The Waiting Is The Hardest Part

Tom Petty wasn’t kidding. He sang the song, “The Waiting Is The Hardest Part.” From waiting rooms, to call backs. Traffic jams, to being a kid on Christmas Eve. Waiting is hard. But, worth it.

As we approach Christmas, I can’t help but think of the story in Luke chapter 2 about somebody who knew quite a bit about waiting. His name was Simeon.

The Bible tells us, “Simeon was a righteous and devout man.” He was told by the Holy Spirit, “He would not die before he had seen the Messiah.” That’s a pretty spectacular promise. But, I have to wonder if he ever thought if it would actually happen.

Think about it. Everyday he probably wondered, “will today be the day?” And then at night he probably wondered, “Well, I wonder if tomorrow is the day?” Day-and-night. Months. Years. All he could do was hold on to a promise. And then it happened.

Moved by the spirit he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God saying, “Sovereign Lord as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation which you have prepared in the sight of all nations. A light for revelation to the gentiles and the glory of your people Israel.”

Simeon waited. Then, after all of those days, those months, those years, it happened. In walked the Mother, the Father and the child. Imagine that exchange when he finally took the baby in his arms. He held the Savior of the world. Just as he was promised. Wow. Just wow!

I bet there were days in which Simeon wondered, “Will this really happen? Will this, “waiting” really be worth it?” Oh…it was worth it. And the story of his waiting is part of the greatest story ever told.

What are YOU waiting for? Are YOU in the “waiting room” of life? Waiting for test results? Waiting for a call? Waiting for a promise to be fulfilled? Wait. It will be worth it.

Wait with anticipation. Go make a difference. And always Run By Faith.

Don’t Be A Karen. Be A Mary.

As we move onward to Christmas, I’m beginning a short series of messages to help us all focus more on Christmas in the midst of Chaos and COVID.

I feel bad for anyone named Karen. It’s become “a thing” to call someone who complains, “a Karen “. That’s not saying that anyone named Karen is a complainer, Stephanie’s can be Karen’s. It is simply a title. It is what you’re “known for”.

I just heard a Christmas message on, “Saying yes to God “. It was about how Mary said yes to God when she was told that she would be carrying the Savior of the world. “Saying Yes” is something that Mary was known for. Can you even imagine? An Angel shows up, which is crazy to begin with, and then she is told that she will give birth to a child, though she is a virgin. “He will be great and called the Son of the Most High”. What is Mary’s response? “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled!” Whoa! Now THAT is the most accurate definition of what it means to run by faith!

Mary took a bold step and simply said, “Yes”. She didnt know the future. She just knew that God would be with her. And you know what? He held to His promise.

What about you? What is God asking of you? This Christmas, are you willing to take a step in God’s direction? To do something He has been pulling at your heart to do? To reach out to someone in need? Or, like the song says, “let every heart prepare him room”. Maybe it’s opening your heart to more of God. Whatever it is, today could be the beginning of becoming what you’re known for.

Go be a Mary. Go make a difference. And always Run By Faith.

The Rescue: Be Like Ed

On a cold, wintery day in 1860, a crowded passenger steamer had issues off the shores of Lake Michigan. Lots of people witnessed what was going on, but only one man decided to do something about it. His name was Edward Spencer. Edward swam out through the heavy, icy waves 16 times and rescued 17 people. Afterwards, Edward collapsed in a delirium of exhaustion, and never completely recovered. The rest of his life was lived in broken health. But what’s even more tragic is that in a notice of his death, one paper said that not one of these 17 rescued persons ever thanked him. Not one.

Pretty sad, huh? Yet, how many of us might have honestly done the same? I’m sure all 17 were grateful, but they never took the time to simply say, “thanks”.

There’s a story in the Bible similar to this. Jesus healed 10 men stricken with leprosy. These 10 men had to live in isolation from society to prevent their disease from spreading. How lonely! Yet, after their healing, their introduction back into society, only 1 returned to say, “thanks”.

On this Thanksgiving, I encourage you to stop, reflect, and say thanks. We have many reasons to give thanks. It might not be as dramatic as being rescued from icy waters, or being healed from a disease, but what in your life have you been “rescued” from? Feel free to drop a comment. I’d love to pray for you!

Give thanks. Go make a difference. And always, Run by faith.

Signs, Signs, Everywhere There’s Signs…

Labels. They’re helpful when buying clothes and food. But in the front yard? I don’t know about that.

For the last several months, “labels”, in the form of political signs, have made statements for all of us to see. Candidates you like. And, candidates you don’t. Now, if you think this is a going to be a political blog, I promise, it won’t be. But, I’m hoping this makes you think a bit differently.

I’ve noticed that when someone sees a “label” in someone’s front yard, immediately, a conclusion is drawn about them. “Oh, I can’t believe she’s voting for him!!” “Who in their right mind…” blah blah blah. Perhaps it’s made you look at them differently? Sometimes negatively. Sometimes, positively.

But I’d like to challenge you on something. What about the house with NO label…um, yard sign. Without a sign, you may never know how that person sees the world. Their views. Their thoughts. Their affiliation. Doesn’t that seem more, “pure”? Just think about it, you don’t “cast judgment” near as easily as when you see their sign, flag, or banner.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with telling people about “your candidate” with a yard sign. But, I have been working on getting to know people, whether I agree with “their sign”, or not. In fact, I have a good friend who views the world differently than I do. When we met, I never knew their “yard sign”. We simply got to know each other. And guess what? I found that we had many things in common. However, to be honest, would I have approached them the same way if I knew their “yard sign”, before I got to know their heart?

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them”. Luke 6:32

If we’re really going to love one another, we have to “remove the labels”. Now that’s a sign I can endorse!

Be label-free. Make a difference. And always Run By Faith.

When Life Makes You Want To Say Bad Words

Sometimes, life stinks. Ever feel that way? Yeah, me too. Whoa! Wait. You’re surprised that I’m saying that? C’mon, circumstances happen.

Admittedly, I’ve had a bit of a rough stretch. Nothing life altering, but just some tough stuff. Stuff that is frustrating. Stuff that is time consuming. Stuff that makes you want to say bad words. While I didn’t say bad words, I feel my attitude hasn’t been in top form. In the midst of it, I have had to choose joy.

I took several long walks, and runs, praying for breakthrough and wisdom. And guess what? God answered. It wasnt in the way I was planning, but God knows a whole lot more than this dude!

I got wisdom through troubleshooting computer issues. I read some pretty amazing stories in the Bible about people who had much bigger struggles of their own. And, I received encouragement through texts, sticky notes, and hugs of support and love from my wife. It has been a lot, but to quote Elton John, “I’m Still Standing”.

What I’ve learned through it all is something I blogged about months ago, “I can do hard things”. I can do hard things because I have watched YOU do harder things. Much harder than the circumstances I’ve faced.

I’ve watched a husband walk alongside his wife in her fight against cancer. And, each day, choosing JOY.

I’ve witnessed a mom struggle daily while her child battles cancer. Not knowing if he will make it through the night. In the midst of it, she is choosing JOY.

I’ve watched a friend, who has been out of work for several months due to the pandemic, encourage others to choose JOY!

It’s easy to say bad words. It’s hard to choose JOY. Or is it? Well, when you put JOY into your core being, it makes it easier to navigate through the rough spots. I didn’t say easy, but easier. JOY is one of the things that is called, “a fruit of the spirit”. If you live JOY, it can’t help but come out of you.

What are you facing today? How can you choose JOY? Not bad words?

Go make a difference. Choose Joy. And always Run By Faith.

Marriage Ain’t Easy, But…

My wife, Patty, and I have officially been married 28 years! And while I’d like to say that it’s always been great, it hasn’t. But, without a doubt, GOD has been great!

Through 28 years, we’ve been Senior High youth group leaders, given birth and raised 4 kids, and opened our home to countless others during their trying times.

It hasn’t always been great. We’ve had plenty of bumps. But tonight, as I raised my glass to toast my wife, I told her that I am grateful for the joys, grateful for the rough patches, and grateful that God never gave up on us. Even when at times, we thought about giving up on each other.

As you read this, I want to encourage you that God has a great plan for you in your marriage. Sometimes you just have to shovel the crap. And you know, crap makes things grow.

These glasses sum up my heart. I love you, Patty. And Jesus, thank you for guiding us.

Don’t Be A Fool

You’ve been told from a young age, “Choose your friends carefully”. Of course, in your head you’re like, “blah blah blah…”. But, ya know what? It is the truth.

The other day I was running with a group of friends. These friends are faster runners than I am, but they have never looked at me any differently. In fact, they’ve actually helped me become a better, and faster, runner.

They’ve never said, “I think it’s time for you to pick up your pace”. Nope. They’ve never said a thing. So what’s changed? Actually, it’s pretty simple. If I run with faster people, and want to stay in their group without them leaving me in the dust, I have to keep the same pace as them. So, by choosing to run with faster people, I have gotten faster.

Here are a few things I’ve noticed that makes them faster runners:

  • They pick their knees up higher than I do. This causes faster turnover, and helps their form. Think about when you sprint, your legs lift higher. You don’t have, “lazy foot”. Simple, right?
  • They’ve mentioned to me that I don’t swing my arms enough. I hold them too close to my body. This causes my legs to unnecessarily work harder, which can tire me out faster.
  • I don’t stop as long as I used too at a water break. Their breaks are quick. Waiting around too long can cause your muscles to tighten up, and even break your running rhythm. And, it changes your heart rate.

This all goes back to when you were younger. “Choose your friends carefully”. If you hang out with people with a positive influence, you will become just like them. But, on the other side, if you choose to hang out with people who pull you down with their bad influence, you’ll begin to make stupid choices, too.

Proverbs 13:20 says, “Become wise by walking with the wise; hang out with fools and watch your life fall to pieces.”

So today, I encourage you to look at who you’re hanging around with. Are they people who bring you up? Or people who pull you down? Can you learn beneficial things by simply observing their life?

Go make a difference. Choose wisely. And always, Run By Faith!

My New Favorite Trail

We all put up with some pretty crappy weather in Michigan. Yet, in spite of months of grey skies, we reap the blessing of summer! In reality, God created something special with Michigan. It really is a beautiful place to live. And, a beautiful place to explore and run!

Recently, my wife, daughter and I headed north on a scenic drive, to simply sight see. And, the further north you go, the more beautiful it gets! Allow for me to present to you, Petosky!

Petosky is know for its beautiful water, and the hunt to find “Petosky Stones”. We searched, and found a few stones. But, our coolest discovery was a trail we explored. Whether you’re a runner, walker, or hiker, this super shaded trail is worth lacing your shoes up for.

Bear River Valley Recreational Area is right in the heart of downtown Petosky. With public parking, and a picnic shelter, this trail also has access for whitewater rafting.

The total length of the shaded trail is 1.5 miles. It’s filled with trails, a boardwalk, rapids, and also has wheelchair access. It is also dog friendly. Oh, and don’t forget your hammock. There are poles in place for up to 6 people to hammock.

While many choose to explore the North-South 35 trail along Lake Michigan, which is amazing, don’t miss Bear River Valley Recreational Area.

Where is YOUR favorite trail? Drop a comment and let me know. I’d love to roadtrip and write a review.

Explore. Go make a difference. And always, Run By Faith.

A Finish Is A Finish. Right?

Sometimes, in life, your finish doesn’t go as planned. In 2020, graduations have been just that: Not as planned! But, a finish is a finish, isn’t it?!

In 2017, I was running the 25k River Bank Run. The morning was quite humid, and I was prepared for a tough race. I must say, I felt pretty good, despite the heat. But, I knew that the temperature would rise in a hurry. And, it certainly did!

I noticed something odd at 13.1 miles. I just didnt feel right. I felt very tired. Pretty exhausted. I needed to walk for a bit to try and catch my breath. It really didnt help. I picked my pace back up, and went another 2 miles. That got me to mile 15. A half mile to go. And then…it happened.

“Amber. Amber? I need some water.” Amber and I have run several races together, and she sensed something was wrong. And, she was right. That was the last thing I remember. I don’t remember a thing for the next half mile. I basically blacked out.

Somehow, I kept going. I do remember small bits and pieces of things. Like being carried, hearing my wife cry out, “C’mon Tommy!”, and then, waking up in the medical tent. Yep. That happened.

Despite all of that last half mile drama, I finished. It wasn’t like I expected, but I made it. I crossed the finish line. And, I have a medal to prove it.

Class, and Parents of the Class of 2020, I know this finish wasn’t like you expected. You didn’t plan on not having a ceremony. You didn’t plan on not having prom. You didn’t plan on missing your senior all-nighter. But, you crossed the finish line. You have friends that helped carry you through. And, you have a diploma to prove it.

Sometimes in life, your finish doesn’t go as planned. But, what will you learn from that finish? “Count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” (James 1:3-4)

Finish, and learn. Go make a difference. And always, Run By Faith.

40 Little Things COVID-19 Has Taught Us

Well, it’s been a strange 10-ish weeks, hasn’t it? 10 weeks since the COVID-19 pandemic first reared its ugly head. Lives lost. Jobs furloughed. Events canceled. It’s pretty much sucked, right?

So, I’m going to take a moment to share a few of the “little things in life” that I believe COVID-19 has taught us to celebrate a little bit more.

Faith. Smiles. Friends. Health. Hugs. Family. Nurses. Doctors. Technology. Gatherings. Coffee. Pets. Jobs. Income. Graduation. Sunshine. DIY projects. Zoom. Running. Biking. First responders. Haircuts. Netflix. Traveling. Race day. Grocery shopping. Restaurants. Walks. Teachers. Appointments. Cleaning. Staying home more. Cheaper gas prices. Game board games. Toilet paper. Less traffic. Music. Imagination. Sidewalk chalk. Fitness. And, I’ll say it again, faith!

I know that there are many more things that could be on this list, and I encourage you to add your “little thing” in the comments.

Friends, this has been a strange 2020.  But, moving forward, if we celebrate the little things that we’ve learned to cherish, what kind of difference will we see in our lives?

Moving forward, if we don’t implement some of the things we have had to adjust to over the last 10 weeks, we’ll only return to what was. We have all learned so much. I would hate to see us all slip back into some of the same routines and habits we all began to realize were unhealthy.

Similar to when Moses lead the Israelites out of Egypt. They were in slavery and bondage. When they were finally freed, they actually missed their old lifestyle. They were willing to go back to what they hated, because it was all they ever knew. Oh, the little faith! God has so much for us!

Let’s not be like that. Let’s be different. Let’s move forward,   take what we’ve learned, and continue to find new ways, and things, to enjoy.

Keep celebrating the little things. Make a difference. And Run By Faith.