That’s One Small Step For Man…

July 20, 1969. Neil Armstrong uttered the famous words, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Neil walked on the moon. THE MOON! It was small steps that were celebrated. He didn’t run hundreds of yards. We celebrated a small step. And, still today, it is considered a massive feat. But, “why don’t we celebrate the small things anymore?”

I can’t help but think of when my kids were little. We celebrated ALL of the little things. The first time our baby slept through the night. The first time he smiled. His first giggle. His first word. The first crawl. The first step. The first sleep through the night. In the scheme of life, these are not earth-shattering events, but we celebrated them!

As life moved on, “small things” became “bigger things”. Potty training. Ditching the diapers, and staying dry. The first day of school. The first recital. The first base hit. The first sleep over. (Remember how big of a deal that was?) Then, those little things just kept getting bigger. The first day of middle school. High school. Drivers ed. Prom. Graduation. (I could keep going) The bigger the event, the bigger the celebration.

Why do we stop celebrating the small things? The move from 3rd chair to 2nd chair in band. Making the team. Getting a part in the play? Small things MATTER!

Want proof? Ask a runner. Literal seconds make a difference. If you’re trying to qualify for Boston Marathon, you can miss the cut by a second. On the other hand, if you run a race and beat your personal record by 1 second, it’s something to be celebrated! You’ll get high fives, and cheers from your friends. ONE. SINGLE. SECOND. Oh yeah!

As we get older, we forget to celebrate. I encourage you to look at your current situation and see what you can celebrate. You’re family. Your job. Your interest rate dropping. Sobriety. Not going to “that website”.

How about your faith? Are you celebrating growth in your faith? Maybe you’ve started praying for the first time in years. Listening to Christian music. Attending church. Reading your Bible? In the Bible, Hebrews 6:1 says, “Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity…” Luke 17:5 says, “…increase our faith“. These are things to celebrate! But why don’t we? A step toward God is always something to celebrate!

You don’t have to walk on the moon to find something to celebrate! Today, I encourage you to celebrate things worth celebrating. A healing. Your growth. Your fur baby. Your job. Your mechanic who just told you that your car is running great. Find the small thing in your life, and celebrate. Buy a pinata if you need too!

Celebrate small things. Go make a difference. Always, Run By Faith.

Explaining Love Through Rock And Roll Lyrics

In the month of February, there’s always a lot of talk about, “Love, exciting and new…” Well, I am going to try and explain it with a little help from rock and roll.

You may be asking, like Foreigner, “I wanna know what love is.”  Perhaps, like Whithey Houston, “The Greatest Love Of All” is happening to you. Maybe, as Neil Diamond crooned, it’s, “Love On The Rocks”.  But really, “What’s love got to do with it?”

First of all, “What is Love? Baby don’t hurt me. Don’t hurt me. No more.” I can tell you, it isn’t bobbing your head side to side. Love is deeper than that.

Love is large and incredibly patient. Love is gentle and consistently kind to all. It refuses to be jealous when blessing comes to someone else. Love does not brag about one’s achievements nor inflate its own importance.  Love does not traffic in shame and disrespect, nor selfishly seek its own honor. Love is not easily irritated or quick to take offense. Love joyfully celebrates honesty and finds no delight in what is wromg. Love is a safe place of shelter, for it never stops believing the best in others. Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (The Passion Translation)

See? Love is not candy, or flowers, or a card. It is deeper. “For this is how much God loved the world – he gave his one and only, unique Son as a gift. So now everyone who believes in him will never perish but experience everlasting life.” John 3:16.

If you’re, “All Out Of Love”, and feel like, “Love Bites”, remember God doesn’t “Give Love A Bad Name”. He has, “Endless Love”.

Love wins. Go make a difference. Always Run By Faith.

The Closing Credits

You’re watching your favorite show, and it comes to that one gripping, powerful scene. The plot twist. The Hero Conquers. The Villain dies. The show ends, and the credits begin. This is generally when you turn the movie off, and miss the closing credits. But, there are so many people behind the scenes that bring that story to life, they should be recognized. These are the people who do the things that we rarely think about. The person who gets permission to close a road. The person who calls and arranges all of the catering for the crew. The people who hold the microphones, and their wrap the cables.

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the Heavens.” You might know this better by the song, “To everything, turn, turn turn. There is a season turn, turn, turn. And a time to every purpose under Heaven”. Seasons come and go. Jobs come and go. And, people come in and out of your life. None of which are bad. But, I’d like to encourage you with some of the “behind the scenes” people who have crossed your path.

Between school, work, church, clubs, athletics, extra curricular activities, vacations, and countless other groups, you’ve probably met thousands of people in your lifetime. Some of those more important people are coming to your mind as you read this. Others, you’ve totally forgotten about until someone brings their name up. But, each of them have made an impact in your life.

I was reading in a chapter in the New Testament of the Bible called, Romans. It is an amazing book filled with dramatic stories of healings, life-change, and courage. The very end of the chapter is like the end of the movie. How is it going to end? Well, like a movie, it ends with closing credits. Paul, takes time to thank people that have come in and out of his life. He thanks people for their hospitality. He thanks co-workers. And, he thanks leaders. Many of the people he thanks, we never hear about again. But, their impact in Paul’s life was so big, they made the closing credits. And these credits have been passed on for thousands of years.

I want to be the person who makes the “closing credits” in someone’s last goodbye. Can you imagine the ripple effect? How about you? Are you living a life that would make the “closing credits” in a friends’ life? Maybe today is the day to make a few edits.

Leave a legacy. Go make a difference. And always, Run By Faith.

Sometimes Life Brings Some Pretty Tricky Footing

Living in Michigan, if you want to run outside, it means that sometimes you have to run in the snow.  The other day, I was running on a path that I’ve run hundreds of times. It’s paved, but when its snow covered, it makes for some very tricky footing. It turns a normal 15 foot wide trail, into about 1 foot wide. However, I’ve learned that if I can hug the side of the trail with the edge of the grass, I get better footing.  This causes me to pay much more attention to where I’m stepping. Also, there’s no way that I can run my normal pace, because underneath that snow-covered path, could be a mini-pothole, raised concrete, or even ice. 

In life, sometimes your, “well known path” can become snow-covered. Proverbs 4:25 says, “Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze straight before you.” Even though your footing might not be firm, and your steps can be difficult, have faith that God will give you exactly what you need. Even if your clear path is only 1 foot wide.  

Keep your gaze straight. Go make a difference. And always Run By Faith.

I Was Told I Had 10 Minutes To Live

January 24, 1982. West Michigan was hit with a snowstorm with high winds. 5:45am. I was sound asleep in my waterbed, when I heard a very loud noise. A noise I had only ever heard during the daytime. Immediately I knew something wasn’t right.

I walked outside of my bedroom door, and heard the smoke alarm going off. I remember saying to my younger sister, “Kelly, stop playing with the smoke alarm. You’re going to wake up Mom and Dad”. She wasn’t playing with it. In fact, she was still asleep. It was that moment I realized I was smelling smoke in the house.

I ran down the hallway and woke up my parents, and my sister. “FIRE!” In a panic, we all ran down the hallway, through the kitchen, and straight to the garage door. The four of us made it that far, but that night, my Uncle Rick decided to stay the night. He was sleeping in the basement. The exact area where the smoke was coming from. We yelled several times downstairs, but he never heard us.

I remember my Dad running toward the garage, looking for an axe, in hopes of trying to break a bedroom window where my Uncle was sleeping. Just then, Uncle Rick came running up the stairs in a panic. We all got in the car, to try and stay warm, backed out of the driveway, and sat and watched the flames reflecting off of the snow covered trees in the backyard.

Due to the bad Michigan weather, it took the fire department several extra minutes to arrive at our house. Then, like a convoy of Fire Trucks in a parade, they made their way to our house. I remember my Mom crying in the front seat, as she watched her house, and belongings, go up in smoke. I was a kid in shock, just trying to put it all together.

Later in the day, sitting at a neighbor’s house, trying to recall all that happened, my Uncle Rick said something I will never forget. “Who came downstairs to get me?” “What are you talking about?” We said in unison. “Who came downstairs and grabbed my hand? Someone grabbed my hand and led me upstairs.” Silence. We all sat in silence. “Nobody. Nobody grabbed your hand.” Almost in a panic, Uncle Rick said, “Someone grabbed my hand!”

To this day, I truly believe that God sent an Angel to my house that night. You see, just hours before the fire had started, I had fallen asleep on the couch. My Mom insisted on me going to sleep in my bed upstairs. Good thing she trusted her gut, as the couch was only about 10 feet from the source of the fire, the wood burning stove.

The fire chief said that we had about 10 minutes left to live, before the smoke and fire consumed us. To this day, Uncle Rick still remembers someone grabbing his hand.

I thank God for the 1982 miracle in my house. And I thank Him for His protection, and Angels.

God wasn’t done with me in 1982. And, He isn’t done with you!

Be mindful of your choices. Go make a difference. Always Run By Faith.

You Really Should Build A Snowman

In West Michigan, kids, and some adults, can’t wait for the very first snowfall.  There’s something magical about it. The other day, after said first snowfall, while running through my neighborhood, I saw a Dad and his two kids building a snowman. Well, Dad was building, and the kids were making snow angels.  As I ran past him I said, “You get the Dad of the year award!” We had a good laugh. 

Later in the week, rain moved in and melted the snow. The only thing left standing was the snowman.  It was a reminder of, “what was”.  And he lasted for several days, too. 

In the Bible, a guy named Joshua made a monument of 12 stones in the middle of the Jordan River. It was to serve as a reminder to his people of the crossing of the Jordan river.  Every time people saw the stones, it served as a reminder of “what was”. A reminder of when God performed a miracle. 

Do you have something in your house, car, or life, that reminds you of a time in which God showed up? I’d like to encourage you, create your own standing stones, or, if you live near snow, build a snowman. But, stones last longer. 

Build your monument. Go make a difference. And always Run By Faith.

The Sticker On Your Car

Runner stickers. I’m sure you’ve seen them. Us runners kind of have a thing for ‘em. They’re the oval shaped stickers that runners put on the back of their car. 5k, 10k, 13.1 or, the biggie, 26.2.  These all represent running distance accomplishments. 

Let me ask you a question, what would an oval shaped sticker for your accomplishments say? Parent? Grandparent? Graduate? While running stickers tell a distance, they don’t tell the full story. They don’t tell the hours of training. The weather conditions. The grit. The injuries. 

Your sticker tells a story, too.  The joy of a relationship. Perhaps a struggle. Maybe even heartache. I’m grateful I’m not defined by a sticker. I’m defined as a child of God.  Psalm 139:14 says, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Now that’s a sticker that tells a story!

Celebrate your accomplishments. Go make a difference. Always Run By Faith.

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Be Grateful For Yellow Snow

I’m Tommy, and I run by faith. Recently, I was out for a run after a fresh 5 inch West Michigan snowfall.  With the thick snow hanging from the tress, it was a blanket of Pure Michigan white . Well, except for the little pile of yellow snow. Sorry to ruin your Normal Rockwell moment, but I do have a point.  That yellow snow was some dog’s way of marking his territory.  I don’t know his breed. I don’t know his color, all I know is that it was a reminder that he was there.  The Bible tells of many events in which stones were used to serve as a reminder that something significant happened. Moses built 12 standing stones at the foot of Mt. Sinai after receiving the 10 commandments and other laws. The Israelites placed standing stones as a reminder of the crossing of the Jordan River. Do you have something to remind of where you’ve been? Perhaps it’s a plaque. Or, a picture. Maybe even a scar.  

Leave your mark. Go make a difference. Always Run By Faith.

Craziest Christmas Ever!

Hall and Oates once sang, “You Make My Dreams Come True. Ooh Ohh. Ooh Ohh.” Do dreams really come true? Dreams are weird. Sometimes, dreams feel very real. Sometimes they’re terrifying. Sometimes, they’re are just…odd. Like the time I dreamt that the only way that I could move was by swimming through the air. My wife, Patty, has dreams that DO come true! In 1998, she dreamt that she was pregnant with twins. Guess what? 7 months later, we had twins!

In the Christmas story, God spoke to Joseph, and others, through dreams. Several times, actually. Look at Matthew 1:18-24.

This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.  But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”  All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:  “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” which means “God with us”).  When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.

What would you do in that situation? Stay the course? Or, run the other direction?

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the Three Magi (wise men) traveled to find “the King of the Jews”. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed, and worshipped the child with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.  Then another dream, “And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.” Then yet ANOTHER dream, “When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” This is getting pretty scary! It’s for sure not your typical, “hey we just had a baby, and now our life is complete” Hallmark Christmas movie.

So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.” Matthew 2:14-15.

Harod then freaks out, and orders all boys in Bethlehem two years old and under to be killed. WHAT? And you thought Freddy Krueger was a nightmare!

Ok, let’s just take a deep breath. This is a lot to comprehend. Each part of this story is quite overwhelming. A baby is born to a virgin. The baby is the Savior of the world. A dude named Harod wants to KILL the baby, and Mary and Joseph are still trying to figure out what this whole parenting this is all about. Whew! Next scene.

The Return to Nazareth

After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt  and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.”

 So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel.  But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee,  and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene. Matthew 2:19-23

Amazing huh? God spoke to some many people through dreams. But I don’t want you to miss the bigger picture. Each of these characters not only had the dreams, they were OBEDIENT! Yes, they were some hefty orders. But, what would’ve happened if they ignored the orders?

Joseph was an amazing, faithful man of God. I don’t think that I appreciated all that Joesph had to endure, until just this year. I have spent the last few weeks really diving deeper into the account of the birth of Jesus, and the great faith of Joseph and Mary. They both were very obedient in some very difficult situations. God promised them that He would be with them, and He was!

Today, I encourage you to listen to the voice of God. Whether it be through a dream, a friend, a nudging, or even through a simple blog post. What is God saying to you? Are you willing to be obedient? Will you listen?

Listening will help you to go make a difference. And, Run By Faith.

You Are Not Alone

‘Tis days before Christmas, and you’re in a shopping zone, yet this year, you feel strangely alone. The stockings may be hung by your chimney with care, but this time around there’s nobody for you to share.  That doesn’t sound very joyous, does it? Well, wait. There’s a character in the Christmas story who might’ve felt alone, too.

Her name is Mary.  She was told that she would give birth to a baby who is the Savior of the world! At that time, due to circumstances, it was not a peaceful time between rulers, people, and nations.  (some things never change, huh) Now, if I had to guess, at times, she might’ve felt alone.  She might’ve dealt with fears of not being accepted, and/or feelings of potential shame.  But God promised her that she would not be alone. And, God wants YOU to know that YOU are not alone!

We are told in Luke 1:26-27, “In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph…”

At a time, in which Mary is visited by an Angel, and told that she’s pregnant, as a virgin, she finds out that her cousin, Elizabeth, is expecting, too.

“…at that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.”
Luke 1:39‭-‬41 NIV

This year, God nudged me and showed me something I hadn’t noticed before. At the same time that Mary was embarking on a difficult 9 month task, she was given the gift of a family member walking a similar journey with her. I wonder if they shared stories with each other? Talked about their experiences? Shed tears? Shared joys? See, God always makes a way.

Are you feeling alone? Remember, like Mary, you are NOT alone. Your journey is not meant to be traveled by yourself. Look around. Look through your phone contacts. Look up. Who is the Elizabeth that God has placed in your life? Who is someone who has either, “been there before”, or “is there” now?

Emmaneul. God with us. Go make a difference. And always, Run By Faith.