Go First

In high school, we went to a summer camp at a place called Sun Lakes. It was, well, sunny. And had lakes. For high schoolers, it was the perfect spot to chill and enjoy the break in chaos that was adolescence. Naturally, us boys were always doing dumb things. Most likely to impress girls. One of those ideas was rock diving (cliff jumping). There was a decent rock outcrop that was roughly 30 feet. Not nearly the highest thing we’ve done, but it did the job.

Actually, it didn’t. Because we had to come up with ways to make it more epic. For whatever reason, we decided that we ought to pee our pants just before the point of lift-off, since we would almost immediately be rinsed of our filth. Obviously not a lot of brain cells being used in our decision-making. For starters, how did we think that would impress… anyone? And second, I don’t think we anticipated the effects gravity would have on our plan – on the not-falling-as-fast-as-our-bodies pee. Regardless, the plan was hatched, and carried out. Not before some stalling. Stage fright played a big roll. No one could “go” first. Eventually one of us was giggling like a toddler and before we knew it, pee was running down all of our legs as we were crying laughing, and we all lept simultaneously. And we all were simultaneously face-rinsed by pee as we plummeted to the lake below. It felt like we were in the air for all of the minutes. So much regret for those 30 mile-long feet.

“We are always seeking to improve our lives with more… filling our voids with idolatry”. I read this quote recently and couldn’t help but think of Sun Lakes. We HAD to fill every margin with more to make something already awesome more awesomer. That backfired when our oxygen was replaced with bodily fluids.

In reality, I need more margin. Less stuff. Less to do. Less go here go there. More margin for what I need the most – time with my creator, time with my family, time in ministry. I don’t need to make my life more epic. Eventually I look ridiculous as I’m scrambling to do all the things trying to keep up with the Jones’s, exhausting myself in the process. Reminding myself that I’m finite. I can’t do everything. But I know Who can.

Daddy – look at that sunset!

“Daddy – look at that sunset!”⠀
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Our kids are dying for us to take them on adventures. Not just because they want us to, but because they want us to WANT to. They can definitely tell the difference. Are we engaged, or just checking a “quality time with my kids” box for the month? I am often very guilty as charged.⠀
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One thing that absolutely sucks about depression is that, in the past, I rarely have ‘felt’ like doing things. Anything, really. Even the things I enjoy the most often felt like a chore to get myself to do. Golf, hike, travel – you name it, no matter how epic it was, it took all of my might to will myself to action. Often, once I had finally mustered up the motivated, which sometimes would take hours, days or weeks, then I would finally enjoy myself – sometimes. Trauma and abuse have this sneaky ability take away the ability to compartmentalize. So even when I was engaged in a rad activity, my mind was stuck somewhere else. I have often described it as seeing my life through Virtual Reality goggles while I am sitting in a warehouse in Kansas. I can see, hear and watch my body engage in fun activities, but I am not really there to enjoy them.⠀
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I was finally made aware recently that my survival brain was stuffing all the bad emotions (memories) down so as not to hurt me anymore, but it was also stuffing the good emotions. I basically just never felt. No wonder why it was so hard to get myself motivated to do pretty much anything. Now that I have begun working really hard at healing properly from the past, I am finding myself enjoying life so much more. It’s not that everything in the past is a waste, because the memories are so incredibly sweet, especially now. I am just excited to be fully engaged more, and for my wife and kids to KNOW just how much I am enjoying my time when with them.

Jesus has already won the battle for you

“Jesus has already won the battle for you. It may not look it at the moment because you are still on this earth and there is still sin. But if you lean into Him, victory is already yours. Easier said than done, otherwise I wouldn’t have ended up in a recovery program lol. But if you can hold everything in your life with open hands, allowing God to have all control, you will be able to rest knowing things aren’t up to you. I’ve always white knuckled everything and not allowed God to have complete control of my heart and mind and life. Once I finally held everything in open hands, that’s when I finally started trusting Him.”

This sums up a whole lot of things I’ve always “known”, but never really believed. Trust is not something that comes naturally to me, even in the least bit. And talking with a lot of guys over the last week, I’ve definitely learned I’m not even close to the only one. The above quote was a text I sent to my buddy as he is going through something so unimaginable it makes me want to vomit just thinking how hard his path is. I originally gave him the token “trust Jesus, bro” message. His response: how in the h*ll do I do that?

I thought for a long time before writing my response, but I didn’t really have a good answer, at least a good answer that I had believed my whole life. I learned early on that doubt was more comforting than trust. Only in the last couple months have I starting “turning my mind” to a new direction. A whole new identity.

I have always admired something our local pastor does well. He holds all of his staff, volunteers, family – everyone – with open hands. And they come and go. He invests, trains, teaches, leads, and then he helps them set sail on their own adventure. I know how hard it can be, be he never wavers from that principle.

My wife and I were talking about trusting Jesus in business, which we both think about often as entrepreneurs. The analogy I gave was standing on the Perrine Bridge in ID, 400ft above the Snake R. wearing a chute. Eventually you have to jump (risk). Let go of the rail (doubt). Those few seconds of falling before the chute catches – that is what TRUST feels like. Complete abandon of control.

Quarantined

Been holed up in the quarantined house for weeks like E.T. One viral infection to the next for all of us. Wish it was at least in a rad ski patrol hut surrounded by snow. Few things drive me more insane than when everyone is sick for weeks, which happens yearly. No school, work, play, relationships. Just sitting around passing the virals and Kleenex, with frequent walk-in clinic visits, zero sleep…

The perks? Quick weight loss (down 10 lbs), new abs (from the violent chest hacks), lots of sitting (if you like sitting – which I despise). I will say that my mindset has been much more positive this time around. But I still get quite frustrated. Routine is important for me, especially when in recovery from my treatment last month. So it’s easy for frustration to set in when everything gets put on hold. This happens like clockwork every year, usually lasting for a few months.

I was reminded yesterday that we are finite beings. Bound by time, the need for rest, food, air, high quality H2O. It’s easy as a business owner / dad / husband / adventurer / Follower to often feel behind on our tasks. Truth is, we always will have things we tell ourselves we “should” be doing. The gym, devos, nap, reading, teaching our kids a new skill, emails, coffee meetings… There will always be things on the to-do list and in the inbox… And social media exaggerates that desire of “shoulds” in us when we see everyone’s perfect-life highlight reels.

When all hits the fan and I find myself sitting in a clinic with my health-mask-wearing kids watching Shrek while waiting for the doc after yet another sleepless night, I’m reminded of my values and priorities. In these moments, rather than get pissed off (which I still do), my most prized values rise like cream to the top. My wife, kids, and trust in Jesus. Everything else goes to the back seat and I don’t feel bad about it. I want to. But I chose not to. I don’t understand these seasons. And it still drives me nuts. I’m “behind” on everything. But I will be all in for the 3 people right in front of me. And I will trust even through my frustrations. Because that is all that really matters during these seasons.

Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads

“Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.”

We went on a wild adventure in 2014 to Denali National Park. We had one goal: chase bears. We ended up being the chased. I will tell that story later.

They have an interesting rule in the park – find your own route. There are no trails in the majority of Denali. And for good reason. It’s one of the last wild spaces left in America, and they want to keep it free of any sign of man. Aside from the road that we traveled via bus to our drop off zone, we didn’t see any sign of trail or human. Only wild tundra, vast open spaces covered in native shrubs, an occasional moose and grizzly, and thousands of vertical feet of ridges.

I’ve spent most of my hiking days in the Cascades, which are covered in trails, and the rules are quite opposite – stay on the trail no matter what. There is a sense of comfort being on a trail. I know it leads somewhere, that someone has gone before me, it’s on a map, and if I stay on trail, I will get to my destination. While I prefer the open space of the Denali tundra, I couldn’t help but feel this lingering sense of being lost. Even though visibility goes for miles, there is no clear marker of where I am or where I’m headed.

How often have we felt that as a man, husband, father, human. No trails left by those who went before us; no clear destination of where we are going. If we don’t have the trail to lead us, or any real markers, how do we know where we are going? Sure, we have the Bible, but what if no one showed us how to read it?

The work we are doing now is forging a new trail for the generations after us, starting with our bride and kids. Like the ancient trails in the Andes and Alps, or jungles of China that have existed for thousands of years. While it’s noble to find our way in the unmarked territory of life, it is our duty to forge a trail for our sons and daughters. To show them the clear path to Jesus, life, hope, love, forgiveness, career, financial responsibility, a healthy marriage… Many of us and our fathers and their fathers weren’t given that gift. But we get the opportunity to give that gift, starting right now.

I thank, therefore I am

I thank, therefore I am

It is so easy to get caught up naval-gazing – staring down at my own circumstances, rather than looking around at all the goodness in my life. The harder the trials, the more abuse, the deeper the betrayal; it all seems to diminish the goodness. One of the best ways out of a funk? Gratitude. Plain and simple. A new practice we have started over the last couple weeks is writing in a “gratitude journal” each night before bed. Sounds silly I suppose, but fascinating how much it changes the posture of my heart, mind, and body before bed. No matter what garbage we face during the day, if we can simply end the day with gratitude, we are finishing on the right foot. I always try to start days well, but never thought much about finishing them well. So, I quickly jot a few things down, ask @perfectlywonderfullymade for her thoughts, kick off the light, pray, sleep.

Now, don’t be fooled. It is usually the last thing I want to do when I crash into bed after psychotic and long days. And often times we sit in silence just trying to think of one thing we are thankful for. We don’t always write profound things. Some of our examples include but are not limited to: fondue, a day without a disaster, electricity, warm hugs, a break in the rain, no one crapped themselves, cough syrup, a second chance, reconciliation, hope…

Try it today. Right now. Write now. Think of three things and put pen to paper. Or thumb to phone glass. Send your spouse or friend or kid or parent 3 things you are thankful for. Maybe someone that [doesn’t] deserve it. See how your heart posture changes. This is a new practice that has really opened my heart to the goodness of God daily. I’m encouraged by it, and hope you can be too!

Stuffer

Stuffer

Anyone watched the show Longmire? Entertaining but not really recommended. Sheriff Longmire spends his days dealing with big crime in a small town. During an episode, a deputy didn’t understand why a criminal was going to such great lengths to cover up a very minimal offense. Longmire’s response stuck with me: “We all make mistakes. And we don’t like people knowing about it.”

Our desire to be accepted will drive us to great lengths to take our secrets to the grave. But what is worse – the shame of others knowing our secret? Or the burden of carrying shame alone? I’ve done both, and I can easily tell you that carrying shame alone is so difficult it is actually impossible to do. It will lead us to destruction. But when we allow others in on what we are facing, not only can they help carry some of the burden, they can also be the ones that lead us to healing. The first step is just including ONE person into our journey. This is so much harder than it sounds. So often we have asked “why didn’t they just reach out for help” when we hear of a suicide. And the question is very valid. But the answer is so complicated. Shame will do everything possible to silence us. And I mean everything. Add onto that being a victim of abuse – the ability to voice our secret or suffering is almost more painful than that of shame.

One of my kids sometimes is a “stuffer” like me – not often showing emotions or sharing feelings, yet hiding the truth. Breaks my heart because I know what it is like inside their mind. So I spend every day doing small gestures to let them know how much I care, and that I am a safe person. I can’t make them talk. But I can make myself available. They won’t ever care how much I know until they know how much I care (@rogerarcher253). My body language, willingness to listen, how I respond when they do share hard things – their brain takes into account all of those things every day. It takes great intentionality on my part, not theirs.

While we all go to great lengths to hide our junk, we just need one person that will hear us. And for us who know a “stuffer”, the most important thing we can do is be quick to LISTEN…

Why Secret Life of Dad

When I started Secret Life of Dad a couple years ago, it was out of the desire to use vulnerability as a way to heal from the pain I’ve experienced and was still buried in (and still am at times). I was a newish dad, and had seen so many fellow dads that were also buried in shame and pride and many who fought hard to keep their pain (and how they cope) a secret.

Funny that the 2.5 years since starting this journey has been the most painful season, and our circumstances have gotten so much worse. That is a good indicator that I am on the right path. I haven’t always trusted the prompting of the Holy Spirit. So this was and is scary as shish-kabobs. And it absolutely isn’t easy. But oh has it been worth it. Its not for the likes, shares, views, insights, or followers. I do it solely out of obedience. And to heal. And for the messages I receive in private of the courage and Hope this vulnerability is giving to others. It gives purpose to my pain.

Many don’t understand. And that’s ok. The messages I get saying things like “you shouldn’t talk about that”, “are you sure you want to share this”, “you are wrong”, “you are a mess”. Yes, yes I am. Many of us are. And we just need some honesty and Jesus. I can’t let that stop me. It only motivates me to be more honest, more vulnerable. I’ve seen the destruction of secrecy and pride. I’ve also tasted the freedom of vulnerability. Not saying you should spill it all on social media. But spill it with someone. Jesus shows up in the wildest places if we allow ourselves to show up too. Plenty of perfect on social media. Not enough real.

While my heart is for my fellow dads, young and old, it is also for the depressed, the anxious, the sad, the abandoned, the hopeless, the hurting, the nomad and the abused – those battling suicide, alcohol, porn, infidelity, anger, bitterness, divorce or running away. Man, woman, young kid – anyone who is hurting.

I vow to defeat shame, pride, resentment and bitterness. To be vulnerable with Jesus, my bride, our kids, you. Healing is possible. There is no one like our God! Join me in doing the hard thing. Baring it all at the foot of the Cross. Tag someone to join you on this wild ride!

He’s going down

“He’s going down”

When our son was born, I wanted the chance to help deliver him (with the help of our midwife). Seems pretty normal, unless you know my comprehensive history of passing out around blood. Specifically my own. I seem to be mostly fine with other’s – never had an issue on all the firefighter calls I went on.

As our son was leaving the womb, I ventured [down] there to catch. He was a 10 pounder, so when the water broke (earlier), his gerthy body had blocked it. Immediately following his exit, the great Niagara followed. Still I was poised. I quickly noticed the umbilical cord was thicker than a giant kielbasa (not normal), and before I could mention it, it ruptured (definitely not normal) – it exploded, covering everything within a 9 foot radius in color. I was no longer poised. I hadn’t even really gotten my hands on him when that oh familiar hallow vision, hot faced, ears ringing sensation hit.

I whispered to my wife “I’ll be right back”, and was ushered to the linoleum floor by our doula and photographer and soon I was completely gone.

My wife just spent the last 24 hours attending a client’s birth. It’s more her ministry than a career. Often I struggle to appreciate what she does as I’m not always there to see the impact or fruit of her work. Yet I need to empower and lead even what I can’t see. Part of my calling as a husband! Today I’m very thankful for what she does, as I know it has impacted so many. I want to be a pillar for her when she gives her strength and energy to those she serves. Fellas, let’s lead, even when we can’t see.

Thank you @perfectlywonderfullymade for working so hard! So proud of you 😍

📸 @caskro

Sifting

Sifting

We had a gnarly, ambush style storm over the weekend, knocking out power all across the region. I spend last evening running all over the place, it was dumping rain, all the intersections were dark – felt a bit end-times-ish. It was a fitting end to a really chaotic, unpredictable, expensive, and emotional week. As the week drew on, more chaos ensued.

On Thurs evening, I had one of the most powerful and supernatural encounters with God that I’ve ever had. No coincidence that it happened in the middle of turmoil. But man, it was significant. So much so that I had tears in my eyes of sheer excitement and anticipation. Less than 24 hours later, I had literal tears running down my face from the weight of discouragement and anger. How could I go from that high of highs to that low so quickly? I’m not a crier, so both were a bit surprising. As John Piper says: “Our worst spiritual and emotional collapses often follow in the wake of our happiest, most victorious experiences.” It was clear Friday morning that the enemy was declaring war on the breakthrough I had experienced. A massive fraud charge, super sick kids, crushed by a new tax policy, death, cancer… the day didn’t have any room left for any more blows. Right hook, left hook, cheap shot, rinse, repeat.

I felt a bit unjust in my anger and frustration at the end of the day, but I’m learning to speak clearly and not mask anything. My counselor reminded of when Satan demanded to have the right to sift Simon Peter (and the rest of the disciples) like wheat. His hopes were that we get so battered that we let go of faith. But Jesus comforts Peter saying that anything Satan does is only through God’s permission, to strengthen and refine us. I can only imagine that when Peter heard this, he had the same response I did. What? How can You give Satan that kind of access to me? Why are the beatings so much greater immediately after the biggest breakthroughs? I still am wrestling deeply with this, similar to when Jacob wrestled God.

I am reminded though, that so long as I have faith, even the size of a mustard seed, it is sufficient. In my confusion and doubt, I will keep pressing in.