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Family Camp 2017

Last week the family took our annual trip to Fort Wilderness for family camp. Katie and I have been taking the family there since 2009 when Sorin was ten months old. We slept in a tent that year and even though things went very well in our REI Hobitat, we have been making reservations in Peshtigo cabin ever since.

This year Sorin is 8, Norah 7, and Christian 4. What a great age for camping! Fort is a very safe place for kids. Our only issue was Christian didn’t quite know his way around camp yet and since he isn’t riding a 2-wheel bike, he got left behind one time and got lost. Poor boy! It made for a solid hug when I found him. The only other unfortunate event was rain. We had rain most of the days which didn’t get us soaking wet but was enough to keep us indoors and more importantly out of Spider Lake, which is one of our favorite activities at Fort.

Sorin had a great camp. He spent some time in the craft shop with Katie and made a cool leather bracelet amongst other things. He was reunited with his friend Nate and they rode bikes and played between the two cabins all week. Not a strong swimmer yet, he still made it out to the floating mat and let me and my brother throw him off during a classic game of king-of-the-mat, featuring adults vs. kids. Most memorable for me was Sorin’s attempt at archery. We did it last year but this year he went to the tournament (without me!) and won 2nd place with 30 points!

Sorin got 2nd place in the archery tournament

Sorin got 2nd place in the archery tournament

Norah was connected at the hip with her cousin Max all weekend. This was a very fun relationship to watch, especially since Sorin was with Nate so much. Norah also helped her younger cousin Emily a lot. In the water she was the “instigator” for us tossing them off the floating mat and she also let me launch her in the shallow end of the lake and I even got her to stand on my shoulders and jump off. She and Sorin also had small roles in a skit and had no problem (still can’t believe it!) getting in front of the Jamborie crowd of 150+ people.

Norah making bug spray

Norah making bug spray

And Christian, oh Christian. My single greatest memory of my youngest is jumping off the dock performing a couple jumps, belly flops, and even the rare back flop. The boy loves the water. We didn’t have the greatest weather so when he got tired he would come to the shore, shiver his lips and cuddle in a towel before running back to the water to do it all again. He tried archery also and even with me holding the bow he aimed and hit the target a few times. He ran as fast as his little legs could go to keep up with the older kids and cousins and by Tuesday was singing his song of the week from children’s ministry: The B-I-B-L-E.

Christian the water boy

Christian the water boy

Fort Wilderness is the Stronghold of Christian Adventure. We go there to be together as a family, connect with extended family, meet new friends, and spend time with God. Each day we hear from our speaker for the week. This year it was Mike Bellanti from Northbrook church. He was an excellent speaker with messages he admitted were simple but useful. As he stated a couple times, he has two degrees in the Bible and he’s still figuring things out. Isn’t that the truth? Sometimes I have ambitions to gain more knowledge and go deeper in my understanding of God and the Bible but sometimes what I need most is a refresher on the basics.

Family Camp at Fort Wilderness 2017

Family Camp at Fort Wilderness 2017

I have to preface this next part: Katie and I aren’t campers. We bought the tent specifically for family camp but had never camped together or even talked about wanting to camp before this. It was pretty easy to be in the tent and with the cabin now, let’s just say it’s really good living at Fort.

If you’re looking for a great week to spend with your family you will love Fort Wilderness. As most of you know Katie’s grandpa started the camp and we highly value the Christian influence of the Fort. The Bible teaching is not over-the-top. If you’re considering the teachings of the Bible, Fort is a great place for you. While there are daily sessions of music and teaching, there’s no pressure to attend if it’s not your thing yet. Play games, take a kayak or canoe out on the water, or take a hike during that time. The Northwoods is a beautiful spot in Wisconsin and I hope you’ll consider joining us next year.

Feel free to message me on Facebook if you have any questions.

Love This Book: the vlog

Five years ago my church went through the Bible in a year. It was called “Eat This Book” The goal was to get through the text in a year. It was a very ambitious project. This year the challenge is called “Love this Book,” and the goal is just that – to fall in love with the Bible. What does that look like? How will we know if we are on the right path? What will the life of a Christ-follower look like in June, in September, or at the end of the year after going through this series? I’m asking all of these questions in my newest project on the blog – it’s my LTB vlog!

I’ll probably update this page throughout the year – for now here is my one disclaimer. My purpose is to document what it looks like to go through a year-long reading plan. I am not a Bible teacher. I am not a professional “vlogger.” I’m just hoping that seeing someone else spend a week reading, writing and reflecting will encourage others to participate.

LTB 001

LTB 002

LTB 003 // What is Love?

LTB 004 // On This Mountain

LTB 010 || Getting Through Leviticus

LTB 011 || What’s Next?

LTB 012 || Singin’ In The Car

LTB 013 || Pivot and Feature All Three

LTB 014 || I Know Where This Goes

LTB 015 || All Caught Up

LTB vlog 016 || Transition

LTB vlog 017 || On the Shoulders of Giants

LTB 018 // Embrqcing the Process


LTB 019 || Stay Focused

LTB 020 || Series of Adjustments

Final lap, memorizing Romans 12

I use YouVersion for reading the Bible. It’s always with me and as I’ve been memorizing Romans 12, I’ve enjoyed turning small chunks of the passage into pictures for my camera roll.

I’ve said this in my life group over the last eight weeks or so: I’m not a “memorize Scripture” kind of guy. Katie has usually been better at memorizing than me. Her mom did it all the time. It’s never been a practice of mine but when my pastor highly recommends a spiritual discipline, I listen. This time I obeyed.

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It all started with one verse. Going into it I felt stretched. Thirteen verses is a lot! There were two significant set backs. This section seemed like a natural break and I remember it being a challenge to memorize.

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Then when I went to South Dakota for my pheasant hunting trip , I really thought I’d have more time to be alone and make some great progress on the passage. Instead I probably regressed a little bit.

Two weeks later, I’m posting this image of the entire passage because I feel confident that more times than not I have it committed to memory. I am not done, but I am on the final lap.
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Memorizing Romans 12:9-15

At Blackhawk Church, our current series is called Romans: The Gospel for a Divided World. I have accepted the challenge from our pastor to memorize Romans 12:9–21.

This week as I’m going to ask you to trust me and this keyboard. I’m going to write out what I’ve memorized thus far and even though you can see the image below, It wasnt’ there as I was writing these verses from memory:

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil, cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourself. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, always serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Serve the Lord’s people who are in need. Always be hospitable. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice. Mourn with those who mourn.

How did I do? Are you taking the challenge? I am finding tremendous value in memorizeing and reciting each morning on my commute to work.

Romans 12:9-15
Romans 12:9–15


At Blackhawk, our lead pastor is a big fan of memorizing Scripture. One time he memorized the entire book of James! Last year we memorized a section of First Corinthians. This fall we are going through Romans (editor’s note: YES!) and the challenge is to memorize Romans 12:9–21. I’ve taken the challenge and I’ve been posting the series each week as I add a verse or two in my progression. Here’s where I’m at so far:
Romans 12

First Thoughts: Beyond Racial Gridlock

This fall marks the third year of our book study for Men’s Community at Blackhawk Fitchburg. We have read books about how to be a better man, how to grow in our faith, and how to navigate the faith-work relationship. This summer I was talking with a couple of the guys and we were kicking around the idea of reading a book on race. From the beginning we knew it would be a very different approach but with the race relation issues in our country I knew that it was an issue where we needed more discussion.

We decided on Beyond Racial Gridlock by George Yancey. One of the first ground rules was that we would offer each other grace each morning. We are a group of 12–15 white guys in Madison, Wisconsin talking about race relations. Additionally we are meeting at Barriques in Fitchburg, so it’s a public venue and when the room goes quite right as someone is saying something sensitive, it’s very possible to misinterpret what is being overheard or at the least it can get awkward.

It’s important to note that not only is this topic sensitive, but the book itself is very academic, certainly the most challenging we’ve ever read. But I could not be more encouraged by the first two weeks of our book study. Conversation has been authentic. Comments and questions are thought-provoking for the group and reflective for the individual. It has filled my soul in ways I was not prepared as I read each week and discuss with these men.

30 for Sam (Days 8,9,10 of 30)

I need to remind myself that the challenge was to do something physical for 30-whatever. Mine was run 30 days straight, and I added the blog reading and reflection. I will keep it going but I fell off the later part this weekend. I still got the miles in Prune which I’ll record today. But reading and reflecting, I’m behind. 

January 22, 2016


2 miles


God, help us celebrate small victories. Last Friday I started this little journey and I appreciate the reflection. Help Sam and Jenny celebrate the small victories, the small battles so that they can win the war. 

January 23, 2016


2 miles


God, the weather today was beautiful and it makes me think of those spring runs. The warmer air, the memories of the seasons bring joy to my heart. I pray that little victories and small blessings from you will spur me on to better runs and spur Sam on to continue his fight and muster up perseverance every single day. 

January 24, 2016


2 miles


God, it’s time to move past the first season of this challenge. The routine has worked, I’ve ran every day but 2 miles isn’t enough any more. Give us all strength to see when we need to take our efforts to the next level. Give us the vision and ability to push our limits grow stronger each season.