How To Be Thankful With A Flat Tire

The other morning, as I drove into work at Zero dark thirty, I noticed an odd sound coming from my car. I don’t remember hitting anything on the road. But, something was definitely wrong! I began to slow down. Then eventually, I heard the sound and knew it was my back tire. UGH!

I was right by the Hudsonville exit, westbound on I-196, so it was easy for me to pull off the highway. I was able to make it to the gas station. Got out of my car and saw this.

I will be honest, in years past, I probably would’ve been quite angry. But, as I have been learning what it means to have an attitude of gratitude, and living in a state of thanksliving, my initial reaction was, “Thank you Lord that this was all that happened.” I took some inventory and thought, “I’m safe. I’m in a safe location. No further damage. I’m alright.” In years’ past, I would’ve thought, “Why? Why does this stuff have to happen? How much will this cost me? (insert drama here)

But, as I have learned that God is in control, these issues don’t rattle me near as much as they did before. It’s the choice of giving thanks everyday. The idea of, “Thanksliving”.

Here are the words to a song that has really meant a lot to me in the last few weeks, “Gratitude” by Brandon Lake.

All my words fall short
I got nothing new
How could I express
All my gratitude?

I could sing these songs
As I often do
But every song must end
And You never do

So I throw up my hands
And praise You again and again
‘Cause all that I have is a hallelujah
And I know it’s not much
But I’ve nothing else fit for a King
Except for a heart singing hallelujah

I’ve got one response
I’ve got just one move
With my arm stretched wide
I will worship You

So I throw up my hands
And praise You again and again
‘Cause all that I have is a hallelujah
And I know it’s not much
But I’ve nothing else fit for a King
Except for a heart singing hallelujah

So come on, my soul
Oh, don’t you get shy on me
Lift up your song
‘Cause you’ve got a lion inside of those lungs
Get up and praise the Lord

Oh come on, my soul
Oh, don’t you get shy on me
Lift up your song
‘Cause you’ve got a lion inside of those lungs
Get up and praise the Lord

Come on, my soul
Oh, don’t you get shy on me
Lift up your song
‘Cause you’ve got a lion inside of those lungs
Get up and praise the Lord, hey

Praise the Lord
Praise the Lord

Praise the Lord

So I throw up my hands
Praise You again and again
‘Cause all that I have is a hallelujah
And I know it’s not much
But I’ve nothing else fit for a King
Except for a heart singing hallelujah

Try Thanksliving. Go make a difference. Always Run By Faith.


A New Hope

In May of 1977, a Princess uttered a phrase that rippled through America. It wasn’t long until that Princesses phrase began to send shockwaves around the world. Actually, that little phrase brought a new hope to an entire generation.

So, what was that phrase uttered by the princess in 1977? “Help me OB1 Kenobe, you’re my  only HOPE.”  Princess Leah made it famous in Star Wars episode 4 which is entitled, “A New Hope”.  She was trying to send some kind of “insider information” through a little robot droid, R2D2, hoping someone would get this info and help save them!

Hope is an often-misunderstood word. That’s because the way we use the word “hope” in our vernacular is not the same as the way the word “hope” is used in the Bible. Sorry your Majesty.

We often use the word hope to describe wishful thinking — even wishful thinking founded in futility. Futility like, “I hope I PR my race! I hope she says yes to going to homecoming with me.” 

Hope is an important topic, because you might be teetering on the ledge of wishful thinking. Your circumstances seem horrible, and your situation seems out of control, and looks like a hot mess!  For you, it might be easier to just throw in the towel.

If you feel this way, or have ever felt this way, then you need to embrace — fully embrace — the Biblical concept of hope.

I googled “songs about hope”. You know what came up? “Imagine” by John Lennon. “Lean On Me”, “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger.” Even, “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus. I’ve gotta be honest, when I think of hope, I don’t think of Hannah Montana. I want REAL hope. Eternal hope that sees you through every storm, based on the Word of God, the power of God, and the goodness of God.

Ever notice that when we express hope, it almost seems uncertain? “I hope my daughter makes the team…” I hope I don’t miss my flight.”  I hope this still fits… I hope they hire me… I hope they don’t pick on me. I hope I have enough money… I hope that construction is done… I hope my candidate wins… I hope there’s enough room… I hope he doesn’t find out… All of those things sound desperate, don’t they?  Biblical hope is not just a desire for something good in the future. Biblical hope is a confident expectation and desire for something good in the future.

“For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”

Romans 8:24-25

Maybe you’re familiar with Toby Mac. He’s played a lot on Christian Radio stations, like JOY99, and has toured the world, singing in front of millions every year. He’s had #1 songs, and has won several Grammy’s. The reason Toby got into Christian music was to turn people’s eyes to God.

October 23, 2019, Toby’s son was found dead. I can’t think of anything more difficult than losing a child. How did he find hope?  Toby said, “when you go through something hard, you have to grab onto something you can trust.” He grabbed onto the promise of God. THAT is holding onto hope.

Recently, Toby was on “Good Morning America” talking about how God was “kind” to him through it all. That’s hope with endurance. It’s not a result of what you see or what you feel; it’s a result of a choice you dare to make, and an action you dare to take. Hope is daring to endure, refusing to jump ship, even when you don’t know how the story will end.

Toby has hope. Despite all of that, through it all, Toby Mac’s, his new song says, “Lord, you’re the Goodness in my life.” Whew! After all that Toby has gone through, God is the Goodness? THAT is holding onto hope! Not hope from a princess with a droid, but from the Prince of Peace, our living hope in Christ.

Hold onto hope. Go make a difference. Always run by faith.

(Special thanks to Pastor Steve for the inspiration)


Mackinac Island Swim 2022

The amazing M.I.S. volunteers!

When is the last time you did something crazy? I ask, because I just witnessed a whole other level of crazy.

371, somewhat crazy, people jumped into the 65° waters of Lake Huron and swam around Mackinac Island. That’s a total of 8.2 miles!

Swimming 8.2 miles is a feat in itself. Combine that with battling swells of 3 foot waves, and you have the making of a long day!

The Mackinaw Island Swim started at 7:45am. The morning was actually quite pretty. But, the waters were ugly. By the time some swimmers hit the 2 mile aid station, many decided they had had enough, and called it a day.

After hitting 4 miles, (near halfway) the waters became rougher. The wind and the waves were more intense, and more swimmers decided to walk back to the finish line. (No shame at all!)

That said, a 4 Man relay team from Zeeland High School took the honors of finishing first with a blistering time. While this was just a, “fun event”, and not an actual race, all of us were quite impressed at their speed, and camaraderie.

A few more finished. Then, to the cheers of many, a 4 woman team, also from Zeeland High School, came to the finish at the shore. (I’m telling ya, Zeeland High School Swimmers will be a force this year!!)

All of the swimmers families, and friends, cheered loudly for each individual who finished their swim. I loved watching the support. We all knew how much stamina it took to finish that swim. It was the definition of endurance.

There were so many wonderful stories from the event. I met a 4 Woman team from Wisconsin. I spoke to a woman who, just last weekend, completed an Ironman event in Alaska. And I spoke with several swimmers who did the event last year, and had such a blast, decided to do it again.

I want to congratulate the Swim Director, Jon, for a wonderful event. He, and his incredible team, helped raise over $28,000 for the Mackinaw Woman’s Club to better their community. Isn’t that incredible?

As emcee, it was super inspiring to watch each of these swimmers battle the waves, and, battle their endurance.  I am reminded of this in James 1, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

It is true, whenever you face a trial of any kind, you will find that the battle isn’t easy, but the reward of endurance is worth it.

If you’re interested in trying the 8.2 mile swim around Mackinac Island, it is happening Sunday, August 13, 2023. Keep an eye on http://www.swimaroundmac.com in January 2023 for more details.

Endurance pays off. Go make a difference.  Always Run By Faith.


He’s 73, And Not Afraid Of His Career Change

The Unity Christian Music Festival, an event held yearly in Muskegon, Michigan, is 4 days of amazing music, friends, and stories. Many of the stories are told from on-stage. But I ‘d like to share with you a story that was told to me off-stage.

I spoke to a man who was recently released from jail after 7 years behind bars. He brought his friend, who is about to be released from jail, and is now on parole, after 23 years behind bars. This man, now a follower of Jesus, with tears in his eyes said to me, “After 23 years behind bars, I’m dedicating the rest of my life to volunteer as a chaplain in the jail.” That man is now 73 years old, and wants to use his remaining years to make an impact in the jail.

This simple conversation reminded me that no matter what our mistakes may be, we serve a God who is certainly big enough to not only forgive them, but allow us to use those stories to inspire and hep change others.

Who is that ‘someone’ in your life that is ‘free’ on the outside, but ‘behind bars’ on the inside? Reach out and let them know that God holds the keys to release them!

You can be free! Go make a Difference. Always Run by faith!


Don’t Let “Glory Days” Pass You By

Do you remember the song, “Glory Days” by Bruce Springsteen? In the song, Bruce sings about looking back at the good ol’ days of life. “Glory Days, yeah they pass you by…” Basically meaning that today is blah, nothing new, and life is boring compared to those days.

I read a wonderful quote by Paul David Tripp, “The best of life is found when you live for a glory, vastly greater than your own. That is, the glory of God.”

I talk to people who continue to say, as they have aged, “My life is better today than it was several years ago.” These people don’t move as well as they did. They have more wrinkles. And yet, they’re more joyful than ever! The reason? They find that they are growing in their relationship with the Lord.

It’s OK to reminisce about, “The Glory Days”, but, I believe your best days are still ahead of you! Start today, before they “pass you by”.

Live for a glory vastly greater than your own. Go make a difference. Always Run by Faith!


Are You A “Swamp Thing”? Or A “River Liver”?

Michigan is the Great Lakes state. We thrive on fresh water. No salt. No sharks. No jellyfish.

While we have plenty of fresh water, we also have our share of swamps.

Recently, I was asked, “do I want my life to be like a river or a swamp? ” A River receives fresh water and gives away fresh water.  A Swamp just receives and hoards.  I’d much rather drink from a river than from nasty swamp water.

As you head into your week, I ask you the same question, “do YOU want your life to be like a river or a swamp?” Do you want to give and give to bless others? Or simply take and never give back?

Live in such a way that someone wants to name a river after you! 

Flow like a river. Go make a difference. Always run by faith!

(Inspired by a message I heard from Cornerstone Church)


Quite Possibly The Best Lunch EVER!

I admit it, I’m a pretty routine person. I do many of the same things everyday. I pray. I run. I read my Bible. I parent. I work. I support my wife. All good things. Yet, sometimes routine needs to be changed up.

I’ve heard many experienced runners say, “Run a different route”. I’ve heard accomplished speakers encourage the audience to, “Turn left, instead of going right.” So, recently, I decided to break my everyday routine, and did something out of the norm.

For no reason whatsoever, I decided to grill some sausages…at 11:45am. Yep! I lit the grill for lunch.

First of all, they were delicious! And yes, every member of my house said, “You just grilled these?” “YES!” I said with enthusiasm. “I needed a change to my day. I’m kind of tired of being so routine.”

If you, like me, feel like you do the same thing, every single day, try something different. It is actually fun to mix things up. Run on a trail. Have breakfast for dinner. Make microwave smores. You get the idea. Just break the routine!

Oh, and don’t worry, God NEVER changes! “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8

I’d love to hear about your “routine breaking moments!” Drop yours in the comments below.

Have lunch on the grill. Go make a difference. Always run by faith.


Is It Time To Become A Vegetarian?

I love food! Especially a good meal of meat and potatoes. (Yes, this can be burgers and fries!) But, there might be a time in which an adjustment will be made to eating only veggies. Let me explain.

Would you rather have a meal with meat and potatoes and sit with people who are full of hate? Or, enjoy a meal of with veggies and be surrounded by love and grace? Interesting question, huh?

It’s much better to have a meal of vegetables surrounded with love and grace than a steak where there is hate.

Proverbs 15:17

I’m immediately whisked back in time to the lunchroom in middle school. It was there that I was bullied. Often times, I sat with only a few friends. Yet, those friends loved me for who I was.

Sure, there were bigger tables with bigger friend groups, and they always acted like they had it better than the rest of us. Basically, they were at a table filled with steak. Yet, their main course consisted of name calling, shooting paper wads, with a side of popped-collars. Some legacy, huh?

Me? I sat at a smaller table, with a smaller friend group. But we had laughter. We had joy. We had love and grace! A smorgasbord of the finest veggies!

I do plan to stick to meals filled with meats and potatoes. However, it is best to always have a well balanced meal. “Excuse me? Can you please pass the veggie tray?”

Eat veggies. Go make a difference. Always Run by Faith.


Dove Chocolates And The Bible

I love dark chocolate. It is a true obsession. Especially those little Dark chocolates from Dove. The taste is amazing. But something else recently amazed me; the little message on the inside.

Sure, often times there are cute little phrases like, “Be proud of your age”, or “It’s a bubble bath day”. But, the message on my chocolate really caught my attention, “Trust with your heart, not your head“. WOW! Is it possible Dove dark chocolates is reaching into the Bible for inspiration?

Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways, submit to him and he will make your paths straight.” Thinking with ONLY your head will get you into trouble. YOU’LL begin to drive the ship with your OWN understanding. YOU’LL begin to make choices that aren’t always right with your OWN understanding. But, trusting with your heart, is walking by faith. “For we walk by faith, not by sight”. (2 Cor 5:7)

Sure, we may not see it happening right now, but God is working. And when you lean into what God has put inside of your heart, you think differently. You think of not just YOUR needs, but the needs of others. You yield to what God has in store for you, and your life. Simply put, thinking with your heart, (trusting in the Lord) is different than with your head. (your own understanding)

Thank you, Dove chocolates, for your amazing taste. And, for reminding us all to “trust in the Lord with all of our heart and lean not on our own understanding”.

Trust with your heart. Eat dark chocolate. Always run by faith.


Life Is Short. God Is Good.

High School picture of Kelly

Today, I should be texting my sister, “Happy Birthday”. Today, I should be eating cake and ice cream. Today, should be the day my sister, Kelly, turns 46.

My sister, Kelly, left this “home” on January 9, 2001. Her life was taken short from a rare disease called, “Wegener’s”. Kelly was only 25.

My children would’ve adored Kelly’s laughs, jokes, and her unconditional love. Sadly, they never got to know Kelly, as she passed away when my kids were too young . Kelly was my only sibling.

One day, while she was in the hospital, I asked her if she had made the decision to follow Jesus. “Yes”, she said. That simple “yes” gives me the confidence that I will see her again in Heaven. It is the most important decision you will ever make in your life, too.

24 “I speak to you an eternal truth: if you embrace my message and believe in the One who sent me, you will never face condemnation. In me, you have already passed from the realm of death into eternal life!”

Jesus as recorded in John 5:24 (The Passion Translation)

I’m asking you for a favor today. Would you take a moment and simply text/call your sibling (s), and say, “I Love You”? My sister is gone. I don’t have the opportunity to do this anymore. If you have a sibling, I encourage you to reach out today. Push differences aside. Life is too stinkin’ short!

Use an emoji. Share a funny memory. Or, whatever else is coming to your mind as you read this. It would mean a lot to me for you to simply connect.

Here is a picture of Kelly. I miss her, and look forward to seeing her again. And yes, I know that I will!

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What is something YOU do to connect regularly with your sibling(s)? I’d love for you to drop a comment, and also subscribe for more encouragement.

Love your siblings. Go make a difference. Always Run By Faith!


Running By Faith

Running the miles. Sharing the encouragement!

Hi. I’m Tommy, and I love to run. I love encouraging people! And, I choose to Run by Faith!

What does “Run by Faith” mean? Pretty simple, really. My favorite book, the Bible, has a great quote that says to, “walk by faith, not by sight“. Well, as a runner, I ‘run by faith, not by sight’. Get it now?

Here, I plan to share my passion for running, along with my passion of encouragement. I want to help you run some trails, and help you navigate through life. Bottom line, this is my new blog where fitness, friends and faith come together to help you, “Run by Faith”!

A Lesson Learned From Grocery Shopping

Fun fact: I love grocery shopping. I mean c’mon, there’s free food samples. The other day, my daughter grabbed samples of pickles. Yes regular pickles, I’m like, how desperate have we become if we need pickle samples? Anyway, one reason they give samples of pickles is so that you can better decide on which pickle to choose from. Plus, it leaves a taste in your mouth that lingers. Even when you walk away, down another aisle, you’re still thinking about that pickle.

I want to challenge you, think of your life like a sample. What’s the taste of the Kingdom of God you’re leaving?

Are you leaving something like the Fruit of the Spirit? Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control?

Your life is a sample. Go make a difference. Always run by faith!

Feel free to comment below, and connect with me!

My Strange Addiction

Have you seen the show, “My Strange Addiction”? It tells the stories of people battling obsessive behavior. Things like thumb sucking, eating toilet paper, excessive tanning and other strange fixations.

My “obsession” isn’t that strange. But, I will admit that I do it more often than most people that I know. I’m obsessed with getting my car washed!

I get my car washed 4 or 5 times a week. It isn’t only to keep my car clean, but it reminds of a simple truth: I come in dirty, and drive away shiny and clean.

It is similar to how I feel before I come to God. I am a dirty mess, but after a good washing, (time of praying, spending time with God) I come away all sparkly and cleaned up.

Then, as I head to the exit, I see this sign.

What a simple, powerful reminder. Though I’m a dirty mess, because of Jesus, I’m able to get cleaned up and READY TO SHINE!

Get clean. Go shine. Always run by faith.

I Was Frustrated. Until…

There are many things in our day that we take for granted. A warm shower. Transportation. Opening the door to get into work. (I know, that’s a random list) I do each of those things everyday. Well, everything but open the door.

The other morning, I arrived at work. I reached into my bag to get my keys. Put them in the lock, and…nothing. It acted like it was jammed. I tried again. Nothing. They keys wouldn’t turn. The door wouldn’t open. And, because I was the first person to arrive at the office, I couldn’t pound on it and ask someone to open the door. So, now what?

After several frustrating minutes, I finally did what I should’ve done to begin with, pray! It wasn’t a long, drawn out prayer, it was a “Um, Lord? I could really use some help…” kind of prayer. (Which is about as real as it gets)

I took a deep breath, turned the key, and, “click”, it opened! Why didn’t I pray in the first place?!

Life sure would be a lot less stressful if prayer was the first thing, instead of the last resort. Pray first. Act second.

Well, the other morning, I again was the first person to arrive at work. I reached into my bag, grabbed my keys and tried to open the door. Nothing. But, this time, I stopped and prayed another simple prayer. “Lord, I’m coming to you first and asking for your help to open this door…”. I turned the key again, and, “click”. The door opened! That’s the power of prayer.

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Today, when you encounter an issue, a need, a problem, pray first, act second.

Pray first. Go make a difference. Always run by faith.

I’d love to hear of a time you’ve discovered the power of praying first! Drop a comment below!

Why Don’t We Pray More?

P.F.A.S. Those 4 letters have helped shape my life. They stand for Pray First Act Second. PFAS.

I’ve been trying to lean into praying first, before jumping into action. I would love to say that I have it mattered. But, Uh…NOPE!

I will say this, it has become more of a practice in my life. Praying first before worrying. Praying first before looking for a lost item. Praying first before lashing out.

Recently, I lost an item that I just purchased from the store. It was something I needed for my daily run. I always keep this item in the same dresser drawer every time I use it. So, when I reached into my drawer and it wasn’t there, I was a bit confused. I went into another room to look. Nothing. I looked in my travel bag. Zero. Now what?

I went back to my dresser drawer. But, this time, before I opened it up, I took a moment and said a small prayer. Basically, I asked God to open my eyes, and help me to see if I overlooked it. Well, right there, under an item in my drawer was the prized possession! It had been there all along.

Prayer is not a magic potion. It is a conversation between you and God. An opportunity to chat with the creator of the Universe. Think about that, if God knows what it takes to make the sun rise, I’m pretty confident He is able to help me find a lost item in my dresser drawer.

But, how much time, and unnecessary worry, would I have skipped if I just would’ve prayed first?!

Pray first. Act second. Go make a difference. Always run by faith!