Remembering my Father

Dad. We miss him so much, as it feels he went too soon; but I know that death may always feel like that.

But this post is not to remember his death, but to remember his life.

Every man dies, not every man truly lives.” – William Wallace, Braveheart

Classic quote, possibly a little over used, but none the less relevant. In the context of Braveheart, this has epic implications; but I don’t think our actions in life need to be of epic proportions to have epic impact.

My dad was a simple kind of man. You could learn his priorities in life over a cup of coffee, it was obvious what he cared about. He loved Jesus, He loved his family, he loved golf, and he had the strongest work ethic I’ve ver seen… He also loved mexican food.

His love for Jesus drove him to devote himself to others. He was selfless, and he was caring. Growing up i n California, I remember he and my mom constantly involved in ministries and community. They would serve outside of church, and they would serve at church. I grew up in Calvary Chapel Downey. Every Sunday after church, I would run all around that church playing with my friends for about an hour as my mom and dad stayed to pray and talk with anyone who needed it.

Simple action, small sacrifice of time, but huge impact that I didn’t even realize until I got older.

To avoid an incredibly long blog, I will leave it here: My dad was and still is one of the most, if not the most, impactful people in my life. I am thankful that he and my mom loved us children the way that they did. In this world of growing responsibility and opportunity, I want to honor my dad by seeking focus in life. I want to calibrate my priorities in a way that my kids feel as loved and encouraged as I did.

Simplicity leads to focus, and focus leads to impact.

I love you and miss you so much dad.

Here is the link to the initial blog “Remembering our Father”

George Grayum: In loving memory

And here is the link to the memorial slideshow:

George Grayum Memorial Slideshow

Time of Mind

What is worth the time of mind?

I heard a great podcast the other day that talked about the capacity of our mind to make decisions. If we can minimize the decision making in our life with some of the little things, establish routines, our minds are then freed up to focus. Focus is a powerful ally.

Every decision we make takes time from our day, and our time is a gift. Therefore, the less nonessential decisions we have to make, the more time we have. It is not valuable in a monetary sense; rather, it’s value lies in our impact in this life.

We can most benefit those around us by striving to the best version of our self.

To do this, we must invest. We need to feed our minds, bodies, talents, relationships, and soul. Investments take time to grow, and we want a return on our investment; actually, we want the best return on our investment that we can get.

I like to get up early. I like to have time to start my day. I also need a reason to wake up that’s greater than my job. I’m thankful for my job, but I also know that I will be useless at my job if I don’t bring as much of my whole self as I can each day. My greater purpose in the morning also needs to go beyond just allowing time to eat breakfast, make a lunch, and get out the door. I wake up with the dawn because there, I find inspiration.

I want as much of each morning for prayer, exercise, writing, meditation, songwriting, or anything else that makes me come alive as I can get. So, to do this; I need the little tasks such as making breakfast and lunch to be as quick and easy as possible.

Here is a small example: I have found that minimizing the amount of options for food throughout my work week has reduced the morning food decision making drastically. It has also made me more intentional about what I will be feeding my body.

Instead of looking through the cupboards and fridge each morning, wondering “What does Brian feels like eating right now?” or “What will Brian feel like eating at lunch?”; I have made those decisions already. I am going to eat one of two breakfasts in the morning, and I will likely have the same few options for lunch through each work week. This allows for me to prep my food before the work week begins, and it has given me back precious time; and stops me from talking about myself in the third person.

What do we gain from these extra minutes here and there? We gain peace of mind, a calmer mind. And in that calm mind, we find inner strength:

Calm mind brings inner strength and self-confidence, so that’s very important for good health.” – Dalai Lama

Another key factor to the strong and effective mind is contentment. We must learn to say “This is good” more than “this could be better.”

All the little things add up, so make those little things count.

As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.” – Henry David Thoreau


“You inspire me, and I inspire you, and we inspire the world.” – Grouch and Eli

I walk a line between anxiousness/ fear and excitement when something or someone inspires me. What I’ve been wrestling with lately is, “how to respond to inspiration?”

We went to a live performance of Beauty and the Beast last weekend put on by our community theatre, and the entire time I found myself in limbo between enjoying the show as part of the audience combined with this urge to be a part of something like that. What that means I don’t know, but the experience impacted me on a deeper level.

I saw all of these people putting themselves out there, allowing themselves to transform into their characters for the enjoyment of the audience and as an expression of their art. I saw such joy emit from the cast members, I saw excitement from the stagehands and crew, and something stirring inside of me.


How do I respond to that inspiration, and why does it inspire me? I know that a lot of folks went to that same play, critiqued it, and enjoyed it at face value as entertainment.

But what are we supposed to do when something or someone we encounter moves us on that deeper level?

Option 1: Box up the rush of emotions, the feelings of trying something like that, and the spike of inspiration and put it up on the shelf.

Option 2: Let those emotions, feelings, and thoughts of trying something like that linger; and let them push us to step out into the unknown.

Option 1 is easier in the sense that it requires nothing of us, and option 2 leads to action. I want to be an option 2 guy. If we can let these moments of inspiration linger, then maybe they will speak to us; and maybe we discover ourselves doing something we never thought we could.

I use the play as an example. Inspiration comes in many different forms, and each of us is inspired in different ways. I see people all around who take action on inspiration, and that too inspires me.

So let’s together ride those waves of inspiration as they come our way, and perhaps discover that there may be more to us than we may think.

Meaningless, or is it?

A few weeks ago, there was snowstorm… a big storm. Shoveling and snow blowing was a daily activity for a few days. As I snowblowed two feet of snow amidst an ongoing snow storm, it was hard not to have that Ecclesiastes feeling of meaningless, its all meaningless; because I knew that I would have to be back out here shoveling again the next day.  At the same time, I knew that it was much easier to shovel 2 feet of fresh snow than 2 feet of wet compacted snow; so I thought meaningful…it’s meaningful. 

Meaningless or meaningful.

Sometimes I feel like that line is a very thin line to walk, but there is a lot of weight behind which view we take.

This morning was one of those “wide awake at 3:00 am” mornings. The initial hour was somewhat frustrating as I wanted to sleep, but my body and mind would not let me; meaningless. As 4:00 rolled around, I decided that it is a gift to feel this awake. I have three hours until I have to go to work, and endless possibilities. Prayer, exercise, coffee, breakfast, writing, reading, and still be able to hang out with the kids before I leave; meaningful.

The book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible is a good read if you haven’t read it before. Hopeless ravings of a mad man, sprinkled with beautiful tidbits of hope. I love Ecclesiastes because it’s honest. Who of us hasn’t struggled with the search for meaning amidst the mundane. Even in the most wonderful of circumstances, there is the search for purpose.

So back to the snow. Meaningless means I toss that shovel across the yard as I see no point in my toil, and deal with a slick icy tundra that I would call a driveway for the foreseeable future. Defeat.

Meaningful  means I blast “Evil Empire” by Rage against the Machine in my headphones and snowblow for an hour so we can actually safely enter and exit our driveway. By the time “Year of the Boomerang” has finished, I think I might as well get the neighbor’s sidewalk as well. Impact.

“What does the worker gain from his toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.”  Ecclesiastes 3:9-14

This is just one example of Soloman’s rants, good stuff.

Let’s look for meaning in the most meaningless circumstances.


I was eating my breakfast this morning, french toast medallions, and noticed the steam rising from the teapot on the stove; the same thing was happening with my coffee cup. There was something beautiful about the way the steam swirled and danced into nothing against the morning sunlight coming through the windows.

It was simple… and it was beautiful.

It was one of those moments that could not be captured by photo, my only choice was to embrace the moment. A picture would only freeze that moment in time, without movement; and without context.

The french toast that I had now made four days in a row was good, Beck’s Morning Phase  was playing on the computer, and it was a much needed beautiful moment. It wasn’t the first time I had seen steam rise, neither was it the first time I had french toast, it wasn’t even the first time I heard  Morning Phase; it was a normal thing that was just happening, and for the first time in a while; I found myself able to be in the moment, as simple as it was.

It was a normal thing that was just happening.

As We move forward into the next year, Let’s be mindful of the moment; not forsaking forethought, but not missing the simple beauty that is happening… right… now.



It’s beautiful outside, snow on the trees, its quiet in the house, and it’s 6:00 am on a Saturday.

For some reason, I’m laying in bed latent with energy; my skin almost crawling. This is great when I need to go to work or I have an early morning trail run planned with  my bros; but that day is not today. Today is one of our first snows in a while, chilly weather, and it’s a week and a day until Christmas.

I love this time of year.

The holiday décor everywhere you go. Streets lined with Christmas lights, and a hot drink tastes just a little better. We sing songs ongs about the days of old, Santa, Frosty, and Rudolph;

cold weather and snow, presents under the tree, gatherings of friends and family friends,  and a heightened sense of gratitude and compassion. There is so much good during Christmas time that would benefit this world at anytime of the year.

No matter where you go, you can hear songs of a Savior, a child who came into this world to bring peace and life. You don’t have to be in the church to hear or sing a sing of Jesus, and the promise of hope that he brought into this world. You merely have to walk into a store, turn on the radio, listen to that person humming or whistling; you will find Christmas all around.

This is a perfect morning to be home with my family. I need this, especially after a busy week. I could get dressed and hit the trails this morning, but I’ve been gone when the kids wake up every other day this week. I want to be here, and I want to be present.

That’s why I am writing right now, I need to train my self to be at rest, to be okay with home. I tend to be on the move a lot. Usually I’m thinking bout what’s going to happen the rest of the day, tomorrow, and even the whole upcoming week. If I’m not careful, my mind can become a mess. I don’t like it when my mind is a mess, because it causes me to miss the good all around me, and the good that I could be doing.

So today I will be intentional.

This moment is a gift. A chance to be at home and write is a gift. Enjoying the sunrise and snow from the comfort of my couch is a gift, and I will be thankful for it.

There is always Hope

Aragorn:“Give me your sword. What is your name?”

Haleth: “Haleth son of Hama my lord. The men are saying we will not live out the night they are saying it is hopeless.”

Aragorn: “This is a good sword, Haleth son of Hama…There is always hope”

Scene from The Two Towers

There is always hope. 

I love this scene from the Two Towers (and pretty much every scene from the Lord of the Rings). A boy full of doubt and fear does not get consoled by Aragorn, neither does he receive empty words.

Aragorn acknowledges that the battle is here, and he does not say they will live through the night. He does not promise victory, and he does not minimize the situation; he simply offers a phrase There is always hope. 

This is a loaded phrase in this moment.

Is it a belief they would achieve victory? Is it a belief that they live at least through the night? He is did not say “do not fear”. Does he even know what he was offering with that phrase?

Hope is perseverance. Hope is strength. Hope brings valor. Hope brings courage. Hope drives compassion. Hope sees the world for more than face value.

I would best describe hope as a momentum. It is much bigger than a longing for better stuff, or better circumstances; it is a way to live that allows us to move in the flow of this life, though a longing for things to get better may be a part of it.

Hope reminds us that we play a part in this story.

How do we continue to move forward in our lives when darkness comes? We believe that the light will shine again, for even in darkness the light shines.

“Yet dawn is ever the hope of men.” – Aragorn again

Though the light may be dim, we embrace it. And if we must linger in the dark, we do not lose heart; we stand in the belief that something of worth is taking place, and know that our part of this story is not over. We will find new strength.

“Hope is not blind optimism. It’s not ignoring the enormity of the task ahead or the roadblocks that stand in our path. It’s not sitting on the sidelines or shirking from a fight. Hope is that thing inside us that insists, despite all evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us if we have the courage to reach for it, and to work for it, and to fight for it. Hope is the belief that destiny will not be written for us, but by us, by the men and women who are not content to settle for the world as it is, who have the courage to remake the world as it should be.” – Barak Obama

Part 4: Broken smiles

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” ― J.R.R. Tolkien

I believe that deep inside of all of us there is a longing for adventure. There is a healing that takes place inside when we venture out of the norm, and something comes alive. This adventure can look different for every person. It can be a trek through the Himalayas, a simple hike through the woods, getting married, having kids, writing a song; pretty much anything in which we push ourselves and step out into the unknown.

I dove head first into our renno at our house shortly after my dad passed. We had a pretty steady flow of  demo, cleaning, planning, designing, demo, cleaning, repairing, installing, and did I mention cleaning? Home Depot became a daily spot for us. If I didn’t say this before, we were replacing our floors and kitchen while we were living in the house, so it was a little crazy to say the least.

We were still working full time, and trying to carry on a somewhat normal life; but I have tendency to obsess a bit when it comes to projects. Perhaps it was a way to deal with grief, perhaps it was just a lack of self control on my part; but I was feeling consumed by the house.

The feeling of duty and tasks that lay ahead were looming over me daily, and I couldn’t get myself to disconnect. I wasn’t out on the trails as much as I’d like during those few months, The kids had to entertain themselves more often than not during that time also. Now some of that is completely normal when a family takes on a big project, but my mental state is really where the problem was.

Anyways, I needed a break. Our new cabinets were installed, our tile was all ripped up, the new wood floors were almost complete, but there was still a long list of to dos to wrap this thing up; and I was feeling disconnected from life outside the house. So we went camping.

One of the best ways to recalibrate is to get outside and enjoy the simple beauty of this world. We found a beautiful campsite with some friends out in the aspens, and setup camp before sunset. It was so nice that we decided to take a little hike. It was a turning point. I started to feel the weight of my last few months start to lift, this was exactly what I needed.

We were finishing up our hike, and we were almost back at camp when I saw this beauty:

Something inside me said, “you must climb the rock.”

The sense of adventure, pushing myself into the unknown.

This day just keeps getting better, I thought to myself as I stood atop the boulder waving to my kids and friends. I couldn’t help but smile, smiling is my favorite.

I decided that I should come down so we could get back to camp. About half way down, it got a little tricky. I hit a spot without a whole lot of holds, and my feet were just a few inches above the next little ledge. I tried to do a little drop and grab to get my toes to the ledge, but as soon as my toes got that ledge… they fell right off.

A lot went through my mind right now, fear definitely, and disbelief at what was happening. “This can’t be real”, I thought as my hip hit the wall and sent me head first down towards the lower boulders.

CRACK! Faceplant, blood, adrenaline, and a strong sense that this was serious.

I jumped up off the rocks and started running back to the trail. I remember lots of blood, and the harsh realization that at least a couple teeth were gone, and the rest of my mouth felt like a mess.

I was fixated on teeth. As I held my mouth with blood everywhere, all I kept saying was “my teeth are gone! My teeth are gone!” I also kept mumbling I’m sorry to my wife as we hustled back to camp.

It was crazy!

Our friends stayed with the kids as Debbie drove me at a McQueen like rate to the ER. We were a strong 30 minutes out, and I just remember being in such shock, pain, and sadness. Things were not going to be the same after this… freekin’ change man.

Is my jaw broke? Nope. Is my lip gone? Nope. As we neared the ER, the Brian Regan bit about rating your pain at the ER was going through my head- Brian Regan: ER bit

If you rate it too low, then you’ll be siting in the waiting room with half a baby aspirin for the next couple hours. if you go too high, they may not even take you seriously, “You say your pain is at a eight? Yeah, okay…I’ll be back.”

Actually in my case, the shear amount of blood got me in immediately.

The staff was great, our friends were great, and Debbie was the ultimate support. Overall, it was as good of an ER visit you could hope for. It was tough being coherent while cleaned out all of the debris and stitched me up. The next week was filled with dentist and doctor visits, and I was so tired of laying there awake in pain as people messed around with my mouth. I went back and forth from a stay positive attitude to extreme sadness. 4 1/2 months later, I’m still getting repair work done.

I’ve always been a smiler, and the thing about being someone who is known as a smiler is that it becomes very obvious to others when something is bothering me; and honestly, I would prefer to be a little more mysterious than that…that is cheesy, but true.  Smiling became habitual for me when I was around others, because it was a great shield to the pain and struggles inside. This started long ago in my adolescence.

To rise above, that is what I had to do. That is a choice we all have when life crumbles around us, or when change is running wild in our life. Yet, the strength to rise above in a healthy matter must come from somewhere deep inside; it cannot be a faked… it must be true.

Now…I had no more smile to hide behind. All I had was a busted up grill, and a head full of emotions. A turning point, a shift in my trajectory. It’s been a wild few months, but it has led to some good things.

I needed to accept the fact that I was a mess inside. I am starting on a path to true healing, facing the fears, doubts, and sadness that has been dwelling in me behind my smile. I would recommend to anyone out there to find your broken smile (figuratively, don’t actually fall on your face!), and be free from the fears that hold us down.

Part 3: Death and toughness

I always knew my dad was tough. He was a welder/fitter for 30+ years, and he was strong. I always wanted to have arms like my dad. Well actually, growing up I wanted to have arms like the Ultimate Warrior; I probably wanted the face paint too.

Wrestlemania VI…so epic, it was the “Ultimate Challenge”.  The Ultimate Warrior versus Hulk Hogan, talk about a tough match. At that point in my life, these were the toughest dudes in the world. I remember thinking about 30-40 minutes into the match How can somebody actually win this? 

After a Hulk Hogan boot to the face, it seemed like the Warrior was out for the count. What I liked about him so much though was his trademark comeback. Just when you’d think he was done; the fist would start to rise in the air, arms would start shaking,  head would start nodding with surety, and he would start to march around the ring unphased by whatever blows would be landed on him.

Well, it was that time. Pretty soon little Hulkamaniacs around the world found themselves in disbelief as the Ultimate Warrior held up the Championship belt, marching around the ring like a roided up madman. Now there are some rumors going around that the WWF was staged and fake; say what you will, it was real enough for 8 year old Brian.

What made my dad truly tough, was his commitment to his kids. He not only had muscular arms and strong hands, but he had a strong work ethic and dedication to taking care of his family. He would do whatever it took to keep a roof over our heads, food in our bellies, and clothes on our back. I was very fortunate. He has always been a voice of encouragement in my life, and always cared more about us than himself.

One night when I was a kid living in Lakewood CA, some punks started banging on our house; and it freaked me out so bad. It was like thunder inside our living room. Without blinking an eye my dad was running out the front door with a baseball bat. No hesitation, just a father ready to stick up for his family. They ran off though, so there was no busting heads that night.

My dad worked hard, and he was committed to his work like he was committed to his family. Up every weekday morning before the sun. Sometimes I would hear him making his coffee or something, and I would just fall back asleep; sometimes I would get up and say hi. He never really called in sick or complained, because he believed that you should show commitment in your work. He would tell me the scripture work as though you are working for the Lord, believing that it is a gift to have a job; and that we should not take that gift for granted.

We would all eat dinner together, play together, have weekend breakfasts together, and spend a lot of time with each other.

That is a tough man.

I get it now that I am a dad. It takes selflessness to be a good dad, it takes dedication. Being intentional with your kids goes a long way. No matter how many times you say I love you, it’s how you live those words that really matters.

So, here we are sitting in the hospital room. My dad is asking me and my brother if we are okay, and encouraging us to not be sad; even though he is the one who just got diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. So tough, he was going to take this on the best he could.

Less than a month later, my brother and I were playing our guitars at his memorial service. He fought as hard as he could til’ the end.

That last month before he passed was so hard. He didn’t let on how bad he was doing because he didn’t want to burden anyone; because when you’re tough, you train yourself to persevere and stay strong through hard times.

You can read all about that last month in my other blog Remembering our Father .

Christmas was a little different this year. We spoke with his hospice nurse, and she told us we that dad was doing worse than he was letting on. She said we should come out to see him. Well, we headed out and and stayed in Cali for a week. We got to bring in the new year with dad and my brother and sister in law. It was good.

He started fading after that. It is very hard to watch someone die, and see the mental and physical shifts that take place before the end. I had to be focus on the whole of his life at the end as he transitioned through the terminal agitation, as they called it. He seemed to lose himself, and he seemed to be gone as I looked in his eyes. I’m glad this stage was only for the course of  14 hours or so, because me and brother were not prepared for that.

I believe my dad’s prayers from Christmas until the day he left, were to go out as himself; and to hang on long enough for one last visit with his granddaughters. Whether it be through the power of God, or his extreme will and live for us; we had that last visit, and we’re all able to say goodbye.

Do not lose heart, take courage, and hold on to hope.

Rennos, death, and broken teeth part 2

“I love my father and I love him well, I hope to see him someday soon.”

Someday Soon by Alexi Murdoch, such a good song. I feel like him and I would get along well, and I think we’d have some great conversation.

I discovered his album Time Without Consequence randomly by browsing through the British Folk section on an MP3 music site back in 2006. I fell in love immediately. When his next album came out, Toward the Sun, I listened to it all the way through; and it was official…man crush.

Something in his music spoke to me on deep levels. Orange Sky became an immediate favorite. His music gets my mind contemplating faith, death, family, and love. I was surprised how often he made me think of my dad and brother out in California.

It never took much to make me want to go out and see them though. I live on the west side of Flagstaff AZ, and I  take the I-40 west to head home sometimes. So many times I’d feel that urge to just keep on driving and go hang out with Dad and Dan in Cali. Maybe I should have given in more often.

We love going back to California; Disneyland, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Moonlight Beach, Carlsbad State Beach (okay, we like beaches); and did I say Disneyland yet? It’s a lot of fun checking into the Best Western and having the kids run for the pool within minutes of arrival, regardless of the weather; then wake up the next morning for some powdered eggs, mini waffles, over/under cooked sausages, and sugary cereal selections.

As awesome as all of that is, the true joy of the trip would arrive within about a half hour of checking in to the hotel. My dad and/or my brother and my sister in law would show up. That’s the true draw to  drive 500 miles. We’d hug, talk, go out for dinner, then load up on caffeine and play Settlers of Catan until we could hardly keep our eyes open. You had to keep an eye on dad though. He’d always be trying to sneak some extra cards, play his development card twice, or place a city on the board instead of a settlement.

It was always a good time, and my dad was pleasant to be with. He was always up for some coffee and conversation, and he was content to just sit without saying anything and just be together.

It was a few days before Thanksgiving 2015, and my dad was going to drive out and stay a few days with us. He called a couple days prior because he was sick, and thought it would be hard to handle the elevation change. I was bummed because we had just moved into our new place, and I really wanted him to see it; especially since he helped make it possible.

At this point, we were still settling in and unpacking; and we had not yet started any renno work. We were just enjoying the new place, adjusting to the new neighborhood, and just really excited to have our friends and family come share in the experience. I was really excited for dad to come visit, because that would really calm me down in the midst of all this change.

Well, I got a call the day before Thanksgiving from my dad. “I’m on my way”, he said.

He showed up that night, we played some cards, and had some dinner. That night he hardly slept though. He had a hard time breathing, so he decided to drive back home the next morning. He promised me he would go to the doctor when he got home.

He lived with my brother and sister in law, so he still had a good Thanksgiving.

About a couple weeks later we were hanging out in our kitchen with our friend Ben, and we were telling him how we wanted to cut down this kitchen wall to open it up into the living room. Now Ben is a man of action, so he recommended that we just do it… right then. We started removing all the outlets, upper cabinets, oven hood, and started to get crazy with the sawzall. It was pretty awesome, it was the start of our own HGTV experience. Open concept baby!

We had a little housewarming party planned for a few nights later, so we had a very tight deadline to get this little demo/renno finished; which makes for a high stress project!

While we were still taking down the walls, I got a call from dad. Turns out he had a lot of fluid built up in his lungs, and he needed to go into surgery in a few days. So there I was, knee deep in drywall dust; and knee deep in the unknown and uncertainty. We got our 2×12 bar top makeshift countertops screwed down the night before the housewarming party.

“As I dream, I’m falling down. The world moves without a sound. I’m lost as sure as I was found, the sun comes up with out a sound.”

Me and Alexi Murdoch, heading out west to see my pops.

“I love my father and I love him well, I hope to see him someday soon.”

Continued in part three.