my search to understand the bigger picture

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!