Water Ball

Water Ball

We were 123 yards out on the short par 4 13th. The ground was soaked from a tremendous thunderstorm the night before. ESPN cameras were everywhere. It was the final round of PGA Tour event The 84 Lumber Classic, just outside of Pittsburgh, PA. I found myself on the bag of friend and pro golfer @ryanmoorepga. We started out the 4th round in the final group, tied with the lead, and were coming down the last stretch of holes aiming for his first PGA victory. I was quite out of my league, having little golf experience, especially at that level. But where I lacked in experience, I was full of enthusiasm, stoke, and at that moment, adrenaline. Good thing I was simply carrying the bag and shouting numbers.

There was a giant piece of mud under the ball as it rested there, waiting to be hit up onto the green for a hopeful birdie putt. Though it rained buckets overnight, the tournament disallowed “Lift, Clean and Place”, a rule that allows a golfer to mark a ball in the fairway, clean it, and place it back. We had no choice but to play as it lied. A chunk of mud like that adds a lot of weight, no doubt. But it’s really a guess.

The ball took off like a rocket. No, a ballistic missile. It traveled nearly 165 yards and all we saw was that fateful splash from over the green. Stunned. At first, I thought I gave the wrong club. We realized the mud, slightly hidden under the ball, was way more than we had hoped. We ended up with a double bogey, and didn’t have enough holes to make up the difference. A 6th place finish on the Tour is nothing to balk at. But we smelled victory. We never saw that coming. Nor could we have guessed what the ball would have done. The rule shoulda been in place but it wasn’t.

It felt like the most potent of failures. To have that momentum, be that close, and then to crash that hard. We didn’t do anything wrong. So many of my “failures” have been like that – I didn’t actually fail at anything. Circumstances simply didn’t allow THAT success. Yet I still identify as a failure in those moments. Why? I want it my way. But I need to trust God’s way is MUCH better. Because it is. Always. But trust means giving up control. 😬⛳️

Other Side of the Moon

Other Side of the Moon

We used to be “dog people”. Buy them Christmas and valentines presents. Tuck them in at night. Set the thermostat for them, not us. We adopted a 1.5 yo Aussie, and then a couple years later adopted an Aussie Mini puppy. Still not sure what I was thinking, though my intention was to wildly surprise my wife for Christmas. Those two dogs because inseparable, much to the dismay of the older, Rusty. All he cared about was me and me only. Bauer, on the other hand, was glued to Rusty at all times. He has some gnarly separation anxiety, so Rusty was, and still is, his comfort blanket. Rusty had knee surgery years back and had to spend the night at the clinic, and you would thought Bauer was being electrocuted for those agonizing 24 hours. Didn’t know a dog could squeal so much. We later had kids, no longer had the ability to care for them, so some family adopted them and they have lived happily ever after.

I’ve experience some significant abandonment wounds, and they have manifested themselves in very strange ways over the years, even still today. Now I am seeing the longer affects of my being gone for a month for treatment is having on my kids, particularly my son. He wants to be with me 24/7, which I LOVE. But when I am gone, he is unconsolably sad. Today it was similar to when Rusty left Bauer. For all my son knew, I was on the other side of the moon, never to return. He is often trying to win my love and approval. Some of it natural for his age, but some out of desperation as he fears me leaving again – believes he is why I left. Oh man it’s so hard to watch. And I can’t promise for certain I will always come back, because I can’t control when my time here is done. This is a tough one to navigate. Another opportunity to lead him to Jesus. Remind him who is ALWAYS with him. He doesn’t fully understand it now, but when he does, I pray it prevents the damage I’ve seen abandonment can have. His fear is normal and natural. Kids at that age need us as parents. And some kids go through wildly painful loss. Nothing is guaranteed aside from Jesus’ love. That’s the most important thing I could teach him tonight. The rest is covering him in prayer.

King’s Too Soon

King’s Too Soon

News out of Florida this week is incredibly disturbing as we hear about high level, we’ll known public sporting figures that are being charged for involvement in prostitution and, inevitably, human trafficking. I don’t know the facts, nor will I make judgements or accusations as I am not there and don’t know the full story. What I do know, is this is nothing new. And that is not a good thing. As long as we view pornographic content in secret, as long as we watch Netflix shows with heavy sexual content, as long as we go to similar movies, as long as we use women (and men) to sell products through advertising, as long as we don’t stand up as men and say anything, as long as we don’t protest, as long as we feed our flesh, human trafficking, prostitution, sex addiction and sexual abuse will be a problem.

If we aren’t ACTIVELY part of the solution, we are part of the problem. The little choices we make in the evening when selecting an MA-rated Netflix series or clicking on IG accounts we probably shouldn’t… We are either a statistic that helps the trafficking industry grow by the clicks we make, or we are part of the solution by making better choices. No “winningest owner in NFL history” title will ever make us immune to the fall. In fact, that limelight and pressure and expectations will make it that much more difficult to live a pure and holy life.

I have been far from perfect, hence why I can’t pass judgement. But as a father, in a season where I am teaching my kids about the importance of wise choices, I too, need to be making wise choices.

Many of us become business leaders, pastors, mayors, presidents… whether we are ready or not. Will we have the foundation that withstands that pressure? Or will the little choices we make now contribute to our collapse? We need to shout loudly for what is right, for the sake of those being sold for sex, as well as for our own sake so that we don’t find ourselves on the news later for the wrong reasons. Many have become king’s too soon – power, money, fame – before any strong foundation was in place. We need to show our kids how to make wise decisions so they, too, don’t end up in the wrong industry.

Going Through The Motions

Going Through The Motions

I am definitely not a “motions” type. When engaged in something, I like to be present, focused. Give me one thing to focus on and I will give it my best.

Faith is one of the anomalies that I have had such a difficult time with. My whole life I have strived to have “great faith” – to be confident of my identity in Jesus. But that confidence has rarely been a pillar of the foundations of my faith. I’m more like a “build your house on the sand” type. Usually doesn’t take much to wash everything away. And since I’ve spent the majority of my life in the path of hurricanes, tornados, flash floods… – all the storm seasons in America, my foundation is usually either being washed out or rebuilt. It hasn’t ever been completed. This isn’t in any way due to lack of God’s faithfulness or grace, as those things have always been abundant. I’ve been given the chance to rebuild time and time again. Yet, I keep choosing to rebuild in the same dang spot.

This came up in conversation this week as I was overcome with doubt and frustration – specifically regarding a prayer that I read. “After all the growth I’ve experienced lately, I still really don’t know if I believe what I just prayed”, I said. But I was quickly assured that that is ok. It’s ok to go through the motions at times. Or most times. No matter how stale, lifeless, uncomfortable it gets… just keep doing it. Keep journaling. Keep praying. Keep taking communion. Keep opening up to a friend, pastor… Keep pressing in. While I’ve strived for this “great” faith, Jesus reminds us that we only need faith of a mustard seed. So even if that is all I have, and I just keep trying, I never know when God will speak next. The clearest and loudest times He has spoken to me was in situations where I first chose to be obedient. No matter how reluctant I was. It’s not the greatness of our faith that He desires, it’s our obedience – particularly in hard times.

This week I feel like I am just practicing. Not even in the game. I never cared for practice in sports. Let’s just play. But I feel like my faith has been in practice mode for decades. Still, I just need to keep at it. One step, one breath.

#metoo

#metoo

In the age of social media, information, stories, opinions, news, lies, causes and movements spread like mad. Information has never traveled so fast. And much of it leaves as quickly as it came. People are up in arms about something one day and something else the next. Unified one day, divided the next.

Certain social and cultural movements are frivolous and fade off. Other movements MUST withstand, yet they too, fade off. Remember when the #metoo movement started? One brave woman stepped forward, in the face of tremendous adversity, and shared some terrible secrets about being abused. This sparked a movement that has been in the making for centuries. Woman after woman stepped forward and brought light to a world that only shame, and fear, had resided. Men, many whom were in power, used that power to coerce and abuse women. There has never been much accountability. While much has changed, much has gone unchanged. Why? Because men haven’t joined the cause vocally. Few have quietly supported, yet many raucously rioted.

This isn’t a political post. It’s a confession. I, too, sit here saying #metoo. Sexually abused, on multiple occasions, by older men. While it didn’t appear to be abuse at the time, and while shame did it’s job to silent me, I have recently chosen to hide in the dark no longer. This isn’t to take away from a predominantly women’s movement. It’s only to say, I too, am a victim. And I too, am part of the problem. And I too, am part of the solution. The more of us who share our stories, the more movement we will see. Like a fire lookout, hatches open, letting the summer light in, baring all shame and hurt. We can’t be a fire lookout in the winter, cinched tight. That does NO ONE any good.

Speak truth. LOUDLY. As brutal as it is. Abused or not. Nothing fun about sharing our garbage. But if it gives courage to someone else, then we need to speak up. Abusers act out of pain and brokenness. They, too, need hope and healing. We all do. Light brings truth. Darkness harbors shame. And just maybe, you’ll find the ability to forgive in the process. I didn’t think it was possible, but it is. It starts by raising your hand. Even to just one person.

I’m out

“I’m out”

Our kids are sharing a room tonight for the first time as my son’ room is under emergency construction. Shenanigans were to be expected as it’s basically like a spontaneous camping trip for him. Sleeping in big sister’s room is quite the treat!

Regardless, he is still recovering from a brutal week with an asthma attack, violent food-allergic reaction, demo-ing his room to rid the carpet… He is wiped. I’m wiped. Getting to sleep was important, but since camping happened, sleep didn’t. After way too many trips out of his bed, which was met with patience, I needed to be a little more stern in my tone so he understood the importance of getting some sleep and not waking his sister.

“Dad, if you are mean to me, I’m gonna march outside and find a new family.” Well, that hurt. While I know his 3-year-old self didn’t mean it, it still felt like a cheap shot. I thought, “if you only knew the literal blood, sweat and tears I’ve shed in the last 72 hours to save your life, improve your life, spend hard earned money on unexpected who knows what to get you healthy…” Sounds harsh, I know. And I didn’t say it. Well, I guess I just did. I’d like to say he stayed in his bed after that but he didn’t.

As I thought about the tone he heard that prompted his response, I know I wasn’t even remotely out of line. And he’s smack in the middle of that 3yo phase of utter defiance, independence, finding himself, his boundaries, what he can get away with… War of wills. And yet, he is also the sweetest little dude I’ve ever met. I know he didn’t mean it. Yes, it still hurt like a mother, and it’s ok to validate that. Too often I am swift to invalidate his feelings, my own feelings, my wife’s, friends… How we “feel” isn’t wrong. Emotions aren’t bad. It’s what we do with them… Had I sent him down the street like a bowling ball, that would be a problem. Biting my tongue in the moment, giving a hug, staying gentle, that’s dang hard sometimes – especially after sleepless nights and chaotic days cleaning puke, calling 911, demo/ dump run/ Home Depot to improve his living space. Moments of weakness are real. But they don’t define us. Grace given and Grace received.

3 Minute Mile

3 Minute Mile

2 months ago today, I gave my “Coin Out” speech after a month in a depression treatment center. 5 of us sat in front of the 25 who were continuing the program to give our thoughts on our time in the program, share our fears of re-entering atmosphere (the real world), and to encourage those continuing in their treatment journey.

Imagine running at a decent pace on a treadmill in a gym, top speed of your intervals, and you need to sneeze. We’ve all had to step onto the side rails of a treadmill for one reason or another. Remember what it’s like hoping back onto the treadmill at the same speed you left it? For a light-jog pace, no problem. At a dead sprint, a little challenging. Our legs weren’t meant to go from 0 to full speed instantly.

My time at the treatment center was a bit like standing on the side rails of a treadmill – a long break to refocus my heart, soul, identity in Christ, to heal, forgive, find Hope. Coming back to the real world is like trying to jump onto that treadmill at a dead sprint. Life has brought the rain. And fire. And hail. And locusts. Plague. Joker. Thanos. Papyrus font.

While it has been a dead sprint through an obstacle course, I can look back on the last 60 days and see movement, change, progress, healing, the work and Hand of Jesus. It hasn’t been as good as we hoped. But it has given us Hope! We have sat in the furnace, yet we are still standing.

There is Hope! It requires you to take it. Own it. Live in Grace. I have such a long ways to go. Peace and balance and trust are still goals, not realities. But I’m still standing. And you can too. Surrender but don’t quit. Fall on your face but stand tall. The view now is so much better than the valley of despair. The view in the furnace is actually quite incredible when you’re not being burned. Even the fastest mile ever run (3:43:13) started with a couple slow steps to get up to speed. But sometimes we just have to hit the ground running. The more our identity is SOLELY in Jesus, the better change we have of not being turned into a GIF video from face planting on the treadmill.

📷 @yuriymanchik at Ruby Beach, WA

The Art of Flight

The Art of Flight

We have been churning and churning and churning over some really significant life decisions lately. It’s very clear that it’s time to shake things up (like we haven’t already a billion times over). But we have our own compass in our marriage that tells us when it’s time to change some things. And that compass has been steadfast in its lack of movement as of late, which basically means: JUMP.

We are feverishly praying over our kid’s future, our current work setup (both self employed, pushing for a better system and schedule), among a couple other BIG things. This season is influenced by so many factors, and each decision greatly affects all the other choices. There is no simple or right answer. But we know it’s time to just make decisions.

In walks fear. And doubt. And reminders of so many past failures. Hesitation, rumination, delay tactics all want to take precedence over action, movement and momentum. God has made it clear that we are on the cusp of a new season, but it’s so dang hard to jump. This week He has literally used signs and wonders – real attention-getters – to nudge us closer to the edge. But in the end, it’s our choice to jump, or to hang on to the rail.

My hesitation is indicative of my lack of faith and trust. My memories of past failures only compound that. BUT, it’s time to jump. No more psychoanalyzing, operating in fear, ruminating, stalling. Today we pull out the chutte, take a dead sprint down the hill, and trust there will be a wind that picks us up.

“What does that look like?” That has been my most used question, even last night. And I won’t know until I jump. How many stories in the Bible where someone was called to something big was also given the treasure map? Never? We either get a map, or a calling, usually not both, at least in the beginning. If you have a map, JUMP. If you have a calling, JUMP! We might as well all jump together and build that trust muscle. This is why community is so important. We aren’t alone in the leap. Oh, and if we miss our target, we just say “well, Jesus – I blew that one. Will you forgive me and allow me to try again?”

Man Weeps on the Moon

“Man Weeps on the Moon”

We watched First Man over the weekend. An epic film telling the story of Neil Armstrong’s journey to become the first human to step foot on the lunar surface. As a space exploration fan, filmmaker, and father, this film hit all the feels. It tickled my 9 year old self’s astronaut fantasies that died when I realized how terrible of a methmetician and scientist I was (right vs left brain). I love how it was shot on 16 and 35mm film. As a father and husband, it really hit home as he struggles to balance his career and passion with his family life.

As I usually do upon the completion of film-watching, I spend hours reading up on the back story, behind the scenes, production, reviews… I stumbled upon a review from The New Yorker that nearly caused me to throw my phone out into the snowstorm.

*Spoiler* Much of the story is written around the loss of Neil’s daughter, which culminates at a moment we see at the very end while he is doing the moon walk. The writer of the review basically states that it’s ridiculous that Neil cried while standing on the moonscape, thinking of his daughter. “… if Neil Armstrong had been the sort of fellow who was likely to cry on the moon, he wouldn’t have been the first man chosen… He would have been the last.”

You’re telling me that a man isn’t man enough to walk on the moon if he not only isn’t moved by the historic feat, but having also lost his daughter to a horrible death, then he would be the LAST chosen? Why? Because tears make a man weak? I’d bet my kids savings that Hillary shed a tear after reaching the summit of Everest for the first time in human history. I’m pretty sure Shackleton wept in the quiet of night when he was able to get his entire crew to safety when they all should have died. Jesus wept. When Bannister ran the first sub-4:00 mile; MLK; Leonardo after painting Miss Lisa…

Sure, they all needed nerves of steal to accomplish what they did. ALL of them. Or their feats wouldn’t have happened. But to say that only a real man, one who wouldn’t weap no matter the circumstances, deserves to walk the moon – this is a lie from the pit of rotten pride. Don’t believe it. It’s not true.

Saddle Up Partner

“Saddle Up Partner” *Lloyd Christmas voice*

Last year, a hefty snowstorm was brewing, so a buddy and I headed for the hills. The snow started to fall right as we got to the forest service road we planned to assault with 4×4, snacks and tomfoolery. It was very early in the am, just light enough to drive without help from lights. There was old snow from a previous storm, but roads had been bare until a few minutes before we arrived as new snow started to puke. As we ascended the ridge on the narrow and winding dirt road, and snowfall increasing by the moment, we noticed a faint shadow up ahead.

As we approached, we realized it was a man, walking downhill, with the help of a cane, while carrying a rifle. I immediately looked at my buddy as we realized what we saw, and we also realized both of us forgot our concealeds that day. The guy walked into our path, literally cutting us off and stopping us. Given the fresh snow tracks, we knew he had spent the might somewhere up the hill. I cracked my window; “can I help you?”

“My wife and newborn are stuck a few miles up; we spent the night, no food or water. Please help”. So, let a dude with a rifle in the truck and believe his story? The worst case was he killed us. Best case we save a newborn’s life. The guy said he hiked 4 miles down. His friend left the night before for help and never returned. Worth the risk.

We plowed through several feet of snow for miles until coming upon a buried Suburban. We stayed in the truck to see what happened. Sure enough, out came a woman, dog, and 3 month old. Starved, dehydrated, and freezing (their car stopped running early in the night). We hopped out, loaded them up, and headed for safety. Had we not showed, with the storm that eventually happened, good chance they didn’t have a happy ending.

Each time it snows, I’m reminded of this story. RISK. “Growth requires risk,” as @rogerarcher253 says. I’ve had to take wilder risks these days, simply in an effort to get a little momentum. But it takes more effort to get a tree falling than for the tree to keep falling. Risk is required for us to see movement, growth, healing, purpose, HOPE. It’s freakin scary. But worth the REWARD.