Tuesday, January 17, 2012

My Life

Dear friends, family, and weird blog creepers who read my blog and send messages to me every once in awhile.  I hope this finds you all doing very well, enjoying the New Year and if you are lucky, this finds you caught up on all episodes of The New Girl because it’s the best show ever!  Since it’s been awhile since my last blog and tons has happened since then, I thought I would start up again with a “Life Update” Blog. 

If you received my Christmas card this year, all this next stuff will be old news.  If you didn’t receive my Christmas card, you should and you have been missing out by not receiving it.  Send me your address and I will add you to next years list!  PS – The photo on this blog is my Christmas card cover shot.  It’s from Christmas Vacation, you know, the movie with Chevy Chase.  My favorite line from that movie is this:

Eddie: You surprised to see us, Clark?
Clark: Oh, Eddie... If I woke up tomorrow with my head sewn to the carpet, I wouldn't be more surprised than I am now.

Anyways, updates…sometimes I start writing and I get lost.  I’ve decided to do my updates in bullet form as it seems more official that way.  My updates are as follows:

  •          I now live in Nashville, TN
    •  This is a big update.  I mean, I moved…far...far far. 
  •          I have applied to go back to school in the fall for a MFT program
    • MFT means a Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy
  •        I just finished the Hunger Games Trilogy
    • Although they were written for youth, they are fantastic!
  •      I have found a wonderful new Church in Nashville
  •      I found a place that serves Juicy Lucy’s in Nashville
    • ...and they ARE better than regular cheeseburgers
  •           I am thinking of getting my hair cut like Ryan Gosling in Crazy, Stupid Love
    • Someone said I have a nice part in my hair that would look good with that cut



So, those are the updates, come visit me sometime!  Oh, and let me know what’s new in your life! 

-Dave

Friday, April 1, 2011

Lego My Ego

As you all know this year has been a big journey for me as I search to uncover more of who God is and who he created me to be and in turn how to live with that knowledge.  I am also convinced that life is intended to be lived with fullness in joy, hope, peace but also in grief, pain or sorrow and through it all, with trust.  We go through all these emotions on a daily basis and each one of them has its time and place as we move through life.  This whole adventure of understanding God more and in turn myself is partially because although I have all the feelings I am supposed to I spend far too much time in the feelings of worry and doubt and far to little in joy and peace.

Last week was a rough week.  I was feeling stress and made a few mistakes in situations that I really knew better.  By the end of the week I was pretty tight and overall just down.  I noticed a few things last week as the stress levels climbed that were kind of interesting.  First, I couldn't stop thinking or talking about myself.  It was all about me, my issues, my mistakes, my frustrations.  Every conversation I replayed was me just waiting to talk about how I was feeling.  I also noticed that situations intensified and as stress levels rose I held tighter and tighter to any control I had.  It was just weird how narrow my vision became.  The tighter I held on the more evident it became that this was not how God intended me to live.

I read a book coincidentally at the peak of my stress by Richard Rohr.  In the book Rohr talks about our soul and our ego.  Our soul is who we really are, who we are before we even think about who we are, when we just live.  Our ego is all the things we want people to think of us, all the balls we try to keep in the air.  For me those things are mainly wanting people to like me and trust me.  This plays out at work mainly but in other areas also.  The funny thing is living life as who I am (my soul) sounds so simple, just be, live, don't think much, just be me. Worrying about all the things I can control and all the things I want others to think of me sounds like a lot of work.  It is a lot of work, and it is tiring, yet I spend most of my time trying to feed my ego.

My main struggle most of my life has been over thinking. That's what I do and I know no different and honestly, I am scared to not over think.  I am scared because I am not perfect already and I believe that if I don't analyze and re analyze everything that I will really start to slip.  Doing that is a vicious cycle of thinking about yourself and forgetting about others.  It is a perfect recipe to live in the same rut of imperfection and failure day in and day out and to not take chances.  This book talked about the only way out of this cycle is acting.  Start by being present, engaging in conversation, living in the world of your soul and not your ego.

I believe God intends us us to live life to the full and through it all trust that He has things under control.  Worrying does not seem to be part of His plan.  His commands were simple, love God, love others and the rest is outside of our job description.  He also knows that loads of stress is something we will encounter.  His response is my favorite verse in the Bible (Matthew 11:28-30).  Living this way is not easy and I am a major work in progress but it is coming.  How are you doing?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Forward not Down


For me the most frustrating part of every year is when all the political adds start taking over television, radio and our yards.  Maybe I am too young to remember a time where political ads were not negative.  There was a certain politician this year that I am confident I never heard her verbalize what she was for.  She was paralyzed by defending and controlling the other competitor’s image and forgot to mention her strengths and what she was for. 

She majorly rubbed me the wrong way, unfortunately, because I can relate with her.  Lately, I am noticing my life looks a lot like me trying to control all the negative things going on in and around me.  I find myself trying to battle my anxiety, remain pure, get my finances under control, get to a comfortable place at work and the list of fires I try to put out goes on and on.  Many days I look back and find that most of the day I spent worrying or thinking about all the negative things in my life.  One major point I am NOT trying to make is that we shouldn't worry about addressing areas in our life we are struggling with.  

The point I am trying to make is that those areas never should consume us.  I remember watching the movie Miracle when I was in college.  A line that always stuck out to me was when the US team was preparing to play the Russians who were the best team in the world.  Herb Brooks the coach of the US team was talking about how they would defend the Russians.  His famous line was "We don't defend them, we attack!"  Many smart coaches and teachers know that spending all our time and energy worrying about how we will be attacked gets us lost in a life of fear and living in our defeat.  

Lately I have been thinking a lot more about offense than defense.  The things I listed earlier have started to slowly fade as I have shifted my focus from defending them to pursuing God.  The greatest command the Lord gives us is to love him with all our heart and soul and mind and to love our neighbor as ourselves.  Lately I have been trying to get lost in those two tasks rather than getting hung up on all the things that constantly try to pull me away from Him.  Wouldn't it be crazy if we find some day that all the things that consume us daily and sink our confidence for most of our lives was Satan’s big (but not so big, yet successful) plan to distract us from knowing and experiencing God?  

It seems the Bible is telling us to run after God, to not look back and to not waste time getting distracted in our pursuit of Him.  Again, I am not saying to ignore the consequences and power of our sin but what I am saying is to not let it distract you from your purpose.  Tight ropers know and respect the height they work in knowing it can kill them if they fall.  Great tight ropers know looking down and focusing on the negatives is paralyzing and will leave you frozen, never moving forward.  They know their only chance at making it is looking straight ahead and putting one foot in front of the other relentlessly pursuing the destination, which is the end of the rope.  Have your problems paralyzed you and are you stuck and lost in them?  Maybe seeing a change in your life is simply looking in another direction, towards the end of the rope and not the ground, towards God and not the distractions of sin?  Just like the politician, I fight many fights with my competitor’s - worry, sin and anxiety.  Maybe I was never meant to fight that fight?  Maybe God wants me to run from distractions and towards Him, a simple shift of focus. 

It seems when we get our focus on Christ right other things start to fall into line?  I would love to hear your thoughts on this.  

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Joy

Lately I have been thinking about joy.  I often wonder what makes people happy, what is it about some people that just draws you in because of their charisma and what do I need to do in order to be filled with joy?

I have been dreaming for a long time of a lot of things.  I've wrote about wanting to summit Half Dome in California, I would love to get a new motorcycle, I think about my future, I would love to eventually buy a house and have a family.  I spend quite a bit of time thinking about those things.  These are big things that are in the future obviously, but there is another side to my future thinking.  On a much smaller scale I spend probably even more time thinking about things in my more near future.  I often worry about the day ahead, decisions that I have made that I question, my finances and mostly what others think of me.  I also am frequently wishing time away thinking if I could skip work or be done with this meeting or make it to the weekend then I would be happy.  

Although I spend much of my time in the future, almost all of the time left in my day is spent in the past.  I think about things I wish I would have said, things I would have done differently and I focus on my regrets.  Sometimes I just daydream of how my life would be different if I would have made different decisions.  I am not sure which world is worse, worrying about the future or living in the past?

I think many of us live in this miserable balance like me.  We worry about future and past and often forget that while we are worrying we are very busy missing the joys of the current moment.  When we wish for the end of a day or check out until we finally go on that vacation or live in the disappointment of mistakes and regrets we are standing idly by as precious moments slip away.  

Henri Nouwen said "The real enemies of our lives are the "oughts" and the "ifs."  They pull us backward into the unalterable past and forward into the unpredictable future.  But real life takes place in the here and now."

Reflecting on this over the course of the week I really believe true joy is trusting God with our future and our past and resting in that which allows us to be present.  Henri goes on to say that hope is more real than despair, faith more real than distrust and love is more real than fear.  He also says living in the present and having joy is a choice, not a feeling.  Through my worries and fears I have been realizing how little I really chose to trust God if I am honest.  I am praying that I can drop the 95% of stuff that controls my mind that I have no control over and focus on what is right in front of me, focusing on who is right in front of me and choosing to be present and not somewhere else.  I pray that you and I can "Choose Joy" this week, blessings!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Math

Most of my life I have had the feeling that life was meant to be more satisfying, more fulfilling and have more adventure.  Further still, I always wanted to be a person who could help people.  I wanted to help people understand their true value, what people/God truly feel about them and not the large amount of lies many of us live believing.  I wanted to help people get through hard times, failures, pain and begin to see hope and a future.  

Every night when I go to bed I reflect on my day; most days I am disappointed looking back and finding in my whole day I spent zero time doing the thing I wanted to do most, help people.  Day in and day out, week in, week out, and as years past I didn't have the opportunity to care for people like I wanted.  Opportunities for helping just never seemed to present themselves.

Recently as I started seeing a councilor and that paired with talking with others and thinking through issues in my own heart I started seeing a change in the conversations I was having.  I interview people for summer jobs and I saw changes in how those interviews went.  My conversations started to get real.  My conversations started to be honest, transparent and those conversations led to me growing and I would hope that the other half of those conversations have felt the same.  Not only has vulnerability opened doors to discuss my pain with others and them with me, it has taken relationships from being shallow and stagnant, having nothing real to talk about to moving somewhere and talking about real issues that really matter.  I have two thoughts as to what has changed in my life other than being  vulnerable.  

First, for a good chunk of my life I have thought that if I had the right job or title, people would talk to me and I would suddenly be thrown into a world of people who needed help.  I always thought if I was a pastor, missionary, or speaker I could then really change lives.  I guess I was looking for a title so I then would have permission to do ministry.  This was dead wrong.  Out of all the conversations that have brought growth and that have been times where people have shared the darkest parts of their lives with me and areas where they have desired help or growth, all of them have been friends for a long period of time.  They have been people I have known well and had no idea what was really going on in their lives.  Or even people I would interview at work, typically they were surface level and now interviews go much deeper than they had.  My circle hasn't changed, nor my job, nor who I am.  I am convinced that no title or job gives you any better opportunity to do ministry than any other one, we are simply called to be there for those in whatever circle God allows us to be in.  

So for the second thought, if so much of my life is the same (same job, same circle), what is different that has allowed fruitful conversations?  Like I mentioned before being vulnerable with my own struggles has taken walls down for others to have struggles they are willing to share.  On top of that, I would say I have began to open my eyes and ears.  Really listening to people, really paying attention to facial expressions, the way others carry themselves and trying to see their heart.  Many of these fruitful conversations started as the normal conversations I had been having for years.  As those normal conversations moved forward, I started hearing words I normally would have skipped over as unimportant.  Words like alone, tired, messy, painful and many others.  My point is that God calls us to open our eyes and ears and hear those simple words people sometime rush over and try to hide.  Those words that are easy to miss and often quick and quiet are sometimes coming from the pain inside the soul of those around us.  Although quiet they can be an internal scream for help or just someone to care.  

I don't have this all figured out.  As a matter of fact recently people have told me major stuff in their lives that I wish I could have noticed earlier before it blew up.  I would love to hear your thoughts or suggestions on this article.  I will leave you with this, these conversations where we go past normal surface conversations are hard.  They force us to come to the terms with the fact that we all are a big mess.  As CS Lewis once said though, if we have been doing a math problem that we made a mistake on when we started it, continuing to work on it after making a wrong turn is not getting us any closer to the answer.  Starting over is humbling, but it is also much closer to the answer than continuing to try to solve a problem that was wrong in the first place.  These real, honest conversations often are hard because we realize areas we have been going the wrong direction and must start over.  These conversations also are hard because it means we have to walk with people rather than settle for cheap answers and surface friendship like the past.  This is hard, but real, I would much rather have real.  

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

This is not a joke!

Friends,
I care about you!  This next post is serious;  I wouldn't talk about it if it wasn't.

Have you ever fallen in love?  You know... the feeling when you can't stop thinking about them?  You dream of taking them to a ball game, mall, ice skating and you can't wait for your parents to meet them.  If you could you would spend every meal, break and any free second in their presence.  The one where you walk in the door after a long trip or a long day of work and as soon as you see them you cannot help but smile.  People describe true love as finding your other half, or as love is described in A Walk to Remember it is something "You cannot see or touch, but when the wind blows, you can feel".  I think you all know what I am talking about.

If you haven't figured this out yet I am talking about the moment when you wrap your hands around a HOT...SOFT...SEXY... Big old Juicy Lucy.  The best of these "Super Burgers" are served at Matt's Bar, the 5-8 Club or The Nook.  The concept is taking two tender patties of high grade beef, stuffing cheese in the middle, then cooking it to perfection and surrounding it with a fresh bun and if you feel lucky, maybe a helping of fried onions.

Upon first bite you are going to want to be cautious because too big of a bite will leave you covered in what feels like cheesy molten lava!  Pace yourself, great food is only as good as the time you spend with it.  I also prefer a bit of mustard and catsup, but that is just me, you may want to prepare it different.  You also may want to try all the restaurants and make your choice as to where is best.

Friends, it would have been a tragedy for me not to tell you about the true love that I have found especially since you too can experience this.  Some of you may judge and say "It is just a burger".  I say blasphemy!  Just because you have a real live person you love doesn't mean she/he is better than the one I love.  And just because what I am in love with just so happens to go straight to my hips and clog my arteries, it makes me happy.

Weird coincidence that I would love to hear your feedback on.  It seems every time I go out with Lucy, about an hour after I find myself in the toilet.  Weird huh?  I am chalking it up to nerves and excitement having just got to spend time with her.  Do you all ever have that experience after time with the one you love?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Summit

For the longest time I have wanted to go to Half Dome.  For those of you who have no idea what Half Dome is, it is a huge rock that is located in the middle of Yosemite National Park.  Forming almost a perfect half dome and plummeting over 8,000 feet over the valley of the park just down the "street" from El Capitan and happened to be the focus of many Ansel Adams photographs.  It is an almost 16 hour hike up and back down and you only can make it to the top weather permitting as it attracts some pretty crazy lightening storms.  

For me the rush of reaching the top mixed with my fear of heights but yearning for adventure have left Half Dome on my Bucket List for years.  One thing I have been realizing lately in my life is I have many yearnings, many things I would love to do, accomplish, see, visit or conquer.  I also have found that many of those things have been on my list for a long time, actually a long, long time.  It seems my intentions don't get me any closer to accomplishing my goal, they are simply intentions.  John Lennon used to say that he was a "dreamer" and that he was "not the only one".  Dreaming isn't bad, but it's no more than thin air until you act on it.  

So I have been asking myself lately questions like; what are my dreams, who do I want to be, what do I want to do?  Then the hard question, am I on the road to that destination or not?  Is that reality or is it still just a great intention?  Unfortunately, many of my answers have been a resounding "NO" or "Great Intention".  Problem is and I would argue many of us feel this way; it is scary to pursue things we really care about or are confronted with.  Much like the program The Biggest Loser where many contestants eventually figure out that their weight is a comfort for them because they can blame any failure or rejection on it.  When the weight is gone and jobs/people/family that they really care about go bad, they have to face the truth rather than chalk another one up to being overweight.  Truth, rejection and honesty can be a big pill to swallow.  

CS Lewis says that "If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end, if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair".  The truth is hard, and the path of people pursuing truth is narrow because few of us want to go toe to toe with it.  The truth is I talk and dream a lot.  The truth is I am sick of dreaming and yearning to live the dream.  I want to hear the truth and get on the path to that destination.   I want to someday tell my grandkids stories about their grandfather that inspire them, make them laugh, cry, but more importantly to live a life worth living.  

I thought that last though about the grandkids while watching the 4th episode of the bachelor in a row last Thursday (Humbling to share that) and I could see my reflection in the screen of my computer.  The man in the reflection was tired, bored and honestly, lazy.  I don't want to end up having that be the picture my grandkids see.  I might as well have had a bunch of cookie crumbs on my belly as well.  I would much rather have them see a picture of their grandfather being a man who heard the truth and put in the effort to change or took the steps to make dreams, reality.  I want them to meet a man who chased after the adventurous life that God would dream up for all of us but that few of us chose.  I want them to meet a man who saw the top of Half Dome and saw all the God had created from a view few ever take the opportunity to experience.  Thoughts?