Monday Ride (Part II)

Monday morning (Memorial Day), after sleeping in longer than intended, I got back on two wheels for a brief morning ride.

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Just a couple of minutes after leaving the house (about 3/4 of a mile into my ride), a bug perched on board, just next to my iPhone and it sat on my handlebars. I almost swatted it, but instead…I just glanced down from time to time, curious as to where this little guy (or gal) might be headed on this Memorial Day.

Around mile 4, I began to truly ponder what this bug was up to. What did it think it was doing? Where did it think it would end up? Did it think that I cared where it would end up? Was it afraid? Did it know that danger was possible wherever it might end up?

Then, I thought a bit closer to home. Me. When I decided long ago to follow Jesus, what was I doing? How bad was my former life that I basically chose to leap into the ‘unknown’ to see where this path might lead me? Was it just about going to heaven or would there be more to this life? Did I think that Jesus cared about any of it? Me? My future? My zip code? My bank account? Did I think that Jesus cared, or that it was even possible for Him to care? I was afraid…for sure, yes. I still am, at times. After all, even His word promises there will be trouble. However, I’m way more afraid to go back (to being apart from Christ) than I am about following His lead. He is good. Me, not so special. My decision making process apart from Him, led me to what I was fleeing in the first place.

Mile 8 (ish). Uphill, a bit slower. Less of a cool breeze, even if just for a short time. I began noticing movement. Sure enough, at about the slowest, least exciting portion of the ride (the uphill battle aka Thomas Spring Road), the bug decided enough was enough.

Perhaps I wasn’t moving quickly enough for it. The breeze and the action wasn’t quite as exciting as it was looking for. The grass was greener, perhaps, in the nearby fields than it is just off of Main Street in Bridgewater. I mean, that cabin, it is a beauty. That wrap-around porch would be a heavenly home for such a bug. The bug, whether happy now or not, is in a new, beautiful, yet unfamiliar environment. I think it’ll be fine. It’ll adapt…or it’s in the belly of a frog… Anyway, forget the bug. We had a good ride, but this isn’t about the bug…or me.

Things aren’t always moving in the direction I’d prefer, at the speed I’d prefer, and with the cool breeze that I might prefer. It’s tempting, at times, to hop off the handlebars and find my own way. Tempting, but not that tempting. Been there, done that. It’s overrated. The grass is sometimes greener because the poop (the fertilizer) has been spread a bit thicker there…

I’m not going back. I want to go where He is going…and I do believe that Jesus is still moving in this life. He’s not just waiting around. I want to be following where He is leading…a front row, handlebar-style seat even. There will be uphill battles. He was aware of those before He took those routes. Jesus never avoided hills…He just spoke from them. And He spoke to me through one, just this past Monday…in more ways than one.

He spoke through a donkey (Numbers 22). He still speaks…through bugs perhaps, and apparently through hills.


Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash


Monday Ride (Part I)

Get Outside. #GetOutside

Just before hopping on the bike this morning (after I slept in 90 minutes longer than intended), Kelly Ripa & Ryan Seacrest were telling me that we spend over 85% of our time inside (not all of us, of course…but a scary majority of us). Whether it’s inside our home, or inside the place where we work, or inside a car (with the windows closed tightly)… As much as I love being outside, I’m guilty too…although I’d like to think it’s under 85% for me…I sure hope.

I often wonder if we truly are our own worst enemy. I mean…we’re not the enemy, but do the ways in which we ‘protect and fortify and cushion’ ourselves weaken us rather than actually making our situations better? We were created for being in nature and nature (a gift) for us (book of Genesis basics here…). We’ve somehow come to a place where we’ve separated ourselves from nature, as if we’re truly not part of it. We think we’re ‘more civilized.’ Hardly.


I have always believed that if we cannot adapt to our habitat, we weaken. The dinosaurs can relate. Adam & Eve didn’t need clothing. They were reluctantly given clothing…fig leaves, by the way…to which I am sure many of us would be allergic.

I love the kid’s movie, The Lorax. However, I fear that we’re becoming (or wanting to become) the family who doesn’t need a real tree because the man-made tree in the ‘yard’ is working just fine and doesn’t shed its leaves (which I can actually relate with at the moment).

Don’t just ‘like’ the rainforest page on Facebook. If you really care about it, go live there. If you really care about deforestation, go live in a forest and be a good steward of that forest. If there’s anyone else there…love those people. Be a good neighbor.

Am I going too far with this? Perhaps…

The climate is changing and always has been and always will. The dinosaurs can relate to this as well. Get outside anyway. Despite the change, enjoy the gift of outside. I do realize…not every ‘outside’ space is the same. Make your outside space better…safer, cleaner. I promise it will be a better place with you being part of it, than if you just ignore it.

15% of time spent outside? Really? I’m not asking you to be a mountain climber. Sit on your porch if you have one. If not, buy a lawn chair…even one with a drink holder if need be. Put a mile on your shoes today. Open the windows when you drive. Enjoy the breeze that God will never send you an electric bill for…

Yes, this post had little to do with my ride. Two more posts coming…from other thoughts I had during my morning ride.


Photo by Lucija Ros on Unsplash


This Spring, after the sale of our home, I got a bike. The sale of our home home enabled me to. Mandy supported it. It was my birthday/Christmas gift for the next several years. Well worth it. I am grateful.

Yes, I already had a bike. I have an aging mountain bike that I still love. I haven’t been on it as much in the new/old home because I just still haven’t familiarized myself with where to ride. Trails and routes are plentiful…I just haven’t. I’ve unexpectedly grown to love the road.


In Lynchburg, I had not really enjoyed the road. A road bike may have changed that, but the traffic was a bit more dense there and the paved bike paths a good bit harder to locate. Here however, in the rolling hills South & West of Bridgewater and Dayton, I have found a new happy place amongst the unintelligible chatter of poultry houses, the bright green fields rich with cattle (and dung), and the unrecognizable void of busyness.

It’s probably a slight exaggeration, but I’m not sure I encountered even 100 vehicles the other evening in my 3.5+ hours of riding. There were certainly several stretches of 30 minutes or so when no vehicles at all were close, aside from the occasional parked tractor, horse, or buggy.

I cannot sufficiently explain how or why it relaxes me to pedal…after all, it hurts. Sitting on a bike saddle for more than an hour poses some certain discomfort. My stiff lower back reminds me ‘off your seat and stretch’ every once in awhile (normally quite a few minutes later than it should). The seducing aroma of local cookouts, of which I’m likely unwelcome to partake of, seems at times like cruelty to only be able to experience with my nose.

Leaving the comfortable norm, even if just for a couple of hours, blesses my soul. Returning back to my comfortable home, with my precious family awaiting (sometimes impatiently…especially if I arrive after Grammie’s has already closed for the evening), is uplifting in so many ways.

The literal grass may actually be greener on those overly-fertilized fields that surround my new favorite (and yet to be discovered) paved routes. However, most of all…experiencing these rides helps me each and every time to come home more grateful, content, and invigorated than when I left. Yes, even when it feels a bit like I might pass out…

39 miles on my 39th birthday made for a goal met. I was proud of myself for a few minutes. However, I’m not naive. There are many who ride that many miles (and more) just about every day. Some are called cyclists. Some are school children or rice farmers in Cambodia. Some are old-order Mennonites. I’m not special. I met a goal and it’s time to meet the next.

I have some more goals up my sleeve for this year (including Reddish Knob and at least one half century ride). And each day, I have friends who are pushing me to set even loftier ones (received an invite just today for next year’s Storming of Thunder Ridge). My main goal though, is that my physical activity would enable richer & extended longevity for family, friends, and the Kingdom of Christ!


Photo by Gemma Evans on Unsplash


Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. -Antoine de Saint-Exupery

In my last post, I shared the above quote. Addition by subtraction. Enrichment by simplification. For about the past decade, the theme of simple has been a recurring and crucial thread in my life. Simplifying: easier said than done.

Simple: it’s one of the reasons I often utilize others’ photos (and give credit). It’s one of the reasons I prefer following a design guide over creating and recreating, over and over. Perhaps it’s one of the reasons I’ve gravitated back towards my acoustic guitar over the many bells and whistles that my electric guitar rig offers. I definitely believe it’s one of the reasons I am currently more content with apartment living over home ownership.

david-van-dijk-255503-unsplash1.jpgThe enemy of art is the absence of limitations. –Orson Welles

In my spiritual journey, I have learned that growth isn’t defined by addition, but rather by allowing Jesus to do away with in my life, that which I was not created for. I am healthier and happier, not when I have more events on my calendar to do, but when I have increased margin to invest in the parts of my life that are more fulfilling. Each time I write, I spend more time editing and stripping away unnecessary words and statements than I do in writing out the initial draft. Clarity and simplicity over a buffet of words.

For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light. -Jesus (Matthew 11:30)

When we allow the Holy Spirit to strip away that which is more like us than like Him, He is freeing us. He asks to travel light…leave the baggage. We don’t do that by addition, but rather by subtraction.

Simplifying is often difficult because we’re conditioned to think that saying ‘no’ may be rude. In a recent podcast by Jon Acuff, he states ‘Exercise like your life depends on it. Because it does.” I love that! In the same way, say no like your life depends on it. Say yes to simple.

A friend on Instagram shared the following today, from a funeral she had attended. A beautiful example of successful simplicity.

So, when all that’s left of me is love, give me away. -Merrit Malloy (Epitaph)


Photo by David van Dijk on Unsplash



News (unfed)

I had a great meeting recently with a couple of colleagues. We meet once a month to chat through some of our challenges, we help one another look for solutions, and we find opportunities that we can take to improve our own workflows and ultimate results. Simply put, iron sharpens iron…but only when we’re willing to grab up the tools we have available to us and make it happen. As a practice for the moment, we’re reading Todd Henry’s Accidental Creative together, to help guide our conversations.

In the last meeting, I expressed one of my personal challenges…the newsfeed, which I often refer to as the ‘death scroll.’ I’m not pointing my finger in any one social media or newsfeed’s direction. Whether it’s the 24 hour news channel, Twitter, or even the daily paper…we can easily become lost in the midst of whatever today’s ‘newsfeed’ is feeding our unbeknownst hunger for knowing where our acquaintances are spending their lunch breaks or whatever new unending Russian investigation has begun that day.


My admitted trap…Facebook. Some would say, ‘just stay away’ or ‘just close that tab.’ Easier said than done. One of my primary roles is in helping to oversee our church’s social media pages. However, with an actual solution for me, one of my colleagues gave me an immediate gift, likely because they themselves had experienced the same trap.

If you have this struggle yourself or if you know someone else who might benefit, I’m paying it forward as a give to you! My daily newsfeed (on my MacBook, at least) now appears as follows:

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News Feed Eradicator is available for several browsers. Check it out for yourself. One quote for the day, and nothing more. Just a few days ago, it led me to share the following quote (somewhat ironic), which I’ll end with and probably write more about in the near future:

Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery


Photo by Kingston Chen on Unsplash


There are many things I could say about failure. Most of our lives, we grow up conditioned to believe that failure is always a negative thing. Over the last decade of my life however, I have been learning repeatedly and it has been affirmed in so many ways that failure is not only an option, but a necessity.

A few weeks back, my son began studying karate. In fact, just today we committed to him taking those lessons for a minimum of a year. There’s a quote we heard our first week there that has stuck in my mind as I have been processing this post. I don’t know the origin of the quote. “A black belt is a white belt that never quit.”

The above quote doesn’t say ‘those who never fail receive a black belt.’ On the road to success of any type, there is failure…many times. Failure is an option…it is a necessity. Without failure, there is little motive to grow and progress. Fail, but never give up on reaching for that next goal.

Weeks ago, I realized and admitted to myself that I had not really been pushing myself in the gym. It had become EASY to visit the gym and simply go through the motions I began in Janury that led me to meeting my goal back in June. I wasn’t pushing myself. It had been a long time since I ‘failed.’ It was time to change that. The reality is that I had met a goal…and even though I knew there was more I could improve, I had become a bit complacent with simply maintaining. Not pushing through those last 3 reps stinks…until weeks later, you can add a complete set.

When my guitar sits in my case (unplayed), it stays clean, hydrated, and it’s not experiencing wear and tear. However, it’s also not making any music. If (and when) it sits in the case, then I’m not contributing anything with it. I’m simply a consumer of music and not a contributor. I long to contribute. We as humans were designed with contribution in our Creator’s mind.


One of the things I love about mountain biking is this. About a decade ago, I realized that I couldn’t remember the last time I skinned up by knees or elbows. No bumps, no bruises. No blood, very little sweat. I had truly stopped being a kid. I had stopped seeking adventure. I used my bad knee as a good excuse for being lazy. My couch was doing a great job being a couch. I was doing a lousy job at living and being human. I’m still sensibly careful with my knee. However, I’m no longer petrified by my condition. Adventure will never do the work for you, but it often meets us halfway.

Ok. I agree. We’re human beings, not human doings. However, if we’re not doing much with who we are being…then we’re not really being much of anything.

Never failing (never trying to grow) is true failure.


Photo by Riccardo Chiarini on Unsplash




I am a huge fan of #Spotify. My wife and I upgraded to the family plan sometime last year, I believe. It has changed my music-listening experience for the better, to say the least. We’re discovering new music everyday and loving it.


One of the coolest things about Spotify is what they did for me, just before Christmas. Basically, it was a really cool analysis of my music listening over the course of 2017. They told me how many hours I listened, what I listened to the most, and they created a playlist of music that I ‘may have missed.’ In addition to that, they created a playlist of all of the music that I listened to the most; basically a custom, ad-free/talk-free radio station. As one who is not a fan of radio, it’s by far the best station ever…(because it’s mine, of course…).

The natural tendency, of course, would be for me to listen to it. After all, Spotify created it just for me. It would be rude not to. I have listened a few times, for sure. However, it would be a bit embarrassing perhaps, if my 2018 listening was nothing more than a repeat of 2017. I fortunately can assure you, as early as it is in 2018, I’ve continued finding new artists and I am somewhat confident that this year’s station will not simply be a repeat of my 2017 playlist. If, by chance, it were identical…I would hope that Spotify would call me out on it. ‘We appreciate your membership and your money, but please…please listen to something new, John!”

As much as we all realize that there’s no literal wall between 2017 & 2018, be challenged to embrace and own your past (for better or worse)…but don’t live there. Revisit, remember, reminisce, recycle…but by all means recover, refocus, and rejoice that there is beauty yet to be discovered in your life!

Psalm 96:1 Sing a new song to the LordLet the whole earth sing to the Lord!
Photo by Ryan Stefan on Unsplash


“Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”‭‭1 Thessalonians‬ ‭5:18‬ ‭NLT‬‬

The last 6+ months have been…just, a journey. Not just for us, for you too, I’m sure. We have all been in our own journeys…

One of the biggest things I have been attempting more and more this past year is to simply be grateful. It does take work and intention. There have been so many situations and provisions and events to be grateful for. And still, there have been as many obstacles and doubts in my life as I have ever faced. 

I’m not complaining. A bit confused perhaps. I think, in ways, I am numb. In other ways, I feel as though I am experiencing a peace that simply overwhelms my understanding (Philippians 4:6-7).

Peace. I’ll take that.


Photo by Joseph Barrientos on Unsplash

Lead us not…

1. a desire to do something, especially something wrong or unwise.

According to a quick search on Google, this was the first definition of the word ‘temptation.’ For the most part, I probably would have come up with something similar…knowing myself however, it likely would have been more wordy and I may have used the word ‘sinful’ rather than ‘wrong.’

Now, don’t get me wrong. Temptation is not a sin. There, I said it. However, don’t stop reading here. You would give me a great big thumbs up if I just stopped there. After all, we enjoy our flirtatious relationship with temptation. To some, temptation might mean to sip, rather than to chug. It might mean to look, but to not touch. It may mean to gamble for quarters, rather than for dollars.

I may be absolutely wrong on this, but it’s what I believe. Temptation is not a sin, but entertaining temptation can become a sin. For me, a temptation is to drink alcohol (one of my former vices…and not one that I did in moderation). I don’t drink now because I believe it would be sinful for me to do so. I believe that for me it would, without a doubt, lead to alcoholism.

Something I noticed about myself years ago…I still walked down that aisle at the grocery store, allegedly with no intention to purchase. I desired. I thirsted. I was envious. I could practically taste it. I knew enough about myself that I knew I couldn’t handle it. It was a form of self abuse, I believe. Entertaining temptation…perhaps sinful. I now avoid that aisle, if and when possible.


This won’t be a popular post of mine. I’m ok with that. I’ve pointed judgmentally only at myself. What even brought me to write it? What about #LegDay or pull-ups or today’s weigh-in? I’m reading a YouVersion plan called The Prayer That Turns the World Upside Down, which as you may have already guessed is a 5-day brief study on The Lord’s Prayer. In my study this morning, something that hit me…like never before.

But then it made sense why I felt convicted to not walk down particular aisles anymore. Jesus taught us to pray, ‘lead us not into temptation‘ (Matthew 6:13). He didn’t say ‘lead us to not sin’ or ‘help us to know how far is too far’ or ‘help me to not get addicted.’ He prayed against experiencing temptation. It’s no coincidence that in that same Sermon on the Mount, Jesus also draws distinct lines as it concerns adultery, divorce, murder, and love (among other things).

I’m not inferring that Jesus goes as far to call temptation ‘sin.’ He doesn’t. However, in its context, I believe that entertaining temptation can become a sinful act.

Fun post, right?

I don’t know what all of this means for you. Perhaps nothing. However, it may mean your route home from work changes. It may mean ‘look away’ rather than ‘look, but don’t touch.’ I shared a bit about what it meant for me. Praying about what more it may mean as I grow and as He continues to transform my life.


Photo by Vladislav Klapin on Unsplash

The Marginalization of Margin

We need space. Time. Margin. All of us.

I’ve been talking a lot lately about getting more active in the kitchen and out of the kitchen (in the gym, in the woods, at the track, etc…your exercise of choice). I’m no less passionate about these things. I embrace the phrase ‘sitting is the new smoking.’

That being said, we’re not machines. Even if we were, machines require fuel and rest. Even my MacBook needs a reboot every once in awhile.


We need sabbath rest. God commanded it of us and modeled it for us. Not in a legalistic sort of manner did He stress it. He doesn’t micromanage the when, the where, and the how. Do you think that Jesus never work up a sweat hiking away (on his own) to escape the crowds and His own best friends (& disciples)?

Making margin and being purposeful to get away takes work and intentionality (like physical & spiritual wellness). This isn’t a call to hermitage and it doesn’t require a vacation. However, I like to at least try to keep a calendar of events for myself. Often, my days seem even more full of activity than my calendar seemed full of events and appointments. Part of that is that I’m not very disciplined at keeping a calendar. The other aspect is that I need to get better at scheduling rest time.

It’s not all about kicking your shoes off and snuggling up on the couch with your iPad for a given amount of time (exactly what I did yesterday evening after work). It’s actually not about that at all. It’s also not about deserting your loved ones to just go do your hobby (the reason I rarely schedule workouts and bike rides that will far exceed 90 minutes in my schedule). Our lives need focus (less stuff) and purpose (why were you as an individual created?).

If the enemy in our lives can distract us from acknowledging our purpose or if that same enemy can take up all of our time with a bunch of ‘good things to do,’ then we’re truly missing the mark…the niche we were created to fill.

My worldview is one of a Christian background. So, I usually look at sabbath from that perspective. There is a section of scripture in Acts 6 where the disciples are compelled to do one of their most important acts of leadership. They had been serving (waiting tables, as it says in scripture). This was a needed thing. A good thing that they were doing. Someone had to do it. However, they soon realized that it was both not their calling and not necessarily their gifting to do so. As good as it was to do, their purpose was a different one (not a better one or a bigger one).

I haven’t mastered this or become good at it. However, the more I grow, the more this sabbath seed has taken root in my life. I appreciate great conversations with friends that continue to shed water and light on this seed. May we all continue to grow!

When we don’t make margin in our lives, there are plenty of others who will find far too much for us to do ‘with our spare time.’


Photo by Jordan Whitfield on Unsplash