Tim Bohlke » // writings

A Long Slow Walk I’ll Never Forget

In the book Harbor Seven, I write about one of the many slow walks I saw my dad take on our family farm. It was his time of  ”space,” a time to get settled, a time to get things right. But there was one slow walk I will never forget. It was after a devastating hailstorm wiped out most of our crop. I remember a lot about that day: the fact that my dad seemed shaken, but not devastated. I remember how well his words and actions lined up that day, and I remember thinking his values and priorites truely were people over profit. And I remember what it looks like for a great man to really seek God on a bad day.

One of the stirring images of that particular long slow walk, was that he did not do it alone. His best friend joined him that day. My dad passed away almost twenty-eight  years ago. It was sudden. He was young, and his death left a hole for so many of us that knew and loved him. Many times over the last several years, that friend who walked with my Dad, George Osborne, helped fill that gap. Everytime I would see him  he would tell stories about my Dad. He often reminded me that he lost his best friend when my dad died.  The following is an excert from my book, as George talks about my father….

“My relationship with Lloyd could best be described as the ability in each of us to communicate with the other without talking. It was eerie. He gave me the most priceless gift one man can bestow on another: unconditional friendship. He let me see and share inside all the warts he thought he had, none of which I could see. He saw my inconsistencies as justifiable, he acted over my reluctances, he took me into places and relationships that I preferred not to go or do, he made me realize that often, if not always, a sense of humor and joy exceed wisdom and intellect. He was a real soul-mate.”
Connections like that require effort. How did a man like George Osborne, who was busy with his career as a physician and raising a family, have time to forge an intimate, enduring relationship with my dad? I think he understood that, throughout life, all sorts of different connections are needed. It simply makes life fuller, deeper and more fun.

And this week these two friends are together again for another one of those long slow walks. I bet they are having an awesome time.

So here is to difference-making relationships. Here is to the kind of friendship I think we all long for. Here is to the time I got to spend with two great men who made a difference in their families and the world around them. Here’s to men who loved to have fun, and who flourished in both deep and shallow waters.  Here is to two men who, in very different ways, deeply impacted my own life and leadership in some very deep ways.

It is not hard to imagine God saying to both, “You stayed the course, you keep the faith, you finished well.”

Time for me to take one of those long slow walks…

Send me?

I went to the movie The Fury last night. It was hard to watch in a lot of ways, as it showed in graphic detail the cost of war. But it was also an inspiring movie on mission, on brotherhood, and the critical nature of having people in your corner as you face all the struggles this life holds.

There is the amazing scene at the end when this crew of  five in one tank is surrounded and facing insurmountable odds. The tank is stationed at a crossroads, and the mission is critical to hold back the Nazis as long as possible. In the scene, two of the characters quote a Bible passage out of Isahiah 6. In it God, is asking the question, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” At which point Isaiah says, “Here I am send me.”

As they spoke those lines in the movie the implications were clear: They likely would not make it out alive. If they were indeed the ones for this moment… for this mission… it could cost them everything.

I have heard that verse quoted a lot through the years. I have used it several times myself. But I wonder how often I really grasped the full implications of that passage. Sometimes in this country it can be pretty easy to say, “Here  I am, send me,” until the support stops coming in, or until seemingly insignificant struggles detour our mission, or until discouragement, lack of results, and disappointments in life throw us off course.

This is one of those movies that is hard to shake. It has me asking a lot of questions about where God is at in the midst of struggle, death, and the battles we see playing out around the world today. It reminds me that I absolutely have to fight for relationships so I will have the people I need to in the foxhole with me when times get tough. And it is a great reminder that when I think about applying Isahiah 6:8 in my own life, I’d better take a deep breath and really think it through.

Am I as ready as I think I am? Is this really the moment, the mission, the cause God is calling me to? Am I willing to follow it all the way through?

I am still thinking…


Sometimes I think the word “epic” is overused. But last week I decided  to head to Denver with a friend to see one of the most enduring musicians  in one of the great music venues in the country. Sure I love Tom Petty, Colorado, and concerts in general… but seeing him and his band at Red Rocks Ampitheatre on a perfect fall night in the Rockies… that can only be described as epic.

I have seen Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers in concert a few times over the years, but this was by far their best performance. I thought the highlight might be hearing “Runnin’ Down a Dream” or “I Won’t back Down.” That is a song we often use in the RHYTHMinTWENTY and Rogue events.

“Well I wont back down, no I wont back down. You can stand me up to the gates of Hell, but I wont back down, No I’ll stand my ground, wont be turned around, And I’ll keep this world from draggin” me down. Gonna stand my ground and I wont back down”  -Tom Petty

In a lot of ways those are great words to live by as we try and slug out this life as best we can, but hearing them was not even the highlight. For me, the highlight was when Tom Petty introduced his band. Now usually that is just a part of concert you have to endure. You want the artist to get on with it, right? But this was a little different. He first introduced the newest member of the Heartbreakers, who had been with the band… twenty years.

He talked about the others, including the incredibly talented lead guitarist, who has played every show with Tom Petty since 1970. Then he said, “Yeah, this is not our first tour, but it has been the most fun one.” The thought crossed my mind that Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are learning that time does go fast, and to seize the moments they are in. Even after forty-four years of playing shows, they are still loving it, but sense that this journey is coming to end.

It  made me wonder about Petty himself. What is it about him that has helped him have such enduring relationships? What is it that has kept him and his music so relevant? Why would those guys in his band stay so fiercely faithful, some for more than four decades? The packed venue of 10,000 plus people was a pretty even mix of young and old. Only a few musicians, or anyone else for that matter, has been able to pull off that kind of consistency over the long haul, and retain such a wide appeal.

Whatever the case with the deeper questions, it sure was a fun night. It was a twenty-four hour blitz trip with fourteen hours in the car that was so worth it. It reminded me to keep chasing things that are fun, things that are life-giving… things that fill my tank. Those are some of the things that give me the energy and passion I need for the other stuff that I do

It also showed me  there is some lessons to learn, and things to think about in the day-to-day moments of life. Even in a Tom Petty concert, God can break through with some new insight, thoughts and challenges. Yeah, time is passing pretty quick; no doubt I need to seize and enjoy  the moments as they come.

It really was a pretty EPIC night.

Holes in the Drywall

A few years back, when my son was entering the ninth grade, he invited a bunch of his friends to our house on Monday nights for what became known as “house group.” Every monday over the next few years, we had dinner for the guys and then a time of connecting with some older guys, and hopefully, some meaningful conversation, and whatever else emerged. Usually it was football, any form of competition, and a ton of wrestling that resulted in multiple holes in our drywall. This became a great tradition as fifteen to thirty guys gathered at our house every Monday for the entire four years of their high school careers. It also said a lot about my son Dylan and how much these guys respected him. It was a ton of work, but my wife and I would both say it was one of highlights of those several years, as we entered these boys’ stories and saw them grow up to young men. It was really hard to see that time come to an end as they graduated a year ago.

Last week I finished up the last of several drywall repairs  in our basement, that occurred through those years,  and I found myself a little sad. It reminded me that life goes way too quick to worry about things like holes in the drywall. So those of you whose young or old kids are messing up your house… enjoy it. It passes way to fast.

A few days ago, I went to the funeral for the father of one of the boys who spent all those Mondays in our house. It evoked a lot of emotions for me. I was in my  twenties when my father died, and it was an event that forever changed me. I know how hard it can be to lose the “rudder” of the ship at that age. But what really brought the moment home for me, was seeing several of those boys at the funeral in support of their friend. They are all in college now, pulled in many directions, but they showed up. It showed me again the power of friendship, the power of showing up,  of tradition and shared experiences.  It showed me the deep impact of just doing life together. Offering up our house… letting it get damaged, serving all those meals,  creating a shared life experience for those guys… totally worth it

So here is to enjoying the journey we are on, including  the inconveniences,the holes in the walls,  the craziness, the loud voices, the rowdiness. Here’s to the questions:  Are they seeing whats important? Are they learning anything?  Is what we are doing making a difference, is all this time and investment worth it? Here’s to having staying power in relationships over the long haul, and to creating shared life experiences. The funeral last week reminded me…they do make a difference.

Totally worth it.


Big is Not Always Big…

When we first started the RHYTHMinTWENTY and Rogue leadership events, I had several people tell me we were starting too small. They said “with the amount of money and time you will invest you are crazy to do this with just twenty at a time. Increase your impact and go bigger. People will support it more and your vision to impact the world will go further with bigger events. Yet I felt we were supposed to deeply invest in just a few… just twenty at a time. We had this overwhelming belief that we could change the direction of lives, of families, of ministries by working with just twenty guys at a time. So we stayed “small.”

After returning from San Diego having just meet with the fifth and sixth RHYTHMinTWENTY groups, I am so thankful we stuck to the belief that you could actually go big by staying small. These forty amazing men will no doubt have deep impact on their families, and this world as a result of what God has been doing.

I was reading  from The Message on the way back home, 2 Corinthians 6 :11-13 to be specific. ”I can’t tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide open spacious life. We didn’t fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren’t small, but your living in a small way… live openly and expansively!” And I would add…live big.

Now twelve groups in….240 strategic leaders impacting the church’s, organizations, and families they lead,  seems big; no it seems huge. Things are not always what they seem, I guess.

Here is to living a wide open, spacious…. big story……..