Writing Songs about Injustice

In April Blackhawk Church hosted their Pulse Conference for artists in the Church.  I attended because Jars of Clay were performers and speakers at the event.  Jars have long been a favorite band of mine and now they were in my backyard!  What I appreciate the most about Jars of Clay is their ability to reflect on what’s happening in the world and write about it.  They are very active on Twitter and Dan’s blog about the backstory to some of their greatest songs are fascinating insights into how artists with a Christian worldview are interacting with their culture.


I was listening to Charlie and Matt early Saturday morning while Dan was doing his talk on “writing songs about injustice.”  Just this week I got to listen to his talk and I think you may enjoy some commentary from a man who has been a driving force in their band for over almost 20 years.

My favorite line: “Great art should lead us to ask better questions.”  Enjoy!



Bridging Grad school to the real world

Graduate school is done. I’ve poured over two years into earning a masters degree in kinesiology and I am very proud of the work I produced, the friendships I made, and the growth I experienced.

As I begin to process my time as a grad student and how it will transition my career, I keep asking myself what I learned. The coursework wasn’t as straight forward as I was expecting. But the two years taught me a ton about myself and the process of learning and working. I’m a naturally reflective person and so when I say “learning and working” I mean “how will I take what I’ve learned and apply it to a career?” This begins with a mental framework.


I keep visualizing a bridge. Graduate school was full of scientific papers and grant proposals. A bunch of the material was stuff I will never look at again. And all along the way I kept asking myself, “how do I apply this to make people healthier?” I learned from and worked along side brilliant professors, researchers, and other graduate students. Most of them are spending their careers in research, conducting experiments and writing in scientific journals. I don’t have a passion for that. But each semester I was coming across literature and data that was begging me to be applied to the clinical world. I often used the term clinical because we worked with so many doctors and it was easy to compare the research world with the clinical hospitals. This is where the bridge kept showing up in my head.

The scientific community is not perfect. They are not all-knowing. When you get into many of the topics we learn that we don’t know as much as we think we do. Or that there are conflicting reports about an issue. Nonetheless, there are brilliant papers and concepts in the literature that need to see the light of day. They need me to get them into the real world so that they can help make people healthier. And who knows, maybe my applications will lead to follow-up studies so we can make our adjustments and make the field even better.

The next step isn’t clear to me. But I am confident that I’m about to create a bridge to connect the scientific community with the real world.


Hans Christian

On Friday May 17, 2013 at 8:52pm we brought Hans Christian Schiefelbein into this world.  I am so proud of Katie for all her hard work and dedication bringing our third child along in such great health.  She is very strong.  And Christian has such a story!  His name, his birth, his first hours with our family are a series of subplots that I can’t wait to share.  But for right now,  I want announce the birth of our son with a few of our favorite pictures.

Christian reaching pic 1 pic 2


Rob and Lisa (part 1)

Wednesday 10:52 pm
Tonight, probably for the last time ever, I got to hang out with Rob and Lisa. Schedules, jobs, life… from here on out they will most likely just get in the way and prevent the three of us from sharing each others’ company and a beer together. Tonight ended a season that spanned four semesters with Rob and Lisa. We entered grad school together and became friends fairly quickly. We struggled though classes together and battled to earn our Masters degrees. Now all the work is complete and three of us will be moving on to the next best thing, something bigger, something better.

But I need to document this. I need to reflect on my friends and put a rock down to remember this moment. I guess this post needs to be part one so that I document this specific moment when we said goodbye. Then I can come back and write part two and talk about the story we created together, the story we will take away from our grad school experience. Story is important. People and relationships are important.

I’m ok being sappy. Even if the three of us and our families are the only ones that get something out if this, that’s fine. That’s why it’s nice having my own blog. It’s mine! So when big life things happen, I’m compelled to mark the moment. Rob and Lisa marked a big moment in my life and I am honored to have made such great friends.

Tonight I had good conversation over good beer with great friends.



Celebrating Success

Last week I wrote about a failure in my training. I had a swim workout that was horrible and kind of caught me off guard. I was surprised and then I was frustrated. When I walked away for a few hours, I was able to process what happened and knew it was all part of the learning process. But I still didn’t have any first hand evidence that learning was going to take place, I had no success under my belt.

Yesterday I found that success. I had another swim class and things started to click again. It wasn’t easy. In fact our first 400 meters I thought my legs were going to fall off. And that was our first 400! After that we did a bunch of pulling technique where you can’t use your legs. Now I was worried about my arms falling off! Welcome to swim practice. Even through all this, I had a very successful workout. At the end our coach told us we had done 2100 meters in under 48 minutes – apparently that’s pretty good.

I have a long way to go as a swimmer. But actually after that workout for the first time our coach called me a swimmer. Kind of cool to reach another level in training.

It is really easy to get caught up in both the successes and failures in training, learning, growing. Getting better is a very cognitive process. And I think it’s critical to celebrate the successes. We need to know when we’ve done well.


Dip and Recover

I hope you’re in the business of improving. Who isn’t, right? We work hard on our craft, our hobby, our family, our relationships. We put in the time and we put in the work. But sometimes our upwards trajectory gets stifled. It can be very discouraging. I had that yesterday.

I’ve started to swim in preparation for my first triathlon. The last five week’s I’ve been in the pool working on stroke technique and cardiovascular endurance with tremendous learning and improvement. Learners see great improvements in the first stage of training a new skill. Literally every workout has been better than the previous. This culminated with my first full Masters swim class last Thursday which went better than I thought it would go.

And then yesterday happened.

It was like I had never done any of the drills before. It was like I had never swam five minutes straight before. It was like I had never practiced any of my technique before. To say it was a discouraging workout is an understatement. And I knew it 10 minutes into the workout.


Upward trajectory, good training



Tuesday – the Dip








But I stayed in the pool. I worked through some adversity, only to finish the workout disappointed and confused. Once I was out of the pool, showered up and into the rest of my day, only then was I able to process the experience as a simple down-tick in the game plan. I’m not in trouble. I haven’t regressed. This is all part of the learning and training process.


Wednesday – true growth and training effect

If you’ve been knocked down, I encourage you to walk away and process what happened. Revisit your game plan and show up to work the next day.  Do you know someone who needs to read these words? Please share using the buttons below.


What I Am Telling My Kids About Boston

As a parent it is my responsibility to form the lens through which my children see the world.  Thankfully my kids are four and and two, so the world’s events don’t affect them as much as they will in the future.  So what am I telling my kids about Boston?  Nothing.  I am relieved that I don’t have to tell them anything about what happened at the finish line of the Boston Marathon yesterday.

But I’ve been thinking a lot about planning and preparing and I’ve been processing that on this blog lately.  Exercise training – gotta plan.  Graduate degree – gotta plan.  Parenting?  Oh my!  If you don’t have a plan for raising your children, the world will raise them for you.  Let me be clear: my plan is to guide and encourage without micromanaging my kids’ childhood and upbringing.  But I believe there are explicit instructions and conversations to be had when it comes to certain life situations and events.  Monday’s terrorist attach is one of those events.  If Sorin and Norah were a little older, here’s what I would say to them.

Run towards, not away

When tragedy happens, evaluate the situation as much as you can and then be a first responder.  Run towards those who need help.  You will be equipped to handle the stress, the difficulties, and uncertainties.  Don’t run away.  People need you, assume they have no one else.  This requires some critical thinking, but the attitude should be of a first responder.  Think to yourself, “What can I do to help?”  There’s a visual image floating around the Boston finish line of  an explosion and then there’s a reaction by the bystanders.  Be a person who runs toward the emergency.

It’s not a good world, it’s an evil world

One prevailing thought after this tragedy has been that the world is essentially good, there’s just a few bad apples.  Unfortunately this is not what the Bible says.  The Bible says that we’ve all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  It also says that “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”  Our pastor, Chris Dolson, says we are crooked like a bent stick.  This doesn’t mean we’re all capable of terrorist attacks, but we are a sinful people.  At the same time God equips us for doing good works.  We need to know that evil exists in the world and it is our job to bring light and hope to the world.  It also means we are to help those in need if we are able.  Often we are, in fact, able and even called to help.

There’s nothing you can do

Would I run the Boston Marathon next year?  Absolutely.  Would I have attended the Olympic Games after the bombing in Atlanta (1996)?  Absolutely.  We cannot live our lives in fear.  We need to be smart, even strategic.  But we cannot let these events affect our lives.  Is there additional danger in the next Boston marathon?  The next Olympic Games?  The next sold out Packers game?  The next never-sold-out-Bucks game?  No.  There’s no rhyme or reason to these kinds of attacks, so we cannot live in fear.  Know the world we live in, be prepared, and trust in the Lord.  What else can you really do?  There’s nothing else you can do.  But our hope and our strength?  It comes from the Lord.  If He is our light and our salvation, whom shall we fear?

Run in their shoes

I don’t do well with grief.  Franky I struggle with it a lot.  But I know that and I’m actively moving towards it, trying to be more sympathetic and connected to those in need.  I don’t know anyone hurt at the Boston finish line.  But I had a runner friend, and I can imagine the support his family would need if he had been hurt or killed.  Being able to run in the shoes of people going through a tough time or tragedy is a life skill.  It allows us to care for them if we are side-by-side.  It forces us to run towards them if they need our help.  Right now I can’t do anything for the people in Boston.  But I can pray for them and their families and I can increase my compassion for them so that if I had an opportunity to help firsthand, I’d be more likely to step up and contribute.

I Love You

Is there anything more important to tell a child?  At the end of the day, what is more powerful than love?  I hug my kids a little tighter after tragedies.  I make sure they know they are loved and it flows from the love I’ve experienced from God.  God loves me, I love you, now go out and show the world love and hope.





A few weeks ago I had to go to the ophthalmologist (eye doctor, for those keeping score at home) because one eye was very red, infected, painful, all of the above.  She looked around, put some drops in, and concluded I probably was using dirty contacts.  It was good that there was nothing worse, but it was also a wake up call to take better care of my contacts.  She sent me home with new instructions for daily clearing my contacts.  Why am I sharing this?  Because the actual protocol was for me to physically rub my contacts when I took them in or out of their case and then empty the solution in the case each time I used it.  The problem of me was that I would never remember to change the solution until after I put my contacts away for the day.  It wasn’t until I changed my routine and emptied the solution right after putting the contacts in for the day that I was able to be successful in my new eye care.


I’m going though something similar with my new swim workouts.  Our house is set up such that the kids’ rooms are right next to our room and the mud room, which is our entrance to the garage.  I cant simply get out of the house at 5:15am.  I need to have my swim bag packed, my change of clothes and shower stuff packed, and even my garage door opener out of my car and by the front door so that I don’t open the inside door and risk waking up my (precious:) sleeping daughter.  The first couple weeks of swimming were stressful just in the prep I had to do the night before!

I’m finding that so many things in life are better experienced when you go through the set up in advance.  I’ll admit: I’m not a good planner.  I fly by the seat of my pants more than I’d like to admit.  I’ve trained for full and half marathons – that takes some planning.  I’m 30 days away from finishing a graduate degree in kinesiology – that took some planning and disciplined study.  But some of the smaller day-to-day or week-to-week planning issues are a struggle for me.  But life is a series of adjustments and I’m learning to adjust my habits, my routines, my preparations so that I can be successful in new and challenging ways.

Not only does it take some planning to get out of the house in the morning to swim, but it also takes some planning so that I get a good workout when I get in the water.  I’m not a swimmer.  I don’t know swim workouts, I don’t even know some of the lingo as I spend time with swimmers and research swim training.  So planning my workouts is essential if I’m going to expect to improve as fast as I’d like.

This all plays into a new theme in my life.  Every Monday morning I’ve spent some disciplined time prepping for the week.  Now I’m looking at some of the other areas of life that require set up to be successful.  Do you have any areas of life that could use a little more set up?


iCan iWill

On Tuesday I wrote about the importance of having a calendar component to your training.  My training philosophy is such that you need an event on the calendar to put your training into context.  This is consistent with goal-setting theories and intuitively we all know that putting a finish line on the calendar and having a goal is a great way to keep a person motivated and effortful.

So now that you have a calendar with a goal circled, you have a plan.  What’s next?  You look at the calendar and say to yourself, “iCan.”  But you look at your training partner and say “iWill.”

  • I will train.
  • I will be here.
  • I will work hard and smart.
  • I will compete and get better.

Having community in your training offers two benefits to reaching your goal.  First, it gives you come accountability.  Saying “I will…” forces you to make a commitment and now you’re on the record.  It’s not a coach or a trainer looking over your shoulder, barking orders, pushing you harder than necessary.  Rather it’s a peer, a friend by your side in the battle with you.  Training runs get long by yourself.  I love putting my ear buds in and listening to my iPod shuffle, but having a running partner, a biking partner, or a friend in the pool lane next to you makes any workout not only more challenging but more enjoyable.

That’s the second benefit to training with a partner.  It’s more fun!  Being relational and training with other people is what most people remember after the training is over, when the race is done.  I won’t get all nostalgic here, but I miss my high school teammates quite often.  That camaraderie from the practice field to the locker room to the game field, training is so rich when you have others by your side.  Of course with team sports that’s a lot easier to accomplish.  But as we get older it seems like our sports and activities are more individual in nature.  I’m a runner – solo.  I’m learning how to bike and swim – solo.  Therein lies the challenge.

I struggle a little bit here.  I kind of like training alone.  Part of it is my time commitments with juggling work and grad school.  But honestly most of it is (a) I’m a loner by nature, and (b) I don’t have a lot of runner friends.

My challenge to you is this:  keep your eyes and mind open to identifying a training partner.  I commit to do the same.  I will stretch myself, think outside my comfort zone (which is very comfy right now) and try to find a teammate, maybe a team.  I expect this to happen as I get to know the guys at the pool.  As I continue to train for triathlons, I expect to find some other run, bike, and swim training partners.

Have you thought about these aspects of training before?  Do you use a calendar?  Do you have a training partner or a training team?  


Training Philosophy: iCal iCan

When you workout as much as I do (which is not a ton) and talk about fitness as much as I do (my favorite subject), you realize that people who workout just for the sake of working out are few and far between.  You will never hear me discourage anyone from working out and doing what works for them.  But going to the gym to lift weights?  Getting on a treadmill with no end in mind?  And the step machine?!  Hey, any activity is good and maybe you’re doing it because you just know you should… but I don’t think it’s sustainable.

iCal iCan

I have this training philosophy: iCal iCan.  If I put something meaningful on the calendar, I can accomplish it.  No, four to five workouts on the calendar for three months straight doesn’t count.  I mean you need to put an event on the calendar.  “But Hans, I’m not a runner.”  Fine.  Then put together some kind of event together where you perform, where you complete, where you see if all your training and workouts have paid off.  This may take some creative thinking and planning.  I can help with that.  But I believe having context to your training is essential for anyone to adhere to a routine.

As most of you know, I’ve been a runner for over seven years.  Katie and I have made this a pretty big part of our lives.  I’ve run multiple full and half marathons, and each time it was this date on the calendar that allowed me to stay motivated for months at a time in pursuit of this single goal.  When you take this philosophy a step further, you realize that each workout has a purpose.  Each workout has an objective that fits into the framework of your training plan and contributes to your body adjusting to different workloads so that you can cross that finish line as fast as possible.  If this sounds too hardcore for you, I’m ok with that.  But we all can understand that in anything we do, a goal plus a plan is a recipe for success.  We work hard at work to get that next promotion.  We study in school to finish a class, pass a test, or graduate with a degree.  We do projects around the house with an end in mind – there’s a goal, so there’s a plan.  Health and fitness are no different:  iCal, iCan.



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