Do Something Ultra

What you’re about to read will sound ultra crazy. It kind of is, and kind of isn’t. To me, it’s ultra amazing. It’s called, an Ultra Marathon.

By definition, an ultra marathon, also called ultra distance or ultra running, is any footrace longer than the traditional marathon length of 42.195 kilometers. Becca Joyner, from West Michigan, is an ultra marathoner. She has run several in her life. Yes, that’s ultra crazy! But ultra amazing!

At the time of this writing, Becca is currently running, “The Last Annual Vol State Road Race”. This is a 314 mile race from Dorena Landing, MO to Castle Rock, GA. You read that right, 314 miles!

To show the magnitude of this amount of miles, I’m currently in a, “Keeping Up With Becca” challenge. Several of my running friends, and myself, are trying to see how many miles we can amass while Becca is doing her Ultra. She is destroying us!

It’s 5 against 1, and we’re getting killed!

This is a race with no aid stations, and no cheer stations. Just miles and miles of road. Empty road. This takes sheer grit and determination. And some serious ultra crazy!

Becca and I have a mutual friend, Amy, who decided to be part of her crew. To help encourage her, and support her along the race. The idea of supporting someone is full of life lessons. How to comfort, support, and do whatever it takes to be there for the journey. It means going, “the extra mile” like this.

How awesome is this?!

I asked Amy to try and describe what she has witnessed with Becca tackling this ultra.

To all the Vol Staters, I am in awe. They come in every shape, size, color, and age. They come to the start line with all the determination and belief that they will be climbing the final sandy accent in Georgia. To watch them is to see hopeful pursuit of something that not many are even willing to try. From the “elites” to the everyday mom or dad, you get it all at Vol State and no one is treated better then the other. There is something to be said of kindness and resolve these days.
Becca specifically has had to overcome some lingering demons from last years vol state. Her feet and ankles were wrecked. Trench foot, blisters on her heels and balls of her feet, ankle issues that made her wonder if she would ever have a normal cadence again. The fears of all of that happening again made her very cautious every time it has rained, and it has rained. A lot.
I am truly in awe of the women I have seen this week (and of course it is not finished yet!). She had been through every emotion possible and I know will come out a better human on the other side of this, as she does every time. Being part of this journey with her, I will treasure. There is nothing like an ultra that will bond people quicker. I am thankful to know her and that she has allowed me to be her friend.
Ps, the winner, Bob Hearn, came back through the course this afternoon, speaking and encouraging everyone who is left on it. That is ultra running❤️

In the midst of the race, I shot a text to Becca. What do you say to someone doing something like this? I simply said, “The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14 You that you are NOT doing this alone. You have a swarm of people praying for you, and cheering you on! When I need to dig deep, I am reminded of the Lord fighting for me. In this case, it’s a bit tough to be still, but you get the idea, He will see you through!

She wrote, Thank you so much, you made me tear up. There have definitely been some low points over the last few days, and I’m sure more will come up. I’ll do my best to remember your advice. Thank you for taking the time today.

I tell you this to say that just a little encouragement goes a long way. It came at a God-appointed time, as Becca was climbing 3,000 feet in 2.5 miles. Gulp! She sent me this picture.

As I looked at that picture, a thought came to my mind. “Oh my…WOW! There is a rich lesson in this, the fight to climb. The struggle in reaching the next mountain, after pulling yourself out of the valley. Take a moment to soak it in. Breathe. Cry. Laugh. Emote!!!!

I believe when you take on something ultra tough, you will find something ultra amazing. Whether getting in shape, taking a class, or running an ultra. Becca has, and continues, to find it.

Do something ultra. Go make a difference. ALWAYS run by faith!

What is something “ultra” you have done? How did you feel when you tried and or, finished? Drop a comment below!

Ladies and Gentlemen, We Are About To Experience Turbulence

Recently, I had to catch an early flight. Early as in, be at the airport by 3:45am. 3:45am was the easiest part of my flight.

I got my seat, buckled in, and was ready for take off. The dark sky was beautiful as I overlooked the city. It reminded me of fireflies flickering in a field in late June.

With the cabin dark, most people were trying to catch up on sleep. The poor lady next to me couldn’t keep her head up. She looked like a bobblehead. Somehow she, and most everyone else, managed to sleep until the Captain spoke.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, I ask that you stay seated as we are about to experience moderate turbulence”. Moderate turbulence was more like driving on Michigan roads. Jarred to left. Jarred to the right. We were driving straight into a storm!!

This “moderate turbulence” lasted for 15 solid minutes. Just when it seemed like it was letting up, another wave of discomfort kicked in. (Yet, somehow the lady next to me kept sleeping. Bobbleheading, but sleeping)

Finally, the storm ended. “Ladies and gentlemen, we are all clear now. I’m going to turn off the seatbelt sign, and you may get up and move around.” Just like that, the turbulence was over. The seatbelt sign went off, and order was restored. Whew!

Sometimes life rolls along just fine. Peaceful. Serene. Restful. When all of a sudden, turbulence! Everything that was once peaceful pushes you to the left and right. The storm batters you, and that seatbelt sign doesn’t seem like it is ever going to be turned off. But, just like a calming voice from the Captain, God speaks “Be Still and know that I am God”. (Psalm 46:10)

In the middle of the storm of your life, listen for the voice of God. Keep your seatbelt fastened, and trust that your turbulence will eventually lead to the seatbelt sign being turned off!

Fasten your seatbelts. Go make a difference. Always, run by faith.

Sometimes You Just Need To Move The Tomato Plants

My wife, Patty, loves to plant her flowers. She waters them, cares for them, prunes them, and they grow. Except last summer.

Something was wrong. Her tomato plants just didn’t grow as they had in years past. She was doing the same things, but something just wasn’t right. Yes, we did get a small cop of tomatoes, but not the big harvest that we were expecting.

Patty did many of the same things that she always does. She watered them faithfully. She tilled the soil. She gave them great sunlight. And, she pruned them as needed. So what happened?

Apparently, they were planted too close to our house, and the air wasn’t circulating properly. (I never knew that was even a thing!) Yes, that small thing made a huge difference and hindered their growth.

So, this year, she has planted a new crop of tomato plants in a completely different area of our yard. Lots of sun, lots of water, and lots of air movement. And, yep, we are now seeing signs of growth! I guess sometimes, you just need to move the tomato plants!

The same goes with our faith. Faith isn’t stagnant. We have to water it, weed it, prune it, and give it a growing environment. When your faith isn’t growing, something’s wrong.

As a runner, I see many things in my neighborhood that I would miss by simply driving. One neighbor in particular is always sprinkling, mowing, weeding and feeding his lawn. Guess what? He has the best lawn on the block. The time he takes to make that lawn look amazing is paying off! You really do reap what you sow. (Gal 6:9)

Here are a few ways to help you grow.

  • Plant the truth of God’s word in your life.
  • Connect with people for support and accountability.
  • Serve (be the hands and feet of Jesus and show love to others).
  • Experience God through Worship.

I believe that these simple things will help your faith-life grown with the help of the master gardener, Jesus.

Move the Tomato Plants. Go make a difference. Always run by faith.

(special thanks to Betsy Marvin for this blog inspiration)

A Simple Idea To Change Someone’s Day

It was the fall of 2018, and my son, Sammy was living in Finland. My wife, Patty, and I went to visit him. We had a wonderful visit, but there was one thing in particular that they didn’t do: smile.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that they don’t smile. In fact, in most European countries, they don’t make eye contact with you, unless you’re a customer in their store. This was crazy to me.

I believe there is something powerful about making eye contact, and smiling. I believe it makes people feel valued and important. But in Finland, I must’ve looked like a freak!! In fact, even as I’m out on my daily run, I always say “hello” and smile. Honestly, you never know what someone is going through in their life. That smile and hello just might be the medicine they didnt know that they needed!

Here’s my challenge to you: smile at someone. It takes very little effort, and can totally make someone’s day.

A joyful, cheerful heart brings healing to both body and soul. But the one whose heart is crushed struggles with sickness and depression.
Proverbs 17:22

Smile and spread joy! Go make a difference. Always run by faith!

Prayer Jar Project: Is It Working?

A few weeks ago, I introduced you to my “Prayer Jar Project”. A simple way for me to pray for the people who matter most in my life. After only a few short weeks, I have been AMAZED at what has happened.

Every morning, when I reach into the Prayer Jar, I say a prayer to ask God to let me pull just the right name of the person who needs prayer for 24 hours. 

Day 1: I pulled the name of someone who has a very close friend battling COVID-19.

Day 2: I pulled the name of someone watching her Mom battle cancer.

Day 3: I pulled the name of a friend trying to sell their house. (Within days after this prayer, it sold!)

Day 4: I pulled the name of my church. Perfect timing as our lead Pastor of 30 years retired.

Day 5: My wife, Patty, to help give her great influence at work. That day, she had a big meeting!

Day 6: A friend who is trying to grow in their career, and looking for new opportunities.

Day 7: My Mom and Stepdad. Just so happens they are trying to sell their home.

Day 8: A colleague in the radio industry. That day, he happened to be in the midst of a fundraiser for his radio station. Random? I think not!

Day 9: A running friend. He asked for prayer for his family to grow in the faith.

Day 10: I pulled the name of a family who, on this specific day, was driving to college graduation for their son.

Day 11: “Musicians we play on our radio station”. That afternoon, I had a Zoom with one of the artists. (Crazy timing!)

Day 12: A friend who is struggling in their marriage. (Again, timing)

Day 13: A friend of mine who is need of prayer for perseverance, and struggling with feeling a little blue.

Bottom Line: The Prayer Jar project is not only changing lives, it is changing mine! I am more committed to prayer than I have been in quite some time.

I’d like to encourage you to create your own Prayer Jar. Just put the names of friends, family, coworkers, anyone in your contacts list, etc. on paper, and drop them into a jar. Then, every morning, pull a name and start praying!

If you would like for me to add you to my jar, leave your name in the comment section. Also I’d love for you to subscribe to my blog for future updates. I believe that prayer works!

“This is the reason I urge you to boldly believe for whatever you ask for in prayer — be convinced that you have received it and it will be yours”.

Mark 11:24 TPT

Keep praying! Go make a difference. Always Run By Faith!

People Will Sample ANYTHING

People love to get free food samples at grocery stores. And have you noticed that they’ll pretty much try anything? That’s the point, right? Sometimes you’re skeptical on how it’s going to taste. But, you never know til you try it, right? That sample pushes you from, “I’m not sure about that…” to, “I kind of like that!”

I believe the same can be said about how we live our faith life. When someone sees you living in a way that is encouraging, a life filled with joy, a life that brings peace, more people are willing to go from, “I’m not sure about that…”, to, “You know, I kind of like this!”

And, when you sample something you don’t like, you skip the purchase. And guess what? When people see you living selfishly, or with a negative attitude, they’re reaction? “I’m not so sure about this.”

Every day, your life is a “sample” to everyone around you. Remember, people will pretty much try anything.

Sample well. Go make a difference. Always run by faith!

The Prayer Jar Project

Friends, for a few years now, I have shared with you that prayer is powerful. I have talked about it, blogged about it, even done a vlog about it. But now, it is time to do something more about it.

Confess and acknowledge how you have offended one another and then pray for one another to be instantly healed, for tremendous power is released through the passionate, heartfelt prayer of a godly believer! James 5:16

I believe that prayer works. From someone’s “bad day”, flipping to a “good day”. From reports of tumors miraculously shrinking, to the restoration of broken marriages.  Prayer is a powerful tool! But, I’m ashamed to say, I don’t pray near enough. So, I’m taking action.

The Prayer Jar

Introducing, “The Prayer Ja Project”. This simple jar contains the names of all of people in the contact list in my phone. I have names of family and friends. Co-Workers, neighbors, even my mechanic. If I have made contact with someone, I’m going to pray for that someone.

Here’s my plan. Every morning, I am going to reach into my “Prayer Jar”, and pull out a name. Throughout the day, as that person comes to my mind, I’ll take a moment and pray.  I will pray for his/her health, their family, their job, direction in their life, and their faith-walk. Anything that pops into my mind as the Lord leads.

Here’s the cool thing. You can do this, too! It took me about 15 minutes to go through my texts and contact list, and write those names on slips of paper. Then, I cut them out, and put them into the jar. How simple!

And you know what? I expect God to do big things through “The Prayer Jar Project”. Why am I so confident? Confidence comes from the Bible in Ephesisans Chapter 3.

Never doubt God’s mighty power to work in you and accomplish all this. He will achieve infinitely more than your greatest request, your most unbelievable dream, and exceed your wildest imagination! He will outdo them all, for his miraculous power constantly energizes you.
Ephesians 3:20 TPT

How stinkin’ cool is that? Take your wildest dreams, and God can make them immeasurably more than you can ask OR even imagine! (Insert mind-blowing sound effect)

Think of your, “if only this prayer would be answered…” prayer, and know that God can answer it! And then, He can super size it! Wow!

While there is NO magic in the jar, the jar holds the names of God’s children. You!! It holds YOUR name. And YOU are precious to Him. You are His child.

If you would like to know that someone is praying for you, I’m here! I would love to pray for you. Simply drop your name in the comments below, and I will make sure that I put your name in the Prayer Jar.

Pray continually. Go Make a difference. Always Run By Faith.

May 1, 2017. One Of The Worst Days Of My Life.

This is the true story of what happened to me on May 1, 2017. A painful day. But, a day changed the path of my life.

It started as a normal Monday morning. I had just finished up my morning radio show, like normal. I then headed to my normal Monday meeting. That was the only thing normal about Monday, May 1, 2017.

As my co-host and I were about to sit down for the meeting, I was asked to go into another room. (Honestly, I didn’t think much of it at the time). I figured they just wanted to talk to us separately about ideas for our show. That was not right at all. Moments later, due to corporate budget cuts, my co-host was being let go.

I was then pulled into that same meeting room. My mind raced. How will I provide for my family? What will become of my career? Yet, I was going to walk by faith, and not by sight.

I was told that budget cuts had to be made. I braced for the worst. “I’m sorry, we had to let your co-host go. Budget cuts”.  In an instant, my “normal” shifted to “out of control”.

I was hurt. I was confused. I was praying for help! Now what? How do I do a, “team show” alone? Do I want to do a show alone? God, what is happening? Why is this happening?

This was one of the worst days of my life. I had worked so hard. Put in so many hours. And in one meeting, it all changed.

I know that in reality, a change in your job is not the end of the world. But, it still stings.

I have a friend, who at the age of 25, was diagnosed with cancer. She is still alive today. But, it changed her life. My sister, at the age of 25, was told that she would not survive her disease. It changed my life. The common thread? When news comes at you that you’re expecting, it rocks your world. My world was rocked on May 01, 2017. One of the worst days of my life.

I dealt with many emotions. Everything from survivor guilt, to what’s next? It was a very difficult road. I pushed forward. I had to hold my head up the best that I could. And, trust me, that isn’t saying much. It was a painful time.

To keep this long story to a minimum, during this time, I was listening to a message from a Pastor out of Chicago who was sharing a message, “The Worst day of your life, can be the best day of your life”. As I listened, I wondered how that was even possible. But now, looking back 4 years, it was spot on! God was working on my behalf, even when I couldn’t see it.

Fast forward a few weeks. After much prayer, I decided to take a step of faith, put in my notice, and take a leap into a job with a ministy. I had been truly feeling a pull into ministry, but didn’t know what that looked like. Well, this was my opportunity to take a bold step.

I didn’t know my future would fully look like, but looking back, that bold step lead me to where I am today.

I’m now doing full time “ministry ” on the radio. And, in a crazy turn of events that only God could orchestrate, I am again working with my former co-host. Yes, the one who was let go. God made a way for her, on one of the worst days of her life.

Look what God has done. He turned my “worst day”, into the “best day”.

Through it all, my wife, Patty, has been an amazing blessing of support through the entire process. She has been my encourager, my cheerleader, my helpmate. Thank you, Patty.

Friend, I don’t know what you’re facing today. Perhaps this is the worst day of your life. Rest assured, God can turn the worst day of your life, into the best day of your life.

The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still.

Exodus 14:14

I had to lean into this Bible verse countless times and trust that it was true. It WAS. Still is!

Let God fight for you. Go make a difference. Always, Run By Faith.

OMG! Watch Out For These Trees!

Now that Spring has arrived, West Michigan is beginning to bloom! But, be on the lookout for what I call, “The Stinky Tree”. I just got a whiff of it TODAY on my run. Oof!

I decided to make a video to show you why they’re so “dangerous”! (and yes, feel free to subscribe to my channel for more encouragement!)

Easter: New Life. Or, Same As It Ever Was?

“Same as it ever was. Same as it ever was”. Those words were sung by the prophets from the band, Talking Heads. And, as we look at Easter, 2021, are they right?

The pandemic has changed many things, yet some things remain the same. Today, I saw a woman saying hello to a senior citizen, through a window. Same as a year ago. Today, not as many people were in-person in worship. Same as a year ago. Today, streets were quieter than normal. Same as a year ago.

That said, as I woke up today, 2021 brings new life. The Bible is as true today, in 2021, as it was the day it was 1st written. Same as it ever was. God’s love for you has not changed in 2021. Same as it ever was. His promise of eternal life has not changed for you in 2021. Same as it ever was.

What, in this crazy world, has changed in your life? Job? Health? Friends? What has remained the same? Is there anything you would like to see change? What can you do about it? Or, will you just be, “the same as it ever was”?

Make that change. Go make a difference. Always Run By Faith!