Showing Up

I figure a great start to the year would be to show up.  I don’t believe for a moment the saying that “90% of life is showing up.”  There’s just too much great work to be done for success to be reduced to that.  But there is something to be said for having a presence, establishing a reputation.  And then following through.

One goal of mine this year is to show up on this blog.  I get a lot of value out of the time spent reflecting on life and processing it in words, hitting the publish button.  And I know many people who read the words every time I post.  I want to be that consistent presence in 2013, and I’ve already thought about how I’m going to execute that plan.  You’ll be hearing about it by Friday in my Three Words post for the year.  My sister-in-law Jess has already asked me about my three words, so that’s pretty cool.Jess

As I said, that post is coming Thursday or Friday.  But I wanted to begin here with a simple post on the first day of the year.  Showing up is a big part of life.  I’m here.  You’re here.  Let’s pursue greatness.


[Podcast] Week 16 – Tennessee Titans (with Special Guest Jon Anderson)

Chris and I recorded week 16 Packers podcast while Chris was behind enemy lines.  He was in Minnesota as we recorded the podcast where we mostly talk about the upcoming game against the Vikings.  We were joined by Chris’ brother-in-law and friend of the show Jon Anderson.

As an editorial note, our recordings were little off in some places, sorry.



A Few of My Favorite Things (2012)

Sometimes I get to blog just about personal life things that I’ve enjoyed.  2012 was a fun year and brought many new things to life – some planned, others unexpected.  Here’s a list of a few of them.  I’m blogging this for my own memories, but I hope you can find some value also.

Favorite Author: Jon Swanson

Jon write at 300WordsaDay and he is the one blogger I read daily.  He writes about following Jesus in 300 words per day – brilliant.  Short posts but they cause me to reflect and think deeply about my faith.

Workout Gear: TRX


I did a project for a grad class this semester where we looked at the biomechanical analysis of the TRX.  The TRX is suspension training and my research reminded me how efficient and challenging this workout can be.  For our class, the professor built a quick make-shift TRX so we could work with it.  His craftsmanship inspired me so I’ll be building my own this season.

Phone:  iPhone 5

iPhone 5

I couldn’t resist.  I was due for an upgrade and a couple weeks ago I got the latest Apple phone.  My main reason was that Katie requires higher megapixels on our pics since she uses them for calendars and photo books, and my iPhone 4 wasn’t cutting it.  It’s a wonderful upgrade.

New Project: Sorin’s photo book

Katie has been making photo books each year for our kids as gifts to my mom.  This year I jumped in on the fun and did all of Sorin’s book.  I had so much fun!  And now Katie and I are working together to revamp how we organize our pictures so we can do these books easier and more often.  What a fun project.

Start-up business: 8Bit

My blog runs on Standard Theme, a product of the guys at 8Bit.  John Saddington and his crew do great work, they’re fun to watch as a team, and they are a pleasure to work and talk with on Twitter.  I find a lot of inspiration from these guys.


News feed: Zite

One thing I do every morning while eating breakfast is check Zite.  It’s an iPad app that puts together various feeds of news based on categories I choose.  Then when I read or star certain items, Zite gets even better at providing relevant news.

Lists/Groups:  Facebook and Twitter

I was so much more productive this year b/c I was able to filter out my Twitter and Facebook feeds using lists.  I get very annoyed at people who complain that there’s too much on the social media sites.  The fact is a little discipline and you can make the social networks work for YOU.  I’m spending part of my winter break slimming down the lists even more for 2013.

Notebook: Moleskin and Evernote

moleskin evernote

I’m a hoarder, I admit it.  But with Evernote, that’s not a problem.  I literally keep my life in Evernote.  But you can never get away from analog writing, planning, drafting.  So that’s where the Moleskin notebook comes in.  I’m almost to the point where the two are perfectly in sync.  But that’s just me.



Business tool:  Fit411

I had a fantastic conversation with Briana from Salus this semester and concluded that her software has so much potential to advance my business.  I’ll stop here b/c you probably don’t care.  Again remember, this is more for me than you.

App:  Instagram

Though they had quite the PR debacle at the end of the year regarding their terms of service, Instagram was a ton of fun this year.  It’s amazing how well a picture can tell a story and how creative these pictures can be.  I’ve enjoyed looking back at my Instagram feed from the year.  (there were a lot of coffee and espresso references)




There you have it!  These favorites from 2012 don’t represent everything from the year.  These are essentially just the things that have come to mind at the end of the year.  Probably what’s more important than looking back is looking forward.  That’s what will happen later this week when I write about my 3 words for the new year.  Having a great year is all about goals, not resolutions.

How about you?  What are a few of your favorite things from 2012?


[Podcast] Week 15 – Bears

Chris and I recorded this week’s podcast a little late, but there’s still time to have a listen before tomorrow’s game!  Happy listening, and Merry Christmas!!



Advent Blogging: Scene 3

Advent: expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus

You can catch up on the Introduction here, and Scene 1 here, Scene 2 here.


“Little Drummer Boy” (verse 3)

Mary nodded (pa-rum-pa-pum-pum)

The ox and lamb kept time (pa-rum-pa-pum-pum)

I played my drum for Him (pa-rum-pa-pum-pum)

I played my best for Him (pa-rum-pa-pum-pum) [x3]

Then, He smiled at me (pa-rum-pa-pum-pum)

Me and my drum


Remember: the newborn baby can’t respond when the drummer boy asks if he should play.  So Mary nods at the boy… and he begins to play.  The rest, well the rest is history.

But I want to leave you with this final observation. I don’t know what version of Little Drummer Boy plays in your head when you read this Advent Blog, but I listen to the live version by Jars of Clay.  They recorded it at their studio (Gray Matters) in Nashville, Tennessee.  Here’s the thing.  They don’t have a drummer.  A few different guys fill in for their shows, obviously, and even for this studio recording.  But the band has four members, and none of them play drums.  But you know what they do have?  A sweet guitar player.  And that is the point of the song.  It’s not about the drum.  The little drummer is literally identified by his drum.  His identity, his name, even his purpose is wrapped up in this drum.  And Jars takes this song, they realize it’s not about the drum but it’s about the offering to the baby King.  Bring what you have.  Bring your best.  Stephen Mason does just that in this interpretation.  His guitar is featured right as verse three starts (1:55), and then crescendos as the song finishes.  When I think about playing my best before the Lord, when it’s supposed to be a drum but instead it’s a great guitar solo, I get the chills.

In this world it is so easy to compare.  We compare to family, friends, co-workers, the guy next door, the guy on the TV.  I am the worst.  It is literally a daily struggle for me.  And if I was forced to play my drum, forced to play how the world has identified me, I would fail.  And I’d be unhappy.  And I wouldn’t be bringing my best to the newborn King.

Let’s embrace the Little Drummer Boy, as interpreted by Jars of Clay.  Let’s bring our finest gifts.  When the song and the world calls for us to play like a little drummer boy, let’s pick up whatever we have and play our best for the Lord.


Then he’ll nod at me.

Me and my [drum].


(for best results, turn up your speakers)

Jars Of Clay – Drummer Boy – Live




Advent Blogging: Scene 2

Advent: expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus

You can catch up on the Introduction here, and Scene 1 here.

“Little Drummer Boy” (verse 2)

Little baby (pa-rum-pa-pum-pum)

I am a poor boy too (pa-rum-pa-pum-pum)

I have no gifts to bring (pa-rum-pa-pum-pum)

That’s fit to give a king (pa-rum-pa-pum-pum) [x3]

Shall I play for you (pa-rum-pa-pum-pum)

On my drum?


Here’s our scene: A boy (a little drummer boy) has been instructed to come meet a new born baby king. The next verse of the song has a quality that can only be realized when the character is a child. He comes onto the scene and immediately makes a connection with the newborn, for he is a child too.  And he knows he’s poor just like the baby. You can almost see the boy perk up and say to himself with a touch of confidence, “He’s just like me!” And at one level, he’s right.

But then he remembers the invitation. The gifts. The finest gifts.  He’s connected with the baby but now he realizes the grandness of the situation. And he realizes he has no gifts to bring. He has nothing to offer this king.  Yes, this is a baby lying in a stable. But this is also a king. The drummer boy knows this and responds appropriately: “I have no gifts to bring.  If what they say is true, then I have nothing that is suitable for this king.”

And then it gets good. Again, only a kid could pull this off. He’s connected with the baby, he realized his gifts just are not enough, but he has one thing to offer. He can play his drum. “Is that a good idea?” he asks.  “Can I just play for you?

When I reflect on the second verse of our Christmas song, I am amazed.  When I really analyze the scene and imagine a boy coming to this manger and experiencing Jesus for the first time, his response blows me away. I want that. I want connect with Jesus the way the boy did. Jesus was a man. He walked the earth. He taught the people. He led by example. I want to connect with that Jesus. Then I want to realize that I have nothing worthy to offer such a King. Then I want to offer the only thing I have: my drum. Will that be enough?

As we anticipate and prepare for Christmas, let’s dig deep like the little drummer boy and think about what we have to offer the King.  I think tomorrow’s post will be a refreshing, satisfying, and hopeful conclusion to the Advent Blog.


(You can move to the final post, Scene 3, here)


Advent Blogging: Scene 1

Advent: expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus


“Little Drummer Boy”

Come, they told me (pa-rum-pa-pum-pum)

A newborn king to see (pa-rum-pa-pum-pum)

Our finest gifts we bring (pa-rum-pa-pum-pum)

To lay before the king (pa-rum-pa-pum-pum) [x3]

So, to honor Him (pa-rum-pa-pum-pum)

When we come



“You need to see this.”  

“This is unbelievable.”

“I have never seen anything like it.”

Often times in our culture we use these phrases a little to quickly, a little too flippantly.  But when someone comes to you and can’t wait to show you what they’ve seen, there is palpable excitement in the air, energy running through your veins.  If only you could hit pause in that moment.  If you could hit pause, you’d find yourself grateful that your friend thought enough of you to say, “Hey, I need to share this with [go ahead, enter your name here]!”  In our Christmas song that we’re looking at, something has happened that warrants the following command: “Come!  You need to see this.”

We find out that a king has been born.  Not too applicable for our day, right?  But in the context of the Bible, this was a big deal.  King had a lineage.  They had a story.  They were greatly anticipated.  This was really big deal.  So big that it would be appropriate to bring gifts.  Not just any gifts, but our finest gifts.  Why?  Why would a king need gifts?  If he’s a king, why would he need any gift from a poor person like me?  And didn’t you say he was a newborn?  Why would a newborn need gifts?  I mean in 2012 we do the baby registry and all, but back then?  What gifts would he possibly need?

No, this baby must be different.  The character in this song says that (a) you need to come, and (b) you need to bring your finest gifts.  That’s how we’ll honor him, with our finest gifts.  It would be appropriate to bring wonderful gifts to honor this king.  It’s at this point in the Advent Blog that I need to assume you know that the Christmas story is one of Jesus coming to earth.   You may not believe it, but you should at least know it.  If you know the story of the Bible, you know that Jesus is the King, the Savior, the focal point of God’s redemptive plan.  This Advent Blog assumes that you at least understand the premise of the Christian faith.

So for a moment, imagine the scene of someone pleading with you to come see this baby King.  You’re instructed to bring your finest gifts.  Empty the piggy bank.  Go above and beyond.  Make it a gift from the heart, a gift that means something.  Don’t settle for giving the sweater.  This has to be special.  Dig deep.  What do you have?  What can you give?  How can you honor the King?

Advent is about expectant waiting, but it’s also about preparing.  Imagine how you would prepare if you were about to be in the presence of royalty.  The little drummer boy, in this fictional story, has received a divine invitation.  He’s been invited to meet the King.  Can you hear the song playing?  Are you listening?  Are you responding?  It’s telling you, “Come, we’ve got to see this.  Bring gifts for royalty, bring the best you’ve got?”

What are you bringing?  You have one shot to make one impression.  What will you lay before the King?  You need to prepare.

(You can move to the next post, Scene 2, here)


Advent Blogging

We are all too well aware of the battles for our attention.  That case doesn’t have to be made.  But a still relevant question is, “Will you hear the call?  Or did you hear the news?”  When something important happens, will you have an ear that is sensitive and a heart that is willing to respond?

I’m writing a three-post series this year during Advent, the time leading up to Christmas.  It was inspired by Charlie’s series a few years back entitled “Advent Poetry.”  Charlie makes the case that in a season that is supposed to be about family, slowing down, and reflecting on the important things in life we often swing to the other side of reality and find ourselves busier than the other 11 months out of the year, more stressed, and more disappointed during and through the season of Christmas.  I generalize, but I also feel pretty confident that if we could create the ideal situation, it would include a few more relaxing cups of coffee, reading a few more pages of a good book, soaking in more time in front of the fireplace, and rich conversations with friends and family that warm the heart.  Sounds idealistic?  Maybe.  But very attainable with a little reflection and a new attitude, a new posture, a new hope.

I’ve been doing more reflection lately.  I’ve been reading a fantastic book about Advent as I prepare for Christmas (it’s written by Jon Swanson, my favorite writer from 2012).  His writing and reflection inspired the motivation for this series.  I’ve been listening to great Christmas music and I’ve been thinking more about what I can give at Christmas than what I want (sadly that is a big accomplishment).  I’ve been thinking about how I want my kids to experience their first memories of Christmas, what I want them to know, and how I can help Katie enjoy the season while she pours her heart and soul into family time, making gifts, and finds time in front of that same fireplace.

In all this reflection, I find myself coming back to one particular Christmas song.  And actually not any rendition will do.  I keep coming back to these guys from Greenville, Illinois who interpreted the Little Drummer Boy into what I consider the most important Christmas song over the last couple years for me.

I’m not a great writer, but have I caught your attention?  Tomorrow we will prepare.  We will reflect.  We will anticipate.

(You can move right to the next post, Scene 1 here)


[Podcast] Week 13 – Vikings

Wednesday night Chris and I recored our Packers Podcast for week 13.  The Packers sit at 8-4 and are in the middle of their division schedule.


[Podcast] Week 12 – New York Giants

Chris and I returned from Thanksgiving break and recorded week 12’s podcast.  The Packers had their worst defeat in about five years.  Here’s what we had to say about it.  (Special guest: Steve – our resident Vikings fan)
Note: we had one editing issue so one section may be a little our of order or missing a part. Sorry.

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