ten days of vacation

It’s been three years since my wife and I have gone on a vacation for any stretch of time more than a few days.  The last big vacation we had was our honeymoon.  This time we are hanging out in Maui with Emma and some family.  I plan on writing a ton, and not blogging very much.  I thought that I’d re-post my top five favorite posts.  There may be some time (like right now)  that I am in the hotel on daddy duty while Emma naps.  So I may throw a post out there, but for now check out my top five.

1. waving to babies

This post is inspired by a trip to the grocery store where people straight up ignored my precious little girl.  A look at the idea that we are constantly re-engineering society to not have any practical need of our neighbors.

2. enemy love

Ever wonder why God makes such a big deal out of loving your enemies?  Check this post out.

3. who killed davey moore?

Is there a corporate responsibility for murder?  Do our emotions get lived out in others actions?

4. submitting to process

A blog on the value of submitting to things that are bigger than you and why you will be better for it.

5. space dust

Do you ever feel connected to people you don’t even know?  That’s because you’re space dust and so are they.


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sweet family time

Living a Better Story Seminar from All Things Converge Podcast on Vimeo.

Every now and again I will speak at a church in Bakersfield.  A few weeks ago I had just finished speaking and I was talking to a friend. He asked what my family and I do for fun.  He specifically said, “So how is it having a daughter?  I bet you guys have some sweet family time.”

I wondered if I had made myself sound cool in the message.  My wife and I are extremely busy people.  My daughter still naps twice a day and we have another baby on the way.  If “sweet family stuff,” consists of my wife and I laying on the couch watching TV while my daughter sleeps then that’s us.

I have a great life; I wouldn’t trade any of it because I have an amazing wife and daughter.  Although, there are times that I wonder if I get to wrapped up in helping others navigate their stories that I don’t spend enough time on mine. I want my family to live a story that they are proud of.  I want my kids to live such good stories that they will never get caught up in bad ones that other people write.  I want my kids to help other kids live great stories.  In order for that to happen, my wife and I need to be really good storytellers, and we need to live a great story.  In the next 5 months my story needs to consist of finding a way to keep health insurance for my family and to make more money.

This just isn’t about having more money.  My wife and I really want her to be able to stay home with our kids and give them the best possible start to life.  We’ve only got about twenty years with them living under our roof.  We have to equip them for about 80 years of independence.  I’ve worked in youth and young adults’ ministry for over seven years.  I’ve seen what happens to students who don’t have strong parents at home.  I’ve walked with kids through suicide attempts, pregnancies, juvenile detention, and drug and alcohol addictions.  The less obvious are the kids with severe anger issues.  I guess they are living in the right reaction to their pain of an absent or neglectful parent.

I want to go to the Living a better Story Seminar in Portland OR.  Check out the website: www.donmilleris.com/conference

I want to go to this seminar for a few reasons.  One, I want to be the co-author of a compelling family story.  Every family has a story, some are dramatic, some are characterized by addiction, some are fun, and some are just bad.  I want my kids to be able to tell our family story in such a compelling way.  I want them to be glued to the story and write good ones for their family.  I want people to hear our story like someone would read a good book and can’t wait to turn each page.  Two, I help other people with their stories. Lately these stories have been becoming more traumatic. The church and culture in which I live is in need of new stories.  We need more writers and dreamers to imagine the possibilities.  I want to be a part of helping my students write their own storyline rather than following the storyline of other people.

I just want to have some sweet family time.

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disneyland is no denmark

I have a terrible habit of reading books three-quarters of the way through and then putting them down and starting another book.  This morning I was having some coffee and I had still not finished the last couple of chapters of, “A Thousand Miles in a Million Years,” by Donald Miller.  It is an outstanding book and I’d encourage anyone to read it. I finally finished the last couple of chapters this morning.  I thought I would share something that I read in one of the last chapters.

The happiest people on earth are in Denmark.  This is strange because I thought the happiest place on earth was a few square miles of Anaheim, California.   There was a study done by a university in Denmark to find out why.  The reason why these folks are so much happier than anyone else in the world is because of their modest expectations.  These people are under no illusions that an iPhone will revolutionize their lives.  They live in the reality that it’s just another pretty phone.  They don’t stockpile body spray hoping beautiful women will rush them.  They know a watch or a car or wealth will not bring them everlasting joy.  They have healthy expectations of the world around them.  If anything their expectations of life are low, so when things go well they are happy.

This isn’t a purposeful attitude.  The government even confirms that this attitude comes from hundreds of years of being defeated:

“Very bluntly speaking, it can be claimed that the present configuration of Denmark is the result of 400 years of forced relinquishments of land, surrenders and lost battles.”

The Danes have a real sense of humility that comes from their history.  It is the difference between thinking, “I don’t deserve it,” and “I am entitled to it.”  Their history brings a realization that the only way to live through such a defeat is through humility.

We often fall victim to the elusiveness of the American dream.  It is not that we have a sense of entitlement in America, more that the, “dream” always includes more than you’ve got.  When we travel down the road of wanting more, pride and high expectations will follow.

I like that the Danes are modest, they are realistic in what they expect, and their history demands humility.   If you are reading this and your only national history has the word “superpower” attached, you may ask yourself, “am I happy?”  Because statistically, you’re not.

So maybe you’re not happy.  What are your expectations?  Do you have a sense of humility?  Or maybe happiness isn’t a formula that can be figured out.

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waving to babies

A few days ago I was in the grocery store and I noticed a disturbing trend. I was pushing Emma in the shopping cart while she was smiling and waving at everyone. She is a very friendly baby. I noticed that people turned their head and walked away. Probably one out of ten people waved back or said something. They saw this beautiful little girl and they just ignored her.

Who ignores babies?

I got to thinking, what if we all smiled at each other and waved? After the first few people ignored my daughter I did a little experiment. I started smiling at people and trying to interact with others. The results were predictable, nothing. One lady needed help grabbing something on the top shelf, but I had to offer the help.

It is amazing that somewhere along the line we have engineered life to have no practical need of our neighbors. Not only do we not need each other, we don’t care that we don’t need each other. Our thirst for independence doesn’t even allow us to acknowledge a baby when she waves.

The other day I saw a neighborhood watch sign that was old and banged up. It made me remember my childhood neighbor, Mary. Mary knew everything that happened within a three-block radius. She always had an egg when you were one egg shy on the cake you were baking. In a pinch she would watch the kids while mom and dad ran to the store. She was ever-present by her phone. When you were trying to sneak in after curfew Mary was there to catch you and tell your parents. I don’t know that any of us really understood the communities’ reliance on Mary until after she got sick and died of cancer. She was the connecting point for the entire block, after she died no one stepped up to fulfill that role; almost as if culture is shifting away from the practical need of someone like Mary.  She was even replaced by technology, webcams and security systems could effectively fill Mary’s role.

I wonder if we have so engineered our lives to be self-reliant that the practical need for our neighbors has become non-existent. I wonder if we’ve become so used to not needing our neighbors that we become cold to strangers. I wonder if this sense that, “I can do it myself,” has made us not wave to precious children who have nothing to offer but a wave. My daughter waving to strangers makes me think that she has it right. She isn’t tainted yet; she still needs people to survive. Her wave is a gentle reminder that we need each other.

This week:

Wave to babies

Realize the need for your neighbor

Be intentional about connecting with people

Do not allow the over engendered self-reliance of our culture to taint you to the point where you don’t wave to babies.

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submitting to process

One of the processes of getting ordained in the Wesleyan Church is having an oral interview.  The oral interview consists of a round of theological questions that have to be backed up with scripture.  On my first round of questions, I failed miserably.  I knew the theological concepts but I couldn’t back them up.  I gave scriptures that didn’t match up with the theological concept and I fumbled my way through the interview.  They asked that I study and come back at a later time.

There was nothing more devastating to me than hearing that I had failed the interview.  I had a rough day and a rough couple of weeks.  During those couple of weeks I became bitter with the whole process.  I didn’t want to continue on.  The one thing that kept me going more than anything was the voice of my dad saying, “When you start something, you finish it.”

Before my final interview I met with a person whose job it was to make sure I was up to snuff on my studying.  I fumbled through the process again.  The person I met with told me that if I didn’t study and make flash cards then I would fail.  I again retreated to the comfort of bitterness.  My bitterness began to morph into anger, but I wasn’t angry with the board.  I realized that I was angry with myself for putting off such an important task.

From that moment on, I made flash cards and didn’t let them out of my sight.  I practiced them alone twice a day and my wife quizzed me at night.  At this point I had less then a month to get all of these answers down.

When it came time to do the interview over again, I wasn’t nervous at all.  It took less than fifteen minutes because we flew through the answers.  The board asked me to leave and when I came back in, they congratulated me on passing the exam.  I was relived that this process was over.  But before it was over everyone wanted to say a little something.

I don’t really remember what everyone said, but I do remember what one pastor said.  He said, “David, we knew that you understood all of these concepts, but we had to make sure you would submit to the process.”  I had never thought about it that way.

In life there are many processes to submit to.  Even the most strong-minded people have to pay their taxes or go through the process of treatment.  All through the interview process and the seven months of waiting till I could interview again, I was learning to submit to a process.

This is a huge life lesson.  Learning to submit to a process is in many ways learning the value of humility.  Since submitting to this process I have gone through the process of being edited, which is a humbling experience.

What I have learned is when you fully submit to a process, you see the best results.  What process have you had to submit to?  How have they impacted your life?

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