AUG 30, 2017 Devotional: “Your End of Summer Reading List”

The title of this week’s devotional might seem odd.  Most people get recommended book reading lists at the beginning of the summer…..not the final week of the season!  And, admittedly, me recommending any books for reading is a little bit of a misnomer since I rarely can pick up a book and get through it, cover-to-cover.  I’ve had more than enough people give me book recommendations of their; probably enough recommendations to fill the shelves of my own personal home library.

Strangely enough, this week I am going to share three book titles with you.  Full transparency….I haven’t read either of them….yet.  I’m going to ask for prayers right out of the gate this week, because I’d like the energy and motivation to actually get through reading all three of them in the next few months!

One book, I’ve ordered from Amazon and it’s due in later today.  The second book came as part of a sermon earlier this week.  I’m hoping the second book will help me in both my personal and business lives.  And from the third book, I’m hoping to draw some spiritual guidance in living a more simple life.

Okay….so here goes my end of summer reading list!

First, Donny Harrison, who I wrote about a couple weeks ago in the story about Chester McCullough, sent me a text early this week and shared the title of a newly published book called Mothering Addiction.  The author, Lynda Harrison Hatcher, is my friend Donny’s sister.  The book’s description on Amazon says the following:

In Mothering Addiction, Lynda Harrison Hatcher tells the heart-warming story of her turbulent journey as a mother of a child who desperately struggled with heroin addiction–a story about daily tests, constant trials, and unending tribulations of raising a son who life has been derailed by drugs.  The mothering instinct is to fix, smooth over, repair, cover up, bandage, and, if all else fails, beat the crap out of anything that hurts our children.  We think we can control what they eat, what they wear, their school, their friends.  Then addiction lumbers in, sniffs the air for signs of weakness, licks its chops, sharpens its claws, and terrorizes us before knocking us flat and ripping our hearts out.

I ordered this book for a couple reasons.  Donny took the time to mention it to me….and when your good friends share something important to them, you take notice and let them know its important to you too.  And second, who among us hasn’t struggled with addictions?  Maybe our own; maybe of loved ones.  Addictions impact all of us.  So…that’s the book I ordered.

Next, the book I heard about in a sermon came from Rev. Millie Synder of Myers Park Presbyterian Church here in Charlotte.  Millie was speaking to a large gathering of most of the church’s deacons and elders; the officers of the church, during a Session meeting on Monday evening.  She spoke about elephants and riders.  Ever heard of that analogy before?  It initially comes from a psychology book, I gathered, but more recently was described in the book, Switch:  How to Change Things When Change is Hard written by Dan and Chip Heath.  In this book, the authors talk about the relationships between “irrational” elephants and “rational” riders.  This book’s summary shares the following:

“Perched atop the Elephant, the Rider holds the reins and seems to be the leader.  But the Rider’s control is precarious because the Rider is so small relative to the Elephant.  Anytime the six-ton Elephant and the Rider disagree about which direction to go, the Rider is going to lose.  He’s completely over-matched.”  You need to create a path that makes it easier to be successful.”

Now, there’s a whole lot more to unpack in this book well beyond the summary above.  If it were that simple, then I would have read it already, right?  I will share the three basic pillars for influencing change covered in the book without deflecting your interest:

  1. Direct the Rider
  2. Motivate the Elephant
  3. Shape the Path

Good stuff that I want to apply in both my personal and business lives.  It’s been added to my Amazon “Wish List” for future motivation to order the book AND read it!

Finally, this last book recommendation is one I hope to draw some spiritual guidance from in the weeks ahead….and here in lies the “devotional” part of this week’s WAWA blog!  (See how I sneaked that one  in on you??)  The third book is titled, “Enough:  Discovering Joy through Simplicity and Generosity” written by Adam Hamilton.  Admittedly, this one is a tough pill to swallow.  Like many Americans, I live in a world of abundance.  I live in a world with too much stuff.  How much is enough?  I’ve thumbed through this book, and will read it over the next week or so.  Great, practical teachings that trace back to the Bible’s teachings about the wisdom that comes through prudent financial practices.

Did I mention it’s a tough pill to swallow?  Actually swallowing this book might be easier!

So there you have it.  Three book recommendations from a self-proclaimed, non-book reader, who is a wanna-be book reader guy.

My prayer this week is that we draw from these books in the following ways:  Seek help for your addictions and be watchful of those around us who may need help; recognize the situations from elephants and riders in our lives, understand how the two can work together if coupled with the shaping of one’s path; and finally, seek joy through simplicity and generosity.

Easier said than done, I know.  We’re all in this together.


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AUG 30, 2017 WAWA: “Celebrating Schools, Football and the return of other great things!”

We are now officially back in school and this week marks the “official” start of college football season!  Two thumbs up for both of those events, right?  Parents, arguably, love the kiddies going back to the classrooms.  The kids, however….not so much!

Where did the summer go so fast??

Back to School” also means we’re starting each weekly WAWA slightly earlier at 5:45 am.  Set your alarm clocks accordingly.

My alma mater, West Point, opens up their football season on Friday night….versus “powerhouse”, Fordham….The quest to beat Navy again this year starts on Friday night!

4.8 mile run planned for the morning.  Weather will be incredible!  Low 60’s at the start with dry conditions.  You’ll see rain most likely later on in the day, so tomorrow morning will be the best time to get outdoors to exercise.

Run Route at this LINK

Gather outside the Cornwell Center at 5:45 am, ready to go!

See you then.

WORKOUT Leader:  Mike Lenhart

DEVOTIONAL Leader:  Mike Lenhart

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AUG 23, 2017 Devotional: “Letter to Lauren”

Dear Lauren,

Twenty-four years ago today, you entered this world….screaming and crying, but the most beautiful part of God’s creation I had ever seen.  This morning, my first thoughts were of you, so I wanted to make this week’s devotional a fitting tribute to your birthday.

I asked a pastor friend once, “What do priests say to babies during their baptisms?”  Many times I would notice the priest leaning over to the baby and whisper something to the young child.

“Well, there a lots of things we say….”, said my pastor friend.  “I personally like Psalm 139:14”.

This is fitting for you as well, Lauren.

“I will praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”  Psalm 139:14

What does that mean, actually?  I mean….”fearfully”?  I get the “wonderfully” part, I think.

Fearfully, translated from Hebrew, means “with great reverence, heart-felt interest and with respect”.  When God made you, He did so not only so that you might honor him with your own reverence and respect, but more importantly, perhaps, God made you as if you were the only person He ever created.  He did it with such respect and honor for you… an individual.  It also means that God created you from a place of respect and reverence.

Wonderfully, also translated from Hebrew, means “unique and set apart; marvelous”.   This means God made you as someone He loves more than you will ever know.  You are marvelous in His eyes, set apart and beautiful.

Today, just like every day, I am thankful you are my daughter.  You are a blessing to so many….you are fearfully and wonderfully made!

All my love!



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AUG 23, 2017 WAWA: Freedom Park Stairs Workout

Running, stairs, then more running!  That’s our focus for this week.  Total distance is 3.3 miles plus the stairs portion.

We’ll meet outside the Cornwell Center, ready to go at 6 am.  Easy “downhill” jog to Freedom Park for 1.3 miles.  Next, we’ll do a stairs workout…..lots of stairs, lunges, etc.  You’ll love it!

Lastly, we’ll run a gradual uphill route through the Dilworth neighborhood, back along East Blvd, cut through Maryland Avenue, and finally Wellesley Avenue to the Cornwell Center.  Final stretch is a 2 mile route.

Complete details on the run route at this link.

Weather will be dry and mid-70’s at the start of our run.

See you at 6 am!

WORKOUT Leader:  Mike Lenhart

DEVOTIONAL Leader:  Mike Lenhart

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AUG 16, 2017 Devotional: “The Day I was Promoted to Team Captain”

Three years ago today, with the gorgeous setting of Grandfather Mountain in the background, Janelle and I exchanged wedding vows surrounded by family and friends.  The beautiful setting was only over-matched by my new bride’s stunning smile and her radiance that seemed to fill the mountainside.  It was a day I know I’ll never forget.

Our marriage was the next chapter in a long, three-year long distance dating and engagement; me, living in Atlanta and Janelle, living in Charlotte.  Somehow, we made it work!  Many know about our story that certainly has had God’s hand all along the journey.  Through the tragedy of Janelle losing a leg, our paths crossed and the healing that ensued through our courtship was much more than just to the physical wounds.  When I think of Janelle as “heaven-sent”, it’s more than just something cliche.

But there was another piece to the puzzle that sometimes gets lost.  I not only was joined in marriage to my beautiful best friend, but also assumed the role of step-father to Janelle’s two sons, Jim and Hill.  We not only quickly became a “family” but also a team of four.  And that also meant my role was elevated to that of team captain.

A few days before the wedding, I sent a letter to the boys with some heartfelt thoughts about how our lives might change….and more importantly, how things would remain the same.  I came across the letter the other day and it’s no irony that I found it just days before today’s anniversary.

In that letter, I focused on three things.  First, I wanted the boys to understand what it meant to me to be their step-dad.   I wanted to be someone they knew they could count on; someone who would always want to know what’s going on in their lives; and someone who loved them beyond words.

Next, I wanted them to know how much it meant to me to marry their mom.  She had overcome some incredible challenges in her life, and through it all had displayed grace and an ever-present smile.  “Your mom,” I said, “will always be the most important person in our home.”  I stressed that no matter how challenging things got for the “men” of the house, mom would always be the angel of our home and we would always put her first.

Finally, I explained how much I loved sports and now we were becoming a 4-person “team”.  We needed to paddle in the same direction, look out for one another, and seek each other first in times when anyone on the team needed help.  I reminded them that things would not always be easy, but no one would be going through our new life alone.

So, looking back over the past three years, today I am asking myself, “Did I get it right with Janelle, and especially with the boys?”  Maybe.  I love that we’re a team, but naturally like any team, we still have good days and bad ones.  We don’t win every time but we try to take the loses in stride, figure out what we did wrong, and make adjustments along the way.

You might be asking yourself, “What does this have to do with any kind of devotional?”  I still believe God has a hand in everything we do as individuals and for what we do as families.  We must continue to look to Him for guidance, for refuge and for forgiveness.  It’s not easy, but it’s always my prayer that my “team” is moving in the right direction.

I take my role as team captain very seriously and understand it’s importance.  And with God as my eternal “Coach”, I know we’ll be just fine!

Happy anniversary to my beautiful bride today….and the two boys who make my life interesting, entertaining, and every-so special!


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AUG 16, 2017 WAWA: “Climbing New Heights”

This week’s WAWA run takes us back to a challenging Hill Repeats workout….but we’re trying out a new hill.  Actually, we ran this hill a few weeks back as part of an earlier run….but not “repeating”!  The hill is about a 1/4 mile climb.  We’re planning on four repeats, doing recovery three times back down hill.

Here’s the basics on the route:

Cornwell Center to base of Brandywine Road hill:  1.5 miles easy pace

Hill Repeats:  4 “ups” is 1.0 miles and 3 “downs” is another 3/4 miles.

Top of Brandywine Road back to the Cornwell Center:  1.25 miles easy pace

TOTAL planned distance:  4.5 miles

Details on the route at this link.

Gather outside the Cornwell Center ready to go at 6 am.  Temps will be in low to mid 70’s with no rain in the forecast.

See you then!

WORKOUT Leader:  Mike Lenhart

DEVOTIONAL Leader:  Mike Lenhart

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AUG 9, 2017 Devotional: “The Lasting Impact of Chester McCullough”

Spend any amount of time with Charlotte resident, Donny Harrison, and you might be fortunate to hear the story of Chester McCullough.  Donny played quarterback for the Ohio University Bobcats “back in the day” and Chester was a fellow teammate who played running back and defensive back.  During pre-season drills, Donny reminisces about having to run two independent 400 meter sprints around the track while the coaches watched, evaluated, and made notes.  The goal was to have your second 400 meter attempt faster than the first one.

Donny impressively completed the first sprint.  Now came the challenging part….the second attempt.  Making matters worse, Donny was running against the speedster, Chester McCullough, who Donny thought was also on his second sprint.

The two raced around the track, Donny having a slight edge but ever so mindful that Chester might sprint past him at any moment.

But much to Donny’s amazement, he came up on the end of his sprint, still strides ahead of Chester, who had faded somewhat.

“Okay, McCullough….pretty good effort,” came the comments from the coaches.  “Now let’s see what you can do on your second lap.”  Donny quickly realized that Chester was not his competition that day after all.

Now I’ve heard this story told many, many times by my good friend, Donny Harrison.  That event happened nearly 30 years ago, but to Donny, I can see in his eyes it’s as if it were just last week.

Admittedly, I Googled “Chester McCullough” from Ohio University to see what he’s been doing now.  His collegiate stats from playing football were readily available over the Internet, but nothing was too obvious to what he’s doing now.  I asked Donny one day and he wasn’t sure what ever happened to Chester either.

I find it fascinating, however, that the story of Chester McCullough still has an impact on Donny’s life.  We joke around often during our weekly WAWA events about “you’d better keep up….Chester is gaining on you….”.  It’s a point of much needed humor when some of us are gasping for air.

We all have a “Chester McCullough” from our past.  Some, have more than one.  It’s the person who made an impact, whether they realized it or not.

You’ve read before on these weekly devotionals where I talk about God leaving an Advocate for us here on Earth beyond the Resurrection story.  That Advocate is here to advise, watch over, and guide us in a number of ways.

Who is the Advocate in your life?  Maybe it’s someone like Chester McCullough?  Someone from your past who keeps you on your toes, keeps reminding you to push yourself to do your best.

My prayer this week is that we savor those moments where “Chester” appears in our lives.  Embrace those times, recall them often, and thank our Heavenly Father for that advocacy that comes from such individuals.

Now….go out an run a 400 meter dash this week….in honor of Chester McCullough!


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