my search to understand the bigger picture

Friday, July 19, 2013

Today is my 30th Spiritual Birthday

what a day.  i've been a christian for 30 years today.  my parents did such a great job celebrating this day every year that i still remember some specifics about the night that my parents talked about this with my brother and i after supper.

this is one of those things that my wife and i are passing along to our own daughters.  i've been taking moments throughout the day today, allowing holy spirit to bring back to mind moments in time that i've had with him.

some of the more powerful ones:

  • my first time attending a small group while in youth group.  i still have some interaction with one of the leaders, and some of the kids in that group today.
  • countless times spent with my youth pastor, Dan Seaborn.
  • being asked to serve on the leadership council my senior year.
  • preaching a sermon twice my senior year to our senior high youth group of about 250 kids.
  • being baptized in lake michigan the summer before my senior year.
  • starting up a group my 4th year in college, which grew to about 100 students every tuesday night where we worshipped and spent time in prayer.
  • going into full time ministry after college.
  • my wedding day.
  • the miscarriage of our first two children.
  • the birth of my next two children.
  • hours of interaction with holy spirit while running the 56 mile Comrades Marathon in South Africa.
  • meeting our sponsored child, Nomonde Precious in South Africa. 
  • having both daughters accept Jesus into their hearts. 
  • countless conversations with holy spirit while trail running at Kickapoo State Park.
and on, and on, and on.

these moments have been so precious to me.  God has been a powerful and important part of my entire life.  while i've had my moments of following him more closely than others, i'm proud to say i've never walked away from God.  i've never backslidden.  i've never given up on him.  

and he's never given up on me.  he's been so patient with me.  so loving.  so caring.  so tender.  so filled with mercy towards me.  

with all the certainty i have in me, july 19 will always be the most powerful day in my life.  it's the day i gave my life over to jesus in 1983, at the age of 6.  he's my savior, my redeemer, my ever present help, my rock, my very best friend.  

God the Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit, i love you!  happy birthday to us today!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Skyrunner's Manifesto

found this in a book i just finished reading, Run or Die by Kilian Jornet.  it was written a few years ago, and just recently translated into english.

Kiss or kill.  Besa o mata.  Kiss glory or die in the attempt.  Losing is death; winning is life.  The fight is what decides the victory, the winner.  How often have rage and pain made you cry?  How often has exhaustion made you lose your memory, voice, common sense?  And how often in this state have you exclaimed, with a broad smile on your face, "The final stage!  Two more hours!  Go, onward and upward!  That pain only exists inside your head.  Control it, destroy it, eliminate it, and keep on.  Make your rivals suffer.  Kill them."  I am selfish, right?  Sport is selfish, because you must be selfish to know how to fight on while you suffer, to love solitude and hell.  Stopping, coughing, feeling cold, not feeling your legs, feeling sick, vomiting, getting headaches, cuts, bleeding....can you think of anything better?
The secret isn't in your legs, but in your strength of mind.  You need to go for a run when it is raining, windy, and showing, when lightning sets trees on fire as you pass them, when snowflakes or hailstones strike your legs and body in the storm and make you weep, and in order to keep running, you have to wipe away the tears to see the stones, walls, or sky.  The strength of mind to say no to hours of partying, to good grades, to a pretty girl, to the bedsheets against your face.  To put your soul into it, going out into the rain until your legs bleed from the cuts when you slip on the mud and fall to the ground, and then get back on your feet and continue uphill until your legs cry out, "Enough!" and leave you marooned in a storm on the remotest peaks, until you die.
Leggings soaked by snow, driven on by the wind that sticks to your face and freezes your sweat.  Feeling the pressure from your legs, the weight of your body bearing down on the metatarsals in your toes, pressure that can shatter rocks, destroy planets, and move continents.  Legs suspended in the air, gliding like an eagle, or running faster than a cheetah.  Running downhill, slipping on the snow and mud before driving yourself on anew, and suddenly you are free to fly, to shout out in the heart of the mountain, with only the most intrepid rodents and birds hidden in their nests beneath the rocks as your confessors.  Only they know your secrets, your fears.  Because losing is death.  And you should not die before you have given your all, have wept from the pain and the wounds.  And you cannot surrender.  You must fight on to the death.   Because glory is the greatest, and you can either aspire to glory or fall by the wayside.  You cannot simply not fight, not suffer, not die....Now is the time to suffer, the time to fight, the time to win.  Kiss or kill.

very interesting thoughts from perhaps the greatest endurance athlete the world has ever known.

Monday, July 15, 2013

What Would You Sacrifice For a Cause You Believed In?

a job?

a business?



the easy life?

seriously, think about this for a moment.  is there any cause that you would consider making a sacrifice for?  is there any one person you would sacrifice something significant for?

two thoughts come to my mind when thinking on this topic.

first, Jesus.  he sacrificed his life so that i could be made free, set free from sin.  he sacrificed his own life so that i could experience life to the full in him.  powerful.  almost mind-numbing.  inspiring.  shocking.

second, Steve Spear.  he and his family sacrificed all of the above in order to help bring clean water to people in Kenya.  this man, is running across america, trying to raise $1.5 million to bring clean water to 30,000 people.  for the uneducated, water is life in many areas of the world.  we take water for granted, many times paying $1, $2, even $3 for a bottle of water.  we take 30 minute showers, own swimming pools, have underground sprinkling to make our lawns look nice.  many in the rest of the world are lucky to get water as clean as the water when you are finished washing your car.  that is, if you wash your own car.  have you ever looked at the water left in the bucket?  imagine using that as your everyday water, and then multiplying the pollutants by 10 or more.

steve spear is simply following the example set before him by jesus.  giving of himself.  why am i writing about this?  because i got to run with steve today.  my friend Scott and i ran 9 grueling miles with steve today.  he still have 23-24 more miles to go before his day was done.

what's sad is that many have had to resort to crazy exploits like this to raise awareness.  we simply don't want to know about the suffering of others.  but we must open our eyes to the conditions of others around the world.  the movie Spiderman reminds us, that "with great power, comes great responsibility".  well, we live in a wealthy country.  you may not feel wealthy, but check this website out.  maybe you'll get a better, more realistic perspective.

so, i implore you today, do something to help others.  start with a $50 gift or bigger, providing one person with clean water for life!  check out their project by clicking here.

seriously, what are you waiting for?  do you really think you are going to miss that $50?  go scoop up some water from a nearby puddle, then imagine having to drink that.  imagine having to cook with it, bathe with it.  better yet, imagine that you can't send your child to school, because you have to send them to fetch that water, and then you have to watch your own child drink that water.  come on, $50.  you can do it.  there ya go!

now, go tell others.  we can do something about this!  in a world filled with news of hate, violence, and tragedy, you can be a ray of light.  go for it!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

This Caught My Attention Today

i was reading a blog post i get every so often, and this sentence stood out apart from the rest:

"There is nothing worse than a well read, smart, articulate leader who can’t lead themselves out of a paper bag simply because they lack self-awareness."

so tragic to see potential in others, and yet the only thing holding them back is themselves.  take a few minutes today to think about yourself.  work at becoming more self-aware.

if you want to read the rest of the article click HERE.

thanks to scott williams for sharing his thoughts on a regular basis.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


i'm currently working my way through the book Start by Jon Acuff.  it's been a fantastic read so far; one that i'd highly recommend to anyone who has the ability to read.

one thing i came across this morning has really got me thinking.

"1.  If I died today, what would I regret not being able to do?
  2.  Are those the things I'm spending time doing right now?"

great questions i think one could spend a good deal of time on.  give it some thought today.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Father's Day Meltdown

just got back from my first counseling session.  the guy was right, i need a some migraine medication!

it was good though, and i'm going back.  but i'm a mess.  and then after catching up on emails at the office, i came across this little gem, and tears are streaming down my face.

i seriously hope my daughters view me in this light, or one day will.  wow, still crying.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Things Change

things change.  people change.

i know this.  i get it.  i do.  i've had times myself where i had to move on from places of employment.  once by my own choice, another time not so much.  :)

i've also had many friends move on over the years.  some have stuck around in town, others relocating to other parts of the country.  and today, my heart hurts for friends i miss.






i've had the incredible privilege over the years of being able to work some really close friends.  and it's awesome to see them move on to better things.

but today, i miss my friends.  God, i miss my friends.  i miss seeing them every single day.  i miss impromptu coffee/dreaming sessions at panera about opening up sandwich shops in europe, i miss talking about the "dubious duo" and all things outdoors, i miss making goofy videos jumping into ponds in march for promo videos and inside sayings like "swicken em", and incredible challenges to run 56 mile races in africa to help kids.  i miss early morning runs, talking about work related stress while training for races in africa, and i miss the countless soul bearing conversations all ending with a little "holla at the dj".

Jesus, you've blessed me with amazing friends to work with over the years.  many of them have moved on.  today i have a mixture of awesome memories, and sadness along with a deep yearning for the days of old.

but we can't go back.  we can only move forward in life.  it's good to remember those good times.  but it's not over.  i want MORE good times!  those friendships will last a lifetime.  maybe it's time to let someone new in.

so, here's to friends, past, present, and future.  i love you all.  i miss you all.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


there comes a time for everything.  we all need help from time to time, and are fools if we don't seek out that help.  i once read in a leadership book, a story about a pastor of a megachurch in las vegas.  he was venting to his mentor, and his mentor basically told him to lead himself.  in other words, no one knows quite like you what you need in the moment.  so, don't feel bad taking a vacation day, ESPECIALLY if you need it.  in my case, leading myself means getting some good counseling for awhile.

as a pastor at my church, we are required to go through a series of psych tests and evaluations, mainly geared towards helping us grow and improve upon some areas.  it also does point out some causes for concern.  in my case, nothing of concern came up, but the counselor did feel it would be beneficial to do some counseling sessions.  the more i thought about it, the more i felt it was the right decision to make.

so, that's the reason i'm sharing it publicly.  the temptation is to not follow through.  you know how it works.  the moment you make the choice to do this, you think you feel a little better, and then all of a sudden you've talked yourself out of it.  so, i need to find out if it's covered under my insurance, and then schedule that first appointment.  sooner than later.

so, i'd appreciate your prayers.  part of the reasoning for this post, and the last one dealing with depression, is an attempt on my part to get some of those feelings out.  not just hold them inside.  but get them out.  it's much easier to do this writing than speaking them out for me.  i also want people to know the real me, not just what i portray.  many times, that's only half of what's really going on inside my brain.

Monday, May 6, 2013


it's come back.  it happens every so often, but most of the time lingers for a few hours at most.  i'm able to work my way through it relatively quickly and then move on.  but saturday night, it hit like a ton of bricks, and i haven't really recovered yet.

yeah, i can put on a happy face.  i'm a pastor.  i can't exactly show up to church sunday all woe is me.  don't get me wrong.  i'm a HUGE proponent of pastors being real, allowing their people to see their struggles.  we are not superhuman.  we are just like the rest of the world.  we have our struggles.  we have our issues.

so, maybe that's what i'm doing this morning.  letting the 2 or 3 that read this know, that pastors struggle too.  much of my depression seems to come as spiritual warfare type stuff.  but i can tell you that right now, there are lots of people in my world that are hurting for a variety of reasons.  i'm a highly empathetic individual, and feel the weight of all their hurting and pain.  add that to my own, and my guard has been let down, thus allowing a chink in my armor.

now, lots of people who don't deal with depression like to say, "just get over it" or "work it off".  i like it when people suggest "go something that makes you happy".  in that position, nothing seems to make one happy.  that's the struggle.  depression is so debilitating in that it keeps you from even wanting to leave your bed, or the couch.  you come down with a "that's not worth it" mentality towards the fun things you once enjoyed.

honestly, one of the few things that helps me begin to take some of that ground back, is to listen to worship music.  but i've tried something a little different that last few times an "attack" has come over me.  instead of listening to the song, and singing it directly to the Father, i pretend he's singing it to me.  there are some hillsong united songs that really get me.  this morning, third day's "You Are My Everything" was just what i needed.

you see, so many times, when i'm feeling like a lesser version of myself, feeling down, feeling depressed, i don't need to be reminded of my love for jesus.  i need to hear from him how he views me. actually hearing these words spoken through worship songs has proven to be a powerful method for me to accept his truth about me, that i am fiercely loved by him.  that jesus is absolutely crazy about me.

this is true you know.  true about you.  Jesus fiercely loves you with reckless abandon.  He is absolutely crazy about you!  this blows my mind, but it's true!  quiet yourself, and ask him what he thinks about you.  i'll bet, the first thought, the very first thought in your mind will be something confirming that.  give it a try!  and then back it up with scripture.  Jesus will bring you life, and nothing else.  anything you hear that doesn't bring life, but brings condemnation, depression, guilt, shame, etc is not from jesus.    does he convict us of sin?  absolutely.  but why?  only to bring us back on track.  he wants us walking in the fully restored relationship that he offers.  he's out for our full healing, and nothing less.

my friends, i'll remind you of the very things i'm reminding myself of this morning.  jesus loves you.  he really does.  you bring him great joy.  just the way you are.  exactly the way you are.  this has cracked the fog of depression in my own life today.  i pray it does the same for you.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Journaling-My Private Domain

i'm about to do something that i have rarely done before.  i'm going to give you a glimpse into my journal.  i don't reveal this to many.  actually, i'm not sure if i've ever let someone read my journals.  it's not that there's anything in there that i'm hiding.  it's just a place that's between me and God.

however, last week, i wrote some thoughts that rocked me to the core, in a good way.  it's been on my mind ever since, to the point where i felt i should share it with whoever wanted to read.  it may not be earth shattering to you, but it was quite moving to me.

before, i would have said i knew these things.  but after writing these words, it became a heart-felt knowledge deep within.

"I listened to one song in my car on the way into work this morning before turning it off.  One short line went, "Emmanuel.  God with us."  And that has been in my mind ever since.  God with us.  What an amazing truth to live in today.  What a revelation it would be to fully grasp this Father!  To completely understand what it means that you are with me!  That's powerful!  I felt strongly after that, the need for some Prayer House or Crying Room time today.  Just some time alone, away with my Abba.  I should leave my cell phone in my office too, and just bring my Bible and maybe some paper.  This afternoon would be wonderful for that.  I want communion with you today God!  Will you come and join me?  'Thad, if you make time for me, I will always show up for you!  I love you my son.  You are not the only one that looks back fondly on times at Batty's cabin, times camping, times you were trail running, when you ran Comrades.  I LOVED THOSE MOMENTS TOO!'  Wow, I'm shocked right now!  I never imagined God thinking as highly of those moments as I do.  Really God?  Those were some highlights for you?  'YES'.  Whoa.  I want to tell the whole world about this!  Looking forward to some more time with you later today Father.  'ME TOO'.  Hmmmmmm.  Thanks for putting a smile on my face today."

before you dismiss this, and say "Yeah Thad, I already knew that", do me a favor.  ask God what his favorite moments with you have been.  seriously, ask him.  and then wait for his response.  i'll bet a time will come to mind, his way of showing you the times with you that mean the most to him.  give it a try.  you may be shocked at what he shows you.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Comparison Battle

i've actually been wanting to write this post for some time now.  but every time i sit down to write, something else entirely comes out, and i choose to just go with that.

however, this morning, i came across a post by Mike Foster on Donald Miller's that spoke many of the thoughts i've been thinking on this topic.  i may share more of my thoughts in a later post, but for now, Mike's insight will suffice.  check out this short read by clicking below.

"enjoy your story wherever it is."  this is a portion of a sentence towards the end.  this is really speaking to me this morning.  what part of this post spoke loudest to you?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

One Of The Baddest Videos I've Ever Seen!

this is by far, one of the most powerful 3 minute videos i've ever seen.  makes me want to go out and run an ultra right now!  what do you think of it?

Monday, April 8, 2013

Jesus Came After Me

jesus has been after my heart as of late.  i've spent the last day or so noticing jesus calling to my heart in so many different places.  in my car, i was moved to turn off the music and just enjoy the silence.  i've spent times reading when i normally would have turned on the tv.  at small group last night, this phrase came after me with reckless abandon

"jesus is absolutely crazy about me"

it was a powerful revelation.  one that i've had before, but desperately needed to be heard again.  and then this morning, such an intimate time was shared with jesus.  he brought passage after passage of scripture to my heart.  so i journaled them, and then allowed him to just speak to my heart.  i invited him into the inner most, deepest parts of my soul.  and he came.  he spoke powerfully, deeply, carefully, and truthfully.  he challenged me, but set my heart at ease at the same time.

wow.  powerful encounters.  jesus is so amazing.  do you have these types of encounters with him?  i know i don't have them near enough.  but it's my own fault because i typically don't allow my time or attention to experience this.  

thank you jesus for meeting with me today.  such an amazing way to kick off the week.  i love you jesus.

Monday, April 1, 2013

My Wife, the Warrior Princess

emily is her name.  and she's amazing.

i've been meaning to write this post for about a week now.  but life gets in the way, you know how it goes.  life, such an amazing thing when kept in the right perspective.  and yet, it so easily jumps outside of that box.  hmmmmmm, i'm already off topic.

my wife.  on march 22 of this year we celebrated our 10 year anniversary.  10 years.  wow.  in some ways, it seems like just yesterday that we were standing in that church, that we were on our honeymoon, that we were buying our first house.  and yet, in others, those 2 people 10 years ago seem like toddlers who barely knew anything about life.  well, really that was only me.  so much has happened since then.

loss of jobs.  miscarriages.  but then there's the jobs.  god's provision.  2 beautiful daughters.  trip to africa.  many trips every year to michigan.  this short list hardly encompasses everything.

so, emily planned our little celebration of 10 years of marriage together.  this shocked me, and part of me felt bad that she was planning it all.  i did drop roses off to her at work that morning.  that made me feel a little better.  but then, i began to relax as we drove away from her office that night.  everything was kept a secret from me.  i fought hard to not ask, because when there is a surprise i love nothing more than to figure it out.  typically, as is probably the case with many of you, i struggle with allowing others to do things for me.

i tried to force myself to relax as we began driving.  i knew not where we were headed.  eventually we landed in bloomington, illinois, at an eastland suites.  it was a nice hotel, with a separate living room with a little kitchenette and fireplace.  we sat for about an hour, and then a limo came and brought us to a wonderful little steakhouse.  now, emily is not much of a meat eater.  so she planned dinner with me in mind.  wow!  this was hard for me, but i got over it when i began reading the menu.

i finally decided on prime rib.  we enjoyed dinner.  we enjoyed conversation and laughter.  wish i had a picture of the picture hanging behind us at dinner (honey you can be glad i don't have one because i surely would post it here :))

after dinner we headed back to our hotel room to                                    relax.

the next morning came the big shocker.  she had planned for us to go to upper limits, an indoor climbing gym!  this had been a dream of mine for years, and i just had never gotten around to giving it a try.

we took a 2 hour class, and then attempted climbing on our own for a little under 2 hours.  we certainly didn't get close to climbing to the top of the easiest route, but we had a blast, and will definitely be back.  we partook of krispy kreme a few times (if you don't know about this place, i feel sorry for you), had chipotle for lunch, and did some shopping.

now, fellas, i know.  many of you are thinking that you have awesome wives.  and many of you do.  but, i can honestly say, none of them compare to my emily.  i've got one word for her, and it doesn't apply to any other women on the planet..........AWESEROUS!

seriously, emily, i had one of the best weekends of my life with you that weekend.  thank you so much, for planning something fun, with me in mind.  the fact that i got to do it with you made it that much better.  it was certainly one of the highlights of our marriage, when so much focus and attention goes to the girls, or jobs, or the house, or any number of other things.  thank you emily, for taking the time and energy to focus on me.  i love you babe!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

This'll have me thinking for days......

"Let him who cannot be alone beware of community.  Let him who is not in community beware of being alone.  Each day by itself has profound perils and pitfalls.  One who wants fellowship without solitude plunges into the void of words and feelings, and the one who seeks solitude without fellowship perishes in the abyss of vanity, self-infatuation and despair."

-bonhoeffer's LIFE TOGETHER

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Conversational Intimacy

this is one of those topics that is just very hard to describe.  how does one explain that they heard from God?  that God spoke to them?  most of us throw in some things about it not really being an audible voice, but more of a prompting in our hearts.  it just gets real dicey real fast.

so, i'm not trying to solve any riddles today.  not trying to lay down the a,b,c's of developing this type of relationship with the father.  i just want to attempt to propose a few thoughts, examples from my own life and then let you formulate your own theory from there.

jesus clearly says in john 10:27 "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me."  now, if it were not possible at all to have any sort of back and forth communication with the Father, i don't believe Jesus would have made this statement.  whether it's metaphorical in this situation or not is irrelevant in my opinion.  

now, how does one get to know the voice of another?  how do i learn to recognize the voice of my wife, my kids, etc?  simple.  by spending lots of time in their presence, actively involved in the moment.  i only learn to recognize my wife's voice by being with her.  so, the way to recognizing the voice of the Father is by spending time with him, reading the Bible, in prayer, just hanging out while being conscious of his presence with you.  

we have many recorded instances of Jesus speaking with the Father in the New Testament.  one passage in particular is John 17, where Jesus prays for his disciples and then believers as a whole.  now, why would this situation be recorded, Jesus speaking to God the Father, if that were not to be something we should be doing?  what about the Lord's Prayer, where Jesus specifically directs us to "pray" a certain way?  or there's that little scene in the garden of gethsemane where Jesus pours his heart out to the Father.  are we not to follow his example?

i fully believe most people don't "hear" from God because they have not made room in their lives for it.  at least, that's been true in my own life.  we love packing our lives full of "stuff" to be doing.  we've gotten really good at doing "christian" things without taking the time to "be" with jesus.  that's got to change if you want to begin to hear from him.  luke 5:16 fills us in to a few keys when it comes to conversing with God.  "But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer."  three keys, that i've shared before:

  1. Jesus withdrew often.  He made time with the Father a priority, and had this time on a regular basis.
  2. Jesus went to the wilderness.  He went to a place where distractions were severely limited.  No people.  No cell phone.  No internet.  Nothing to do but "be" with the Father.
  3. Jesus went for prayer.  He went with a purpose, to speak with the Father.  
many times we forget that there's two parts to conversations.  there's the part where we speak (we've got that down) and there's the part where we listen.  typically, we are not very good at sitting still and quiet for very long to listen.  friends, if you want to hear from God, this has to change.   i believe first and foremost we will learn to recognize God's voice by getting familiar with his words in the Bible.  Begin reading your Bible, and God's voice will begin sounding off all around you, if you are paying attention and looking for it.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Ed Dobson's Seeing Through The Fog

i began reading this book this morning.  i've only ever read one other book by ed, titled the year of living like jesus, but really enjoyed his perspectives.  this new book details his experiences over the past 11+ years with ALS (lou gehrig's disease).  the following is a quote from the forward written by joni eareckson tada.

"so i thank my friend ed dobson for reminding us how to hold on to hope as though it were the thin string of a big kite-the string is so thin in your hand, yet it connects to a force that can almost lift you off the ground."

for some reason, that really resonated with me, and i'm still thinking about it.  i found another quote in the intro to be captivating, "i have never been afraid of dying, but i was very concerned about the process of getting there."  

no real point here, other than to share a little about what i'm reading right now.  i'd love to hear what you are working your way through, or if you have any books you're excited about reading at some point.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Thought For Today

"god wants people to be desperate for jesus; he longs for them to long for him.  he wants folks climbing sycamores up and down the streets of this world to get a glimpse of jesus.  don't you?  i sure do.  now, god has arranged this story in such a way that it is largely through our lives that people get a glimpse of jesus.  so it might be good to ask yourself, when it comes to my life, what is the jesus they see?"

-john eldredge, the utter relief of holiness

Thursday, February 7, 2013

God in Creation

i love this part in the book Stuff Christians Like by Jon Acuff found on pages 124-125 called Seeing God In Nature.

Seeing God in nature is one of our favorite things to do.  We love holding retreats in places like the mountains or the beach.  Something about a panoramic view really drives home the point that "God is big.  If he can handle how the ocean works, he can take care of my little problem."  But a panoramic view is only half the battle.  What we really like is when we can find a cross shape that has naturally formed somewhere on God's green earth.  Two trees that have grown together, a formation of rocks that kind of looks like a wobbly cross, that clump of stars out in the dead of space that resembles a cross.  We love finding reminders of God in nature.  
I think that's great, except that the last time I went to the beach, on the roof deck of the house my family rented, I tried to force God to meet my schedule.  I got up early, took my notebook and pen up there, held my breath as the sun came up, and........nothing.  So I literally walked the entire deck to make sure I was not in the wrong God spot, as if maybe the God juice was flowing to the corner I wasn't standing in.  
And when it didn't happen, I tried to help God out by priming the pump.  "Wow, that water is endless.  Maybe you want to tell me about your endless love?  No, nothing there?  How about all the shells that are scattered across the sand when the tide goes out?  Maybe you want to talk about how the search for wisdom is a lot like searching for a perfect shell amongst a million broken ones?  How's that sound?  Nothing, hmmm.  Let's think about the dunes or storms or something.  Help me out, God; I'm doing all the work here."
I was at the beach so I expected a God performance, for him to speak something deep and beautiful into my heart.  But he didn't.  I didn't leave the beach that day with any new insights, even though I probably could have written a pretty amazing sequel to "Footprints in the Sand" called "Footprints 2: The Revenge".

have you ever done this, try to basically tell God how things are going to go down?  i did this past monday.  i took a day away from work, and headed to majestic indiana, a place called turkey run.  almost immediately after taking off from my driveway, i felt God give me a little picture.  from then on, the day went nothing like i had planned.  

i had planned on doing a lot of reading and writing, and a little hiking since it was the winter, and trails were snow covered.  well, i started off with what i thought would be a little hike.  i had some questions that needed answers.  the long and short, was that God told me he wasn't about to be interrogated by me, and i sheepishly apologized.  from then, i spent 5 hours hiking with my papa.  it was good; just nothing like what i had planned.  but here's what i walked away from this experience with:

i didn't need answers.  i just needed some time with my papa.  

now, what i love about connecting with God in creation, is that most distractions have been removed.  i don't think He speaks more or any louder when we are in nature, it's just that we have less to distract us.  it's no secret, no special formula.  just less distraction.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Open Heart Surgery

so, for the better part of a week now, i've

some have noticed; some have not.  i've hidden it from some, not so much from others.

depression is a strange thing.  this is not depression.

i feel, used up.  it's not a bad thing; it's been by good things.  but somewhere along the way, i've not figured out how to recharge.  usually, i recharge best by being in nature, by just having a break.  but this has been hard to come by.  life is so insanely friggin busy.  

i.  don't.  do.  busy.  very.  well.

so, i'm struggling today.  i'm a pastor.  and i'm struggling.

people say, "give it to God."  i have.

others say, "focus on others."  i have.

i don't need "christianese-type" answers.  

honestly, i don't know what i need.  yesterday seemed to be better, but today, things are worse again.  

so, i write in the hopes that are others out there, who are struggling.  know that you are not alone.  people that don't struggle with this won't understand.  that's ok.  i don't need you to understand.  just need patience and love.

so, holy spirit, i invite you to do some open heart surgery today.  take a good, clean look at me, repair what needs it, and close me back up.  have your way.  do what needs to be done.  fix me up and get me back out there.

i'm thankful for a surgeon with the care and concern this world knows little about.  i'm thankful for a surgeon that has intimate knowledge of me, know what to do and when to do it.  he knows what to tweak, and what to leave alone.  thank you holy spirit for your pruning, molding, shaping.  

teach me, how to love others better.  teach me, how to live more fully in your truth.  love me.  care for me.  deeply.  thank you for doing so.  thank you for never leaving or forsaking.  thank you, for your tenderness.  for your mercy and grace.  for your infinite wisdom.  for your goodness.

Monday, January 28, 2013

High Ground

last week i was privileged to watch the documentary High Ground at a local theater.  5 friends joined me for a powerful 2 hours of the movie and a meet and greet after with one of the veterans featured in the film, Steve Baskis.  here's a quick synopsis from the film's website:  

Eleven veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan join an expedition to climb the 20,000 foot Himalayan giant Mount Lobuche. With blind adventurer Erik Weihenmayer and a team of Everest summiters as their guides, they set out on an emotional and gripping climb to reach the top in an attempt to heal the emotional and physical wounds of the longest war in U.S. history.

Representing nearly every branch of the military, the veterans, and the Gold Star Mom who joins their trek, bring humor and deep emotion to this hero’s journey all captured with breathtaking, vertigo-inducing cinematography by three-time Emmy® winner, director Michael Brown.

there were many solid moments to write about, but on cut me to the core.  Steve Baskis was talking about his friend who died in the blast that caused Steve to go blind.  

"His death changed my life forever.  I look at it like I need to live my life as best as possible to go and experience everything that I can in the time that I have left on this planet, and enjoy any experiences that come my way."

this is exactly the way we out to live our lives as Christians.  his death and resurrection changed all eternity, and we out to live in such a way as to hold nothing back.  i have no idea where Steve stands with Jesus.  but i do know, on that night, i was challenged in a way i haven't been in a long time.  it was good.  

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Most Personally Moving Quote In Years

I believe a human being has more than an ability to dream. I believe we have a responsibility to dream.

-donald miller

from one of his posts on

i'm dreaming again.  about what could be.  about a variety of things.  how about you?  my prayer today is that God would continue to awaken my dreaming nature.  

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Hebrews 13

ah, another day of life.  the air was crisp this morning, with a windchill of -10 while on my daily run.  it was incredibly cold, but there's always something i love about running in weather that most people won't.  there's a part, deep inside of me, that makes me feel just a little more rugged and manly than i normally do.  ok, already off track.  moving on.............

in the past few days i've set a new goal for myself this year, to journal for at least 300 of the days in 2013.  i've done pretty good so far, and have really begun to enjoy it again.  yesterday i felt God encourage me to look for a theme to journal about each day, in addition to my normal ramblings and banter about nothing in particular.  so, today i wrote on dreaming again.

i've become such a pessimistic person over the years, trying to cleverly disguise it as being a realist.  but, really i was pessimistic.  always able to point out why something wouldn't work, instead of dreaming about why it could.  

and i want to dream again.

i want to dream like i did in college, when everything seemed possible.  i want to get excited and passionate again.  i'm excited about this process, as i feel God's really called me to take some risks this year.  i easily see these two connected in a powerful way.  

this morning my attention fell on hebrews 13, and i slowly worked my way through that while eating breakfast.  while i'll keep my observations to myself for right now, i'm curious as to what you have found yourself being drawn to lately?  i feel a pull more and more, to spend much time interacting with the Father.  i spent much of my drive time yesterday with no radio on.  just listening for God to speak.  

He does speak to us you know.  many times, it just takes us tuning everything else out, and learning to hear his voice.  he certainly won't attempt to compete with everything else.  someone dear to me shared recently they finally experienced God speaking to them, in a way they have never felt before.  it was powerful.  it impacted them in a huge way.  and i love hearing about stories like that.  

all that to say, give God some time today.  ask Him to speak to you.  and then work to tune everything else out.  He's faithful.

Monday, January 21, 2013

2 Passages In James That Got Me Today

james 3:13-18 the message

do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom?  here's what you do: live WELL, life WISELY, live HUMBLY.  it's the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts.  mean-spirited ambition isn't wisdom.  boasting that you are wise isn't wisdom.  twisting the truth to make yourselves sound wise isn't wisdom.  it's the furthest thing from wisdom-it's animal cunning, devilish conniving.  whenever you're trying to look better than others or get the better of others, things fall apart and everyone ends up at the others' throats.  real wisdom, god's wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others.  it is GENTLE and REASONABLE, overflowing with MERCY and BLESSINGS, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced.  you can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with god and enjoy its results ONLY if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with DIGNITY and HONOR.

james 4:7-10 the message

so let god work his will in you.  yell a LOUD no to the devil and watch him scamper.  say a QUIET yes to god and he'll be there in no time.  quit dabbling in sin.  purify your inner life.  quit playing the field.  hit bottom and cry your eyes out.  the fun and games are over.  get serious, really serious.  get down on your knees before the master; it's the only way you'll get on your feet.

good reminders for us all today.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Fantastic Friday

hmmmmmmm, adventure videos have really been catching my attention lately.  i'm not sure what it is about them; probably the same thing i appreciate about ultra trail running.  there's something about the excitement involved, the danger, the unknown, the challenge your body goes through.  

whatever it is, i love watching stuff like this.  it stirs something deep inside of me.  so check out a few videos that have caught my attention this week.

that last video is a documentary i'm actually going to see this coming tuesday in champaign, illinois.  steve baskis will be there to give a short presentation following the film.  should be a very eye-opening experience to say the least.  

it's just so interesting to me how watching others live adventures stirs something in me.  

what about you?  what stirs your heart?  what makes you come alive?  be true, be honest here.  no pat answers.  fight the temptation to say the "right" thing.  speak the truth.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Great quote on leadership

“The challenge of leadership is to be 

strong, but not rude; be kind, but not 

weak; be bold, but not bully; be 

thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but 

not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; 

have humor, but without folly.” 

~Jim Rohn

Monday, January 14, 2013

<=> (Less is more) simplify

it certain circles, it is becoming more and more popular to simplify ones life.  i'm sure there are a variety of reasons, but i know many have gotten to a place of burnout over the years.  life moves at such a quick pace these days as you may have noticed.  we are living in a day and age of stress levels that we were never created to carry.  we want everything immediately, and perfect to boot!  there is no sense of patience.  

less is more.  radically simple.  simply radical.  simplify.  i remember first giving thought to this because of running.  one of my favorite ultra mountain runners, anton krupicka, helped new balance develop a line of footwear, in fact the logo above is part of that.  the premise is to strip away anything that isn't of absolute necessity.

i found myself beginning to fall in love with that concept, not just in running, but also in life. in running, i found that looks a little bit different for everyone, and much is the same in life.  but interestingly enough, life fought back on this.  i've tried to cut back, to simplify, and life just doesn't like it one bit.  the world doesn't like it.  

this tells me just how important it truly is.   in fact, a specific passage of Scripture comes to mind when i think about such things.  matthew 16:26 states,

26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?

it's true.  what good is it for us to be so busy that we become stressed, and lose everything that was once important.  we lose focus on the very things that matter.  romans 12:2 also comes to mind, 

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

as christians, we should not act as the world does.  what is important to the world should not be to us.  however, so many times, in an attempt to be in the world but not of it, we lose sight of our purpose, to be a shining example of Christ's love for everyone.  my prayer for myself tonight, what i'm giving thought to, is how can i simplify my life.  what can i remove?  what are the things that are absolute necessities, and what can i do without?  in all reality, anything that's not a necessity will probably cause unnecessary distraction anyways.  honestly, i'm nervous about where this could lead.  and maybe that's why it needs to happen.  it needs to happen now.

Friday, January 11, 2013

God Strikes Again..........And How To Be Happy For Someone Else

so, He did it again to me this morning.  yes, by "He" i mean God, and by "it" i mean speak to me while trail running.  this happened a few months ago, and i've not forgotten exactly what he said, and where i was.  well, i desperately needed to take today off.  i've got my hours in for the week at church, will get more in tomorrow, and have my work done that needs to be done today.  so, with my wife's help, i decided i would go trail running this morning while my youngest was in preschool, instead of putting in 3 hours at the office.

i hit up a different spot today, one i don't normally go to because the trails are............well there's no nice way to put it.  they are wimpy.  the preserve is definitely very scenic; overall a great place.  but the trails just aren't as challenging as the ones i normally run.  so, this was a perfect place for me to retreat to this morning, to get some good mileage in off road and not worry much about the effort.  the trails were amazing today, muddy, wet, slick, sloppy, just all out aweserous.  it was so much fun!  temps were in the 50's which meant shorts and a tshirt, unheard of for mid january!  i ended up going somewhere between 8 and 9 miles overall.  i remember distinctly, around mile 4.5 a leaf falling from a tree, and suddenly a wind kicked up, holding that leaf about head high, suspended for what seemed like forever.  as i passed by, the leaf dropped, gently brushing my shoulder.  immediately i felt as if God was tapping me on the shoulder, suggesting He had something He wanted to say.  He was trying to get my attention.  

well, i kept that in mind as i continued on.  within a minute or two, i came to an opening that overlooked homer lake.  there was a bench there and i decided i'd take a break there on my way back through the area.  so, after finishing up that trail, i turned around and headed back, and stopped at that bench.  i sat down, and immediately God said the same thing he did months ago at Kickapoo.  "Don't you know Thad?  Don't you know how much I love you?"  somehow i knew there was something else coming after that.  for some reason, i kept lowering my head, almost in shame.  not sure why.  i kept feeling God lift my head back up to look out over the lake.  this went on for a few minutes.  then, He got me.  oh boy, did He get me!  talk about a gut punch.

"stop performing for me Thad.  stop trying to earn my approval.  i'm not grading you.  i already love you.  i love you as much as i love billy graham.  i love you as much as i love mother theresa.  i love you as much as i love adolph hitler.  i love you, period.  stop your performance, as if i could love you any more than i already do.  just enjoy being with me."

some of you might be stuck right now on the adolph hitler part.  don't stay there, just move on.  i believe God loves us all, whether we accept that and allow it to transform us or not.  that word, "perform" is what really got to me.  yes, i'm always thinking that God will be more pleased if i do a task well at church.  if i love someone well, if i finish a project on time and my superiors love it.  this was so freeing for me today.  i want to stop "performing" for God.  i want to live in the complete understanding and revelation that there's nothing more i could do to make Him love me more.  thank you for that time this morning Jesus.

and now, part two.  how to be happy for a friend.  i've been meaning to write this one for awhile now, because i think so many of us struggle with it.  well, i know i do.  have you ever shared something great that happened with a friend, only to have them crap all over your parade?  you know, they turn it into something about them, how life sucks for them right now.  let me give you an example.

today, a friend sends me a message on facebook, saying he's having a tattoo artist work up another tattoo for him.  i was stoked for him!  but how did i respond?  by saying how jealous i was, and how i wished i could get one but money wasn't there for it right now.  that was my first response.  what the frick!  i totally hijacked his good news, by pissing all over it with my own junk.  what a tool thing to do!

i wrote him back a little later and apologized.  but it reminded me of something i've been thinking about for awhile.  why is it so difficult for us to be happy for others?  why do we become jealous so quick?  romans 12:15 came to mind this morning, and i wanted to share it here.

"Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep."

now, that seems pretty clear cut.  rejoice with those who rejoice.  well, that's my tip today on how to do this.  remember this verse.  paste it somewhere that you will see it.  there's very few things that will hijack a friendship faster than a joykill.  your friends will quit sharing their good news with you if you continue doing this.  let's commit to being better friends by being the biggest cheerleader of our friends this world has ever known.

got a friend who got a Christmas bonus?  high five them for crying out loud!  someone just got pregnant, but it reminded you of the two miscarriages you went through in the past?  give them a huge hug and offer to throw them a baby shower.  friend got a huge promotion at work?  throw them a friggin party to celebrate!  come on friends, what are we so threatened when something good happens to someone else?  

let's pull the stick out of our own rears, and begin to be known as a joyous people.  when someone has something to celebrate about, let it be known that we as Christians are the first to throw down a great party for them.  i want to be one of the first people my friends want to share good news with, because they know i may just cheer more and louder than they did at their own good news.  i want them to be happy they have someone like me they can share stuff with, someone who won't rain on their parade.  as my boss recently told me,

"be the change you want to see"

Friday, January 4, 2013

What Would YOU Do?

my thoughts wandered this morning while journaling.  if i could do one thing with Jesus, what would it be?  

sure there's running, that i love so much.  there's always going to watch a good movie, going to that amazing restaurant to partake of some fine cuisine.  maybe even that sweet corner coffee shop for a caramel mocha.

then there's this

while it'd be sweet to watch Jesus bust a move, i'm thinking i'd choose to chill with Jesus on a camping trip.

there's nothing i'd love more than to sit around a campfire, eating camp food, s'mores, chilling in hammocks, looking at the stars, and just conversing about life.  that pretty much sounds like heaven to me.  

what about you?  if you could do anything with Jesus, what would it be?  

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Things for 2013

i've not been big on new year's resolutions in the past.  why make such a big deal about stuff.  either start making changes in your life or don't.  stop talking and start doing.  and why wait until January 1?  if you know you need to make some changes on november 29, then friggin get started.

with all that said, i've heard from some men that i highly respect that they love taking some time at the end of every year and asking God if there's anything he would have them focus on the following year.  eventually i came to the conclusion that i didn't have anything to lose by doing so myself, so about about a week ago i began to ask God a few questions.  it had been awhile since i allowed him to speak so freely into my life anyways, so i figured this was good.

what came from this surprised me.  it seemed God didn't waste any time, but only revealed a little bit every day for about 5 days in a row.  some of this i'm still working out.  some are goals i've come up with on my own, while other things have been directed by God.  so let's get started.

phrase for the year: calculated risk

risk was the first word God revealed to me, and two days later calculated followed.  i actually received some thoughts on calculated soon after.  really, the thought behind it is God directed risks.  not living recklessly.  a friend gave me some good insight on the word risk, sharing that when it comes to God, risk is really just obedience.  so, coming out of this is the revelation that God is going to ask some big things of me this year, some things that may seem risky.  but the key will be for me to simply grow in being immediately obedient.   i'm not typically one who lives life on the edge, at least i don't feel that way.  i don't like risk.  i love knowing the outcome before i move forward.  i also know that God doesn't necessarily always like to give details.  he seems to rather enjoy revealing just a little bit at a time to us.  so, in 2013 i'm preparing to take some calculated risk, to immediately obey God in some risky situations this year.

monthly fasting: cutting out the crap

i've got so much going on in my life.  we all do.  but i only have control over me.  there are so many different things that distract me from Jesus, that create unnecessary noise in my life.  so, i'm going to fast from something different every month this year.  i don't have all months nailed down yet, but here are some thoughts.  the only one i know for sure is what i'm fasting from is january.

january: pop

i have some friends who are fasting from alcohol this month, so in an effort to support them, i'm fasting from pop.  this may continue longer than january; we will see when february hits.  i've done this once before, and went an entire year.  so a month should be much easier right?

february: tv?

i've always wanted to try fasting from tv for a month.  this would include watching movies.  not really sure how this will look, since my wife/kids aren't make the same decision, so i may have to learn how to be in the same room without engaging the large black box.  this will mean much more writing, reading, and maybe learning to bake some new foods.  really wanting to try my hand at different soups, and muffins so we will see.  this one is subject to change to another month, but i do want to try it this year.

march: books

this may sound strange.  but i want to spend an entire month only reading the bible.  not books, not magazines.  just the bible.  this is an effort to simplify the sources that provide information to me.  i don't want anything or anyone competing with Jesus in my life.

april: sugar/sweets?

i need to be better about this one anyways.  i may end up moving this one to february in an effort to help aid in weight loss goals.  i will continue eating fruits and things that naturally have sugar in them.  but no sugar in my coffee, no desserts, etc.  

may: music

i want to take a month to just be quiet before Jesus.  again, this one could move up, and even be repeated if i enjoy it.  obviously i will still enjoy worship in church, but outside of that, there will be no music.  no music in the car, none in my office, none.  i want to open my ears to anything Jesus would want to say to me.  

the rest of the year is up for grabs.  if you have any ideas or suggestions i'd be open to hearing and considering them.  again, this will be a work in progress, and maybe God will reveal some more things to me as i come upon the time to put that into practice.

running & weight loss: time to get my butt in gear

this year has been good in regards to running, but not great.  my weight has consistently stayed around 225 until the end of 2012 when it crept up to 230.  at 5'11" this is not ideal for an ultra runner.  so, my goal this year is to get down to under 200 pounds by the time the north face ecs 50 miler comes around in mid september in wisconsin.  my ultimate goal is to get my weight down to 190 or less, but i'm not sure 8 months is doable.
  1. i want to run a minimum of 1,500 miles in 2013, with my highest goal at 1,700 miles.
  2. i want to finish the 50 mile trail race i will run in september.  previous years i've run the 50k.
  3. i want to finish my current running streak, getting it to at least 100 days (as of today i sit at day 86).  i may take a week off, and then start another streak.  we will see.
  4. i want to continue being the biggest cheerleader for those friends and family who run, or are wanting to get into running.
  5. help my step brother in law train for and finish his first race, a 1/2 marathon in april.
  6. i would love to have a professional coach help me, especially from PRSFIT.  not sure i'm there yet where i can afford it financially, but i've heard they are some of the cheapest in the business.  i'm friends with many of the coaches on facebook, twitter, and dailymile so i'll learn all i can from there for now.  i'm really at a place where i want to take my running very seriously, and see just how good i can become at the 50k-50 mile distances.

other: no more excuses

there are many things that i've wanted to do for a number of years, and have not done them for a variety of reasons.  some will go unshared for now.  but there's one in particular that i feel i need to share, mainly for the reason of accountability.  this year i want to write and self-publish a free ebook.  i'm toying around with some topics, and am not sure that this will be a lengthy offering.  in fact, i may purposely make it shorter as it's my first attempt.  but nonetheless, it's something i've wanted to do for a long time, and haven't had the guts to do it.  so be on the lookout.  many portions may be released first here on the blog before making it into the finished product.

well, i think i've written enough for now.  it's going to be a great year!  thanks Altra Footwear for this!