Starting line

“Seek first His kingdom and all these things will be added unto you.” For a long time, I think I was doing this. In fact, I think I was pretty focused on it for a time. I was seeking first His kingdom. But, I have fallen away from that being my singular focus. And I hate that I have. And I’m sorry to God. And, let’s be honest: it’s not the first time, either. Last night, God really sparked me to want to really do more for Him, even if I don’t know what. Writing a book is kind of my go-to. But there is so much more. I want to mentor men. I want to pray more, and better. I want to work as unto God. I want to encourage others. I want to be more like Jesus, ultimately. I just don’t know where to start.

So here I am. If this is some semblance of a starting line, consider me on it. I might not bolt off the line. I might just lumber forward after the gunshot, slowly working myself into a trot — or some imitation of it. I might be huffing and puffing after a few steps. I don’t know. I’m just tired of sitting in the stands making excuses for why my legs don’t work. I’m tired of saying “I don’t know where to start” so many times that I start to believe it. Just start at the white line, Brad. That’s where to start.

How do I reset? How do I go back to depending on God? How do I give it all up and over to God? How do I find what God wants me to do? How do I see it clearly?

I can hear what He’s saying now: “You don’t need to stop caring about finding a wife; you just need to start caring more about finding Me.” And, if I’m honest, I haven’t been. It probably has something to do with me being annoyed with Him for making me wait this long. That might not be all of it, but I’m sure it’s some of it. And from there, I find excuses for doing what I want to do. That’s so ugly! It’s so dirty. It’s so pathetic. It’s so… stupid. Why am I like that? I don’t want to be like that. I want to be used by Him; not useless to Him. I want to feed others; not steal bread. I’m tired of focusing on myself.

I need Your help, God. I don’t even have the strength to ask for it as fully as I should. I know I’m not even strong enough to admit how much I need Your help. And I’m not strong enough to stay committed to it, either. I’m afraid I’ll give up in 10 minutes or less. I’m afraid I won’t see it. I’m afraid I’ll stop caring again, or get annoyed again, or feel defeated again. And I’ll give up and I’ll give in. I hate it. That’s not how I want to be. Not truly.

So, I need Your help. Again.


We were driving back from a day of boating with my family. My dad was driving and I had my eyes closed in the back seat next to Halle. Given the chance to be a passenger for the hour-long drive home was a welcome change of pace, and I didn’t want to miss it for getting some rest.


“Yes, Halle?” I opened my eyes to look at her.

“Can you please close that?” She pointed up at the built-in shade for the moon roof above her. I reached up and pulled it shut, then went back to closing my eyes and resting. I did it without even thinking. I wasn’t bothered in the slightest way to have to open my eyes to do something for her.

Then I remembered a verse that so often comes to mind as I raise my kids: “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11)

This verse often plays two ways in my mind. First, I remember that it is right and good for me to give good things to my children. Second, I remember that God gives good things to me and desires to give good things to me.

“The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.'” (Genesis 2:18)
“He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord.” (Proverbs 18:22)

I immediately and earnestly took on the heart of a child; God’s child. It was not something that took effort. It happened so naturally. But I felt just like Halle must have felt in that moment. I’ve never felt so child-like before in my life. And I echoed her words, slightly altered, and imitating her attitude.

I prayed in my thoughts: “Daddy, can You please give me a wife?”

I’ve prayed for another wife for over 3 years now, so this is nothing new, but the childlike innocence I felt in that moment will not long be forgotten. Even now, weeks later, I can vividly remember how I asked the question.

A tear dropped from my eye and I went back to resting.

Into darkness

…it was not land at all…It was a Darkness…utter blackness, as if they had come to the edge of a moonless and starless night.

“Do we go into this?” asked Caspian at length.

“Not by my advice,” said Drinian.

…all at once the clear voice of Reepicheep broke in upon the silence.

“And why not?” he said. “Will someone explain to me why not.”

No one was anxious to explain, so Reepicheep continued:
“If I were addressing peasants or slaves,” he said, “I might suppose that this suggestion proceeded from cowardice. But I hope it will never be told in Narnia that a company of royal and noble persons in the flower of their age turned tail because they were afraid of the dark.”

“But what manner of use would it be plowing through that blackness?” asked Drinian.

“Use?” replied Reepicheep. “Use, Captain? If by use you mean filling our bellies or our purses, I confess it will be no use at all. So far as I know we did not set sail to look for things useful but to seek honor and adventure. And here is as great an adventure as ever I heard of, and here, if we turn back, no little impeachment of all our honors.”

– C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

I read this tonight to Brady for bedtime. And it struck a chord. Give me five minutes with someone experiencing a Darkness in their life, and you’ll no doubt here me talk about leaning into it, or — to use the same imagery — about rowing steadily straight towards it.

I have never known a darker time in my life than when Stephanie died, but I was not willing to pretend I didn’t feel what I was feeling. And I give a lot of credit to that attitude for being where I am today. And, I give credit to God for giving me the strength to have that attitude. (In other words, don’t give me any of the credit.)

Here’s why I think it works. When you are able to accept that it is a horrible situation and you’re able to accept that you’re just going to feel miserable at times, you start to accept that maybe there is more to it than just pain. There’s learning. And there’s growing. When you are in that moonless and starless night, you start to see things clearly that you wouldn’t have seen otherwise. You find out who you are. You find out what you believe. You find out how deeply you can feel. And you find out how much others love you.

And from that point on, all it takes is a candle for you to feel like the whole entire world has been lit up as the sun. It’s a bright and beautiful day simply to have a flickering flame in the deepest dark.

It’s a lesson I’m still learning. One day last week, I was encouraging a friend to accept the feelings inside and express those feelings to God. Not even a full day later, I was struggling with my own feelings and forgetting what I had said the day before. Thankfully, my counselor encouraged me to lean in. Strangely enough, I still didn’t make the connection until that same friend pointed it out to me, showing me that it’s exactly what I was saying just one day prior.

Stress, loneliness, anger, pain, frustration, disappointment. None of these feelings are strangers to me. Instead of thinking they’ve come to the wrong house, what if I invite them in and hang out with them for a while until I get to the deeper reasons for why they rang my bell? Will I cry? Maybe. Will I complain? Probably. Will it be hard? Absolutely.

But I have set sail to seek honor and adventure. And if I turn back, I impeach all of my honor. And I miss a great adventure.

The tug

A weird thing happened almost three years ago when I found myself in the neurological ICU as my wife was dying. People started reading my blog. Lots of people. Thousands of people. I’m still amazed at how God did that. All I was doing was letting people know how Stephanie was doing. I didn’t plan for Him to actually use my words for His good. But, He was determined.

Nearly ever since that time, God has been constantly reminding me that He wants me to do more with my writing. Countless people have suggested, encouraged, or even begged me to write a book. (They all expect autographed copies, of course.) Others are so encouraging whenever I write a blog post, saying it spoke to them. (Seriously, it’s not me that spoke to your heart! Please know that.) Every time I start to push those feelings and comments aside, He reminds me again that He’s asking me to do it. Whenever I think, “Nobody cares what I say” or “Who would want to read a book by me?” someone else comes along and says quite literally, “You should write a book.” And I can’t ignore it. I won’t ignore it. I just don’t know necessarily how to respond to that call.

Enter Jon Acuff and his START experiment, based on a book he wrote about going out and actually doing that thing you’ve always dreamed of doing. I recently joined this challenge and have made it my goal to get serious about defining what I want to write a book about. Along with that, I plan to blog at least twice a week for the next 3 weeks.

Frankly, I’m not sure what I’ll blog about, but I know that the more I write, the more I’m inspired to write. So I’m starting there. When we were in the hospital, it was “easy” to write. I was an emotional wreck at times, and so I spilled that all out onto the page as best I could. I had tons of material to work with. But I quickly moved away from that place where I was stuck in those emotions. I’m not content to live in the past. But with my blog, I wasn’t sure anybody cared so much about my present or my future. But regardless, God continues to point out the fact that I have lots I can say. I just have to figure out what those things are I should say.

So, here’s to hoping I do. Here’s to following His call and my dream. Here’s to writing about what He puts on my heart, even if nobody reads it. Here’s to trusting that the same God who put me and my family before the whole world with their hearts and prayers is the same God who will help me fulfill what He is asking me to do.


It still happens on occasion. I get a reminder of those multitude of miserable days that are so thankfully fading out of memory. It’s never a day anymore. Maybe a moment. Maybe an hour. Maybe a night at most. But certainly noticeable, no matter how long.

It usually starts with something stupid, and often compounded by something else stupid, and with a big fat topping of “how did I end up here?”

I thank God that it’s never as bad as it used to be. I don’t fill the garbage with wet tissues. I certainly don’t shake with emotion. However, I might still bully a couple of pillows for a while. (They take it in stride.)

Pillows. That reminds me of something I said to my mentor: I have two pillows and only one head. It’s no wonder they take the brunt of my emotions. They’re partly to blame.

It’s so strange to look at pictures and wonder if those were snapshots from within a dream or not. It would certainly make sense, as I struggle to recap those events to myself because that’s the best way to not forget a dream in those moments just after you wake up.

But I’ll never be fully awake while this heart beats. Anymore, I’m convinced that Heaven is the waking moment. And at that point, true reality will finally saturate my soul. I could make the point that this life is probably more nightmare than dream in comparison to Heaven, but that might sound too dramatic and I’d have people sending psychiatrists to check on my mental state. (Don’t worry, I’m quite stable.)

And someone will tell you that I am as sure as — well, you know — not ready to be with someone else because I still think about the mother of my children on occasion. You can say that, as long as you also try to tell parents who have lost a child that they’re not ready to have any more. My heart is bigger now, not smaller. And I’ll never forget how long I’ve dreamed in my heart of being married.

And that’s what these moments remind me of. Make sense?

No Excuse Acceptable

God revealed something to me tonight: I’ve been making excuses. I’ve been coming up with reasons. I’ve been claiming my thoughts are acceptable.

He showed me my mistake. And here’s the punchline: He is present in my loneliness.

I know that seems like an obvious conclusion. And it is… in my head. At least for a moment. Then my heart gets involved and, along with my mind, colludes to the point of tricking me.

What are my excuses? Shamefully, I’ve even spoken these out loud.

  • “Of course God is all I need, but I’m lonely for someone made of flesh and bones; who I can hold; who I can hear and see and touch.”

    Seemingly, I’ve forgotten the first seven words of that statement by the time I make it to “lonely.” Is He or isn’t He all I really need? Well, in the depths of my heart and soul, I have no question that He is all I need. My need for interaction does not surprise God. It does not overwhelm God. It is not too much for Him to handle. It is not beyond His ability to satisfy.

    In fact, it is one more moment in life wherein He is still there. He is ready to receive my need for interaction; to receive my need for communion and connection and communication. He’s ready to hang out with me.

    And yet, I try to tell myself “it’s not the same.” It’s so easy to pull the old “flesh and bones” card and claim that He’s not good enough. Where do I get off? How dare I make that claim? As if He could ever not be enough for my needs! That is a bold-faced lie and attack on His character. And of all things, I’m claiming it’s a need that a mortal, imperfect human being can satisfy. What am I thinking?

  • “It’s obvious I need other people because God said it’s not good for man to be alone.”

    This one is tricky, because it uses the Word of God. Does that surprise me, though? No. Satan used God’s own words to try to tempt Jesus. It’s so easy to think, “Well, God said…” and thus assume I’m accurate in my conclusions. The problem is that I somehow believe that I actually am alone. It’s true that it’s not good for man to be alone, but I’m not alone. I have so many family members and friends and others who would be so gracious to be there for me. Above and beyond that, I have God. Again, God has supplied my every need and yet I start assuming that He hasn’t supplied because He hasn’t supplied my every want. But to say that I trust God and all He says, is to say that I believe He has given me all I need. And I do.

Here’s the thing: I would make a guess that I’m not the only one who has thought these things. We’ve all been lonely at one point or another, whether it’s for a significant other or for a friend or for some other type of relationship. Maybe you’ve come up with other excuses. I’m sure I have, as well. I’m making it a goal to abolish these in my life and hopefully be aware of any others that come along.

Who’s with me?