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

Location: Ruby Beach

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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?”

Location: Alyeska Summit

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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.

Location: NASA Aeronautics

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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.

Location: Summit Lake Trail

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The first half of my 30s ….

The first half of my thirties were jam-packed! The highest of highs, and lowest of lows. And everything in between.

I became a dad to two amazing kiddos! Led a team to the summit of Rainier (while sick as a dog). Hit the 8 year mark of marriage with my dream girl @theliser! Witnessed 2 epic NFC championships from the sidelines of the Seahawks. Bought our first house. Finished off the first decade of biz ownership. So many incredible adventures. Helped my wife launch her biz/ ministry. Made some incredible new friends! Watched my kids learn to walk, talk and ride bikes, serve pizza to the homeless, and care for their hurting friends. Watched my wife be an incredible light to many people on really hard days. Conquered many fears.

The early thirties were also really, really hard. Lost a few friends way too early. Almost lost a kid to an allergic reaction. Marriage was on fumes a time or two. Parents lost the home I grew up in to a fire. Several business endeavors failed. Mental health issues got so overwhelming I chose to leave my family for a month to get help (the hardest, and believing the best, decision I made in my thirties). Fought the IRS in the trenches for 5 years (and finally won!). Heart was broken many, many times. The Seahawks didn’t run it from the 1. Took a whole lot of beatings with illness and life.

And I’ve learned to really begin to appreciate all of it. The good, bad and ugly. The failures are bridges to success. Depression is no longer my identity. Loving my wife and kids well are my purpose. Jesus is my ultimate Joy. Life will always have curveballs, but I’ve learned to finally hit the curve. My friends are no longer lost, but free and dancing in Heaven. The IRS still needs a hug. Mental health needs to be talked about. Vulnerability (in our faith, relationships, on social media, at work, in life) is the key to conquering shame. My opinions stink, but my love needs to be given freely to all. Life isn’t about balance, stability or comfort – it’s about loving ‘everyone, always’ (@bobgoff).

I am more grateful now than ever for you, my friends and family, and my story. It’s a perfect example of the redeeming Love of Jesus! Love you all!

Location: Crystal Mountain Summit

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Seeing Stars

Seeing Stars

I was 23 the first time I rode a dirt bike. The majority of my adventuring and adrenaline fixes were human-powered, so this was new for me. And quite exciting. I figured I could get the hang of it with my hand eye coordination. I spent a weekend in college helping my uncle buck a few cords of wood at the cabin for winter. It was Nov., temps were below freezing, and we needed to stack up the wood shed for the winter. My reward: a night ride in the Gifford Pinchot NF under the winter stars. I was pumped!

We burned a few miles on the surface roads so I could get the hang of it. It was 9pm and dark as sin. Nothing but our headlights and stars. We veered onto a dirt FS road that immediately started climbing elevation. My uncle is quite the adrenaline pro, so he wasn’t going to take it slow on my beginner half. The roads were super dusty and visibility was terrible, so I stayed a good quarter mile behind him just so I could see the road I was on. His taillight disappeared, though I kept going faster and faster. I was on a long straightaway, going 45mph (fast for a newb in the dark on a dirt road). All of a sudden the dust vanished. Gone. I was so confused. I was still flying, accelerating (no more dust), trying to catch my uncle. There was a bend up ahead and I figured I would see his light around the corner so I sped up. I hit the corner going 50, and the next thing I know, I was sliding full speed on my back across the road a good 75ft before stopping.

It was dead silent. I was looking up at the stars, wondering if I was dead. A few seconds later I realized I was laying right next to my uncle. He wiped out too. The dust disappeared because the road was caked in black ice. Oops. Lesson learned. We were both finely bruised, and it made for an epic first ride.

I’ve wiped out so hard, so much since becoming a dad. What I’ve realized is the importance of who is laying next to me looking at the stars after getting gnarly road rash. I need someone saying “I’m here too. No worries”. Knowing my uncle was right there eased much of that pain. We are in this together.

Dads, moms, husbands, wives. We are the Body. I’ll carry you. Will you carry me?

Location: Blue Lake

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Opportunity

Opportunity

I’ve spent the greater part of my adult life chasing different opportunities; mostly in career, but really, overall in life. Most the time, I didn’t really have a clue what I was chasing. The American Dream, I suppose. Kinda like the golden ticket in Willy Wonka. “If I could just obtain X…”

Whether a raise, a new job, less debt, more time for hobbies, bigger house, more friends, epic-er travels – the list goes on. I’ve chased the illusion that something faster, shinier, newer and all the other “ers” would bring me deep satisfaction and joy. Even in marriage. If only we fought less, had more romance, went on more dates, ignited the flame – then I would be happy.

When was the last time you got a huge “opportunity” you were hoping for so long that it would happen, only to be disappointed a week later when the ecstasy wore off? Ask any NFL player who worked their whole life to earn a Super Bowl ring if they are as happy now as they hoped they would be when getting that “opportunity”. Yet, I wake up each day chasing the next “thing”.

In our small group today, we talked about the “opportunity” that marriage is. How sweet of a gift it is, but not because it brings us joy, happiness, satisfaction… Hands raised if you are fully satisfied and perfectly content with the state of your marriage? We all are striving for better. But why? Divorce rates are all time right now because when the romance fades, love must have too. But for the few striving for holiness, rather than happiness (Gary Thomas), that is the GREATEST of opportunities.

The most wild and fantastic opportunity is right before us. If happiness in marriage is the next opportunity we are chasing, we will be left unsatisfied yet again. No new job or fancy house or even more date nights (if our “why” is solely to be “happy”) will fulfill us like the growth we will experience when seeking God through our marriage. So I will take the opportunity I’ve already been given, and seek to make the most of it by aligning my “why” in marriage to holiness, not happiness. WAY harder said than done. But I will continue giving it my best shot. My satisfaction as a husband must come SOLELY from Jesus.

Location: Sunrise Visitor Center, Mount Rainier NP

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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.

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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.

Location: Sucia Island

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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.

Location: Perrine, Idaho

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