Friday, January 30, 2015

Missing it.

The other night I had a dream: I was a young kid again and my family was still living in Wisconsin. It was a Saturday morning in the fall and as was so typical of those Saturday mornings, my family drove to the local soccer complex where my siblings and I played a game. Within the dream I cannot recall if any of us won our games, but the sights, sounds, and smells of the complex were vivid. I woke up and felt as though I had traveled back in time. Something inside me was strongly missing that complex, and the sport of soccer.
To this day I can still recall the excitement of driving to the fields on a Saturday morning. I can remember how great it felt when my parents gave me .50 cents so I could buy a ring pop at the make-shift concession stand after my game. Taking the first steps onto one specific field meant you had arrived - I was finally old enough and big enough to play on that field. I felt it was the field that was saved for the best teams and the best players (though every team played on the field throughout the season). In my young mind playing on that field was bigger than playing in the Super Bowl. I can recall the way the dew would drench my socks if the game was at 8.00, if you played at 9.00 you got lucky because by then the sun was drying up the dew and you got to play when the field was in pristine condition. I always thought the 8.00 game was the warm-up game for the real show, which was at 9.00.
As I woke from my dream, I sent my brother an email to recall the memories together. My email finished with a simple yet deep conclusion: I miss playing soccer. I  hate to admit it, but my body is getting older and my fast-twitch muscles are not nearly what they once were. I have come to thoroughly enjoy running, and am passionate and excited about the opportunities running has given me. But, soccer will always be my first true love.

I love running, but I have been missing soccer. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Reading

As I continue to write I find I commonly have days where I feel like I am in a very good writing groove. These days stand out when the ideas in my mind seem to be painted onto a word document with precision, care, and beauty. Then there are days where it feels as though the words are splattered on the screen barely resembling a coherent thought. The artistic and free flowing grooves are inspiring and exciting, the splatter filled canvas, not so much.
I’ve often tried to figure out what may be impacting the quality of work. Therefore, I have tinkered with the music I listen to while writing (if in fact I am listening to music). I have alternated the time at which I write, and where I sit while writing. The intensity of work and running demands also find a way to impact what comes out. However, one of the greatest variables I have found is reading. When I am digging into a good book my writing seems to be better. With that in mind, I wanted to highlight two books I have recently read that have kept me absolutely enthralled, both of which were very difficult to put down, Unbroken and The Book Thief.

Unbroken tells the story of an American track athlete who finds himself entering World War II, and eventually in a Japanese POW camp. At many times throughout the book I found myself audibly saying, “this cannot all be true. Parts of this have to be made up.” However, it is all historically accurate and is an incredible story. For me personally it was interesting to follow his running career as well as the historical setting. The combination of the two made for a riveting read. There was a movie released on Christmas Day that is based upon the book – though I have yet to see it. The movie is at the top of my list and I hope it is half as interesting and captivating as the book.

The Book Thief is a book that seemed to take hold of all my emotions. I was quickly fascinated by the approach of the book and the narrator of the book (you’ll have to read it to understand). With the book taking place in Germany, I felt a stronger connection to the geographic setting, though the time period of the book is set during World War II. Rarely have I come to cherish characters in a book as much as I did while reading The Book Thief. When the final pages of the book were being turned, I was wiping tears from my eyes. It was an emotional ending to the book, but I was also sad to leave the characters.


If you have a few spare minutes I highly encourage you to further look into either of these two books. Sitting down on a nightly basis and reading for even ten minutes will be something you will not regret.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Reaching new heights

Over the Holidays I was helping my dad clear out some brush from the gutters of the house. He was at the base of the ladder holding it steady for me as I climbed up to try and clear as much as I could. At one point I had reached the limit of my reach when my dad told me, “You probably have to go up one more rung in order to reach more.” Though I didn’t say it out loud, my initial reaction was, “Nope. I’m just fine here. I feel comfortable at this level and don’t want to go where I am uncomfortable.” In that moment I felt a calm and challenging whisper from God with the thought, “If you stay where you are comfortable you won’t be able to reach all I have intended for you.”
            Since that moment I have been pondering what it means to be comfortable and the growth that occurs in a place of comfort, versus the growth that occurs from being in an uncomfortable place.  I don’t have any solid conclusions from all of this yet, but have continued to let it roll around in my mind.
In my pondering, I often come back to the recently popular worship song, ‘Where feet may fail” which contains the opening lyrics, “You call me out upon the waters, The great unknown where feet may fall.” It is a beautiful song, with great lyrics yet, sometimes it is really easy to sing the words with my mouth and not with my heart. Does my heart really want to be taken to a place where my trust is without borders? Do I really want to ask God to take me deeper than my feet could ever wander? God has promised to give us the desires of our heart and to answer our prayers. If I pray for him to take me where feet may fail, and fear surrounds me…
But then I come back to the second half of the challenge, “You cannot reach all I have intended for you” New heights of intimacy with Him. New levels of release from sin and fear. New mountains to overcome. Though the challenges may lead me to a place of discomfort and unfamiliarity, there is a promise that God will never leave me nor forsake me. He will not call me to reach a new height, without going with me.

As the year 2015 gets underway, it is an exciting time to think of the different situations God will lead me through that cause a bit of discomfort, but also enable me to reach heights previously unattainable.