that i don't care about where i currently am.  it's just there's a special feeling when going back to the place you were born and grew up, especially if you still have family there.  all that to say, i'm really looking forward to vacation this year.  at the same time, i thank God for where he currently has me.  there are blessings everywhere i look.  this picture just made me appreciate my upcoming vacation.

of course, i'm not going to the U.P.  but still, it's michigan.  it's more than a mitten.  do you have a vacation spot that you hit up every year?  what are your feelings when you go back "home"?  for some, i'd imagine it could be quite painful; all depends on what your memories were of childhood i suppose.  in any case, i hope you all have a place that you enjoy getting away to.  if you've never been one for travel, i'd encourage you to step out and explore some of the beautiful earth God has created.  it doesn't have to be expensive.  camping is a great way to see the countryside.  enough of my soap box for today.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Another sweet video

I absolutely cannot wait for upcoming episodes of Kilian's Quest Season 4!  Check out this trailer!

VOTD-June 7

Proverbs 16:24

"Kind words are like honey—sweet to the soul and healthy for the body."

encouragement it feels to me is a lost art.  rarely are we showered with praise for a job well done, but the moment you screw up, you know it.  countless people seem to have developed the gift of keeping others humble.  and that disturbs me.  

Truett Cathy, founder of Chic-fil-A, has said some interesting things about encouragement over the years.

"How do you identify someone who needs encouragement?  Answer: That person is breathing."

literally everyone you encounter has an encouragement deficiency these days.  no one ever gets upset at receiving a word of encouragement.  Truett also said:

"I get a lot of encouragement, but I've never got an overdose of encouragement."

this is astounding.  here we have an incredible businessman and leader, and he readily admits he's never received an overdose of encouragement.  how much more truth does this hold for those less accomplished by the world's standards?

i have worked hard at beginning to implement the practice of encouragement in my everyday life, and have been amazed at the power of a few encouraging words for someone.  many times, the timing couldn't have been better for them.  

so, i challenge you today, to give someone an overdose of encouragement.  if you lead a team of people, begin to focus your energies there.  work on your family and friends.  work on anyone that you come in contact with.  it really doesn't cost you anything, other than 5 seconds of time.  it's amazing how something so simple can bring such a large smile to someone's face.  

Monday, June 4, 2012

VOTD-June 4

John 16:33 (NLT)

"I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world."

this served as a tremendous reminder for me as the day came to an end.  some days are tougher than others.  today, kind of rough.  it's so easy for us to wallow in self-pity, whining and moaning as to why things aren't going our way.  usually those are the times when our view is extremely narrow, solely focused on ourselves, with selfishness and greed driving everything we do.  what does Jesus promise here in this verse?  well, he promises that we first may have peace in him.  he also promises that we will have many trials and sorrows.  but, he reminds us that he's already overcome the world, thus making it possible for us to have peace in him.  

i hate that i'm so easily shaken by inconsequential happenings.  hate it.  but, i'm learning and growing, and thankful that God continues working with me.  

Friday, June 1, 2012

Comrades Marathon

that's right, Comrades Marathon is taking place this Sunday.  hard to imagine i conquered this amazing race 2 years ago.  feels like it was only yesterday.  in honor of that, here's a video from runners world magazine and bart yasso.

so many memories from that day, from those 2 weeks, from that trip in general.  so, i post this today, thinking of my Team World Vision family over in South Africa this very moment.  tomorrow they drive to pietermaritzburg in anticipation of the start sunday, where they will run 89km/56 miles approx to durban.  they don't run because they love to run.  no, they run for so much more.  they run for hope.  they run for justice.  they run for those who lack in this crazy world.  they run for children who have been given no chance at life.  they run, because they have to.  they are driven to do something that makes a difference.  they don't run for running sake.  they run to save lives.  

take a moment.

think about why you do what you do.

you don't have to run Comrades to make a difference.  you can sponsor a child through world vision for $35/month.  (we sponsor 2, one of the best investments we've ever made)  you can help a friend pay a bill.  you can pay for a stranger's meal.  you can do so many different things.  there are no limitations when it comes to helping others.  

why do you do what you do?  

now go do something for someone else NOW!

Not What I Intended To Write On

It's been a busy week, especially with Monday being a holiday.  I've been meaning to write more since my last post on Tuesday, and it just hasn't happened.  Was gonna do a VOTD (Verse Of The Day) post today but was struggling with it, and instead of forcing the issue, I just want to share an article I came across today.

Adventure Races are incredibly popular these days!  I know for me, I've done a few and have absolutely loved them.  This year, as I've been struggling with my own running, motivation, etc. I'm really considering doing a few to round out the year.  A buddy has already signed me up for a Spartan Race, so that's one down.  The realization has hit for me that I need to turn this year into one that makes running fun for me again.  So, the 50 miler in September is out the window.  I may still attempt the 50k, the same one I did last year in September, but no 50 miler.

Anyways, here's the link to this article.  It touches on some correlation between adventure races and Christianity.  I loved what it had to say, and will try to revisit this article at least once a week.