Indy Mini-Marathon Recap

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And then there was one….On Friday, my wife and I took a late drive over to Indianapolis to meet Matt Nelson for the first time and crash at his house. The alarm went off at 5:30am on Saturday morning and we were up and off to attempt our 3rd Half-Marathon in 3 weeks. This weekend’s task was the Indianapolis Mini-Marathon. I’ll give you the short version of this post right now…I LOVED this half-marathon. The course was flat and the 2 1/2 mile run on the track at the Indy 500 was the perfect middle to 13.1 miles.

As with every half marathon, I get a little sentimental about what shirt I will wear. The truth is that when the time came for Indianapolis, I just wasn’t quite sure. I packed 2 shirts we have received in previous half marathon’s this year….Charlotte (my favorite half marathon) and Nashville. There was something that just felt right about wearing the Nashville shirt in support of our friends and the recovery from flooding. I literally had my number pinned to the Charlotte shirt and was wearing it Saturday morning. But something kept drawing me back to the Nashville shirt. I made the change and I am so glad I did….

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Save A Place For Me

I seem to be on somewhat of a youtube posting trend lately. That being said, this song rocked my little world last week. With the recent passing of my Mom, songs like this one can really tug at the heart. There is one lyric that really jumped out at me. It is so true for how I honor my Mom and remember her life. It has become my prayer:

I wanna live my life just like you did

Make the most of my time just like you did

And I wanna make my home up in the sky

Just like you did

Sharing the journey

With the Country Music 1/2 Marathon just a few short months away, I made the insane decision to sign up for the “Last Chance for Boston” 1/2 marathon on February 28th. I figured it was a good way to stay ready and motivated for the Nashville half. Unfortunately, Mother Nature didn’t get the memo about keeping the snow away so those of us in Columbus could train appropriately. Like most of the country, we have been hammered with snow around these parts. Training has been alternated between the “dreadmill” and outside runs in the snow.

This half marathon is unique in that it is 13 laps around a one mile course in a local industrial parkway. Many (not me) use this as a chance to qualify for Boston because the course is so flat. One blessing is that the site has been relatively cleared of snow so people can get to their office buildings within the industrial parkway. For that reason, I have made my way over to the course the last two Saturdays to get my mileage in and test out what the repetitive laps around a course would feel like. In short…it’s BRUTAL!

2 weeks ago I ran 12 miles (laps) around the course by myself. When I got home, my wife asked how it went. I said “if you look up grinding it out in the dictionary, you will see a picture of me running around Metro Place”. Half of the course is a stiff wind in your face while the back half is a strong wind at your back. When the temps are in the teens and the snow is piled high, it is a recipe for a long, long day.

This weekend I again visited Metro Place but this time my friend Jeff shared the journey with me. Together we set out for 10 miles around the parkway. We started strong and eventually hit a wall. Step by step, we continued on. At times we both wanted to quit. The wind in our face and the chill in the air were making this a very tough training day. Our conversation went from frequent to very little. While we were both battling in different ways and fighting different fatigue, there was something about having someone else there to push, encourage and share the struggle. About an hour an a half later, we were driving back home and talking about life, family and our kids. You wouldn’t even know we had just run.

Once again I am reminded how much running can be a picture of our faith journey. We were meant to do life together. While the “training” and the times in our life are going to be difficult, there is no comparison to having a partner on the journey. Together you can share the valleys and rejoice in the victories. Having someone next to you that you are accountable to keeps you going. It keeps you moving. The tough times are temporary. There will be moments of laughter and even moments of great fatigue. Each mile makes you closer and stronger.

Keep sharing the journey friends.

One Year Ago

One year ago (December 21st), many of us lost a dear friend. Our hearts were broken and the questions remained. A courageous and inspiring battle with cancer came to a close. Most would say that the battle was “lost” but an argument can be made that the battle was won. The healing that we all prayed for came in a different form than we envisioned. Tonight I reflect on that journey and the impact it left on my life. I am reminded that our time on this earth is so brief. Our days and time is so limited.

Our ability to love is not

Our ability to forgive is not

Our ability to share compassion is not

Our capacity to inspire others is not

Our opportunity to make someone’s life better is not

Our opportunity to leave this place better than we found it is not

My friend Stefan did all of those things and more. He left those that met him inspired, loved, and feeling like they were given a glimpse into the heart of our Savior. I can never claim to know or understand why things happen as they did a year ago. Tonight I can reflect and cherish the memories and the impact. I can look forward to the day when we WILL know and “finally understand what it means”.

We miss you friend….

In Slices

Sliced Bread

While our kids were at AWANA last night, my wife and I had a chance to sit down with a couple we think very highly of. They are mentors, friends, dreamers and partners on the Journey. We enjoy their company and each opportunity to dream about ministry, community and how we can connect people to both. Our discussions, at times, can be like an episode of Seinfeld. I don’t mean that they are a “show about nothing”, rather they appear to be “all over the place” but at the end the conversation it all ties together. It would make for a great TV show.

It was during this conversation last night that I shared something that God has challenged me with several times recently. It should be no surprise that the inspiration for the challenge came from a movie quote. In the movie “First Knight“, Sean Connery plays King Arthur. At one point in the film he tells Lancelot (Richard Gere) that;

“I take the good with the bad. I can’t love people in slices”

At first, that seems like a simple quote. The more I thought about it, I think it is dripping with truth and in many ways defines the word “grace“. I find that this challenges me to not look at friends and strangers in the glimpse of the moment that I see them and make a judgement call. It is a reminder that I am only seeing a “slice” of their day, their week or their life. To form some judgement on that moment I see is to not extend a grace into what led to that point. Here are a few examples:

You’re driving down the road and someone cuts you off. They appear to be in a hurry and cut you and several other people off in their rush. My first reaction is to get all upset and think (and probably say) things about someone I don’t even know. What if their wife is in labor with their first child and they are rushing to be by her side? What if they just received news of an emergency and are doing what they can to get there? The “slice” of their day that I witnessed by them cutting me off is not the whole story. I need to extend grace and trust that there must be some reason.

How many times have I been in the grocery store or a public place and witnessed a parent yelling at their child. As parents our first reaction is to think “look at how they raise their child”. Again, I am only seeing a “slice” of what led to that moment. Maybe they had been dealing with an issue for that child all day and we witnessed the moment when it reached its crescendo. Maybe the child is difficult and this is the only way they can reach them. Maybe it’s just been one of those days (all parents have them) and we happened to see it. While my nature is to get all judgmental, I need to extend grace. I need to remember I am only seeing a “slice” of their day. A “slice” of their parenting.

How about facebook and twitter? Maybe I read the ever cryptic “status update” and begin to form opinions and thoughts based on something less than 140 characters. Particularly from “friends” I haven’t spoken with in 15 years or so. Maybe I read a status update and think I somehow know or understand what drove that comment. It’s dangerous to judge a “slice” of a person’s world in social media because I didn’t hear the tone or see the body language. It might have been sarcasm. Maybe it was a response to something totally different. I need to extend much grace in the world of social media.

To many this might seem simple but for me it’s been a challenge. It’s an area I am working through. I am often reminded that Gods grace has been extended to me more times than I can count. Thankfully he doesn’t look at the individual “slices” in my life and hold them over my head. The times of poor judgement, failure, weakness and stupidity. The times when I went right and should have gone left. The times when I ignored the Holy Spirit and went with free will. Thankfully, He too loves the whole and not in slices.

Oddly enough, we met with the friends I spoke of at the beginning of this post at Panera Bread. Is there a more perfect setting to remind me about loving people in slices???

Somewhere In The Middle

I have lost count of the amount of times I have posted this song. It should probably tell me something that literally EVERY TIME I hear it, I pause and consider the words. It happened again today while cutting the grass. Right there by the shed, I had to stop and think about the phrase

Just how close can I get Lord, to my surrender without losing all control?

It gets me every time. This morning when I heard it I was reminded of something the lead singer of Casting Crowns, Mark Hall, posted on twitter while he was writing for their new album. He said:

When I am writing a song, I can always tell the difference between a Mark lyric and a God lyric. The God lyric is the one where I end up crying.

Something tells me that the song “Somewhere in the Middle” was one of those “God lyric” songs. It captures the essence of the struggle. It so eloquently states the battle that rages between wanting to surrender the control to God and yet still have the illusion of control. I say the “illusion of control” because at the end of the day, that is all that it really is. Who among us is really in control of what happens in their life? The reality is that we’re caught in the middle. That is why the last line of the song is so perfect.

Lord I feel you in this place and I know you’re by my side. Loving me even on these nights, when I’m caught in the middle

There is a peace that comes from knowing that while I might be caught in the middle and fighting like crazy to go one way or the other, God is still “lovin’ me”. To those in the middle, take the next 5 minutes and listen to this song. Let’s encourage one another to be more than “in the middle” and throughout the Journey.

What TO Wear

MySportI read an interesting article today in Runners World Magazine about the message on the shirts people wear for races. In the few races which I have taken part in, I always find this to be one of the more fun and fascinating parts of the race. Of course, when you are chugging along behind several people for several miles, there are not a whole of other things to do, but read their shirts. There were some great quotes in the article about why you SHOULD wear a shirt that says something on it. Here are a few of the shirts that the author has seen in the races:

“I’m slow, I know..Get over it”

“I run like a girl. Try to keep up”

“On the seventh day God did an easy three”

“Will run for beer”

“In my dreams I’m a Kenyan”

He listed his favorite as being seen in one of the 45 marathons (gulp) he had run –

“This seemed like a good idea three months ago”.

Probably my favorite that I have seen while running a race was at the Cleveland Marathon. A group of people in front of me had bright colored shirts that read “Bucket List” at the top and a box that said “26.2” with a check mark inside it. At the bottom it had the date – May 17, 2009.

I really like what he had to say about the motivation to wear shirts with a message:

When you are one of the 35,000 participants in a race, do yourself a favor and shout something out on your shirt. Make sure everyone on the sidelines knows why they’re cheering. If you’re running to make the world a better place, let them know. If you’re running to make yourself a better person, let them know. Let’s tell the world who we are, what we believe, and why it matters.

After all, for most of us, the real reason we race isn’t because we hope to land on the podium or claim an age-group award. We race to challenge ourselves, or in memory of a loved one, or for a charity, or for any number of personal and special reasons. All of those reasons (and all of those runners) deserve a moment to shine.

-John Bingham – Runners World Magazine

So with 3 short weeks to go before the Spirit of Columbus Half-Marathon, I am on the lookout for a t-shirt. I have 3 of them in mind currently but have yet to decide on one for sure. Given that it is August 30th, I am guessing it will be nice and toasty so comfort and heat will be an issue to keep in mind. If you’ve got a message or an idea for a t-shirt, drop me a comment or an email. I’m pretty open to suggestions.

On the journey……

Fan Into Flame

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For this reason, I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you… (2 Timothy 1:6)

For nearly a year and a half I have been on a journey of sorts. It has been a time of discernment, discovery, decisions and consequences. I am happy to come through that time and begin to see, with clarity, so many great things beginning to happen. The excitement of what God has in store makes the storms and times of uncertainty worth the wait. One of the key points of this time of discovery has been re-visiting something I posted in October of 2006 called “The Power of Three“.

You can read the post at the link above, but the core principle is that there are specific people that God brings into our journey through life that we must and I mean MUST, stay connected with. They are people of great faith. They speak into our lives, encourage us to fight the fight and to “fan into flame” our gifts. Trust me when I say that when we allow other distractions to place gaps in that relationship, the flame will begin to flicker and ultimately can die. We need truth tellers. We need encouragers that will speak over us, into us and remind us. It has taken me nearly a year and a half, but I am so encouraged to again connect with one of those people.

In the very same way, we must return the favor. We need to encourage those that encourage us while beginning to speak into the life of someone else. Imagine the impact if we would all find the one that coaches us to our strength while we do the same for another. We would advance the kingdom and be a community of people committed to seeing each one finish the race. I encourage each one that reads this to take a moment today and think of “the one” that speaks into your life. Let them know. That encouragement will energize them as well.

Also consider this….who are you encouraging on the journey? What have you done today to fan their flame and encourage them? Maybe now is the time to do so.

When Dreams Die…

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Fresh on the heels of being inspired to dream big by the book “Wide Awake“, a dose of reality hit this week.

A dream has died

Have you been there? Have you chased, to whatever extent, a dream you believed was something God laid on your heart. Did you finally come to the reality that it might have just been your dream and that, for now, your hearts desires and God’s plan are not on the same page? It can be defeating. Or, it can be a matter of perspective. Let me explain.

Have you ever heard the old joke about the guy that was convinced God would save him from a pending flood? A guy knocks on his door and says “there’s a flood coming, come with me and you’ll be safe”. The guy says “no because God is going to save him”.  Water rises and now he’s on the roof. Another guy comes by with a boat and makes the same offer, same result. Lastly a helicopter comes and offers, same result. The man dies, goes to Heaven and asks God why he didn’t save him. God replies “I tried 3 times! I sent that man, a boat and a helicopter”!

This week I came to the realization that my dream has been like that vision. I have been so busy praying for God to provide a sign, that I have been missing the ones he is sending. While that was met with a disappointment, I quickly realized that there is something better. There is a different adventure. The journey went right when I thought we were going left. All this to say, I believe a few things.

1. God asks us to be obedient

2. God asks us to be available

3. God asks us to be flexible

4. God asks us to be aware

If your dream recently died, don’t lose heart. If your dream isn’t reality, don’t lose faith. Be obedient. Be available. Be flexible. Be aware. You never know when that man, that boat or that helicopter could be delivering you the news of the dream that shares your hearts desire.

Nothing Is Impossible

So often our lives, or moments of our lives can be defined by music. I think that is why I love it so much. If I hear certain songs I can take you to a specific time, place, moment, event or memory. I have hundreds. On Sunday, as we made the final turn and the finish line was in sight, the song below came on my iPod. With the emotions already spent, used up and spilled out,  I couldn’t have chosen a better song at that very moment.

While the controversy surrounding the song “Healer” by Hillsong United was well documented, I will always believe the hand that penned these lyrics was inspired by God. There is too much truth, hope, strength, encouragement and worship in it to believe otherwise. As we neared the finish line and my strength was no longer my own, my thoughts were of my children. It was at that moment that I heard their cheers and saw their faces. The words streaming through the iPod sang “Nothing is impossible for you, you hold my world in your hands“.  Take a few minutes to listen to this song and read the lyrics. Thank you Lord for a moment made for worshiping and a song to match that moment.

Dead and Gone

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So I turn my head to the north,
Swallow that pill
That they call pride
The old me is dead and gone,
The new me will be alright

I’ve been travelin
On this road to long
Just trying to find
My way back home
The old me is dead and gone
Dead and gone

If you looked at the playlist below you might have noted, “Dead and Gone” by T.I. There’s something about the lyrics above that capture me. I thought it was only appropriate to have it blasting through my ears as I run the roads of downtown Columbus.

Several people have told me that crossing that finish line of a race like a half or full marathon is a big moment. It can go beyond completing the challenge. To many, it represents the final step of leaving something behind. I have stood at that finish line and watched people cross before and I am always fascinated by their “story”. Some are beating a diagnosis. Some are beating the odds. People leave behind a past that has haunted them, a loved one’s memory and a lifestyle they are officially changing. At the point that foot hits that line, it’s all dead and gone.

Tomorrow morning at 8:00 am, I will officially begin a 13.1 mile journey of leaving several things “dead and gone” on the streets of Columbus. The reality is that 6 months of training has provided me with the opportunity to sort out a lot of things that have been hanging around. It has been a time of renewal, and the chance to compartmentalize memories, mourning, regret, victory, disappointments, fear, frustration and celebration. Tomorrow, rain or shine, I will officially mark the end of each one. Each one will finally be dead and gone. Rascal Flatts said it best….

I’ve dealt with my ghosts
And I’ve faced all my demons
Finally content with a past I regret
I’ve found you find strength
In your moments of weakness
For once I’m at peace with myself
I’ve been burdened with blame
Trapped in the past for to long
I’m movin’ on.

Worth Every Mile

 

Been a strange week for me. Two weeks actually. For it was roughly one year ago that a “For Sale” sign went up in our front yard and our course was set for Charlotte, North Carolina. I’ve never been more sure of anything in my life. Well, if you’ve followed the journey you know I should say “anything’s” since we went through it twice….and never moved. You would think that one year later I would have this awesome story to tell about why we’re still in Ohio and there is no “For Sale” sign out front. No disrespect to all those we love and hold dear here in Columbus, but I’ve got no magic story. There’s no big finish. We’re right where we were one year ago.

Waiting.

Did anyone else ever take those long road trips in a vehicle like the one pictured above when you were a kid? You remember the “Are we there yet” mobile! If you really think back on it, those were some long trips, but they hold great memories don’t they? Sure, Disney World was at the end of the journey and getting there took FOREVER…in a hot station wagon…but man do I have stories! Great memories.

My Senior year in college, my friends and I broke down carpooling to Florida for spring break. We ended up piling everything into one of the other cars (including 4 strapping college dudes) and being crammed from Tennessee to Florida…but we have great memories of that journey. I laugh typing this thinking of those times. At the end of both of these walks down memory lane, I am reminded that the journey was worth every mile!

While I cannot provide the big finish to our Charlotte story and don’t have the slightest clue where God is taking us, I can tell you this…it’s been worth every mile. While I won’t go into all of the great memories from this past year here, believe me when I say there are many. Some are wonderful and some break your heart. We would have missed them. They have taught, shaped, moved, sifted and refined us for the past year. They have been worth every mile.

I can’t tell you where this station wagon of life is headed next. I know, at times it’s hot and we need a rest area in the worst way. Yet I would have missed the best part if we got there without the miles and the time getting to our destination….wherever and whenever that might be.

One Bright Hour

Friends, blog readers and to all of those that have been praying for our dear friend Stefan, please see Sandi’s post this morning. Romans 12:15 instructs us to “rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn”. At no moment in my life do I understand that verse better than I do this morning. For it is with the great hope and peace that I know my friend has earned and heard the words “Well done my good and faithful servant” this morning. I would ask all that read this to pray for Sandi and the children. May God be their comfort, their portion, their strong tower and their strength. If you have shared this journey with Stef and Sandi, maybe you can leave a comment on their blog today.

As I was driving to church this morning, the words from this Bebo Norman song came on. I can’t say it any better.

Wading through the aftermath
Yesterday’s a photograph
Rummaging through faith to find a hope
That there will be a reckoning
Of the beauty and the beckoning
Calling me to stand on what I know
One bright hour you will come for me
One bright hour you’ll set the captive free
One bright hour you will wipe the tears away
From eyes that now can see
One bright hour.

Goodbye for now my friend. I am a different man today for the time we shared.  One bright hour we will share time again.

One Bright Hour” by Bebo Norman

Today

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Today I sat with a friend.

Today I was blessed with an opportunity to love on a friend that means much to me.

Today God gave me a few hours to know what Casting Crowns meant when they said to “Love him like Jesus.”

While we don’t have the answers to all of the questions, there is something so beautiful in the time with my dear friend.

Today is teaching us something.

Today I know his deepest desire in this journey is to bring God glory.

Today I can be just one of the many to testify that he has.

Today was an honor and a privilege.

Today I sat with a friend.

Today I prayed over my friend as he slept.

Today was not the first time and it won’t be the last.

Today I witnessed the heart of Jesus and the will of a warrior.

Today I was blessed, as so many others have been, to share a few steps in a journey.

Today I have again been changed.

Today I sat with a friend.

Today I was blessed to have an opportunity to love on one that means much to me.

Today God gave me a few hours to “Love him like Jesus.”

Today….I sat with a friend.

Who Cared The Most

I received this today via email from my friend Les. Thought I would share…

1. Name the 5 wealthiest people in the world.

2. Name the last 5 Heisman trophy winners

3. Name the last 5 winners of the Miss America pageant.

4. Name 10 people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize.

5. Name the last half dozen Academy Award winners for Best Actor or Actress

6. Name the last decades worth of World Series winners.

How did you do? The point is, none of us remember the headliners of yesterday. These are no second-rate achievers. They are the best in their fields. But the applause dies. Awards tarnish. Achievements are forgotten. Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.

Now try this quiz:

1. List a few teachers who aided your journey through school.

2. Name 3 friends who have helped you through a difficult time.

3. Name 5 people who have taught you something worthwhile.

4. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special.

5. Think of 5 people you enjoy spending time with.

Easier? The lesson is the people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money or the most awards. They are simply the ones who cared the most.

An Anchor

ancorFor several days now I have tried to wrap my head and words around those times and questions that we have for a God that created this universe. I have wrestled with anger, frustration, sadness, pain and as odd as it sounds, hope. I end each thought process at a place where I find myself searching for an anchor and something we can grab hold of. I get so tangled up in trying to understand how a loving God allows the unthinkable to happen. Yet the very next breathe is thanking a loving God for conquering the grave and the hope of eternal life.

For days I have tried to put this all into some words of encouragement for anyone and everyone that is a part of the journey with our dear friend. While trying to do this for this blog and anyone that reads it, I guess I am looking for the answers myself too. Friends, I don’t have them. The only wisdom and encouragement that I can offer comes in two very simple things that I have learned in my 38 years.

1. God is God.

2. It’s never how we draw it up

Steven Curtis Chapman so perfectly captured the simplistic thought that says that “God is God and I am not”. Our finite minds wrestle with trying to understand an infinite God. Our understanding of today prevents us from seeing the entire picture. We are only getting a glimpse of a masterpiece that God is creating. How many of us can connect the dots of our past to see that a much larger story was taking place? God is God.

So often I think I’ve got a perfect plan as to how my life should go. In my mind, it seems to make perfect sense. Yet when I stop long enough to reflect on the past I see how my plan would have gone radically different. In almost each case, it would have been a mess. Gods grace, mercy and perfect plan have saved me from myself more times then I can count. His wisdom and knowledge are to be trusted. I say, with a thankful heart, that it is never how we draw it up.

So what is our anchor? What is our hope? What are the words that make situations and circumstances beyond our understanding seem to make sense? Friends, this side of heaven, I am not sure we have those answers. I know I don’t.  I know that God is God and I am not. I know that God is still on his throne. I know that the creator of this universe is in complete control. I know that his ways are perfect. I know that he has a plan far greater than my understanding. I know that he makes all things beautiful in his time. I know that he can restore what was once broken. I know that he can provide comfort to the hurting and peace in the storm.

Max Lucado once wrote that “God doesn’t always still the storm, but he will calm the sailor“. That’s my anchor and what I am grabbing hold of.

God is God” by Steven Curtis Chapman

Arms Wide Open

Strange day for me today. When the calendar page turned to the 6th of October, my first born turned 8 years old. Not only is he our first born child, but he is my only son. I honestly cannot remember where the past 8 years have gone. When I think about the fact that when the same time period passes again, he will be driving, I really can’t believe it. Seems like just last summer we were trying to figure out a bicycle.

You’ll have to understand today if I am overly reflective and maybe a bit silent (is that even possible?). I get this way three times a year. One day for each child. I close with what I have prayed for “The Boy” since before he was born. Happy Birthday my son. May you always greet the world…”With Arms Wide Open”.

If I had just one wish
only one demand
I hope he’s not like me
I hope he understands
That he can take this life
And hold it by the hand
and he can greet the world
with arms wide open

-Creed

These Small Hours

The kids and I watched “Meet The Robinson’s” the other night. I have this weird knack when watching films of picking up the soundtrack music and how it relates to the film. I have no idea how popular this song was, or if it even made it to radio, but it is rich. At the end of the movie a song called “Little Wonders” by Rob Thomas played. The lyrics struck me. I won’t mess up the truth in the words by trying to put context around it. They pretty much say it all.Thank the Lord for “these small hours”.

Our lives are made
In these small hours
These little wonders,
These twists & turns of fate
Time falls away,
But these small hours,
These small hours still remain

Who’s Your Jonathan?

Many of you commented off-line regarding my post “What’s Your Isaac”. For that I thank you. This post is somewhat born out of that post as well. One of the things I will always remember about our Charlotte oddessy is what we learned about our friends. People said heartfelt things to Heather and I that we will forever cherish. They expressed sadness is our leaving, but sincerely wished us the best. They prayed for and with us. They offered their homes when it looked like we might be in need of temporary housing. As Tobymac sings:

“Cause real friends are willing to intrude”

As to not embarass you all here, I won’t mention names. Hopefully you know who you are. What I will say is that I thought of each of you as I re-read 1 Samuel 20:17. One of my biblical heroes, David, had a friend like that. His name was Jonathan and he cared deeply for David. He fought for David. He protected David. They had a friendship and a bond that was as strong as they come. Today we would say that Jonathan “had David’s back”. David did the same. They were friends. They were brothers.

Sadly, I have been to many funerals in my life. One thing that always puzzles me is that we wait until someone passes to say wonderful things about them. We all wish we would have had that chance to tell them how we felt. I would argue that we do have that chance. Each day we have the opportunity to let a friend know that they hold a place in our lives. Their friendship is special and it’s good to know that they “have our back”. I hope each of you have a Jonathan (several really). I ask you today, who’s your Jonathan?

Maybe now would be a good time to let them know….

Who's Your Jonathan?

Many of you commented off-line regarding my post “What’s Your Isaac”. For that I thank you. This post is somewhat born out of that post as well. One of the things I will always remember about our Charlotte oddessy is what we learned about our friends. People said heartfelt things to Heather and I that we will forever cherish. They expressed sadness is our leaving, but sincerely wished us the best. They prayed for and with us. They offered their homes when it looked like we might be in need of temporary housing. As Tobymac sings:

“Cause real friends are willing to intrude”

As to not embarass you all here, I won’t mention names. Hopefully you know who you are. What I will say is that I thought of each of you as I re-read 1 Samuel 20:17. One of my biblical heroes, David, had a friend like that. His name was Jonathan and he cared deeply for David. He fought for David. He protected David. They had a friendship and a bond that was as strong as they come. Today we would say that Jonathan “had David’s back”. David did the same. They were friends. They were brothers.

Sadly, I have been to many funerals in my life. One thing that always puzzles me is that we wait until someone passes to say wonderful things about them. We all wish we would have had that chance to tell them how we felt. I would argue that we do have that chance. Each day we have the opportunity to let a friend know that they hold a place in our lives. Their friendship is special and it’s good to know that they “have our back”. I hope each of you have a Jonathan (several really). I ask you today, who’s your Jonathan?

Maybe now would be a good time to let them know….

Teachable Tuesday

I’m off to Cleveland the next few days for an event at Jacobs Progressive Field. In my absense, I’m going to let Mark Hall take over the blog today with another teaching video. A great reminder as I head off to do another presentation in another location, that my job is not why I am going. I’ve got a much greater purpose for driving to Cleveland. I have a much larger goal than delivering another speech.

Something Big

 

In March of this year, we began a journey that took a BIG turn yesterday. Huge. In reviewing that post tonight. I recalled quoting the lyrics of John Waller when he sang:

“Something so big, it’s destined to fail without you Lord”

Friends, readers and those that may be visiting for the first time, I have an announcement to make….

In a little over two weeks, the Conrad family will become official residence of Charlotte, North Carolina.

Yes, you read that correctly. TWO WEEKS! I told you it was big. As late as Tuesday evening, I was just telling Heather that “if God wants us in Charlotte, He is going to make it pretty obvious”. In the category of “Be careful what you wish for” I got a call from our Realtor and friend Steve this morning to inform me that there was an offer on the table. Never expected that. While the offer was less than we were asking (common practice), it was in no way insulting and certainly within bargaining room. It also had a qualifier. Our potential buyer wanted to close by September 19th. They also wanted an answer by 8pm today.

We met at 6pm and prepared our counter offer knowing we might only get one shot at it. Knowing we might need to be house shopping in Charlotte this weekend, we requested their response by 10am. 30 minutes after leaving our home, our Realtor called and said:

“I’ve got good news and bad news. The bad news is Missy and I are going to really miss you guys. The good news is that you just sold your home.”

Just like that, in the matter of 8 hours the kite has officially been launched in the hurricane (Hannah to be exact). We’re headed to Charlotte tomorrow afternoon and will be barnstorm house shopping on Saturday and Church visiting on Sunday. There is much more to come on this story, but if I could ask your prayers for direction, discernment and wisdom this weekend they would sure be appreciated. We’re excited about chasing daylight while placing our trust in much greater hands.

I’m sure I’ll post some updates to Twitter and Facebook throughout the weekend. Thank you all for your prayers and sharing the journey so far. Buckle up friends…it’s going to be a wild ride!

“Something Big” by John Waller

Healer

Update: If you came looking for the song “Healer” by Hillsong it has been pulled from YouTube. If you’re wondering why it has been pulled from YouTube, that story is (HERE). What an absolutely sad and disappointing report today. Let’s pray for Mike Guglielmucci. We’re all guilty of making the wrong choices at times in our life. Clearly Mike has made a very bad choice in this case too. I pray Gods mercy and the mercy of those that will be critical of his decision.

Don’t let this story deter you from purchasing the Hillsong “This is Our God” CD. It is one of my favorite this year and “Healer” continues to be a song of encouragemnt and strength to those that have heard it.

I’m still getting my “travel on” this week. Off to Chicago in the morning (you can still follow the mobile randomness on Twitter). In my absence, I thought I would get something that is LONG overdue to the web. This falls under the “in case you missed it” category because it has been all over the blog world. In the off-chance you have not seen it yet, don’t miss this today. This is an incredible song called “Healer” by the amazing Hillsong. First, check out the story behind the song.

Now for the song:

Take a few minutes to visit healer.integritymusic.com. It is a site that Hillsong has set up to accept and share requests and praises. What an absolutely powerful song and ministry. Take a few minutes and let the words and the story sink in. It will change your day, your week and possibly even your approach to your journey.

The Now and The Not Yet

I’m probably aging myself a bit here, but way back in the day Amy Grant had a song that came to mind today. Maybe it is because if I had to give an assessment of where I am right now, it best describes the location, the feeling and the situation. Quite simply, I am at the intersection of “The Now and the Not Yet”. I’m interested to see if I am the only one that is standing at that intersection, or if we should build one of those “roundabouts” that have become so popular in the town I currently reside in. I could be wrong, but I have a feeling that we’re all living in a moment and searching for a time that is yet to come. Is it just me?

But Im caught in between
The now and the not yet;
Sometimes it seems like
Forever and ever,
That Ive been reaching to be
All that I am,
But Im only a few steps nearer,
Yet Im nearer…. (Amy Grant)

I have talked to so many people the past few weeks that are on a Journey. Some are selling a home with the intention of moving to a new place. Some are simply being obedient to a call they feel on their lives. Yet we wait. It has often been said that God answers prayer in three ways; “Yes”, “No” and “Wait”. It’s the third one that is the hardest to understand because it is not definitive. It is the third response that leaves us standing at the intersection of “The Now and The Not Yet”. It’s the place where we must discern our every response, activity and commitment since we don’t know what tomorrow will bring.

To quote Amy Grant again…”I’m only a few steps nearer, yet I’m nearer”. I’m nearer to the not yet, but living in the now….

One Last Lecture

I just opened up Yahoo to find the sad news that Randy Pausch has passed. By now I am sure that you have probably seen this video. It is all over Youtube. If, on the off chance you have not seen this, take the next 10:10 to watch it. If you have seen it before, you might take the same 10:10 and watch it again. Randy understood the impact and legacy that we leave. He also understood the power of “Chasing Daylight” and “Seizing a Divine Moment”. My heart, thoughts and prayers go out to the entire Pausch family today.

Here are but a few of his many memorable quotes from this lecture:

“You cannot change the cards you are dealt. Just how you play the hand.”

“Don’t complain. Just work harder.”

“Luck is truly where preparation meets opportunity.”

“Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.”

“The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out; the brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. The brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough”

“Did you figure out the head fake? It’s not about how to achieve your dreams. It’s about how to lead your life. If you lead your life the right way … the dreams will come to you. Did you figure out the second head fake? The talk’s not for you. It’s for my kids.”

Big Things!!!!

Wow. This has been quite a week….

First off, it is with excitement and pride that I announce that my wife now has a BLOG!!! I think she got the bug when she signed up for Facebook recently and now she is officially a blogger. I am both thrilled and disappointed. I am thrilled that the blog world will now get a glimpse into the life of the one that is the grace of my life. I’m disappointed because I just became the second best blogger in our household. That I am okay with though. Check out her new blog HERE.

Secondly, and I can’t find any other way to frame it…..

Our house went on the market yesterday with the intention of moving to Charlotte, North Carolina (specifically Huntersville). While I have written about 100 posts trying to put into finite words the ways and workings of an infinite God, I just cannot seem to do it. The story is long but exciting. The call is as real as real gets. The signs have been everywhere that now is the time. The overwhelming peace that has come to Heather and I has been straight from John 14:27:

My peace I leave you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let you hearts be troubled and do not be afraid“.

While staying in the place we love and with the friends and community we lean on would be the safe thing to do. God has made it VERY clear that He is in control. He has removed the doubt and cleared the path as only He can. We just want to be obdedient. He deserves that much and will get all of the glory, honor and praise that He is due.

Stay tuned to my blog both of our blogs as the journey continues. It has already been an amazing ride. We love you all.

Priceless….

I may bleed Carolina Blue, but no matter where I may roam, a large part of my heart belongs to my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. Thanks to the ultimate hook-up from my friend Brian, “The Boy” and I had a chance on Saturday night to soak it all in. Check this out:

Brian won four tickets from the local sports station to take part in their “Fan Bus to Jacobs Progressive Field”. Knowing I love the Tribe, he was kind enough to extend his winnings to “The Boy” and I. So Saturday we took off for C-Town with a bus full of fans. We were treated to a viewing of the movie “Major League” on the way up to the game as well as prizes for trivia (We are now the proud owners of a Jim Tressel/Troy Smith Bobblehead combo thanks to that trivia).

What made it even better was the fact that our beloved Cavaliers were playing Game 3 against the Celtics right next door at “The Q”. The old town was “rockin” and electric once again. The Indians and Cavs won big which made the fireworks at the end of the game even better. To top off the evening, Brian gave me a Vince Carter North Carolina Bobblehead he picked up at a garage sale that morning. “The Boy” has not let that out of his site.

Many thanks to my friend Brian. After a long week, it was great to hang out with a great friend, create memories for our little ones and visit my roots one more time! It really was priceless.

Changes in Latitude, Changes in Attitude

I have had the absolute blessing on several occasions to meet people from the blog world either through my travel or theirs. It happened again tonight as my family and I had the honor of meeting a family that I have the ultimate respect for. Many of you in the blogging community know Rindy Walton and her son Matt. I don’t remember how or where, but somewhere “the matrix” connected our paths.

Rindy and Matt’s blogs are more examples of what I’d like mine to be when it grows up. It was even better to meet them live and in person! Rindy, Matt, Tim, Dan and my entire family met up on their way through town at Cheeseburger in Paradise for dinner. All of the parrot heads out there just made the connection between the post title and the place we met. However that is not the only reason why I called it that.

You see God’s timing is perfect. If you know Rindy or follow her blog, you know that God has called her on a journey. He’s called her to sell her home and move 7 hours to a new city. He has asked her to leave the comfort of what she has always known to go somewhere for the single purpose of advancing His kingdom. He has asked her and the boys to make changes in latitude and changes in attitude for Walls Down Church in Cincinnati, Ohio!

It was awesome to sit down for dinner and discuss how God is working and (literally) moving in our lives. My only regret is that we will be 2 hours away when Walls Down opens their doors. You can bet we’ll take a road trip to visit sometime though. I had to share this lyric from the song by Jimmie Buffet. The chorus pretty well explains what God’s up to with both of our families right now.

“It’s those changes in latitudes,
changes in attitudes nothing remains quite the same.
With all of our running and all of our cunning,
If we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane.” – Jimmy Buffet

To Matt, Tim, Dan and Rindy I say thanks for sharing the laughs and the journey! May God bless your changes in latitudes and changes in attitudes. Keep blessing the world through your blogs and your lives. Lord knows you have blessed mine.

Please Be Patient…

When I was growing up, I had a small cross stitch picture in my room that my mom made. It was a picture of a little cowboy with the words “Please be patient, God’s not through with me yet“. I couldn’t help but think of how prophetic that little picture was..and still is today. While I write this and ask for each of your patience with me…I think I write it to remind myself as well. God is not through with me yet.

I think so often I beat myself up over what I don’t do when it comes to my faith and family. I know I need to pray more. I know I need to be better about my devotions. I need more time with God. I need to be a better witness. I can always learn more about being a better husband, father and friend. More often than not, I set out to “live like Jesus” and before I know it, I make more mistakes than Peter. It becomes overwhelming. It can become defeating. These are my own thoughts….they don’t even count what others might think or believe.

That is where the picture came back to memory today. God is NOT done with me yet. He doesn’t demand perfection. He knew what He was getting when He created me. Nothing I do surprises Him. He knows I am a work in progress (can I get an Amen?). I’m the one that tends to forget that. I need to remember to be patient with myself…God is not finished with me yet.

10For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10)

Please Be Patient…

When I was growing up, I had a small cross stitch picture in my room that my mom made. It was a picture of a little cowboy with the words “Please be patient, God’s not through with me yet“. I couldn’t help but think of how prophetic that little picture was..and still is today. While I write this and ask for each of your patience with me…I think I write it to remind myself as well. God is not through with me yet.

I think so often I beat myself up over what I don’t do when it comes to my faith and family. I know I need to pray more. I know I need to be better about my devotions. I need more time with God. I need to be a better witness. I can always learn more about being a better husband, father and friend. More often than not, I set out to “live like Jesus” and before I know it, I make more mistakes than Peter. It becomes overwhelming. It can become defeating. These are my own thoughts….they don’t even count what others might think or believe.

That is where the picture came back to memory today. God is NOT done with me yet. He doesn’t demand perfection. He knew what He was getting when He created me. Nothing I do surprises Him. He knows I am a work in progress (can I get an Amen?). I’m the one that tends to forget that. I need to remember to be patient with myself…God is not finished with me yet.

10For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10)

What's Your Story?

I just wrapped up my preparation for our very first night of “Starting Point“. I will admit that I am looking forward to this discussion based series. I’m intrigued by other people’s story. I once received an email from a reader of my blog that simply asked “what’s your story?”. Talk about a loaded question….

It took me forever to reply to that email. I must have written it and re-written it 100 times. I had a hard time putting it into words. It would seem funny considering the fact that this very blog is pretty much my story. I guess I just didn’t know what they wanted to know. Have you ever taken the time to think about your story and more importantly how it fits into a much larger story?

As I am typing this, I am listening to a song by Todd Agnew called “If you wanted me” from his Better Questions CD. In this song he asks a very thought provoking question:

“If you wanted me to be like you, why did you make me like me”?

I ponder that question sometimes. If God wanted me to be like him, why did he make me like me? Why did he give me the free will to have the thoughts, words and actions that I have? Maybe it was so I could find my place in His greater story. One day we will all be like him. Until then, I believe we are here to seek him as we write our story and in doing so become more like him. That’s my story…..and I’m stickin’ to it….

What’s Your Story?

I just wrapped up my preparation for our very first night of “Starting Point“. I will admit that I am looking forward to this discussion based series. I’m intrigued by other people’s story. I once received an email from a reader of my blog that simply asked “what’s your story?”. Talk about a loaded question….

It took me forever to reply to that email. I must have written it and re-written it 100 times. I had a hard time putting it into words. It would seem funny considering the fact that this very blog is pretty much my story. I guess I just didn’t know what they wanted to know. Have you ever taken the time to think about your story and more importantly how it fits into a much larger story?

As I am typing this, I am listening to a song by Todd Agnew called “If you wanted me” from his Better Questions CD. In this song he asks a very thought provoking question:

“If you wanted me to be like you, why did you make me like me”?

I ponder that question sometimes. If God wanted me to be like him, why did he make me like me? Why did he give me the free will to have the thoughts, words and actions that I have? Maybe it was so I could find my place in His greater story. One day we will all be like him. Until then, I believe we are here to seek him as we write our story and in doing so become more like him. That’s my story…..and I’m stickin’ to it….