Independence Day

Listed under: Things I Didn’t Know I Didn’t Know

No one signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4th.

I know, right? That little fact is blowing my mind right now. Somehow I thought all this time that what we were celebrating was the signing of the Declaration. I believed that we were shooting off fireworks and having backyard barbecues as a way to remember that symbolic moment when we were putting our names to paper saying that we want to be free.

Turns out, not so much. Here’s how it actually went down:

On June 7th, 1776, the Continental Congress met at what would later be known as Independence Hall in Philadelphia. Richard Henry Lee, a delegate from Virginia made a motion that called for the colonies independence from Great Britain. The issue was debated fiercely but a vote on Mr. Lee’s motion was ultimately postponed.

However, at this meeting, Congress did decide to put together a five-man committee to draft a formal document that would ultimately end up declaring our independence.

Side note shocker: Yep … Thomas Jefferson wasn’t the only one that worked on that document. Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Robert Livingston, and Roger Sherman also contributed their ideas and voices to what we have today.

A month later, on July 2nd, the Continental Congress voted in favor of Lee’s motion on independence from Great Britain. Two days later, on July 4th, they voted to accept the final draft of what is our Declaration of Independence.

However, no one signed it that night.

Instead, Congress had a formal copy of the draft made up and it wasn’t until August 2nd, 1776, that it was finally signed.

So what we celebrate on July 4th isn’t the signing of the Declaration of Independence. It isn’t when we voted in favor of becoming an independent nation. It isn’t even the end of the Revolutionary War that actually won us our freedom.

Instead, what we celebrate on July 4th is the approval of the document that explains why we want to be free from Great Britain’s rule.

A document that declares our independence.

So … now you know.

How Quickly We Forget

I’ve been reading the book of Judges lately in my quiet time. There are a lot of great stories in this book. Ehud stabs and kills Eglon, king of Moab and leaves his sword inside the king. There is Deborah and Barak. There is Jael who stabs Sisera, the king of Canaan’s military commander, with a tent peg through his head. And of course, there is Gideon and his 300 men who route the Midianites with some water pots and musical instruments. It’s a great book. You should read it again.

But I’ve noticed a really sad pattern in the life of the Israelites.

Joshua had been leading the Israelites ever since Moses died. It was Joshua who led Israel in their defeat of Jericho. It was Joshua who let them into the “promised land.” And like we all do, Joshua eventually got old and died.

Here’s where it gets sad.

Almost as soon as Joshua dies the people of Israel stop following the Lord. They “did what was evil in the Lord’s sight.” They decide they don’t need the God who rescued them from the hand of the Egyptians. They figure they don’t need the God who helped them win the land that they are living in.

They immediately forget God. Instead, they turn to other gods. They start to follow the gods of the people that are still living in the land. The ones they haven’t driven out. So God turns them over to their enemies. They lose in battle. They become servants for other kings. They are treated harshly. Things get bad.

When things get bad enough then the people suddenly remember God and cry out to Him. And God, in His mercy, raises up someone to be Israel’s rescuer. He turns the people back to the Lord. They realize how foolish they have been and they again worship God. They fight battles and win back their freedom. They experience peace once again.

Everyone is happy until that rescuer dies. Then the people turn their backs on God again and the cycle starts over again once more.

Over and over this plays out. They turn away, God lets them have their way and they get crushed by their enemies, they cry out to God and turn back to Him, and all is well for a time. But each and every time the rescuer dies the Israelites immediately go back to following other gods. They forgot all about the God who saved and rescued them so many times before.

This pattern makes me sad. As I’m reading it all I can think is “Why would you do this? You know this is going to turn out bad for you, right? You know all the stories and have seen God be faithful so many times and yet you continue to do evil things. Don’t you get it? Can’t you see?”

And then God reminds me … “You’re the same way.”

Dang.

I want to argue but I can’t. He’s right. We do the same thing, don’t we?

When things are going well, we pretty much forget about God. Our job is good. We have food on the table. All our relationships seem like they are working well. Over time though, we slowly work our way toward sin and away from God. We’re greedy. We’re lustful. We’re indulgent. We turn to other things that aren’t God. But we can handle this. This works for us. We don’t really need God. All is well in our world.

As He sees our stories play out He’s probably thinking “Why would you do this? You know this is going to turn out bad for you, right? You know all the stories and have seen Me be faithful so many times and yet you continue to do evil things. Don’t you get it? Can’t you see?”

So we turn away from God. We forget Him in all we do. We start to worship other things in our heart. So God lets us have those other things we so badly desire. Before long, maybe without even realizing it, we end up in bondage to those things.

It’s usually a gradual shift. Every day a little further away from God. Like getting in the water on the beach and looking up half an hour later to realize that you’re a half mile from where you started. One day you just realize that you’ve traveled so far from where you once were with God.

Or maybe it’s sudden. Someone gets sick or loses a job. Things go south really quick. All the stuff you had been holding onto that wasn’t God falls away in a flash and you’re left reeling.

So we turn back to God at those moments don’t we? We pray like we’ve never prayed before.

  • “God, please take away this sickness”
  • “God, give me a job”
  • “Don’t you care about me?”
  • “I promise if you do this one thing I won’t ask you for anything else as long as I live.”

We’ve all been there and we’ve all prayed prayers like that.

So what happens then? Out of His infinite love He sends us a rescuer. Maybe He heals us or gives us back our jobs. He forgives us for our turning away and welcomes us back to Him. In the end we vow to be better for it all. And life is good for a time. We go back to church and read our bibles. We pray more often. It’s not fake … we really mean it all.

Then one day we don’t wake up in time and we skip our quiet time. We don’t pray because we can’t think of anything that we need. We don’t go to church on Sunday because we want to watch the game.

Slowly but surely, the pattern starts to repeat itself again. We inevitably find that we’ve gotten back into our old ways. Not because we want to, but because left to our own devices, we naturally shift toward what is easy. Left without a need to fulfill we see no reason to seek God. Without intentional effort, relationships … even our relationship with God … withers and falls stale.

It doesn’t matter who you are either. Rich and poor people alike share this same problem. It doesn’t matter your age, race, gender, or ethnicity. You can be a devout atheist or the pastor of the largest church in the world. We all still have the same problem.

You’d think by now we’d have figured this thing out. Yet we keep running around in circles doing the same thing we’ve been doing since Biblical times. For all our sophistication and know-how, this is one problem we haven’t been able to solve.

I wish I had the answer. I wish I had some magic that would help us all stay the course and continue to follow after the One who loves, guides, cares for, and protects us. I have a feeling the answer lies somewhere with intention. With intentionally seeking out a relationship with God on a daily basis. Some way of keeping Him front and center in our lives. I think it’s more than just reading the Bible and praying though. Reading about Abraham Lincoln doesn’t mean I have a relationship with him. If all I ever did was talk at my wife (prayer often is just us talking at God), we wouldn’t have a great relationship. There’s a give and take, a back and forth.

I think there’s something there. I’ll keep exploring. I hope you will too.

This has been a reminder for me to remember my relationship with the God, the One who flung the stars in space and holds the world in the palm of His hand. He cares about us and wants us to come back to Him. Maybe let this be a reminder for you too.

Lest we forget.

50 Years

When it comes to marriage, do you ever find yourself sitting back and wondering “What was God even thinking?”

I do.

The idea that He would take two such distinctly different people and put them together seems like a recipe for disaster, doesn’t it?

Each of us comes from such different backgrounds and upbringings. We come with our own styles of relating or ways of coping with things. We have differing religious beliefs or ways of handling conflict. We’re just so different, right?

One’s a spender and the other a saver. One is always hot and the other is always cold. One likes watching TV in their downtime and the other would never turn the contraption on.

The list could go on. Toothpaste … squeeze from the top or the bottom? Toilet paper … does the loose end go in the front or the back? Do you rise early to catch the sunrise or sleep late because you were up gaming until 3am?

We are just so different. The idea that God would take these two completely opposite individuals and put them together for the rest of their lives seems absurd. It’s like putting a dog and a cat in a small box and asking them to play nice.

But God knows what He’s doing.

There are hard times, sure. Let’s be honest … relationships, in general, are hard. But not everything about marriage is a struggle. There are a great many good things too.

There are long conversations until the wee hours of the morning spent dreaming of the future.

There is time to spend learning about each other. What does he or she like? What makes them come alive? In what situations do they thrive?

There are gifts given from the heart because you actually care about another person.

There are the years that you get to spend just enjoying someone else. There is laughter, love, and joy in abundance.

There is the adventure of being in pursuit of a common goal. No matter what that goal looks like. It could be raising kids, owning a business, or just living life the best way you know how. You get to do it together … and that’s what matters.

There’s freedom to just be yourself around someone else. When you’re with your person you no longer need to carry around the heavy walls that you put up when you’re around other people. You get to just be you.

Again, God knows what He’s doing.

I say all that to say this: Marriage is worth it. It’s beautiful and wonderful and full of life. Yes it’s hard, but the hard is what makes it great.

Today I wanted to take a minute to celebrate my parents 50th wedding anniversary. Through all of the ups and downs, the joys and the struggles, they’ve made it work. They’ve been through hard things, they’ve figured it out, and they’ve loved each other in the process. There has been a lot of joy and fun too. There has been laughter and love. Their relationship works because they work. I’m so proud of them and I thank God that they continue to make it work every day.

I love you Mom and Dad! Thank you so much for leading the way and showing us how to make marriage last forever. You’re an inspiration to me. I want to love Heather more and better every day because you two have led the way. Thank you.

If it weren’t for our current pandemic we would be celebrating with them at a big party right now. But alas, we are not. So this is my celebration for them. We’ll try an actual celebration again next year for their 50+1!

When Things Don't Go Your Way

I have to go back to working in an office on Monday. Honestly, I’m not too excited about it.

Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do and I love the people I do it with. And having not really seen them over the last 12 weeks that I’ve been working from home, I miss them. It’ll be good to see their faces and talk to them in person.

But I’ve been in a really good space since I’ve been working from home. I’ve always wanted to try it to see what it was like and I have to admit … it’s way better than I thought it would be. I absolutely love it. I don’t want it to end.

I’m eating better and exercising more. I’ve lost weight. I have zero commute which is saving me an hour a day of my life, saving me money in gas, and saving me frustration with other drivers. Meetings at work are shorter. Hugs from my family last longer. I have more focused time where no one is interrupting me which makes me a better worker.

I am in the best place I’ve ever been mentally, physically, and spiritually. Ever.

On Monday that will come to an end.

I’ll go back to an office where there are people I love. Which is awesome. But I’ll also be returning to an office where there are amazingly bright fluorescent lights that give me headaches and conversations that distract all around. I will no longer be in an environment conducive to getting work done. I will be in an environment conducive to being around other people who are all attempting to get work done.

Like I said, I am not excited about it. If I had my way I would extend the work from home ability to everyone from here on out. But right now I don’t have that option.

So What Do You Do?

Right. So what do you do when things don’t go your way? This is a bigger question than just working from home. What happens when your plans don’t work out like you thought they would? What happens when that thing you were doing didn’t turn out the way you wanted? What happens when things in general don’t go your way?

I think we have a few options.

Whining and Complaining

Option 1 is to whine and complain about it. I kind of feel like I was doing a little of that above. People hear this and they recognize it, but it’s not attractive. Other folks will tune you out sooner rather than later. It gets old really fast and let’s be honest … no one wants to listen to a whiner.

Suck It Up Buttercup

The second option is just to deal with it. Things are the way they are and there isn’t much you can do about it. You can’t change anything about the situation so you might as well just be okay with it. Resign yourself to the fact that “it is what it is” and move along.

Be the Change

Option 3 is to create change. If you don’t like the way things went or the way they are then it’s up to you to talk about it. Work to suggest and attempt to implement change. Talk to the people that have the power to enact change where you are. But don’t just whine about it. Bring suggestions to the table. You have to provide solutions, not just problems.

Move On

The last option is to just move on from where you are and find something else that does things the way you want them to be done. If it’s your job and you’ve suggested changes and they won’t budge and that thing that you’re frustrated about is that big of a deal to you, then quit and find something else that does things the way you want. If you tried a thing and it failed and changing how it works is impossible, then come up with a different idea and try that next. Sometimes ideas need to be abandoned and new ones thought up and created. That’s part of the creative process. Just because things didn’t turn out like you thought they would doesn’t mean that the idea you had was a failure. It will probably help you get further down the road in your next idea.


I love what I’m doing right now and I love the people I’m doing it with. I feel like I’m in the right job doing the right thing. During this time of working from home I feel like I have been a more effective employee, a better person, and a better family member.

Do I wish I didn’t have to work in an office? Yes. 100%. I’ve learned that for me, working from home is a reality that I love and want to continue. So you can bet that my first instinct will be to fight for change where I work. I’ll start there and we’ll see how it goes.

And if that doesn’t work? Well, I’ll just come back to this post and figure out the next thing when we get there.

What Do I Say?

I’ll be honest, I’m afraid to say anything. I’m afraid my words will be taken out of context or to mean things I don’t mean. I’m afraid that most people will say that I might as well have just kept my mouth shut rather than speak and hurt more people. I’m afraid of saying the wrong thing in an effort to say the right thing. But I have to say something. Staying silent is not the answer.

Heart Sick

I’ve seen the video of George Floyd. I’ve seen the protests. I’ve seen the rioting and looting and the other innocent lives taken as a result. I’ve seen the President use force to move back peaceful protesters so that he could have his picture taken in front of a church holding a Bible.

All of it makes my heart hurt.

That Mr. Floyd went through what he went through at the hands of people who are sworn to serve and protect makes my heart hurt. That people still have to protest for equal rights and against police brutality makes my heart hurt. The fact that people pillage and plunder and take more innocent lives while protesting the taking of an innocent life makes my heart hurt. The fact that our President would use violence as a means to stand in front of a church to be seen taking a picture with a Bible in his hand makes my heart hurt.

That we’re 155 years removed from the end of the Civil War and this is still a problem makes my heart hurt.

I don’t have words of comfort. I don’t have words that I feel like will help. I don’t know what else to do except to say “I’m sorry.”

I’m sorry for all the things that you have to go through that I will never know.

I’m sorry you can’t wear hoodies and feel safe. I mean, there’s nothing quite like a good hoodie.

I’m sorry that you have to fear for your life if you ever get pulled over.

I’m sorry that you get pulled over for no other reason than the color of your skin.

I’m sorry that you can’t go out running if you like to run.

I’m sorry that you have to teach your children how to handle situations like this.

I’m sorry that you can’t just live, work, grow up, and love in peace and safety.

I’m sorry for every time that I’ve ever made a joke or laughed at a joke that was derogatory or inconsiderate.

I’m sorry that I’ve probably said things in my life that would be considered racist.

I’m sorry for never speaking up and seeking justice where it needed to be sought.

I’m sorry that for the majority of my life I’ve just been unconcerned or indifferent about your reality.

I’m sorry that even though you are my friends I’ve never just sat and listened to your struggles.

I know it’s a big ask, but I am asking you to please forgive me for all the ways I have hurt you. I am so sorry.

Let’s Move Forward

Now I know saying “sorry” doesn’t make up for the many hundreds of years that you’ve lived marginalized and oppressed. But it’s what I have and it’s a start.

Moving forward, I want to take action.

I pledge to you that I will vote in ways to help remove the bad, bring in the good, and in ways that will bring us closer together.

I will sign petitions that lead us toward reconciliation. If you know me you know that I’m a 9 on the enneagram (a peacemaker). I just want everyone to be happy and live in peace with each other. So taking a stand one way or another is something that’s out of my comfort zone for sure. But I will do my best to do what I can, when I can, and put my name on it.

I will listen, as often and as much as I can. Being indifferent to you is just as bad as being against you. I don’t want to be against you. I commit to better understand what I’ve so long ignored. To educate myself where I lack education, to ask questions where I need to, and to shut up and be there for you when all you need is someone to listen.

And if it helps, I will gladly use my words to speak life and love, equality and justice on your behalf.

This is what I have to give. I hope you will accept it.

10 Rounds: A Review

Disclaimer: I’ll admit … I have no idea how to write a product review and make it interesting and fun. So here’s to giving it a shot … and hoping it’s not too dry and boring. Thanks for reading!

I revealed to you last week that I finished an online, at-home workout for the first time ever. This was (and still is) a huge deal for me. After years and years of trying and failing to finish, after so long of thinking I was a failure, I was finally able to complete a program. It’s a big deal not just to my body, but also to my spirit.

I thought I’d write up a little review of the program that finally got me over the hump.

Soulmate Workout?

If there is one thing I’ve learned over the years through my attempts at physical fitness, it’s that there are just some types of workouts you enjoy more than others. I’ve heard it called your “soulmate workout.”

For me that type of workout has been weightlifting. I can get more excited for and more enjoyment from a good weightlifting workout than I can almost any other kind of workout.

Side note: I’m a secret bodybuilding fan. I actually follow some bodybuilders and watch their YouTube channels and for a while there even got into watching some competitions. There’s just something about bodybuilding that motivates me. Now granted I don’t have the genetic structure to be able to do what they do, but the motivation is there nonetheless.

I think if I had to pick a second favorite workout type it would be something with punching and kicking. I remember back when I was trying to do P90X that I really enjoyed the Kenpo workout. That one was fun.

Outside of punching and kicking, I’ve never really enjoyed any other form of cardio. I don’t enjoy running, or swimming, or jumping, or … you name it. I know cardio is important. I want a healthy heart after all. But none of it interests me.

One thing that my wife has taught me is that you need to find the things you like and that keep you motivated to do them over and over again. That’s when fitness will “stick” and you’ll be more likely to continue to do it for a long time into the future.

Enter 10 Rounds

As the title of this post suggests, the workout program I completed is called 10 Rounds. It’s made by Beachbody, the same company that produced the world famous P90X, Insanity, 21 Day Fix, and many others.

When I read up on the program before purchasing it, what I found was a boxing-inspired workout program with some weight training. As we just discussed, I like lifting weights and if I’m going to do cardio, I might as well be punching, right? This program sounded like a win from the beginning.

What is the Program Like?

10 Rounds is a 6-week program in which you workout 5 days a week. 3 of those days are boxing and 2 are weightlifting. No two workouts are the same. Every day is something different and you never do the same workout twice. This is great for all of you who get bored doing the same workout over and over again.

Over the course of the 6 weeks you learn all the basic boxing moves. You’ll learn 6 basic punches that you will use in different combinations over and over again. You’ll put those combinations together with movement as well. Stepping forward and back, stepping side to side for starters. Then shuffles, fans, slips, rolls … you’ll learn it all.

It’s important to note that this is a progression. You build up slowly over the course of the program. They don’t expect you to know it all from the opening bell.

Boxing Days

The boxing days are, like the name of the program implies, broken up into ten 3-minute rounds. The rounds go like this:

  • Warm-up
  • Boxing
  • Boxing
  • Conditioning
  • Boxing
  • Boxing
  • Conditioning
  • Boxing
  • Boxing
  • Core

Now the boxing rounds are where you do your … well, boxing. 😄 The conditioning rounds are basically just cardio. But it’s boxing-based cardio. So that’s helpful. And each workout ends with core work.

Weight Training Days

You do 2 weight lifting workouts each week. One is upper body and the other is lower body. The workouts vary from week to week. Some weeks it’s one body part at a time until your done and then you move on to the next. Other weeks it’s supersets. Sometimes it’s a circuit. I found the variety of exercises and types of workouts to be fun.

Modifying

I did want to mention that there is no modifier. A lot of Beachbody’s programs have one … this one doesn’t. Everyone in the cast does the full workout the entire time. Joel (the trainer) does explain and demonstrate any modifications should you need them. This usually happens in the conditioning rounds and during the weight lifting workouts. Boxing is just boxing. Throw those punches!

Overall

This program is so much fun. Coming from a guy who has always wanted to be fit but never really wanted to work out all that much, that’s saying a lot. If you like punching and weight lifting like I do, this just might be the program for you. Here’s a trailer for the program so you can see just what you’re getting yourself into:

If you think 10 Rounds might be something you’d like to try and haven’t already got a Beachbody coach or account, you should contact my wife. Heather has been a Beachbody coach for a long time and can help set you up with all the things you need to make it happen and answer any questions you might have. She’s @intentionallyft on pretty much all the social media things. Also, you can find out more information about the program through this link. Note that this is an affiliate link and if you sign up to do the program from here you will be automatically assigned to have Heather as your coach. Which is definitely not a bad thing. She’s awesome.

What’s Next

Rest assured, I enjoyed this program so much that I will do it again. I do think I’m going to try something else before I go back to it though. Right now it’s looking like my next program might be LIIFT 4. This is a combination weight training and HIIT (high intensity interval training) program with the same trainer as 10 Rounds. I think I’d like to give this one a shot.

So if you get going and do 10 Rounds now then in 9 or 10 weeks we could both do our second rounds of it together! Who’s in?