Craving Community

8 09 2010

When I was in fourth grade, I remember lining up during recess to pick teams for a game of soccer. Even in fourth grade we had popular students, and Tim was one of those! He was always the team captain, and I wanted to be on his team. Names were called, some people excited about the team they were on, others just excited they weren’t picked last. This one time, and I think only this once, I was picked second to last. I remember the feeling as I stood there wondering if anyone even wanted me on their team. I can’t even imagine how (leaving his name out) felt because he was shorter and extremely scrawny. It was not an enjoyable experience.

There is something about our human nature that creates within us a desire to be liked. At least for most of us! Most of us have a desire to love and be loved. To have others like us. To belong to some type of group, circle of friends, organization. Even most of my single friends aren’t that way because of lack of desire for relationship. We crave a place, a setting where others will invite us into a real relationship/friendship where we don’t have to try and be fake to fit in. I like to relate it to vitamins. Something good for me and for my future, but so hard to remember to take. It’s always a good idea, and we remember at the store to buy them, intending to take them, but they sit in a cupboard oftentimes for weeks without any other thought. The only way to take those vitamins is to somehow work it into your routine. Eat a bowl of cereal, drink some coffee, take vitamins, brush teeth.

This fall, Open Life (the church community we are apart of) will be helping to facilitate an answer to this felt need through ‘Groups’. It is not our intent to create another program, nor do we feel like this structure is the only way in which to facilitate meaningful relationships. However, as noted before, it’s too easy to go through life knowing we need/want something and never take the time to see it come to fruition. Groups will, hopefully, create a time, place and space in our busy calendars and lives to draw us closer to seeing this relational desire met in ours, and maybe more importantly, in those we grow in relationship with.

Nobody is expecting to openly share every single little detail, good and bad about ourselves with people we barely know. But we will be real. We will be full of life. Open to   the fact that none of us are perfect, but we are interested in knowing a perfect God. Open to the fact that we may differ in how we discipline children, but offer grace as we have been offered grace from God. Open to the reality that sometimes life happens and we can’t make it to ‘church’ or to our group, but practicing an affirming reality that second to our relationship with Jesus is our family.

Sheena and I will be opening our home to anyone who would like to join us, Friday evenings @ 7pm. Whenever you have to leave is fine, but let’s keep it closer to Friday than Saturday morning if possible! 🙂 For our time we’ll connect about our weeks, what the kids have been getting into trouble with, how the Hawks are finally winning, eat food, drink drinks, dialogue about our thoughts regarding the week’s reading. As a group we’ll also be walking through the book ‘Crazy Love’ by Francis Chan. Such an easy read and very inspiring to live out our lives the way Jesus did and would. Love. Rabbit trails are allowed!

We’ll meet October 10 – December 10.

Send me an email for more information!

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What did you want to be when you grew up?

8 09 2010

When I was a kid, I used to dream of being many important things in life. I would sit in my room role-playing myself as the “best quarterback since Joe Montana.” Quietly, so my parents wouldn’t hear me, I’d call out a play – usually pretty basic being around 10 yrs old the play usually consisted of ‘go long and I’ll throw it to you’. I threw countless awe inspiring touchdown in my bedroom, all while shouting with the crowd under my breath. I also remember wanting to be a policeman. Something about being the one with authority and positional respect made my young mind dream. Cops and Robbers- such a fun game. Playing guns with friends, this wasn’t just a game, it was training. I’d sit in the back of my parents car, and marvel as I watched police cars fly by with lights on and sirens going. What kind of boy doesn’t want to do that?

In high school we were required to take the ASVAB test, basically a military test to help us see where we were best gifted for future vocations. I scored highest in Accounting, which I thought was kinda nerdy. I went to the Accounting demonstration during a job fair, and found out that they make a lot of money! Money is nice. So, my first classes in college included Accounting classes. After-all, isn’t that why we go to college, get degress and then jobs? To make money!

Recently I was talking with some friends of mine. Here we are, almost 30 yrs old, in mixed occupations and vocations. Some happy with their jobs, others ready for clarification and change. But each of us unsure of what the future looks like in our lives and vocations. Change is always an option.

When I was a child, I always thought that after college I would have life figured out. I’d be married, in my job that I would love for the rest of my life, have a house, kids and pets. It seemed so simple! Now I look at my 29th birthday coming up, and I wonder…”What will I do when I grow up?” Life is full of changes even in my life. Just when I think I have a plan in place for the future, something changes. In one sense, exciting. In another, frustrating.

Would life be easier if we had all “grown up” and had life go as we planned when we were kids? Maybe. But it’d probably be boring. Most things that we plan to a T are. It’s the surprises, disappointments, struggles and risks that help life become rewarding! If you read my “About me” you can see all the different ‘occupations’ I’ve held. Some I loved, some were just to make some mullah. But I wouldn’t change it for the world. It’s helped create who I am today!

May we always be open to change. Dream of the future, but allow the Spirit of God to direct and lead. He is the creator and sustainer of life. In my opinion, he’s worth trusting.

Coming up: Sheena and I will be hosting a Group for Open Life, meeting weekly for friendship/prayer/laughter and conversations stemming from the book ‘Crazy Love’ by Francis Chan. Be watching for some good posts where I will share thoughts and considerations brought forth through those times!

Life is like oatmeal.

1 09 2010

In my ever pursuing attempts to live a healthier lifestyle, sometimes I break away from my routine of Cocoa Puffs in the morning and bust out a bowl of oatmeal. This was one of those mornings.

I don’t usually think much about my oatmeal, but my shot of espresso may have helped me get some type of revelation. Life is like Oatmeal.

1. Sticky. Often times life doesn’t stay within the boundaries we try to set up. When we dream and plan, we put into place an ideal world of which we wish to see take place. But the clumpy events, and messy relationships all around us tend to grab ahold of our spoon fed life, creating a sticky situation when our plans fall apart. It’d be so much easier if our spoon only picked up the pieces that we told it too. Instead those sticky oats grab on beneath and beside, clinging on for dear life, until the spoon is just over your lap or keyboard, and splat. You got a sticky mess. Life can be going along just perfect, but then we introduce other people into the picture, and it ruins our ‘ideal’ plans. Unless we can get to the underlying fact that Life is Sticky. It’s supposed to be. Our lives are sticky messes that others deal with too. And all of us fall incredibly short of the perfection of God.

2. Bland or Sweet. Oatmeal in itself is quite blah. It’s only when you stir in some honey, brown sugar, or other natural sugary substance that it becomes a joy to eat. My life, I’ve found, if left to wander, is quite bland. It’s only when I add interesting people, events, thoughts, obstacles, celebrations, etc.. that my life begins to have a sweet flavor to it. I have to add the natural sugary ingredients. Like: Peace- Patience- Kindness- Hope- Laughter- Love. All of a sudden, my overly blah life becomes interesting.

3. Substance. Oatmeal is great for filling a person up and holding them over until the next meal. It’s crazy amount of fiber also helps clean out the system! But, one bite doesn’t do it. And only addressing the areas of my life that need substance every now and then won’t produce a healthy life. Just as you have to put one spoonful in your mouth, you have to force yourself to lower it to the bowl and take another bite. Success in life doesn’t just happen. But when I take the daily routine of growing myself through reading, thinking, exercise, planning and loving, I find that my life continues to have substance. When I stop, hunger sets in earlier than it should, and hunger only breeds discontent.

My thoughts on Life being like Oatmeal.

Threadbare couches

27 08 2010

Yesterday our team (from Open Life) had the opportunity to attend the Catalyst One Day conference, held at The City Church in Kirkland. I’m still processing a lot of what was covered, attempting to analyze what I agree with, what I question, what I need to change, and where my perspective is healthy. As I’m processing through this, I wanted to take a moment to share a thought that Andy Stanley presented the conference with.

Andy began his last session by bringing an old couch out onto the stage. As he sat on it, he asked us if our parents/grandparents (or perhaps us personally) ever had an old couch that they seemed to move with them every time they moved. It was super comfortable from years of use, slightly discolored from beverages being spilt, and a few rips from careless wrestling on the cushions. Every time a move was initiated to a new home, this couch was brought along. It had too many memories to be left behind. Everything else could be discarded and repurchased, but even if a new couch was purchased- this old one would only be transferred to another room, never removed from their (your) possessions.

You know that couch. “Remember when Johnny spilled his chili all over Bob…?” “That’s where I was sitting when my wife told me that we were pregnant with our first child.” “If I remember right, that’s where we made our first child…” “I remember sitting on this couch opening gifts for every christmas…”

Memories. Tied into an inanimate object.

Why was the couch purchased in the first place? Someone said, “We need a place to sit, let’s buy a couch.” It met a need. It was probably in style and new when purchased. It made sense. But now, it’s ugly. Everyone knows it. Nobody ‘really’ wants to sit on it for fear of what may crawl out or perhaps it has a slight odor.  It really should be destroyed. After all, those memories aren’t contained in the couch. And a new couch would be a better choice for serving the need of a place to invite others to sit.

Andy related this idea to programs in our churches. Programs that addressed a need at one point, but now we keep them going because of the memories of those needs being met. It’s okay to buy a new “couch” (start a new program) and get rid of this one. He elaborated quite a bit more, but I’d like to keep this a blog post rather than the start of a book that I’m sure Andy wrote already.

I started thinking about this in my life though. What are the couches in my life? What are areas (sin, desires, possessions, emotions, opinions) that I carry around that I should get rid of? What are the couches of ideas that perhaps met a need at one point, but now just act as an inhibition to my growth in character? Is it possible that I have held on to my own ways of doing things because it worked in the past, but maybe I should let it go and look for something new? Everyone else knows it’s ugly, and deep down I know it too. It’s time to put on a new self.

Friendship Growing-Battery Killing App

20 07 2010

As I write this I’m communicating with one of my best friends through a killer app called “HeyTell“. I believe they have only released it for the iphone currently, but hopefully it’ll be included on your phone in the near future. It basically allows us to use our phones in a “push to talk” fashion. Much like Nextel, or for those of us who remember them, walkie talkies. Without affecting our voice or texting plans, HeyTell runs off our data plan. As soon as I am finished talking and release the button, it sends him the voice message and starts playing on his phone. If his app is not open, he will get a push notification telling him that a new message is waiting for him on HeyTell.

One draw back. The battery seems to drain a bit more. Now, my response is, you take the good with the bad. Because honestly, are we expecting to have a conversation occur from the west coast to the east coast without using energy? And to me, it’s worth the trouble to have to charge my phone a few times more a day if it means I’ll communicate with a friend more often. All of this to say, do what you need to do in order to cultivate and grow your relationships!

I have a pet named ‘Peavey’

20 07 2010

Okay, so maybe not a real pet, but I’ve noticed that my pet- we’ll call him Peavey” likes to wag his butt every now and then. I’m realizing that I am super particular about some things. I find it very difficult to use something, and not put it back as soon as I’m finished with it. I’ve started cooking a lot more, and my paranoia with having a mess actually causes me to take longer. I’ll use a utensil for an ingredient, but after using it, immediately try to wash it off and put it in the dishwasher before I move on to my next ingredient. I can’t stand to have things just on the counter. If I spill some shredded cheese on the counter when making nachos, most likely, I will try to wipe it up and clean the counter even before I put the nachos into the microwave. Everything has a place, and needs to be there. I like to use the kitchen and my house, but would prefer that it never appeared that way!

I remodeled a few homes with my dad in the past, and was consistently putting tools and supplies away before we were even finished with them. Every tool had a place, and it needed to appear that hadn’t used it. Plus, it’s always frustrating to try to find something when it isn’t where it’s “supposed” to be. Just like my phone, wallet or keys. It has a place. Order. I like it.

A few days ago I forced myself not to clean up until after preparing a meal. I am forcing myself to not worry about perfection. Now, that doesn’t mean that I’m going to just let everything go, but this pet of mine needs to be reminded that he is a pet. Not the owner.

I was going to relate this to my relationship with Jesus, because it totally applies, but to be honest, I’m sure you can draw from your own life experiences and realize how sometimes our lives seem so out of line with Jesus. It’s just refreshing sometimes to reflect on the nature of God, the person of Jesus and the consistent love of his Spirit. Do you have any pets like Peavey that keep you from enjoying life?

So Random

7 07 2010

“Some people call it ‘chance’.” One of my supervising brokers stated to me when I told him of the multiple conversations I was having with people regarding real estate, before I’ve gone through any training. From meeting a couple who are moving over from Spokane, to an owner of a restaurant listening in on the convo to let me know that he may be interested soon. From an individual who is selling their house to the county, to the 200+ views on logged in 2 days, without content. Is it just chance? Perhaps. But could it be more?

I believe that I am undeservedly blessed. That despite my failures, shortcomings, constant struggles and straight up defiance, God continues to love and provide. Like I’ve stated before, that isn’t always financial. And most of the time I think we go through struggles and hard times to help us realign with the love of the Father. I choose to believe that as I continue to give my life to following Jesus and learning to live and love as he does, that I will be blessed so that I can be a blessing.

Today, while prepping for a youth min message, I met a real estate agent who is moving into Bonney Lake from Alki. We talked about RE for a bit, but ultimately found out that he has gone to church, but never really been too involved. He took down the time and location for Open Life’s sunday gathering, and proceeded to say they would be there this sunday with his family. Is it chance?

I choose to believe that it was a setup encounter, to initiate conversation with someone that God is working on. In fact, I’m trying to believe that every person I meet is a setup encounter. A moment in eternity for me to be Jesus’ love for someone he cares about. Regardless of belief, orientation, race, gender, past, vocation, etc… each person is predestined for a relationship with Jesus, the Holy Spirit will cultivate, and I will love.

A random post. But something I’m thinking about today.

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