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.
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
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
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
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.
Day 7 of 30
As I was saying yesterday, people in this world are hurting. One of the friends I mentioned was saying he drives past houses on his way home and knows each one has a story and probably a struggle; maybe others know about it, but most likely not to the full extent. I said to my friend that I’m going to be as active as possible in his and the other situations. In the past I would’ve said I’d pray, but the reality is if I prayed once it was quick and less sincere than I’d like to admit, and there wouldn’t be much (if any) follow up. Not anymore.
Katie and I watched a cheesy movie on New Year’s Eve: War Room. One of the main characters is an old Christian lady who inverted a closet into a prayer room where she can go to battle with the Lord, fighting the evil in this world. Lots of cheesy parts to the movie but that approach to prayer really struck a nerve with me.
I told my friend that I would pray for him and that he would be included in my prayer journal. While I am all digital and as paperless as I can be, I will always keep a notebook close. The front part is for day-to-day thoughts and planning; the back is for my prayers. I’ve never kept a prayer journal but from all the success stories I’ve heard, the time is now to get mine established. Sam’s in there. So are the other two friends.
2+ miles through Oregon. Weather felt great, didn’t want to stop but today (Thursday) was my Friday since I have the kids most of the tomorrow.
My challenge to run for 30 days straight is becoming just that, a challenge. I had the kids longer than usual today and I hadn’t planned well, but I made it work. Out on my run, I appreciate the few minutes I have to hunk about Sam and his battle. If not for #30forSam I would not be thinking about him each day; that’s just reality. In addition to Sam’s story, I had two other friends with very difficult situations share their story with me; literally both were heart-wrenching. People in this world are hurting.
Tomorrow I’m going to write a little more about my approach this year to these stories. Thanks for reading. I encourage you to pray with me. And let me know if you want to do a 2-mile run with me sometime.
2 miles up and down Thomson lane while kids do homework and chores (might be on to something here…)
from the blog
Jenny has great perspective and wisdom in this post from 1/3/16:
I’ve also been trying to teach myself that this cancer and GVH thing doesn’t follow calendar years, or take breaks for Christmas, or ease up when winter break ends and it’s time to go back to work. It just is. Day by day, little by little, it will get easier but progress takes time. I haven’t quite mastered this serene peace of mind yet, but I am working on it and that will have to be good enough
God, give us our daily bread. That which we need to make it through our day, give us that. All of this is from you, we take nothing of it with us when we leave this earth. You are the provider off all good things and I find strength in You.
Day 4 of 30
Today I was back at work and so I was able to do my run on the Curve machine in more normal running conditions. Long day at work (writing this after 10pm) means short blog post.
2+ miles on the curve
from the blog
I read many different parts of the blog today and realized I need to digest more Sam’s story. I was trying to catch up in chronological order and pull my readers with me; I need to fast forward and even pivot my narrative. I’m thankful for Sam and Jenny’s story.
This week we talked about two chapters, including topics of the Holy Spirit and having a relationship with Jesus. Our table ended up spending more time on the Holy Spirit. We discussed the different upbringings we had with church and how that compares to now, as we all attend Blackhawk. We talked about how the author is really putting a divide between being a follower and being a fan. There’s some concern.
As for me, I really lean into this book. I know it’s not perfect and whenever you support something like a book it feels necessary to give 101 disclaimers like “it may not be for everyone…” or “I mostly agree, except…” I want to stay away from this; I’m not a pastor, I’m not a theologian. I’m a married father of three trying to be a better Christian. I take my faith journey very seriously. I want to learn, I want to grow, I want to serve. I want to lead other people to salvation through Jesus. For me, this blog is about living a healthy and disciplined lifestyle. That tag line was written with my profession in mind. I want to help people understand the effect of exercise on their body. But a disciplined lifestyle applies to the spiritual life as well. Here’s my one disclaimer: we are saved by grace. Now, moving on. What are you doing? How are you moving the ball forward? How are you growing? What are you communicating? Can anyone tell that you follow Jesus?
We are filled with the Holy Spirit; we have power. I know I don’t claim that power. But it’s there.
The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you (NLT). Romans 8:11
“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight (Acts 1: 8 – 9).
Idleman makes a great point here. He noted how we often say, “When I get to Heaven, I want to ask David about all the battles…” or whoever you want to talk to. But instead, maybe David will ask us, “So what was it like to have the Holy Spirit?” What a great question! I’ve never thought of it that way. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philipians 4:13), and I have the power of the Holy Spirit inside me (Acts 1:8). Do I want to claim that? Do I want to study that work in me? Yes, I do.
I don’t have answers, I have questions. I am so thankdful for this small group of guys that meet every Wednseday to talk about the Christian life and admit that we don’t fully get it but we’re on a path with some ambition to get better each day.
I’ve been taking notes all weekend. We are in Northfield, Minnesota for the wedding of Emily and Brian and I can’t help ignore the feeling that this one is different; this one is special. If you want to see how a father should give his daughter away, this is it.
Emily is very special to us. She babysat Sorin and Norah a few years ago and really connected with our family. Anyone who watches your kids is special. But there are certain ones that still rise above for whatever reason. The more I’ve gotten to know the Quinnell family this weekend the easier it is to see why Emily rose up on our list.
Tonight I was taking notes from Emily’s father, Mark. He lead the team and conducted himself with such grace, love and poise that I couldn’t help but notice it all starts with him. He has exactly one daughter; he gave her away tonight. If and when I ever get to give away Norah, this will be one of my models.
If I were to drill down the best predictor of my clients’ success, it would be the quality of the habits they’ve formed. All of my clients have very specific goals. Success starts with goals but success makes progress with habits. How are you spending your time? What is a non-negotiable in your week? How often is that non-negotiable happening in any given week? When you have answered these questions, you can claim a habit as your own.
I have too many irons in the fire. Can you relate? Either way, a productive and efficient life will be defined by the habits you’re able to execute. Are you signed up for a race? You need to get miles in. Are you running a business? What habits make that happen? Are you trying to launch a business? What habits do you need to have to put in the work before you go live? Are you writing a book? Chapters don’t write themselves – you need to do the work and you need to write on a regular basis. Are you trying to learn anything new? It takes many practices stacked on each other to move the ball down the field.
Think about your workflow. Think about your habits. Think about your distractions. Think about your goals and be realistic about what it will take to get there. Put together a game plan of habits and start stacking successful weeks on top of each other.
For me, I’m at a one year anniversary at Pinnacle. Katie and I just bought our first house. The kids have a new school district. I have a lot of reasons around me to examine where I am and where I’m going. I suppose I wrote this more for me. Hopefully you can find some value for your own season of life.
I’m up as I am every morning, sitting on the couch getting ready for my day. I’m watching across the street more than usual because it’s my mom’s last commute to work. She retires tomorrow, but she’s staying the night in Pewaukee to see some friends. So this morning she leaves for the last time. It’s been an interesting year for us because we both leave for work around the same time in the mornings.
I think I missed her! She’s not opening the garage door at her usual time. But I’ve been up since 4:30 – I couldn’t have missed her!
There she is! I’m out the door but she doesn’t see me. Now waving and now I missed her! I wanted to wish her well on her last commute! Now I have to catch her before she hits the belt line.
I proceed to blow through the lights at Siggelkow and Terminal; she’s just turning left under 51, but four cars are now between us. This probably won’t happen. A red light at Vogues! And there’s a perfect amount of cars in each lane, I pull up right next to her and wave! She doesn’t look happy. But there’s a good reason. It’s not that she’s not happy, it’s that she’s fighting back some tears, her eyes are leaking a little bit. No surprise… if you know my mom. We both know it’s a sentimental moment here at 5:34am. Only the son of a sentamental mom would take a picture of said mom as she takes the belt line east commute for the last time.
I’m so proud of my mom. For years she’s worked at WCTI, then it became WCTC. I remember when we would walk across the fields from the Pewaukee campus to her car while she finished work at “CTC” as we called it. When the family moved back to Madison (and McFarland), she kept commuting because she loved he job and she was in for the long haul.
I still haven’t made sense of the shooting in Charleston. Of course I never will. Yesterday I steered clear of the typical tweet: “Thinking and praying for Charleston.” I was thinking. I was praying. But I wasn’t writing about it because it was too fresh. Plus I agree with Eddie:
So can we talk about this in the absence of crisis? Can we be proactive instead of reactive? I don’t have answers. I’m not sure I’m for or against gun control, but I can relate to the words of President Obama:
As a Christian I believe we live in a fallen world. I believe the world was originally perfect and our sin messed that up. Our only hope for glory is trusting that Jesus has paid for our sin. If we believe that, we can be redeemed.
I offer that note because it’s how I can somehow wrap my mind around these types of tragedies. It helps me. But this latest shooting somehow hit closer to home. It brought me to a new reality: for the first time I realized it’s entirely possible that a random act of violence can happen to me. And in that reality I can only find comfort knowing when this life is over, I will be with Jesus. I do not say that flippantly. I do not want to die. But waiting until the end of life is too late to determine if God does or does not exist.