Love Your Journey

Oct 24

It was a Saturday morning and I was happy to have slept in.  As I awoke, I instinctively rolled over to say, “Good morning” …

Empty pillow.

It’s hard to believe, but it’s been nearly a year already (!) and yet these unsuspecting moments continue to jolt me.  I’m not sure that I understand all that much about grieving, but it is clear that the bittersweet memories will forever be a whispering friend.  I hope that will also be true for the girls, our family and our friends.  We’re already on our eternal journeys and having a whispering friend to encourage and direct is freeing.  I am often amazed at how the Holy Spirit pulls from the past to bring focus for the future.

Momma is still very much a part of our daily steps.  It brings me joy as the girls spontaneously say things like, “Do you remember when Mom used to …” or “I remember when Mom and I …”.  We miss Jen deeply and are disappointed by her absence – especially in the girls’ big moments.  And yet we are still having big laughs and high-fives with her.  We cannot lose what we truly possess – our experiences, our choices and our hope.  And so it is that the memories of our truths experienced fuel our choices and focus our hope.

To that end, the girls are rockin’ it.  They have been “all-in” owning their respective races.

Exhibit 1: Planning … each day they both proactively ask to review our calendar to ensure they have appropriate time for homework, weaved around extra-curriculars, with assurance of getting to bed at an appropriate time.  If things look tight, they often suggest, “What if we …”.

Exhibit 2: Adventure … We had the chance to go tent camping this past weekend.  Despite 30 deg (F) temps, they were unfazed and simply sought out more layers.  When I asked if they would be interested in trying out an underground caving trip, they both instantly said “yes!” … and then asked what it was about.  Fast forward, we were 2 hours into a 4 1/2 hour off trail adventure of hiking through an underground river, army crawling head-to-toe in mud, and inch-worming through tight crevices in a pitch black, miles-long network of caves and tunnels.  They were exhausted, filthy dirty and cold.  And yet they chose to push on, taking encouragement from each other and relishing in the thought of adding to a year filled with unique adventures.

Exhibit 3: Maren … She is becoming such a fine young woman – just like her mom.  She continues to challenge herself in both academics and athletics while loving her Bible study/youth group and running with this whole teenager thing.  She studied hard for a math exam this past week that she was anxious about.  She ended up scoring a 99/100 on the exam and a 96 for the quarter – her lowest grade among other classes.  Slacker ;-).  The truth is that she is both fun and delightful.  I feel we are definitely in transition from parenting to more coaching.  It is very enjoyable to now engage with her in more adult-level conversations and dreams.   #DadIsSoProud

Exhibit 4: Greta … cue “Girl On Fire” by Alicia Keys … girlfriend has found a new gear.  She’s working ahead on homework and even sneaking in extra math; taking care of the new guinea pigs without being asked; and is finding new confidence as she grows in volleyball – learning to push through temporary challenges with patience in hope for gradual improvement.  Oh, and then there was the night that she hopped into the van after practice and before I could say anything said, “Dad, I want to make a salad for lunch tomorrow because I’m feeling that my daily PB&J has too many carbs and I need to start eating healthier.  I also want to set a daily exercise routine with my friend; we’ve listed out a rotating routine of running and strength exercises and would like to start tomorrow.  Oh, and I’ve been feeling a little tired in the morning and I think we should adjust my bedtime to earlier so that I can get a little more sleep.”  She’s just a few months past 9.  I’m not sure she needs much from me as a parent ;-).

And so just as the girls are finding new gears, I also feel inspired to find my next gear.  I’ve found that the most profound truths tend to repeat themselves through a string of occurrences over time – so as not to be missed or ignored and yet to provide assurance that the truth is not fleeting but permanently formative.  The big truth that has been needling me is that I have a unique race to run (which is true for all of us).  For years this occasional needling felt like a bee sting – noticeable in the moment, but soon to fade without leaving a lasting mark.  Over the last couple of years and increasingly this past year, however, I feel that needling may actually be forming a tapestry of sort – representing an intentional picture with the strength of woven truth.

I am inspired by people that know themselves well enough to be able to articulate their passions and who feel free to make focused choices to pursue those passions.  The aggravating question for me has always been, then, what is my passion and how do I pursue it?

I am now realizing that I am out of touch with my passions in part because I don’t allow for time to see or hear them.  One thing that has been apparent these last few years is that life is both fragile and short on Earth.  Still, time here is just the starting leg of a much bigger continuous journey.  And yet the starting leg is critical as it sets the direction and motivation toward what/whom our bigger journey is running.  Choices today echo forward.  Choices today matter for tomorrow.  Those choices demand stewardship, urgent stewardship of personal gifts and opportunities in light of our fragility.  I am not sure how short my remaining time is during this leg, but without a sense of urgency my direction and investment in others will be left to floundering chance.  With this conviction, I’ve chosen over the last few weeks to set aside time to assess my passions and how to pursue them.

Ironically enough, I received the following excerpt in a daily devotional email the morning after deciding to do some personal work on this:

“Do we hold on to our lives, scared to death of losing what we have?  Do we live a life of reacting to demands, agendas and deadlines that are not of God’s making, rather than boldly following the Master? … We are to be people of purpose, passion, and commitment who pursue with abandon God’s particular goal for us.  We are to listen carefully for the Father’s guidance each step of the way, and depend on his strength – not our competence or force of personality.  This is the life he has for each of us.  When we give our lives to Christ, and surrender our future to him, we find new courage and energy.”

I am finding new courage and energy.  I am inspired by Jen and others that have done the hard personal work to understand and pursue their unique purpose.  I also feel conviction to find and follow my unique path versus the default path indirectly chosen for me by others.

I’ve started working with a “find-your-purpose” coach.  I can testify that the work is, in fact, hard!  Here are a few of the topics / questions by which I have been most challenged:

* What are the low & high points on your life and career maps?  What are the characteristics of those points and how have they shaped your character, choices and joy?

* What does it mean to be a steward of ones gifts versus exercising fortitude in pursuit of others’ expectations?

* Who are the unknowing people that have been giants of influence in your life?  What made them influential?  Would you count among the giants of others?  Who and what do you treasure most?

* When did you feel most alive, what were you doing and with whom were you doing it?  If you had no material need, how would you spend your time?  What were your untarnished dreams as a kid?  What are you naturally good at?

* How is your balance among the riches of materiality, relationships, motivations and spirituality?  How many material resources do you need to fuel your journey?  How does this need differ from what you are currently working to accumulate?  How are your motivations informed (+/-) by pleasure, pride and power?  Who is your audience?

Needless to say, an honest self-assessment is challenging.  However, it is also energizing and motivating.  I’m realizing how much of my life’s energy has been driven by pride and the motivation for security.  As I consider the fragility and finite amount of time that makes up this leg of the journey, however, I am feeling more free to let go of long-established norms in exchange for a lighter load and a more urgent and focused pursuit through which to redeem my time for others.

Jen has run ahead and a big part of me would just assume get there ASAP, as well.  However, the journey that I desire is with and toward God and each leg is purposeful, valuable and worthy of joy.  Therefore, we will celebrate the plans and adventures and breakthroughs of each day’s steps.  We will listen carefully for the Father’s guidance in each of those steps and depend on his strength.  We will delight in the friendly whispers of our bittersweet memories.  And we will pray that God gives us clarity and courage to pursue the unique journeys that he has for each of us.


Love your journey, do today well.



  1. Roslyn Mathie /

    Powerful post! You share big thoughts fluently. Thank you

  2. Marlayne Skeens /

    ❤️💔❤️💔❤️ & 🤗🤗🤗

  3. Conni Carlson /

    Hugs and prayers 💝

  4. Kathi Roth /

    You have a gift of writing-just like Jen- yet different styles. Thank you for sharing all you do❤️

  5. Sharon Parson /


  6. Hugs❣️

  7. Amber Hahn /

    Brad, keep being an adventurer. Push yourself and your girls to uncomfortable places, but do it for God, not for you. We all grow and please Him when we follow Him through the challenging times.
    We love you and miss Cincinnati. We are grateful for all the places and people we’ve lived with.

    Sydney has been accepted to Baylor and Butler, which means a trip to Indy is in the works. I’d love To pop over and show her where she was a toddler and the P&G towers. None of them even remember my 10 yrs working there. So formative, yet so temporary.

  8. Fredda Ferris /

    Thank you for continuing to share your journey ❤️

  9. Kris Staverman /

    Thank you so much for sharing your journey with all of us. You being you are an inspiration for doing life well.

  10. Lisa Cox /


  11. Perhaps part of your journey is writing. Wow. Thank you for sharing this.

    -long time reader and prayer

  12. Kim Rourke /

    “Find your purpose”… those three words seem to sum up the struggle for all of us. How telling it is that you are taking on that challenge as yet another way to “love the journey” and to “do today well”. Your frank words are motivating and thought-provoking for all of us who read your posts. God at work through his people! ❤️🙏🏻

  13. Sharon House /

    Jen lives on through you, the girls, and ‘her people’; I imagine she is quite is quite proud of those carrying on her legacy to Do Today Well’, because you all do. ❤️

  14. Nancy B /

    I shared this entry with my cousin’s widower and my friend who lost her nephew recently.

  15. Jeanne /

    Like Jen, you are a gifted writer. We are so proud of you. I, too, have been thinking of Jen a lot and miss her. You are on an incredible soul searching journey and you will, no doubt, be rewarded with a positive outcome.

  16. Patty Wheeler /

    Brad you are a Gift to as is Jen. I was just looking at old swim team videos from Beckett Ridge and saw the faces of my “kids” and their childhood friends. None of us knew what life held in store for these people. Jen always had a sunny smile that I saw many times even when I brought food before I moved. I remember meeting Maren when she visited Grandma and Grandpa. Her smile said it all…the joy of motherhood. She was truly loved and in her journey left a legacy not be be forgotten. You are a great man. You will figure out what you are meant to do moving forward. So far you have done an amazing job.

  17. Bonnie B Jackson /

    🧡🍁🙏Such an Excellent Encouraging word Brad!! You, Maren and Greta are deeply loved and more importantly are in God’s Hands!! He’s got you and the future is bright when you continue to hear His still voice whispering 🙏🙏🙏

  18. Emily Smith /

    Brad, I love your writing (and the powerful mind God has given you) so much! It is really good to hear how you and the girls are doing. I cried through the first several paragraphs, just grieving and deeply missing Jen on this earth. But you’ve got it right, my friend – cling to hope and faith in Jesus and keep that eternal perspective. I’m so proud of you for doing the life coaching stuff! So cool. Love you!!!

  19. Darlene /

    Brad, I just know you are following the journey both you and Jen established. One thought that jumped out for me is your thoughts of being in the clergy in some capacity. I’m not sure that is a realistic goal for you, but you have the heart and empathy for it. It’s so good to hear from you.

  20. Peggy Allis Murriner /

    Brad, I’ve also done some of this work. A major resource has been Designing Your Life by Evans & Burnett. It equips you to use the innovative/design process for building a life you want to live. Purpose only took me a cool 2 years to get language around. Bless you on this journey. It’s a worthy investment.

  21. Newbie friend /

    Thank you for sharing. You have given me some work to challenge myself . Never too old to continue to be the “ best version of ourself” and to “ do today well”! Think of your family often and think of Jen every time I look at the metal art that my son made for me that says “Do Today Well“. I smile
    And thank Jeb for her wisdom and encouragement! May God bless you!

  22. Lindsay /

    Brad- we continue to think of you and the girls often. Loved the update abt them…they seem to always up for adventure, just like you and Jen! Absolutely incredible…I’d probably be busy whining crawling in that mud; and yet, you all knew it would be worth it in the end.
    It’s really cool you’re working with a coach to tap into the Brad God has created you to be. Keep pressing in! -the Weigands ❤️

  23. Thank you for the update. It’s no surprise that Maren and Greta are thriving, given the amazing foundation you and Jen have given them. All the best.

  24. Kristina Ann Hudson /

    Oh my goodness, Brad. Beautifully written. Thank you for sharing.

  25. Kathleen Roberts /

    You inspire all of us to take a look at our lives and remember what is important….thank you for sharing such an important message ❤️.

  26. This is amazing, Brad. Thanks for the update on you and the girls. I admire and respect the journey you are starting, it is something I’ve wondered for myself as well. I look forward to hearing how it evolves!

  27. This post you wrote is full of gem after gem! Goodness! Thank you for writing this. It’s amazing! Praying for you guys! God & your Jen are surely smiling and cheering you on! 🙏🙏🙌🎁