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Inspiring Moments…Sacred Ground

So where do you go to get inspired? Where do you go to catch a breath, re-fill your tank and get some wind back in your sails? Is there a place  – a spot that encourages or inspires you?

I asked this question last summer when I was in need of some inspiration, when I needed some reminders that God was still in control. I was stuck and I needed to work my way through some things. I really needed to get some new perspective. Not knowing my journey at the time, a friend sent me the following quote from an unknown author: “There is something to be cherished in the wide open spaces, if only the chance to breathe in unknown air, in search of a new way forward.”

For me it was the nudge I needed, so I jumped in my Explorer and headed to the wide open spaces of southern Wyoming and Northern Colorado and landed at one of my favorite spots, Hahns peak.

We had one of our most “memorable” family hikes at Hahns Peak when we made a bold and reckless attempt  to conquer the peak with 12-, 10-  and five-year-old kids!  (We did not make it.)  There are a lot of memories there and through the years,  I have often gained some fresh perspective and needed direction in that place. Something about it drew me back again last summer and I was really glad I made myself move and take the time.

With the next couple of posts I am going to take you to some of my “sacred places” and some of the inspiring and surprising moments that I have experienced. For me it is just good to remember…good to remember that there are places and moments where we can just breathe deep, feel a connection to something much bigger, and be reminded there is beauty and inspiration to be captured, if we just take the time to get to some of those wide open spaces.

So I am looking for a new place this summer.  Where would you go?


Lloyd Bohlke 1927-1986

I have now lived a good share of my life without my dad. It just doesn’t seem possible that he has been gone more than 26 years. How could it have been that long? Seems like yesterday.

Seems like forever.

Crazy, but I have really have missed him these past few years. Maybe it’s because I know how much he would have loved being a part of all the moments in my kids’ lives during the last several years. Maybe it’s because I’m now in the same decade as he was when he died. Maybe it’s the continual realization that someone who had such impact on my life never knew my own kids. I have wondered what words he would have shared with them.

I do know the day he died left an emptiness that never did get filled. That loss affected me in some really important ways.  With our first son being born just a few months after my dad died, I had an unyielding resolve to be as fully present in my kids’ lives as possible. I did not want to miss the “moments” and I knew more than ever that I needed to grab life and fully live it, because we are not promised tomorrow.

But losing him that young…it was rough…it still hurts. There will always be a void there I suppose.

As I think about this, it makes me take pretty seriously this role of being a dad. I know how critical it is no matter how old our kids are. It makes me want to fully enjoy the moments with them. I do think, to the best of my ability, I have done that.  You really do have to grab every moment, be intentional with every opportunity, not waste time in worry or stress, or get lost in  insignificant things that just do not matter.

As Father’s Day nears, I am reminded again what a powerful thing it is to be a dad. I see how the impact of my own dad still lingers after all these years. For good or bad, the deep impact a father can have ought to get all of our attention.



With Father’s Day approaching I tend to get in a reflective mode. Even though my dad has been gone more than 26 years, I still miss him. But today I am thinking about my grandfather. My grandfather often talked to me about gumption — a word that I really have only heard him use. To him, gumption was a stick-to-it-ness; an ability to hang in there no matter what comes our way.

When I was little my grandfather would have me rake leaves in his yard for one dollar. He would tell me to have gumption and finish the job, no matter how hard it was or how bored I got. When the task was done, I remember running and jumping in those piles of leaves. Somehow I don’t think the point was the leaves. Maybe it was more about finishing what I started then enjoying the rewards.

I knew my Grandfather had gumption for sure. He was married to the same women for more than 50 years. He stuck with farming through the great depression. Not only did he stick with it, he somehow made it profitable when so many others were failing. In fact, I have seen pictures of him taking his family on a vacation to the east coast in 1937. Are you kidding? A farmer in the height of the Great Depression investing in his family in the midst of that economic crisis? That is a great picture of gumption.

He was a faithful friend and father throughout his life. Like my dad, others said he lived with integrity his whole life. He had a quiet, yet powerful walk with God right up to his last days. That doesn’t mean he didn’t struggle, didn’t have times of doubt or didn’t ask questions. He sure was not perfect,  but he did endure. He hung in there and stuck to what was important, no matter what life threw at him.

A couple of things about gumption and people who have it: I think they are pretty clear on the priorities and values they want to commit their live to. They find ways to not only hang in there, but even flourish, when others are caving in. They find ways to stay when others are leaving. That is part of the picture I want to characterize my life. Even as I write this, there are some important things I would love to bail on. Sometimes it takes just as much courage to leave as it does to stay, but that’s a topic for another day. For now, I can think of plenty of times I have come up short, but I want to give it my best shot. This inspiring story of a man with gumption keeps me moving forward.


Photo by Bob Jagendorf

It’s Not That Bad, Or Is It? Part III

Allowing myself to feel and deal with disappointment means that life can be filled with extreme ups and downs and the ride can get crazy.

As I work on new projects and watch my kids deal with life, one minute I feel totally excited, totally committed and all in. Then the next day I can swing to being discouraged and deflated. I know I need to figure out how to not feel things so intensely and get more balanced and steady so things don’t throw me off center so easily.

But when I’m at the low points, this is where God has sometimes surprised me. It was at my lowest moment, my darkest hour, when the dream of developing a”harbor” for weary leaders came into focus. It was when I felt that I had nothing to offer that God began to show me that, in fact, I had a lot to say.

When my son Dylan was at a low point in dealing with his basketball injury and facing the fact that his dream was at risk, his high school coach shared his own story. A torn ACL during his senior year left him just plain angry and cost him an opportunity to play pro basketball in Europe. Yet, he said, God had a plan. As he looks back now, he sees that the injury caused him to opt into coaching and teaching, which is where he knew he needed to be.

He shared Jeremiah 29:11-13, with Dylan

“For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity, plans to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me, come pray to me, and I will listen to you…”

The depth of that passage still amazes me! I guess sometimes we just need to make the decision to hang on and to trust Him no matter what life throws at us no matter how deep the disappointment.

It will be interesting to see what “plans” God has for me and my kids in the next season. No doubt those plans will include some extreme highs, extreme lows, disappointments and hopes.

Just life playing itself out.

When you read Jeremiah 29 in the context of your own life right now…what comes to mind? Do you believe it?


It’s Not That Bad, Or Is It? Part II

So what do you do with disappointment on your spiritual journey? I mean real, deep disappointment? I have dealt with a lot of it during the last year and, to tell you the truth, I don’t know what to do with it.

Do you deny your disappointment, hide it behind “churchy” answers, or bury it along with some of your hopes and desires? Do you struggle, get angry, or turn cynical when things don’t work out? At times disappointment has caused me to just lose heart…to check out…

I remember when a basketball game in high school didn’t go my way. The coaching style was causing me to play more with fear than with freedom. It was clear I was being overlooked and misunderstood. I came home a mess in a mix of disappointment, anger and grief. I was disappointed that my dream I had worked so hard for was not working out like I had planned. It seemed like the end of the world at the time.

In this case, all the emotion helped. The next day, I was ticked and the disappointment that had turned to anger pushed me to talk  to the coach. It seemed important to not just let disappointment settle in and take over. I had to do something.

No doubt, if we let disappointment settle in without processing it with someone, if we do nothing but say this is the way life is, then bitterness, depression, escapism, a cynical spirit or a rebellious spirit can take hold. That’s what happened to me several years ago as I walked through some rough waters.

Truth is, as we all know, life does have a ton of disappointment and I often wonder where God is through all of it. Why does He not just intervene once and a while? Why does He often seem so quiet? I am not always sure, but I’ve got to believe that He walks through all of it with us: the highs and the lows, the disappointments and the accomplishments, the realized and the unrealized dreams…the times of being stuck and the times of movement.

Some days that’s enough. Other days I wonder.