Friday, December 18, 2009

Oak Pruning Translating To Life Lessons

Many days of the week I say to myself, "I wish people could see what I see."  As an arborist, I am daily in the upper portions of a tree's canopy which gives me views of neighborhoods, cities and towns that most citizens will never see.  What's the highest you've ever climbed in a tree?  Routinely I'm up 50-70 feet in the air.  If you've ever been in tall buildings and looked out the window, you a little bit  of what I'm talking about.  The view is just so different that what we see on a daily basis.

When I get really high in an oak tree, I notice things the average person would never see.  I also have a trained eye when I'm up there because I'm looking for dead wood to trim from the tree.  Sometimes the dead wood is really obvious because the bark is pealed off.  Sometimes it's obvious because there's no buds on the end of the branch.  And other times it's obvious because a fungus has grown on the bark and it looks different that all the other branches.  But there's also branches that have buds from last year, though they've died.  You actually can score (scrape) the branch with your hand saw to see if it's green (alive) or brown (dead or declining).  Keep in mind very little of this can be seen from the ground.  You need to get on top of the branches and up close and personal to decide what comes out.

Dead wood is a part of a tree's life.  There's various reasons a limb may be dying or declining, but inevitably some branches will die and they need to be removed.  Isn't the same true of life?  Wouldn't you agree that there are areas of one's life that have died, or are declining, and need to be removed?  In the Bible Jesus says
"Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away. And every one that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bring forth more fruit."  (John 15:2)
We have dead limbs that need to be taken out.  And we have live limbs that need to be pruned so that they produce more fruit.

Are there areas in your life that aren't bearing fruit?  This Christmas season is about "goodwill towards men."  Do you have that?  Or are there branches in your life that need to be pruned away because they're dead?  Maybe you have good limbs that need pruning so that they'll produce more and better fruit.

I think I have a little of both.  I'm certainly bearing some good fruit.  But I have dead wood that needs to be removed.  I have habits that need to break - sinful actions of thought, word and deed that died when I committed my life to Christ.  Yet they still linger in my life.  I also have live limbs that are alive and healthy, but they need to be pruned so that they can continue to produce fruit.  This is where this lesson gets tough for me.  I have too many irons in the fire.  I need to focus on the important branches, the branches that will produce the most fruit (in relation to my direction in life).  This means some good things need to be pruned away.  It's not to say that they won't come back later in life, but right now I need to be focused on establishing family and career.  If it doesn't produce fruit in those two areas, it probably needs to be pruned away.

As you reflect on the end of the year and the season of giving and goodwill, what branches in your life are dead and need to be removed?  What branches are alive but need to be pruned so that they produce more fruit?

Friday, December 04, 2009

Loss of Innocence

I understand you don't want to hear any more about Tiger Woods, but I'd be withholding from my readers if I didn't acknowledge what's on my mind, and in fact what I've discussed with a handful of you.  My brother said it best, "It's a complete loss of innocence."  I know I'm kind of a dreamer, even an old-school guy when it comes to this stuff.  I'd even say I'm in denial about pro sports these days.  Here's a few of the stories that disappointed:

  • Kobe Bryant and that girl in Colorado
  • MJ divorced Juanita after stories of his "women"
  • Brett and his divorce with Packers - he should never have to wear purple, it's just not right
  • Alex Rodriquez and Barry Bond - two of the greatest players ever - steroids
  • Tiger Woods - the most recognizable athlete in the world, on voicemail trying to dodge his wife
I'm not going to write extensively on this, but as a huge sports fan who understands the importance of positive role models in society, I can't begin to explain my disappointment.  Nothing is pure.  I know that.  I just really want a good story from one of these great athletes.  Looks like my last hope is Tim Tebow.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

What I'm Reading - December 2009

Have you ever had the question posed to you:  "If you had one super-power, what would it be?"  I had this asked of me numerous times in college and the answer was always the same.  I wanted to fly.  I mean really, what could be any cooler than that?

But now I'm thinking that the super-power of that super-hero named Book Worm would be pretty cool, too.  You know Book Worm, from that one show.  Or was it a comic strip?  Or am I completely making this up?  Anyway, I've given up on my desire to fly.  Now I want to be able to read at super-human, yes super-hero speeds.  Because my library isn't getting any smaller and my desk is getting cluttered with unfinished books.

It seems most readers that I talk with have the same problem.  We just can't finish a book before we start another.  Then another.  And another. And soon we have four books going.  I remember having to do this in college because we had 4-6 classes per semester.  But now I should be able to pick up one or two books and have them finished before I start another, right?

Needless to say I'm not reading fast enough and my attention-deficit disorder is getting the best of me.  So here's what I'm reading right now:
There's actually two others I've consciously put down until this list gets shortened, so I'll save myself the embarrassment.  If I had the powers of Book Worm I wouldn't have to worry about this.

So what are you reading?

Friday, November 27, 2009

Things I'm Thankful For

Thanksgiving is a great time for family and reflection.  It's a holiday that everyone can agree on and this is evident in our culture's universal celebration on this weekend.  Of course as I'm writing this plenty of people have moved beyond Thanksgiving towards Christmas and the Black Friday event that's gotten completely out of control.  But still, Thanksgiving is a great weekend.

Briefly, let me reflect on what I'm thankful for.  Let me start with the Big Rocks:

  1. Family:  Katie is such an amazing mother.  She works so hard and makes me so proud.  Sorin is healthy and a joy to watch as he plays throughout the day and grows up before our eyes.
  2. My job:  While this isn't a career for me, Bill at H&H Arborists is an excellent employer.  I've learned a lot from him and had an opportunity to grow in my leadership and management.
  3. My parents:  mom and dad are right across the street and have helped with Sorin and other duties around our house.  They are very giving individuals, both of their time and their resources.
  4. My in-laws:  Steve and Sue are very welcoming and involved in our lives as we work into parenthood.  
  5. My relationship with God:  My rock and my Savior.  All comfort and security is found in the Creator.
And then I'm thankful for many things that are along a different line of thinking.  Let me explain:

  1. My gifts and abilities:  I am discovering day after day how God has established qualities in me that show how He will use me in this world.  Sure, I'm frustrated with certain areas of life (I'm not in the career field I want to be in) but he's given me passions and skills, thoughts and ideas to where I can see where this is leading me in the future.
  2. Social Media:  I have the ability to keep up with so much information right now.  I follow top notch pastors from around the country.  I hear industry tips and best practices from exercise specialists who are further along in their career than me which motivates me and my business plans.  I have relationships with friends on Facebook that weren't possible years ago because they've moved away.  Social media has allowed me to be hyper-connected and it's a really good thing.
  3. Things that are FREE:  With so much information and good products available, think of what we get for free.  Google has made everything knowable within seconds.  My blog freely allows me to reflect on life and share it with whoever wants to listen (all five of you).  Twitter allow me to listen to and write to thousands of people on a variety of subjects.  And YouTube allows me to watch U2 live from the Rose Bowl, all for free.
  4. My health:  I love running.  I won't be winning any races any time soon but working out is enjoyable for me.  I'm always up for a challenge and my goals are changing by the season.  
  5. My career goals:  God gave me the passion for exercise and education.  I feel like I've been charged with helping people become healthier individuals and this is an admirable calling in life.  God has instilled this in me and continues to bless me with the thoughts and ideas required to have a successful business and affect on my community.
  6. The Office and Community:  Katie and I laugh weekly very hard when we watch these two shows.
  7. Sorin's Puma sweatsuit from Grant and Jes:  You've got to see him in this - he should have one of these outfits at every stage of his growth.

I'm very thankful on many different levels.  We live in a very privileged society and we should never forget that.  

Monday, November 23, 2009

Goal Setting

If you aim at nothing, you'll hit it every time.  ~Author Unknown
How true is this?  Have you recently analyzed your goals in life?  Could you list your top three priorities on a sheet of paper?  How are you spending your time?

Goal setting is an exercise that requires our daily and weekly attention.  I am very easily distracted, and I'm not alone.  In today's age of technology there are so many things that battle for our time, and they often win... unless we have a set of goals in place.  These goals need to address what's important in our lives and no one can create them but ourselves.  We must internalize them and make them our own.

One of my biggest challenges in helping clients become more fit and lose weight is to help them understand the importance of goal setting.  "I want to lose weight"  This is a bad goal.  "I want to be healthier."  This is also a bad goal.  Why are these bad goals?  Because they don't give me enough information.  They're not SMART goals:

Specific           (what do you want to happen; why; how)
Measurable     (how will you know when you've accomplished your goal?)
Attainable        (are you in over your head or is your goal within reach?)
Relevant          (is it your goal or someone else's; how does it fit in your life?)
Timely             (to be completed next week, next month or next year?)

This is a criterion I learned while studying physical education in college.  While it first seemed a little over the top, I now realize how essential these five components are to proper goal setting.  So without a goal we will never accomplish what's important to us.  The world distracts us so we need to focus.  And when we establish a goal, it needs to have the five SMART components.

  1. write one short-term goal to be completed this week
  2. write one long-term goal to be completed within one month

Friday, November 20, 2009

Only Do What Only You Can Do

One of my favorite pastors is Andy Stanley from North Point Church.  Andy is the son of Charles Stanley, who my mom grew up listening to.  So it's kind of fun to see how the next generation takes after the first, both in preaching and in listening.  Andy probably delivers the clearest message I've ever heard.  He's very compelling and I tune in weekly to his leadership podcasts

Years ago I was going through a book with college ministry leaders by Andy called Next Generation Leader.  One chapter was called Only Do What Only You Can Do.  The description went like this:  the less you do the more you accomplish.  I got the idea but I struggled to put it into practice.

I was leading a team of students that put on our weekly meetings for the Link, the college-aged ministry of Blackhawk.  I knew that it was my job to get my team to do more work.  The more they took ownership the better our team was performing.  It was their job to get the equipment to the venue, get the equipment set-up, put together the script for the night, and make sure all the media components were cued up.  But after that there was nowhere to go.  That was the final product.  It worked, it was good, but there was nothing left for me to do.  There was very little that only I could do.  So Andy's principle didn't fully sink in.

Fast forward to Summer 2009.  I'm working at H&H Arborists as the lead worker on a crew of three.  Bill, the owner is busy all summer doing sales while the crew is out doing everything from pruning to removing trees.  It's a young crew - with eight years of experience I'm the veteran. 

My job is to figure out how to complete each job efficiently and safely.  As the only man on the job with real experience, this can only happen so fast.  Thankfully Bill is very willing to take precious time on the job site to train the guys on many days where the job requirements are appropriate.  (I say this because many other tree companies don't value or practice intentional training like H&H.)  So now my job is to balance training with being a productive crew. 

After a few weeks I've developed the guys' skills.  They can do light pruning, mostly from the ground.  Soon one of the guys is comfortable in the tree so the crew is getting better.  And this is where Andy's principle really started to sink in for me.  Now the crew is to the point where they can function in certain situations and I'm tempted to work along side them but I can't.  There's other work that only I can do.  Sometimes work gets done fast when everyone works on something together.  There's accountability and there's encouragment when you're side-by-side.  But if I'm doing something that they could be doing, there's something I'm not doing that they couldn't do.  This isn't always the case, but I'm challenged daily to evaluate how to get the work done most efficiently. 

Only do what only you can do.  It's become a simple principle to understand but an important one to practice.  Businesses move forward when they're efficient and this is one step to that end.

If you're in a leadership position, are you doing thing other team members could be doing?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Night Off, A Night Alone

In one of my educational psychology classes in college, I remember a professor talking about the brain and learning.  He said that when we learn, the brain is like a sponge; it can absorb only to a certain point.  Sponges can only hold so much water before they need to be squeezed out.  Purging is essential for the sponge to function properly; same goes for the brain.  It needs to be emptied at regular intervals to continue to be efficient, even effective.

I'm finding myself in a season of busy work.  Life is very busy right now and the routine sometimes gets the best of me and I get complacent and lazy. 
  • the same morning routine.
  • the same thing for lunch
  • the same search for a new job
  • the same evening with family
Are these all bad?  No!  I love my time with family.  Sorin is changing daily.  Katie and I had a great talk at dinner last night.  My days aren't always (or completely) boring.  But I certainly lack a freshness to my daily activities.  I get stuck in a rut.  Certain things lack excitement.  I need to squeeze out the sponge before I can refill.  For me that means a full day off.

For two evenings I'm home alone.  Katie went to Cedarburg for three days to be with family, so I've got run of the house.  And Katie knows this about me - sometimes I just need this alone time to refocus.  Life has been very predictable.  But tonight I knew I was coming home with no pressure or responsibilities to be "on" with family.

Tonight I was able to catch up on a few blogs - less than I would have liked, but that's probably a good thing.  At the same time I checked Facebook and then an interesting thing happened.  A couple people started posting comments on my blog and on my Facebook according to some of the things I'd recently written.  It started a series of small discussions that led me to think proactvely about my next career move.  Katie and I have talked about developing my fitness business and what that would entail.  Tonight I was able to share with some of my friends some of my thoughts and I was also able to see that I can get relevant discussions started with people - this is big if you're starting a business.

My brain needed this.  I believe God had this night set aside for me to decompress from life and be able to engage with people in a way that I rarely have time for.  It was very refreshing.  It's hard to talk about this because I don't want it to seem like I need to get away from family to be productive.  But there is something to be said for retreats - retreats from the normal day-to-day routines that get us bogged down with sameness. 

So I'm happy with the night.  I'm looking forward to tomorrow night.  I need time away like this and so do you?  If you didn't have to answer to anyone for a night, what would you do?  What could you accomplish?  Would it make any relationship better? 

Monday, October 26, 2009

On Encouragement

Last week I went to see a movie by myself.  Katie had Bible study, but she probably wouldn't have been interested in this one anyway.  The documentary was called "Race Across the Sky."  It's the story about the Leadville Trail 100, a mountain bike race in Colorado that has grown from a cult following to national prominence after the release of this movie.

The Leadville Trail 100 is a grueling race that competitors have 12 hours to complete.  It starts around 10,200 feet and peaks somewhere above 12,000.  Twists and turns, climbs and drops, pavement and mud are all part of the race.  Some of the climbs seem like they can't be any steeper.  At one point in the movie there's a row of 30 bikers all walking uphill single-file because the rain had caused so much mud that the athletes couldn't get any traction.

But on another portion of the course I saw other athletes struggling.  The section is called Powerline because the trail runs directly under a set of powerlines that are streaking down a mountain's side.  The trail is bordered by rows of pine trees.  And this isn't a nice smooth trail.  It has pits, boulders, bumps and gravel scattered everywhere.  Some of the leaders were walking up it earlier.  But at this moment the film was showing some locals who've adopted this section of the course as their own.  They've decided to help these bikers up the Powerline if they want to stay on their bikes.  What they do is as the biker approaches, they ask if they want a push.  Some decline, but many welcome the assistance.  So the next shot is a man coming along side a biker and pushing him at the hips as they climb the Powerline together

Don't we all need that push sometimes?  Aren't there times in life when things are either dull and complacent or frustrating and difficult, and an extra set of hands would really help us get up Powerline?

My biggest challenge right now is finding a job teaching or in the health and fitness industry.  We all know about the difficult economy.  Few companies are hiring.  Those that are have hundreds of applicants to sort through.  I've been at this seach for quite some time.  I really enjoy what I do and Katie and I have been making it work.  But it's not a career for me.  I've been searching extremely hard advance myself and it's been a tough road.

But today I talked to someone close to my situation who had words of encouragment.  He noted Psalm 45:1 that talks about pursuing a "noble cause."  He said that he's noticed how I have pursued a good career in which I will be very successful.  I've continued to study and grow as a leader and a learner.  I've read books and written reflectively about what it means to develop as a man.  He spoke into my life words of encouragement that were perfectly crafted.  They weren't sappy and they weren't over-reaching.  They gave me that push up Powerline that felt like a fresh pair of legs after miles of struggle.  He gave me that push up Powerline...

Encouragement is very powerful.  And it usually costs you nothing.  You can offer words, thoughts, your hand, your heart.  It costs you nothing.  But you'll gain a sense of worth as you assist someone else up the hill they're climbing. 

Friday, October 23, 2009

Thoughts On Fatherhood

Last Sunday I had a father's feeling as I was dropping Sorin off at child care at church. Katie and I haven't been to church much this summer and when we did, we often let my parents take Sorin so we could actually attend church without interuptions. Sorin doesn't take too well to dad and (especially) mom leaving. So this week it was my week to take him to child care. As we walked in and got registered Sorin could see something was up. He started to observe everything and got timid right in my arms. We put his bag down and started playing a little bit. At the first sign of him interacting with one of the staff I bolted out the door. I went around the corner to one of the mirror/windows where I could see in but he couldn't see me. As I watched him get comfortable I had a mix of emotions.

I felt really bad that he was alone without me. Sure, he was in good and caring hands. But he doesn't know that. He was all by himself and trying to stay busy. He would start to play with something, but then somehow he would realize I wasn't there and he'd start crying. It's hard to see your son sad and alone, missing dad.

I also felt old. Sorin has grown up so fast. Wasn't it last month that I was getting up at 4am to give him a bottle because he was relying on me for food? Didn't we used to have hold him so close because he couldn't even hold his head up? And here I was watching him walk and crawl on his own. Find a toy and play with it. Roll a ball and pick it up. He's only 14 months but he looks like my little man!! So I watched him and thought of myself as an older dad.

Finally I felt pride. Here I am watching my son - my son! I feed him. I change his diaper. I put him to bed. I wake him and dress him in the morning. I rough-house him on the floor and carry him around the house. I push him in the stroller and carry him on my back. Now I'm watching him through the window as he grows into his own life.

What a great calling: to be a father.

(originally posted on Sorin's Blog)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

How to Read 47 Blogs Per Day

Technology is progressing such that we no longer have to search out information or news:  it comes to us.  Each day we check email, Facebook, our favorite news sites, and maybe some blogs.  Is that accurate?  How do you spend your time online?  How do you get your information?

Would it surprise you that I read 47 blogs per day?  Would you believe that on average I catch up on my news in less than 20 minutes?  This includes 47 blogs and about 150 Twitter updates per day!

How is it possible?

Well if you look over my shoulder as I sit in my office, you'd see that I'm not reading every post or every update.  That's probably obvious.  But with the help of Google Reader I can look through the titles of every post and even the first few paragraphs to determine if it's something I should read in its entirety.  We all do this with the paper or our favorite magazines.  The beautiful part of this is that I'm sorting through blogs that interest me and news sources that I've chosen to subscribe to.

Here's how it works:  Go to Google Reader and set up an account.  (If you already have a Gmail or Blogger account you can use the same login and password).  On the left you will see all your subscription.  Now you need to fill them.  Open a separate tab (tell me you're using Firefox) and go to a blog you'd like to follow.  For example here's Sorin's.  When you visit a website or blog that updates their information on a regular basis, they're assigned an RSS feed and the icon looks like this.  What you need to do is click this button and then "subscribe to RSS" and it will take you to a page where you can "add to Google Homepage" or "add to Google Reader."  Choose the Reader. 

You've just subscribed to your first blog - and a good one at that!!  Start finding some good blogs to follow, then progress to websites and news feeds.  You'll be surprised what's out there.  If you need more help I'd be happy to walk through more details with you. 

Remember:  Make the technology work for you.  You don't need to visit each website or blog, it will come to you!  Are you interested in the Health Section of the or the Business Section of FoxNews?  You can have these websites come to your Google Reader rather than visit them every day.  You'll never go back.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Controlling Facebook Noise

While the number of users and the time spent on Facebook is only increasing, I still hear friends talk about too much noise on Facebook.  
  • "I don't need to hear what every friend is doing today."
  • "It's too much of a distraction."
  • "I only really want to hear about a handful of friends."
I coudn't agree more.  It has been fun to reconnect with old friends.  Certain stories and updates are compelling and I'm pleasantly surprised to have online discussions from people I never thought I'd talk to again.  But as family life gets busier and my hobbies demand more of my quality time, I find myself needing to prioritize how I stay connected on Facebook.

Why Facebook?  I have found that Facebook does everything I want as a communication platform.  I can:
  • update my daily (and hourly) status 
  • import my blog ('notes' on Facebook)
  • share news stories
  • see what friends are doing and reading
  • share pictures
This post isn't about why you should be on Facebook.  It's about why you should stay on Facebook if you want to have an online presence without all the noise.

The only requirement on your part is the following: being able to honestly determine who's on your Short List.

Here's how it works.  Click on HOME which takes you to your news feed.  On the left hand side you'll see your lists of categories, technically called Lists.  At the bottom click "more."  Then your whole set of lists is displayed, and now at the bottom you can click CREATE NEW LIST.

A new window will open and first you should give your list a name (Inner Circle, Real Friends, Cool People, Jet Setters).  Then you can click on any of your friends (groups are also listed and available) to add them to this group.  That's it!  

To make this feature really work, you'll have to rearrange the list to the top so that Facebook reads it first - one less click when you login.  To do this you'll have to expand your lists again (click MORE at the bottom).  Now all your lists will have three horizontal lines at the right and you'll have the ability to drag your new list to the top (you can also arrange any list if you want to prioritize).  

So my newest list ("Inner Circle") is at the top, and right under that is my NEWS FEED.  Now when I login, my homepage only lists the news of my Inner Circle list.  If I have more time, I can click on NEWS FEED and I get every update from every friend.

Will this help?  Are you able to determine your Short List?  Your Inner Circle? 

I truly wish everyone was on Facebook because I think it's a very powerful way to keep in touch and share stories.  Don't ask if you're on my Short List.  Please feel free to reference this article to friends who are want Facebook to be more efficient.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Lakefront Marathon

When I finished the Milwaukee Marathon yesterday, I felt two emotions:  first I was proud of my time, and second I was grateful for all my supporters.

Let me start with the latter.  I can say how thankful I was to have so many friends and family out on the course with me.  Yesterday was 48 degrees at the start of the race - and windy.  By the end it wasn't much warmer.  The breeze sure didn't go away.  Watching someone (like me) run 26 miles is quite and undertaking - it took me just under four hours, so there's some committment there.  And still other family members showed up towards the end when I needed encouragement the most.  I wish you all knew the energy I get when I see supporters on the side of the road there cheering me on.  In the challenge of my race you were pushing me to the end - thank you so much.

My other emotion after the race was pride in my training.  This was my second marathon of the season, and it was the first time I had this volume of training under my belt.  While I had the miles to run well, I hadn't worked on speed like I had hoped.  This time my training called for two 20-mile runs.  Mine went so well that they turned into 21 and 23 mile runs.  So I knew I had a chance at a good time.  Saturday night I wrote here about my goals:
Here's how I'm looking at tomorrow:

  • 3:55 should be a lock
  • 3:50 is my goal
  • 3:45 is "things went perfect"
The start of the race was very cold - I couldn't even get myself to take off my long-sleeve, but I ditched the hat at mile 8.  The first 13 miles felt very clunky and I was actually worried that things wouldn't go well.  I knew from training that around 8-10 I would get into a rhythm, but when that came and went I started thinking this might not be my day.  At mile 13 I was three minutes behind where I wanted to be (1:50), but that just meant there was even less room for error.

And then I started thinking about the Madison Marathon five months earlier.  In that race I started off very strong and just barely held on to the finish.  Would today be the same or did I have more in the tank?

At mile 14-15 I started getting into a nice groove.  What a feeling!  I was blaming the weather and maybe my high ambitions started me too fast at the start.  But here I was feeling smooth and strong.  At mile 18 I was thinking back to my last few long training runs and glad that I had pushed to 21 and 23 miles.  I started to think of when I wanted to push the pace because I knew I had strong legs.

Mile 22 would be a little early to go for it.  Four miles doesn't seem that far, but at the end of a marathon it's too much for me.  I figured I had a little more than two good miles left so at mile 23.5 I left Ken who I was running with and increased my pace.

Those last 2.7 miles were very tough.  It's really hard to push yourself when there's not that much in the tank.  I knew I'd finish but I didn't know how fast I could go.  In previous races I would alternate walking and running around mile 21.  That didn't happen once yesterday!  I had picked up the pace but I was maxed out of muscle in my legs.  I don't know how many people I passed but I know that no a single person passed me after mile 21.  I'm very proud of that.

I finished Milwaukee Marathon in 3:46, bettering my personal best by 13 minutes.  The training had paid off.  The cheers and support were greatly appreciated.  Who knows what's next.  Right now I can be thankful and proud as I go into the winter and think of next season.  Katie and I have some thoughts about the future, but right now we're very excited to focus on family and Katie's health as she carries our second baby.  And I'm looking forward to cheering her on.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

On the Record

I think goals are very important. And while I don't have time to get into success, failure, and accountability, let me say this: I have a desire to put myself out on the line and shoot for a lofty goal. I want to be the guy in the game, working hard, performing my best, and seeing if I have what it takes. Like I said, I can't get into this right now b/c it's 10 hours before I'm running my marathon and I need to rest.

I think it would be easy to say I want to run faster than my last marathon. That would be under 3:59, and I would honestly be proud of that. I haven't trained "fast" but I have trained more. So barring major set-backs 3:59 should be a lock. But if I'm honest with myself (and now my readers) I would say that wouldn't be enough. I've trained for back-to-back marathons now and I think that will be a significant increase in training and thus performance.

Here's how I'm looking at tomorrow:
  • 3:55 should be a lock
  • 3:50 is my goal
  • 3:45 is "things went perfect"
So honesty if I don't finish before 3:50 I will be disappointed. If it happens did I fail? Yes, I guess I did -- but that would be ok. Because so often in life big things happen from failure. We come back stronger and never make that mistake again.

Too much for tonight. I'm really excited about running tomorrow. My strategy is 8:15 miles for the first half, and then 9:15 miles to the finish. You can see my updates on my Twitter Feed.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Race Week

I am very excited to be at the final training week for the Milwaukee Marathon this Sunday. It is my third marathon, my second this year. I did Madison Marathon for the first time in 2007 and finished in 4:04. Last May I did Madison again and met my goal of going under 4 hours - I finished in 3:59. And now I've completed my training for this marathon on the heels of my Madison marathon, so the two consecutive training programs is making me very excited to see "how fast" I can go on Sunday.

Training is so motivational for me. I've made many updates on Facebook and Twitter this summer as I've processed my runs and the training program. It's been great to see how much stronger my body has gotten from all the miles I've logged. Are you aware of the capabilities of the human body? I'm not saying everyone should run marathons. But what might it be for you? Your first 5K? A run/walk. A brisk bike ride around the lake? What could you train for that would require some time and effort, but you think is possible in 8 weeks of training?

So this week I'm resting and looking back on my first two marathons - how my splits were and what my heart rate was over the course of the run. My friend Tom Moore says that marathons start after mile 20 - and I agree. It's the last six miles that are really what you train for, especially after your first marathon. In May I basically ran two different runs - my first 18 miles were great and my last 8 went downhill. So I'm starting to develop strategy for having more in the tank at the end.

If you're interested in following me on Sunday, you can watch my Twitter feed which my sister will be updating.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Book Review: A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller

In sports it's called the sophomore slump. A player has a great first (freshman) year and then can't live up to expectations the next. Donald Miller fully admits that after a very successful experience with Blue Like Jazz, a New York Times bestseller for 40 weeks, he went under the radar and did little more than get off the couch. Through a series of events and conversations with his roommate, Miller realized that he wasn't living a good life; he wasn't writing a great story. An avid learner and critic, Miller begins studying story in the context of films. Why? Because he's been approached to adapt his memoir into a screenplay. He's writing his own feature film, staring himself.

Donald Miller gained a nationwide following with his memoir, Blue Like Jazz, in 2003. His style of writing was refreshingly honest, critical, and insightful. But his cynicism left readers with a void and a sense of a missing component. Should we question so much of the Christian life without pursuing answers? In A Million Miles Donald Miller shows us how he has matured from a critic to an editor. He's been charged with the task of making his story work. And the story is compelling. The backdrop is a movie - Miller's life being edited for a screenplay on the big screen. But when two professional movie makers tell Miller that his story lacks some excitement, he's forced to examine his life and see if there's a better story to tell.

I was captivated by Miller's context of examining story and how it translated to his personal life. The characters he encounters and pursues will keep you riveted also. This book will be an enjoyable narrative and a challenging reflection at the same time.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Social Media Revolution

There are certain things that I really get jazzed about that others could care less about.  Most people hate Favre - I'm still a fan.  Friends and family are still using Hotmail and Yahoo - Gmail is the best.  And U2 is still the best band on the planet.

While I'm aware that my personality leans towards passion and action, I know that not everyone gets as excited as I do about certain things in life.  But some things are worthy of more attention than people give me credit for.  My career choice is to be an exercise professional.  While you may not view it as important as I do, and though you may not talk about it as much as I do, you should still do something about it.  Your health, livelihood, and quality of life depend on it.  And that's independent from me - it's just a fact.

In the same way, I don't see too many of my friends and family getting excited about Social Media (blogs, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube).  But that doesn't mean it doesn't affect them.  Because if it doesn't now, it sure will in the future.  Many of my friends have ditched email and now message each other through Facebook.  I've been able to keep friends and family informed with my life and being a husband and father through Facebook updates and photo albums that I can share.  You can't do that with email.  I've learned to not only find information from the web but share the relevant stuff publicly with Facebook, Twitter, and my blog.  News and information is so much more personal when it's shared this way.

As you can see I'm still trying to find my voice on this.  While I may not communicate it as effectively as I'd like, the beauty of computers and the internet is sometimes I don't have to.  I came across this YouTube video last week from a friend I follow on Twitter.

I'd be very curious to hear your thoughts about Social Media after watching this clip.  It goes fast, so you may want to keep your hand on the pause button.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Giveaway: NOOMA Whirlwind

I am happy to have another giveaway this week on my blog.  As a supporter of Flannel , which produces the Nooma series, we received two copies of the latest film, Whirlwind.  What a great opportunity to give one away.

Whirlwind is about the story of Job.  In this installment, Rob Bell challenges us to think outside of our circumstance, particularly ones that aren't going our way.  Actually it's when things are really bad that we must remember our place in history, HIStory.
  • Who is the author?  
  • Who is the character?  
  • What is the dialogue?

You'll love this film.  But to get it, here's what you need to do:
  1. Post a comment below telling me what your favorite Nooma was and why.  (Comments due Saturday 10pm)
  2. Send an email to me with your address so that I can get it to you if you win. (my first name at
  3. Check back on Monday morning to see who wins.
Flannel is an excellent organization and these films have reached a lot of people.  They've created Kingdom-centered stories.  Would you consider supporting their ministry ?  (They did not solicit this plug.)  When you purchase a film, they offer a free viewing to someone who can't afford to purchase a copy.

Make the comments insightful!  Haven't seen a Nooma film before?  Tell me why you should win this video.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Tweeting the NFL

I understand that not everyone is fully buying into the Social Media culture that is forming.  Forming...  it's established.  It's just a matter if you want to be a part of it.  Today I read an article talking about tv advertising being still relevant, but social media is taking "center stage".  I know plenty of my friends who shrugg this off, and that's fine.  Just remember that I mentioned it here, back on 9/22/09.

One of the most interesting developments for social media has been with Twitter and the NFL.  Players like OchoCinco have advertised their intent to Tweet during games.  The NFL has countered with adjusting their policy on Twitter and social media numerous times now. 

Where does free speech come in?  As an avid listener to sports radio, I'm hearing these stories more and more often.  And they're asking questions like this.  But what we need to remember is that the NFL is an employer.  These players are not independent contractors.  The NFL shouldn't have a problem telling players (employees) what policy will be when you're "on the clock." 

Now when a player is on their own time...  knock yourself out!  I'm a HUGE fan of behind the scenes action.  That's what makes Twitter so great.  We're getting a glimpse into certain celebrities' lives we've never seen before.  And as much as I'd love to hear sideline chats and thoughts from players during the game, during halftime, and before their interviews at their lockers, the NFL needs to stand firm in their social media policy - no Tweeting on our watch.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Benefits of Training

As I train for my third marathon, I've been able to focus less on the miles scheduled for the week and focus more on the structure of the program and it's purpose.  For those that don't know, when you're training to run 26.2 miles, you never actually run that far before the race.  One common training program (Hal Higdon) has you peak at "only" 20 miles.  And that's three weeks before the race! 

While I understood this concept in 2007 when I first did Madison Marathon, the years have allowed me to familiarize myself with the program, the design, and most importantly my body.  Having gone through the program three times now, I can confidently talk about training for a marathon with any novice runner.

Lately I've been reaping the benefits of training.  The human body is designed to be able to run 26.2 miles.  Not everyone can do this because too many of us let our bodies go.  But with proper training, I feel like I could get most people to complete a marathon.  And this is because of the power of training.  Think about training.  It's not something you figure out over night, in a week, or a month.  People take years to be properly trained on a piece of equipment or proficient at a job.

And training for a run is no different.  My marathon training program for the Lakefront (Milwaukee) Marathon on October 4th included two 20-mile runs.  This is an advanced workout that I was trying for the first time since I'm looking to improve on my run from this spring.  I'm happy to report that the first 20-miler was going so well that I extended it to 21 miles.  Then the second 20-miler was going well (training!) that I extended it to 23.5 miles.  If you haven't had the feeling of your body getting stronger, you're missing out.  

So after 17+ weeks of training, I'm tapering.  The program is set up such that your body decreases its workout load for the last two weeks of the training so that you're ready for maximal effort on race day.  I remember feeling this three days before my first marathon in 2007.  I came home from a short run and told Katie "I'm ready to go."  I could just feel my body's strength and even pent-up energy during my taper.  This was because I was used to so much higher mileage, my body was under-performing.  And that would change in three days when I would ask it to run 26.2.

When is the last time you trained for something?  It doesn't have to be a marathon.  It doesn't have to be athletic.  But when is the last time you felt yourself noticably get better or stronger in an area?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Exercise and Christianity

Since I became a fitness professional (as a personal trainer) I've made an intentional effort to practice what I preach.  It's not enough to have the knowledge to simply prescribe a workout routine for people and expect them to become healthier.  I firmly believe a good trainer needs to model a healthy lifestyle to be effective.

In addition to training, it has been my experience that I also need to have open discussions about health-related topics as a normal part of my days and relationships with people.  I want my fitness profession to be more than a job - I want it to be a significant component to my life.  So I approach relationship with the lens of "how can I be a resource and an encouragement to those with whom I interact?"

As these conversations have taken place, I've realized that my fitness profession and my Christianity have something in common.  It seems to me that these two aspects of my life can come across as over-zealous and even self-righteous.  Here's what I mean.

I admit that I don't talk about my faith as much as I should.  I've certainly had opportunities and relationships where I've been able to be more vocal, and I feel good when I can share my faith.  But the general consensus in this country and culture is that talking about Christianity comes off as 'better-than-thou.'  I hate that.  But it seems true.  Any discussion of Jesus, the Bible, my morals, or my views on family and society are interpreted as though I don't sin, I don't accept anyone else's lifestyles, I'm unforgiving, or no one lives up to my standards.  Have you ever felt unreasonably pegged and wanted to defend yourself?

Let's look at the excercise profession.  Since learning about physical and health education at the University of Wisconsin, I've realized how important health and fitness is to our culture.  Over 66% of the population is overweight - and almost half of that group is obese!  This has created a passion in me to see more individuals gain their health back and begin to feel better about themselves.  As noted above, I figure I'll be more effective if I practice what I preach, but to be honest I'd probably be doing this training even if my profession was unrelated.

But then comes my dilema.  I'm thin, I'm active, I eat very healthy (thanks to Katie) and I compete in marathons.  How does this look to those I'm trying to reach?  To some it's exactly what they'd expect.  But to others (usually the very-overweight ones) it just seems like they want to say, "Easy for you to say, Hans.  You're in great shape and I could never get to that point."  Maybe I'm reading into this or maybe I'm not bringing them along with me in the conversation.  But it sure feels like people hear me talk about fitness and just don't care or don't think it's attainable.

So my faith and my profession seem to have this in common:  when you're part of "the group" you're elite and so you must be looking down on those that aren't.  I guess at this point it's just an observation.  I don't have evidence of this and I don't have a solution.  But I believe God has called me to develop these aspects in my life and I also believe he's given me a voice and is allowing me to develop and grow that voice to work for His good.  So I'll keep pushing my agenda and practicing what I preach.

Friday, September 11, 2009

"How Could You Not?"

There are certain things you run across and say, "that's good."  This video from Donald Miller and the Mentoring Project does just that.  While I'm promoting this video, I don't mean to convey that I'm fully on board, because I'm not.  I can't right now.  But it's still an important message that needs to be heard so I'm trying to spread it.  If you like it, pass on a link to this post to someone who may sign up with the Mentoring Project.

Mentoring Spotlight - Ben and Dennis from The Mentoring Project on Vimeo.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

And the free book goes TO.....

The first responder, Mr. Persistance, the reader and writer himself... Mr. Jaye Barbeau.  This guy hounded me on Facebook and recruited his friends to write on his behalf - well played, Sir.  It was difficult to turn down the web-man Jeff Miles because he's helping to update my blog and take it to the next level.  Crowning him winner would have been for selfish gain.  Nice try Miles - I guess I'll have to pay those consulting fees after all.  But today all the glory goes to Jaye Barbeau. 

Thanks to everyone who commented and participated in my give-away.  Please take a moment to see if my blogging material might interest you on a weekly basis.  My blog is focusing on family, leadership, fitness/exercise, social media, and a few stories about sports.  You can subscribe and get it right to your inbox for free.

And remember - there may or may not be a NOOMA video give-away in the weeks to come.  Thanks again.

Jaye - the book is on its way.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Book Giveaway - Donald Miller's "A Million Miles"

I have recently started reviewing books for Thomas Nelson as part of their book review bloggers program.  My second title will probably be an all-time favorite - Donald Miller's "A Million Miles in a Thousand Years."  Katie and I were sitting on the porch when the UPS man pulled up with a box that was bigger than expected... because there were TWO books included!!

The publisher (CEO Michael Hyatt) thought that the book was so good that he wanted us to give away a copy to a friend.  So I've decided to have a little fun with this.  I've teased this on Facebook and Twitter for the last week and here on my blog I'll be giving away the free copy.

Here's what will happen:

  1. You post a comment at the bottom of this post telling me why you deserve the free copy.  Include your first name or an identifying title.  Get creative!!
  2. You email me your full name and address in case I choose you as the winner. ( OR message me on Facebook)  IMPORTANT:  include "Donald Miller book" in the subject so I can sort through them.
  3. I'll pick a winner on Wednesday night and post something on Thursday. 

If you're so inclined, please check out my blog and participate in some conversations.  Oh, did I mention I may or may not have some Nooma videos to give away later?  Shameless promotion, I know.

Book Review: Fearless by Max Lucado

Fear is simple: “I’m scared of…”  Fill in the blank.  But when we examine the dimensions of fear, we see that it can play a significant role in various aspects of our lives.  Max Lucado unpacks all the subtle places fear can attack us and what the Bible says about how we should respond.

Plain and simple: in America 2009 we have realized that things we take for granted are not as secure as we thought.  Our jobs, investments, and retirement accounts are not guaranteed anymore.  Fear slowly pushed its way in and now has hit many of us square in the jaw.  Personally I’ve never felt uncertainty (in the job market) like this season I’m in.  I’m glad for Max’s words to investigate and remember what Jesus had to say about trusting him.  In classic Lucado fashion, Fearless shows us how Christians should respond to different fears in our lives.  Do we ultimately bring all things to Jesus?  Of course we should... And what a reassuring message when so many practical aspects of our lives, from career to money to family to death, are infected with fear.

I've included a video of Max talking about Fearless.

For more books by Thomas Nelson Publishing, visit their website.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Reviewing Books

A few months back I stumbled upon a blog by Michael Hyatt, CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishing.  Somewhere in there I found out that they have a blogger review program.  The idea is that they ship you an advanced copy of a book in return for a book review that you post on your blog, their website, and at least one commercial site (such as Amazon).  Well I'm always a fan of free stuff and I figured it would be a good way to add some goals to my reading habit and challenge me in my writing hobby.

The first book I received was Fearless by Max Lucado.  I've read a few of Max's books, so I knew what to expect.  But what convinced me to choose this book was Hyatt's raving review of the book - that it was one of the most timely books written considering the state of our nation.  And did I mention it was free?  I'll be reviewing the book Tuesday morning, so please check out the review and post a comment of you're so inclined - the publishers will appreciate your feedback and attention.

I've already got the next book - it's by one of my favorite authors, Donald Miller.  His new book is entitled A Million Miles in a Thousand Years.  I'm so excited to read this because Katie has already stole my copy and is at page 190 in less than 48 hours!  Michael Hyatt liked the book so much that he included a second copy so that we could give one away, so I'll be giving away a free copy on my blog on Tuesday September 8th.  Stay tuned if you're interested!

Friday, September 04, 2009

Twitter: What Has Your Attention

I am a huge fan of Twitter.  But many people I talk to are still confused about what it is and why someone would do it.  Twitter originally (and probably still) asked users, "What are you doing?"  And this is why I get so much negative feedback about Twitter - because that's such a self-centered question.  People ask me, "Why are you so important that people want to know what you had for lunch today?"

That's their best response:  Who cares what you're eating right now or that you're at the gas station...

I agree!!  Who CARES!?!?!

Why Twitter?  When you give Twitter a couple weeks of your time, at only 5 minutes per day, you'll see how it can be so addicting.  Personally, I follow people interested in business, leadership, exercise, and social media.  These are all interests of mine and I can instantly get information that is relevant to my life.  You see, instead of using Twitter to answer the question "what are you doing", the people I follow are basically commenting on "what has your attention right now."  Do you see the difference?  The later question means we're sharing information about interests, not necessarily ME.

The other thing that non-Twitter users don't understand is how quickly we can filter through unnecessary tweets.  Especially on my iPod touch, I can page right through a handful of people's tweets depending on how much time I have at that particular moment.  I can also add tweets to my favorites so I can go back later when I have more time and read further.

Have I peaked your interest?  As with email, Facebook, and even talking to people on the phone, Twitter can be used as much or as little as you want.  I'm not a slave to Twitter - I use it as a tool.  And it can be a powerful tool for information, ideas, research, and relationships if use it right.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

First 30 pages of Donald Miller's New Book

Currently I'm using my blog as an extension of my reading on Twitter and the blogs that I follow. Donald Miller is beginning to promote his new book, which I'll be reviewing for Nelson Publishing and posting here on the Game Plan.

Did you read Blue Like Jazz? Great memoir of Don's, a must-read. Are you excited for his next book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years? If so, here's the first 30 pages to get you started.

A Million Miles In A Thousand Years by Donald Miller

Friday, August 28, 2009

Donald Miller's Mentoring Project

There are a few people I really enjoy following, and one of them is Donald Miller. Earlier I posted a widget of his upcoming tour and new book (which has a free audio download!). Now I'm excited to help him promote the Mentoring Project - an organization that "exists to inspire and equip the faith community to provide positive male role models to boys between the ages of 7 and 14."

The Mentoring Project - Elephant Musth Cycle from The Mentoring Project on Vimeo.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Sorin's Dedication

dedicate: to set apart for a special purpose

Intentionality is tough these days. There are so many things fighting for our time and attention. And if you don't have priorities straight and maintain a disciplined lifestyle, the world can pull a person in many different (and bad) directions.

One element of a balance life for Katie and me is our relationship with Christ. To say "one element" isn't even fully accurate. We try daily to make that element the pivotal element of our lives. It's a difficult task and we're growing in that relationship as the years go on. But if we were to be defined by one aspect of our lives, it would be our faith in God.

In light of our Christian walks with God, Katie and I want to dedicate Sorin to the Lord. We want to commit ourselves to raising Sorin in the ways of the Lord. We want to be intentional without being demanding. Is that possible? We believe so.

Last Sunday (August 16) we had our dedication for Sorin. After weeks of planning, I had the ceremony planned and Katie had the food/party organized. We had about 38 people attending which was a big number. But as I was gathering the people to begin, I realized how appreciative I was that each and every person was there. I believe that it truly takes a village to raise a child, and we value our friends and family as they encourage us in the process.

I guess I can't say much more in this post. The whole weekend was very reflective for me, so stay tuned for more insight into our dedication.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Marathon Training

Well after Madison Marathon was completed at the end of May, Katie and I had a very busy few weeks. This is especially noteworthy because my training for the Lakefront Marathon was adversely affected. It was tough for me because I was really looking forward to seeing how the first marathon training would prep me for the second. I'm happy to report that I'm back on schedule with my training, and I don't think the time off hurt me. That's the thing with exercise: if you don't use it, you'll lose it. But if you re-train, you'll gain it back quicker than if you hadn't trained in the first place. Does that make sense?

One necessity of my training was a new pair of shoes. Over the winter I bought a new pair of Brooks that were a little more resistant to the elements. I'm happy with them - they certainly allowed me to get out and run in some compromising elements this winter and sloppy spring. But they're nothing like my Asics 2120s. Now they've been updated to the 2140s, which I just got in the mail last week:

(me smelling a new, fresh pair of shoes)
@hschiefelbein and his new kicks on Twitpic

Marathon training is so good for me. Admittedly I'm not great at it yet. I still have so many days when I just don't want to get out and run. But when I get the weekly miles in, there's nothing like the feeling of training and being fit.

Are you working out? Do you exercise 3-5 days per week? As an ACSM personal trainer, I'm doing CEUs and I'm also studying for another certification - Exercise Specialist. All the material says that EVERYONE should be exercising for 30 minutes 4-5 days per week! I guess that soapbox is for another post, maybe even another blog in and of itself.

Friday, August 07, 2009

I've never done this before, but as it turns out it was easier than I expected...

I follow Donald Miller on with my Google Reader account, and a couple days ago this came across the screen. I heard Don talk about "Story" last fall and it was fantastic. His writing is very unique and I appreciate his honesty and candid words. You should check out his blog and get ready for his new book.

Monday, July 13, 2009

It Was All About Sam

For my birthday Steve and Sue got me two tickets to the Brewers Game for July 12. It was the last game of the first half of the season, we were playing the Dodgers - the best team in baseball. But the real story of the game was the National Anthem. Steve and Sue got tickets through a friend from their church how have a son, Sam, who has a brain tumor. He's had surgery once but they couldn't get it all out.

Sam signed up for Make-a-Wish and was accepted! His wish: to sing the National Anthem at a Brewers game.

I was so excited to go to this game!! Stories like this mean so much to me - I get emotionally involved so easily. When I first saw Sam, it was at the tailgate party. He was the 'man of the hour' and was with Cory Hart, the honorary chair of Make-a-Wish for the day. They were getting in the back of a club car to go to the Brewers' Club House. Camera crews were filming the whole thing - I heard it might be on Fox Sports.

Well the National Anthem came up pretty quickly. Those that know me well know that I take my patriotism very seriously. The Anthem is very important to me, and I've been at some events that have been very special. But when a six-year old boy with a brain tumor sings our National Anthem - missing a few words, slurring others, sometimes off pitch - it was the sweetest rendition I've ever heard. Most of it sounded great for a boy his age. That boy wanted to sing our National Anthem at a Brewers' game in front of 42,241 people -- and he did it.

Want to see Sam sing? I dare you to not shed a tear! The last 4 seconds are the best!!! Click here to see Sam singing on Sunday.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Family Camp at Fort Wilderness

Last week Katie and I took Sorin up to the Northwoods for Family Camp at Fort Wilderness – it was one of the best weeks of our marriage. Now we’ve only been married since November 2005, but only our trip to Europe in 2007 it can compare. Maybe it’s just my adventurous nature starting to find release. Maybe it was the fantastic food. Maybe it was having tons to do or nothing to do. Maybe it was having two sets of grandparents there to take Sorin (even for a night). Maybe it was meeting so many great people from across the Midwest. Maybe it was sleeping in a tent for the first time in Too Long.

While I’m tempted to describe a play-by-play, I’m pretty sure that’s unnecessary. (My two main followers were also my two main babysitters up at CampJ)

What’s it like to be at Fort? Each morning you wake up for breakfast at 8:15. Can I just interject here? (Is it possible to interject your own blog post?) I couldn’t believe how late people woke up at camp. Admittedly I’m a morning person. I love seeing the sun come up, especially in the middle of God’s creation – in the woods, over the lake. But at Camp no one was moving before 7:30/7:45. I couldn’t believe it. I thought people would be up at the coffee shop our out on the docks having devotionals or a quiet time. I guess it’s vacation for most people, so that means a little more sleep.

After breakfast it’s off to a gathering for worship and listening to a speaker who is there for the week. This was from about 9:00-10:15 (at the latest). Our speaker for the week was Mike Moran from Kettlebrook Church. He went through 1 Peter and did a great job. The only other scheduled events for the day are lunch and dinner. So there’s plenty of time for play. And play we did.

Katie and I went out on the kayaks one afternoon. Another afternoon I went with my mom. Steve and I water skied a few afternoons. I went on a walk to the Pointe with my parents. We did a lot of sitting around watching Sorin play. He likes splashing in the water. We went on a lazy Tube Float down the Wisconsin River for 2.5 hours. We had a few campfires with wonderful s’mores. We heard a great message by the Wrangler, Jonathan, as he compared the disciplines of God to the disciplines of training a horse. It was one of the best 30 minutes of the week. Fort is just a great place to vacation.

In summary, it was a great week at Fort because the food was great, my family was there, we met great people, we played a lot, laughed a lot, and had great conversations with old and new friends. Once again my lack of writing skills is diminishing this blog post. Still, you should consider a Family Camp at Fort Wilderness for a week’s vacation.