Why Every Child Deserves A Chance To Raise A Dog

Most blogs are easy to write. This one definitely is not. I’m going to take a moment to honor, and remember, my original running buddy, our family dog, Kramer.

I’ll never forget the phone call. I was on the air when my son, Tommy, called me and said, “Dad, can we get a dog?” I was hesitant. As parents, we know that the majority of training, cleaning, and spending extra time with a dog comes mostly from the parent. Did I have enough bandwidth for this? Between being a Husband and Dad, working full time, coaching, and…and then the statement that stopped my mind from wondering. Tommy said, “Dad, every boy deserves a chance to raise a dog.” A true mic drop before mic drops were a thing. That was 2009. We adopted Kramer, and he instantly became part of our family.

When I began really running, and logging the miles, I would take Kramer with me. Daily, when I would come home from work, all I would need to say is, “Kramer, wanna go for a run?!” Immediately, his tail would wag, he would stretch out his body, and run to the door. We would take off for 3-4 miles, and love every minute of it. He was always willing to run until I would say, “OK”. That was his permission slip to stop and, “water the fire hydrant”. Then I’d say, “OK”, and away we’d go for more miles. Together, we logged several hundred miles together. He was always willing, and wanting, to get his exercise, and neighborhood watering, done.

As a family, we enjoyed the countless unique things that made Kramer so special. From his fascination of eating ice cubes and grapes, to his pure excitement of rolling around all over his “treat”. He even had times in which he would actually wink at us.

As years passed, his stamina, and mileage, slowed. But everytime I walked in the door, and headed up to my bedroom, he followed me and sat down right next to the dresser which held my clothes for running, ready to hit the road.

One of the hardest things to witness, was watching the kids finally leave the house for college. They each had their, “moment”, hugging and kissing Kramer. We always made sure to send pics to the kids when they were away, just to keep them connected. “Thanks Dad. He’s the best boy.”

That said, every time they came home from break, or for summer, they walked right through the door excited to see, “the ol’ boy”. It only took about 3 seconds for Kramer to catch their scent, and his tail would wag in double-time, and he’d like their face faster than a child holding an ice cream cone on a 87° day.

A few months ago, an unsettling feeling kept creeping into my mind, “I wonder how many more years we have with him?” I have no idea where this stemmed from. But, it was something that I just couldn’t shake. Kramer never slowed down, or did anything to make me believe he was getting old. It was just a, “gut feeling”.

2 weeks ago, my son, Tommy, was playing tug-of-war with Kramer, when he noticed a touch of blood on the cloth. None of us thought much of it, until we noticed Kramer’s bottom lip was quite swollen.

After the weekend, we brought him into the vet, only to learn that Kramer had cancer, and was given about a month left to live.

Heartbroken.

As a family, we decided to spoil him like crazy for his last few days of life. I don’t regret that one bit. He winked. He wagged. He walked right to the very end.

But I tell ya, that final drive to the vet was one of the hardest 7 mile drives we’ve ever made. I cried a lot. Honestly, I still cry everyday.

Friends, there’s a reason dogs are called, “Man’s best friend”. Dogs love unconditionally. A lesson we could all learn more about.

If you’re a dog owner, take some extra time to share some extra love. You will not regret it. Take pictures. Make memories.

So, Kramer, “Mr. Kramer”, “Fat Dog”, “‘Ol’ Boy” thanks for hogging the bed at night. Thanks for, “running in your dreams”. Thanks for your “Kramer crawl” before we would go for a run. And yes, every boy deserves a chance to raise a dog.

Adopt a dog. Love your dog. And run by faith.

What A Wonderful World

I’ve been thinking a lot about what to write in my blog. I’ve had several ideas, but nothing has really jumped out to me. Until, I heard the raspy, rough voice, of singer Louis Armstrong.

“What A Wonderful World”, is one of those songs really needs no introduction. It’s simple. It’s timeless. It’s a tear-jerker. And, in this time of, “Stay Home. Stay Safe.” when hugs and handshakes seem like a distant memory, this song caught my ear. Just read, and soak in, the simplicity of these lyrics.

I see trees of green, red roses too. I see them bloom, for me and you. And I think to myself, “What A Wonderful World”.

I see skies of blue and clouds of white, the bright blessed days, the dark sacred nights. And I think to myself, “What A Wonderful World”.

The colors in the rainbow, so pretty in the sky. Are also on the faces of friends passing by. I see friends shaking hands, saying, “How do you do?” They’re really saying, “I Love You”.

I hear babies cry, I watch them grow. They’ll learn much more than I’ll ever know. And I think to myself, “What a wonderful world”. I think to myself, “What A Wonderful World”.

It’s springtime. There are more people walking in the streets than I can ever remember. And, although we have to be 6 feet apart, we can still say, “Hello”. Because, what we’re really saying is, “I Love You”.

Listen for the birds singing. Look down at the green grass. Look up, and soak up the blue skies. And, while you’re at, say ‘hello’ to God, he loves that, too.

Try it today. Don’t pass by a stranger, or let a stranger pass you by, without simply saying, “Hello”. You have idea how that 5 letter word could change their day.

Say ‘hello’. Keep making a difference. And, always Run By Faith.

My Race Was Cancelled. Now What?

Like many of you, I’ve been training for several spring races since December. Races like, “Amway River Bank Run”, and “Rivertown Races”. My wife, Patty, has been training hard for Gazelle Girl. (a women’s only race). We’ve all put in many hours of hard work. Making self-care a priority, and meeting new friends. But then…COVID-19.

My training began on December 7, 2019. Dan, Crissy, Janene and I took off for a 10 mile run through the streets, and Christmas lights, of Grand Rapids. Our goal was to get in 10 miles, while seeing Christmas lights, Christmas decorations, and spread some serious jolly. “Oh what fun, it is to train for a 25K”. Since then, it has been weekly long runs, speedwork, and strides. Running through snow, and icy conditions. Running with a purpose: chasing a PR for my spring races. Training was going well, until,

We have been agonizing over the decision to postpone this year’s Amway River Bank Run…we sincerely hope that you understand we tried to hold our date, however it’s a matter of public health and safety.”

Amway River Bank Run

“We have made the hard decision to change our April 19, 2020 event to a virtual experience. we are heartbroken we will not be able to gather, run and walk together, watch you cross the finish line and celebrate with each and every one of you, however, we look forward to continuing on this journey with you as best as we can during these unique circumstances.”

Gazelle Girl

“It has been out hope to hold on to our April 25 race date to provide some hope and stability in this unprecedented time of uncertainty. Unfortunately, as things continue to progress it has become clear that we will no longer be able to hold on to April 25.”

Rivertown Races

Crushed. Sadness. Disappointment. This is the reality of the magnitude of what we’re all facing: a cancelled race. I totally 100% understand, and support, the tough decisions of the Race Directors. (RD’s) These RD’s had agonizing meetings, knowing that their decisions would upset someone. I know several RD’s, and these decision have brought some of them to literal tears.

Did you know that RD’s love watching you cross the finish line and accomplishing your goals? They love seeing your arms in the air. The tears on your cheeks. The sound of, “Don’t Stop Believing” blasting through the speakers. They love your creative signs. The Dad’s, and kids, cheering for Mom. The Fiance’ screaming, “You’re almost there babe!”. Or, a spouse wearing a, “Cancer couldn’t stop you, either can the finish line” homemade t-shirt.

In the scope of it all, a race being cancelled is not the end of the world. It might feel like it, but there are families dealing with tougher things, including this COVID-19 virus. But now what? What about all of the training? How do we re-calculate what we’ve been doing? And, what do we do with ‘the lack of motivation to reach a race goal that no longer exists”?

Here are a few suggestions for you.

  1. Adjust your training. There is NOTHING wrong with getting out there for a few miles. In fact, it will even help you mentally in this time of being “distanced”. No, you don’t need to keep adding more and more mileage every week, but, I like to ‘stay in the ballpark’ of double digit runs every week. The last 2 weeks, I have done 10 mile runs, solo (I swear, every solo long run should count for more!) in addition to my daily runs of 3-5 miles. Could I add mileage? Yes. Do I need too? NO! I’m keeping on top of what I have already established.
  2. Back it down. This is a tough one. You have worked so hard, that backing it down can feel like you’re giving up, right? WRONG! If your race has been postponed, just back it off for a few weeks, and then pick up the hard things again. If you’ve come this far, don’t completely shut it down, but just back off the hard, regimented training.
  3. Don’t change a thing! Do you realize that when this, “quarantine thing” is lifted, races will again be scheduled? Just think of how ready you will be? You will have a new love for what you’ve been training for. And, I bet you will absolutely CRUSH your original goal.

Health is our biggest thing right now. Fighting the virus, while maintaining distancing, is extremely important. But, it’s still recommended to get exercise and fresh air. Hey, even the dreaded treadmill can become a new BFF. Just be smart in the process.

The good news is that Gazelle Girl is STILL offering a Virtual Race. How cool! So, keep training, and join one of the greatest races I have ever been part of, and seen in action. You can get more info here. The Amway River Bank Run, and Rivertown Races have been postponed. Trust me, you will again hear the crowds. You will again see the signs. You will again hear Journey sing, “born and raised in South Detroit“.

I have a challenge for you. Today, let’s flood the pages, and inboxes of our RD’s with LOVE! Show them you respect them, and their tough decisions. Being a RD is not glamorous. And, I know, each of them didn’t sign up for it expecting a pandemic to arise. Join me in spreading a message of love and support to each of them.

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

Adjust your training. Never stop encouraging. Always run by faith!

Does The Bible Have Anything To Say About Social Distancing?

I miss you. I miss hanging out. Doing life together. You see, I’m an extrovert. I feed off of people. In fact, I’m the CEO of my blog: The Chief Encouraging Officer of People. That said, this Coronavirus, “social distancing” thing truly stinks!

Since creation, we were never meant to be alone.

Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 
Genesis 1:26-27

God did not create JUST Male. He did not create JUST Female. He created Male AND Female. There was no social distancing in the Garden of Eden. This is not how life is supposed to be. That said, I totally understand the reasoning behind our current, “social distancing” suggestion.

Over these last few weeks, I’ve made a mental checklist of what “social distancing” has done. These are in no particular order.

  • I miss hanging out with people.
  • I’m bummed that several Spring Races have been put on hold.
  • I miss hugs. (no shame here as I’m a hugger)
  • I miss Social Gatherings. (Church, grabbing coffee)
  • I miss running with a group.
  • I miss my favorite restaurants and stores.
  • I’m sad that my daughter’s musical, and the rest of her Senior Year, could be cancelled.
  • I miss March Madness. ( Especially Spartan Basketball)
  • My kids, and several friends, miss getting a paycheck.
  • I miss eggs, flour and toilet paper on the shelves.

Now, here are 10 encouraging things “Social Distancing” has created.

  • A new appreciation for hanging with my friends.
  • It’s great to have all of my kids home. (College Campuses are closed)
  • I don’t see near as much division between people.
  • My house seems cleaner. (What else is there to do?)
  • People have opened up conversations about Faith.
  • We have a new appreciation for the ‘everyday’ things we’ve taken for granted. Like technology.
  • I have a new appreciation for all business owners, their staff, waiters and waitresses.
  • Gratitude for those serving in the medical field.
  • I’m spending a lot less money, as I’ve learned to ration food and materials.
  • We’re learning that we CAN do hard things.

What have I missed? Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments below.

While we all learn to adjust to this new normal, I leave you with words from my hero, Jesus.

Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid.”

John 14:27

Jesus was, and still is, the “CEO of People”. He came to bring peace. In fact, He actually preferred to hang out with, “rejected” people. Hmmmm. Maybe, because of “Social Distancing”, we can all learn a new, “social thing”, or two?

Keep making a “social” difference. And, Run By Faith.

The Odd Connection Between Indiana Jones And The Coronavirus Outbreak

Fears. We all have them. For me, it’s heights. I’m not a fan. Now, if I’m in a plane, or in a building, I’m good. But, put me on the roof of a house? Nope. Climbing a tall ladder? Um…pass. Peeking over the edge of a building? No thank you!

I’m not sure when my fear of heights began. Too many weird dreams, I suppose. Maybe it’s more of a ‘fear of falling’? Hmmmm. Fears. We all have them. Even one of my movie heroes, Indiana Jones, had a fear.

Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes?”

Indiana Jones

Snakes and heights are pretty common fears. But, here are a few other unusual fears you might not have heard about.

  • Globophobia: The fear of balloons. (Oprah Winfrey has this)
  • Pupaphobia: The fear of puppets.
  • Turophobia: The fear of cheese. (how is this even possible?)
  • Nomophobia: The fear of being without a phone.
  • Arachibutyrophobia: The fear of Peanut Butter getting stuck to the roof of your mouth.

Today, there’s one fear/phobia that many people are dealing with. And, chances are, YOU are, too.

  • Mysophobia: The fear of hands.
Or in this case, the fear of shaking hands with someone.

The Coronavirus, COVID-19, has people around the world on high alert. Making contact with one another has even brought about a new phrase, “social distancing”. Yes, the concern is real! It’s not something to mess around with. We need to be smart. We need to wash our hands. We need to wipe down surfaces. But, we can’t live in fear. Being “concerned”, and “living in fear”, are two different things.

I remember a few weeks ago, my wife, Patty, and I noticed that a piece of siding had come off from near the roof of the garage. So, I decided to tackle two fears at once: climbing a ladder, and climbing onto the roof of the house.

I climbed the ladder pretty swiftly. I pulled myself up on the roof, and began the climb toward where the siding had come unattached. With a very deep breath, I inched my way to the edge of the roof. As I leaned over to attach the siding…it happened. I froze. I could NOT move. Fear got the best of me. Now, in my defense, this was about 30 feet off of the ground. Just then, I realized, not only could I not do it, but I had to inch my way back down the roof toward the ladder, and then re-position myself to climb down. It’s like I was paralyzed.

Fear is a weapon that the enemy uses to paralyze us. Fear holds us back. Everyday, I play many songs that remind us all that we need not fear. “Fear is a liar”. “Fear No More”. “Whom shall I Fear?” Even powerful lyrics about fear, “I’m no longer a slave to fear”, and, “I will trust you Lord, I will fear no more”.

I encourage you to take at a look at the following Bible verses about fear. I truly believe that they can help you in your struggles with worry, anxiety, and fear.

1.  “But in the day that I’m afraid, I lay all my fears before you
and trust in you with all my heart.
 Psalm 56:3 (TPT)

2. “Don’t be pulled in different directions or worried about a thing. Be saturated in prayer throughout each day, offering your faith-filled requests before God with overflowing gratitude. Tell him every detail of your life, then God’s wonderful peace that transcends human understanding, will make the answers known to you through Jesus Christ.” Philippians 4:6-7 (TPT)

3. “I leave the gift of peace with you—my peace. Not the kind of fragile peace given by the world, but my perfect peace. Don’t yield to fear or be troubled in your hearts—instead, be courageous!” John 14:27 (TPT)

4. “For God will never give you the spirit of fear, but the Holy Spirit who gives you mighty power, love, and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:7 (TPT)

5. “Love never brings fear, for fear is always related to punishment. But love’s perfection drives the fear of punishment far from our hearts. Whoever walks constantly afraid of punishment has not reached love’s perfection. ” 1 John 4:18 (TPT)

6. “Whenever my busy thoughts were out of control, the soothing comfort of your presence calmed me down and overwhelmed me with delight.” Psalm 94:19 (TPT)

7. “Anxious fear brings depression, but a life-giving word of encouragement can do wonders to restore joy to the heart. Proverbs 12:25 (TPT)

I also want to share a Bible verse out of Psalm 23. Even if you don’t know much of the Bible, you’re probably familiar with Psalm 23. It’s been recited on the hit TV show, “ER”, and, in the movie, “Titanic”.

“Lord, even when your path takes me through the valley of deepest darkness, fear will never conquer me, for you already have!
You remain close to me and lead me through it all the way. Your authority is my strength and my peace. The comfort of your love takes away my fear. I’ll never be lonely, for you are near.” ~ 
Psalm 23:4 (TPT)

So there I was, on the roof, trying to convince myself that all I needed to do was swing my leg over the top of the ladder, and begin my descent. Well, after about 10 minutes, I did it. I got back down to the ground. And, let me tell you, when I touched the driveway, I wanted to kiss it. (And no, the siding still isn’t attached).

I can tell you this, no matter what you’re facing, God has your back! Whether it’s a fear of heights, snakes, or a virus, you do not need to be paralyzed. Don’t live in fear. But, take that first step of faith knowing that God has your back. And remember, fear is a liar!

Now, wash your hands. Go make a difference. And, Run By Faith.

Can You Really Work Up A Sweat Sitting Against A Wall?

Sitting against a wall. It shouldn’t be a big deal, right? WRONG! Welcome to the world of “wall sits”. Hated, and feared, by volleyball and basketball players, wall sits simply, “bring the pain”.

January, our #planksquad made the decision to build up to a 5 minute plank. Little by little, day by day, we worked our way up to achieve our 5 minute plank goal with success. So, for February, making a goal of 3:20, while sitting against a wall, should be much easier right? Once again, WRONG!

We began the month of February with a 10 second wall sit. Then basically everyday, we added 10 seconds. Throw in a day of rest every 7th day, and by the 31st calendar day, we were ready to tear that wall down for 3:20.

Everyday, our team of wall sitters posted their daily wall sit on Facebook. Plus, we tagged each other to show accountability. (This is the same principal we did in January with our “#planksquad”). Let me tell ya, accountability is a BIG factor to keep you going, even when you just don’t feel like it. In addition to #planksquad, we also added #mindandbodytribe and #breakingdownwalls.

A beautiful night to sit against a wall!

As a tribe, we decided to do our, “challenge meet up” at Core Life Eatery in Grandville. Core Life is a healthy restaurant with plenty of room, and more importantly, lots of wall space. We chose the time of 6:30 to meet, then wall sit, then eat. Easy Peasy, right? WRONG!

I’m a big believer in being thankful in all things!

There was another large group that got there before us and grabbed the large wall sit area we planned on using. While at first this appeared to be an issue, we figured, ‘hey all we really need is a few feet of room, and a wall to lean on’. Plan in place.

Before we got into “wall sit position”, we huddled up for a moment of prayer. It was a prayer of gratitude, for safety, and a prayer of thanks for what we were about to accomplish. I’m a big believer in being thankful in all things. We all said a loud “AMEN!”, found our random areas inside of Core Life, and ‘popped a squat.’

We all look so happy, while sitting through a touch of misery!
Patty is a dancin’ away!
Holly is showing off her own dance moves, alongside with Tim and Keith .
Lynsey is cranking her wallsit to “Grace Got You” by Mercy Me
Carrie, Betsey and Rose just making wall sits look easy.
Is Jenny concentrating? Or dreaming of her Core Life dinner? I think Rachel never stops smiling.

As you noticed, some of us chose to listen to music with earbuds, while some talked. Me? I went with a classic, “Let’s Go” by one of my favorite 80’s bands, The Cars. Why? It’s just above the required 3:20 wall sit. (And yes, the hand claps in the song also help)

One of my favorite memories of the entire night happened during the “Wall Sit Challenge”. One of the workers from Core Life decided to join us for all 3:20. How in the world did she do 3:20 without daily practice? Sheesh Tommy, jealous much?!

This is impressive! No practice. All Smiles.

Here’s something else that was cool. As our wall sit tribe expanded throughout the month, more and more people wanted to join us for our meet up at Core Life. But, due to prior commitments, many weren’t able to go. However, all you need is a wall, right? This pic was sent to us by one of our “Wall Sit Tribe” members.

Way to go Ladies!

As we heard our timers go off at 3:20, we all cheered, gave high fives, and were ready to celebrate with a meal! But first, one final group shot!

So, what’s next? For the month of March, we’re doing a Push-up Challenge. The goal is to get to 50 Push-Ups in 31 days. We’ve even created 3 different workout calendars to help you get to your goal, based on your fitness level.

We’d love to have you join our tribe! Just drop a comment below so we can stay connected!

Keep making a difference, and Run By Faith!

If Gerbils Could Talk, What Would They Say?

Gerbils. I feel sorry for them. It’s the same thing everyday. They wake up, eat, and then their idea of excitement is hitting that spinning wheel. You know the one? The one that takes them nowhere but around and around. Some life, huh?

But ya know what? I bet you’re more like a gerbil than you think. Do you find yourself doing the same thing every day? Same wake up time. Same breakfast. Same route to work. Same ———. (fill in your “same” here)

I’m more like a gerbil than I realize. I’m very routine. It helps keep me on track. I try to run at the same time every day. Read my Bible at the same time every day. In fact, I rarely shake things up. But, thank God for Wednesday! No, not Friday, Wednesday.

Wednesday is one of 2 days that I take off from running. It’s a day that I pop in a Focus T25 Stretch DVD from Beachbody. (Thanks Shaun T) It’s a hard core stretch workout, complete with some yoga, focus stretching, and breathing. It’s not as intense as a long run, or hill repeats, but I actually feel a bit more refreshed. It’s different. And, it’s a change to my routine.

That said, basically everything else in my day remains the same. (Insert shoulder shrug emoji) But, this subtle change has me thinking about a few more ways to alter my normal routine. What if I change the day I vacuum? (Every Friday) Read my Bible in a different spot. (Maybe by the Lake, or in the front living room) Or, cook breakfast for dinner! (My alarm goes off at 3:30a.m. so, I don’t often get a normal breakfast)

Now, not all routines are bad. But, what about you? Maybe it’s a need to break a bad routine, and create a new, “healthier” one. Try taking a walk. Try a new recipe. I’ve even found lots of enjoyment, and benefit, reading a new Proverb every day. It works great! There’s 31 days in most months, and 31 Proverbs. (But if I keep doing this, does that become, ‘routine’?) Anyway..

Are you finding yourself on the spinning wheel? Doing the same thing every day? Step back. Look at your day. What can you change, or alter? Or, I’ll say it this way, if Gerbils could talk, what would they say to you?

Thanks for reading. Break up your routine, and instead of just hitting delete, hit that Subscribe button. Keep making a difference, and Run By Faith.

P.S. That’s one routine I pray you never change.

#Planksquad: We Can Do Hard Things

It happened Dec 29, 2019. I put a simple challenge out on Facebook, wondering if any of my friends would like to join me for a 30-day plank challenge. I figured, “Why not start January in epic fashion? I’m going for a 5 minute plank in 30 days.” A plank is designed to strengthen your core, chest, and arms. But, what good would it be doing it all alone? I wanted a tribe. Well, let me tell you, I was NOT alone!

One by one, I began receiving notifications saying, “You have a new message.” Every time I opened the message, I saw things like, “I’m in!” or, “It sounds pretty crazy, but I’m up for a challenge“. One of those messages was from my wife, Patty. Another was from my friend, and Race Director of Gazelle Girl race, Holly. It seemed to make sense to make this more than just an idea for myself. I love the Bible verse that says, “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing”. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

A few years ago, I remember Holly inviting a few friends into a plank challenge. She called it her, “Planksquad”. This seemed like a great idea to resurrect! So, we created a new tribe,”#Planksquad”. To help create more of a sense of community, the three of us decided to begin posting pictures of ourselves planking. Not for vanity, but for accountability and community! We wanted people to share with others the, “hard things” they were accomplishing.

As each day went by, we heard from new people who wanted to jump into our #planksquad. Yes, they were willing, even if they missed the first few days. It totally showed us that people are willing to join something bigger than themselves. (that’s what community is all about, right?) One of our #planksquad-ers, Carrie, said, “I’m in! Cranked out side planks, too. Thought I would add extra since I missed yesterday.” Julie, in Florida, said, “I’ll join you! I’m almost always up for an exercise challenge.” Paul messaged me, “I’m in, but I need the accountability!” Then there was Patrick. Patrick posted a pic of himself, and his son, saying, “Building the strength of the next generation.” Wow!

As the month went by, the planks got longer, and harder. Longer planking equals more time ‘inside of your head’. So, just how does someone pass planking time? For me, I popped headphones in, and found songs that equaled the time of each plank. Like, “Jessie’s Girl” from Rick Springfield. Great for my 3 minute plank. (It comes in at 3:16.) Patty cranked up, “Desire” from U2. Great for her 3 minute plank. (It comes in at 3:29) Holly found herself mixing things up between songs, and reading out of her, “God Calling” devotional. A great way to build mind and body.

As the month passed by, each of us commented on how great we were feeling. We noticed that our core was getting tighter. And, we felt stronger in our arms. This really is working!

The real game-changer happened on Monday, January 27. God gave me a vision of getting as many of our #planksquad together to do a unified 5 Minute plank, in the same location. Remember, “WE can do hard things!” So, why not do these ‘hard things’ together? As Patty, Holly and I chatted, Holly reached out to one of her friends, Ed, at City Built Brewing in Grand Rapids. It was on! We arranged an impromptu #planksquad meet-up. We had no idea who would show up. But, you never know til you try, right?

January 30, 2020: The night that would live in infamy.

Day 30. Holly arrived at City Built Brewing first. She was chatting with Ed. Next, Patty and I arrived with our yoga mat. There were several people who wanted to be there, but already had prior commitments. Well, we were the only ones there for about 10 minutes. (The question of “would anyone show up?” went through our minds) That was until we saw Rose. Then Rachel. Next, was Brian. Followed by Betsey and Matt. Game on! Let’s DO this!

Ed took us back to a special part of the brewery, “the brew station”. This is the area where City Built creates their beer. We each grabbed our yoga mat, (mine made by Gaiam) got comfy, put located our headphones. As a tribe, I said a prayer of thanksgiving, and safety, for our #planksquad. We said, “Amen!” and we were ready to go.

I popped my headphones in. My song?? I went with, “Metal Health” by Quiet Riot. Odd choice, I know. But, it has a kickin’, driving beat, and is 5:22. Patty went with, “Don’t Fear The Reaper” by Blue Oyster Cult. Holly went with, “Rage Against The Machine”.

As time went by, we all shouted encouragement to each other. 5 minutes is a LONG time! Basically, the volume on each song got louder, as the minutes got longer.

Legs were shaking. Sweat was forming. Mental grit activated. Then, TIMER! 5 minutes! It was finished! The #planksquad goal was accomplished!

We all got up, cheered and clapped. “We did hard things!” What a feeling! To do something that has been 30 days in the making, together, makes it even tastier!

#planksquad Goal accomplished!

OK, so now what?

As we rolled into February, Patty, Holly and I knew this whole thing was something much bigger than ourselves. Together, we’ve decided to keep it going. Patty has created a sub-group inside of the #planksquad who want to plank, but at a bit of a slower pace. Shorter increases, looking for great results. Awesome, huh?

Meanwhile, we’re also currently in the midst of a, “31-Day Wall Sit Challenge“. And, once again, we have numerous amounts of people posting pics of themselves not only doing their wall sit, but also their planks, too. By day 31, we will be up to a 3:20 wall sit. (ugh my legs are shaking just thinking about it!) And yes, we’ve adopted 2 new hashtags. In addition to #planksquad, we have #BreakingDownWalls and #mindandbody.

In Genesis, the beginning of the Bible, God said, “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him“. (Gen 2:18) Friends, you were NEVER meant to do things by yourself. Knowing someone has your back really can push you through ‘hard things’.

What ‘hard things’ can YOU do? Wait. I bet you already have. Maybe you’ve battled a sickness. You’ve persevered through a struggle in a relationship. Even the loss of a loved one. (insert YOUR “hard thing” here) Take a second and reflect on how you’ve gotten through your ‘hard thing’. Chances are, someone in your “community” has helped you through it. I encourage you to take a second, and thank God for them. And hey, why not take it a step further? Send a text. Make a call. Simply say, “Thanks for helping me through some hard things!”

Find your tribe. Go make a difference. Do hard things. And, keep Running By Faith.

To receive more encouragement I’d love for you to subscribe to my blog. Feel free to drop me a comment about YOUR hard thing, and how you got through it.

They Call It Dopey For A Reason

Day 1 of the Disney Dopey Challenge

Sometimes, you sign up for a race, and think, “Yeah, I can do this!” Then, there are other times that you get to the race and think, “How am I ever going to do this!!” This pretty much sums my feeling as I approached the start line of the Walt Disney World Dopey Challenge.

Why is it called “Dopey Challenge”?

Complete all 4 Walt Disney World Weekend races on pace and earn not only the 4 individual event medals, but both Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge Medal and Dopey Challenge Medal—for a grand total of 6!

runDisney

That’s a total of 4 races in 4 days. Day 1 is a 5k. Day 2 bumps up to a 10k. Day 3 shoots you up to a Half Marathon. Day 4: The Disney Marathon. 4 races, 4 days. That’s a total of 48.6 magical miles!

This whole crazy idea started as my Pastor hinted that he and a friend were thinking of signing up for this race. I’d been training for my first marathon in the fall of 2016, so adding a few miles between my October race, and “Dopey” in January was not too big of a deal. So, in December of 2016, I noticed that there were a few openings left. I entered the race, and in the words of, “The Emperor’s New Groove” “Boom Baby” I was in!

In an earlier blog, I eluded to my experience with the Disney 5k. The 5k ran on a Thursday. It was a nice easy way to enter into the Dopey challenge. 3.1 miles of fun, entertainment, with very low key pressure.

The 10k took off at 5:30am. Yep, an early bird race. No issue for me,. as I am always at work by 4:30a.m. At the starting line, I ran into my Pastor from Michigan. Yes, Pastor Ken was the one that dropped this crazy idea into my head in the first place. We met up before the race. Had a time of prayer and encouragement, and we went to our separate corrals. It was a chilly morning by Florida standards, but great for running. 6.2 miles of fun, characters, pictures, and an amazing sunrise. Oh, and that sunrise, accompanied by Phil Collins’ “You’ll Be In My Heart” from the movie Tarzan was breathtaking!

As I finished, I noticed a fellow runner limping. I asked if she needed help. “If you could hold this little meal box, that would be great.” I gladly held it for her, as she was walking with an ice pack wrapped around her leg.

We chatted for a while. “My name is Joy”, she said. An interesting name for a woman who was in severe pain. She never complained about her knee. She was simply excited to be at the finish line, ready to see her husband and kids. She was choosing, Joy!

Disney does an amazing job helping to set the stage to an unforgettable experience. Complete with magical Disney music pumping through Epcot Center. Torches blazing around Epcot Center. And, smiles galore! That’s a two day total of 9.3 miles completed!

Then came Friday night…

We kept a close eye on the weather, as things were looking pretty stormy for Saturday Morning. We were to report to the starting line near 4:30am. Severe Thunderstorms were in the forecast. I thought, “Eh, no big deal!” Then, it happened. I received an email saying. “Due to severe storms, the Disney half marathon is cancelled.” Say what!?! How am I going to complete my Dopey challenge? This is my mission! My reason for signing up! So, I did what all committed runners would do, I mapped out my own 13.1 miles, and got my half marathon in!

An easy 13.1 miles. Yes, officially did a half!

I sent a text to my Pastor, and we decided to meet up and get our own 13.1 miles in. The funny thing is, we saw several runners out on sidewalks doing their own thing. Some of them were even wearing their bibs! Yes, I had to stop and grab a pic of this fellow Dopey runner!

Saw this fellow “Dopey runner” wearing her Bib. We had to take a pic!

Here is where things get quite interesting

I went to the Dopey Challenge at Disney with my friends DeWayne and Tony. DeWayne didn’t run, but Tony wanted to do the half marathon. But, when the half was cancelled, the amazing people at runDisney gave runners the option to bump up to the marathon at no extra charge. So what did Tony do? He bumped up! Now, Tony had only run as far as a 7 miles during his training. But, he still wanted to attack the full! Uh-mazing!!

Marathon Morning

We arrived at Disney by 5:00am, which in hindsight, was probably too late. So late, that Disney put us on one of their shuttles and whisked us to the starting line. Which, by the way, had a windchill warning in effect that morning. The windchill was 29 degrees. No biggie for this Michigander, but for others, it was a scene out of Frozen!

What an incredible 26.2 miles. Attractions every .5 miles. Treats, water, electrolytes, and FUN! Tony and I stayed together for about 22 miles of the race. We stopped quite often to take pictures of the scenery, the characters, and to soak in the ambiance. Then it happened.

Tony was spent! Tony fought cancer, and now he was fighting “the wall”. The wall is the moment in which runners experience a moment in which they feel like they just can’t go any further. I was super impressed that Tony had made it this far! “Go ahead. I’ll be alright”. Tony told me to leave him, and go finish the race. I struggled with this. We runners don’t leave friends behind. But he insisted. He just could not go any further. So I took off.

I loved running near, “The Green Army guys” from Toy Story. Snapping pictures, and shouting encouraging messages to fellow runners, while (spoiler alert) enjoying magical pieces of Dove Chocolate!

As I crossed the finish line, I teared up. Yep. I cried. No shame here! 48.6 miles in 4 days is NO JOKE! It was tough like Tarzan. Tiring, like Sleeping Beauty. And, magical like Tinkerbell.

Tony? Yep, he finished! He fought cancer, and he did what very, VERY few people have ever done – run a marathon without training! Now that’s Dopey!

48.6 miles of memories. 48.6 miles of smiles. 48.6 miles I would happily do all over again!

Think Twice Before Hitting Send

Your phone dings. Your wrist buzzes. You’re being notified.  Someone wants your attention. It’s a text! But what happens when you swipe to open the text?

Did you know that you can change someone’s day with a simple text? Encouragement in the palm of your hand! Think about it. It could be a co-worker needing help. A family member saying, “I love you”. Or, a friend asking for advice.

But, it can also be discouragement in the palm of your hand. Think about it. A co-worker ripping on another, causing you to do the same. A family member saying, “I’m sick of you”. Or, a friend saying something so harsh, it breaks your heart.

Today, I encourage you to think twice about that text before hitting send. Does it bring life? Or does it breed, “death”. You hold a pretty powerful weapon in your hand. That 3×6 inch device has the power to help speak “life” into someone. And, it can bring almost a “death” to the heart. Words last.

Remember getting a card, letter, or email, from someone you cared deeply about? Perhaps it was your first love! Oh, you held onto that thing for dear life! (My wife still has love letters from when we dated) It’s stored away in a drawer, a memory box, or even flagged in your inbox. Sometimes, you think of that person, you reach for the letter. and read it again. Why? Because it brings you feelings of love. But, what about the “breakup letter”? A rejection letter? A “letter of termination”? Chances are, you tossed it. Those things hurt to read. You don’t hold onto them, but they’re etched in your memory. You’re skin might be crawling even as you read this.

Today, there could be a text you revisit to bring you a feeling of peace and love.  Recently, my Aunt passed away. Our last text exchange went like this, I said, “I love you”. She said, ” you’re so sweet. I love you.” That is a text I will never delete!

Are there any texts you wish you had never sent? Or, texts you’re holding onto that need to be deleted?


I encourage you to stop, “bitter texting”, and delete any “harsh texts” you keep re-reading that do nothing but cause you pain.  Remember, build up, don’t tear down.

Text with care.  Run by faith. Go make a difference!