Archives For Fort Dodge

Dying To Yourself

December 11, 2013 — 1 Comment


Life is hard.

Evidence of my need to die to my own desires...

Evidence of my need to die to my own desires…

We are busy. There are constant demands for our time, energy and presence.

We are getting close to finishing 2013. When I look back at this year, I’m amazed at what has transpired in my life. It’s been an incredible year. But it’s also been an incredibly full year. Continue Reading…

About ten days ago, I went on a short field trip with a few of our 8th grade Confirmation students.

Steve(left) at the Beacon.

Steve (left) at the Beacon.

We had some time to kill so we decided to head over to the Beacon of Hope, a men’s shelter in our town. We toured the facility and spent time talking with the director, Steve, the chaplain, Eric, and one of the men staying at shelter. It was a powerful experience. Continue Reading…


This summer has been exceptionally dry in Fort Dodge.

In fact, many Fort Dodge natives have described this summer as the hottest, driest summer they’ve ever experienced. I’ve only lived here for three years, so I don’t have much of a reference.

Normally, the summer is the wettest part of the year in the Midwest. Growing up in California, I found this hard to believe. Until August of 2010. It rained five inches in one day and three inches the next. Our basement was totally flooded. We had to gut it and we are still working on it to this day.

I have a feeling that many people around here would take eight inches of rain in two days over the drought we’ve been experiencing in a heartbeat.

The impact of this Midwestern drought is far-reaching. Corn and beans are about as dry as they should be in October. In some places, farmers’ entire crops have been ruined. Others have lost many livestock and hogs due to the extreme heat. The lower yields of corn will make it more expensive to make fuel with ethanol and to feed many animals that will be used for food. The entire nation will notice the impact from this drought.

Everything just looks so brown, yellow, and dry. It looks so dead. It reminds me of the rolling hills of the East San Francisco Bay area in the summer time – nothing like how Iowa normally appears in the summer time.

My lawn finally got some life to it after a rainstorm

At the beginning of this last week, we finally got a decent rainstorm in Fort Dodge. It wasn’t the most impressive storm ever, but we did receive moisture. Continue Reading…

I am in the middle of writing a novel.

In the summer of 2005, I began reading through the Harry Potter series. Like millions of others, I was captivated by the adventures of Harry, Hermione, and Ron as they resisted the dark lord’s followers.

As I consider that summer, I will never forget when I realized how powerful words can be. J. K. Rowling, like so many other great authors, was able to create a world for people with the use of her words. She could usher anything into reality as long as she was able to clearly articulate it with her words. This fascinated me.

A desire began to grow in me to create a world for people with words of my own. Surrounded by the beauty of the Pacific Northwest, I wanted to bring something beautiful to life in the minds of people. So I began to work on my novel. I drew maps of a fictional world and dreamt up a history to the societies that inhabited it. I talked with friends and family about my ideas.

But I didn’t actually start writing it.

It wasn’t until about eighteen months later that I wrote my first words of the story. It was a thrilling experience. But life was busy and I didn’t really know where the story was going in various parts, so I stopped writing for a while. I had written about thirty pages over a nine month span.

Two more years passed while I thought about the characters of my novel frequently and imagined the world they inhabited. While traveling I would see snowy mountains that would remind me of various settings within my book. But I had completely stopped writing.

One of the last classes I took in seminary was a class where I could write fiction for my final project. I hoped that it would be a great opportunity to get more progress on my story. Unfortunately, the class was Pass/Fail and I was very busy, so I did not produce very much quality fiction as my final project.

Life got busier as I graduated from seminary and moved to Fort Dodge where I began full-time ministry. Adjusting to a new job, new house, new town, and still trying to figure out marriage were all valid excuses for my lack of writing.

In the middle of 2011, six years after I first had my idea to write, I still was sitting with about thirty pages. Life was just as busy as ever, if not busier, as we were weeks away from having Lylah. On the Twitter feeds I noticed something called #NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writers Month.

“How have I never heard of this?” I thought. Since 1999 people have banded together online to write a 50,000 word novel in one month. I knew at that moment that this was something I had to do.

50,000 words in one month, though? How would I do anything close to that? In six years I had only written 13,000 words and I had a daughter on the way during one of the busiest parts of the year. It seemed impossible, but I decided to go for the challenge. I would need to write 1,667 words a day on my novel to add 50,000 words in a month. Here’s how I did.

Notice how I didn’t hit 50K?

Ok, so I technically “failed” NaNoWriMo. I didn’t write 50,000 words in a month.

But I did write 43,000 more words than I had written in the previous two years.

So really, I “won” NaNoWriMo.

This is what I learned from NaNoWriMo.

  1. Give your goals a deadline.
  2. Make progress toward your goal every day.
  3. It doesn’t matter how much progress you make each day.
  4. It doesn’t matter if you meet your deadline.
  5. When you mess up, pick it back up again.

What dream have you been neglecting? What would happen if you decided to take one step toward accomplishing that goal today? I dare you to find out.

Thanksgiving in October?

October 20, 2010 — 4 Comments

Sara and I watched Field of Dreams tonight on Blu-ray. It had been years since I’ve seen this movie. A lot of it was really cheesy and the plot was absolutely ridiculous. Why hadn’t I noticed that when I was younger?

I did like three things about it, though.

1. Poindexter from Revenge of the Nerds is in the movie. So that’s a huge plus right off the bat.

2. James Earl Jones is in the movie and he’s awesome. So that’s also a huge plus.

3. This is a direct quote from the movie: “Is this heaven? No, it’s Iowa.”

About eight days ago I preached a sermon and was exhausted after the Sunday morning was finished. Knowing that I had to go back to church later that evening to teach a class, all I wanted to do was take a nap.

But I couldn’t.

I had to go up to Goldfield and meet people at Sara’s new church. My day would be a full one.

Goldfield is about 29 miles away and it was about 75 outside so I decided to take my motorcycle. I knew I would not have many more nice days to go on a ride. In fact, it should have already been way too cold for a bike ride, but we’ve been having an awesome October. Even though there is no helmet law in Iowa, I put my full-face helmet on and put headphones in underneath it.

Pulling out onto the badger blacktop, I had MxPx’s Slowly Going the Way of the Buffalo playing on my phone as I began to cruise. I passed Badger and headed out to Thor. By now the roads were straight and empty and I could see for miles.

Feeling invincible, I gunned the throttle for quite some time and road my bike at a speed that was nowhere near 55mph. We’ll just say it was somewhere in the 80’s. I know the real number but it’s a secret.

Now before you start dialing your phone to call me or typing on the keyboard to leave me a message about how foolish I was, just know this: I’m writing this blog so I survived. Yes, the end doesn’t justify the means. Yes I could have been hurt. Yes I need to set an example to other people because I’m a pastor. And yes, I know it was foolish. That’s not the point of this story, though.

Just know that my bike is only a 600cc so it can’t really even go all that fast, I have only done this 1 other time in over 7,000 miles of riding, and I probably won’t do it again.

So I got to Goldfield, hung out with people for about an hour and then road back because I had somewhere else to be. The way back was just as cool as the way out. I was flying down the highway with the bright blue sky overhead, wide open fields being harvested around me, great old school punk rock music, not a care in the world. I kept repeating a line of a Pedro the Lion song.

“God bless the Indian summer.”

I have a feeling that the song is about vastly different things than what I was considering, but I don’t care. In that moment, on my bike, I experienced a profound sense of thankfulness. I could have been mad that I was running late and had to work for like 13 hours on a nice Sunday afternoon when everybody else could relax.

But I simply felt blessed. On that ride home I could not help but think about how many ways God provides for Sara and me while I often don’t even realize it. Somewhere between Thor and Badger, I experienced Thanksgiving in October.

Looking back on this experience, I can see why Shoeless Joe Jackson would confuse heaven and Iowa while talking with Kevin Costner. And at the same time, I have friends who can’t understand why I would live in Iowa, or some who might not even be able to find it on a map.

Our church has been walking through a Dave Ramsey series, and this past Sunday we talked about contentment. I’m amazed at how frequently I’m led to believe that my life will not be complete unless I have some new product or unless I have some vacation to get excited about. However when I buy into these lies I miss out on so many ways that God is blessing me each and every day.

I have a feeling that I’m not the only one he’s blessing. How have you seen God blessing you lately? For what can you celebrate Thanksgiving in October? What prevents you from noticing the gifts God is giving you? How can we strive to be more content with what God is already doing in our lives?