My Top 10 Most Read Posts

FeaturedMy Top 10 Most Read Posts

Hey y’all!

I’ve been blogging for over 15 years now. I love writing, creating, and encouraging others. So…I thought I would share with you the top 10 most popular posts on my blog. Starting with number 10.

#10 Interview with Country Recording Artist April Kry July, 2019

#9 Manage your life, or your life will manage you September, 2013

#8 4 Healthy Steps For Your Current Season April, 2015

#7 The Ocean Is Calling Us November, 2021

#6 Best Connection Methods With Those Attending Your Church February, 2015

#5 Team Appreciation is Important July, 2013

#4 Interview with Country Recording Artist Kaitlyn Baker July, 2019

#3 3 Things To Do While Sitting In Darkness January, 2015

#2 A Tribute to Craig Jutila December, 2018

#1 The Fruit of the Spirit in Leadership April, 2013

Bonus: My current personal favorite. A Stroke of Genius December, 2021

I would absolutely LOVE to hear which one is your favorite, and why?

Lastly, what do you want to see more of from me on the blog? Drop a comment below or email me.

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A Stroke of Genius

It’s that time year again. For thousands of us in the #OneWord365 community, December is the launch pad for discovering our new ‘One Word.’ Identifying one single word to focus on over the entire next year.

I’m writing this exactly 6 weeks after my wife and I chose to make a significant transition (and it’s Christmas Eve). We’re calling it our #LifeReset. We downsized, quit our jobs, and moved to the Oregon Coast. We began new careers as many have in this ‘great resignation.’ The Coast has always been a place of beautiful vacation memories with our kids. For both of us, there is just something awe-inspiring about the ocean waves crashing against the rocks. The salty air. The sand between your toes. It’s simply magical!

I gaze at the champagne-splashed waves rolling over the sandy abyss, the deep blue sky above hanging out with a gathering of bleached-white clouds, and the evening horizon which artistically displays God’s stroke of genius with brushes of fire red, blood orange, and tropical yellow. Our creator is an artisan.

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭19:1‬ ‭ESV‬‬

A huge part of our transition involved creativity. We started with a blank canvas, envisioned what we would love for our next 10-20 years to look like, and then started dipping our brushes in various pigments. Along the way, God has been so gracious in providing us with quality paint.

I offer all of that to say that I have located my One Word for 2022.

Paint: to depict as having specified or implied characteristics.

In 2022 I plan to ‘Paint’ my tomorrow, career, marriage, mental and spiritual health with the mediums of Joy and Peace. I will do this by tapping into God’s stroke of genius, borrowing His brushes, and asking Him to guide my hand in every movement.

So, what do you plan to focus on in the next year? Do you have One Word for 2022? I’d love to hear from you.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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The Ocean Is Calling Us

Exactly 4 years ago we felt God drawing us to serve in Yakima, WA. And it’s been an incredible ride! We’ve made so many new friends, gained additional family members via marriage, and witnessed God do things that led our jaws to drop. Honestly, I don’t think we would’ve imagined ever leaving Yakima.

BUT…

It’s also been a couple years of financial, physical, and emotional challenge. We’ve been primarily working at Winco Foods making slightly more than minimum wage. Cailey (my beautiful wife) has been working hard in regular therapy to deal with some childhood traumas. Both of us have held multiple additional part-time jobs in the last 3 years just to help make ends meet. On top of all that our landlord just sold the home we’ve been renting for 1 year.

These issues recently caused us to rethink our current situation. A huge factor in this we owe directly to our oldest son, Garrett. He was home on leave from the Navy in September. Over dinner one day he shared his concern for us burning the candle at both ends with a flame-thrower. And he proceeded to challenge us to ‘dream big.’ He asked, “What changes to your lives can you make that would position you in a happier, safer, and more secure place?”

We left dinner that night kind of in shock…in a good way. Then Cailey took it a step further. She said to me, “What the heck. Let’s try to dream BIG!” If we could live anywhere we want and change our careers so that neither of us would need a second job what would that look like? What kind of employment would that require?

We have always loved the Oregon Coast. In addition to its beauty, we had a tradition of taking family vacations there most summers with the kids when they were younger. So we began tossing our resumes to employment opportunities on the coast. Newport surfaced quickly in our ‘test’ search. Cailey worked in banking earlier in our marriage, and will be sliding back into that. She enjoys it and this will provide a regular schedule with almost no stress. This is what she wants/needs. I will be doing counseling/social services with a non-profit agency that offers much needed resources to families in multiple coastal counties.

We are incredibly grateful for all our kids. Their support and encouragement in this “life reset” has meant the world to us.

I’m sharing this post just 4 days after arriving in Newport, OR. Multiple obstacles and change of plans hit us along the way here. The truck cost WAY MORE than we estimated, averaging only 7 miles per gallon! Housing is tight like it is most places, so we are making our temporary home in a cozy hotel room for an undetermined number of weeks while we look for what’s available.

In spite of all the difficulties, God is still working on our behalf! He has provided just enough in the moments when our faith was weak but resolute. Here’s a thought I read in my devotional titled, ‘Navigating Transition.’

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”

This quote connects to our life reset, and I would venture to say even more broadly to how the pandemic has impacted us. Cailey and I didn’t LEAVE people, circumstances, and hardships in Yakima. Rather, we RAN TOWARD change, health, and discovery together in Newport.

(My world in a single picture!)

That’s enough for now. We’ll be sharing tons more over the coming months on our LIFE RESET and incredible journey of following Jesus into the crazy unknown. We’d love to hear from you. Drop a comment below, leave a prayer, or encourage us to remain connected to friends and family.

Until next time…..

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You can also connect with me on Twitter and Instagram! Here’s a little about me if you’re interested.

COVID Life Sucks, but God Still Offers Peace!

(Not a political blog post, but one of personal struggle and faith)

I live in Washington State. Yesterday, our governor announced a state-wide mask mandate for everyone regardless of vaccination status.

Now, I have made the personal choice to receive the vaccine. But I was against it for a very long time. It simply bothers me that government institutions are pressing heavily on people to get a vaccine injected into their body that to this day still has not been approved as safe and effective by the FDA. I chose to get it on my own timing and for my own reasons. And I completely support those who have chosen not to get it.

This entire discussion will change once the FDA fully approves it.

For now, however, we are stuck with a gigantic question. How do we approach daily life at work and at home with positivity and hope when virtually everything we see in the news and that is being forced upon us by our elected officials points to despair and frustration?

I have come to realize something this week. Allowing ourselves to float aimlessly down the river of societal unrest not only does not help us, but it actually causes us to get more unhealthy. Our clarity of thought, mental health, and overall outlook on our world gets flushed down a truck stop toilet when you and I allow mainstream news outlets, social media, Hollywood, and self-serving politicians to shape how we decide to live our day and treat others.

Do you agree?

I spent the entire evening last night feeling sick to my stomach. My anxiety was higher than it’s been in months. “Take slow, deep breaths. Stop looking at the news” I would try to tell myself.

I slept 9 hours last night and I still awoke feeling like I had been drug on the ground behind a running horse through the desert. After taking my wife to work I came home, took a shower, and sat down at the table with God, His word, and my journal. It was time to have a discussion.

Next, I was reminded of the Fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5 tells us these traits are ‘love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.’ These are character traits that God hopes His followers will develop for every season of life.

One of my favorite quotes over the last 30 years comes from pastor and author, Charles Swindoll. He says, “My attitude is made up of 10% my circumstances, and 90% how I react to them.”

Ouch!!! My 90% reaction last night contained none of the above-mentioned 9 Spiritual traits.

This is what led me to write this post today. I am a pastor and follower of Jesus. If that’s you as well, we are called by God to be set apart from the norms of the world. God asks us to stand out in how we love and how we posture ourselves when facing fear, frustration, and uncertain times.

May I encourage you today? Especially if you have been feeling similar to me recently, take time first thing in the morning and again right before bed to meditate on God, His goodness, His promises, and His power. I’m going to do my best to do this too.

I’ll leave you with this. Yes, I have very strong opinions on how our leaders are facilitating the COVID situation, what’s occurring in Afghanistan, racial injustices, the current labor shortage in America. But when it boils down to it, our character and public posture must be shaped by God’s word and strength, NOT by the social issues that dominate today’s news headlines.

Do you agree? What do you struggle with most today? Have you figured out how to keep yourself centered and positive in the midst of the current chaos we live in, or do you struggle like I do?

Please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you.

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You can also connect with me on Twitter and Instagram! Here’s a little about me if you’re interested.

Contentment Is Learned

I don’t make enough money. I didn’t get enough sleep last night. Workplace negativity annoys me. Extreme social behaviors fueled by the pandemic often cause me to have ill feelings towards others.

Can you relate, or am I alone on this?

While all of these statements are true for me in my head, I also recognize that the magnitude of their truth only grows when I give it permission.

I don’t make enough money. Actually, I do. ‘Enough’ is relative. I have enough because God always provides for my needs. I may not have excess, but excess is not essential.

I didn’t get enough sleep last night. True…but I could have went to bed earlier. I wasn’t proactive.

Workplace negativity annoys me. Ok, so why don’t I choose to allow it to energize me to be an element for change toward more positivity?

Extreme social behaviors fueled by the pandemic often cause me to have ill feelings towards others. It is what it is. I’m not going to singlehandedly change societal behaviors, most of which are personal pet peeves anyway. I even talked with my therapist about this. (Yes I’m in therapy. Healthy people seek help while unhealthy people remain unhealthy in their solitude) She challenged me, “Why are you allowing others (strangers) to occupy so much of your limited emotional capacity?” Yeah, good question.

You see, all of these examples of mine are choices. Choices for action or mindset. Choosing to take the better path is usually more difficult and requires conscious effort. But we CAN do it!

“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians‬ ‭4:11-13‬

The apostle Paul wrote this in one of his letters while imprisoned. He had learned to be content because of his past experiences, both of pain and joy. He shares that in every circumstance he has learned the ability to ‘do all things’ in order to live in contentment because of the strength made available to him through Jesus.

Now, you and I don’t always have the ability to change the circumstances around us. But we do have choices regarding how we model walking through them.

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My ‘One Word’ for 2021 (updated)

Toward the end of 2020 I wrote about my One Word for 2021.

BE

That’s it…Just BE!

I was shocked and thrilled to learn that my wife, Cailey, also discovered the same word for her in the next year! So for Christmas I got her these wall letters to place in our living room as a daily reminder for both of us.

In the midst of multiple life changes, a surgery, and COVID-related hardships, however, this ‘Just BE’ only became a reality on our wall during the last week of June, 2021. And it’s timing is perfect. I love it. I do my quiet reflections in the morning at our kitchen table and I can see this directly across from me while I think about the day ahead of me.

Here are a few things I’m being challenged in half way through this crazy year.

  • Just BE in the moment.
  • Just BE calm and breathe.
  • Just BE still.
  • Just BE positive.
  • Just BE grateful.
  • Just BE intentional.

Do you have a One Word for 2021? What is it? Do you need to take time this week to revisit it and reflect on how it needs to shape the second half of the year for you?

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You can also connect with me on Twitter and Instagram! Here’s a little about me if you’re interested.

3 Keys To Thriving In These Current Times

Happy Friday!

Just a quick thought. I firmly believe that faith, hope, and love are the single most important keys to thriving in life and for sustaining society.

As a Christian, FAITH is believing in a Heavenly Father who breathed everything into creation…who sent Jesus in human form to pay for the sins of his people…and who demonstrates pure love. Faith is knowing God is there, here with us 100% even though we cannot physically see Him.

Faith leads to HOPE. Through Jesus, we have the hope of eternity in Heaven one day. The hope for a better tomorrow here on Earth while we await His return. Honestly, with all the trials the world has been suffering just in the past 14 months, I cannot fathom how anyone has been on this journey without an unshakable HOPE. My hope in Jesus gets me out of bed each day, allows me to enjoy my family, and have a positive outlook despite all that I see going on in our world.

And finally, LOVE! There’s so much good here.

The love…

…God has for all of His creation.

…God has specifically and individually for YOU and I.

…Jesus modeled for us to have toward each other while he was here as a human.

…God longs for us to have toward Him in return, AS WELL AS loving OURSELVES well (Mt. 22:39).

“…the greatest of these is love.”

Why is love the greatest? Because it’s eternal. It will outlast all other gifts, blessings, and things of this physical Earth. Love is our shared connection to each other, to Jesus, and to Heaven in the here and now.

I’m going about my day today trying to constantly reflect on my personal faith, hope, and love. I hope this post blesses you somehow today.

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You can also connect with me on Twitter and Instagram! Here’s a little about me if you’re interested.

What If Pike’s Peak Disappeared?

God’s love for you and I is more consistent, guaranteed, and tangible than it is for mountains and hills to be in their same place each morning.

Our family lived in Colorado Springs for a couple years. The front range was majestic. And Pike’s Peak could be seen virtually from any location in town. Residents could count on it being there.

And yet, scripture tells us that it’s more likely for Pike’s Peak to disappear than it is for God’s love for us to cease.

Rest in that truth today. And if you are finding it hard to believe, take that to God. Be honest with Him. He only has warm, open arms for you.

Be blessed.

Subscribe to the blog newsletter HERE to stay in the loop with an occasional email from me (not enough to be annoying).

You can also connect with me on Twitter and Instagram! Here’s a little about me if you’re interested.

Permissions > Restrictions

Here in WA State we are undergoing more restrictions as COVID numbers are on the rise. Though these are arguably necessary, they are negatively affecting small businesses, grocery shopping, church gatherings, medical treatment, and much more.

My wife and I co-lead our missional faith community and we also work at a very busy grocery store in town. The latest restrictions are causing many in our community to go back into the ‘panic shopping’ that we witnessed last Spring. So, we are feeling all the craziness first-hand.

Thankfully, I was able to spend some significant time reflecting on life and scripture this morning (admittedly for the first time in over a week). And as is always the case with God, he kindly gave me a powerful reminder.

Whatever I speak, write, and post becomes my reality. Those actions (choices) define what is truth in my life. Like it or not, I can’t argue with that.

Let me share with you part of a reflection I wrote in my journal today.

Focus: Acknowledge the circumstances around you without adding to the negativity. Speak optimism & hope whenever possible.

This was big for me. It’s so easy to fall in line with the copious amount of pessimism and chaos in our world today. Allowing myself to simply blend in with the norm of that noise around us doesn’t lead to anything helpful. I don’t know if it’s possible to add white noise to white noise, but this is not what I want to be about.

Hence the title of this post, ‘Permissions > Restrictions.’ We don’t really have many choices in our daily lives when new COVID restrictions are placed on us. But we do have unlimited PERMISSIONS available to us. What do I mean?

You and I have an incredible opportunity to stand out, to be a loud sounding ‘gong’ in all this negative white noise. And it’s so rare right now that people will absolutely notice when we choose to react to negative circumstances differently than the vast majority of our surrounding society.

This does not mean that we ignore facts or act like COVID, politics, social unrest, and financial stress don’t exist. These things are very real and affect real lives. But another very real truth is that we have a loving God in Heaven who offers us wisdom, power, direction, and comfort for the times we live in. And God has given us each other. I honestly don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have my faith, family, and community.

So….I’m making a declaration on my own personal attitude, my own behavior. For the remainder of November and all through December I will be making a conscious (imperfect) attempt at inserting optimism into conversations with others. The same goes for the thoughts that go on in my mind.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Please drop me a comment below.  

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Strive For Joy!

At the time of this post the Presidential election is still not called. Regardless of who you voted for, I think it’s safe to assume that most of us are very ANXIOUS to know who will be leading our country for the next 4 years.

But I was reminded this morning of a directive & encouraging promise that God offers us.

“Do not be anxious about ANYTHING, but in EVERYTHING by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, WILL GUARD YOUR HEARTS AND MINDS in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 4:6-7

We must pray with urgency and gratitude to God our Father. Then, his unexplainable PEACE will get us through this season, and the next, and the next….

Remember, God already knows who wins this election. May God bless our President, and may God bless America.

Stay safe, be healthy, be kind.