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.

What God Is Teaching Me Through 8 Puppy Paws

Things have changed a lot in our house in the last few months because we now have 2 puppies: Doc and Lavender. They are Black Labs, and they’re brother and sister! And God is teaching us a lot!

We’ve learned the importance of training, teaching routine, using clear commands, and praising them when they obey and do it right.

One command I am trying to teach them is kind of 3 commands all in one, “sit, stay, and wait”. They did well with “sit” because, let’s be real, who doesn’t like to just sit and chill. And, of course, sitting and then getting rewarded with a treat is awesome!

“Stay” was a touch more difficult. They wanted that treat! So, when I showed them the treat, then walked away a few steps, they were like, “Um Dad? Where are you going with my treat?” Now, all along, I knew that eventually that treat would end up in their mouth. But first, they had to learn to sit and stay.

Then, the hardest one, “wait”. They didn’t like this very much. This command taught the importance of not having “instant gratification”. As I made them sit, then walk away a few steps with their treat, they began to get impatient. (ironically, just like us!) Again, I was going to fully give them their treat. I was just looking for a little obedience.

My steps away from them began small. Maybe 5 or 6 steps. Then I’d shout, “Come!” They’d rev their engines and run at me faster than a DeLorean at Twin Pines Mall. As they became accustomed to waiting, their reward got bigger. I’d pull out better treats. The more they learned, the more they were rewarded.

Just like the late Prophet Tom Petty once sang, “The waiting IS the hardest part.” But, isn’t it always worth it? Doc and Lavender are SO happy after they’ve patiently “waited”. Yes, at first they were frustrated. But, with great restraint comes great reward!

“The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.”

Lamentations 3:25

“Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD.”

Psalm 27:!4

“I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.”

Psalm 130:5

Has God been trying to teach you something? Are you getting frustrated? Perhaps today you should sit. Stay. Wait.

I believe your reward is coming. Go make a difference. always Run by Faith.

If I’m Honest: I’m Puzzled

My wife Patty loves doing puzzles! She is REALLY good at it. Recently, she bought a 1,000 piece Alfred Hitchcock mystery jigsaw puzzle based on classic mysteries.

First, Patty had to read a short mystery. Then, as she assembled the puzzle, unexpected clues appeared to help solve the mystery. And, like a good mystery, there’s a twist. The puzzle image is different than the box cover. Whoa!

Patty worked several hours to put this puzzle together, only to realize that 1 piece was missing. UGH! We have no idea if our new puppies enjoyed a snack. Or, if I accidentally sucked it up with the vacuum. All I know is that she worked SO hard for so many hours, only to come up short to being complete. (Look closely at the picture, and you’ll see the missing piece).

I’m so grateful that we are complete in Christ. Colossians 2:10 reminds me of that. “I am complete in Him“. In a world that’s empty, there is fullness in Christ. WE are a completed puzzle! Now THAT is a mystery only Jesus can write!

You’re complete! Go make a difference. Always run by faith!

If I’m Honest: Grief Stinks

Grief. It’s ugly. It sneaks up on you. It hits you when you least expect it. It can hijack your day. It can put a hold on you tighter than Hulk Hogan with a figure 4. If I’m honest, grief stinks.

Back in September, I received a text from a friend of mine saying that one of our closest friends was killed in a motorcycle accident. I will never forget starring at phone, trying to grasp the reality of what happened.

I was numb. In pure shock. I had no words. It was like I was punched in the gut. All I could do was sit on my bed, starring at the wall.

My friend was in great shape. We had run, literally thousands of miles together. Told jokes. Made each other laugh. Shared deep talks. Encouraged one another to be better husbands, and fathers. And just like that, all of it morphed into a memory.

For the next several days, I found myself crying…a lot. I figured I would feel like this for a few days. I did. But those days turned into weeks. And then, into months.

There is something about grief that you just cannot explain. And, there are things about it that need no explanation. Like, tears. They are real. Or, hearing a song that brings back a memory. Or driving past a place you used to hang out. Gut punch. Every. Single. Time.

Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who
believes in me will live, even though they die;  and whoever lives by
believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” Right after Jesus said these words, one of his best friends, Lazarus, died. Just 4 verses later it says, “Jesus Wept”.

My Pastor once said, “Tears are not a lack of faith. It is evidence that someone was deeply loved and missed. Just as Jesus wept at the death of his loved one while knowing about eternal life, we too, feel the deep loss as we walk by faith.”

It has been 4 months since I last saw my friend. Ironically, just hours before his accident I sent him a quick text, “Miss ya bro.” And today, I still do.

I take comfort in knowing that my friend did have a relationship with Jesus. And from that, he is promised Heaven. That brings me great peace. I will see him again.

If I’m honest, grief stinks. But, it is part of life. And, just as Jesus wept, we can too. Tears are healthy. And today, if you’re grieving, or if reading this is bringing up the pain of missing a loved one, cry. Weep. It’s not a lack of faith.

With Jesus, there is Heaven. Go make a difference. Always run by faith.

If you’re struggling with grief, drop me a comment and I will pray for you.

If I’m Honest: I’m Wrestling

As we begin a new year, I thought I’d begin a small series called, “If I’m Honest”. I have a few thoughts that I’d like to share to get you thinking. Because, well, I’m in a season of being stretched.

Saturday, January 1, I woke up like any normal Saturday. I got up and got in my run. I was a bit short on breath, but nothing too alarming. I got home, and I just couldn’t warm up. I cranked up the heat in the shower and stayed in there for quite a while.

When I got out, I still could not warm up. I put on extra layers, but slowly felt myself becoming fatigued. Within an hour, I had to lay down, and layer up even more. I knew I was in trouble.

I spent the rest of the day on the couch, sleeping. Yep. 2022 began with me being sick.

Since then, I’ve been on a roller coaster ride. One day I feel alright. The next day? Blah. One day I test negative. The next day, I’m ruled out because of health and safety protocols.

So, here I sit. In the same room for the last 4 days. But, I am not going to let it steal my joy.

The comical part of it all? The word that I have chosen to focus on for the year: Contentment. Oh, the irony.

So, if I’m honest, I’m wrestling. How do I stay content in the midst of being stuck inside the same 4 walls? It means that I’m making a conscious choice to be OK with whatever comes my way. Now, I’m not loving it. I’m not really happy about it. But, I am trying to be content. Ok, wrestling.

Then, I read 1 Thessalonians 5:16, “Rejoice always”. Rejoice? Even when I’m sick? Even when it is not going my way? Even when it doesn’t make sense? Yep. Hence, the wrestling.

And, there is NOTHING wrong with wrestling. God welcomes questions.

So, as I heal, I wrestle. I’ll keep on rejoicing, despite sitting inside the same 4 walls. Because, I am content. And my choice of being content, helps me to see things more clearly. Because, if I’m honest, it always could be worse.

Be honest. Go make a difference. Always run by faith.

What’s something you’ve been wrestling with? Be honest and drop a comment. I’d love to connect with you.

What Are You Doing With Your Microphone?

Like you, Monday through Friday, I wake up and head into work. My job is standing in front of a microphone at JOY99 and talking. Talking about everything from weather and events, to a deeper relationship with God.

It is a different job, but one that I enjoy. I talk to thousands of people each week. I don’t take that for granted. But, you don’t have to be on the radio, or have a microphone, to make an impact on people’s lives.

I love Jayce, the greeter at my grocery store, who always smiles at us, and makes comments about how much Ice Cream we buy! Yes, he has gotten to know our family that well. The bus driver who I see wave at each child at the bus stop. The athlete, who after making the winning play, thanks God, instead of drawing attention to their own abilities. Even Charles, who continues to bring joy through a pencil and a few markers.

Each Christmas, thousands of us make it a tradition to watch, “A Charlie Brown Christmas”. Written by Charles Schulz, this sweet, timeless cartoon puts us in the Christmas Spirit, and brings the joy of Christmas. Charles’ microphone? A pen and a few markers.

What are you doing with your microphone?

Use your microphone. Go make a difference. Always Run By Faith!

It Could Result In Serious Injury or Death

I received something in the mail that really caught my attention. It wasn’t junk mail. It wasn’t a bill. It was a notice!

The front of the envelope said, in all bold, “SAFETY RECALL NOTICE”. Apparently, my car has a problem with the driver airbag. It could explode during deployment, causing sharp metal fragments to fly through the air resulting in serious injury or death. Sounds like something I should act on, right? Well…

I received this letter over a week ago. Yeah, I know it is dangerous. I know it could really harm me, but as of this writing, I have ignored it. Why? Good question. I guess because I figure it can’t possibly happen to me. That’s not smart. All this letter, this notice, has gotten is full of some dust.

While this letter is not one of the 10 commandments, it is a written warning. Something I should probably pay attention to.

The Bible is filled with written warnings that many of us overlook. Myself included. Now, while I try to stay on target and follow the leading and teaching of Jesus, I fall short everyday. But, I have improved over the last several years. I am happy to say that I have grown. Why? Because I haven’t just let “God’s notice”, the Bible, sit there and collect dust. I read it everyday, and it has changed my life. If I let that book, full of notices, just sit there, and only collect dust, life could be filled with bad choices and decisions that could cause, “serious injury or death”.

Before Christmas, I encourage you to crack open the Bible, or even the Bible app, and discover why it’s the greatest written, “Safety Recall Notice” of all time.

Pay attention to the warnings. Go make a difference. Always Run by Faith.

Feel free to drop a comment below, and I would love for you to subscribe for more encouragement.

November Is Not Just About Turkey

The month of November is known for leaves falling, colder temps and Thanksgiving. That’s all great, but why do we limit giving thanks to one day?

Have you really taken inventory of your life? We are always looking at the lives of “their”. Their life. Their job. Their car. Their house. Their vacation. Their…fill in the blank.

As we head into Thanksgiving week, I encourage you to do something I recently did. I took 5 minutes to write down the things I was grateful for. 5 minutes. That’s all I ask.

Here are the just a few of the things I wrote down.

My Jesus. My wife. My kids. My job. My health. My friends. My house. My family. My church. My finances.

Yes, those are pretty simple. But, then I went deeper. Running. West Michigan. Michigan State. Meijer. Electricity. Transportation. Heat. Carpet. Pizza. Ice cream. Laughter. Heated seats in my car. Healing from injuries. New socks. Music. Christmas lights. Coffee….

I could keep going, and that’s kind of the point. When you really take inventory of all you have, you really do have MUCH to be thankful for.

Set a timer. Take some inventory. Write down YOUR own thankful list. You will turn Thanksgiving into ThanksLIVING.

Give thanks to the LORD for He is good. His love endures forever. Psalm 136:1

Be thankful. Go make a difference. Always Run By Faith.

A Holy Disturbance

WARNING! This post is NOT meant to be a brag. If you read it that way, you’ve missed the spirit of the blog. This is about a Holy Disturbance.

Today, as I was doing a few errands, I drove past a man holding a sign asking for money. I’ve seen that man on the corner quite a few times and have thought, “Dude, do you know how many places are hiring right now?” I’m ashamed to to say that. But, I’ve thought it. Well, today, God stirred up inside of me, as my Pastor says, “A Holy Disturbance “.

My final stop was to the local Jimmy John’s to purchase a loaf of day old bread for dinner. As I walked in, there were several loaves of bread sitting on the counter. I ordered one loaf. They said, “you can have it, they’re all about to get thrown away anyway.” I repeatedly told them I came prepared to pay for it. They just smiled and said, “it’s alright”. I thanked them, and walked back out to my car.

I put the key in the ignition, about to drive off, when God hit me with, “a Holy Disturbance.”

There I sat, in my car, debating if I should go back in. “Boy, I’m going to look foolish.” “Will they think I’m trying to scam them?” I had to push all that aside, and just let God handle the details.

So I walked back in and plead my case to the workers, “There is a man asking for food on the corner. Would you be willing to share a few loaves of bread with me so I can share them with that man?” They huddled up for a few moments, and agreed to give me the loaves. I offered money, but they generously just gave them to me. “God Bless all of you!” I said as I walked back to my car.

I drove up to the man. He barely looked me in the eye. “Sir?” I said. “I’d like to share these loaves with you.” He took the bread, a bit reluctantly, and said, “thank you”.

As I drove away, I wondered, “Was this his first meal all day?” “How many meals will this last him?” When will he eat again?” I have no clue to those questions. But, if today he prayed, “Give me today what I need, Lord. (Or, “my daily bread”) God put that Holy Disturbance inside of me to perhaps be an answer to his prayer. Regardless, I trust that the”Holy Disturbance ” will not go in vain.

The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:40

Listen for a Holy Disturbance. Go make a difference. Always run by faith.

A Difference Maker: My Tribute to Dan Brainard

West Michigan lost the most encouraging runner in the running community: Dan Brainard. God called Dan home on Sept 30, 2021. Dan was truly one of a kind. He was also one of my closet friends.

I was asked to share a few words about Dan at his funeral. Or, as we believed, his celebration of life! What you’re about to read, is what I shared at the funeral.

Good morning. I’m Tommy, and I am very humbled to speak and share some thoughts of our friend, Dan. Melissa, Lauren, Gabby, and Dan’s family. My heart is broken for your pain and loss, and I, as well as many others, have been praying for you.

We all knew Dan for being encouraging, loud, full of life, loud, a rock and roll fan, louder, very caring, always willing to help, and being loud! And of course, Dan was a man who loved loudly! 

Dan had a heart filled with compassion and kindness toward his family and friends.  We all saw and heard his zeal for life. From movie quotes and rock music, to lending a hand whenever needed.  Dan loved big!  And it was during thousands of miles that I was able to spend with him running, that I got to know a side of Dan that helped me understand where his desire to love came from, and that was his faith in God.

Through many runs, we had lots of laughs, and lots of deep chats. We always asked about each other’s family, how we could pray for them, and encouraged each other to be better husbands and fathers.  We also talked a lot about music. And this might surprise you, but one of Dan’s favorite songs is an appropriate one for today. It’s by Casting Crowns, called “Praise you in the storm”.  I’d like to share the lyrics,

And I’ll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
And every tear I’ve cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

I lift my eyes unto the hills
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord
The maker of heaven and earth

After those long 10 plus mile runs, we’d all head for breakfast and copious cups of coffee. Dan would always joke and pick on the waitress, but before any of us took a bite to eat Dan always piped up to say, “Tommy, I think you were just about to pray…” and right there, in the middle of the restaurant, we would pray.

Dan might not have looked like a buttoned up, polished church goer, but that’s what I loved about him. You got Dan. A real true, genuine guy. There was never an act with Dan. It was real. And honestly, those are the people Jesus chose to change the world.

Jesus didn’t choose the “we’ve got it all together” people of the world. He chose “unschooled ordinary people”. People that might’ve been written off by society. And guess who people flocked too? Them!!  And Jesus never gave up on them because they were genuine. Just like Dan.  Those 12 disciples changed the world through the love of Jesus.  And I know for a fact, that Dan’s love for Jesus is what shaped who he was.

Jesus didn’t look the part. He just loved. Dan didn’t look the part, he just loved. And Dan’s love was an overflow from his love for Jesus.  Dan always took time to put their goals ahead of his. He always wanted to make us better runners, which made us better people.

Jesus said, “So this is my command: Love each other deeply, as much as I have loved you.[i] 13 For the greatest love of all is a love that sacrifices all. And this great love is demonstrated when a person sacrifices his life[j] for his friends.”

Dan loved Jesus. And because of that, I know that I will see him again. That’s a promise that we have, when we put our faith in Jesus, we have the promise of eternal life. That’s Heaven. The streets of Gold. Which is a lot smoother than running down the streets of Garfield and Butterworth.

If Dan were here, I know he would hate all this attention, but deep down, he would love the fact of being around his family and friends. Because it would be just another opportunity to love one another, as Jesus loved us.”

And in the words of the prophet Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while – you could miss it.”

Choose Jesus. Run hard. Always run by faith!