There’s so much rattling around in my head right now. I think it’s a real art to sit down and force yourself to write out what’s swirling around. It forces you to take the random brain spasms and organize them to explain them to other people.
I know that I have things to say.
I just crossed over into my 11th year of marriage. I’m about to hit my 38th year of life. There’s so much learned… lived experience. Dots are starting to connect, which is crazy to be old enough to look back and see.
I want to share. I want to share myself and for the world.
I’ve been reading “Atomic Habits” by James Clear. Writing a bit every day (and publishing it) seems like a noble 1% change for my life that’ll pay dividends down the road.
Here’s to new chapters. New sprints. New periods of growth. Let’s all be a little bit uncomfortable together.
I’m a morning person. Over the last 5+ years, I’ve been getting up at 6 am. My wife and kid usually get up after 7 am, giving me an hour to do what I need before the house wakes up.
Note: I use the words “what I need” vs. “what I want.” If 2020 has taught me anything, self-care is essential. If I’m going to bring 100% of me, serve my family, teammates, etc., I need to be 100%.
Why My Kids Stay in Bed Till after 7
My kids stay in bed, thanks to the Green Light Clock. You set a time, and the clock turns green when it’s okay for your kids to get out of bed. Early on, they’d stray from waiting. We’d create incentives for them to stay in till it turned green (like donuts for breakfast), and that’d buy a few weeks of waiting for the clock. Now that they’re four and six, they’re great about staying. Many thanks to my sister and brother-in-law for getting me hooked on the green light clock. I evangelize it to every exhausted parent, I know.
Using My Apple Watch as an Alarm
To get up at 6 am, I use the alarm on the Apple Watch, with the ringer off. (Yes, I wear my Apple Watch to bed.) So it buzzes on my wrist when it’s time to get up. The watch wakes me up and not my wife. I then slink out of the bedroom as quietly as possible. Sometimes this isn’t possible because my dog and cat come down the stairs with me, and they’re a little bit harder to control.
Apple Watch allows me to track my sleep with AutoSleep. I’ve found understanding my sleep and what affects it has allowed me to have a better sleep. Good sleep changes the game for the rest of the day. Sleep is how your body rejuvenates itself. When you don’t get adequate sleep, your body is starting the next day in a deficit.
I like coffee. I’m a coffee enthusiast. Yes, I have 8 or 9 ways to make coffee at my house: drip, pour-over, Chemex, Moka pot, AeroPress, French Press, siphon, cold brew pot. I may be missing one or two. My absolute favorite is the Chemex. Between getting the water hot, grinding the beans, and the actual brewing process, making coffee takes some time. So I start that first.
If you’re looking to take your coffee game to the next level and explore a new brewing method, in addition to having fantastic coffee, Blue Bottle has excellent brewing guides on their website.
Read the Bible
Next on my morning routine is reading the Bible. One of the ways God speaks is through His Word. I find that I’m so much more equipped to handle what the day dishes out when I first get my head and heart straight with what God’s trying to tell me.
Implanted in my brain is memories of my dad when I’d get up in the morning, and he’d be at the kitchen table reading his Bible. It shaped every part of who he was.
I’ve struggled with being consistent around daily Bible reading. Having a reading plan helps me. A few years ago, my mom and dad got me hooked onto the organization She Reads Truth. They have Bible reading programs for men and women, He Reads Truth, and She Reads Truth. They work well for me. My dad loved Our Daily Bread. A friend of mine uses The Book of Common Prayer. The Bible app has some great reading plans.
After listening to what God has to say to me, I take some time to tell God what’s on my heart through prayer. I use the prayer list functionality in the Bible app. I pray for my day, my wife, my kids, my family, and my friends. I find the list helpful as it helps me be intentional about praying over a situation repeatedly. It’s easy to say, “Oh, I’ll pray for you,” and not do. it.
New York Times and The Daily
Once I’ve spent some time with God through Bible reading and prayer, I read or listen more about what’s happening in the world. Usually, that’s through reading the New York Times on my iPad. If we’re going to be a functioning democratic society, we need to have a commonly held truth that we all believe in. Even if you don’t like what the fact has to say, it’s essential to read it and digest what’s happening. We need great journalism that’ll help us pursue that truth.
For those of you I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting, I’m Wes’s son Justin.
My dad loved stories.
He wanted to know your story. He wanted to know what made you tick.
I remember when he worked in the Michigan legislature. We’d walk from his office to get coffee across the street from his office. What should’ve taken 10 minutes took 45. He knew and talked to everyone.
Regardless of who you were and your professional affiliations, he cared about your story.
It is one of the honors of my life to take a few moments to share and celebrate my father’s story and how that points us back to our Father’s story.
I’ll be honest, though…
It’s only slightly intimidating to write a speech about a man who was a professional speechwriter.
As part of the Wes Thorp School of Communication, I learned that in a great speech, you say what you’re going to say, you say it, then you say what you said.
So, ha! here we go…
On August 31, 1946, in Bay City, Michigan, Wesley Dale was born to Frieda and Claude Thorp.
At the age of two, my grandfather Claude walked out on my dad and Frieda.
Instead of writing something, let me just read what my dad wrote on his blog.
“He vanished. He left no messages. He never called. He never followed up in any way, shape or form. My mom was left with a 18-month old toddler, me and no way to support either of us.”
Later he went on to say…
“I was left with personal uncertainty about my ability to have a loving relationship with a wife and my ability to love kids.”
The shame about being left by his earthly father ran deep.
But that’s not how the story ends.
Friends, what’s true in the light, is still true amidst the darkness.
Our Heavenly Father loves us.
God strategically put family and broader community into his life to remind him of the love of his Heavenly Father. Did you know that Wes had 11 aunts & uncles? That’s a lot of people speaking into your life.
In 1984, on a hot summer day in June, I was born.
Every day I felt my father’s love.
He gave me an example of what it meant to be a man… a man with Christ at the center.
I remember waking up in the morning at my childhood home to find my dad sitting at the kitchen table reading the Bible.
Whether he knew it or not, I watched, which made a HUGE impression on me.
In addition to giving an example, my dad gave me his time.
I could tell you about MSU football and basketball games. There’s a funny Jell-O shot story.
There was going to work with him during the summer at the State Capitol Building. I remember when I was 11 or 12. Before the internet, He’d have me run down to the “Bill room” to pick up paper copies of bills before the legislature.
You could hear my flip flops clack and clock through the hallowed halls.
When I was young, my dad and I had thoughts about what my mom was getting at the grocery store. So, my mom said we should do the grocery shopping.
We did, but we’d get a coffee beforehand. And when I say coffee, I mean a caramel cappuccino with whipped cream. There wasn’t that much coffee involved.
At the coffee shop, we talked about everything.
This is what I miss more than anything. I want to sit down with him over a coffee or a beer and talk about everything.
Over the years… through the conversations, there were lots of Wes sayings that stuck in my head.
Never assume anything.
Sell the sizzle, not the steak.
My team at work knows that every time I say “don’t bury the lede” that they hear the voice of Wes Thorp.
The most important saying was from when he heard a sermon when my parents were found to Ada Bible Church. Pastor Manion preached from Ephesians and talked about finding your identity in Christ.
He boiled it down to “Remember who you are.”
Remember who you are.
My dad’s identity wasn’t in being abandoned by his father.
My dad’s identity wasn’t in having progressive supranuclear palsy.
I remember sitting next to him in church, and he was struck in particular by a song by the musician Stuart Townsend.
How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure,
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure.
My dad was a member of the mug club at Eagle Monk Brewery here in Lansing. On the bottom of the mug, you could write a personal nickname or saying to identify your mug. His said “saved sinner.”
If you asked my dad how he’d want to be remembered, yes… Son, Husband, father, grandfather, mentor, journalist, legislative staffer.
Over the last decade, one of the things that we’ve talked about the most is to “remember who you are.” We are first and more foremost and redeemed children of God.
I am also you. Especially being Father’s Day, I just wanted to take a moment to celebrate that. I love it when I’m in Michigan, and I get randomly stopped by someone asking if I’m your son because we look so much alike. Beyond the genetic apple not falling far from the tree, you pour so much into me and each of us, in a way that points us back to that identity in Christ.
One of my fondest memories from our house on Jones Street is coming down from our bedrooms in the morning and seeing you read your Bible at the kitchen table. I was so young, but I was watching. That made an indelible impression on me about your relationship with Jesus Christ. Thank you for being that example.
Thank you for your time and the unconditional love that comes with that. I cherish the times when I went to work with you in downtown Lansing, went to MSU sporting events, Promise Keepers events, caramel cappuccinos. Later in life, it became trips to Urban Chestnut or Horrocks for beers or now beers at your condo.
Thank you for three or four years ago, suggesting that we set aside time every week to pray. I cherish the time we have together with Adam and Ken to connect, laugh, and pray for each other over Zoom. It’s become a highlight of my week and love that we’ve stayed consistent with it.
Thank you for having grit. There are so many challenges and obstacles that you’ve faced. You’ve been through the abandonment of your father. There was losing jobs and having to figure out Plan B. Most recently; it’s been going through having progressive supranuclear palsy. You have and continue to face it all without losing sight of finding your hope in Christ.
Now, as an adult with a lot more responsibilities, life has brought me all kinds of opportunities. But the hills of life have only gotten more prominent too. Thank you for teaching me how to persevere amidst challenges, while keeping my eyes on God.
I’ve become a big fan of the singer/actor Ben Platt. The bridge of one of his songs goes, “I have a hero whenever I need one. I just look up to you and I see one. I’m a man ’cause you taught me to be one.”
Dad, you’re my hero. I love you. Happy Father’s Day!
In the Nehemiah 8:10, the people in the Old Testament we’re told to celebrate “for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
Today, we celebrate my mom’s birthday. I’m so blessed by her and the joy that she exudes. She’s so firmly rooted in God’s grace and provision for her life that she’s confident in His strength.
Growing up, my mom always had a song on her heart. At some point during my teenage years, I didn’t always appreciate my mom’s singing. Now, I wish I could hear it more often. I find myself singing to my kids the same songs my mom sang to me. And nothing makes me happier than hearing my children sing. My daughter would sing non-stop if she could. In them, I hear my mom’s voice and her joy.
Mom, I’ll never stop singing.
My mom’s joy in the Lord has always shown through in both the good times and the hard times. One memory when I was growing up, I was really young and going grocery shopping with my mom. I was likely sitting in the front of the cart, chowing down on a bagel, as it would keep me occupied while my mom shopped. It was the middle of the day, so I’m guessing my sister was in school.
All of a sudden, my dad showed up of nowhere. He’d just been laid off from his job. My mom looked at him and knew exactly what had happened. Her response, “Hey Wes, what would you like for dinner?” She trusted that God would provide, and he did.
So, today… mom… we celebrate you. Every day, you show me about what it means to live a life of joy and to find my strength in the Lord and His grace. You show me what it means to have the heart of a servant. I’m so thankful that I get to be your son.
In this current climate, I’ve been thinking a lot about political parties. They can be a great way of finding like-minded people to advance a common principle or ideology.
It becomes dangerous when people adopt a political party so tightly that it’s their identity. A person’s self-worth gets tied to whether the party wins or loses. It leaves a party susceptible to outside actors who help you win but at the cost of forgoing the principles, you held dear.
One of my dad’s favorite sayings is “remember who you are.” Oh, how easy it is to forget.
I like winning. I like power. I like getting recognized and having people say nice things about me. It feels great. But it’s ultimately not worth it if it means forgoing your integrity. The ends never justify the means. Plus, winning, power and recognition will never give you the real joy you’re looking for.
Look at the headlines… we have a President of the United States who purposely uses racist language to stir up his base and to preserve both his power and power of his political party. At one of his rallies, the crowd chanted “Send her back”, in regards to a foreign-born member of Congress. What sad times that we live in where this doesn’t receive universal condemnation?
I’m so blessed to have incredibleparents who’ve instilled those Biblical values in me from the onset. There are many others who’ve played influential roles in how my Biblical principles play out in the public square. It pains me to see some of them stay silent.
We can’t stay silent. We can’t let this behavior be normalized. This way of thinking is a type of cancer. “Oh, I can just cut this corner to achieve some greater end.”
All too often the news is filled with another Harvey Weinstein-type figure that has risen to incredible power but on the backs of terrorizing someone else. It all starts with compromising their values for some ends that starts to eat their soul one bite a time.
When will you stand up? When will you speak out? I don’t want this type of morality to infect another generation.
Unlike what the President says, speaking out against those in power actually makes you more American. The founders sought out to create a “more perfect Union.” The founding of our country was an act of rebellion against the British.
And don’t get caught up in some false choice. Objecting with the current status of our political leadership doesn’t say anything about your political party. While I don’t stand with the Republican party because of the Trump administration, objecting to it doesn’t make me a liberal Democrat.
Stand up for what’s right regardless of whether it’s politically expedient. Remember you who are.
One of the big lessons I’ve learned in my adult life is learning to take feedback. When someone tells you how they feel about you or what you do, it’s easy to get emotional and snap back. As you can imagine that’s not a productive experience for either side.
One of my first jobs out of college was at a startup Clearspring. We were small and I was on the front lines of every inbound communication. A lot of people wanted to share feedback. At first, I had to hold back from responding emotionally.
At some point, I realized that if someone cares enough to take the time to share feedback that it means that they care. Sure the feedback can be hard but it’s HUGELY important and you want more of it. Feedback is how you learn to move forward.
Now, it’s important to say that feedback is just ONE data point. You have to learn how to evaluate the feedback but you also don’t want to live in a bubble, which too many people do.
When someone says “you suck,” say “thanks” and “how can I suck less?” That’s the attitude. You need to be grateful for the opportunity.
At Clearspring, my boss set the amount of product feedback I was able to pull in as one of my performance goals (KPIs), which I think is kind of brilliant.
All in all, I think it’s so important to learn to embrace feedback. It’s big part of how to grow and learn. And it’s all about learning.