Monday, February 27, 2017
This weekend I had the opportunity to speak for the Cedarbrook Church student winter retreat. The topic of the weekend was "Weird Like Jesus." We looked in the Bible at how following Jesus with all our hearts may make us look weird in the eyes of the world, but how important it is to value God's opinion of us over people's. Specifically we looked at the areas of sex, material possessions and the purpose of life.
One highlight of the trip was spending the weekend with my friend Kyle. He and I have been friends for over twenty years. Kyle has been a pastor at Cedarbrook Church for six years and it is awesome to watch him interact with the leaders and students on this trip. Ignite, the youth ministry here, is strong and growing thanks to God's grace and the leadership Kyle has shown. Everyone says that it is obvious why Kyle and I get along so well, we're a lot alike. I am grateful to have a friend like him, and to have a chance to use my gifts serving Jesus and the youth ministry of Cedarbrook.
The even bigger highlight than spending time with Kyle was spending time with my thirteen year old Jacob. He was a bit hesitant about leaving his friends in Northfield to spend the weekend with strangers, but by the end of the trip he had an absolute blast. Friday night he was a little reserved, but he started cracking out of his shell before bed. Then all day Saturday he became increasing plugged in with some of the kids here. I think there were even a few girls who had a little crush on him. He had such a fun time on Saturday that he ditched me and left me sleeping alone in the speaker's cabin so that he could spend the night in the boys' dorm with his new buddies.
I was so blessed to have Jake here with me as I shared and served. Watching him play and worship and connect and listen to me preach is something I will hold on to forever. I am so happy about the man he is becoming.
A summarized version of highlights from the weekend would include...
- Buffalo Wild Wings on the way to camp
- Cherry Berry with Jake
- Mattress Races
- GaGa Ball in the snowy pit
- The Bacon room
- Underwear Sumo (I beat Kyle!)
- Telephone Charades (Never Pee Into the Wind)
- Slap Jack
- Dance Party!
- Lots of snack and Starbucks
- Lots of snack and Starbucks
Saturday, February 11, 2017
Yesterday I was wearing my new Alabama Crimson Tide baseball hat and my thirteen year old called me a "front-runner." I wasn't offended. I'm actually used to being harassed for the teams/colleges I cheer for. As a fan of Notre Dame, Boston Red Sox, Patriots, and the Cleveland Cavs I am accustomed to people calling me bandwagon and all other sorts of harassments. It is pretty easy to take in stride.
It is a fair question though. I am Minnesotan, born and raised, and yet many of my most passionate cheering interests extend outside state lines. Of course I want my local teams to do well. All my life I have been a Minnesota Gopher hockey fan (although to be honest I have cheered for Boston College, Colorado College, and even Wisconsin..eeek....a time or two). I want to see the MN Wild win the Stanley Cup as much as the next Minnesota hockey fan. In the end though, my heart doesn't find it's happiness here in "Loserville USA."
That still doesn't answer the question, "Why Tom Brady? And why the Patriots?" So let me offer you 6 seasons I cheer for Tom Brady.
*In many ways I see Brady as the image of the Patriots in general, so I will refer from now on simply to Brady.
1. His dedication to his success
From diet, to off-season workouts, to weekly preparation, Tom Brady is dedicated to doing everything he can to achieve success. He is always prepared. He workouts out wth his players during the off-season. I have read about Brady's commitment to health and diet and alternative medicine. Brady pushes the envelope and does things other people won't do to achieve success.
2. His mental toughness
It couldn't have been easy for Brady to be suspended the first four games of the 2016-2017 season. But did that detour him or negatively affect his performance? No way! He went on to have a fantastic season and he capped it off by winning his 5th Super Bowl. A lot of guys couldn't have overcome the mental obstacle of what Brady went through. They would have developed a chip on their shoulder. They would have lost focus. Rather than being negative, Brady focused that energy, he prepared hard even though he wasn't playing, and when the time came he stepped right back into his spot without missing a beat.
3. His leadership
The Patriot motto is "Do Your Job" and no one exemplifies this better than Brady. Brady is professional, old school, quinteessintial quarterback. He understand what is means to lead his team. He doesn't seek out the spotlight for himself, he lets his play do the talking. Brady is quick to praise his teammates. You can tell Brady buy-ins to his coach's philosophy and he doesn't do or say things outside the lines of that. Brady represents his ownership, coach and teammates in a professional manner at all time. He is a guy others respect.
4. His ability to make everyone better
No quarterback has done more to elevate his teammates play, year after year, than Brady. It seems like the Patriot roster turns over again and again, with new players coming and old players leaving each season. And yet the one constant is Brady, standing tall in the middle of it all, waiting to welcome the new group of players and mold them into Champions. Brady has won 5 Super Bowls (played in seven) and not one set of offensive personal looks the same. Remarkable.
5. His longevity
Brady has said he wants to play until he's forty-five. Watching him in the Super Bowl this year and seeing the way he led his team to the most dramatic Super Bowl win in history made me think he can. It is amazing to think of the continued success Brady and the Patriots have had. Brady is doing the right things on, and off, the field to take of himself and give himself a chance to prolong his career. I enjoy rooting for a dynasty over an underdog, and Brady has given me that.
6. His happiness in what he does
I love the passion and happiness Brady exhibits when he plays. It is similar to what I loved about watching Brett Favre. You can see on their face how much playing football, and winning, means to them. Seeing Brady pump his first and yell "Let's go!" absolutely fires me up. Give me a set of pads and I'd run out onto the field next to him, believing I could handle any lineman on the field.
Wednesday, January 25, 2017
If you follow me on social media you have likely been inundated with pictures of the meals I am eating and the workouts I am doing.
I'm guessing you may even be wondering what's with all the pictures. Well, here goes with my first Q & A with myself.
"Brenton, why do post pictures of your meals and workouts? And why do you have Balvin Get Fit accounts on Facebook (Balvin Get Fit page) and Instagram (@BalvinGetFit)?"
Thanks for asking!
There are a few reasons why I do this.
1. It keeps me accountable.
I have found that the more public I am with my fitness journey the more likely I am to stay on track. I am in a routine of posting meals now, and so when I am tempted to eat junk I ask myself, "Would you post this?" If the answer is no it is easier for me to say no to the temptation. Of course I eat some things I wouldn't post, I'm not trying to hide anything, but being in the routine of posting good meals helps me to keep in the routine of eating good meals. Same goes for the work-outs. Posting #GymPics means I am in the gym. Working out, Which is where I wanna be. The 'pressure' of posting helps keep me going.
2. It makes me a part of a tribe.
There is quite a community of fitness bloggers, Facebookers and Instragrammers. My participation in the social media stream joins me with these other folks. It makes me a part of a tribe of like-minded people that encourage and support and inspire one another. I pick up tips and tricks and ideas. I can then pass them along to others who are looking for the same inspiration.
3. I like to share good things.
The cleaner I cook and eat, the better I feel. My natural inclination is simply to share this with others. I hope that as other people see what I am eating, and see the positive effects it has on my body, they will be motivated to give it a try themselves. Maybe someone will see a meal I've made and try making it them-self. I do it all the time. I have tons of saved images and recipes from other people I follow that I plan on trying to make for myself.
4. It documents my progress.
I have always been a writer and journal-er and document-er. I like to take notes, and keep records, and chart progress. In today's digital age I can do this quickly and with photographic evidence. I still write my workouts down in a notebook I bring to the gym, but social media gives me instant access to see my journey from an entirely different perspective.
5. It feels good.
Of course there is an emotional aspect to this all too. It feels good when people like a post of share it with others. Enjoying affirmation from others for the hard work you do is natural. Posting and amazing meal or sharing the gains I've made in my lifts, and being cheered on helps keep me moving forward and pushing through tougher times.
Wednesday, January 18, 2017
I hate buying new glasses. I hate going through the exam. I hate trying on all the frames. I hate the outrageous costs associated with it all.
So, I've stretched every pair of glasses I've ever owned as far as I possibly could.
But the time had come. My wife couldn't stand looking at my old frames anymore. I needed an upgrade, but I wasn't sure where to go.
Then a friend of mine told me about Zenni Optical. Zenni is a web based company that offers a full range of prescription glasses at ridiculously low prices. It was started by a couple scientists in San Francisco. You may have seen their Facebook ads and not even realized what an awesome company this is.
The website looked good, but I was a little skeptical at first. Could you really get glasses as inexpensive as advertised. And if you could, I figured they would probably be pretty junky. Bad lenses, cheap frames, incorrect prescriptions. I wasn't ready to take the leap until I felt more confident I'd be getting a good product. But when my friend got her pair of Zenni glasses in the mail she loved them. The looked great and worked just as well as advertised. I decided to give it a shot.
I went to the Zenni website and spent about thirty minutes browsing the many frames available. It was easy to upload my photo so I could see how the frames would look on my face. I used the online tools to measure the distance between my pupils. I was even able to save a few of the frames I liked so I could review them with my wife later. We picked a pair, answered a few additional questions about the upgrade options I had, and made the purchase. My entire purchase was less than $45 and I even received a code for 10% off my purchase.
In less than two weeks I received my new glasses and I am super impressed! I wore them to work today and I've already gotten compliments from my co-workers on how great they look. It will be easy for me to recommend Zenni to others and I am already thinking about going online to order another pair.
For a guy who hates buying new glasses, Zenni Optical could be a game changer!
Sunday, January 15, 2017
"If you aim at nothing, you'll hit it every time." - Zig Ziglar
The main idea behind this quote is obvious. If you want to achieve something you have to set a goal, direct you energy at it, and go after it. If you don't have any goals or any direction you are aiming, you won't do anything. It's like hoping in a car and driving around in a circle. You never really go anywhere.
I've had times in my life where I have experienced the thrill of working hard and achieving a goal. One of the primary examples of this was in high school grade 10 when I set the goal of being the best hockey player in my grade. Whether or not I actually was the best could be debated, but in my mind I know I succeeded because of the growth and development I experienced as a young man and a player. I set the goal, I took aim, and then I directed all my energy at that target.
As I've gotten older I have had to set new targets.
Help launch a new church.
Improve my fitness.
Pass interviews for pay grade increases.
Pass interviews for a new job.
Achieve budgetary goals.
Find a new house.
Be the best husband I can.
Be the best Dad I can.
Complete a couple marathons.
Complete a few triathlons.
Some of these were short term goals. Some were long term. Some required a tremendous amount of effort. Some not as much. But moving the needle on any of these goals required that I first identified where I wanted to go, and then planned out the route to get there.
I feel like I'm in another season of "taking aim" at a bunch of things. To be honest it takes me a little bit to get my head around recalibrating things. I have a tendency to want to arrive and then get complacent. I have a tendency to slip into aiming at nothing and wanting to go through the motions. But whenever I do I inevitably begin to feel restless and frustrated inside myself. There is some motor in me that won't allow me to stop completely.
There are a couple challenges for me in this process.
#1 - Staying happy and finding joy in the times when I am recalibrating my aim.
#2 - Staying focused and moving forward when the progress seems slow.
The reality is the we rarely achieve of goals quickly.
I was complaining to someone about how, after working out 5 days, I didn't see the number on the scale significantly dropping. They responded by asking me if the scale went up to that number in five days. The point was obvious. It took time to get where I was, and it will take time to get where I want to go. I don't really like that. Like a kid in the backseat of a long car ride, I want to be there now. But that's not how life works. At least not anything that is worth something. You don't microwave a great rack of ribs, you grill them long and slow and patiently. And when that process is done you have something amazing to savor and delight in.
So, I'm working on taking aim at a few things. I'm reordering my life and prioritizing where I want to go. Then I'll engage in the deliberate, intentional, possibly prolonged process of headed in that direction until I reach my goals. And when I get there, I'll enjoy it for a season, and then it will be time to reset and begin working towards a new goal.
Keep aiming, working the plan, arriving, recalibrating, and moving forward friends.