The State of the Nathan Address: A Lack of Running and Loving

This is Boulder. It is where I work for three more weeks. Then I will be unemployed. Hit me up if you are anyone else wants a slightly above-average writer with a big heart.

This is Boulder. It is where I work for three more weeks. Then I will be unemployed. Hit me up if you or anyone else you know wants a slightly above-average writer with a big heart.

Editor’s top note: If you do not what is going on with the current influx of refugee children entering the good ol’ U.S. of A., you need to. This is a serious issue and will only keep getting worse if nothing is done. Here is a good article explaining it (please, please, please read and educate yourself on the issue): Go here! On to regularly scheduled programming.

Hello. Once again it has been over a half a year. And honestly, there hasn’t been a ton of depth to share. There are two reasons for this post. The first is because of a conversation I had a few weekends ago. I was in Jefferson City, Mo. celebrating a good friend’s wedding. Sunday morning I had a conversation with a mother of someone I grew up geographically close to and went to high school with. Her daughter is a Facebook friend of mine. We really haven’t talked since high school but she was forwarding my posts to her mother. Her mom thanked me at a brunch the morning after the wedding. No “where have you been?” or “I miss your posts.” Just a thank you.

The second reason is the state of my life. Let me tell you, I have slipped in virtually every aspect of my life the past half year or so. The roles I have messed up in no order (to my knowledge) are: employee, friend, Christ follower, son, brother, significant other, roommate, renter, athlete, blogger and probably others. All of this came together last night and led to a big low. And so before I continue, this is a fair warning, I am getting ready to go into a pity-fest. If you want, skip to the end. I definitely would.

Two years of trying to live a life as an AmeriCorps volunteer and have fun in a ski town has left me fatigued and broke. I now commute by bike 40 miles round trip everyday because I cannot afford gas or a closer place to live (Front Rangers, hit me up for a hike, bike or java!). I also cannot run so it is serving as my cross training. Financially speaking, I have made some horrible decisions.

OK. Gross. I cannot go on. Long story, short, I am in a weird place. With no one to blame but myself. But things have changed. First, apologies! I will not name names but those who have been wronged will know.

I am sorry for not responding to emails. Or phone calls. I have wronged people by not showing up or being responsive. I have squelched other’s love. I have refused to allow others to love me. I have stopped communicating. I have created strife instead of simply listening and being there for others. I have stopped taking care of myself spiritually and it has bled into other aspects of my life. And so it goes.

This is not a “everyone feel sorry for Nathan” piece or a “God is good and awesome piece.” Because, well, I don’t really know who God is right now. I haven’t spent enough time with God. But that is changing now. And hopefully it will bleed love into lives around me. It will.

If you are still with me and have gotten through the (slightly pathetic) monologue, here is the take away. I have grasped onto a lot out of fear. I have not reached out to others because of fear I have already hurt them and they don’t want to connect anymore. And last night as I was trying desperately to reconnect with the Universe, I realized fear and grasping onto seemingly safe and familiar things in our lives leads to selfishness, oppression, dysfunction and a shallow, meaningless life. Maybe others already know this. I just learned it. Now it is time to do something about it.

Editor’s bottom note: Life is gorgeous and things are really great. Everything will work out. and like a close friend told me last night, I have much to be grateful for. I just need to look outside myself and into those blessings. They are everywhere. Relationships, forests, cities, apple orchards, mountains, deserts, everywhere. I hope you take time to find yours today. I will for sure. I need to more.

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Am I Really Nothing Without “Knowing” Jesus? If So, That Really Sucks.

This photo is on the front page of the Steamboat paper today. It was taken by Steamboat Pilot photog, John Russell.

This photo is on the front page of the Steamboat paper today. It was taken by Steamboat Pilot photog, John Russell.

I read an article this morning on NPR about the way our brain processes words. The theory used to be we had a special place in the brain for processing language. Like a word module. Recent research (outlined in the article) suggests processing language is a full brain experience. Especially language involving metaphors. The thing is, to make meaning of words; it takes many different parts of our brain. Mainly to visualize our experiences with those words. Pretty cool, huh?

 “My deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ and I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it.” – Brennan Manning (but every single person could say this)

I had a great two-hour long phone conversation with a good friend this week. It was a conversation where have of the participants were slap-happy exhausted and the other half was on (legal, I think) drugs. Between the long awkward pauses where we both were trying to form thoughts, there was a lot of good topics covered.

One of those topics was self-defeatism in the Western Christian church. If you have spent any time at all in a church in America, someone of authority has probably told you you are nothing or at least less than stellar without Jesus. I want to tell you right now, they are absolutely wrong. Before I piss off a bunch of people, let me reiterate my faith in Jesus and the Christian God. I love Jesus. I do. I think His radical Love is life changing. I think His radical teachings of putting others ahead of you and being a servant are perfect. I love the way He reaches out to the marginalized. But…

To say someone is nothing without Jesus is ignorant (in my opinion). Do you know how many people I know who are loving, caring and passionate people but do not “know” Jesus or “love the Lord?” Countless. So, let me take this moment to let all of you reading this, I love you. So does Jesus. And you are unique, special, lovely, beautiful – all of those adjectives. And that is how my God sees you. Not as nothing. Not as lame. You get the point.

And if you do identify as a Christian, guess what? He doesn’t love you anymore (or less) than your atheist neighbor. Or your gay neighbor. Or the prostitute working the streets downtown. And so, if you have been in an organized religious situation and someone has told you you are nothing without Jesus, I want you to know My Jesus doesn’t see it that way. And remember, as a wise author once said,

“Real freedom is freedom from the opinion of others.” – Brennan Manning

What they say about who you are as a person is an opinion. How do they know you are nothing without Jesus? They don’t.

Enjoy your weekends. In the words of my man, Bob Goff, “Love others and do stuff.”

*Editor’s note: I realized while writing this my posts are feeling less self-reflective and more opinionated. One of my flaws is I can get cynical towards organized religion. Cynicism usually doesn’t help. Or benefit anyone. In the next few posts, I will be working on this. Hopefully the point is communicated well that I love you and think you are awesome and so does my Jesus.

Jesus Liked Wine. He Liked Changing Water to Wine. What He Liked Most Was Probably the Reason For Changing the Water to Wine. It was to Show Love. And PARTAY.

In 2013 I have ran two races. One did not end up well. The other did. Regardless, I finished both of them bleeding. Also, one of my favorite things about running is it makes you humble. Running is probably the only sport where within 42 hours you can go from a dominant performace to being made fun of and heckled by nine-year-old girls for the length of your shorts.

In 2013 I have ran two races. One did not end well. The other did. Regardless, I finished both of them bleeding. Also, one of my favorite things about running is it makes you humble. Running is probably the only sport where within 42 hours you can go from a dominant performace to being made fun of and heckled by nine-year-old girls for the length of your shorts.

I have been thinking a lot lately about one of the main criticisms of Christians. And other religious groups, for that matter. Hypocrisy. I am not talking about the whole “drinking alcohol is bad” or “cussing is wrong,” tiny things that do not actually matter. If you do not know this, it is time you did. Jesus drank wine. I know, this might be tough for some to accept. Hold on to your seats. Jesus actually changed water to wine at a wedding so the guests could party, dance and have a good time. Don’t even get me started on the cursing issue, damn it.

I am talking about the big hypocrisies. At least big in my eyes. I am talking about identifying as a Christ follower but not making sacrifices for our Lord and others. My Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice. He sacrificed His Life. In my eyes, you can boil down the life of my Jesus to loving God, loving others and sacrifice. And I do think it is one of the biggest mistakes Christ followers make. We don’t like to get dirty. We don’t like to get out of our comfort zones. We don’t like (or allow) our Abba to change or mess up our lives. But the thing is, our Abba’s presence should change or mess up our lives. And this is why I fail at full sacrifice for others and my Abba. I used to think the focus on sacrifice should be what I sacrifice; now I know it is about my reasons for doing so.

One of my favorite things about Christ’s life was His love for living for others. For Him, it wasn’t a sacrifice. It was the result of a Heart full of Abounding Love from His Abba. It wasn’t the act or sacrifice; it was the reason for doing so. And this is where I suck. I get so focused on the act. I forget about the Abounding Love and Grace I am shown on a daily basis. And this makes me look at everything differently. It changes the way I look at every interaction.

So, to all of my friends I have bailed on or said, “No” to, I am sorry. It is not at all a representation of Who I base my spiritual life around. It is not who I want to be. It is who I am when I focus on the act instead of the reason for doing every act. It is the result of not allowing that Gorgeous, Perfect, Abounding Love to flow through me.

Giving yourself to others and a Devine Being looks different to everyone.  It is something personal requiring inner-reflection. A mysterious, Abounding Love is my reason. It is not something I have fully grasped, nor will I ever come close to understanding. It is profound. It is relentless. It is fulfilling.

Regardless of your beliefs, think about a life lived with others and for others. Think about a life in which you are fully engaged in the well-being and interests of those around you. Think about a life in which you actually and fully enjoy others. When I think about this in my own life, it looks beautiful. And purposeful. And meaningful. And lovely.

#AffirmationMonday – Week 4 – The Woman, The Myth, The MEL!

Thanks to my good friend, Mel, I have another awesome new #AffirmationMonday graphic. Also, thank to Mel, I have an awesome, new #AffirmationMonday post.

Thanks to my good friend, Mel, I have another awesome new #AffirmationMonday graphic. Also, thank to Mel, I have an awesome, new #AffirmationMonday post.

“But the kind of love that God created and demonstrated is a costly one because it involves sacrifice and presence. It’s a love that operates more like a sign language than being spoken outright.” – Bob Goff

As I begin my week of house sitting in God’s Country, Colorado, I feel it fitting to affirm my favorite introvert and good friend, Melissa Hatfield. In all actuality, this post has been planned for a while. It just happened to end up coinciding. And as I struggled over the past couple of weeks trying to find the words, I realized while Mel will appreciate these words, and the world must know how rad of a person she is, she is a selfless person (HUGE understatement) and will not get hung up on these words. That is my problem. Once again, I will attempt to put these affirmations into three categories.

1) Mel the Mentor. Mel has been a spiritual and life mentor to many. She has had a huge influence on this blog. She has encouraged. She has prayed. She has given me new things to ponder. She has made me ponder old things in new ways. She created the graphic for #AffirmationMonday posts. She introduced me to Don Miller and Brennan Manning.

Mel has been a spiritual and life mentor to me since the beginning of high school. And while there was a time when we had little communication, she was ready to pick up right where we left off when I reached out to her again. The largest thing Mel has done for me (and others) is allow me to form my own beliefs. She gives immense love, support and encouragement. But when it comes down to forming beliefs, she left that up to me. And it has made my beliefs stronger. Because they are my own.

2) Mel the Introvert who Loves and Seeks Discomfort. My first real interaction with Mel came at a church lock-in at the local YMCA. She had graciously (and definitely with a good heart and lots of naivety) asked the band I was playing in to play at the lock-in. She took an enormous risk. And on the surface it failed. I mean, we were freshmen in high school. And we were idiots. Some of the athletes decided it would be funny to throw flour over all of our amps and instruments while we were not with them. In retaliation, we found the flour next to their letter jackets and dumped it on them. Mel should have been furious. But she showed us nothing but love. That changed everything for me. I started paying attention to spiritual things. Because she showed us love, grace and forgiveness.

Last summer on a flight back from Africa, Mel shared with me her heart was feeling pulled outside of Jefferson City, Mo. Her home is Jefferson City. But if you know Mel, you know while her heart is very much with Refuge Student Ministries and the Jefferson City community, she has left pieces of her heart all over the nation and world. That is how she operates. She leaves her heart with people and cultures. And, lets be honest, Jefferson City isn’t the most glamorous place. She could do amazing things for God all over the world. But she decided to stay in Jefferson City. Not because it was the comfortable thing to do. Because she loves people and she loves God. And that is where God has called her.

3) Mel, Abba’s Child. Mel would want this post to be all about God. That is how she lives her life. But, Mel, this post is about you. And how you are Abba’s child. Mel teaches me on a daily basis how to be Abba’s child. She knows her inner-Pharisee. She is open about her inner-Pharisee. She loves to be with God. She loves spending time with her Abba. And her Abba has unsuppressed, rambunctious, wild, unfathomable Love. Mel reflects that love on all she comes in contact with.

In seeking to be Abba’s child, Mel seeks to be with people. And she is an introvert. She is with people. She laughs with others when they laugh. She weeps when they weep (she is really good at weeping). She bears other’s burdens. Mel knows she is not perfect but also knows her Abba is.

Over the past year, Mel has transformed from strictly a spiritual and life mentor to that and a best friend. I have watched as she has displayed unsuppressed, rambunctious, wild and unfathomable Love to me and countless others. And for that, I am eternally grateful.

Nakupenda, Mel.

*Editor’s note: If you know Mel, tell her how much you love her today. Tell her your favorite thing about her. My favorite thing is she loves big. And she loves everyone. And she is selfless.

*Editors (second) note: Mel loves God, loves others and does stuff. Regardless of your spiritual beliefs, she would encourage you to love others and do stuff. Looking for something to do? Mentor. Seriously. I have seen firsthand the benefits in my own life and others. It might not feel like it has an impact, but it absolutely does. Google “mentoring” and the community you live in for some resources.

Embracing our inner Cynicism and Sarcasm and Nervousness and Anxiousness and Fear

There is some serious longing deep within me for some warmth, green and soft running trails. When all of this snow melts in July or August, I will get to experience it. There I go again embracing my inner sarcasm and cynicism.

There is some serious longing deep within me for some warmth, green and soft running trails. When all of this snow melts in July or August, I will get to experience it. There I go again embracing my inner sarcasm and cynicism.

“In Love’s service, only wounded soldiers can serve.” – Brennan Manning

One thing that continually amazes me and I think gets overlooked often is the initial faith of Jesus’s first followers. I get criticism for doubting things later, but come on. Would start lose your composure if you were walking on water? Or in a boat that is about to capsize? The Love and acts of Jesus were so radical, it makes complete sense to me they had moments of wavering faith. But the initial faith was robust and childlike. It would have to be to give up everything and follow a random carpenter.

Another thing currently blowing my mind is the vulnerability and openness displayed in the writings of Brennan Manning. One of Brennan’s chapters goes into great depth about living like a child versus living like a Pharisee. The Pharisees were very much the law keepers and “religious people” of the day. They did not really get along with Jesus.

Brennan posits we all have some Pharisee in us. The Pharisee in us gets anxious. It gets fearful. It has prejudices against people different from us. It is paranoid, cynical and nervous. It looks solely for success with complete disregard to others and love. And we all have it in us.

My Pharisee is very cynical. And sarcastic. Lots of times it is cynical towards organized religion. It can grow cynical towards intimate relationships. It can be sarcastic at times of intimacy to avoid deep conversations and connections with friends and family. The Pharisee has to be embraced. It has to be communicated with. When it is ignored, it starts to run rampant.

We also all have a child in us. The child doesn’t close itself off to the world. The child is open. It is vulnerable. It is simple. It is playful. The child looks for spiritual surprises. The child does not turn away from risks that lead to growth. The child is available to new opportunities, others and Abba. The child has trusting dependence on Abba and others. The child knows and welcomes the tenderness and compassion that is God’s Love. It accepts a wild, rambunctious, full, overwhelming Love. And the projects that Love on others. The child is constantly learning, curious and looks at the world as a playground.

Two thoughts from Brennan pertaining to these thoughts:

“The ragamuffin who sees his life as a voyage of discovery and runs the risk of failure has a better feel for faithfulness than the timid man who hides behind the law and never finds out who he is at all.”

“Hope knows that if great trials are avoided great deeds remain undone and the possibility of growth into greatness of soul is aborted.”

Regardless of your faith, even if that faith is solely in yourself, we all have a metaphorical (or literal) Pharisee and Child in us. What is your Child? What is your Pharisee? I really believe in getting to know your Pharisee. I hate mine. But we talk on occasion. It started as a “Twitter relationship” (we communicated in about 140 characters at a time. But it is getting better. Knowing your Pharisee well is the only way to eradicate it. Embrace your Child. Let your Child free.

A Senseless Act and a Baffling Love

I wanted a happy picture to start this blog because of the somewhat depressing topic. This is the first image to come up on my Google search. I like it. We need a lot more happiness.

I wanted a happy picture to start this blog because of the somewhat depressing topic. This is the first image to come up on my Google search. I like it. We need a lot more happiness.

By now, you are probably exasperated by the inundation of commentary, photos and social media surrounding what happened in Boston. As a runner, many have asked my thoughts on this senseless act of hate. After some contemplation and prayer, my thoughts are below.

Hate. Where does this hate come from? It was interesting, the same day of the bombing, I was called a derogatory, hateful word for someone identifying as queer, while running. Unfortunately, this was a fairly regular occurrence in the Midwest (especially from dudes driving overly large Dodge trucks). However, this was the first time it has happened to me in Steamboat. And, was a huge shock. This community loves, supports, respects and admires endurance athletes. As does Boston.

Where does hate originate? Obviously, there are many answers. Answers involving traumatic childhood experiences, or psychological problems or neurological abnormalities are all plausible and probably do play some role. Many of those answers go way beyond my intellectual capabilities, but I do have a few thoughts and opinions. I know, of course I do.

First, a good friend made a pertinent point. This type of stuff happens a lot in other countries. It absolutely does not make it right or justifiable, but Americans might want to use this as an opportunity to educate themselves about hate being expressed through terrorism all around the world. One of the questions many Christ followers and those who do not identify as a Christ follower is, “How could a loving God let bad things happen?” My simple (and perhaps copout) answer is, I do not know. If we believe in a Devine Being, then it is impossible for us to understand or comprehend that Devine Being. And, so, I don’t know. I don’t know why bad things happen. I don’t know why an eight-year-old enjoying life has to die at a marathon.

I do know my God is no stranger to losing a child. He lost His only Son. I also know His Son, Jesus weeps with us. My Jesus was the human embodiment of my God. And He cried. Probably man-sobs. (Son of Man-sobs, perhaps? Sorry.) He also loved recklessly and relentlessly.

A very influential person who shared intimate levels of experiencing that reckless and relentless love and continually dismissing it passed away last Friday. Brennan Manning’s book, The Ragamuffin Gospel, is the idea behind the name of this blog.

Brennan spent the latter years of his life communicating God’s Baffling Love. From my humble perspective, tragic things happen when our God’s Baffling Love is not present. When it is absent from our thoughts and actions. It is a Love of wisdom, tenderness and compassion. It is a Love that creates beauty out of tragedy. It is a relentless Love. It is an extravagant Love. It is a Love that weeps when we weep. It is also a Love that forgives. A Love that cannot be earned or taken away – because it is given to all of us. And it is given to each of us at the same velocity. The God Brennan and I know has the same amount of Baffling Love for you and me as every terrorist. And politicians. And murderers. And pastors. And Americans. And Canadians. You get the point.

And if all of that Baffling Love is given to each of us, it dwells in all of us. Somewhere. We all have the opportunity to radiate that Wisdom, Compassion and Tenderness.

At some point, every terrorist and murderer weeps. As our ragamuffin friend, Brennan said in his book, Abba’s Child, “Our hearts of stone become hearts of flesh when we learn where the outcast weeps.”

*Editor’s note: Don Miller (of course) has some great insights about this event. Check out his blog here. Short read and seriously worth the time. My good friend, Melissa, also has a different and inspiring take on one of the many special stories coming from this tragedy. Check out her blog post here.

*Editor’s (second) note: I have a lot of friends who are runners. Many of them are amped up and want to train hard to run a marathon, qualify for Boston next year or something else to honor victims or whatever. I get it. It is the runner mindset. If you came here looking for something similar, you just are not going to get it from me. I think it is healthy to grieve a little first. We don’t have to have this knee-jerk fighter instinct to go out and prove our strength and resiliency. I understand and will support all of my friends training. But just like a marathon, an impact is not made in the first mile. Or the second. Or third. Or fourth. An impact is made over a long time of work, endurance, strength and dedication. Not knee-jerk reactions.

The Redemption Run

This is my Facebook profile picture. I was probably smiling during my Redemption Run. In this photo, I am literally in the middle of a half marathon. Less than a mile later I had to pull over into the bushes to relieve some digestive issues. FAIL.

This is my Facebook profile picture. I was probably smiling during my Redemption Run. In this photo, I am literally in the middle of a half marathon. Less than a mile later I had to pull over into the bushes to relieve some digestive issues. FAIL.

A week ago I wrote about a cataclysmic run and promised the next running related post would be about a lovely run. Here it is. The thing is, there is so much to learn from a failed attempt. Life is full of failures. The run in the storm a little over a week ago was a failure in every way. What is the best way to shake a failure? Swing again.

Last Saturday, I swung again. When a couple of friends hopped in my car with me and left Steamboat last Saturday morning, it was cloudy. And foggy. And it looked like a storm was rolling in. Again. Determined for redemption, I asked them to go with me, drop me off and drive my car back to Steamboat.

We ended up about 21 miles outside of Steamboat and the clouds cleared. The next two hours was a blur of rivers, mountains, cows, farms, cyclists, birds, sunshine and quick miles. Despite a serious workout the day before, the miles flew. The heart methodically pumped like a piston. The lungs inflated and deflated like clockwork. And the legs powered up and over hills effortlessly. And the thought of the previous failed run on the very same road exaggerated the peace.

Bob Goff and I agree on a lot. We haven’t actually talked yet, and he doesn’t know it, but we think the same way. One thing we agree on is our God probably leads us into failure. And as Bob would say, it is better than OK. To fail, that is. Why? Because we get another opportunity. And another. And another. And we learn through failures.

“God doesn’t want failure to shut us down. God didn’t make it a three-strikes-and-you’re-out sort of thing. It’s more about how God helps us dust ourselves off so that we can swing for the fences again.” – Bob Goff

The reason why Redemption Runs feel so good is because I remember how bad a failed run felt. When we pick ourselves up and swing for the fences again and actually connect, it is one of the best feelings in the world.

Failure. Take some time to think about the word. And when you have experienced it in your life. And know it is more than OK. It is beautiful. It is growth. It is learning. It is God’s Love.

What are some recent failures you have had? Have you gone on your Redemption Run yet? Will you swing for the fences again? I used to think failing was important, now I know failing is important but the Redemption Run is even more so. 

*Editor’s note: If you dig the Bob Goff quote and the vibe of this post, I HIGHLY recommend checking out his book, Love Does. Fair warning: It will change your life. Seriously. It will make you want to quit the job you have had for 15 years. It will make you want to write letters to friends and loved ones. It will make you seek a different, intentional life. It will mess you up in all the best ways. It will make you want to do stuff.

Why I (sometimes) Hate Running

This is the town and mountain of Steamboat. This is a beautiful summer day. I imagine running when this picture was taken would have been near perfect. I cannot wait for more days that look like this. Last Tuesday it did not look at all like this in Steamboat.

This is the town and mountain of Steamboat. This is a beautiful summer day. I imagine running when this picture was taken would have been near perfect. I cannot wait for more days that look like this. Last Tuesday it did not look at all like this in Steamboat.

On Tuesday, seeking a change and a chance to get to know the Steamboat Marathon course, a friend/coworker and me were dropped off 17 miles outside of Steamboat. When we left town and were dropped off, it was 55 degrees and sunny. I left the fleece in the car and wore just a t-shirt.

Although I have spent a lot of time outdoors in the mountains, I left my better judgment with my fleece and did not think about drastic weather changes. The first four or five miles of my run were gorgeous.  I waved at cows, took in the scenery, clicked of some fast miles and tried to focus on landmarks for reference during the actual marathon. I rounded a corner and saw a very ominous cloud staring me down. The eternal optimist in me just assumed it would pass over.

Then, I started to notice I really had not seen any sign of human life for a while. Just cows. Cows are nice but cannot help when weather gets bad. And that is what happened. It started to hail. Then sleet. Then lightning and thunder. Then rain and sleet. Then rain and snow. Then rain. All the while, the wind was blowing in my face about 30 miles per hour.

After another few miles, I could see the valley leading into Steamboat. It was completely socked in. This storm was not going to break. Ice started to form on my arms and chest. My core temperature was dropping. I started to literally lose my mind. I cursed myself for the ignorance of leaving my fleece. I cursed the storm. I cursed the heavens. I cursed the cars driving by at 60 miles per hour splashing more water on me. I cursed the cows. I cursed God.

I stuck my thumb out to passing cars. No one stopped. My fingers started to lose feeling. But the worst part was the loneliness. More than the loneliness of the situation. The loneliness felt from losing a companion. A companion you spent seven years attached to. And I cursed God for putting me in that situation. In my mind numbing experience, I had forgotten how much God has been alongside me through the loneliness caused by a tragic situation.

When I made it back to our office, I was extremely embarrassed and hurt by my own actions. I really lost my mind. Seriously. While telling people about it, I could laugh with them about the absurdity of the situation. Now as I am typing this, I am even smiling. But inside on that day (and the next), I ached over my anger. I sent an email to my good friend, Melissa, to tell her my embarrassment and my feelings of potentially damaging my relationship with God. I mean, I really let loose on Him. Here is part of her response:

“Your story reminds me somewhat of how I imagine Peter feeling after the rooster crows. Often we are so quick to judge Peter for abandoning Jesus in those final moments but I know Peter loved Jesus more than I ever have because of all that he gave up for him that I have not. So, it had to take a severe situation of fear and a build-up of the emotions of those last days to cause him to abandon his Master, his Friend. And when he hears the rooster crow, I hurt to imagine how horrible he felt. I think he was destroyed by his betrayal and the fact that Jesus knew all along that he would do it.  YET – I think Peter truly became the Rock upon which the Church was built because of that experience specifically. That despite his lack of faithfulness and his passionate betrayal, God’s love never wavered. God never abandoned him. And as a result, Peter – out of intense love, not shame or guilt – committed the rest of his life and suffered eventual martyrdom out of faithfulness to a God who never denied him. In the end the story goes that when Peter was to be crucified he requested to be crucified upside down because he felt unworthy to die in the same manner of Christ.  Another example of a wounded healer.”

Beautiful. It is SO our God to watch us throw a tantrum in a literal or metaphorical storm and then await us with open arms. And Love. And Forgiveness. And when we are ready to move past our pain, shame and guilt (admittedly sometimes so challenging to do), He is ready to do lovely things with us and through us. I think the first step is to allow ourselves to be filled with Love. To allow ourselves to be blessed and then bless others. Because despite our beliefs otherwise, I do not think life is about our tantrums on the side of the road in the rain in front of the cows. It is about the radiant Blessings and Love waiting for us. It’s time to stop feeling guilty. Or shameful. Or disappointed in ourselves or situations. It’s time to stop feeling sorry for ourselves. It’s time to be blessed and bless.

What are you holding onto that you don’t like about yourself? That is, what is holding you back from feeling Blessed and Loved? I have a long list to choose from. Let’s let go of one of those things this weekend. And look for a Blessing to replace it with. I am going to attempt to let go of my mileage paranoia. And my amazing ability to be disappointed with myself.

*Editor’s note: If you did not click on “Melissa” and follow the link, my internal journalist is disappointed. It is a link to her blog. It has better insight and is more thought provoking than anything I write. Here is an opportunity to check it out again.

*Editor’s (second) note: I love running. I do. It is why I do it too much. I just don’t have as many life lessons on beautiful runs when everything is going my way. Even though I think it might be boring, the next post about running will be describing a beautiful run. Ugh. It makes me sick to think about writing about just my run with no deep life meaning. So boring. But I will try to spice it up. Maybe I will wear a costume while I run. Or try to get a CMC student to chase me.

Easter Bunnies, Easter Eggs, Easter Candies, Easter Dresses, Easter Brunches, Easter Egg Hunts…

This is a photo I took during a hike with a good friend last Friday evening. We then went for a ski down the mountain after dark. While the sun was setting I was thinking about all of the people who love and support who I am. And that is even more beautiful than this resplendent sunset.

This is a photo I took during a hike with a good friend last Friday evening. We then went for a ski down the mountain after dark. While the sun was setting I was thinking about all of the people who love and support who I am. And that is even more beautiful than this resplendent sunset.

Many children in Steamboat have an awesome (albeit potentially false) perception of reality. At least reality outside of the ski town bubble that is Steamboat. Steamboat has had about five fireworks displays this winter. All of which were longer and contained bigger and brighter fireworks than I have ever seen. It took about five years of my life to see as many fireworks displays as they have seen in one winter.

Most Steamboat children might think Easter is the time when a helicopter drops thousands of candy-filled plastic eggs from the sky. They might also think it is a time when 300 bikes are raffled off. And they also might think this is the purpose of the Christian church.

In an effort to convert as many people as possible, many churches attempt to take advantage of their large audiences on Christmas and Easter. I get it. I am very much a product of the church. And I do believe a lot of this stems from good hearts, kindness and love. But, I think we might be missing the point.

So, to all of the readers who do not identify as Christian or the ones who do but do not attend much church outside of Easter and Christmas, I am sorry. I know you probably heard the story of Jesus dying on the cross for our sins and being resurrected three days later. If that doesn’t sound crazy enough, you probably then felt pressured to commit your life to this dude. If I were in the same situation I would have felt very weird and uncomfortable with the whole situation. If you did, I am sorry. As Christ followers, we should have shown you love, warmth and acceptance with no agenda. We should have been friends to you with no agenda. If that is what you experienced, you went to the right place.

To all of my readers who identify as Jesus Christ followers: did you take this opportunity to show completely accepting and unreserved love? Were you annoyed that someone was sitting in your normal chair? Did you tell someone you didn’t know how happy you were to see them? Did you ignore everyone there you didn’t know?

Although I love the thought of Jesus base jumping from a helicopter down to the masses. Or Him pulling bikes and other presents from his robe to give to the children, I don’t think this would have been the case. I am no Bible scholar, but I am pretty sure Jesus made his first entrance in a barn. His second (days before His death) was on a jack ass. Not really helicopter status. I think He also liked to draw in the dirt. And rampage the temple when people were in it selling things. He also loved everyone. Especially the poor. And the lepers. And children. And the afflicted. And the burnt-out. And the people no one else loved. When was the last time we (as Christ followers) showed this type of love?

When someone comes up to me on the street asking for money, I often try to avoid them. Instead of sitting down and talking to them. Hospitals make me so uncomfortable. I don’t like to see people when they are in a weak and vulnerable state. Jesus probably would have loved hanging out with people in hospitals.

As the modern day, Western church, do we represent Christ’s simple, relentless, unreserved love? Or do we keep people at a safe distance by giving them helicopters and bikes but not really talking to them? Do we send mass emails or do we share meals? Do we spend energy showing love to the least of these or do we spend energy trying to convert? Trying to “save” people on our own instead of simply loving and accepting and then trusting God to work?

After a conversation about these very topics, a good friend sent me a link to a blog of a Christ follower who gets it. Here is the link. It is a lot shorter and less “preachy” than this post. Check it out.

*Editors note: After publishing this post, WordPress gives me suggestions on how to tag my post based on content. Today’s suggestions: video games, gaming, aviation and transportation. Wonderful.

Why I (sometimes) Suck at Running

Anthony Famiglietti is one of my favorite runners. Mainly because he is somewhat insane. And he has the persona of not caring what others think of him. He runs free. He runs with reckless abandon.

Anthony Famiglietti is one of my favorite runners. Mainly because he is somewhat insane. And he has the persona of not caring what others think of him. He runs free. He runs with reckless abandon.

“Define yourself radically as one defined by God.” – Brennan Manning

I have been struggling to come up with a post recently. Being intentional is super important to me. These posts are meant to be meaningful, insightful and intentional. Many times in my life I lack one or all three of these things. As with most of my pertinent (and decent) thoughts and ideas, this came to me on a string of runs.

A few of my good running friends in high school and college were head cases. They would overthink races and psych themselves out. I could beat other runners I shouldn’t because I have never been much of a head case. My problems are I lack talent and in the desire to see just how tough my body (and mind) is, I get risky in my training and often injure myself. One thing I do have going for me is I am usually mentally strong when it comes to running. I realized as I was dying 1,000 deaths on the Steamboat Springs High School track today I am a heart case. The success of my workouts and races have too much of a direct correlation with the health and contentedness (had to double check if that is actually a word) of my heart.

Want to watch me self-destruct in a race or workout? Have a close friend or relative tell me I let them down right before I start. Tell me there was a time I disappointed you. Better yet, let me know something I said or did hindered your spiritual journey.

Basically, when I sense a broken relationship in my life I suck as a runner. Sometimes that is a friendship or a relationship with a family member. More times than not, it is some sort of spiritual brokenness. And in that case, it is often something my God has already forgotten and moved on from.

The words of Brennan Manning have inundated my thoughts recently. Today, as I ran round and round the track, pushing my body to its limits, I might have had a breakthrough. I spend a lot of time trying to learn who Jesus was as a person. What He said. What He did. How I can apply that in my life and relationships. But this was always for outward intentions. I want to be Jesus to my friends. To my family. To the cashier at Azteca. To the woman I share a chairlift with. To the driver of the car that nearly runs me over while I am running. To the random people who walk into our office. Not once have I read about or studied the life of Jesus to learn how to treat myself. Put simply, I am not Jesus to myself.

When I mess something up, particularly a relationship, I am not Jesus to myself. I stop loving Nathan. I am harsh to Nathan. I am critical of Nathan. All of this negativity comes out when I am trying to run fast. Because apparently I am a heart case. Henri Nouwen says, “Self-rejection is the greatest enemy to the spiritual life.” Moreover, Brennan Manning states in his book Abba’s Child, “We learn to be gentle with ourselves by experiencing the intimate, heartfelt compassion of Jesus.”

The thing is, knowing (and experiencing) the love of my Jesus and my God should be freeing. Especially of my problems and negative thoughts. All of the time.

Today as I was racing the clock around the track I started to fall back into my self-defeatist attitude. I remembered not spending time in meditation and prayer the night before like I normally do. I reminded myself of the things I did not say to a person I am close to that I should have said. I reminded myself of the reoccurring sin in my life that I continually relapse into. And then I remembered reading Manning’s words:

“Real freedom is freedom from the opinions of others. Above all, freedom from your opinions about yourself. ” – Brennan Manning

“We unwittingly project onto God our own attitudes and feelings toward ourselves… But we cannot assume that He feels about us the way we feel about ourselves — unless we love ourselves compassionately, intensely, and freely.” – Brennan Manning

And I remembered the God I follow is fiercely in love with me. And wants to spend time with me. And wants me to enjoy a Godly presence in everything I do, especially while I am in His Outdoors. So I ran free. And I ran fast. My weary heart no longer held me back. And I was met on the track with Love.

What is keeping you from allowing you to love yourself compassionately, intensely and freely?