2,833 Hours!

Captain America and me were driving around the other day.  That’s the name I’ve given to our old, faithful car that we’ve had for over a decade.  Yes, my wife and I have a disagreement on whether or not a car should have a guy or girl name, but that’s a discussion for a different time.  For now, I’m sticking with “Cap”, as I call him.

As I glanced down at the odometer, I did some quick math and realized we have driven  Cap for over 170,000 miles since we bought it used many years ago.  At first, my mind embraced the thought that the vast majority of those miles had been free of major car repairs.  That’s always a good feeling.  But then, as my car shifted to a different gear, my mind did, as well.

WARNING:  The following math is subjective.  For the record, I have no idea how fast I was driving for every mile Cap has traveled.  Glad we cleared that up 🙂

Doing some quick math, I figured that if each of those miles represented a minute of time (some miles went quicker, some slower), Sara and/or myself have driven that car for 2,833 hours.  That’s basically 3,000 hours of memories, give or take!

And then the actual memories started flooding in:

  • The faIMG_2664ct this was the vehicle we placed our first child into as we headed home from the hospital.
  • The Native American young people we transported across the great state of Arizona, and the amazing conversations we had with them along the way.
  • The nervous yet faith-filled conversations Sara and I had about the health challenges our second child was facing, and the countless trips back-and-forth to the doctors in the months awaiting his arrival.
  • The memory of pulling over to serenade Sara with “Annie’s Song” by John Denver on the 1 1/2 hour drive from town to our home on the rez.
  • The heartache for those we were leaving behind, yet the excitement about what was ahead, as we loaded up the car and moved from Arizona to Arkansas.
  • Bringing our youngest child (starting off life at 10 lbs., 10 oz.!) home from the hospital a short couple of months after settling into our new home.

There are so many more, from what seemed to be simple conversations to moments of uproarious, tear-inducing laughter.  The fact is, those 2,833 hours are filled with moments that have helped knit my family together in inexplicable ways, and helped shape us in ways that only God truly knows.

And that is what really gets me – so many minutes filled with such rich memories, and I definitely have missed some of them as the mile markers have flown by.  It’s easy to get distracted by what’s around us, isn’t it? It might be frustration from a traffic slowdown, or a missed exit, or dissension in the back seat…which rarely happens, of course 😉  But, I have a God who loves me in mind-blowing ways, and that same Heavenly Father uses those very distractions to weave a beautiful tapestry across the miles.

“This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

He slows me down in unexpected ways, He fills the air with life-giving laughter, He challenges my faith with medical news, He shapes me as a dad as I play games or act as referee.  But maybe most importantly in those 2,833 hours, He has consistently grown the love in my heart as I’ve glanced at my bride riding next to me, and as I’ve snuck a peak in the rear view mirror at the full quiver He has blessed me with.

We have another primary family car now, and there are a million memories that have occurred outside of Cap.  But for now, I’m grateful for the 2,833 hours of memories in that vehicle.  May none of us miss out on the moments, wherever they may spring up.

“Rejoice always…give thanks in all circumstances.” 1 Thess. 5:16, 18a


Worthless Steps

After wondering what all the hubbub was about, I finally took the plunge.  Yes, a coupKnight Riderle of months ago, I became the proud owner of a Fitbit.  Sure, we could debate whether I bought this for noble purposes, or if I bought it strictly to pretend I was Michael Knight talking to K.I.T.T., but I digress.

This investment has been really good for me as I seek to keep on the weight loss trail.  It’s not that I wasn’t exercising before, but each day, I find myself wanting to ‘beat the Fitbit’ in whatever category.  I mean, really, who wants to be bested by a machine, especially one that fits on your wrist?!

The other day, I made the ginormous error of leaving the house without putting on my Fitbit.  As I walked around town a bit, and as I did the Walmart ‘dance’ of crisscrossing the store repeatedly, the thought hit – “Oh man!  All this walking doesn’t even count.  These are worthless steps!”.  

Yes, I quickly came to my senses.  The steps I was taking were good.  They were helping me.  Just because I wasn’t wearing the fancy-schmancy tech gear on my wrist didn’t mean the steps were worthless.  I just have gotten used to seeing with my own eyes how much my steps matter.

After I got back home in K.I.T.T. – um, I mean our family car – I found myself thinking about the steps I take as a husband and dad.  I thought about how I don’t want to take any ‘worthless’ steps in the areas of my life I treasure more than any amount of gold.  I thought how helpful it would be to have a Fitbit showing me the impact of my steps.

And as the proof ran towards me when I came in the door, I realize that I do.  There is no place else that I can see how my steps as a dad and husband matter than in Sara and my three incredible children.  Each day, I can see in their faces if I’m getting it right, or if I’m missing the mark.

I can directly see when I am taking worthless steps – choosing a Yankees’ game over helping with the dishes, keeping my phone too close when my son wants to tell me about his day, playing video games those few extra minutes too long.  And I can definitely see it in those same faces when I’m making my steps matter!  It shows in the faces of those I dearly love, and I feel it in my own heart.

The longer I walk with Jesus, the more attuned I am to the internal “GPS” He has given me.  It’s His voice that tells me what is the best use of my time, how to be the best dad I can be, how to love SarPsalm 37 23 pica the way she deserves.  And it’s a fantastic feeling when my head hits the pillow that night and I hear Jesus whisper, “Good job today”, and then as He challenges me to do even better the next day.

So, I guess it’s pretty simple – whether when I’m out walking, or focused on my family, I want my steps to count!

What’s in a Name?

I like baseball.  A lot!  I’m one of those guys that has a countdown until pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training each year.  This year, there was an extra treat of the World Baseball Classic.  That’s where teams representing several different countries square off to see who can win it all.  And, spoiler alert, Team USA won the 2017 WBC title!

As the scene unfolded after the final out, one of the outfielders was ecstatic as he ran into the celebratory fray.  As he sprinted across the field, he kept pointing to thwbc usa 2e “USA” on the front of his jersey.  This all-star level player who makes millions upon millions wasn’t pointing to the name on the back, or talking about himself in post-game interviews.  It was all about the name on the front of the jersey.

Now, this is something the greatest coaches have talked about for years.  Google holds many quotes from coaches saying, “The name on the front of the jersey is more important than the name on the back!”.

This all got me thinking about the different names I might have on the back of my jersey – Dad, husband, provider, defender, department director, son, brother, uncle, friend… I know a lot of people with a lot of different ‘names’.  We each play several roles in life, and some more than others.

But what about the namename word cloud 3 on the front of the jersey?  Where does my identity really land?

Sure, it could be whatever role I like the most.  Or it could simply be “Brad” or “Hutchcraft”.  I dig both of those.  For some, it might be their job where they find the most meaning.  For others, their religion, or even their politics.

Playing for Team USA must have been memorable for these men.  But soon, they will be back playing for their regular team.  Logos of the Yankees, Rangers, Cubs, Dodgers, will be proudly worn once again.  Earlier in life, I changed ‘jerseys’ too many times, playing for someone different each day.

And then…Jesus.  He changed everything!  That’s the name that I proudly wear now.  It’s the name that all my other titles come under.  At least that’s the goal.  It’s the only name that I know will last.  Jesus.

It’s not about a set of rules, or a specific church, or whatever ‘religion’ that might come to mind.  And it’s certainly not about a political party!  It’s about this relationship that I started many years ago.  I was created to have a relationship with God.  The Bible says it best – I was “created by Him and for Him”.  We all were.  But I tried running my life my way instead, and I didn’t do a very good job.  Fortunately, God sent His Son, Jesus, to pay my penalty so I could have a chance at real life.  Eternal life with the One who created me.  I just had to choose Him.  So I did, and that has made all the difference.

Those other names?  I really like them.  I love being a dad, a husband, a friend, and the list goes on.  But those things can be challenging at times, and I wouldn’t be very good at them if not for the name on the front of the jersey.  For me to get it right, I’m going to stick with the strongest name there is:

“The name of the LORD is a strong tower…”(the Bible)


Brad visits the Blacksmith

I’ve always been fascinated by blacksmiths.  Sure, my first visits were when my dad dragged us in, asking what seemed like hundreds of questions before we were done.  But then something happened – I became the one asking questions.  My family knows this, and I think they were a bit concerned about the rest of our day when I was lured in by the sound of iron being pounded into shape.  I dig it all – the stoking of the fire, the smell, the way the temperature of the fire is controlled, the hot iron being made into what the blacksmith knows is needed.

After many visits to blacksmiths, I thought I had heard most of the lessons and techniques they share.  But today there was something new.  As the apprentice dipped the iron into the fire, I noticed it was the handle side, not the glowing red part that was cooled.  It was explained that the iron rod was getting shorter, so the handle was getting hotter to hold.

Was it tossed away after a few more hits?  No, the expert had a better plan.  The two ends of shorter iron pieces were heated at the same time, and then the blacksmith did something that intrigued me.  The heated ends were laid on top of each other, the hammer came down, and the two pieces melded together to become one.  Just like that, what had been two became one inseparable piece.

And all I could think of was marriage.  What I witnessed was a beautiful example of what marriage is made to be.  From the beginning of creation, the master plan for marriage has been that a man will be “united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh” (Gen. 2:24).  This is God’s plan.  He created me, and He knows best.

So, the two become one, just like those two pieces of iron became one.  We were never meant to become “one” before marriage, and we aren’t made to be separated after we become “one” in marriage.  That new piece of iron immediately went back into the fire, and that can happen to marriages, too.  But, it still remained one solid piece of iron as the master worked his plan.

My family got me out of the blacksmith’s shop (eventually), but I am grateful I saw such a wonderful picture of marriage as I stood beside Sara…my “one”.