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obody told me parenthood is a path toward enlightenment. They told me it’s expensive, tiring and thankless. There’s a bit of truth to both takes, but lately I’ve found myself inordinately delighted by the unpredictable antics of my three-yearold son, Macklin. Tomfoolery that would otherwise inspire madness has become the highlight of my days. I’m completely content with evenings spent lying facedown on a living room floor that hasn’t seen a vacuum in weeks, getting jumped on by a 40-pound toddler. It may not be your definition of enlightenment, but it’s as close as I’ve so far come to my own. As we approach the holiday season, starting with Thanksgiving, I can’t help but reflect on ‘The Good Life’ I’m living. Each day of parenthood brings new revelations, but while playing the part of a doughy-soft crash pad for Macklin — future WWE star — a deep realization burst into my awareness. Or maybe it was a budding frontal lobe migraine caused by the repeated blows. Either way, the thought holds true: every phase of Mack’s young life somehow becomes my favorite. Again, it may just be a sign of cumulative brain damage and memory loss, but every shift in personality, every major or minor milestone achieved, every new word, step or stumble beguiles me. Is it possible

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to fall in love with potty training? To find beauty in bloodied knees? To embrace fits of tantramonious rage? Why yes, it is. It is the zen of parenting — loving your offspring so much, that (most) every moment blossoms into a cherished memory. A few examples... THE FIRST GIGGLE Looking down at a newborn in your arms is tough to beat. It’s a moment of purity, like looking out the front window to see winter’s first blanket of unblemished white snow greet the morning sun (unless you hate winter, of course). But that first giggle… ah, it’s life changing. A smile may be the first indication that your child recognizes you, but a giggle is the first time he really gets you. I’ve shared in thousands of giggles by this point, but each one is my favorite. CURIOUS ABOUT EVERYTHING Toddlers are as enlightened as any being out there. Why? Because they live completely in the moment. Everything is new and mysterious, and everything is capable of inspiring awe at a moment’s notice. If you go along for the journey with them, you get the chance to catch a whiff or two of secondh a n d awe. Every w a l k

to the park is an adventure, an opportunity for him to discover something new… and, through his questioning everything around him, for me to rediscover that which once surely delighted me, too. Perhaps it’s an ego trip, but I love delivering answers to his many questions. EVEN POTTY TRAINING Yes, I even find ways to love this ongoing experience of potty training. It’s perhaps the longest phase yet, but oh so worthy of cherishing. Watching Macklin learn to take himself to the bathroom, even interrupting bathtime to do so, I’m witnessing him take a monumental step towards independence. Sure he misses a lot, but the pride on his face after a job sort of well done makes the lingering smell of stale urine almost bearable. Honestly, we’d all be a lot happier if we could manage to be as pleased with ourselves as Macklin is after pulling up a dry pair of undies. With each new phase, the challenges grow and intensify just as Mack does, but so do the rewards. As does my optimism. When Mack was an infant, I didn’t want anything to ever change. He was perfect. But then, he rolled over, looked up and smiled. Suddenly, I was in love with a whole new version of him and everything was newly perfect. It happens again and again and I’m thankful to be able to trust each new challenge will also present new gifts. It may not be true enlightenment, but I’m thankful for a son that makes me content in the moment, yet eager for the future. What a good life indeed. •

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PUBLISHED BY Urban Toad Media LLP www.urbantoadmedia.com OWNER / PHOTOGRAPHER Darren Losee darren@urbantoadmedia.com OWNER / GRAPHIC DESIGNER Dawn Siewert dawn@urbantoadmedia.com

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The Good Life Men’s Magazine is distributed six times a year by Urban Toad Media LLP. Material may not be reproduced without permission. The Good Life Men’s Magazine accepts no liability for reader dissatisfaction arising from content in this publication. The opinions expressed, or advice given, are the views of individual writers or advertisers and do not necessarily represent the views or policies of The Good Life Men’s Magazine.

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lassic cars and hot rods aren’t new to the FargoMoorhead area thanks to clubs such as the Toppers Car Club, which established the first annual Toppers Car Show back in 1953. The community has come a long way since then and custom cars, hot rods, and bikes are getting more love than ever before. Whether taking in the sights beautifully restored classic cars and hot rods line up from Sheyenne Street to Main Avenue or admiring them up 6 / THE GOOD LIFE / urbantoadmedia.com


close at Downtown Fargo’s Coffee & Cars, there’s no doubt classic car owners and motorcyclists are feeling the love. After putting all the work into restoring a car or bike, there’s only one thing left to do; breathe new life into it with an eye-catching custom paint job. Collectors and enthusiasts are sure to want the best of the best and that means finding someone that not only has the experience, but also the passion for creating one of

a kind works of art. Mike Wanner of Fargo-Moorhead Custom and Collision fits that profile to a T and it's clear auto enthusiasts agree! In fact, there is a solid chance at least one of the classic cars, motorcycles, or hot rods you’ve admired was one of his custom creations. Wanner has been recognized for his talents across both North Dakota and Minnesota. His award-winning work has been featured in several well-known magazines including

American Iron Magazine. Taking center stage is the recognition for his work on motorcycles. He’s won awards for the best paint job at shows in Bismarck, Fargo, Jamestown, and Fergus Falls. His designs have even beat out hundreds of other entries at the biggest bike show in the Midwest, The Donnie Smith Bike & Car Show, held in Saint Paul every year. His paintwork has helped to edge out top

competitors to win 6 first place best in class awards! Growing up, Wanner never dreamed his work would win awards, but his upbringing and love for what he does played a large part in where he is today. As the son of a hot rodder and an auto body expert, Wanner was destined to take a path involving cars and motorcycles. From the ripe

age of 8 years old, Wanner could be found in the driver’s seat of old cars his dad was working on in the shop. He has fond memories of pretending to drive old Mustangs and the elusive Plymouth Super Bird. Eventually, Wanner’s dad put him to work and it wasn’t long before he was taking on projects of his own. The first was prepping and painting a

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1976 H-D hardtail chopper at 16. His reward for his hard work was a solo ride on the very bike he painted. From that moment on, Wanner was hooked. Every project since the first has brought excitement, but no two client experiences are the same. Some clients get in touch and have a vague idea of what sort of paint job they want, while others know right down to the nittygritty detail. While he welcomes the challenge of both, there’s something special about the creative process and the freedom to create something totally new and just outside the lines of what’s become commonplace. One thing is certain, Wanner has a passion for getting it right the first time and it definitely shows. From the start of each project, clients can expect an open line of communication when it comes to timelines and budgets. Clients are encouraged to provide their feedback throughout the design process thanks to the pictures he sends to ensure everyone is on the same page.

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The encouragement he received from such a young age and the inspiration he draws from other talented painters have had a massive impact on Wanner and what he does today. While he can’t imagine doing anything else with his life at this point, there was a time when he considered a career path in coaching and teaching. The desire to connect with young people carries over even today with his advice to those looking to pursue their dreams; don’t be afraid to go for it. Whether it’s picking up a basic airbrush kit and following tutorials on YouTube or taking classes from experts, don’t let fear and uncertainty hold you back. It’s safe to say Wanner found his calling in life, from painting ghoulish flames on the gas tank of a motorcycle to adding a little glitz to a newly restored classic. No matter the job, every opportunity to learn something new and spend his time doing what he loves is met with enthusiasm. That’s the mark of the good life, after all. •

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Whiskey weather is here! GLEN FARGO . AMERICAN MALT WHISKEY From North Dakota's first batch of Single Malt Whiskey distilled since Prohibition. Initially placed in a new American oak barrel, finished in a used bourbon barrel. Hints of malt, oak, and properly dry. Balanced, subtle sweet notes of caramel and vanilla. Finish is mild and softly fades.

CROOKED FURROW . HARVEST BLEND Crooked Furrow Harvest Blend is aged 2 years in new American Oak Barrels and blended without chill filtering to produce an incredible character. Smooth, simple, light and easy. Enjoy it neat, on the rocks or perfect in your favorite whiskey cocktail. Our Crooked Cola is uniquely its own.

CROOKED FURROW . BOURBON WHISKEY Crooked Furrow Bourbon Whiskey is the full-bodied older brother of our Harvest Blend. North Dakota’s first-ever Bourbon born and raised from ND Corn and Barley. Our OneBatch, One Barrel system produces a handcrafted spirit that is barreled twice and hand selected after three long years for final bottling around 95 proof. Resulting in bold and crisp flavors with a smooth and appropriate finish. Enjoy and savor the flavor.




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Joel Heitkamp is no stranger to opposition and is not easily intimidated by harsh words and middle fingers. From his time working as a utilities manager to being a referee, a North Dakota senator to a radio talk show host, Heitkamp has had to grow a thick skin to ward off the slings of opposing viewpoints and the oft accompanied anger. For Heitkamp, it just seems to be water off a golden retriever’s back. In his current role as the operations manager for Midwest Communications, Heitkamp manages the on-air side of six radio stations, including KFGO, Y94 and 740 The Fan and has collectively been in the radio industry 14 years. On a richly warm autumn day at Brewhalla (Drekker Brewing Company’s newest location), I had the opportunity to pose questions no other journalist or radio caller would bother asking the ex-senator and radio professional. The only question that stumped him was one pertaining to kombucha, leading to a discussion about headcheese.

“Have you ever eaten cow tongue? You come out to my fish house and it’ll be an experience. You won’t stay long unless you wear a gas mask, but you can come on in.” – Joel Heitkamp

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Good Life: Who was your childhood celebrity crush? Joel Heitkamp: Celebrity crush…? You’re tough. GL: I know. JH: Well, it’s not going to shock you, but Marsha Brady. I was that age. It was Marsha, Marsha, Marsha. GL: If you had ties to any culture that you’re not a part of already, which would you choose? JH: Irish. My daughters are Irish, and you can see it in them. It seems to me that the Irish have the most fun. Of course, there’s a dark history there, and I get that. I just wish I was Irish every St. Paddy’s Day. We’re going to Ireland in March of next year on St. Paddy’s Day. GL: It’s not that big of a deal over there, right? Just to Americans? JH: It’s not. We’re going to try to change that. GL: Will you be voting for your sister in the upcoming election? JH: Still debating. She hasn’t earned my vote yet, but we’ll see. I’m undecided. 14 / THE GOOD LIFE / urbantoadmedia.com

GL: Are your wife and you extremely similar, more like opposites, or what? JH: You know, at the beginning I thought we were more opposites, but the longer we’re together, the more I think we’re similar. We both like sports and are very career-minded. We both get a chance to work with a lot of professionals. We both manage. We like to travel. I’d say we’re really similar, actually. And she’s a huge Vikings fan because that would be a deal breaker. She doesn’t like the fact that I’m a Yankee’s fan, but she had to get over that. GL: So she’s more of a Twins’ fan? JH: Oh, a huge Twins’ fan. But we share a passionate hatred for the Green Bay Packers. That’s a tie that binds us eternally. GL: What do you think about kombucha, and have you ever held a SCOBY in your hand? JH: Uh. No. Are you going to tell me what that is? A stogie? I’ve smoked many a cigar. Is that what we’re talking about? GL: SCOBY stands for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. The

SCOBY looks like this gross, round piece of old deli ham, but you use it to make kombucha, which is essentially fermented tea. JH: Have you ever tried headcheese? GL: No, but I featured it in an article. JH: Have you ever tried blood sausage? GL: That was also featured in the same article, but I’ve never tried it. JH: I’ve eaten those. I eat liver sausage. Have you ever eaten cow tongue? You come out to my fish house and it’ll be an experience. You won’t stay long unless you wear a gas mask, but you can come on in. GL: When did your love of headcheese come about? JH: We didn’t have a lot of money growing up, so mom and dad didn’t throw away anything. We learned to eat liver. We learned to eat cow tongue. Dad wasn’t that big on headcheese. It’s just a joke I make on air, but there was always Braunschweiger in the fridge—what you would call liver pâté. I act like I eat it every day, but I haven’t eaten it in 15 years.

GL: If you were a dog, what breed would you be? JH: I’d be a golden retriever. GL: Same. JH: Yeah, you have to be a redhead. Gotta be a decent size where you can put up a fight. You don’t have to win it, but you’ve gotta be able to punch. Goldens are loyal. Goldens are fun to be around, and they like kids, plus they hunt the way I do. They hunt hard until about noon, and then they look for a beer. GL: I just imagined a golden retriever extending its paw to open the fridge and pull out a Budweiser. GL: Which era in history would you choose to live during for an entire year? JH: World War II because it was truly the best generation. We make them out to be better than they were, don’t get me wrong. Those boys didn’t behave that much better than any of us, but their cause was so good. It collectively bound them together. My dad fought for WWII. When he came home, if you hadn’t been in the military you weren’t the norm. I was always jealous of that, that everybody served and everybody had that to hang their hat on. I would have loved to say I was a part of that. GL: What does living “the good life” mean to you? JH: Freedom. Everybody’s freedom is different. You do what you want to do when you want to do it. That’s the good life. It doesn’t mean having money. That’s not what it’s about at all. Tonight it might mean hopping on your bicycle, or, for me, hopping on my Harley and going for a ride. It’s about the freedom and the mindset to do whatever you want to do. If I want to hang around my grandkids and go to a Vikings game I can because I’m free. That’s freedom to me. •

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WHAT IS THE MOST DISAPPOINTING GIFT YOU'VE EVER RECEIVED? We’ve all seen it, the fake smile, the awkward grin of what appears to be enthusiasm, the unconvincing ‘Thank You’. You spent hours (or maybe minutes) looking for the perfect gift – only to find it hidden in the back of the closet. Don’t be that guy! Avoid buying the gift that calls the junk drawer home. The pressure is on! “What does she want? I wasn’t listening to her. Would she like this? Maybe just a gift card or jumper cables?” Relax gentlemen. We are here to help. The Good Life Men’s Magazine asked 30 random women, “What is the most disappointing gift you have received?” Save this valuable information and avoid these gifts. We did our part, now the rest is up to you. Good luck out there and happy shopping. •


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1. My mom got a vacuum. I have that vacuum now.

2. Thrift store socks and slippers. 3. A box of cleaning supplies. 4. Gift cards. No thought or emotion put into it. 5. An exercise DVD and a digital scale that measures BMI.

17. A re-gifted salad spinner. They thought I would appreciate it because I was eating healthy.

18. A pink camouflage jacket. If a woman wants to wear camo, it doesn’t have to be pink. And if a woman says she likes pink camo, she’s lying and doesn’t want to hurt your feelings. 19. SMOKE DETECTORS.

6. I got a Garmin GPS from a

20. My mother-in-law bought me a

7. Socks with Christmas trees - in kids size. wouldn’t burn my dainty, delicate hands loading wood in the fireplace.

21. The hubs once gifted me a black FUR dress. Yes, fur – like a Muppet. And it didn’t fit. Thank goodness. And the store from which he purchased it had a no return policy.

9. Candles. One is nice, but not five.

22. An Olive Garden gift card from

boyfriend. He told me it was so I didn’t yell at him when he got lost in traffic.

8. A pair of welding gloves, so I

10. My husband gave me a Hershey

Kiss on a stick that resembled a rose.

11. AN NFL BOBBLEHEAD. 12. My ex boyfriend took me to the store, had me pick out a Christmas present and purchase it. He then went and purchased himself a “present” of equal value and called it even. 13. A CHAINSAW. 14. A donation to an art benefit on my behalf. 15. 3 seasons of The Office on DVD. I could tell they were pre-owned, but I was still very happy with the gift. My happiness was short-lived when he told me that he borrowed them from a friend, and would appreciate my watching them as soon as possible so that they could be returned.

16. A framed photo of the guy I was dating. To be clear – like a massive senior photo. Uhh…thanks.

bed in a bag at a Family Dollar and the dye in the sheets stained my mattress.

my husband. Does anybody like Olive Garden?

23. I got a 20 lb. giant blue

vase/bowl from my brother. My sisters and I have been regifting it for years.

24. My ex-husband booked us

a trip to Daytona Beach to see friends. Only they were his friends and it was at the Daytona 500 and I hate Nascar.

25. A star map from our first date. 26. My mother-in-law decided we

are not giving each other presents this year. We are buying a fruit tree for poor people in some other country.

27. NOT GETTING A GIFT. 28. Socks. Not decorative ones. Just plain old white six-pack of socks.

29. A LIFE JACKET. 30. An adult size onesie.



You see it too often in the world of sports – star players waiting to throw in the towel until they’re past their prime. But Cass County Sheriff Paul Laney refuses to become the quarterback that plays a couple seasons too long at the expense of his team. When he announced he wouldn’t be running for a fourth term back in December 2017, the 52-year-old North Dakota native was inevitably bombarded with the same question again and again, “Why are you leaving now?” 18 / THE GOOD LIFE / urbantoadmedia.com


“As leaders – and especially as elected leaders – as important as it is to know when you're ready to do this (job), it's as important to know when it's time to go," he said. "I'll miss knowing that every single day I woke up and put on this uniform, I made a difference. But I feel I can leave with a sense of mission accomplished, and then my wife and I can go on to the next adventure.” Come January 1, 2019, the 1984 West Fargo High School grad (and proud Packer) will hang up his gun belt and pursue his next adventure.

BOOTS ON THE GROUND Enlisting in the Marine Corps in 1984, Laney immediately served four years active duty with MSSG13 of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit after high school. "That was probably the best four years of my life in the sense that I was a young man getting paid to see the world,” he said. “I was learning leadership at some of the highest levels from some of the most amazing leaders I could’ve ever asked to learn from. It laid a foundation for me second to none.”

“I'll miss knowing that every single day I woke up and put on this uniform, I made a difference.” – Paul Laney

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"I love people and I thought, there's no better job for me than to work directly for the people.” – Paul Laney

The “lead, follow, get-out-of-the-way” Marine philosophy was one he’d take with him. "My mom said, 'I sent away a boy and a young man came home.’ I felt that way, too,” he said. “I came home confident, believing I could attain whatever I wanted to if I worked hard enough.” Leaving the military wasn’t an easy choice to make. Laney thrived on the discipline, fitness and camaraderie that all came with being a Marine. In fact, he contemplated making a career of it, but in his heart, his other childhood dream was calling. "I tested with the (Los

Angeles Police Department). I went through my interviews and was on their hiring list when I decided, ‘No, I want to do this same thing... but I want to do it for my community," he said. CLIMBING THE RANKS Returning to the Red River Valley in 1989, Laney was hired by the Fargo Police Department and quickly climbed the ranks from patrol officer to field training officer (FTO), gang/narcotics unit and tactical team member. Promoted to sergeant in 1997, he supervised the patrol shift, FTO program and eventually became a leader of the Red River Valley SWAT Team. In 2002, he was named lieutenant and served as both district and SWAT commander. "I had reached a point in 2006 where I had just finished my master’s degree (in management),” he recalled. “I was at the stage in my career where I loved where I was at and what I did but I wanted to spread my wings in my own agency.” When the Cass County sheriff position opened up, something clicked. "I love people and I thought, there's no better job for me than to work directly for the people," he said. "The fact that I had the ability to supervise, lead and command every aspect of law enforcement prepared me to take the helm of the largest sheriff's office in the state of North Dakota.” Elected to a four-year term, Laney was sworn in as Cass County sheriff on January 2, 2007, and easily won re-election for a second and third term in the years following. A LEGACY TO LIVE BY Looking back on 12 years as sheriff, a flood of memories rushed through Laney’s mind.

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His first glimmer of the spotlight came in October 2007, surrounding the Ozzy Osbourne concert. Guests were formally invited to what they thought was a pre-concert party, only to find Laney and his team were behind a sting operation with a guest list containing only those with active warrants out for their arrest. Announcing 50 arrests at a press conference the next day, the sheriff’s office quickly caught flack from Osbourne and his publicist. Rolling Stone, MTV, The Telegraph UK and other media covered the story, encouraging both fan and hate mail for the creative stunt. "I think it was the first opportunity the public really got to see me as a leader and say, ‘This guy is different. He's going to think outside the box. That's who our sheriff is.’”

But that was just the beginning. In 2008, Laney handled the first train derailment near Page, N.D., and 2009 to 2011, Mother Nature struck with vengeance, flooding the Red River Valley. "That’s when I believe people really got to see my ability to command and how service to the community came before anything," he said. In 2011, Laney was named the E911 Institute’s “Government Leader of the Year.” Following that, awards continued to trickle in with the National Sheriff’s Association Ferris E. Lucas “National Sheriff of the Year” in 2012 and the Lone Eagle Award for “Outstanding and Dedicated Law Enforcement in the State of North Dakota” in 2015. Looking back, however, his grim urbantoadmedia.com / THE GOOD LIFE / 21


"It was spooky out there because every day we wondered, is this the day we're going to take a bullet?” – Paul Laney memories of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) protests in 2016 and 2017 seemed to overshadow all of the accolades. Leading law enforcement efforts 15 hours a day, seven days a week, Laney and his team received death threats for their involvement. "That was a really scary time for our family. (Protesters) doxxed out a picture of my home address with a picture of a bullet. It went viral and on the dark web," he said. "It was spooky out there because every day we wondered, is this the day we're going to take a bullet?” But even death threats wouldn’t stop Laney from doing a job he was so passionate about. "In 30 years, I've seen the best of society and the worst of society. But I've always known that if I went about my duties with honor, integrity and pride, I could make a difference for 22 / THE GOOD LIFE / urbantoadmedia.com

good and that's what I strive to do every day," he said. As a bit of poetic justice, the motivation behind Laney taking the job in the first place is the same one he’ll miss the most when he leaves: the people. "I'll miss the banter and camaraderie – that total fulfillment knowing these people have your back and they know you've got theirs,” he said. “I'm not leaving because I don't like it, and I'm not leaving because I'm burned out. I'm leaving because I feel it's time – that I've done what I promised I would do for a community I love.” As Laney prepares to hand off the reigns to the next Cass County sheriff, he says the key is trusting in the men and women of the organization and what they bring to the table. His motto will remain with him until his last day as sheriff: “service and sacrifice before self.” When elected, “you asked the public to give you this trust, and now you need to give them back everything you got, even at your own expense,” he said. “As law enforcement officers, we belong to the community. Some days we have to be their guardians. Some days we have to be their warriors. Prepare yourself to be all of the above.”

They knew the sacrifices that came with being a cop's kid. Laney’s wife, Patty, has also been extremely supportive of his every move.

trout, snowmobiling and hiking – his goal being to conquer the 310-mile Superior Hiking Trail from Canada to Duluth by the time he turns 55.

"She’s probably one of the biggest reasons I've had success in the sheriff's world,” he said. “She's been my rock, and I can't imagine having gone on this sheriff's adventure without her.”

“I just love to get out in the outdoors and take in God's beauty,” he said. “(Patty and I) enjoy spending a lot of time together, but when you carry two phones and you're basically in criticalincident ready mode at all times, you never really decompress.”

At the end of the year, Laney and his wife will head to northern Minnesota and their new home. “We knew years ago when we were done with the crazy, law enforcement life, we would settle down to a more peaceful life. A little less life and death and a lot more life," he said. “I found my peace. I'm a different person up there.” Offered a vice president role at TurnKey Corrections, a law enforcement technology company, Laney will start his new gig sometime in January. Laney’s familiarity with the language and network will come in handy, but this time, he’ll witness law enforcement from a different perspective. LANEY'S GOOD LIFE When time slows, Laney looks forward to fishing for walleye and

In fact, one of his former captains, Judy Tollefson, used to refer to him as “hair on fire guy.” "She said, 'Everywhere you go, you never slow down. You're always engaged in something,'" Laney said. "Hopefully, I'll learn some ways to be a little less high speed, a little less 'hair on fire guy,' and a little more calm, cool, dad dude.” When asked to define the good life, Laney didn’t hesitate. "The good life to me has been for 30 years I've woken up to a family who loved me. I got to go to a place that wasn't a job, it was my passion. And every day I got to make a difference in the community I loved. That is the good life," he said. "As I move on to the next adventure, I hope I can find that same fulfillment." •

PEACE AHEAD As his career in law enforcement comes to an end, Laney is adamant about giving his family the attention they deserve, including his daughters Danielle, 21, and Kaitlyn (Katie), 19. "They're the ones that suffer through this career,” he said. “They're the ones that had to watch me run out the door for the next critical incident. During the pipeline protest, I missed Katie's entire senior year of volleyball.” Though it was a lot to ask of his daughters, they never complained.


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I am an engineer; wired to observe the realities of this world. For 50 years I’ve witnessed this reality: men tend to trail behind women when it comes to spiritual intensity. I’ve seen many families where mom is active in her faith and local church but dad isn’t; very rare that dad is active and mom is not. Having worked with teenagers for years, it’s common for teens to step away from faith when dad isn’t actively engaged.

before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one (Ezekiel 22:30).

As a pastor, I have a burning desire to help men grow spiritually. When a man grows spiritually there’s a significant positive ripple effect in the lives of his family, business, and neighborhood that lasts for generations.

God was looking for someone who would stay true to Him amidst all the temptations this world offers; someone who would fight for their spouse, children, church, and pastor; someone quick to forgive, seek forgiveness, and focus on unity; someone who was all out devoted and all in surrendered to God. And God found? No one. My prayer is that when God searches the Red River Valley, He finds 1,000s of men who fit this description!

In the Bible, God is searching: I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand

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LUST ENTITLEMENT PRIDE Just like Samson, you are wired for greatness but we must learn from his mistakes. As men, we sometimes make great commitments to inferior causes and it costs us dearly.

will. Samson was a miracle baby; created to help the Israelites find freedom from the Philistines. Samson made three vows to demonstrate his commitment to God and God alone. He was to never drink alcohol, touch anything dead, or cut his hair. Just like Samson, you are wired for greatness but we must learn from his mistakes. As men, we sometimes make great commitments to inferior causes and it costs us dearly. We may spend more time researching what rifle or TV to buy than we spend reading the Bible, building spiritual strength. There are men who are aggressive in their work or hobbies but passive in leading their family spiritually; men who are passionate about their favorite sports team but have no zest for God.

and his values. He may lust after a woman, a career advancement, a boat, or a challenge to conquer. Samson went into Philistine territory and saw a gorgeous woman ( Judges 14:1-3). He had to have her even though he was not to intermarry with someone who did not worship God. “I want it” makes strong men weak.

There are three attitudes, displayed by Samson, that make strong men weak.

Samson tears a young lion apart with his bare hands. Later he passes the dead carcass and it contains a swarm of bees and honey. He violates his vow by eating the honey ( Judges 14:5-9). Entitlement says “I deserve it.” I killed the lion, I haven’t had honey for months, it looks so good…I deserve some. I’ve been working hard, putting in long hours…I deserve to buy that boat. She has been moody and distant lately…I deserve to explore a romantic relationship outside of my marriage. “I deserve it” makes strong men weak.

Lust is when a man sees something he desires, his emotions kick in and he must have it. And when a man obsesses about his desire, he forgets all logic

Samson, despite his vow, throws a bachelor keg party ( Judges 14:10). Pride says “I can handle it. Other men have struggled with this but not me.” This jacked guy,

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built like a brick wall, says “I’m strong, I can handle it” and his party becomes a huge mistake! This is what happens to strong, well-intentioned men, over and over again. God gives us great gifts, amazing opportunities, unlimited potential and we think: “Just one drink, one smoke, one pill; I deserve it, I can handle it. I want it.” And before long that substance owns us. “I deserve that motorcycle. It won’t distract me.” And before long we are drowning in debt, absent from our family and that toy owns us. “I’m just going to flirt. I can handle it. It’s not a big deal if she stays overnight. I deserve some sexual pleasure.” At the end of Samson’s life, his eyes are gouged out, his hair cut, bound with chains on public display in front of 3,000 enemies. He is the entertainment as they laugh at him. Lust, entitlement, and pride can take you somewhere you don’t EVER want to go; far deeper into sin and destruction than you could imagine.

WITH GOD’S POWER, NO MATTER WHERE YOU ARE, YOU CAN BE CHANGED. With God’s power, no matter where you are, YOU can be changed. A real man says “God, I want you. Thank you for offering me a new start. I don’t deserve anything. All I have is a gift from you. You died for my salvation. I’m weak. I need your strength and guidance.” What do you need to ask God for today? Our enemy, satan, loves to make strong men weak; satan sucks. God loves to make weak men strong; God rocks! • Jon Hauser Jon is the founding and senior pastor at www.prairieheights.com urbantoadmedia.com / THE GOOD LIFE / 29


LOCAL HERO: CHARISM A Community Anchor for Kids and Families

CHARISM’s acronym translates to “Community Homes and Resources in Service to Many.” WRITTEN BY: BRITTNEY GOODMAN PHOTOS BY: URBAN TOAD MEDIA

CHARISM, pronounced “Care-ism,” is a nonprofit organization currently centered in the Jefferson Neighborhood of Fargo, grounded in a caring mission for at-risk children and their families. CHARISM’s acronym translates to “Community Homes and Resources in Service to Many,” and current Executive Director, John Fisher, described the idea behind the organization as coming from the definition of “CHARISM”: “gift of grace and strength.” To Fisher, serving with grace and strength is what drives CHARISM. 30 / THE GOOD LIFE / urbantoadmedia.com

CHARISM is a neighborhood support center for underserved youth and their families, providing programs and services to improve their quality of life. Their programs foster neighborhood connections as well as providing a safe and welcoming place for students. Fisher, serving in the executive director’s role for the past three years, described CHARISM’s mission as “empowering people:” “Some kids do not feel like they

are good enough. We want to show them the world – that there are possibilities. We want them to know that their story is not written and to not live as if it is. They have the opportunity and the drive. Go for it. They can change the story.” CHARISM’s mission and programs provide “a safe anchor point for people,” explained Fisher. He continued: “And when you are connected to an anchor you do not stay in just that one spot. You move… you

might drift one way or the other for good or bad. But you are always tethered to something you can go back to. We will always be there and accepting them with strength and grace.” Established in 1994 in Fargo by five local churches collaborating with Community Homes, CHARISM is not a religious organization. Fisher explained that the churches and Community Homes all saw the need to do more than provide housing. One of their first steps was establishing a director for leadership and Julie Gunkelman was the original director, serving for 21 years until her retirement in 2015. Fisher applauded Gunkelman for serving “vigorously and with great skill” during her tenure at CHARISM. Three of CHARISM’s main programs are the Check and Connect Youth Program, STEAM programming, and GAP. Check and Connect is, according to Fisher, a “brainchild of University of Minnesota Extension” and CHARISM currently has it implemented in Ed Clapp, Jefferson, Fargo South, and Carl Ben schools. It has two parts: (1) check on the students – their attendance, grades urbantoadmedia.com / THE GOOD LIFE / 31


“Some kids do not feel like they are good enough. We want to show them the world – that there are possibilities. We want them to know that their story is not written and to not live as if it is. They have the opportunity and the drive. Go for it. They can change the story.” – John Fischer and behavior and (2) monitor the students. CHARISM adds students to their caseload with parents’ permission. CHARISM staff looks at removing barriers to the student’s success, asking questions such as “What is keeping the student from getting to school on time?” Fisher explained: “Many things can create a barrier and contribute to a student struggling.” James Nagbe, a Check and Connect Mentor and Development Director, according to Fisher, has been “pivotal” in getting Check and Connect off the ground and keeping it moving forward and has many students in his caseload. He involves the students, parents and teachers in the solution. CHARISM also administers an After School STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Arts and Math) Club serving Lewis and Clark, Ed Clapp, Jefferson Elementary Schools and Carl Ben Middle School.

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CHARISM’s Grocery Assistance Program (GAP) provides food for up to 150 families a week. On Tuesday and Thursday afternoons and Friday mornings, CHARISM passes along food from the Great Plains Food Bank to “people who need it the most.” Fisher continued: “The food pantries can only give people food on a regimented basis. That leaves gaps. We want to fill that gap. We have some people that come to us where we are their main food source.” In addition to the three signature programs, CHARISM also hosts other outreach events and runs a community garden. CHARISM serves clients from many ethnicities including Indian, Bhutanese, Nepalese, Vietnamese, and many West African countries. Fisher posed, “If you want to see the world, come to our Food Pantry or to one of our programs.” Fisher has goals including “a pipe dream” that CHARISM would be “doing our programming in every community school in Cass and Clay Counties that need our help.” He wants to grow the Check and Connect program at every school: “We have this misconception that schools are going to take care of everything. And they can’t. And they need help. They need the CHARISMs of the world to walk with them and help them.” Fisher wants CHARISM to be a household name in our community – a “known entity.” Fisher said, “CHARISM is a real team. The real heroes are on my team working with people every day. And our clientele is for the most part very appreciative and hard-working, looking out for their families.”

“The real heroes are on my team working with people every day. ” – John Fischer

Directing CHARISM is personal for Fisher, coming from a family who struggled financially: “I remembered when they came into our house and repossessed all of our furniture. I have been there and so many of us have, not knowing where the next meal is coming from. My mom could not afford childcare so I remember playing in the employee break room at the sewing shop where my mom was employed.” Fisher continued: “It is tremendously personal to me, this work we do.” Fisher remembers a turning point as a child when he was “kicked out” of his church’s youth group for heckling. The youth minister talked to him and said, “You are better than this.” Fisher described it as a “turning point” in his life. “The people we work with, many are trying to find a job and provide for their family. We help them with interview skills, applying for the jobs while keeping their children safe in a good environment,” Fisher asserted. CHARISM’s afterschool program provides quality care and a safe space from 2 pm – 6 pm. They even take some children home afterward to give the parents the extra amount of time to work or find work.

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CHARISM’s Over the Edge Fundraiser Fisher explained, “We have people in our community who do not have an anchor – no family here. Most of the rest of us have extended family to go to in times of need. They don’t have that. They did nothing wrong; they are working their tails off and they need a little bit of help.” But help costs money. CHARISM has a sliding scale for payment for their after-school program: “It costs us $17 a day to do it and most participants pay from $1-2 a day.” That is where fundraising and donations come in. Because CHARISM’s fee for service is so low, CHARISM relies on private donations, grants and fundraising events. One recent event for CHARISM was the Over the Edge fundraiser, which they have facilitated in 2017 and 2018. People raised funds by rappelling over the Black Building in downtown Fargo. Fisher said, “It is just a blast. Participants had a great time.” 34 / THE GOOD LIFE / urbantoadmedia.com

Giving Hearts is also a big fundraiser for CHARISM. This year, they are also thankful that FM Raise Your Spirits selected CHARISM as its recipient for the proceeds from the FM Raise Your Spirits event. Fisher mentioned three specific organizations as “wonderful partners”: United Way of Cass and Clay County, Southeast

Education Cooperative and the FM Area Foundation. Light the Way is another fundraiser – a gala-style event where they recognize community heroes, volunteers and the people they serve. Fisher described CHARISM’s Executive Board as “tremendously supportive,” including the officers – Board Chair, Terry Stroh; Kevin Zimmer; Eddie Scheely; and Dr. Forrest Sauer: “They put in a ton of time for us and are great advocates.” CHARISM currently has seven full-time staff, two full-time volunteers, and 15-25 part-time people. Residing in Moorhead, Fisher has been married to and is “totally in love with” his wife Abby of twelve years. They have “three great children,” Julia, Esther and John. Originally from Kentucky and Tennessee, Fisher is also a pastor and started the downtown Fargo church, Sojourn.

When asked, “What does the good life mean to you?” Fisher responded: “The good life is my background, my faith and what I do with CHARISM. It is people that are either fulfilling or living the life that they feel best serves themselves and those around them, that they are intrinsically feeling value, success and love but they are also dispensing that love to others – showing others that they are valued and loved.” He continued: “I think about the most joy-filled people I know, and they do not have a lot of money, but they give a lot – they invest a lot in others.” •

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Profile for The Good Life Men's Magazine

The Good Life Men's Magazine - November/December 2018  

Featuring Sheriff Paul Laney. Local Hero - CHARISM, Having a Beer with Joel Heitkamp, Mr. Full-Time Dad and more in Fargo Moorhead's only me...

The Good Life Men's Magazine - November/December 2018  

Featuring Sheriff Paul Laney. Local Hero - CHARISM, Having a Beer with Joel Heitkamp, Mr. Full-Time Dad and more in Fargo Moorhead's only me...